Sunday, December 29, 2013

Khodorkovsky ≠ Solzhenitsyn

I think whatever I have wanted to say has already been said about Khodorkovsky, so this post will mostly just be a footnote.

I guess one solution is for Russia to have more visible, credible dissidents so at least the ignorant portion of the West can at least notice them. (Or is it just the West's fault for not noticing any?)

Pussy Riot, Berezovsky, Navalny, and Khodorkovsky are not true dissidents. They are perhaps some of the most self-serving people in Russia.

They are not heroic individuals who deserve to share this title with Solzhenitsyn.

You can read my angry rant from my earlier post about how the West and Russia consider different people to be dissidents and whistleblowers and you can see why I am so disgusted by the fact that certain people think Khodorkovsky as the "second Solzhenitsyn" . It's not just "inappropriate and impolite", it's degrading and extremely insulting to the memory of Solzhenitsyn.


Finally, just to be clear:
Khodorkovsky  Solzhenitsyn 

Interfax: Comparing Khodorkovsky with Solzhenitsyn is inappropriate – top Russian senator | Johnson's Russia List
MOSCOW. Dec 24 (Interfax) – Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, has advised against comparing former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was pardoned by the Russian president on December 20 and flew to Berlin immediately after his release from prison, with Soviet writer and dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whom Matviyenko described as a prominent public figure.

“Solzhenitsyn was a person who did a great deal without politicizing the situation. He was a true fighter for human rights, freedom and equality. Solzhenitsyn was a great patriot of his Motherland. He was recognized by all people. And comparing Khodorkovsky with Solzhenitsyn is inappropriate and impolite,” she told reporters.
continued...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Again! So-called "dissidents" are lauded in the West

Rant on these pseudo-dissidents who were just granted amnesty coming up soon. Maybe after Christmas. I'm just annoyed and irked enough to post a short update about what I am generally feeling about the whole thing. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

BBC News - Russia: Why is Putin always late?

Vladimir Putin's legendary lateness is back in the spotlight after he kept Pope Francis waiting during a recent visit to the Vatican. What lies behind his chronic tardiness?

The Russian president was 50 minutes late to meet the Pope on Monday. And papal courtiers were left "shivering" outside as they waited to welcome the Russian president, who was held up by women protesting outside his hotel in support of punk band Pussy Riot, says independent daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets.

The Pope and the Italian press appear to have taken it in their stride. Given his reputation, they probably expected nothing else.

More: BBC News - Russia: Why is Putin always late?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Aussie Who Taught Putin Body Language | Business | The Moscow Times

VORONEZH — If any foreigner deserves credit for President Vladimir Putin's rise to power, then perhaps it is Allan Pease, an Australian authority on body language who calls Putin "a very clever and capable student."

Pease, a best-selling author who is known internationally as "Mr. Body Language," first met the future president in 1991 when he was invited to the Kremlin to host a seminar for up-and-coming politicians including Putin, then a 39-year-old former KGB officer responsible for promoting international relations and foreign investments at St. Petersburg City Hall.

Also at the seminar was Putin's boss, St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak.

"At that time, our entourage was seven people, and everyone looked rude and severe, carrying guns. It was both scary and exciting" Pease, who at 61 is the same age as Putin, said in an interview.

"I taught them how to look friendlier on television and how to exclude aggressive gestures. Mr. Putin, the assistant to the mayor of St. Petersburg at that time, was a very clever and capable student, by the way," he said.

More: The Aussie Who Taught Putin Body Language | Business | The Moscow Times

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For Tatarstan and President Minnikhanov

These days, the world is so inter-connected, it's becoming smaller, and grief and sorrow finds its way so easily around. The past few nights were the same. Some days I have to shut down all emotion to cope, but I don't want to become such an emotionless person, so sometimes I turn to art and writing to express these feelings.

I've been uninspired to do yet another portrait for my Russian Politician Portraits blog on Tumblr, and I had a few candidates to be the next politician to be featured on my humble art blog, but I couldn't make a selection. I ran out of politicians whom I admired. (Not many at all, to be honest.) And, the number of politicians I don't really mind was too large. So I put off trying to choose somebody. 

