Russian film director Andrei “Russophobe” Konchalovsky, writing on Open Democracy:
“Cursed be those who express our thoughts before us!”
— Aelius Donatus, Roman grammarian and teacher of rhetoric
Donatus, living in ancient Rome, was fortunate – he wanted to be the first to express a seditious thought. If I, living in today’s Russia, wish to express an opinion that someone might find offensive, I need to attribute it to some recognised authority, ideally an eminent Russian thinker. Otherwise I will be accused of every sin in general, and of hatred of everything Russian in particular.
So, here are my thoughts.
Russian Technology Unbound
Imagine an eagle soaring proudly around the earth in orbit at supersonic speed. Suddenly, the evil Hubble Space Telescope comes into view. The eagle’s eyes glisten with sparks of bravery, it turns its back on the devilish American craft and a powerful red-white-and-blue laser beam shoots out of the eagle’s buttocks, blinding the telescope and rendering the demonic Americans helpless. Their own national symbol has laid them low!
Who in the world could be capable of putting forth such amazing technology to advance the fight against the evil empire that is the USA? Only Vladimir Putin’s Russia, that’s who!
Russians Bashing Russia
The United States gave it to Russia with both barrels over the weekend.
With U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Ukraine and loudly denouncing Russian aggression and imperialism, the U.S. warship Mount Whitney sailed into the Georgian port of Poti with relief supplies even though it is still being held by Russian stormtroopers. It was an in-your-face moment Russia was just as helpless to do anything about as was tiny Georgia when Russian tanks rolled in. How does that feel, Russians? “President” Medvedev whimpered: “I wonder how they would feel if we now dispatched humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean, suffering from a hurricane, using our navy.” Maybe they’d feel like sinking those ships, and do it — except that the U.S. hasn’t really rolled tanks into any Caribbean countries lately, has it? But if that’s how you think about the Whitney, Dima, excellent. Mission accomplished. So go ahead, Dima, sink the Whitney and block its delivery of humanitarian aid if you have the guts and the ability. Show the world what Russians are made of. And while you’re doing that, ask yourself how Russia would have felt if America behaved in Chechnya the way Russia has behaved in Georgia. Ask yourself why U.S. warships are in the Black Sea, where they weren’t in July. But Medvedev wasn’t pondering those questions, nor did it appear there was any connection whatsoever between his brain and his mouth.
We have to admit, it’s rather startling to see the whole world — including many Russians themselves (Putin even lost his title of Russia’s sexiest man to, of all people, Boris Nemtsov) — talking about Russia in exactly the way we have been doing ever since April 2006 when this blog was founded (even far off Australia is considering repudiating its deal to sell uranium to Russia; it should do so). Then, we stood virtually alone in the world sounding the clarion call of warning. Now, we’re conventional wisdom, even in Russia.
Let’s take a look at what three Russians are saying about their country these days.