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[May 02, 2015] The TPP A Quiet Coup for the Investor Class by Hilary Matfess

September 25, 2012 | FPIF

The struggle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership reveals a disturbing trend in American politics. The much discussed Citizens United ruling granting corporations personhood has given way to a trade negotiation process in which corporations are granted more rights than American citizens, their elected representatives, or foreign governments impacted by the deal.

That trade negotiations with such an immense potential impact on numerous sectors of the American economy have been conducted in secret is troubling enough. To consider that those negotiating the treaty have willfully ignored experts and elected representatives in favor of corporate interests calls into question the sustainability of American democracy.

tom anocu

Patricia Gray is right. It's better if we stop using the much maligned term 'democracy' to a system that works against and NOT for the interests or ordinary people. Using it to justify the abuses government and corporations commit against citizens the world over is a travesty. You CAN'T have both, concentrations of power in the hands of the few and democracy. That is a contradiction not very well understood in the US. Journalists should recognize this and stop perpetuating the patent FARSE. The illusion of 'choice' in the Nov. elections reflects all this.

The Real War on Reality

Quote: "What has received less attention is the fact that most intelligence work today is not carried out by government agencies but by private intelligence firms and that much of that work involves another common aspect of intelligence work: deception. That is, it is involved not just with the concealment of reality, but with the manufacture of it."
"...They mistake shadows for reality. To see things as they truly are, they need to be unshackled and make their way outside the cave. Reporting on the world as it truly is outside the cave is one of the foundational duties of philosophers."
"... Recent leaks are undermining the credibility of the established order which is the basis of their power. If Bradley Manning is jailed for years will he be forgotten or will he be a martyr for a growing movement who see him as a prisoner of conscience, joined by Hammond, Snowden and maybe Assange? Each one of them undermines the vitality of the planet-destroying system which we have made and now need to unmake"
"...The dark arts and dirty tricks of shaping public opinion and influencing media is not new, but it's refreshing to see reporting on specific incidents to educate people on the degree to which the effort is made and the shape and style in which these tasks are performed. Goebbels is rightfully vilified in history, but US lobbying and p.r. groups seem to be able to freely plagiarize his playbook with impunity."
"...Americans are being reduced to low information serfs in a neo-feudal society. Ruled by a plutocratic elite who own not only most of our country's wealth, but who are able through their lobbyists to control the actions of all three branches of government, and in concert with international businesses, propagandistic think takes, ownership of news media, and significant control of corporate academe, these new Lords can now reconstitute realty to serve whatever interests suit their pleasure "
"...Surprising that Mr. Ludlow makes no mention of so-called Think Tank industry, particularly the hundreds that have sprung on the right over the past years. Most are little more than propaganda mills subsidized by wealthy private and corporate interests and whose activity encompasses both public and private issues - provided a line can actually be drawn between these spheres any longer."
"...When this was exposed during the Iran-Contra hearings, one top administration official described the activities of the Office of Public Diplomacy as one of their really great achievements. It was, he said, a spectacular success. He described it as the kind of operation that you carry out in enemy territory. And that's quite an appropriate phrase. I think the phrase expresses exactly the way in which the public is viewed by people with power: it's an enemy, it's a domestic enemy." - Noam Chomsky "
June 15, 2013 |

If there is one thing we can take away from the news of recent weeks it is this: the modern American surveillance state is not really the stuff of paranoid fantasies; it has arrived.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's PRISM data collection program have raised awareness - and understandably, concern and fears - among American and those abroad, about the reach and power of secret intelligence gatherers operating behind the facades of government and business.

Surveillance and deception are not just fodder for the next "Matrix" movie, but a real sort of epistemic warfare.

But those revelations, captivating as they are, have been partial -they primarily focus on one government agency and on the surveillance end of intelligence work, purportedly done in the interest of national security. What has received less attention is the fact that most intelligence work today is not carried out by government agencies but by private intelligence firms and that much of that work involves another common aspect of intelligence work: deception. That is, it is involved not just with the concealment of reality, but with the manufacture of it.

The realm of secrecy and deception among shadowy yet powerful forces may sound like the province of investigative reporters, thriller novelists and Hollywood moviemakers - and it is - but it is also a matter for philosophers. More accurately, understanding deception and and how it can be exposed has been a principle project of philosophy for the last 2500 years. And it is a place where the work of journalists, philosophers and other truth-seekers can meet.

In one of the most referenced allegories in the Western intellectual tradition, Plato describes a group of individuals shackled inside a cave with a fire behind them. They are able to see only shadows cast upon a wall by the people walking behind them. They mistake shadows for reality. To see things as they truly are, they need to be unshackled and make their way outside the cave. Reporting on the world as it truly is outside the cave is one of the foundational duties of philosophers.

In a more contemporary sense, we should also think of the efforts to operate in total secrecy and engage in the creation of false impressions and realities as a problem area in epistemology - the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge. And philosophers interested in optimizing our knowledge should consider such surveillance and deception not just fodder for the next "Matrix" movie, but as real sort of epistemic warfare.

To get some perspective on the manipulative role that private intelligence agencies play in our society, it is worth examining information that has been revealed by some significant hacks in the past few years of previously secret data.

Important insight into the world these companies came from a 2010 hack by a group best known as LulzSec (at the time the group was called Internet Feds), which targeted the private intelligence firm HBGary Federal. That hack yielded 75,000 e-mails. It revealed, for example, that Bank of America approached the Department of Justice over concerns about information that WikiLeaks had about it. The Department of Justice in turn referred Bank of America to the lobbying firm Hunton and Willliams, which in turn connected the bank with a group of information security firms collectively known as Team Themis.