Then came the tragic air crash in Kazan. RT did a good article that gave a human face to this tragedy; many of the victims were young parents. Read it here: http://rt.com/news/kazan-plane-crash-victims-896/

There's something about air crashes that are so violent and sudden, and that it often leaves no survivors, that I'm sure it must multiply the grief experience by the victims' loved ones tenfold. 

I thought about Tatarstan, and especially about President Rustam Minnikhanov, whom I saw once when he visited Singapore to speak about his native Tatarstan at the Russian-Singapore Business Forum (and he has come to Singapore a number of times to speak at the RSBF, and just recently in September as well). From that very brief time when he spoke to us, I found him to be a very capable but gracious and humble man, very unlike some of the egomaniacs and megalomaniacs who hold similar government postings. I think the people who had the privilege of working with him would have fond memories of him, and I think this was what prompted our DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam to personally write President Minnikhanov.

It was then it became clear to me who deserved a portrait. 


I didn't know whether my assessment of him several years ago was right, but it was confirmed just a few hours after I completed the portrait at around 3am this morning (I couldn't sleep), a close friend, whom I met at that same Russia-Singapore Business Forum, had just messaged me. He had just returned to Moscow from Grozny, and President Minnikhanov was also on the same flight. Said friend shared the same impression of a simple, humble, 'cute guy'. Is he OK? I asked. No, not really, came the reply. It just made me feel even sadder. This wasn't a man who flies around on a private jet, or pulls crazy 'macho' publicity stunts to further his political agenda. It makes it even more unfair that something so tragic should happen to a good person like him.

His son Irek was on that flight that went down. At first that fact didn't appear in the mainstream media. It wasn't until that was picked up by Twitter (soon enough) that I noticed, when dozens of followers tweeted him their condolences, and he very graciously thanked as many of his followers as he could personally. President Minnikhanov had just experienced the worst kind of loss any father could feel--losing their firstborn son. It's not the natural order of things. Yet, he didn't play the victim--he just put his head down and worked to deal with the crisis that affected not just him, but his entire Republic and beyond. He was mourning not just for his son, but for all the victims of that flight.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Putin’s Philosophy | The American Conservative

There is more to Putin than his past--and the West needs to understand who he truly is and where he places himself in Russian society.
Analyses of Putin tend to emphasize his KGB past and portray him as bent on suppressing democratic freedoms. As the murdered journalist Anna Politovksaya put it, Putin “has failed to transcend his origin and stop behaving like a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet KGB. He is still busy sorting out his freedom-loving fellow countrymen; he persists in crushing liberty just as he did earlier in his career.” For many in the West, that’s the end of story.
In fact, contrary to this view, Putin fits into a long-standing Russian tradition of “liberal-conservatism.” Modern Russian author A.V. Vasilenko summed up this school of thought, writing that “A strong state is needed not instead of liberal reform, but for reform. Without a strong state liberal reforms are impossible.” This is the basis of what British academic Richard Sakwa calls “a unique synthesis of liberalism and conservatism” embodied in Putin’s rule.
More:
Putin’s Philosophy | The American Conservative:
The Russian leader’s paradoxical, strong-state “liberal-conservatism”By PAUL ROBINSON • March 28, 2012

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

They say it's your birthday, Vladimir Vladimirovich!

Vladimir Vladimirovich got a sweet surprise from Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who sang him a birthday song at the APEC summit in Bali. There is no video of the said performance, but President Yuhoyono was said to be quite the crooner. (So that was probably not a repeat of the Blueberry Hill snafu.)





I used to send him a birthday email every year, but now I just feel a bit sorry for his staff who have to wade through all that fan mail. But birthday wishes there will be! If not in the Kremlin's overflowing mailbox, then let it be on this blog!

