WEDNESDAY MAY 19 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Medvedev the Destroyer?
(2) EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian “Education”
(3) INTERVIEW: Blogger Mark Adomanis
(4) Interview: Blogger Julia Ioffe
(5) Crime and Punishment, Russian Style
(6) CARTOON: Medvedev the Destroyer?
NOTE: Today we publish two lengthy interviews with True/Slant Russia bloggers one of which, with egghead blogger Mark Adomanis, is exclusive to La Russophobe. The other took place on the august virtual pages of the New Yorker magazine’s website as a companion to an article in the actual hard copy by Julia Ioffe, who we identifed a few issues back as one of our top-ten Russia bloggers in the world. It’s exciting to see the world of Russia blogging growing more dynamic and diverse as the power of the blogosphere continues to grow, and we are pleased to do our part to contribute to that growth.
Medvedev the Destroyer
The funny thing is, he does not look like a destroyer, he looks like a ginormous dweeb. What a disguise!
“Identify those involved in committing this heinous crime. Destroy the ones trying to resist. Show no mercy!”
Such are the alleged words of Russian “president” Dima Medvedev in regard to perpetrators of the March 2010 subway bombings in Moscow.
And lo and behold! Just a few weeks later the FSB reported that it had “destroyed” three of the two bombers’ accomplices, including their guide to Moscow and their guide to the bombing locations, after meeting “stiff armed resistance.”
Polina Surina doles out a Real Russian “Education”
The Moscow Times reports:
Polina Surina, 26, an instructor at the School of Government at Moscow State University, has been hit with new fraud charges in a case that has rocked the educational establishment. Surina, whose father is the dean of the school, was detained on April 26 and charged with accepting a bribe of 35,000 euros ($46,000) from a prospective student. But the district prosecutor’s office dropped the charge, which carried a maximum punishment of five years, drawing criticism from the Investigative Committee. Nina Ostanina, a State Duma deputy with the Communist Party, has accused Vyacheslav Volodin, a senior United Russia official and a professor at the School of Government, of intervening with investigators on Surina’s behalf. The city prosecutor’s office reopened the case on a new charge of fraud carrying up to 10 years in prison after a video of Surina accepting the money leaked onto the Internet, Interfax reported Tuesday. Her father, Alexei Surin, dean of the School of Government, will leave his post Friday because his term has expired, Interfax said.
Let’s be crystal clear: the sordid case of “Professor” Surina is in no way an aberration. This is simply the Russian education system in microcosm, and nobody who has spent any serious time in Russia would dare deny that. And it’s richly fitting that, of all things, Surina is a professor of government, that most corrupt of all Russian institutions. Not long ago, we reported on a massive scandal involving bribery at the Russian prosecutor’s office.
Mark Adomanis is a 25-year old writer based in Washington DC who holds degrees in Russian studies from both Harvard and Oxford. He blogs about Russia on the same True/Slant website that also publishes one of our favorite Russia bloggers, Julia Ioffe, and came to our attention with some comments on her blog. Some Russophiles call him a CIA spy, while some Russophobes think he’s a KGB plant. Recently, La Russophobe sat down (virtually) with Adomanis to pick his brain on the man called Vladimir Putin, focusing on political murders, corruption, elections and economics.
LA RUSSOPHOBE: We’ll start right out with the question that gives rise to our interest in this interview. In a March 24, 2010 post on your blog, debating with fellow True/Slant blogger Barrett Brown, you stated: “Some of us already knew about the [Moscow apartment] bombings and Putin’s role in them! Some of us have known about them for over a decade, since they happened in 1999!” There are those who would argue that, regardless of any other factors, if Putin had any role in the murder of nearly 300 Russian citizens and injuring over 600 others, he should never have become “president,” and indeed should have been prosecuted and jailed. Do you disagree?
MARK ADOMANIS: I think “should” is the operative word here. Should Putin have become president if he had a role in the 1999 apartment bombings? No I suppose he “should” not have. But he did. Moreover, when Putin became president he had the full backing and support of Yeltsin and his close advisers (particularly Boris Berezovsky.). In a perfect world I suppose that all of the people responsible for the apartment bombings would be rotting in jail, but the world, and Russia in particular, is exceedingly far from being perfect.
In a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine, Russia blogger Julia Ioffe wrote about the Russian teen who created Chatroulette. Ioffe also answered questions from the magazine’s readers in a live chat. Here is the transcript:
JULIA IOFFE: Hello, everyone! Julia Ioffe here, and very happy to be here. Can’t wait to get at some of these questions.
QUESTION FROM ARUIZCAMACHO: Your portrait of Ternovskiy’s first acquaintance with America is very poignant. Have you kept in touch with him? How’s he adjusting to his new country lately?
JULIA IOFFE: Yes, I’ve tried to stay in touch with Andrey, partially because it’s hard to just let go of an interesting person you get to know so well by reporting a story. It was also especially interesting to me to hear how he was adjusting to America given his high hopes for the place. At first, and especially after he got to San Francisco, he seemed to swoon a bit. Then as reality hit—meetings, the need to work and improve the site, the loneliness of turning 18 without your family—he cooled to it and told me that America is just like everywhere else—boring.
- Raskolnikov and the Money-lender
The Moscow Times reports:
The opening of a Moscow metro station dedicated to 19th-century writer Fyodor Dostoevsky, notorious for the gloomy atmosphere of his novels, has been postponed indefinitely amid a flap over its violent murals.
One marble mural in the Dostoyevskaya station, which was to open Saturday on the north end of the Light Green Line, depicts a young man killing two women with an ax, while another shows a man holding a gun to his temple.
Pictures of the murals, which illustrate the plots of Dostoevsky’s novels and are made from black and gray marble, have ignited a storm of controversy after first being posted on a LiveJournal blog on April 29.
“There have been observations that the murals are too gloomy and aggressive,” a Moscow metro official said Thursday, explaining the decision to delay the station’s opening, RIA-Novosti reported.
A leading Moscow psychologist, Mikhail Vinogradov, warned that the murals could make the station a popular place to commit suicide, Rosbalt reported.