EDITORIAL: Russia, Behind the Curtain

EDITORIAL

Russia, Behind the Curtain

Over the past year, the confidence of the Russian people in their government has plummeted. From a high of 56% in May 2010, the approval rate has fallen steadily until last month it dropped, stunningly, below a majority to 48%.

In July 2010, only 29% of Russians thought their government was moving in the “wrong direction.”  As of last month, that figure stands at 40% — a whopping increase of one-third in less than a year.  Back in July a majority of Russians thought the country was moving in the right direction; now, just 43% think so. Only 27% of Russians firmly believe the government will be able to change things for the better, while 37% are sure there is no chance that will happen.

Meanwhile, another poll revealed that 40% of Russians favor the installation of a constitutional monarch.

These are devastatingly bad poll results in a country where the state controls all major media outlets and public criticism of the regime is almost wholly absent. If the public had better information, the regime would no doubt be in single-digit approval.

In shockingly bizarre fashion, however, Russian approval of the country’s two leaders, Medvedev and Putin, is still stratospherically high.  Medvedev has 68% approval and Putin, who is in charge of the government, is even higher at 71%.  There is only one word for such results, and that word is:  irrational.  Or perhaps a better word would be:  psychotic.

If Medvedev and/or Putin, who have total control over all aspects of political action in Russia, are not to blame for the country heading hopelessly in the wrong direction, who is??  Isn’t it absolutely obvious that if Putin were currently president and Medvedev prime minister, then Medvedev would be fired?

Some Russians are turning their lack of confidence in their government into political action.  Boris Nemtsov has received over $65,000 in small individual donations to publish and distribute his latest white paper on personal corruption by Medvedev and Putin, and Alexei Navalny has collected nearly four times more to support his own ongoing battle against high-level corruption.  The Kremlin is taking notice, and has used the KGB to ferret out and harass Navalny’s donors.  When that resulted in an increase in donations, the Kremlin escalated its repression and announced a criminal investigation that could put Navalny in prison for five years.

Which is predictable. After all, why take the trouble of improving your policies and raising public approval levels when you can simply threaten, intimidate and perhaps even murder those who dare to disapprove?  It’s the tactic used by the USSR, and Russians know it well. The fact that this tactic led the nation to despair and collapse does not seem to phase them one little bit.

26 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russia, Behind the Curtain

  1. Putin new St. Paul – only in russia;

    This is a very interesting article about Putin from Echo Moskvy. It is not a joke…Please read this and enjoy.

    The relationship between Russia’s rulers and God goes back a long way. Alexander Nevsky was canonised for repelling invasions of Holy Mother Russia, while Nikolai II and his family have been recognised as saintly passion-bearers by the Orthodox church.

    But no living leader has been worshipped by a religious group, until now.

    A sect worshipping Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has started up in the village of Bolshaya Yelnia near the Volga.

    Putin is St Paul reborn

    The sect was founded by a woman calling herself Mother Fotina, and she teaches that Putin was St Paul in his past life, and is now together with seven other reborn apostles fighting the antichrists, Interfax reported.

    “According to the Bible, Paul the Apostle was a military commander at first,” the sect’s founder told Sobesednik.

    “In his days in the KGB, Putin also did some rather unrighteous things. But once he became president, he was imbued with the Holy Spirit, and just like the apostle, he started heading his flock,” she said.

    Fotina claims she has known Vladimir Putin since he was Vladimir I of Kiev (who converted then pagan Russia to Christianity in 988), and she was Olga of Kiev, Vladimir’s grandmother.

    Popular sect with Soviet flavour

    “The people are flocking to her. There are less now, but earlier sometimes all the road was taken with parked cars – all fancy cars, with license plates from different regions,” a local resident said.

    The sect’s adepts even sing Soviet children’s tune Pust Vsegda Budet Slontse (Let the sun be forever) as psalms, and listen to masses sitting on carpet.

    The society’s iconostasis even has a portrait of Vladimir Putin.

    Prison redemption

    Like a character from a Tolstoy novel, Fotina (whose real name is Svetlana Frolova), found the path to righteousness while behind bars.

    Once released after serving time for fraud she took up psychic studies and starting inviting people for séances. Her first salon was specialising in “cosmoenergy.”

    Later Frolova sold her Nizhny Novgorod flat and bought a house in Bolshaya Yelna, where she established the “abode”.