Don't look surprised next year when someone springs a birthday surprise on you, Vladimir Vladimirovich. Some of us actually do like you. A lot. Here's my little present to you:


Update: The video of the birthday surprise finally has made its rounds. Chinese President Xi also brought cake for him later that evening, which they used to chase down some vodka.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sergey Ivanov interview to Russian press on 1 Oct (English translation)

Will it be long before the announcement about bureaucrat’s declarations? It was definite that there were already a few people who were caught falsifying that information.
For the fifth time, I say: we do not know anything until October. We are in the middle of the process of verification, and not everyone who does not declare something are crooks and thieves. Most are not crooks and thieves. Try to understand filling out a declaration for a wife whom you have not seen in ten years…
Are you speaking about someone in particular?
There are such people. The prosecutor, for example, wrote, “I cannot give a declaration on my own wife, for I have not seen her for ten years, and the divorce has not be formalized. But when an attempt to approach her was made, I was sent some obscene words.” Is that life? That’s life. So, this means we have to prove that his wife has not seen him. Or that the husband hasn’t seen her. We have, thank God, a country of equality. Similar situations arise in the case of minor children when the parents are divorced and do not maintain a relationship.
Indeed, and how does one deal with such a situation?
Verify, and prove that they have not spoken in ten years, and that when they see with each other, they are ready to smash each other’s noses.  Then decide that this person does not have to give a declaration on his wife or minor children on objective reasons. Understand, life is a lot more complex than the law. Often it happens that high-level people did not even show something, then we have some questions. Except for that, I want to say right away, that we check a very small circle of people, while a million bureaucrats are checked by another commission, with whom we have no relationship with, unless there were some serious signals…My main thesis is: do not organize a witch-hunt. That can drive you insane. But there are and there have been proven cases where we believe that we have been deliberately deceived.
What punishment awaits such bureaucrats?
The autopsy will tell.
Were there many cases?
A few. I can count them all on one hand. And all will be announced sometime in the end of October, when the president will cold a council to combat corruption.
When was the question on whether Surkov should return to the Kremlin decided?
About a month ago.
And the invitation to work in other positions in the administration was made?
It was made.
Can you name the areas?
Foreign policy. He rejected it.
What responsibilities will Surkov have?
The same as what Golikova had.
And did you remain satisfied with Golikova’s work? They say that there were complaints on about the cooperation with Akhbazia and South Ossetia. 
We cited everything in compliance with the rules of the Russian budget legislation. It is no secret that we spent billions in supporting Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Those are our and your tax dollars, not for the “wishlist” of the republics’ leaders, and we want to show that every ruble is accounted for, where it went and what it was for.
And is there such accountability from Akhbazia and South Ossetia?
There is. Golikova will wring somebody’s neck for every kopeck. I have known her for ten years. I have spoken publicly about her, when she was still First Deputy Finance Minister. I had her when I was Defense Minister, and it was ideal: she would give the money, but only after when I show where it will be put to work, and not use it for someone’s “wishlist”.
Not long ago at Valdai you said that dialogue between the authorities and law-abiding opposition is possible. In what form will such dialogue be and with whom? With Navalny? Roizman?
That is another category. Who is Navalny? Roizman won the mayoral election. Mayor—that is the leader of the City Council, which is completely independent from the regional Duma, where the majority is held by United Russia.
They say that Alexei Navalny is considered to be the consolidated leader of the opposition.
We are a free country. You can say and write whatever you want. We welcome that. But that does not mean that this is true.
Several people say that Navalny needs to lead something in order to bring advantage to the government structure. Is it impossible to discuss whether such a post is possible for him?
Really, why would the authorities discuss something like that? For what reasons? For that you need to show that you can do something. To begin with, you need to get elected. And for starters—you need to win. At least with the head of the municipal council. Then maybe you can talk about, for example, about the municipal budget. But as it is well known, there was none of it here, nor there.
In total he got almost 30% of Muscovites’ votes. Were you expecting such a result in the elections?
