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Kasparov Detained By Russian Police (check)
November 24, 2007 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Garry Kasparov, chess grandmaster, and presidential opponent to Putin, has just been detained on charges of organizing a protest and resisting arrest.

We have discussed Putin before.Journalists are also being targeted. Will there actually be an election in March 2008, when is Putin constitutionally required to step down? (Or will there be a March Surpise?).
posted by mrzarquon (63 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Russia is fucked.
posted by everichon at 10:24 AM on November 24, 2007


Sounds more like Kasparov is fucked. Russia has been this way for a long time.

Why does Russia keep reverting to repressive totalitarian rule?
posted by b1tr0t at 10:28 AM on November 24, 2007


Why does Russia keep reverting to repressive totalitarian rule?

I remember an interview with Kasparov where he got offended when bill mahr asked a similar question. The question, or statement really was "There's something in the Russian soul that loves a strong man"

Kasparov responded that there were lots of places in the world that had flipped from dictatorship to democracy, that you could compare North Korea and South Korea, etc.

In any event, to say it "keeps" reverting indicates that it happens over and over again, and the flip side of that is that it must move away from totalitarianism in order to keep those cycles going, so perhaps we might see and upswing soon.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on November 24, 2007


I had really hoped Putin wouldn't go down this road. Can't say I'm all that surprised, though. I wonder if Kasparov's fame in the rest of the world will make a difference as to how this plays out? It seems like it should, given that people in general are more likely to care about a "celebrity" than if it had happened to some obscure Russian politician.
posted by gemmy at 10:46 AM on November 24, 2007


Why does Russia keep reverting to repressive totalitarian rule?

I think a more pertinent question is when has Russia ever had non-repressive, non-authoritarian rule? The vast powers Putin exercises today were handed to him more or less intact from his predecessor.

Another reason, I think, has to do with the fact that Russia has essentially been an empire since Muscovy began expanding it's borders in the 14th century. Ever since then, Russia has seen a parade of despots preoccupied with keeping or expanding a multi-ethnic state under constant stress threatening to tear it apart. History generally sees empires and democracies, but not democratic empires.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:46 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Least surprising news story of 2007. I expect Putin will continue to be popular (and thus politically untouchable) as long as the oil wealth lasts; when the price of oil crashes, so will he. Democracy is a long way off, though.
posted by languagehat at 10:49 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Languagehat also makes a good point, methinks. Putin has been coasting on the phenominal popularity he can afford to buy with oil weath he has illegitimately appropriated for his own purposes. As long as he can do this, and control the press to boot, he is more or less untouchable.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:56 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was going to write something along the lines of expletive, but on preview he did it better and more succinctly. So add these comments instead.

To add to it, in the last 100 years, Russia has gone from a farming and harvest nation with some cultural centers in the bigger cities, but was still on the whole mostly farmland. To a Nuclear Power, a 1st world nation, and 'free market' economy. I don't think Russia knows what it is, it is just Russia. America took a similar transformation after World War I, but we only had 130 years of national identity behind us (and the change was happening over the course of the nations history). Russia had (atleast) 500 years.

The consolidations of farmland and industrialization of Russia occurred in a ten years.

You give someone with an identity complex a plan, a role, and a purpose, they will follow you. I guess you could do the same to a country, by providing a clear and strong image of the country. But now it is harder to control the perception of that image, you can't own all the information sources. It is harder to create the cult of personality that theocrates and dictators use to further their agenda and keep themselves in power, when people can read that you aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread and expresso machines that you keep telling them.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:57 AM on November 24, 2007


There was a very good Fresh Air interview with Kasparov a few weeks back, in which he talks about the goals of and outlook for his movement, etc. It's just over half an hour. As I recall, he expected something like this would happen.
posted by mumkin at 11:06 AM on November 24, 2007


Putin has been coasting on the phenominal popularity he can afford to buy with oil weath he has illegitimately appropriated for his own purposes. As long as he can do this, and control the press to boot, he is more or less untouchable.

How do you know Putin is phenominally popular? The former Soviet Union is a police state, with a tightly controlled media. You trust the polls coming out of that country?

