Alexei Bayer, writing in the Moscow Times:
The origins of the Russian state and its early history help explain the country’s modern political makeup.
According to the Kievan Primary Chronicle, compiled around 1110, Slavic tribes invited Scandinavian prince Rurik to rule over them in the 9th century. But the history of the Viking expansion in Western Europe suggests that an “invitation” was hardly necessary. In the West, the Vikings began by raiding settlements, pillaging them and dragging their inhabitants off to slavery. They set up outposts to collect tributes, gradually becoming feudal lords. They adopted the local language and customs and eventually melded with the local population.
The Norsemen followed the same pattern in Britain, France and Sicily. The Varangians, as they were known in Russia, became feudal lords and the name of their tribe, the Rus, gave Russia its name just as Normandy was named after the Normans.
Victor Davidoff, writing in the Moscow Times:
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s May 6 speech in Volgograd finally put an end to the questions that have been asked for the last three years: Who is ruling Russia, and who will rule Russia after 2012?
It was a canonical speech by a national leader who is both trying to help the party he heads, United Russia, in December’s State Duma elections and who is priming himself for the presidential race in 2012. The speech painted a rosy picture of Russia today and an even brighter picture of the future if, of course, the country maintains “stability,” which when translated from post-Soviet newspeak means “the status quo of United Russia and the siloviki in power for many years.”
In the provocative cartoon above Sergei Yelkin, a/k/a “Ellustrator,” describes three blue-shaded “freeze” periods in Russian history (from left to right those of Stalin, Brezhnev and Putin) and three green-shaded “thaw” periods following them (those of Khrushchev, Gorbachev and Medvedev). As you can see, each type of period grows smaller over time, indicating that Russia is headed towards absolute inertia at best. One reader drew a huge amount of feedback when he commented: “People who live on icebergs should not rejoice in news of a thaw.”