Frankly, personally, I was a little surprised at the high percentage. But you have to understand that 27%of those who came to polling stations--it’s all relative. Look, for example, how many votes did Mikhail Prokhorov received in the presidential elections? A little less than 8%, and in Moscow—20%. But you know, that in absolute numbers, he had more votes than Navalny. That’s why it’s all relative. I agree that Navalny has very effectively mobilized his own protest electorate. That I admit unequivocally. And the authorities that represented of Sergey Semyonovich Sobyanin did not mobilize their own electorate effectively. And it doesn’t appear to be an error, in my opinion. In times of stability in any country, the municipal elections have a turnout of 15%. What kind of normal person goes to vote, when he is overall more or less, satisfied with the current situation? Normal people won’t go. That is the standard practice, and, thank God, we are getting close to that. We had nothing different from the municipal elections in Great Britain, or Sweden. In the Vladivostok mayoral elections voter turnout was 18%. What does that tell you? It tells you the health of the society! People will actively vote when they are dissatisfied. When they are satisfied, why waste a weekend on voting? I’d rather go to the dacha, pick apples, and get a good harvest this year. That is normal human psychology.
Why did the old opposition lose at the last election?
The Communists in Moscow got about 10%. Yes, that is less than Navalny, but 10% is a tenth. Overall, I agree with you, the aggregated system received some from the opposition—in total 25-30%. Lets discuss objectively: United Russia is updating more actively than the Communist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party, and even A Just Russia. On the other hand, they, like United Russia, failed to attract willing voters. Almost 70% of Muscovites pretty much ignored the elections. But, I repeat, this is normal. There is no need to turn this into a tragedy. On the contrary, in my opinion, this is mostly a positive sign, not a negative one. That means that the state of society is more or less stable.
Five years ago it was difficult to imagine Navalny as a candidate for the post of Moscow Mayor, like Roizman. And after wrapping up the elections, President Putin considers this as the fairest election.
They were sterile.
Can it be considered some sort of ‘thaw’? People trying their hand at politics?
You are complaining all the time that the elections are rigged. Do you agree, that Moscow did everything, the possible and impossible, that one could not find any faults? Again, the opposition is always bowing to the West. But in the West, when a candidate wins 50.1% of the vote, the one who lost congratulates him two hours after the election. What do we get? “We will contest the results.” Even for 5%--will contest the result all the same. This is lack of political etiquette.
In the Federation Council from the Moscow delegate Vladimir Dolgikh who was 40 years ago the secretary of Central Committee of the CPSU. Do you believe he relevant to Russian politics today? What is the logic behind his nomination?
Each person has the right to elect two of their representatives to the Federation Council. Do you believe, that I call every governor and say, “Nominate this person, and not that person.”? But I understand the logic. There is certainly a portion of Muscovites, a number of veterans, who especially trust Dolgikh. Yes, that probably is not the majority of Moscow residents, and generally those who live in Moscow—it’s all relative.  And who are the residents of Moscow? They are janitors, drivers, office plankton, journalists…
…bureaucrats.
Yes, bureaucrats. In the service and trade sector. In extreme cases, bloggers—yes, there is such a profession. Do they produce millions of products? No, absolutely nothing. Intellectual property? That’s debatable. Take Novosibirsk, for example, where high-tech goods are produced—aircraft, atomic reactor parts, goods that are sought after worldwide.  The production of these goods pay the taxes. What is being produced in Moscow—I don’t know.
Russia today is often compared with the USSR. Is this a fair comparison and in that comparison what was good and what was bad?
In the USSR there was a lot that was good, and a lot of things that were bad.
In present-day Russia, the authorities were mostly inherited from there.
I can’t that much of it was. It is simply impossible to say that a much of it was inherited. And what can you bring back from the USSR? The allocation of students in tertiary institutions? No, you can’t. Equal pay? No, you can’t. The Soviet Army? No, you can’t. The KGB? No, you can’t. When you try to take the essential things, you realize that you can’t. Nobody is seeking to do that, including the Kremlin.
A question about your personal career.
What personal career?! I haven’t had a career for a long time. It has already ended. 
At the Valdai Club you announced that you will not run for the presidency.
I have been asked this question for over 13 years. During the USSR period there was such a science—Kremlinology. I consider it  pseudo-science, but I don’t object it. In the Soviet times Kremlinology drew conclusions from who was standing in what order in the Mausoleum. For most part nothing has changed. Now every year you have people asking, will this person or that person will run for president?
Just that periodically, the staff in your office gets shuffled and that gives rise to such questions.
Oh, indeed, you have reason to ask me that question. I agree! There was a president, who was once Chief of Staff and became president. Medvedev Dmitry Anatolevich.  
There is a debate about who in Russia can be called the second most powerful person in politics. Can you name such a person and is there such a person at all? 
 I think he doesn’t exist. How do you become the number two person? What is that, a back-up cosmonaut?  You know, I won’t complain about the lack of personal influence. But for me it is quite enough. Speaking about the 2018 elections seriously, without Kremlinology, I think, there is nothing special. I understand well that you have a job—to write about this intelligently. But, you believe, not me, nor anyone else in the Presidential Administration bothers with questions about who will be president of Russia way off in 2018. There is a good Russian saying, “You need to survive first.” Five more years to go. Do you think that the president sits down with me and discuss, who will it be in 2018? Don’t we have other problems?

