EDITORIAL: Ryzhkov on his Knees


Ryzhkov on his Knees

It’s not often that we feel pity for Russians.  We didn’t when Anna Politkovskaya got shot, because we figured it was better for her not to have to watch her country come undone before her eyes, and we knew she probably saw it as an honor to give her life for her country.  In fact, the only time we can remember feeling pity was when Oleg Kozlovsky got drafted into the army, something nobody could possibly have forseen occuring, a new low in the history of national government.  The specter of dedovshchina hanging over the head of that brave and brilliant, thoughtful young academic was heart-rending.

But now we feel it again, feel it in spades, for poor ex-parliamentarian Vladimir Ryzhkov, who had the pleasure of meeting U.S. President Barack Obama last week and wrote about it the Moscow Times. We can’t imagine any more compelling proof of just how badly Obama botched his Russia sojourn than the pathetic effort of Mr. Ryzhkov to sing Obama’s praises.  Reading it, Obama shoud be ashamed.  Ryzhkov, of course, should want to crawl under a rock.

Can you imagine how it must have felt to be Ryzhkov and feel the elation, after a decade of being totally ignored by simpleton president George W. Bush (who “looked into the eyes” of Putin and found him trustworthy), of being invited to lunch with the American president?  Can you imagine the thoughts, the hopes, the dreams that must have raced through his head?

And can you imagine how his heart must have been broken when Obama told him he could speak during the meeting for no more than five minutes, the same amount of time he allotted to Communist apparachik Gennady Zhyuganov?  How your eyes became clouded with darkness when you learned that there would be no post-meeting press conference with Obama, indeed no public statement of any kind, much less any open support or encouragement, and that Obama would backtrack on his tough criticism of Putin issued before his arrival?

How could you be anything other than shocked, offended and insulted?

And yet, you couldn’t help but realize that things were still light years better than under Bush, who totally ignored you.  With no serious grassroots support from Russians, with the possibility that the KGB regime could strike you down at any moment, you’d have no choice but to suck it up, bury your pride deep down, get down on your knees and beg for more.  Either that or confront the new president publicly and risk being written off entirely.  It’s a truly horrifying Hobson’s Choice.  We pity Ryzhkov for having been forced to make it.

But he made the wrong choice.  He’s praised the dog for messing on the carpet. In that event, the dog will do it again.  

We understand his deperation. After all, the Kremlin has purged every single member of the democratic opposition from the Russian parliament, including Ryzhkov himself and his entire party.  They have no reasonable prospect of ever returning. They can’t get on national TV or in any major newspaper.  They are besieged by threats, violence, lawsuits and killings.  Any attention from the powerful Americans looks like a Godsend.

The result is pathetic babbling like Ryzhkov issued in his op-ed. He writes: “He knew exactly why he was coming to Russia and took away with him everything he had wanted.”  It’s hard to see how Ryzhkov, who has never really accomplished anything as a politician and is not a vital part of the protest movement, will ever live that crazy remark down. One begins to get a whiff of Grigori Yavlinsky, another thinker who was far too removed from realpolitik to do anything meaningful.  By seeking actual power, he seriously harmed Russia’s nascent opposition political movement. 

Obama got nothing from the Kremlin on controlling Iran, nothing on protection of Georgia from invasion, nothing on halting Russian support for Hamas and Hezbollah.  Charles Krauthhammer has argued that Obama’s tentative nuclear weapons agreement seriously undermined American national security.  That’s getting everything Obama wanted? What was it he wanted, to succeed Medvedev as the next president of Russia?

Ryzhkov claims Obama gave “tremendous support to Russia’s civil society. This is not just a new president. This is a completely new type of global leadership. If Obama is able to manage the unprecedented challenges facing him, and if luck goes his way, he has a chance of becoming one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.”  Yikes.  One might think Ryzhkov was drunk when he wrote that, and he may have been. Drunk with desperation to save his country, so close and yet so far.  Obama has been in office six months and already he’s on track to being the greatest in history? He has a closed-door meeting he never comments on where he lets Ryzhkov speak for five minutes, afterwards he praises Putin, and that’s “tremendous support”? We genuinely pity this man for being induced to engage in shameless brown-nosed begging of this kind, speaking to Obama in obsequious flattering prose as if he were Stalin.  And we blame Obama for this disgraceful outburst.