Team Themis (a group that included HBGary and the private intelligence and security firms Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and Endgame Systems) was effectively brought in to find a way to undermine the credibility of WikiLeaks and the journalist Glenn Greenwald (who recently broke the story of Edward Snowden's leak of the N.S.A.'s Prism program), because of Greenwald's support for WikiLeaks. Specifically, the plan called for actions to "sabotage or discredit the opposing organization" including a plan to submit fake documents and then call out the error. As for Greenwald, it was argued that he would cave "if pushed" because he would "choose professional preservation over cause." That evidently wasn't the case.

Team Themis also developed a proposal for the Chamber of Commerce to undermine the credibility of one of its critics, a group called Chamber Watch. The proposal called for first creating a "false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information," giving it to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then subsequently exposing the document as a fake to "prove that U.S. Chamber Watch cannot be trusted with information and/or tell the truth."

(A photocopy of the proposal can be found here.)

In addition, the group proposed creating a "fake insider persona" to infiltrate Chamber Watch. They would "create two fake insider personas, using one as leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second."

Psyops need not be conducted by nation states; they can be undertaken by anyone with the capabilities and the incentive to conduct them.

The hack also revealed evidence that Team Themis was developing a "persona management" system - a program, developed at the specific request of the United States Air Force, that allowed one user to control multiple online identities ("sock puppets") for commenting in social media spaces, thus giving the appearance of grass roots support. The contract was eventually awarded to another private intelligence firm.

This may sound like nothing so much as a "Matrix"-like fantasy, but it is distinctly real, and resembles in some ways the employment of "Psyops" (psychological operations), which as most students of recent American history know, have been part of the nation's military strategy for decades. The military's "Unconventional Warfare Training Manual" defines Psyops as "planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals." In other words, it is sometimes more effective to deceive a population into a false reality than it is to impose its will with force or conventional weapons. Of course this could also apply to one's own population if you chose to view it as an "enemy" whose "motives, reasoning, and behavior" needed to be controlled.

Psyops need not be conducted by nation states; they can be undertaken by anyone with the capabilities and the incentive to conduct them, and in the case of private intelligence contractors, there are both incentives (billions of dollars in contracts) and capabilities.

Several months after the hack of HBGary, a Chicago area activist and hacker named Jeremy Hammond successfully hacked into another private intelligence firm - Strategic Forcasting Inc., or Stratfor), and released approximately five million e-mails. This hack provided a remarkable insight into how the private security and intelligence companies view themselves vis a vis government security agencies like the C.I.A. In a 2004 e-mail to Stratfor employees, the firm's founder and chairman George Friedman was downright dismissive of the C.I.A.'s capabilities relative to their own: "Everyone in Langley [the C.I.A.] knows that we do things they have never been able to do with a small fraction of their resources. They have always asked how we did it. We can now show them and maybe they can learn."

The Stratfor e-mails provided us just one more narrow glimpse into the world of the private security firms, but the view was frightening. The leaked e-mails revealed surveillance activities to monitor protestors in Occupy Austin as well as Occupy's relation to the environmental group Deep Green Resistance. Staffers discussed how one of their own men went undercover ("U/C") and inquired about an Occupy Austin General Assembly meeting to gain insight into how the group operates.

Stratfor was also involved in monitoring activists who were seeking reparations for victims of a chemical plant disaster in Bhopal, India, including a group called Bophal Medical Appeal. But the targets also included The Yes Men, a satirical group that had humiliated Dow Chemical with a fake news conference announcing reparations for the victims. Stratfor regularly copied several Dow officers on the minutia of activities by the two members of the Yes Men.

One intriguing e-mail revealed that the Coca-Cola company was asking Stratfor for intelligence on PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) with Stratfor vice president for Intelligence claiming that "The F.B.I. has a classified investigation on PETA operatives. I'll see what I can uncover." From this one could get the impression that the F.B.I. was in effect working as a private detective Stratfor and its corporate clients.

Stratfor also had a broad-ranging public relations campaign. The e-mails revealed numerous media companies on its payroll. While one motivation for the partnerships was presumably to have sources of intelligence, Stratfor worked hard to have soap boxes from which to project its interests. In one 2007 e-mail, it seemed that Stratfor was close to securing a regular show on NPR: "[the producer] agreed that she wants to not just get George or Stratfor on one time on NPR but help us figure the right way to have a relationship between 'Morning Edition' and Stratfor."

On May 28 Jeremy Hammond pled guilty to the Stratfor hack, noting that even if he could successfully defend himself against the charges he was facing, the Department of Justice promised him that he would face the same charges in eight different districts and he would be shipped to all of them in turn. He would become a defendant for life. He had no choice but to plea to a deal in which he may be sentenced to 10 years in prison. But even as he made the plea he issued a statement, saying "I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right." (In a video interview conducted by Glenn Greenwald with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong this week, Snowden expressed a similar ethical stance regarding his actions.)

Given the scope and content of what Hammond's hacks exposed, his supporters agree that what he did was right. In their view, the private intelligence industry is effectively engaged in Psyops against American public., engaging in "planned operations to convey selected information to [us] to influence [our] emotions, motives, objective reasoning and, ultimately, [our] behavior"? Or as the philosopher might put it, they are engaged in epistemic warfare.

The Greek word deployed by Plato in "The Cave" - aletheia - is typically translated as truth, but is more aptly translated as "disclosure" or "uncovering" - literally, "the state of not being hidden." Martin Heidegger, in an essay on the allegory of the cave, suggested that the process of uncovering was actually a precondition for having truth. It would then follow that the goal of the truth-seeker is to help people in this disclosure - it is to defeat the illusory representations that prevent us from seeing the world the way it is. There is no propositional truth to be had until this first task is complete.

