Spotlight on Russia reports:
One of the surest signs of repression in Russia is a flourishing culture of political jokes. The 1930s and the 1970s, in particular, bear testimony to this. In 2008, when Vladimir Putin tricked term limits by becoming prime minister under hand-picked President Dmitri Medvedev, a new joke was born in the Moscow intelligentsia’s kitchens. The year is 2020. Putin and Medvedev are in a bar, drinking beer. Putin looks up and asks: “Dima, do you remember which one of us is president, and which one is prime minister?” Medvedev thinks for a short while, then replies: “I think you are president, Vladimir Vladimirovich, and I am prime minister.” “Then it’s your turn to pay for the beer,” responds Putin.
SPECIAL EXTRA EDITORIAL
Putin, President for Life
Prokhorov in the Woodshed
Last week saw the Right Cause party of oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov go down in flames. It used to be the case that the Kremlin liquidated politicians (like former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov and former first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov) because they were too anti-Kremlin. But those days are over. Now, it’s going after all political figures who are not pro-Kremlin enough! It is the natural progression as Russia returns to a neo-Soviet state.
Does Britain still Remember Chamberlain?
Simon Tisdall, a columnist for The Guardian in Britain, says Russians think of British Prime Minister David Cameron a “useful idiot” who offers the KGB regime of Vladimir Putin “de facto, unthinking legitimization.”
Tony Brenton, Britain’s ambassador to Russia from 2004 through 2008, says that “Russia’s ruling elite has become immovable and predatory, elections are fixed, corruption is on a par with Nigeria, the legal system is pliable, and the police and security agencies untouchable.” He says its government is a sham: “While Dmitri Medvedev enjoys the title of president, Vladimir Putin continues to call the real shots.”
But despite that, the British idiot-in-chief recently traveled to Moscow and inked hundreds of millions in trade deals in exchange for ignoring Russian human rights atrocities and the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in London.
An Open Letter to Donna Welles
Blogger Donna Welles is having trouble understanding why Russians don’t understand why jokes about xenophobia are funny. Herein, we explain it to her.
Dear Ms. Welles,
We thought we’d help you out with your conundrum about Russians and xenophobia. You relate a “joke” about it told to you about Russia by a Russian who asked you why it was funny. You suggest it might be because the joke wasn’t invented by a Russian, and therefore isn’t tortuously illogical enough for a Russian to comprehend. But that isn’t it at all.
The reason is much more simple: For Russians, xenophobia and racism are normal, not unusual, and certainly not suspect. Russians believe that all people, just like them, hate those from other countries and want to see them destroyed. It’s necessary to view the world like that, you see, if you want to live by such a view yourself.
Pavel Stroilov, writing on the Spectator blog:
“Russian democracy has been buried under the ruins of New York’s twin towers”, famous KGB rebel Alexander Litvinenko wrote in 2002. The West, he warned, was making a grave mistake of going along with Putin’s dictatorship in exchange for his cooperation in the global war on terror. He would never be an honest partner, and would try to make the Western leaders complicit in his own crimes – from political assassinations to the genocide of Chechens. As a KGB officer, Putin would see every friendly summit-meeting as a potential opportunity to recruit another agent of influence.
David Cameron, whose summit-meeting with Putin coincided with the sombre jubilee of 9/11, would be well-advised to remember these warnings. The previous generation of Western leaders – from Bush to Blair to Schroeder to Berlusconi – has discredited itself by their ‘friendship’ with Putin, and got nothing in return. As The Spectator revealed this summer, there are serious questions to be asked about Russian secret service’s alleged links to Al-Qa’eda. Hopefully, the Prime Minister may have even asked those questions in Moscow.