Ryzhkov calls it “amazing” that Obama chose to meet with Patriarch Kirill, an he’s certainly right.  That Obama would meet with a KGB spy posing a priest without confronting him about his past or his present efforts to help Vladimir Putin create a Holy Russian Empire, purging dissent within the Orthodox Church like a second coming of Stalin, is truly amazing. It’s also utterly outrageous.

Ryzhkov sputters:  “Thousands of people had the opportunity to see and hear the young U.S. president in person. Kremlin television was thrown into a state of confusion. Obama’s open and friendly style stood in stark contrast to the demonized image of the United States that Kremlin propaganda has promulgated for many years.”

Thousands?  Last time we checked, Russia had 140 million people, roughly 90% of whom had been prevented from seeing Obama’s speech because of Kremlin censorship that Obama didn’t care to mention.  And Ryzhkov may  not be affected by it, but the vast majority of Russians are frenzied racists who are simply horrified by the fact of a dark-skinned American president with his finger on the nuclear button.  We wonder if Ryzhkov found time in his five minute speech to Obama to mention the hundreds of lynchings Russia has seen under Vladimir Putin — or indeed whether any of those who spoke to Obama did so.  We doubt it.

Ryzhkov writes:  “At the end of our meeting with Obama, where we discussed the biased judicial system and in particular the highly politicized convictions of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his former business partner Platon Lebedev. We discussed the problems of political prisoners, freedom of speech, the murder of opposition members and journalists, the censuring of the mass media and repressive measures against opposition parties.” But he doesn’t care to comment on the fact that Obama refused to discuss Khodorkovskyk when interviewed by Novaya Gazeta and refused to make any public critical statement about Russia’s treatment of political prisoners while he was in Russia.

In short, Ryzhkov’s gross mischaracterization of what occurred while Obama was in Moscow, in a desperate attempt to beg for further support, is odious and counterproductive.  Obama may well feel he can now ignore all these issues, having paid lip service to them, and Ryzhkov may never hear from him again.

37 responses to “EDITORIAL: Ryzhkov on his Knees

  1. > she probably saw it as an honor to give her life for her country.

    Anna Politkovskaya was a citizen of the USA.

    • If by that you mean she wasn’t a citizen of Russia, you’re a liar. She was a citizen of Russia and that is where she lived (unlike for instance Maria Sharapova, who is not a citizen of the USA but spenda all her time there).

      Politkovskaya did more for Russia in any single second of her life than you will do in your whole reptilian lifetime.

  2. “We didn’t when Anna Politkovskaya got shot”

    They just killed Natalia Estemirova of the Chechen Memorial.


    Just like in the thousands of other cases she wrote about.

    At least they didn’t hide, destroy or ransom her body.

    • Thanks Robert, as always you are invaluable. Another corpse to be heaped on Russia’s Patriot Mountain built by corpses.

      • Year ago:

        “People died there, and now they just build a school,” Natalia Estemirova, a researcher with Memorial, a human rights group, said in an interview. Her group documented the discovery of the bodies last summer at the Zvyozdochka, or Starlet, kindergarten.

        She added: “We know people disappeared. We know that most of them were killed. And we know we need to look for them with a shovel.”


      • And last week:

        Estemirova: disappearances are on rapid rise in Chechnya

        jul 09 2009, 12:00

        After cancellation of the counterterrorist operation (CTO) regime in Chechnya, the count of kidnapped residents is in dozens. This was stated by Natalia Estemirova, member of the Grozny branch of the HRC “Memorial”, to the “Caucasian Knot”.

        According to her story, power agents have recently frequented in their reports of liquidated Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Ukrainians; however, human rights activists have reasons to think that these are the disappeared residents of the republic.

        According to Ms Estemirova, people keep coming to the legal office of the HRC “Memorial” in Grozny with their concerns about their missing relatives.


  3. Yelena Maglevannaya recently chose to flee the death squads to Finland (where btw they still can get her if she has no real protection):


    Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Yelena Maglevannaya, a journalist from Volgograd, who has asked for political asylum in Finland earlier this month. She risks persecution in Russia because of her writing about tortures of Chechens in Russian prisons. She also campaigned in defense of political prisoners such as Mikhail Trepashkin, demanded repeal of July 2006 laws which enable the Kremlin to assassinate enemies of Russia, and ran a web-site dedicated to the memory of Alexander Litvinenko.