With such gullible people like you believing anything they hear, no wonder the US is in such trouble!
posted by PoopyDoop at 11:08 AM on November 24, 2007


"I had not considered this move."
posted by Afroblanco at 11:13 AM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


Putin's camp will deny any responsibility for whatever happens to Kasparov, claiming it's Kasparov's own people trying to make Putin look evil. People will accept this bullshit explanation. They always do.
posted by Reggie Digest at 11:16 AM on November 24, 2007


Also: Big Blue for President!
posted by Reggie Digest at 11:18 AM on November 24, 2007


He should move to America. The worst we'd do is declare him an enemy combatant, ship him off to a secret prison, and torture him.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:18 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


(or Deep Blue. whatever)
posted by Reggie Digest at 11:20 AM on November 24, 2007


I'd vote for Big Blue if it's Superman we're talking about, but not if it's IBM or the crane that collapsed during the construction of Miller Park.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2007


How do you know Putin is phenominally popular?

According to the only statistics I've seen, Putin enjoys approval ratings in the mid 80% range. While these statistics could be manipulated, I haven't really seen anthing that contradicts the conventional wisdom that he is widely popular. I already mentioned his tightening control of the media as one reason for this, along with the higher living standards oil has been bringing for the past few years. As I said, this is the conventional wisdom, which I've seen anywhere from Wikipedia to The Economist to The Globe and Mail. I'm open to evidence or arguments to the contrary, but I simply haven't seen it. If you have reason to believe otherwise, by all means, tell us.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:36 AM on November 24, 2007


Listen to Kasparov on fresh air. You can't trust polls in a police state where people alive still remember the KGB, and see one of its agents in power.
posted by OldReliable at 11:51 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


For heaven's sake, even the opposition admits Putin is hugely popular. This is a non-issue. And Russia is not a "police state," though Putin is trying to push it in that direction. Read Russian bloggers; they have no hesitation in saying what they think.
posted by languagehat at 11:55 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have the Aug 25-31 issue of the Economist in front of me, and although the article does state domestic support appears high, it's likely because of tightly controlled media and the suppression of opposition and dissent by the FSB (Federal Security Service).

There is no conventional wisdom coming from Russia, only misinformation.
posted by PoopyDoop at 11:56 AM on November 24, 2007


Do you actually know anything about Russia, or are you content to make it all up in your head? Listen to yourself: even the Economist, no friend of Putin's, admits his popularity is high. What exactly would it take to convince you of that?
posted by languagehat at 12:03 PM on November 24, 2007


Putin has an awfully pretty soul. Or so I hear.
posted by srboisvert at 12:05 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Can we at least have a general consensus that even with repressive state control of the media and supression of dissent, it is possible to get a rough idea of what kind of support Putin enjoys? For instance, I think it's relatively uncontroversial that he has strong domestic support that will likely help him retain power as PM in 2008, whereas, Musharraf, for example, has little remaining domestic support.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:06 PM on November 24, 2007


Least surprising news story of 2007. I expect Putin will continue to be popular (and thus politically untouchable) as long as the oil wealth lasts; when the price of oil crashes, so will he. Democracy is a long way off, though.

I agree that this is wholly unsurprising. It was a question of when, not if. However, I'd be surprised if Putin ever ends up "crashing" -- he oversaw the reorganization of Russian oil companies, and nobody (except Putin himself) knows how many billions he was able to siphon into his personal accounts.

Worst case scenario for Putin is he buys a boat and sails off into the sunset in a bathtub full of rubles.
posted by voltairemodern at 12:07 PM on November 24, 2007


However, I'd be surprised if Putin ever ends up "crashing" ... Worst case scenario for Putin is he buys a boat and sails off into the sunset in a bathtub full of rubles.

Oh, absolutely. By "crashing" I didn't mean winding up broke and in jail as he deserves, I just meant losing popularity and probably being forced out of office. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
posted by languagehat at 12:18 PM on November 24, 2007


Read my last post again languagehat. The Economist said Putin's perceived domestic support is high because media is controlled and manipulated and there is no opposition because the FSB has crushed it.