This is the key to understanding why hackers like Jeremy Hammond are held in such high regard by their supporters. They aren't just fellow activists or fellow hackers - they are defending us from epistemic attack. Their actions help lift the hood that is periodically pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth.

Peter Ludlow is a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University and is currently co-producing (with Vivien Weisman) a documentary on Hacktivist actions against private intelligence firms and the surveillance state.

Edward Butterworth Victoria BC

I totally agree but you do not go half far enough. It is philosophy's job to reveal the truth but also, in my opinion, to speculate how we might resolve problems that are revealed rather than be resigned to endless decline. The future is the realm of possibilities which can be a creative, evolutionary response to an unprecedented crisis (climate change). In my view it will take nothing less than a paradigm shift, the breaking of the hegemony of the US elite and their clones around the world. Recent leaks are undermining the credibility of the established order which is the basis of their power. If Bradley Manning is jailed for years will he be forgotten or will he be a martyr for a growing movement who see him as a prisoner of conscience, joined by Hammond, Snowden and maybe Assange? Each one of them undermines the vitality of the planet-destroying system which we have made and now need to unmake

theduke California

Mr. Butterworth: And after you break "the hegemony of the US elite and their clones around the world," just who do you suppose will fill that vacuum? Hint: it could very well be something that is incalculably worse for the planet, its people and Western democratic, humanitarian values

There is no "planet-destroying system." There are only large players who are occasionally discovered to be doing things, often unintentionally, that are not environmentally or socially sound. There are smaller players guilty of the same thing. The idea that there is some over-arching conspiracy to destroy the planet is ludicrous, as is the idea that the system as designed is leading us to Doomsday. It is in no one's interest for that to happen. If the players in the world- national-, or local economies are actually doing harm, they need to be regulated by government. Government is arguably doing its job in that regard, although I could easily argue it's overdoing it and violating the rights of people under our Constitution and others around the world

Who is regulating government? If the AP, Fox News, IRS and now the Prism and other surveillance scandals are any indication, the answer is, "No One."

Mark Vermont

Great article. The dark arts and dirty tricks of shaping public opinion and influencing media is not new, but it's refreshing to see reporting on specific incidents to educate people on the degree to which the effort is made and the shape and style in which these tasks are performed. Goebbels is rightfully vilified in history, but US lobbying and p.r. groups seem to be able to freely plagiarize his playbook with impunity. Great to see a national press organization shine the light on it. If only that light could shine a bit brighter while it's happening instead of after the fact. As for Morning's been whoring as an echo chamber for these types for years

EDJ Canaan, NY

Americans are being reduced to low information serfs in a neo-feudal society. Ruled by a plutocratic elite who own not only most of our country's wealth, but who are able through their lobbyists to control the actions of all three branches of government, and in concert with international businesses, propagandistic think takes, ownership of news media, and significant control of corporate academe, these new Lords can now reconstitute realty to serve whatever interests suit their pleasure

In a word, Americans have lost sovereignty over our rights as citizens, our claims to an equitable share of America's wealth, and now are losing control over access to fundamental knowledge about what constitutes social realty. Friendly fascism not only allows for a material monopoly over property, jobs, laws, civil rights, and all the other various constructs that make possible the integrity of our human selves, but through mass technology and the corporate intelligence industry that manipulates our consumption of knowledge, we are at risk of losing the ability to understand what is being done to us and who is doing it

a2 annarbor

Re Danny P

We had the War, and the draft, and Nixon, all real and defined clearly on TV every day

The power of our government, the press and the Chamber of Commerce ended Occupy. A2

omega shetland islands

They didn't end Occupy. The Chamber of Commerce, much like a virus, tried to attack the integrity and health of Occupy, but only succeeded in helping to distribute the idea on an exponentially more widespread basis

Grand Pianos in every park in America. Expect us

Roger Michigan

Whatever the arguments about the legality of the actions under Prism, it is not sufficient for justice to be done; it must be seen to be done. Much of the furor over the issue is that not only are the details kept secret, so is the process itself (or at least it was until Mr Snowden went public)

Diana Moses Arlington, MA

There seems to me to be a big strand in all this of people doing whatever so long as they can get away with it, an absence of the ability to police the self in the presence of a temptation. Maybe we need to bring back the honor code in all kinds on contexts, including in education, and train people how to use it so they get in the habit. As it is, I think a lot of these people in public life behave as if they need supervision, someone to say to them, "What were you thinking? No, that's not okay; it may be clever and you may have a spiffy rationale for it, but no, it's not okay." I would sum up the issue as "poor judgment." How do we form an apparatus to make wise judgments? Not through STEM education, I would argue. One of the tried and true methods is to teach a person skills and then put them in such a difficult situation that they are forced to see the world differently from the way they did before. Think of rites of passage or The Fall. That gives the participant a basis for humility, for a recognition of a need for pluralism, and for compassion for others, I think

Danny P Warrensburg

I've always found recognition of a need for pluralism to be the opposite of an honor-code-personal-responsibility-wise-choices ethic. Seeking out broad agreement or many different viewpoints inevitably moves one away from the top-shelf mentalities and towards a lowest common denominator style of thinking. Pluralism, to me at least, is middling more than anything else.

Entitlement or false belief in superiority may lead one well down a wrong path much farther, to a place far below average, but I'd prefer people gamble on being above average than settling for just average. I think there's a reason why the word "peerless" was once considered a compliment but has fallen out of usage these days

Diana Moses Arlington, MA

Danny P,

I think the source for so much guidance is being able to walk a mile in others' moccasins -- that kind of pluralism I don't think is at odds with behaving in a way that serves regardless of who is watching, I think the two go hand in hand. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "pluralism"?