  4. I really think Eugene’s privileges in posting here needs to be rethought.

    His responses are so morally repulsive, so grossly inappropropriate as was his smarmy glibe oneliner above that he really doesn’t belong in the company of decent people.

    There is never any factual content with this moron, just creepy postings that in polite company would be censored by walking away. Too bad that polite company has to suffer him here.

    He degrades the site and I wonder how many posters with something intelligent to say have opted to walk away after reading the threads that he’s infected.

    • “I really think Eugene’s privileges in posting here needs to be rethought.”


      He is sick and makes me so. He is also neither worth reading, nor responding to.

    • I disagree. This is not the Kremlin website. Let them post. Russian propaganda is always the best counterpropaganda against Russia.

      Eugene follows the typical Russian approach: When criticized, they don’t come up with counter-arguements. They attack you on another area. For example: You discuss xenophobia in Russia, they say “and in the USA, you have the Ku-Klux-Klan. Or they come up with irrelevant personal insults. Not very convincing, isn’t it?

      So please keep Eugene, he is very useful for this blog!!! A living example for the “huge impact” of Russian propaganda.

      • Max has a good point.

        Guys like Eugene, “I am Russian”, Karma, and now pop-tarts like Jasmina all show the typical neo-fascist mindset that is modern Russia.

        Best advertising LR could have.

  5. “We didn’t [feel pity] when Anna Politkovskaya got shot,”

    of course not. That would have been the human thing to do. It was, however, useful for you.

    Nice self-revelation.

    • Your problem is that, being illiterate, you don’t understand the word “pity”. It’s not the same as regret, you ape-like thug. You should learn to read before you try to write.

  6. “It’s not often that we feel pity for Russians. We didn’t when Anna Politkovskaya got shot…”

    Of course you didn’t.

    “… because we figured it was better for her not to have to watch her country come undone before her eyes, and we knew she probably saw it as an honor to give her life for her country. ”

    In other words, you treat Russian freedom-lovers like Polytkovkaya exactly like Islamic extremists view shahids: you want them to die for your cause.

    Do you tell them that when they die and go to Heaven, they will meet 76 virgins?

    • @you want them to die for your cause.

      Well I’m only a reader, but I’m more like General Patton, so I’d rather like to see Putin & Co die for their causes.

      Even if in fact they don’t have any (besides power and money), or maybe rather especially because this.

    • Oh, please, perhaps LR could have stated it better, but, that wasn’t her message at all.

      • In my humble opinion, it is barbaric to glorify dying, like saying: “she probably saw it as an honor to give her life for her country”. Only Islamic and other extremists encourage people to sacrifice their lives.

        It is a sacrilidge to say that Politkovskaya’s last thoughts were: “I am happy to die for my articles exposing Kadyrov’s crimes!” Neither Kadyrov nor Putin deserve the honour of being the subjects of Politkovskaya’s last thoughts.

        Most likely, Politkovskaya killers came out of nowhere and shot her before she even realised what was happening. And when she was dying, she was either under too much pain to think of anything at all or she was thinking about her chidren and other most important things in human life, imho.

      • “Oh, please, perhaps LR could have stated it better, but, that wasn’t her message at all.”

        What was her message then? The usual bashing of Obama and Ryzhkov?

        If LP hates even Ryzhkov, one of the leaders of the Republican Party and of The Other Russia, then whom in Russia does she NOT hate?

        And why is it that by virtue of admiring Obama, Ryzhkov fell “on his knees”? What has Obama done to justify such hatred?

  7. Eugene wrote: “Anna Politkovskaya was a citizen of the USA.”

    Penny immediately appealed to the local authorities: “I really think Eugene’s privileges in posting here needs to be rethought. ”

    Wow. You are more totalitarian and intolerant to other people’s writings than Comrade Stalin and his NKVD/KGB henchmen.

    • This is a private message board and has certain rules. It cannot be “totalitarian” because it’s not a part of any government. The board proprietors are free to ban anyone and to establish any rule. They are private persons and not bound by the First Amendment which applies only to governments.

      Now, after this brief excursion into the constitutional law, the message your referred to implies that since Ms. Politkovskaya was a citizen of the United States, it was OK to kill her. That is truly despicable if that’s what Eugene meant. Only a sadist would enjoy the senseless death of any person to say nothing of a prominent journalist. That is the reason for Penny’s indignation, I believe, and I fully share it.