Don't you get it? The people have no choice but to endorse him. There is no one else! And even if they did disapprove of him, would it be allowed to be reported? Would most people openly admit it? And if Russian citizens do approve of him, are they informed? Who was asked? How was the survey conducted?
posted by PoopyDoop at 12:18 PM on November 24, 2007


!!
posted by empath at 12:50 PM on November 24, 2007


Poopy, you still haven't answered my question. Where do you get your information on Russia? How do you know what's going on there aside from your preconceptions about "police states"?
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on November 24, 2007


Maybe we'll soon find out that the shadow head of the KGB is a 80 ply-lookahead supercomputer.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:58 PM on November 24, 2007


I myself have been detained by poutine.
posted by Rumple at 1:09 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]




NPR had a piece about Russia sometime late last week that included a sobering interview with some fucking dolt kid in the leadership of some "kids-for-Putin" type club. He slavishly defended the group's intimidation of political rivals as being some kind of defense against "extremists and radicals" of which, of course, Kasparov is one.

It was all too familiar to the kind of shit thinking we've got here in the United States. Really, they're just a bit farther ahead than we are. I also doubt NPR will be around when we reach that point. Extremists, you know.
posted by odinsdream at 1:21 PM on November 24, 2007


Poopy, I think perhaps you're misreading. From that issue of TE:

It is hard to gauge Mr Putin's popularity in a country with such tightly controlled media, but his opinion-poll ratings are impressively high. [link]

The implication is that Putin is popular, and that this is perplexing. Several explanations are offered including an increasing GDP, a sense of stability after the Yeltsin and the oligarchs, and especially, propaganda from the centralized media.
posted by ~ at 1:39 PM on November 24, 2007


I would also turn myself in to poutine.
posted by ~ at 1:42 PM on November 24, 2007


So far, this thread has mainly ignored important forces at work in Putin's Russia, just as our leading Russian scholar has in her ineffective dealings with Putin's regime.
"... SECRETARY RICE: I believe that Russia is a stable country, that it is a country that has the possibility of developing democratic processes and institutions in which people can express their aspirations and their views. It is not necessary to think of it as revolution, it's not necessary to think of it as anything to fear. It is important to recognize that Russia has been through a lot. I know that.

I know that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a very difficult time. I know, too, that the Russian people are still making adjustments to all of the new things that are happening around them, the market, the tremendous economic development. I know that there are hard tasks to be done outside of Moscow and outside of St. Petersburg.

So, I hope that the Russian people would know that America recognizes how much upheaval there has been in this country in the last several years. What we respect is the spirit of the Russian people, the entrepreneurial possibility of the Russian people, that this great culture and this great country has a very great future ahead of it. So we don't fear -- and I hope no one fears -- the future for Russia. I think the future for Russia can be very bright. ..."
In that 2005 interview, of course, Ms. Rice chose not to publicly discuss much about developments in Russia under Putin, as she was on a trip, ostensibly working to neutralize Russian opposition to possible U.S. moves against Iran. She made no mention of the resurgence of Russian nationalistic feeling that Putin managed as one lever of his rise to his current role, and that he had now made a part of Russian foreign policy.

But she should have known, from a statement Putin made April 14 of 2000, 3 weeks after his election, (quoted in a 2000 analytical paper by Dr. M.A. Smith for the Directorate General Development and Doctrine, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst ), that he was taking steps to ensure that plans and strategies of the Russia he led would have a single source:
"Putin's own comments on the possible introduction of legal sanctions for Russian citizens having too close ties with foreigners is also reminiscent of a state that does more than use the media to influence the opinion of its citizens and manipulate the outcome of elections. On 14 April he said:
"If the minister of foreign affairs is caught maintaining contacts with representatives of foreign states outside the framework of his official duties, he, like any other members of the government, deputies of the State Duma, heads of factions, and any other citizens of the Russian Federation, will be subject to certain procedures in line with the criminal law. And I must say that the recent actions the Federal Security Service have been taking demonstrate that this is quite possible."

This statement denotes a state that intensifies its control over its citizens and will play an intimidatory role if the leadership deems it necessary. For this reason it is likely that the internal security organs (the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service, FAPSI, presidential guard service etc.) could play a more important role under Putin than they did under Yel'tsin. Putin has put much emphasis on fighting terrorism, and an anti-terrorist struggle could be used as a pretext for strengthening the coercive role of the state."
Putin has been pretty consistent in his views and methods since coming to power, and has skillfully maneuvered European diplomacy by subtle pressures exerted as Europe's chief energy supplier, while frustrating U.S. aims in the Middle East through support for the Iranian regime, among other policies. The results of his reign have been significantly higher energy prices for Russian oil and gas, much tighter management of Western capital flows into and out of Russia (with some stabilization of corruption attendant to such massive pools of private finance in a country with an embryonic banking and credit system), a debilitating, expensive conflict for the American government in Iraq (at very little direct cost to Russia), and a concomitant erosion of American diplomatic leadership in the West, to say nothing of the rest of the world. Internally, he has also done enough to suppress organized crime and hold back Chechnyan terrorism, to be recognized as effective by the developing Russian middle class.