Chris Minneapolis

Surprising that Mr. Ludlow makes no mention of so-called Think Tank industry, particularly the hundreds that have sprung on the right over the past years. Most are little more than propaganda mills subsidized by wealthy private and corporate interests and whose activity encompasses both public and private issues - provided a line can actually be drawn between these spheres any longer. In fact, think tanks seem to be in the business of confusing just such matters given the often parade themselves as serving the public interest while in truth operating with a private agenda, But sowing confusion and working to dis-inform the electorate are par for the course with outfits like these. So one has to wonder how the private psyops firms Mr. Ludlow details really differ from think tanks industry on fundamental strategy. Is it scope of the issues? The scale of the operation? How they are funded? What's the real difference, if any?

Bill Gilwood San Dimas, CA

While we're at it, which of the big stories and social movements during my lifetime (mid 50's onward) were influenced by psyops and how and by who?

C Wolfe Bloomington, IN

I'm shocked by the high percentage of Americans who are untroubled by surveillance issues - mainly, it seems, because they are confident they're doing nothing wrong. But that depends on who's defining "wrong"

When the POTUS comes to town, it's become conventional to set aside so-called "free speech" zones, and only there are you allowed to display protest placards. I can't believe people have acquiesced to this severe violation of their right to free assembly and speech. If you demonstrate outside this zone, that would give cause to treat you as a criminal, and all the data collected on you could be arranged to show who-knows-what. You could have the wrong associates and get branded a potential terrorist: maybe you have a friend in PETA or go out for a drink with somebody you work with who (perhaps unbeknownst to you) belongs to an organization that engages in direct-action anit-abortion or environmentalist protests, or sends money to a Palestinian aid group. These days, that's enough to arrest a citizen-and if enough mistaken inferences are drawn, to "disappear" you without access to an attorney, or make you the target of a drone

So while I have nothing to hide, how do I know some critical mass of associations I'm not even aware of won't trigger an alert? I'm four times more like to be struck by lightning than to be the victim of a terrorist attack. The odds of some private-contractor bozo making an error and trampling on my rights seems much higher, and increasing

Bill Gilwood San Dimas, CA

Psyops is used in our elections


What role does technological change play in this? I am of two (or maybe more) minds on this

First, maybe things aren't really worse than they used to be. Maybe this type of thing has been going on for a long time. Or perhaps, it has increased but primarily due to changes in the culture that are not related to technology

But maybe technology really does play an important role here. Are we discovering technologically-enabled changes in the ease of disseminating falsehoods as a large-scale and well-organized enterprise?

On the other hand, 50 years ago, without an insider turning informant, the only way such activities would come to light would have been through a physical (as opposed to a virtual) break-in, which seems close to impossible to pull off

Is there actually more disinformation because of technology, or are we just hearing about it more because more of it coming to light due to technology?

Sal Anthony Queens, NY

In keeping with your perspective, if we juxtapose the increasing sphere of freedom and human action, I'd wager that disinformation and deception are not keeping pace. That is, consider how circumscribed in every possible way the lives of our predecessors were compared to ours. From that point of view, all these "assaults on our reality" are piddling compared with how varied and rich that reality now is

Using a concrete example, think about how many physical places and websites you've visited and how many calls and emails and texts and twitters you've made and how many electronic devices and video games and books you've used, just, say, in the past month. All of your transactions and travels and online connections, all of the arduous labor you're not engaging in because of automobiles and washing machines and airplanes and smart phones, and so on

Simply put, deception is what put Socrates to death, and it has been pulling the wool over the eyes of humanity since time began. However, with eyes that now see deep into the quantum realm and far to the outer galaxies, it will take more wool than all the sheep in England for the deceivers to do the kind of deceiving they've been doing since Eve made Adam eat the apple

Optimistically, S.A. Traina

June 15, 2013 at 4:39 p.m. Recommended2

theduke California

The professor seems to believe that the groups that are hacking and are being monitored by private intelligence companies are themselves conveying a certain indisputable truth, presumably because they are well-intentioned. That is, philosophically, an unsupportable position. Does everyone believe that PETA is truthful in all their communications. Or Occupy Austin? Has it not occurred to the professor that this really is not about epistemology, but about trying to combat what those companies who hire private intelligence contractors believe to be misinformation? That they are combating propaganda meant to damage them and their ability to conduct business because of the inherent biases of those who espouse a radical left-wing agenda?

The actions of hackers do not necessarily "lift the hood that is periodically pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth." They occasionally tell us something we may not know, but I think most hackers are self-promoting, narcissistic individuals who ignore how important corporations are to comfort and well-being of all people who use their products and services.

The anti-corporate mentality that assumes that all corporations are bad and are working to the detriment of society is a mark of immature thinking. The grandiosity of the people (usually young and cynical) who hack and think they are saving society is evident every time they attempt to justify their illegal actions. They should not be celebrated by philosophy or society

elementaryschoolvolunteer, Bradenton, FL

Organize Flash Mob boycotts on-line: People agree to boycott a corporation for a week or a month. If enough people join in that sales significantly decrease for that period, consumers/citizens might gain some control over corporations. Those behind advertising and political spin might have to rethink how they try to control us

June 15, 2013 at 3:43 p.m. Recommended9

Beluga Barb Seattle, WA

It's terrifying but true: law enforcement just like anyone else is going to fry the fish it can most easily. So the already impotent citizen gets the shaft, while major corporations and bed boys of the security-technology complex operate a high tech, powerful, criminal gang

This article is highly disturbing

It's a favorite of law enforcement everywhere to incarcerate and otherwise attack citizens with marginal, vague charges like harassment and disorderly conduct.