The original interview transcript was published on Rossiiskaya GazetaKomsomolskaya PravdaRBC Daily and Gazeta.ru.


End of Part 1. Translation by Cheryl-Ann Tan. Watch this page for updates. Please send corrections and comments to anya@singapore-russia.org

Friday, September 27, 2013

This week, Bill Clinton had some words of praise for Vladimir Vladimirovich. Well, he isn't the only prominent Westerner who has a compliment--or observation--or two about him:

Vladimir Putin, Through Western Eyes (Photo Essay) | News | The Moscow Times
Tony Blair: One thing happened which I often recalled to myself in future years. Vladimir and I walked through the beautiful corridors of the magnificent 19th-century building. In a similar situation in the U.K., I would have been greeting people, shaking hands, engaging and being engaged; with Vladimir I noticed people fell back as he approached, not in fear or anything; but a little in awe and with reverence. It was a tsar-like moment and I thought: Hmm, their politics really isn't like ours at all. (St. Petersburg, 2000) 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Virtual museum of presidential gifts to go online | Russia Beyond The Headlines

August 28, 2013 Marina Obrazkova, RBTH
Gifts given to President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev will be exhibited online.

A variety of gifts — from a crystal crocodile to a real elephant — have been presented at different times to the heads of the Russian state. There have been occasions when expensive Swiss watches were given as gifts, as well as a jar of jam. It will soon be possible to see all of these gifts in a virtual museum, which is being set up by the Office of the President.

The Electronic Gift Foundation (EGF) of the Government of the Russian Federation will be created in the near future. In line with the bid recently presented by the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, nearly 7.5 million rubles ($226,000) will be spent on developing the EGF.

According to the document, the EGF will consist of two parts — a system accounting for the gifts presented to top officials and souvenirs presented in the name of the Russian government.
Each gift presented to an official will have its own registration card, on which will be written its size, weight, value, origination and the date and circumstances of its receipt, reports the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. The gift itself will be described and photographed in detail. Thus, it will be possible to rotate it in your hands virtually, as well as zoom in for a closer look.

More: Virtual museum of presidential gifts to go online | Russia Beyond The Headlines

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LGBT rights in Singapore vs. Russia

While I don't really care what goes on between two consenting adults, the law does.

There's been a lot of global media attention (OK, fine, mostly Western media attention) about the "gay propaganda" law that was unanimously passed in Russian Parliament and subsequently signed into action by Putin. It's hard to get the whole Duma to agree on anything, so this was certainly something Russians feel strongly about.

Many Russians on both sides did not act in a civilised manner, and people have been physically injured at protests. But then again, what do I know about public protests, right? It's practically impossible to hold one in Singapore, and I am just as indifferent to protests and demonstrations as I am to chewing gum because I simply didn't grow up chewing gum. I grew up in a very conservative, homophobic environment--in an all-girls, Methodist mission school, and from my experience, not much more homophobic than in Russia. Neither Russia, nor Singapore, is quite ready for civilised debate about gay rights. The laws in place are very much a reflection of the current attitudes of the people--and mostly, the "silent majority".