I think it is disingenuous for Westerners to suggest that Russians love strong men, when, in fact, they may simply recognize that Putin's policies and actions have been very effective in strengthening Russia's position in the world, and in holding together the Russian nation in the face of considerable internal economic and political turmoil. Kasparov and other activists clearly hoped (from before spring 2000), as many Russians did and do, that Putin would not use methods they felt were repressive throwbacks to a centralized government, but that is essentially what he promised before he was elected, and clearly what he has delivered. I think a more likely explanation for Putin's rise to power and subsequent popularity is that, in choosing Putin, the Russians, as a body politic, made the same kind of calculation of overall best interest in picking a candidate with known warts as it can be said that the Americans did when we held our political nose, twice, in picking Bush.

The difference is, the Russians got what they were promised.

What the West completely failed to anticipate is how effective Putin would be externally. Frankly, he's outplayed Bush/Rice by a mile, on both tactical and strategic levels, and when he leaves office, will probably leave to his successors a Russia whose future economic, diplomatic and security prospects are clearly better than they were when he took office. This, in sharp contrast to the legacy Bush/Rice will likely leave for America, and for the West.

As Putin has expressed a continuing interest in political activity, and seems a lock for a seat in the Duma after he steps down from the Kremlin, if not a shoo-in as Prime Minister, we may not have heard the last of him, either. Can you imagine anybody paying any serious policy attention to either Bush or Rice by 2010?
posted by paulsc at 1:55 PM on November 24, 2007 [9 favorites]


I think it is disingenuous for Westerners to suggest that Russians love strong men, when, in fact, they may simply recognize that Putin's policies and actions have been very effective in strengthening Russia's position in the world, and in holding together the Russian nation

You're creating an opposition where there is none. The main reason Russians love strongmen is that they are seen as effective in strengthening Russia's position in the world and in holding together the Russian nation. If you don't think Russians love ("respect and admire" would be more accurate) strongmen, how do you explain the fact that people whose families were decimated by Stalin miss the old bastard? I've known a fair number of Russians and read a lot of Russian literature and history, and the generalization , seems to me as valid as any such generalization can be. Russian history has taught Russians that strong ruler = good (order), weak ruler = bad (chaos), and many Russian proverbs attest to the importance of strength (in the sense of "carrying a big stick," not some Gandhian notion of strength). Russians have zero experience with letting policy emerge from the democratic interplay of social forces.
posted by languagehat at 2:30 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Oops, ignore that comma after "generalization."
posted by languagehat at 2:30 PM on November 24, 2007


The question, or statement really was "There's something in the Russian soul that loves a strong man"

I find that to be a fairly accurate statement.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:38 PM on November 24, 2007


"If you don't think Russians love ("respect and admire" would be more accurate) strongmen, how do you explain the fact that people whose families were decimated by Stalin miss the old bastard?"

I guess, as you must, by ignoring the millions of Russians who revile Uncle Joe's memory and his bloody legacy, whenever they can shed tears over the graves of their forefathers, buried in his purges?

But, actually, I don't ignore that swath of Russian society. There is a growing Russian middle class, and an economic center, that understands that the future of Russia depends on creating a better system than strong man politics. And if Putin voluntarily steps down at the end of his term, even if he goes on to a further career in the Duma, their hopes will have been justified.

And Putin may turn out to be less evil than he's often being made out.
posted by paulsc at 2:48 PM on November 24, 2007


I guess, as you must, by ignoring the millions of Russians who revile Uncle Joe's memory and his bloody legacy

Right, if I try to point out that Russian psychology is not as simple as others would like it to be, I must be an apologist for the Gulag. Remind me not to bother getting into discussions with you.
posted by languagehat at 2:52 PM on November 24, 2007


Remind me not to bother getting into discussions with you.