And yet here we have large scale, malicious, defamatory activities specifically designed not to just harass but effectively destroy citizen causes. Even if the FBI is not serving as the personal investigator for these companies, this type of behavior from these corporations - de facto domestic "non-violent" terrorists - needs to be criminally prosecuted.

June 15, 2013 at 3:25 p.m. Recommended14

michael birmingham, alabama

In a society that has raised millions of people who are walled-off from the real world and plugged into "virtual reality," e-friends, and video simulations, and a strong sense of entitlement, I can only think that this problem will get much, much worse--if only because governmental and private intel agencies will have their pick of employees among an increasing pool of moral relativists and social misfits

Scorpio69er Hawaii

Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said

June 15, 2013 at 2:56 p.m. Recommended4

Daniel12 Wash. D.C

If American society--and the people of the world as well--are really serious about creating a humanity which is "not taken in by deceptive practices"--and by "really serious" I mean with no playing of political games of either left or right and foisting paranoid views on society--what we need is a total psychological project by the whole of society to determine characteristics of people "who are taken in easily, fooled easily in life" as well as determine those "who are not taken in easily in life".--And perhaps genetically create "non-fools in life"

The fact is it seems the norm that people are "easily taken in, fooled in life". We do not need to make great efforts to deceive people. This proposition can be easily tested on oneself by observing how easily one sinks into the enjoyment of a film or how easily one is taken in by a piece of sleight of hand in a game of cards. Most of us humans seem quite biologically formed for being deceived in life. To speak in "Matrix terms", if we quite easily lose ourselves while watching a film, enter the "reality of the film"--a two hour event--imagine the effect on a person of being born into "a deceptive event" which persists over a lifetime, such as fascist or communist or religious propaganda. In fact all of reality could be a deception

But we might get best results for our species by trusting the views of those people who have demonstrated greatest natural ability not to be fooled, not be taken in by ANY event in life..

June 15, 2013 at 2:37 p.m. Recommended3

Hypatia Santa Monica CA

It's even worse than I thought. Thank you, Peter Ludlow (I guess) for chilling my blood with these detailed revelations

As a college student decades ago, I couldn't sleep for a week after reading "1984". Not surprising that after revelations of government wrong-doing, the book is flying off the shelves, as a new generations discovers how our democracy is being systematically undermined via the unholy alliance between government and private , for-profit "Big Brothers"

John T NY

"When this was exposed during the Iran-Contra hearings, one top administration official described the activities of the Office of Public Diplomacy as one of their really great achievements. It was, he said, a spectacular success. He described it as the kind of operation that you carry out in enemy territory. And that's quite an appropriate phrase. I think the phrase expresses exactly the way in which the public is viewed by people with power: it's an enemy, it's a domestic enemy." - Noam Chomsky

I have found this quote of Chomsky increasingly relevant these days

As Chomsky points out, the only thing the power elite in this country are really afraid of is the American domestic population. That is because the domestic population is the only threat to their power. For the power elite, the domestic population is and always has been the primary enemy and the primary thing which must be controlled

boson777 palo alto CA

With Snowden's report, cameras on every corner, and a host of other Orwellian realities emerging, articles like this of mister Ludlow naturally follow. But when, we should ask our selves, exactly was the golden dawn when disinformation wasn't so prevalent? I grew up in the 1950s, when happiness was defined by washing machines, vacuums, TV, amphetamines, and lynchings of people with different skin tones. The father of marketing in the US, and now the globe, was Sigmund Freud's nephew Edward Bernays. The father of advertising was behaviorist J. B. Watson. Before internet computing we had J. Edgar Hoover and the tape recording machine. Really, was there ever a time Business didn't lie to the public to get at their money, or that government didn't sneak around and kill their enemies in dark corners? I think the difference between then and now is that now such activity gets leaked more often, whereas our predecessors simply lived in the fantasy world created for them by the oligarchy and their henchmen, the government

June 15, 2013 at 12:07 p.m. Recommended28

Josh Hill New London

Don't you think, though, that the balance of power has shifted? Those forces were always present and powerful, to be sure, but we had a powerful reform movement in the United States -- TR, Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, Johnson. And during that golden period, there was a justified sense that the people were making progress, that government, despite abuses like those that occurred during the McCarthy era, was basically on the public's side

Now, the best we can hope for is a centrist Democrat like Clinton or Obama who is able to prevent the radical right from imposing complete insanity, but not stem the erosion of our civil liberties, our democratic institutions, and the American Dream

James Mathieu Jackson, Wyoming

The allegory of Plato's cave endures and is certainly apt in this overview of public/private espionage/hacking/hacktivism. There is a critical difference though ..

Plato contended that those who seek and then discover the source of the light would return to the cave and become "philosopher/kings". These "Philosopher Kings" were better qualified to rule than the politicians (who also happened to cause Athens to fall to Sparta). Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowdon would be Plato's candidates to return to the cave and to dispell the shaodws on the wall

George Friedman would be the historical equivalent of an Athenian politician who is, therefore, untrustworthy and manipulative. I agree with the writer from Utah, Mr. Mabbutt, because Goldman Sachs and Monsanto would have created the cave in the first place, but they would forever deny there was a different source of light. Of course the Philosopher Kings would disagree, but their brave proof would not allign with the "national interest"

Robert Naperville, IL

The effort to manipulate others by conveying to them selected information is known also as campaigning and advertising.