    Authorities are not worried

    “We are aware of the existence of such a sect,” said the head of Kstovsky area of Nizhegorodsky Region Svetlana Medvedeva.

    “We received complaints from local residents, but we cannot do anything about it. For this we need proof of illegal activity of said abode, which we do not have.”

    Impressive devotion

    “The high evaluation of what the Prime Minister has done is impressive,” said Vladimir Putin’s press-secretary Dmitry Peskov. “But I would like to recall one of the main commandments: ‘thou shalt not worship false idols’.

    “When confronted with signs of worship – devoting poems, paintings and other, Vladimir Putin, as far as I could see, reacts very cautiously. The Prime Minister has spoken about it more than once,” Peskov said.

    The PM’s spokesman said Putin has a positive attitude towards like-minded people, rather than fans, “who he is connected to through real deeds, and not signs of idolatry.”

    Putin has been made the hero of pop songs, brands of vodka and even night club parties during his time as president and prime minister

    Any comments on this russian insanity???

  2. > If Medvedev and/or Putin, who have total control over all aspects of political action in Russia, are not to blame for the country heading hopelessly in the wrong direction, who is?? Isn’t it absolutely obvious that if Putin were currently president and Medvedev prime minister, then Medvedev would be fired?

    Well thats wrong. Being at the president seat, being able to fire anybody in the government (which is simple only in theory), doesn’t mean being in “total control over all aspects of political action in Russia” and even more that doesn’t guarantee control over practical things like economy.
    In ex-soviet Russia being president is like driving a car on the ice. You may turn the wheel, press buttons, but that doesn’t affect (the way you intend) the trajectory of the car.

  3. http://vdagestan.info/?p=942

    The dagestani rebels (Jamaat Shariat) announce a “wave of attacks” against the russian occupants and the local pro-russian dagesani police-traitors in the coming days,weeks and months!! Just yesterday two pro-russian dagestani policemen and one russian FSB-border guard were killed in rebel-attacks in Dagestan!!! RUSSIA WILL COLLAPSE LIKE THE SOVIET UNION!!!!!

  4. To begin with Wolodymyr Welykiy ( Vladimir to you ) , NEVER
    babtized ” Russia ” , he babtized Rus’ – Ukraine . There was no “Russia ”
    at that time . The term ” Russia ” first was employed by Peter l , in
    1721 . Up to that point that territory was known as Moscovia and the
    inhabitants as moscovians or moscovites or moskali . Peter used
    the term ” Russia ” with the intent to usurp Rus’ -Ukraine’s history and
    heritage and make it appear as both nations have common roots .
    This fraud was perpetuated until recently by either paid falsifyers
    or ignorance . Babtizm of Moscovy camew fully two centuries after
    Kyevan Rus’ Ukeraine’s .

    • This is an intentionally false “khokhol” interpretation of the history, a sort of total brainwashing directed to imbecile ukrainian nazi from L’vov. Ukrainians during the last 10 years try to rewrite the world history to match their chauvinistic propaganda. Another competing interpretation is that the ancient ukrs are the direct descendants of Roman Empire, I saw that as well.

      Kievan Rus’ has nothing to do with Ukraine. Ukraine is translated from Russian as “outlying district” or “borderland” (of Russia), so Ukrainians are an offshoot of Russian nation who got their local dialect as a mixture of Russian and Polish languages.

      Some useful quotations from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia :

      “According to the Primary Chronicle, a Varangian from Rus’ people, named Rurik, was elected ruler of Novgorod in 862. His successor Oleg of Novgorod moved south and conquered Kiev in 882, which had been previously paying tribute to the Khazars; so the state of Kievan Rus’ started. Oleg, Rurik’s son Igor and Igor’s son Sviatoslav subsequently subdued all East Slavic tribes to Kievan rule, destroyed the Khazar khaganate and launched several military expeditions to Byzantium.
      ….
      Ultimately Kievan Rus’ disintegrated, with the final blow being the Mongol invasion of 1237–40, that resulted in the destruction of Kiev and the death of about half the population of Rus’. The invaders, later known as Tatars, formed the state of the Golden Horde, which pillaged the Russian principalities and ruled the southern and central expanses of Russia for over three centuries. The Novgorod together with Pskov retained some degree of autonomy during the time of the Mongol yoke and were largely spared the atrocities that affected the rest of the country. Led by Prince Alexander Nevsky, Novgorodians repelled the invading Swedes in the Battle of the Neva in 1240, as well as the Germanic crusaders in the Battle of the Ice in 1242, breaking their attempts to colonize the Northern Rus’.”