Please stop doing that LH, it makes an otherwise interesting discussion so unpleasant.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:52 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


This documentary describes the ascent of Putin to power, with particular attention to the methods he used to maintain and obtain a power position.

It would be interesting to hear directly from Russian mefites, I mean people from all the social situation, describing how the economy changed during the reign of Putin, if they were able to build themselves something good.

Also quite interesting, the parallel of using posh , luxury and extravaganza as a mediagenic coverup for the disarray of other regions and the rush to take back control of at least dissenting media.

As for the Russian having something in their DNA, some kind of built in love for strongmans..it should be noted that people (millions) feeling quite insecure are definitely attracted to authoritarian figures, except when they are on the receiving end of the stick. For instance, some argue that Bush was able to maintain some of the credibility he had because , in concert with the party, he choosed the stay-the-course no-shit-taking approach to "terrist" enemy, suggesting that the strong leader would have protected them from problems.

It's not about russian, it's about humans that sometimes like the idea of a give-all security provider...I mean, a similar idea worked for a few thousand years and not without very sad consequences, like perpetuation of illusions.
posted by elpapacito at 3:54 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Right, if I try to point out that Russian psychology is not as simple as others would like it to be, I must be an apologist for the Gulag. Remind me not to bother getting into discussions with you.

But what you said about Russians could apply to anyone. A lot of countries have had dictatorships and gone to democracy.
posted by delmoi at 4:34 PM on November 24, 2007


Please stop doing that LH, it makes an otherwise interesting discussion so unpleasant.

You're right, I jump to that too easily. Thanks for the heads-up.
posted by languagehat at 4:54 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


A lot of countries have had dictatorships and gone to democracy.

Yes, sure, but most people in such countries don't mourn the dictator unless they were direct beneficiaries. A surprising number of Russians mourn dictators they or their kin suffered under.
posted by languagehat at 4:55 PM on November 24, 2007


Forget Putin's opinion poll numbers. There is one statistic which explains this thread as well as almost all popular delusions about Russian politics.

80 percent of Russians believe this statement is true: "Democratic procedures are pure show business."

4-10 percent trust the Duma (parliament). 2-5 percent trust the political parties.

(source: Viktor Shlapentokh, “Trust in public institutions in Russia: The lowest in the world,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 39 (2006))

Poopy's big mistake in this thread is that he's assuming ordinary Russians have any real desire to become involved in the business of the state--protests and political parties included. Actually, Russians have a very vivid sense that underlying their political world is a naked power struggle between competing bands of thugs. You will notice that during the Gusinsky business and then again during the Khodorkovsky business, there was very little protest compared to the reaction of the West. (and Russians certainly know how to protest even when repression is deployed against them--see 1905, 1917, 1991...) Why? Because Gusinsky and Khodorkovsky are oligarchs, not virtuous defenders of free speech. (78% of Russians are sure that all businesses are dishonest). In the '90s, the oligarchs had a chance to rule the country. Fine, said the Russians, the boyars have taken over from the "kommunyaki." But when Putin came to power, he brought a whole new gang of thugs with him--and forcing the old bosses out of their entrenched positions is what you're supposed to do if you win.

Russians know this, because they've seen it happen, and it's probably the most constant element in Russian politics. Stalin did it to Trotsky, Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great did it to the boyars, Yeltsin did it to the Communists, Brezhnev did it to Khruschev. Now, Putin and the siloviki have been doing it to Yeltsin and the oligarchs.

The West--unfamiliar with this dynastic dynamic--fell right away for the old story, "the big bad totalitarian took my free speech away." It fell for it with Trotsky, too. But Russians know: the ones who whine about free speech now are the thugs who happened to lose.

As for Kasparov? I'm surprised no one in this thread has mentioned the political party he's associated with. It's called the NBP: National Bolshevik Party. Here is a picture of their flag. The Russians, remember, don't have the ACLU defending Klansmen and Jehovah's Witnesses out of a sincere love for free speech. If they're going to get behind a political platform, it better be one that makes sense. The NBP is a neonazi political-theater clown show, and its intellectual leader is a man famous for writing dirty books (hilarious, but don't play well in Perm'). And if they see these dudes with their skinhead rhetoric get tossed around by the cops a little--who cares? In Russia, the price of political dissent is that, if you don't win, you really, really lose. And that's nothing new with Putin: it is the central axis of a centuries-old political culture.
posted by nasreddin at 7:04 PM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


nasreddin: while the National Bolshevik Party is member of the "The Other Russia" coalition, it is not the only member. Kasparov founded the United Civil Front, and from there was elected by The Other Russia as their presidential candidate.

