Latynina Probes the Russian Subconscious

The fearless and heroic Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

In an authoritarian society, public opinion surveys are meaningless. The problem isn’t so much that survey data are falsified. It’s that the results themselves do not provide an accurate reflection of reality — just as a thermometer placed outside the kitchen window cannot give you the temperature indoors.

As soon as word of the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant accident became known to residents who lived downriver from the dam, most relocated immediately to higher ground. If you were to ask those people in a poll if they have faith in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, they would surely answer positively. They are convinced that Putin brought stability to Russia, restored the power vertical and saved our citizens in South Ossetia from Georgian genocide.

It is not that respondents lie when surveys ask for their opinions. But consciously they believe one thing, and subconsciously quite another. Consciously, they love Putin, but subconsciously they know that if the dam had burst and the Yenisei River had swept them all away, Putin, if asked by the media what had happened to the victims, would not hesitate to quip, “They sank” — just as he did in 2000 when U.S. television journalist Larry King asked Putin what happened to the Kursk submarine.

The Sayano-Shushenskaya tragedy showed how a myth can eclipse reality. Although Spanish lord Cesare Borgia probably never slept with his sister, he did commit many other heinous offenses, so it was natural that the Italians of the 16th century tacked the incest charges onto all the other ones. After former Federal Security Service officer Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London, the British press started pointing their fingers at the Kremlin for virtually anyone who turned up dead on London streets.

On Jan. 9, a helicopter crashed during an illegal hunt for endangered sheep in the Altai mountains. The president’s envoy to the State Duma, Alexander Kosopkin died in the crash. Local residents’ outrage at similar hunting expeditions involving drunk public figures shooting rare animals from helicopters reached a boiling point. As a result, they developed a myth around the January accident. That version of the story holds that the hunters killed 28 endangered argali sheep and that two prostitutes were among those killed when the helicopter went down, but that their bodies where quickly shuttled away to hush up the incident. The people living in the nearby town of Kosh-Agach not only believe it, but each claims that a brother, friend or other close acquaintance witnessed the events with his own eyes.

Something similar happened following the recent accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant. On Aug. 17, rescue workers displayed superhuman effort in risking their lives to save two workers who had survived in an air pocket amid the submerged rubble and alerted searchers by banging a wrench against a pipe. But by Aug. 19, nobody was talking about the brave exploits of the rescue workers. Instead, rumors were circulating that workers were still trapped in the air pockets but the authorities had called off the search.

Myths always eclipse reality. Napoleon will often be remembered for his visit to plague-stricken troops at their barracks in Jaffa — even though it never happened. Our authorities are accused of turning their backs on men trapped in underwater air pockets, and even the brave, selfless feats of the rescuers cannot change that perception.

15 responses to “Latynina Probes the Russian Subconscious

  1. You can divide people into those that are feeling based – it’s the truth because I feel to shoud be so – and those that use reason, facts and logic in arriving at truths.

    The I-feel-it’s-the-truth crowd in the west is held in check because in an uncensored free speech society they are openly challenged.

    Russia is a sorry lesson in how once freedom is lost it’s very difficult to re-establish it again. Looking around at the globe’s stagnating autocratic societies, separating Eastern Europe’s unique situation out of the mix, history isn’t in their favor in getting another chance at freedom.

    • ‘Russia is a sorry lesson in how once freedom is lost it’s very difficult to re-establish it again.’

      I would beg to differ and say that Russia has never experienced freedom, not as it is/was understood from the Poland in the East to the USA in the west.

      They may have certain economic freedoms (without the essential legal counterbalance to that to counter fraud, corruption, abuse of power etc) now, but in social and political terms there is no freedom in the terms we undestand that term to mean. Nor the right balance between individual and collective freedoms.

      You can’t lose something you have precious little experience and understanding of , which is a major part of Russia’s problems.

  2. Latynina? Isn’t that the idiot that promised that Russia would attack Georgia back in August? Has she apologised yet?


    Please stop lying. You are violating our rules by failing to document your claim with a link to her statement. Do it again and you’re banned, ape.

  3. penny,
    we have I-feel-it’s the truth right here.

    Latynina? Isn’t that the idiot that promised that Russia would attack Georgia back in August?

    Don’t confuse him with facts – study him in his natural beauty!

  4. > But what phobophobe forgets is that unlike last time, this time the Georgians did not swallow the bait.

    No, no, no. Let’s not confuse the issues here. You and I disagree whether the Georgian aggression last year was an unprovoked act of desperation (as I think) or was a stupid overreaction to a “bait” (as you think). But this time, Latynina and Fegelhauer were not talking about Russia “baiting” Georgia into another aggression. They were talking about Russia committing aggression itself this time. And as you recall, I wrote a month ago that this idea is insane, because the current status quo is completely in Russia’s favour and has been such for more than a decade. Thus, Latynina and Fegelhauer are either idiots or vicious liars not to understand these basics. And, as I also wrote, this time Georgia knows better not to launch a new aggression. So, I said that only a moron or a liar could not see that the new war was absolutely impossible. And I was right of course, just as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow.

    As far as whether those two are idiots or they lie for personal gain — well, it’s your choice.

  5. Actually Latynina and Felgenhauer both wrote that Russia would use its separatist sock puppets to ratchet up the tension, relying on the Georgian president acting militarily to give them another excuse.

    Check your facts phobophobe.

    • First of all, either way, my prediction was right and theirs – wrong.

      Second, neither Latynina (whose logic is hard to understand anyway) nor Felgenhauer mentioned anything even close to “baiting”. Here is what Felgenhauer said:

      05 august 2009

      “It is quite possible that these measures are connected to the Russian invasion of Georgia, anticipated/expected by everybody”

      So, where is any mention of “baiting”? And what is this lie about “everybody” expecting the Russian invasion? Who are these “everybody”? As I have written again and again, only morons or paid liars can’t realise that Russia loves the status quo and has no plans to invade Georgia. And while Felgenhauer and some of his friends may be indeed well-paid liars, I am sure that most his friends are neither liars nor idiots (not even “useful idiots”) and thus saw that the Russian invasion was, is and will be an impossible absurdity.

      As I said before, the only question remains whether Felgenhauer is an idiot or a paid liar.

    • And what about our Chechen intelligencer and his great information on Russian attacks?

      Apologies are in order.

      Well, that would require decency.

  6. As I said before, the only question remains whether Felgenhauer is an idiot or a paid liar.

    Why does it have to be one OR the other? Maybe its both.

    • You are, apparently, demented. Felgenhauer merely said that August was the most opportune time for an attack, he did not guarantee one. His purpose in writing was to get the world to block the attack and to warn Saakashvili to play it cool, you ape-like cretin. Obama went to Moscow and made a strong statement regarding Georgia, and the Kremlin backed down for now. Felgenhauer got what he wanted.

      If you are suggesting you “know” that Russia will never invade Georgia AGAIN, your head needs major work.

  7. A tag-team appears to polute the minds of useful idiots because they can not comprehend the logic of russian intelligentzia.

  8. I have a suspicion that new guy Tchorka is Phobophobe’s sockpuppet.


    Now now, don’t judge! How do you know?! Maybe Phobophobe is Tchorka’s sockpuppet! :)))

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