Tag Archives: michael bohm

Corruption: Why Russians have nothing to Smile About

Michael Bohm, writing in the Moscow Times:

It is often said Russians don’t smile much, while Americans smile too much.

In general, the American smile has a terrible reputation in Russia. The campaign started in the early Soviet era. Look at the sinister smiles on old agitprop posters of caricatural “U.S. imperialists” wearing trademark cylinder hats, smoking cigars, salivating and smiling as they relished their piles of money and power over the world’s exploited classes.

Later, starting from the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras and continuing until the late 1980s, the Soviet print and television media carried regular reports called “Their Customs,” which focused on contemptible bourgeois lifestyles in the United States and other Western countries.

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Putin and Medvedev: Ridiculous and Amateurish

Michael Bohm, writing in the Moscow Times:

On the day President Dmitry Medvedev fired Yury Luzhkov, reporters asked Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to comment on the reason. “The Moscow mayor didn’t get along with the president,” Putin said.

Medvedev’s own explanation wasn’t any more substantial. “As the president of Russia, I have lost my trust in Yury Mikhailovich Luzhkov as the mayor of Moscow,” he told journalists in Shanghai on Sept. 28, the day he signed the dismissal order.

Since then, Medvedev hasn’t explained any further. Although the law apparently allows Medvedev to get away with this vagueness, the president has an obligation to explain the exact reasons why he sacked the mayor of Moscow, who held the most powerful positions in the country.

Backing the ruling tandem’s silence, one of United Russia’s top leaders, Vyacheslav Volodin, commented the day Luzhkov was sacked: “The president’s decision shouldn’t be discussed. It should be carried out.”

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Vladimir Putin, Exposed and Humiliated

Moscow Times editorial page editor Michael Bohm, writing for the paper:

When Yury Shevchuk, a rock musician and outspoken Kremlin critic, met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin two weeks ago, it was truly a historic event. After all, we have waited 10 years for this precious moment — when Putin would finally go one-on-one with a real critic of his regime.

Indeed, most Putin-watchers — including many of his loyal supporters — have grown bored with the soft, self-censored questions from journalists or Putin’s highly staged call-in shows in which some of the more probing questions in years past have included:

1. “It is well-known that great people suffer from depression. Do you have depression?”

2. “Do you like going to the banya?”

3. “Do you use a cellular phone?”

4. “Is it true you promised to hang [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili by one of his body parts?”

5. “Why does Russia’s national soccer team perform so poorly?”

6. “Why don’t the national television channels show gymnastics in the morning anymore?”

7. “How will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?”

8. “Are you romantic?”

9. “When will we see the first snowfall?”

10. “Do you let stupid questions get through on your program?”

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