Daily Archives: March 23, 2010

March 26, 2010 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Solidarity or Solitarity?

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Georgia gives Russia a Pounding

(3)  Putin’s war on Ukrainian Culture

(4)  Russian Barbarism at Baikal

(5)  Russians to Anna Karenina:  Drop Dead!

NOTE:  LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment on the Pajamas Media website expresses our outrage over Barack Obama’s decision to allow American soliders to march on Red Square before dictator Vladimir Putin.  We were afraid Obama was pond scum, and we were right.

EDITORIAL: Solidarity or Solitarity?


Solidarity or Solitarity?

As reports in the Moscow Times and New York Times regarding the effort to hold a national “Day of Rage” in protest against the malignancy known as Vladimir Putin made clear, the efforts “fizzled” and “fell short” even by the rather pathetic standards of civil society in Russia.  Chatting with us on Twitter, opposition leader Oleg Kozlovsky explained that there were three reasons for the failure:   apathy, fear and ignorance.  Undoubtedly, though he’s too polite to say so, he meant these terms to apply as much to the benighted leadership of the “Solidarity” opposition movement as to those it calls to action, the people of Russia.

Perhaps the movement would be better named “Solitarity.”

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EDITORIAL: Georgia gives Russia a Pounding


Georgia gives Russia a Pounding

Last weekend, the national rugby team of Georgia gave its Russian counterparts a brutal thrashing and claimed the European Nations Championship.  Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili decorated the Georgian squad as national heroes.

We’re hard-pressed to decide which reminder triggered by the Georgian triumph was the more ghastly and humiliating for Russia, that of its shocking recent collapse at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, or that of its even more bitter failure to oust Saakashvili from power two years earlier, when world leaders stunned the Kremlin by rushing to Georgia’s side and universally refusing to recognize its annexation of Georgian territory.

But we find it even more perplexing to try to discern how the sheep-like denizens of Russia can ignore so blithely all this rancid public failure by their government.

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Russian Barbarism at Baikal

Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:

At a pompous meeting of the board of regents of the Russian Geographic Society held on March 15, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reaffirmed his January decision to permit the reopening of the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mills. In his words, Baikal’s problems should be resolved by the state and “without a lot of noise.” But if we ignore Putin’s advice and examine this question thoroughly from all sides, it becomes clear that Putin’s decision was completely incompetent.

The main argument for reopening the plant has been the desire to save jobs in Baikalsk, a small single-industry town built around the mill. But since 1966, when the mill first opened, it has been the main polluter of Lake Baikal. The mill sends about 5 tons of harmful emissions into the atmosphere annually, polluting up to 400 square kilometers of territory around Baikalsk, and builds up millions of tons of dangerous solid wastes along the shores of the lake.

There was a time when the plant was crucial to the town’s economy, employing 2,200 of the town’s 14,000 inhabitants. But the situation has fundamentally changed now. To restart the mills, 1,450 workers have been re-employed. What’s more, the local unemployment office listed only 700 people out of work in late January, and that number had decreased throughout last year at a time when the plant was not working.

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Putin’s War on Ukrainian Culture

Paul Goble reports:

Even as the Russian government proclaims “a new era” in relations with Kyiv thanks to the election of “pro-Russian” Viktor Yanukovich and even as the new Ukrainian president announces plans to build a bridge linking Crimea and Kuban, Moscow is seeking to suppress the Federal National Cultural Autonomy of Ukrainians in Russia. These various actions may seem contradictory to some, but in fact, they reflect a deeper and longstanding set of Russian attitudes, one that many in the West are loathe to admit or even share: the current Russian leadership and those in neighboring countries it can put pressure on do not view Ukrainians as a separate nation worthy of a separate state.

After the Soviet Union came apart, there were 11.4 million ethnic Russians living in Ukraine, something Moscow worked hard to ensure that the entire world knew and that the Russian government insisted the international community demand that Russian-language schools there be kept open. But at the same time, few people paid much attention to the equally important reality that there were three to five million ethnic Ukrainians living in the Russian Federation, for whom there were no Ukrainian-language schools or other native-language institutions and who even faced loss of work in the early 1990s if they sought to acquire Ukrainian citizenship.

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Russians to Anna Karenina: Drop Dead!

It’s come to this:  Americans are more accepting of Anna Karenina than Russians!  So much for the arrogant, insane Russian propaganda that its people are more appreciative of culture and literature than Americans!  The Moscow Times reports:

One of the country’s most famous directors has filmed a Leo Tolstoy classic, but more than a year after the premiere of Sergei Solovyov’s much-praised “Anna Karenina,” the movie has not gone on release in Russia.

Solovyov had long wanted to film “Anna Karenina,” a subject that has fascinated film directors for almost a century. He had to overcome financial problems and more than a decade of trials to complete the film. Tatyana Drubich has the title role, with legendary actor Oleg Yankovsky in his last film playing the cuckolded husband and Yaroslav Boiko as Count Vronsky, Karenina’s lover.

“Everywhere in Russia and in the West where I showed ‘Anna Karenina,’ the feedback was great!” Solovyov said in a telephone interview. “Every time I show it, people sit on stairs, lie on the stage … Tribeca, one of the biggest New York cinemas, was chock-full, and this was on Friday night!”

But even though there are deals in the offing for the film to be shown all over the West, local distributors have been reluctant to take on a film that, they say, will not appeal to the young Russians who make up the majority of the cinema-going audience.

“They all think ‘Karenina’s’ audience is rather narrow and specific and the typical sort of moviegoers up to age 25 … are not interested in such a movie,” said the film’s producer, Oleg Urushev. Distributors told him that “Karenina is not a rating-boosting character. That’s the problem,” he said.

“They say Tolstoy is not a rating-boosting character, and this is very stupid,” Solovyov said.

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