So why the global hysteria, people?

Let's put it all in perspective before anyone else wants to jump on the bandwagon to condemn Russia. Homosexual relations (between men), are currently illegal in Singapore, and punishable by a jail term up to 2 years.

In Russia, homosexuality has been legal since 1993.

Yet no one has called for the boycott of the Youth Olympics, or called for LGBT rights supporters to send sex toys to Lee Hsein Loong, or to pour Tiger Beer down the drain in front of our embassies in protest.

So all I have to say to the LGBT side protesting against Russia: if you want to get your rights, grow up first, or no one will ever take you seriously. Russia may not be the ideal place to raise a "non-traditional" family, but there certainly are worse places to be--where homosexuality is actually illegal and punishable by law.

Meanwhile, I'm against any sort of propaganda against minors.

Russia's ruling party should get rid of the Nashi youth movement while they're at it too.

(Which they have.)

Read more about the issue:
Collection of articles on the topic of the gay propganda law on RIAN
Voice of Russia: Hysteria about law against gay propaganda starting to annoy – Russian LGTB member

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Putin Walks Alone - By Anna Nemtsova | Foreign Policy

Why the American president's cancellation of their pending summit meeting is just a blip on Vladimir Putin's radar.

BY ANNA NEMTSOVA | AUGUST 9, 2013

More: Putin Walks Alone - By Anna Nemtsova | Foreign Policy

Friday, August 9, 2013

Brian Whitmore: The Audacity Of Navalny

From Whitmore's Power Vertical:

August 08, 2013

There's just no escaping Aleksei Navalny.

Whether one thinks he's Russia's greatest hope, or the most dangerous man in Russia, he is absolutely dominating the conversation right now.

The ruling United Russia party is complaining about his online fundraising, as is Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Television personality Ksenia Sobchak is worried about his aggressive tone, Vladimir Putin still won't utter his name in public, but even he can't avoid talking about Navalny.

And with good reason. How the Navalny story winds up will probably tell us a lot about how this turbulent and important chapter in Russian history that began with the castling of September 2011 -- and whose plot thickened with the rise of the protest movement -- will finally end.

And both friends and foes of the anticorruption blogger-turned-opposition leader know it.

More: The Audacity Of Navalny

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

National Day post: Songs of Singapore by a Canadian, and a Russian

I found out just awhile ago that Singapore's most iconic National Day songs, Stand Up for Singapore, Count On Me Singapore, and We Are Singapore, were in fact written by a Canadian by the name of Hugh Harrison. Read all about it here.

Then, of course, there were some mean people (mostly opposition supporters) who suddenly took a nationalist (read: racist/xenophobic, anti-foreigner) streak and were upset that they weren't written by a Singaporean (just read the youtube comments in the above links and you'll see what I mean!). But they're just pseudo-patriots who just want to spoil the celebratory National Day mood with their lousy attitudes. Their opinions belong to the trash heap, and that's all I have to say about them.

The international community has given Singapore so much, and we should be thankful that we inspire songs, and literally had them singing praises of us. I'm especially touched by another piece of work, Singapore: A Geopolitical Utopia, also composed by a foreigner

Some years ago, my old friend Michael Tay, then-Ambassador to the Russian Federation, commissioned a Russian composer Vladimir Martynov to write Singapore: A Geopolitical Utopia, a complex, refreshing, and exhilarating masterpiece performed in conjunction with the second Russia-Singapore Business Forum in 2006. Here's a detailed review of Singapore: A Geopolitical Utopia. The piece is also available on iTunes.


This, I say to you, friends of Singapore: Thank you for the music.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dear Russia and Singapore, your tax dollars were spent on... rap videos

Russia's Defence Ministry just released a rap video last week to sing praises of the Russian military.