The private security agencies described are operating like marketing companies or churches, doing what they can to promote a product even if that involves trashing the product's competitors. "Epistemic attack" is a typical human behavior. I agree with your conclusion: we tend to admire individuals like Hammond and Snowden unless they are revealing deceptions that tend to support our interests. Then, of course, they're traitors or criminals

Uziel Nogueira Florianopolis - SC - Brasil

The use of deception and surveillance by private companies in the cyberspace is not the problem. Wall Street has been doing that for decades. The only difference is the new medium (cyberspace) in which deception takes place

The problem is state cyber espionage aimed at population control and power. I am not afraid of travel companies sending sales people to harass me at home

However, I'm very much afraid of having the man in black coming to my house, detaining and interrogating me and my family because an exchange of emails I had with someone considered a terrorist by the Brazilian state

June 15, 2013 at 11:27 a.m. Recommended17

Dan Mabbutt Utah

A great article that has made effective use of history ("what has happened") to guide policy ("what should happen")

One of my favorites is the life of George Orwell (pen name of Eric Arthur Blair) who spent the years of WWII as a propagandist and then wrote "Animal Farm" and "1984" about the inevitable result of propaganda and social control

As we contemplate this war for mind share, we should not forget the real wars that often accompany them. The demonstrated willingness of Assad and his followers to destroy all of Syria -- and indeed, all of the Middle East or even the world -- to preserve their own power should make us appreciate the difficulty of dislodging, for example, Goldman Sachs or Monsanto from their positions of power and privilege

June 15, 2013 at 10:20 a.m. Recommended38

Ethan New York, NY

The parallel of physical, ground wars to the ones in cyberspace, and the methods of deception they both share is indeed an excellent point. One should also remember that the government employs contractors on the ground same as they do in cyberspace, as described in this article. Blackwater, anyone?

June 15, 2013 at 1:04 p.m. Recommended5

Alex p It

Good examples, though out of momentum. In fact, then internet surveillance is focused on tangling "different" metadata to figure out a comprehensive profile of a person. Your suggestion, otherwise, involves a man(organization)- in- a- box. Out of that he(it) simply doesn't exist. Following the Plato's cave mith, when people in finally destroy their chains and get out o the cave, they see a big tall wall with idols upon it. Then they simply substitute the shadows they sought, with the newly images imposed at superior heights. So, substituting self-made images with self-evident ones isn't helpful, in-a-box, or out-of-a-box, until elaboration don't get started, we actually say thinking about truth. By the way, in Plato the search of truth pushed some people to jump over the wall. But this is another story, i suppose

A Reader Ohio

Thanks for these interesting glimpses of "epistemic warfare."

I would like to see more philosophical discussion of the epistemological and ethical dimensions of these facts. This particular essay has little philosophy in it. For instance, the Heideggerian point about "uncovering" could be developed in a couple of directions. Heidegger would point out that (1) even the most outrageous delusions already involve some type of uncovering -- but the phenomena have been misinterpreted, and (2) no unconcealment is total, and we never simply see "the world the way it is" -- aletheia is necessarily accompanied by lethe. Apart from Heidegger, one could debate whether maximum disclosure is good, or under which circumstances.

I am a bit disappointed in the Times' proofreading: "a principle project" should be "a principal project."

June 15, 2013 at 9:28 a.m. Recommended2

Steve Bolger New York City

I suppose philosophy is another pursuit that attracts people who like to argue endlessly over what smarter dead people were really thinking when they had some insight that can only be recaptured today by necromancy

Sal Anthony Queens, NY

For Steve,

Wonderful wordplay. And yet, it is indeed the grandest and the most practical of all pursuits, seeking to distill the eternal from the lesser disciplines of art and science, seeking to inform aspiring artists, scientists and struggling thinkers, and forming the metaphysical sphere within which consciousness itself operates. As for the dead being smarter and wiser than their successors, yes and no - talent and tenacity in studying those who came before lead many a great thinker to leapfrog his predecessors, just as torpitude and incapacity lead a great many more to fall short


Marilyn Delson Troy, NY

One of the most thoughtful, intriguing, and frightening excerpts I've read in a long time. The evaporation of the Occupy Movement was such a disappointment for progressives.

I'm sure there's a blockbuster story behind its demise for an enterprising investigative journalist, assuming they still exist anywhere

mancuroc Rochester, NY

There's no mystery about why the Occupy movement evaporated

First, the media fell over themselves to give it the minimum and least favorable coverage

Second, but more important - and I write as one in total sympathy with Occupy's cause - it contributed to its own demise by not adopting even a rudimentary leadership. and by refusing to get involved in electoral politics. If you want to get anywhere when the dice are already loaded against you, you need one or two people out front as spokespersons. Occupy turned its back on any idea of working even with sympathetic individual Democratic politicians. Granted, the Tea Party was a well-backed and not entirely grass-roots affair, but look at the hold it has over the GOP

It's painful to say so, but there's no blockbuster investigation needed. Occupy blew its chance, big time

That said, I don't doubt that if Occupy had chosen more bite to go along with its bark, the establishment would have aimed all its overt and covert weapons against it

Phillip Wynn Cincinnati

Sorry, mancuroc, but there's already evidence easily available that DHS & prob. other federal agencies coordinated a suppression response to Occupy with big city mayors across the country. More than one journalist has long since pointed out that the Occupy movement didn't fade out: it was deliberately squashed, accompanied by much illegality and police violence

What we need to know is the extent to which info derived from gvt surveillance was directly employed or shared with other entities re the Occupy movement, and while we're at it the Tea Party, and any other individuals or groups which are regarded as dissenters. Based on human nature as revealed by even recent history, we can all be confident that such abuse of power has occurred. We just don't know the extent of it

mancuroc Rochester, NY

@Phillip Wynn - you seem better informed than I am on the response to the Occupy movement so I'll concede there is something to it. However, I stand by my contention that the movement contributed to its own demise through sheer incompetence

Democratic leaders have bought into much of the pro-corporate conservative dogma, but there are plenty of grass roots Dems, including the progressive caucus in Congress, that haven't. Occupy collectively felt itself too superior to descend to party politics, so it surrendered leverage and drove away sympathetic Democrats. Bad move

Dean Charles Marshall California

Here's what I find most troubling, embedded amongst us are fellow Americans, like the folks at Stratfor and their ilk, displaying a rather deceitful and perverse take on "truth, justice and the American way" and seemingly getting well paid to do it. Not only is this incredibly scandalous, but treasonous as well. More proof that our democracy has been hijacked by a cabal of "racketeering" special interests willing to use any and all means of subterfuge and psyops to circumvent our Constitution in the name of inverted totalitarianism. Sure begs the question, was the USA Patriots Act really about catching foreign terrorists or was it the precursor for enslaving American citizens?