      And that is what the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine article says:

      “The Kievan Rus’ were founded by the Rus’ people, Varangians who first settled around Ladoga and Novgorod, then gradually moved southward eventually reaching Kiev about 880. The Kievan Rus’ included the western part of modern Ukraine, Belarus, with larger part of it situated on the territory of modern Russia. According to the Primary Chronicle the Rus’ elite initially consisted of Varangians from Scandinavia.

      In the 11th and 12th centuries, constant incursions by nomadic Turkic tribes, such as the Pechenegs and the Kipchaks, caused a massive migration of Slavic populations to the safer, heavily forested regions of the north.[18] The 13th century Mongol invasion devastated Kievan Rus’. Kiev was totally destroyed in 1240.”

      • Ah, comrade Propaganda Minister, comrade jockstrap,

        What a ridiculous piece of B/S you have just spun. Sadly you omitted to mention that Muscali pigs can fly and that they are also the greatest fabricators of history in this day and age of actual world events.

        What next comrade, we poor peasants are awaiting your next episode of your delirious fable. Have another puff of your next “joint,” it will help you again.

    • Is that what they teach in Ukrainian schools now. I am appaled by the degradation. Call me a product of the Soviet system that required memorizing dates and events by heart, but it used to be common knowledge that Ivan IV assumed the title as the “Tsar of All Russia” in 1547, some 175 years before Peter the Great. The Moscow Princedom existed from the mid-XIII century to the mid-XVI century, with its first Prince being a son of a Prince of Novgorod. And it was one of the Russian Princedoms, such as the Kiev, Novgorod, Vladimir etc. For some 300 years, the subjects of the Moscow Principality were both Muscovites and Russians, like the subjects of Kiev were both Kievans and Russians and the subjects of Novgorod were both Novgorodians and Russians.

      • Your problem AT, is that you cannot differentiate between fact and fiction.

        Sadly your beloved Russia is world known for not facing up to the truth and rewriting history to suit its ‘Potemkin” propaganda spiel, taught to past and future students on a “Soviet system that required memorizing dates and events by heart,” without questioning the basis or other historic facts to support or reject this view. I realize that this required total servitude and obedience to the taught dogma – otherwise it was a free holiday trip to Kolyma ‘paradise” in the Arctic circle – so that the repeated brain washing of the student, resulted in a parrot like repeat (so to speak brain dead) mentality.

        And you have the audacity to state that you are “appaled by the degradation.” of Ukrainian schools? Well for starters the word appaled is actually spelled ‘appalled’ and so your schooling also leaves a lot to be desired, comrade, as too is your knowledge of world events. So why not start and tell us all about the 10’s of millions (in total) of innocent children, women and men your beloved communists murdered and why all the now free ex-satellite nations detest your beloved soviet Russia?

        Come on comrade, let’s hear your lop sided view of this blackest spot of your beloved fascist/communist Russia. And while at it, do tell what role your parents, and relatives too, played in enforcing it.

        • Bohdan, what is exactly wrong in my statements? The dates, the facts and the names come from medieval chronicles, they were not invented for the Soviet textbooks and can be easily verified. Again, what exactly in my statement is propaganda and what statements should be questioned? That Ivan IV assumed the title of the Tsar of All Russia in 1547. Whose fault is it that this is exactly his title as per the documents of the period? Or whose fault is it that all the princes ruling in Kyiv, Novgorod, Vladimir, Dmitrov and later in Moscow were members of one family? Or that all these principalities referred to themselves as “Russian” or “Rus” at some point in time? Does the fact that I actually remember the dates and the facts, unlike Maksym make me servile? I am more than welcome to question any facts if, instead of insults you provide evidence that I am somehow wrong. As for the spelling mistakes, typos do not prevent me from being perfectly functional in three languages and from reading and understanding the fourth one quite freely.

    • The Kievan Rus was a state created by a merger between the Novgorod Principality and the territory that was controlled out of Kiev by the end of the IXth century. The Moscow Principality was a later eastern extension of this state, which came into prominence by the end of the XIIIth century — which was an indirect result of in-fighting among princes of the Kievan Rus and Kiev’s eventual fall, first to the Mongols and then to the Lithuanians. The terms of Rus and Russia, meanwhile, were used by all the principalities ruled by the Rurik dynasty, including Kiev, Novgorod and Moscow.