And of course, how could I not be reminded of a similar attempt by the rapping bureaucrats of Singapore's Media Development Authority back in 2007:


So dear Russian readers, if you feel embarrassed by your Defence Ministry's rap video, believe me, I know the feeling. I know.

But who did it better?

The Russian Defence Ministry shot it in one day. It must have taken weeks to produce the Singapore MDA video.

The Russian Defence Ministry video featured one performer, who for all accounts, looked kind of comfortable being himself and more or less has an idea what rap is. That isn't evident in the MDA video, where I'm sure several of the civil servants must have been coerced into performing for the video.

But I kind of like seeing the MDA managers dancing in their suits though... it was funny, though probably not intentionally funny.

Lyrics? Both equally cheesy... I'll leave that as a draw.

And to the Russian's benefit, their video was half the duration of the Singapore one, which dragged out to an excruciating 4 minutes. 

So who did it better? Tell me in your comments!

(But how I wish it were Shoigu who actually did the rap...)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A reaction to reactions on my last blog commentary on dissidents and whistleblowers

My dear readers, first let me thank you for stopping by and reading my blog; big thanks to everyone at filbuster.net for all your comments--and most of all, big thanks to Сережка Йорк for translating (!) and posting my last commentary, Unwise "dissidents" of today's Russia, and other whistleblowers, on his filbuster site. (Do check out their site--it has a huge fiction library.) I have learnt a lot from your discussions, and I hope maybe you learnt something about my country and culture as well. I don't know how you guys put up with all the Russia-bashing. The worst Singaporeans have to defend themselves against is the bad press about the chewing-gum ban... and maybe about our "soft dictator".

There are probably things that got lost in translation, such as the credible/critical RT video (Я не считаю канал РТ по-настоящему независимым (на самом деле, это вроде российских Fox News), но пока что он представляет собой единственный источник правдоподобной информации о Навальном на английском языке, который мне удалось найти:), and maybe even the title (Низкое качество новых российских диссидентов и прочих стукачей) where the word стукачи (I suppose it is closer to "snitch"?) might carry a more negative connotation than "whistleblower". 

I continue to be frustrated at the Western-dominated international media who has lionised these "dissidents" and "whistleblowers" such as Berezovsky, Pussy Riot, and Navalny, whom, as one of my readers pointed out, "the most self-serving people in all of Russia, if not the entire world". (She too has a great blog, and also recently wrote about the Russia-phobic Western press.)

Surely, there must be great dissidents and critics worthy of international press coverage. But there are not in the mainstream press. 

So meanwhile, dear Russian readers, you'll have to point them out to me.

Who are some of the great contemporary dissidents of Russia? Please write in the comments here! (I've enabled anonymous posting, but I will just need to approve your posts before they go up to keep the spam bots at bay.) I will too check in now and then on the filibuster post, so you can comment there too.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Низкое качество новых российских диссидентов и прочих стукачей


Моя лента новостей о Владимире Путине под завязку полна отчетами о Сноудене и я не могу не задуматься о диссидентах в общем. В свое время в России были замечательные диссиденты. В длинном списке выдающихся диссидентов у нас были Андрей Сахаров, Александр Солженицын и Борис Пастернак. Еще недавно в списке находились покойная Анна Политковская и, конечно же, я назову своего любимца Юрия Шевчука в числе современных диссидентов. Но когда люди спрашивают меня о более современных российских диссидентах, то что мы имеем? Пусси Райот, Алексея Навального и Бориса Березовского.

Что, Россия, это всерьез? Даже твои диссиденты измельчали. Сейчас они – это приплясывающая стайка бесполезного, ерничающего отребья; стукач с раздутым самомнением и несбыточными политическими амбициями, и наконец – жадный богатенький воришка.