To say that Kasparov is representing the NBP is a bit misleading.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:19 PM on November 24, 2007


As for Kasparov? I'm surprised no one in this thread has mentioned the political party he's associated with. It's called the NBP: National Bolshevik Party

Not exactly. The political party Kasparov is associated with is the United Civil Front. United Civil Front is in the Other Russia coalition with NBP, along with almost everyone else opposed to Putin. UCF's flag is much less interesting than NBP's.
posted by thrako at 7:21 PM on November 24, 2007


(Well, he is representing a group of which NBP is a part, but received 379 of 498 votes. I can't find out if those 119 were all NBPs voting for their own member, etc.)
posted by mrzarquon at 7:25 PM on November 24, 2007


Kasparov, a good man with a bad haircut.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:31 PM on November 24, 2007


Well, from what I read, Kasparov seems to really enjoy having Limonov at his side. Seems like a George Wallace wink-nudge sort of thing.
posted by nasreddin at 7:31 PM on November 24, 2007


(It sounds far more sagacious in Russian)
posted by Smedleyman at 7:31 PM on November 24, 2007


But can Kasparov paint?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:18 PM on November 24, 2007


Oops, ignore that comma after "generalization."

I refuse to ignore it.
posted by Falconetti at 9:28 PM on November 24, 2007


He should move to America.

Isn't Kasparov based in Chicago?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:04 PM on November 24, 2007


Listen to yourself: even the Economist, no friend of Putin's, admits his popularity is high. What exactly would it take to convince you of that?

For argument's sake, couldn't you make the same assessment of George W. Bush if you removed all the nay-sayers? I mean, take them out of the equation and your analysis is bound to a conclusion that's basis is only in half-truths.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:41 AM on November 25, 2007


I have the Aug 25-31 issue of the Economist in front of me, and although the article does state domestic support appears high, it's likely because of tightly controlled media and the suppression of opposition and dissent by the FSB (Federal Security Service).

This statement can be read two ways:

1) Tightly controlled media and the suppression of opposition and dissent has corrupted polls and intimidated respondents, thereby creating the illusion of strong domestic support. These high poll numbers are due to intimidation.

2) Tightly controlled media and the suppression of opposition and dissent has minimized unfavorable reporting, thereby creating genuine strong support. Successful propaganda has created these high poll numbers.
posted by ryanrs at 8:23 AM on November 25, 2007


1) Tightly controlled media and the suppression of opposition and dissent has corrupted polls and intimidated respondents, thereby creating the illusion of strong domestic support. These high poll numbers are due to intimidation.

Oh, give me a fucking break. In the USSR in the '80s, polls were very frequently unfavorable to the government. And whatever the degree of repression is today, it's not nearly what it was then, even with perestroika and glasnost.


2) Tightly controlled media and the suppression of opposition and dissent has minimized unfavorable reporting, thereby creating genuine strong support. Successful propaganda has created these high poll numbers.


Yeah, it's not like Russians have any experience with propaganda or selective reporting or anything. Do you even know what you're talking about?


Why is it so hard to accept that Putin is a genuinely popular president? Is it because you're uncomfortable with the fact that someone who doesn't fit your abstract ideal of a democratic political leader can be very popular in his country? He's a thug, sure, but he's an effective thug, and the oil money has enabled him to do some pretty worthwhile things--like building infrastructure.

The SPS (Union of Right Forces), who have just gotten on the Other Russia bandwagon, have been pushing the Western liberal line for nigh on 15 years already. No one needs government indoctrination to see that they're probably the most ineffectual dolts on the scene since Zyuganov left the Communists. Russians do not care about democracy as it is interpreted in the west.
posted by nasreddin at 11:25 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Putin to all dissenters: "Checkmate".
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:17 PM on November 25, 2007


Oh there'll be a surprise all right, all opposition, jailed, prior to elections. No opponents¿ I win, again — Putin.

C'mon folks, owning the media [hello Berlusconi, Musharaf, Putin, Castro & company, but I'll stop there.], influences a nation to make the populace believe whatever you want them to believe... Wait, wasn't Fox 'News' a right little mouthpiece for George Bush [oh yes, WMD's Everywhere & a Florida election vote miscount¿ Nah./].