      If Eugene did not mean that he really should explain what he did mean. Somehow, I doubt he will, however, in view of the numerous clearly racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic and anti-democratic statements he had previously made.

      • “the message your referred to implies that since Ms. Politkovskaya was a citizen of the United States, it was OK to kill her.”

        No, the entirety of that message was: “Anna Politkovskaya was a citizen of the USA.”

        To me, this meant that Eugene was sayng that Politkovkaya was an American not a Russian. Now, that is a false view, but it is in no way offensive and in no way suggests that “it was OK to kill her”. It is clearly **your** warped interpretation that he meant to imply that “it is OK to kill American citizens”.

        As far as this being a sovereign forum and having the legal right to censor and ban dissidents – you are absolutely right. Just as China is a sovereign country and has the legal right to censor and ban dissidents.

        However, civilised countries and bulletin boards voluntarily tolerate and even celebrate dissent*; while countries and forums, ruled by intolerant tyrants, don’t.

        In fact, dissent and sharp arguments are good for blogs because they attract more readers and keep them hooked.

        • Based on Eugenes previous comments about Politkovskaya such as the ever charming “A dogs death for a dog” comment he made a couple of months ago, those who regularly post here have a good idea of what Eugene meant.

          He has repeatedly lauded the murder of people such as Markelov, Politkovskaya, and I am just waiting for him to do the same with this latest murder of a good woman, Natalya Estemirova.

          I agree with you that dissent is usually a good thing, and vital in a healthy democracy.

          However, Eugene is a violently racist, anti-semite, and Caucasian (Georgians and Chechens in particular), anti African, anti immigrant piece of refuse.

          His posts are usually racist and vile and add nothing to the quality of discussion.

    • Really?

      Given that Russians tend to kill those that disagree with them, whereas Penny was asking for the banning of a racist, xenophobic, imperialist little Russian troll from posting, I suggest thet you are following the standard FSB rant.

      Time to stop feeding you troll boy.

  8. Andrew wrote: “I suggest you grow a brain before posting.”

    Why do you guys always stoop to cheap childish insults towards anybody who expresses a different opinion here? Lack of valid arguments or a Stalinist upbringing?

    • No chum, just pointing out that your posts lack intelligence.

      • Normal people, who don’t suffer from infantilism and underdevelopment, let their logical arguments speak for themselves and don’t resort to childish insults like: ““I suggest you grow a brain before posting.”

        • Oh thats not true at all.
          You should try attending a conference of Archaeologists some time.
          Once the gloves come off…..

        • By the way, hypocrisy alert!

          “Normal people, who don’t suffer from infantilism and underdevelopment”

          Now thats an insult too chum. Fell off you high horse did you?

  9. Andrew, please…“Time to stop feeding you troll boy”….put your money where your mouth is. You are, sorry, one of the biggest troll magnets here. They stay because YOU feed them.

    I’m honestly considering starting my own Russia blog which would ban the pathetic troll distractions and those that feed them .

    Free speech makes sense until it is abused.

    The level of discussion here has devolved into pathetically ruined threads.

    I’m tired of looking at it.

    • “troll magnets”

      Penny, Trolls are an interesting problem . Personally, I like having a few around: they act as additional, through quite unneeded, proof of our superiority.

      But it’s a different matter when threads are ruined, as this one and, even more so, the Special Extra on Natalya Estemirova were.

      An idea: when something of the kind starts happening, randomly delete posts by parties who have entered into a pointless battle (e.g. the AndrewJasmina thing). This would break the flow and they would be disincentivised to continue.

      Also, allowing this sort of thing makes a mockery of any sort of statistics on comments to LR. You start counting comments like these, you might as well count chewing gum wrappers on the sidewalk as printed articles.

  10. penny //wrote:

    “Free speech makes sense until it is abused”

    Your idea of free speech is having the freedom to say anything you want while not allowing anybody else to say anything to contradict you.

    Did you get it directly from Putin or did you further improve upon him?

    Dialectics laws: opposites attract, similarities repel. You and Putin are like Yin-and-Yang and fascism-and-communism: you are opposing enemies and yet exactly the same in terms of your views on freedoms.

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