Я уже писала о Пусси Райот и о Березовском и не думаю, что мне нужно заново демонстрировать степень своего неуважения к ним. Однако мне кажется непропорциональным объем параноидальной анти-российской риторики в западных СМИ. Я думаю, что меня взбесило именно вот это добавление слова «диссидент» перед именем Березовского в газетных заголовках. Я считаю, что оно должно быть заменено на «мошенник» или, по самой меньшей мере, на «олигарх»… я даже не была бы против «финансового воротилы». Мне уже настолько надоели эти постоянные нападки на Россию в западных СМИ, что я начала читать ленты новостей и твиттер-фиды на русском в дополнение к моему обычному чтению англоязычных новостей. Это требует гораздо больших усилий, но я уже просто не могу видеть «новости» про то, как Путин помогает предателю Сноудену и про то, как Путин «украл» кольцо Супер-Боул.

А еще у нас есть Алексей Навальный. Навальный просто неподражаем, он обличает коррупцию, повсеместную коррупцию, а затем провозглашает себя кандидатом в президенты. Президент? Кто? Ты, Навальный - Президент?! В таком случае мне страшно за Россию. Но на самом деле я вовсе не беспокоюсь о том, что Навальный станет Президентом России. Как большинство оппозиционеров, он ограничен своим московским местопребыванием. Однако Москва едва ли может представлять всю Россию. Согласно опросу Левада-центра, он не так уж хорошо известен в России, не говоря уже о какой-либо популярности. Это может быть оттого, что остальные регионы России получают информацию через публичные радио- и телеканалы, а не из Интернета.

Я не считаю канал РТ по-настоящему независимым (на самом деле, это вроде российских Fox News), но пока что он представляет собой единственный источник правдоподобной информации о Навальном на английском языке, который мне удалось найти: Большая белая шумиха: Темная сторона Навального, не освещаемая официальными СМИ. Радикальные националистические и политические амбиции Навального, если их воплотить в жизнь, будут опасными не только для Путина, но и для России в целом. Точно так же, националистические тенденции Путина подводят страну слишком близко к обрыву – и это просто абсурдно, что антипутинский Навальный собирается вести Россию к прыжку с того же самого обрыва.

Однако, давайте вернемся к еще одному «диссиденту», оккупировавшему российские СМИ: Сноудену. Конечно же все стали очень мнительными по поводу своей «приватности» и все такое. Но факт тот, что я не верю, что у самой-рассамой разведывательной службы хватит энергии и персонала для одновременной слежки за всеми, даже если и существует такая технология. Это значит, что среднестатистическому Ивану Иванову особенно не о чем волноваться. Фактически, я вообще не думаю, что это «нарушение приватности» чем-то эффективнее старорежимных методов слежки. Это ведь слежка, елки-палки. Нужно быть достойным ее, за абы кем следить никто не станет, потому что это будет пустой тратой времени и ресурсов.

В общем, когда Сноуден улетел в Москву для того, чтобы обескуражить и разозлить США, Россию и Китай, я призадумалась – было ли все это необходимо? Он мог бы просто оставаться анонимом и избавить журналистов и дипломатов, не говоря уже о главах государств, от всего этого стресса, а также облегчил бы жизнь будущим стукачам. Даже Путин нашел очень мало полезного в предоставленных Сноуденом сведениях и пытался проигнорировать проблему, заявив, что вся эта афера сходна со стрижкой свиньи – «много визгу и мало шерсти» - и спихнул ответственность за решение вопроса на плечи директора ФСБ. Ну, вообще-то, я уверена в том, что у ФСБ уже и так есть все необходимые методы и процедуры для слежки за своим собственным народом – чего им еще нужно-то? Однако Россия, без сомнения, симпатизирует Сноудену, хотя бы для того, чтобы разозлить Америку и типа отомстить. Ведь как бы там ни было, а Джулиан Ассанж очень часто мелькал на РТ, ему даже дали вести свое собственное шоу. Это все делается для того, чтобы показать нос Западу.

Думаю, это все относительно. США и Россия считают диссидентами разные типы людей. Без сомнения, люди типа Навального и Сноудена – храбрецы, но как бы мне хотелось, чтобы они еще были и помудрее. Так было бы лучше всем нам.

Спасибо, Сережка Йорк за перевода.