Lenny Pittsfield, MA

The way I see it, we all are strongly drawn to be in the cave and to stay in the cave facing the wall of illusions. And, when we we make our own attempts to draw us out of the cave into the actual world, or when others make efforts to bring us outside, we resist. I am very much concerned about this latest age of communication we are in; concerned because the evidence from outside of the cave is that so many of us are on our computers, are using our hand held devices, are on our cell phones in and out of our cars, have ear buds in our ears, are immersed in computer games, prefer video reporting to written articles, mistakenly value on-line pseudo encyclopedias as reliable scholarly sources, and take college courses on line rather than in classrooms with actual fellow students and actual live-in-the-present teachers. While we are this way, and if we continue to be this way, we do not and we will not actually know what is happening to ourselves and to others

June 15, 2013 at 8:50 a.m. Recommended12

Hans Nepomuk in Los Angeles, Ca Los Angeles, CA

This all sounds like children's games played by adults, for fun and profit. This sounds like "The rime of the Ancient Mariner" prosified. I think good philosophy must have more on its mind

Steve Bolger New York City

That is exactly what it is. We pay tax, the government pays an entity of the Bush family empire call Booz Allen Hamilton to do the work, Carlyle Group owns that, and the Bush family and Carlyle have a mutually beneficial arrangement that gives Carlyle top level access to everything the snoop empire dreams of for further contracts to supply it

June 15, 2013 at 10:45 a.m. Recommended9

zb bc

You really don't have to look this far for deception. Its called Capitalism. Not only are American Businesses manipulating our minds to get us to buy their junk most of which is poison either to our self or our environment, but they use addictive additives to make the manipulation all the more powerful

ann san pedro, ca

The naivete of people who think this just popped up from nowhere is astounding. Since the invention of an almost unaccountable secret government over 60 years ago we have lived in a surveillance state.

Many have taken it too far. Hoover used it for personal power. Nixon used it for personal power. It has been part of our government for a long time and is part of our national infrastructure. It didn't start with the Patriot Act. It just got bigger

Laird Wilcox Kansas

Many of these firms are doing much, much more than gathering intelligence for government agencies, they are feeding them the information they want them to have and some of them are freely sharing information with Israeli intelligence. They are not disinterested parties or neutral professionals going about their tasks with no dog in the fight. They are part of a large covert apparatus.

For one thing, they have to gin up enough of a threat for us to obsess about to keep themselves employed. What they would like least of all is for a situation to develop where they are no longer viewed as necessary. They have every interest in keeping conflict going and in exaggerating the threat of domestic terrorism. Like any other business, unless they can create a demand for their product they are soon out of existence

For another, many of them have obvious political interests in the direction our country takes on various issues, particularly as they relate to Israel and the Middle East. What is needed is a detailed investigation into the nature, composition and activities of these firms. Penetrating the security curtain surrounding them would be a difficult task, however. They have created a structure and a climate that allows them to act with almost no oversight

It's a particularly dangerous thing for our country when our security and intelligence apparatus is not in direct control of the American people and works to pursue private interests. This is not a small matter

Architect NL

Useful article. Thanks

That people only present information that is welcome to them (Chris, NYC) because they "know" their cause to be just, well we knew that. In a way you are an example of that yourself, because you leave out the possibility that Stratfor might also manipulate foes of the American people (to which you probably would not object because these foes are holding false opinions to start with, right?)

That people actually make up information to support their "just" cause, because the ends justify the means (most religions do this), well we knew that too

That people make up FALSE information, attribute it to somebody else and subsequently "uncover" the falsehood, was a complication I was not consciously aware of

The only advice I can give if this happens to you: admit the falsehood right away. Both parties mentioned above are easily recognizable because they will start defending the falsehood

C. Whiting Madison, WI

This is one of the most intriguing and concerning articles I have read in a major newspaper. I actually find it astonishing that it sits here next to pieces by David Brooks et. al. Nicely reported, Mr. Ludlow

June 15, 2013 at 7:47 a.m. Recommended52

Luce Indonesia

What I don't like about all the Wiki-type exposers is that they only want to expose the US. Is this because Daniel Ellsburg already proved to the world that the US government can not and will not kill you for exposing its doings? (If you are on their payroll they can imprison you.) Meanwhile all the governments that do kill people for that and for much less can continue to do it, and can keep improving their game with the info released by the hackers premature releases of information, which often seem to be done at least partly out of the desire for publicity, which, again, can easiest be found in the US

June 15, 2013 at 7:47 a.m. Recommended3

Matthew Cross Detroit

These are U.S. citizens blowing the whistle on what the U.S. government is doing. That is their first responsibility as citizens, to their own nation. I can talk all day about all the horrible things Russia or Colombia are doing, but since I'm not from those countries, it carries little weight. Our attention should be on where I live, since I can have a much greater impact, and it's my county. Besides, you must concede that the U.S. is the greatest world power in history. Our influence around the globe, militarily and commercially (those usually work hand in hand), is beyond anything that any previous country/empire/imperial power has enjoyed. That certainly adds to our responsibility as citizens to hold our own government accountable, since what happens here often has a much greater impact on the rest of the world

June 15, 2013 at 9:21 a.m. Recommended16

Mike Hihn Boise, ID

Edward Snowden has more details on our surveillance than the intelligence oversight subcommittee -- per an interview with the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Oversight Committee, now on the NPR website. To be fair, she does not make that conclusion in the interview, but see how little even she is allowed to know

How can Congress possibly meet its Constitutional check and balance over the Executive?