      • … and the term itself is likely to come from Roslagen, an area in Sweden where Rurik was from.

        • Manfred Steifschwanz

          AT is correct As an aside, “Roslagen” constitutes the source of the Finnish word “Ruotsi” (Sweden) as well. But its Russian connection might be of certain interest to the Pshek trashbag. Here he has the missing link:

          Manfred Steifschwanz –> Sweden –> Roslagen –> RUSSIA

          Problem solved :-D

    • So much for that freedom of speech our resident Russophiles (and the Kremlin, of course) are lying about. To my American ear, the very term “criminal slander” sounds like something from the Salem witch trials era.

      • Well, most jurisdictions in the world, including the American one, allow to sue for slander, libel and/or defamation.

        • Of course, but only for civil damages in tort, not criminally. Crime of defamation is unknown in American jurisdictions

          • Or I should rather say that in the past criminal libel laws were known but long time ago. In some states criminal libel does theoretically exist but in practice prosecutions are very rare. Most states abolished it and very influential Model Penal Code does not consider this a crime and they don’t teach this crime in law schools anymore

            • You are right. Criminal libel laws are generally not applied under the US jurisdictions, but they do exist elsewhere in the world. In all fairness, I have never heard of an actual libel-related conviction that resulted in a prison term in Russia either. And I disagree with the concept of criminalizing libel.

              • I bet in other countries in the West it’s also extraordinary rare. It’s very simple — criminalizing speech is the surest way of stifling dissent. It’s an important tool for every authoritarian regime and for every dictatorship everywhere. Even the mere existence of such laws tends to chill the speech.

                • well, nothing to disagree with, really…

                  • Guys, nobody’s going to jail. A singer asks for RR 1M, he’ll get 100K, and all is settled.

                    As to libel leading to jail, walk out in the street and insult a first gay you see. Then find yourself in a prison rather soon.

  5. The article below was published today, May 19, 2011 at ‘Moscow News’ ,
    http://www.themoscownews.com/society/20110518/18865376.html

    Dog food for soldiers
    by Evgeniya Chaykovskaya at 18/05/2011 18:32

    A major from Vladivostok claims in a YouTube video soldiers are fed dog food and that corruption is ripe.

    Dog food for soldiers

    Head of army services and staff security from Vladivostok’s army unit #6890 major Igor Matveyev claims superiors substitute canned meat with dog food by changing the labels.

    “On April, 18 it became known that canned meat was substituted with dog food Bim and Belka I Strelka,” Matveyev said on the video.

    He also claims what has not been substituted is out of date or stolen.

    “According to an inventory, there are 13,800 cans or 4485 kilos of meat. It is now clear that 3,111 cans are dog food, and 310 cans of boiled beef are out of date. Where are 9000 more cans, or 2,900 kilos of canned meat is unknown. The head of the warehouse could not explain anything.”

    The major also said there were more out of date cans of fish, and that immigrants were living on the territory of the military unit in anti-sanitary conditions.

    Activists believe this story

    Human rights activists are not surprised and think this case is one of many.

    “There are a lot of cases like this one,” a representative of Citizen and Army public initiative told Gzt.ru.

    “It highlights another form of corruption that penetrates all our military system. I won’t say that they are all connected with dog food, but, for example, in Khabarovsk, in one of the units the soldiers did not receive enough food because instead of the declared food they were sent different things. On paper the soldiers could not accept them, and were simply starving. The company responsible for the deliveries was in Moscow, and for a long time no one could find those responsible.”

    Officials see no reason to panic

    Official sources, however, claim that the major merely wanted some attention.

    It is not the first time Matveyev has tried to attract attention to problems that are not confirmed on closer inspection, said head of internal army press service Vasily Panchenkov.

    “Matveyev’s service received poor reference, he systematically broke military discipline and the order of service, was subject to summary punishment, was on trial twice. In 2004 he was sentenced to one year in prison on probation, and in 2008 he was punished with a 15,000 fine,” Panchenkov told Interfax.

    He added that Matveyev had already been fired, but there would be an investigation.

    It was also announced that the major was fired, but for missing work, and not for the video.

    Soldier says it is all lies

    A soldier only identified as Alexei told Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei that the major published the video in retaliation to his superiors for firing him.

    “In that unit the food is absolutely OK. The soldiers eat quite well. The products are checked by the medical services of 107 crew. All that the major says is absurd,” Alexei said.

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