St.Petersburg Times, Nov.23,2007 — Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak faces charges of attempted embezzlement, official imprisoned.
uh-oh
and, WTH is This twaddle¿
Putin Calls Critics West-Funded Jackals and accused the West of meddling in Russian politics.
No shit, that's it, blame the West. The jackal calling out western jackals, don't invest here.


"In Russia you're allowed to have an opposition newspaper... as long as not too many people read it"—Anne Applebaum From an edited transcript of Anne's lecture at Grano lectures. [Source: Toronto Star, Feb.11,2007, "Russia's latest export:'managed democracy'." — $$ to read]
Watching history unfold—Anne Applebaum casts keen eye on Kremlin, author of 'Gulag: A History'.

Applebaum on the 'Creepy, Scary' Neo-Soviet Union, Feb.13, 2007, from LaRussophobe.wordpress.com

From Kommersant,'Opposition Ready to Rally Every Day'.


Russia today in photos. [ From Kommersant Photo Galleries]
Alice Cooper[¿]
Party central — shits and giggles
Secret secrets, President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defence Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov.

I'd state that in my estimation, North America is rather naive when it comes to the dealings of the NKVD KGB, thereby Putin.

Let me introduce you to the NKVD. Communist secret police, whom also ran the Gulag system of forced labour to name one pie out of many they had their fingers in.
NKVD.org, an extensive information site about the crimes and victims of the NKVD regime.

Ask yourself, am I seeing any writing on the wall yet¿
posted by alicesshoe at 11:25 PM on November 25, 2007


Ask yourself, am I seeing any writing on the wall yet¿

No, but if you smoke any more meth you'll be seeing more than just writing.
posted by nasreddin at 11:34 PM on November 25, 2007


Oh, give me a fucking break. [...] Do you even know what you're talking about?

Do I understand Russian politics? Uh, no (sorry).

I was describing the same linguistic ambiguity that ~ notes in an earlier comment. To demonstrate the ambiguity, I presented two different readings of the original statement.
posted by ryanrs at 5:43 AM on November 29, 2007


This thread is moribund, but for future reference, anyone who knows Russian should read Dmitri Bykov's brilliant and gutsy essay Опыт о страхе ("Essay on Fear"). Bykov says everyone in Russia is afraid, even the people who by rights should be sitting pretty:
Вернулся главный принцип советской очереди: ненавидеть всех, кто впереди, и презирать всех, кто сзади. Страх убивает человечность быстрей всех иных пороков, он разъедает человеческое, как кислота, — вот почему в России почти не осталось человеческого. Казенного, службистского, кафкианского — очень много; но того, что делает жизнь жизнью, а страну страной, почти не осталось. Не за что цепляться — и странна эта безумная привязанность к стабильности, при которой сохраняется и умножается только худшее.

Пожалуй, именно кафкианские аллюзии сейчас наиболее актуальны: Россия сегодня — очень кафкианская страна, вроде огромного «Замка». В Замке ведь тоже нет никаких репрессий — только зыбкая трясина всеобщего почтительного ужаса да соревнование в мерзости, дабы угодить мерзейшему Кламму.


The basic principle of the Soviet line has returned: hate everyone who's in front of you, and have contempt for everyone who's behind. Fear kills humaneness faster than all other vices, it corrodes what is human like acid—that's why almost nothing human is left in Russia. Of the bureaucratic and the Kafkaesque there is a great deal, but of what makes life life and a country a country, hardly anything remains. There is nothing to cling to—and it's strange, this crazed attachment to "stability," in which only the worst is preserved and multiplies.

It may well be that it's exactly allusions to Kafka that are most relevant: Russia today is a very Kafkaesque country, a kind of enormous Castle. In the Castle there are no repressions—only the shaky quagmire of a universal deferential terror and competition in vileness, so as to please the most vile Klamm.
He says that Kafka's fear came from the fact that he understood as a child that his father, and thus anyone, could do anything to him and no one would defend him: "That's a terrifying realization—that they can do anything to you. That there is no law, or mercy, or absolute authority, who would come right out and say loudly that WE DON'T ALLOW THAT."
posted by languagehat at 3:39 PM on December 4, 2007


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