NPR link:

John Northern California

I love the way the NYTimes is consistently about ten to fifteen years behind smart people. Next you'll realize Obama's Nobel "Peace" Prize was entirely a PC effort, too

Bill Benton San Francisco

Excellent piece. Thanks, Peter Ludlow and NY Times

Also thanks, Wikileaks, Jeremy Hammond, and all the other hackers who have brought to light things that the forces of evil want to keep hidden. Sunlight is the best disinfectant -- leaking should not be a crime. But covering up government theft and malfeasance and incompetence should be

Doug France

I wonder why Great Britain has stepped in the Snowden affair? It is disappointing to see that the lapdog policies of GB haven't changed since Tony Blair led his nation into the Iraq disaster

rturkington Virginia

Excellent writing and research. I only wish there was 1000 more just like you, as intent on sharing what is really going on behind the scenes, as there are those who do their best to deceive. Please keep on doing what far too few do these days-tell the American people the truth

SpecialAgent, A New York City

This is probably the most important and provocative essay on contemporary philosophy ever written in America. And it has 39 comments? Share widely, defend reality and consciousness. Defend freedom of mind

Philip Thrift Addison, Texas

Ironically, it is only the federal government through laws that can protect individual persons (that's us) from corporations' use of our data. An example is the health care law, which would prevent the private insurance industry from using individuals' data to deny or strip them of coverage. In the Tea-Party/Republican nirvana of a limited federal government, the strongest corporations would be the masters of our data and the controllers of our lives

June 15, 2013 at 7:21 a.m. Recommended23

pieceofcake konstanz germany

In case you have missed it - the American surveillance state had arrived - ever since I booked something on the Internet and suddenly all these travel-ads appeared

So please - as a wiser man suggested: The internet is "the Surveillance State" - and much better in "surveillance" than the American government ever could be

The American government is just like us - we have to go begging to google or facebook that they hand over some of the data they have on us - while American cooperations get it for free!

And I tell you that's the real scandal!

edbrooklyn Brooklyn

This piece should be read in the context of the recent announcement by the Pentagon that it declares the current war zone or battlefield to be the entire earth, which means they include the United States as well. (I do recognize that part of Ludlow's wider point is that, the problem is not just the Pentagon or NSA, it's numerous private companies that are the militant forces here). Truly strange that many people say we should "just trust" these agencies and private companies, even though not only did Director of National Intelligence James Clapper just lie to Congress this year about spying on US citizens, but also --- as Ludlow points out --- these entities have as their express goal carrying out PsyOps (falsehood, lies, propaganda, mind games) on the American people and the press.

NPR just reported on plans by these agencies and companies to plant fake "honeypot" documents for concerned citizens to find --- so as to trap them. (NPR neglected to mention the discredit-the-messenger part that Ludlow focuses on here.)

"Defense Department Trying To Plug Leaks Before They Happen" NPR June 14, 2013 at 3pm. Numerous people have already been or are currently being threatened with undeserved prison sentences for trying to get the truth out to the public: Thomas Drake, Barrett Brown ( freebarrettbrown dot org ), Jeremy Hammond ( freejeremy dot net ), and Bradley Manning ( bradleymanning dot org )

sdavidc9 Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut

Agent provocateurs are as old as political forces who believe that the ends justify the means. Hacking is only a way of catching them. Propaganda and Big Lies predate computers, as did the East German Stasi. Computers and the Internet make this sort of thing cheaper while also increasing exponentially the amount of communication that must be monitored

Plato had something much more pervasive and fundamental in mind. The lowest level of the cave was the province of advertising and salesmanship in general, and the sort of negative campaigns and character assassination disclosed by the noble hackers is just one type of this unreality, and by far not the most pervasive or even the most dangerous. The alternate univese of Fox is not maintained by these sorts of secret manipulations of public opinion, and is philosophically both more interesting and more important

June 15, 2013 at 2:01 a.m. Recommended4

Kevin M. Gallagher Amherst, MA

It's important to note that much of what we know about Team Themis, and in turn the shady corners of the the private intelligence contracting industry, is owed to the investigative journalist Barrett Brown and his crowd-sourced wiki Project PM. He was a pioneer as far as researching stories found in the leaked e-mails from HBGary and Stratfor. Now he's been indicted three times, and sits in a Texas prison awaiting trial, looking at up to 105 years maximum

I definitely think the heavy-handed treatment and excessive prosecution in his case is a retaliatory punishment for his journalism digging into these firms that are involved in surveillance. The government is going after him the same way they do with any whistleblower or hacktivist that they don't like or agree with. It's crazy

Worst of all, one of the charges he's facing a LOT of time for equates to sharing a link (to Stratfor data). Which of you feels it's reasonable to charge someone w/ identity theft and fraud for pasting a hyperlink? It's absurd, as if they expect us to check every link that the content doesn't contain anything illegal and then hold us responsible for whatever the receiver does with it.

Know what else, BB was looking into Booz Allen Hamilton, the employer of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, before he got arrested. He recorded a phone call w/ their Vice President in which he lied about their involvement w/ HBGary in the Team Themis affair.

[Nov 02, 2012] Israel recruits 'army of bloggers' to combat anti-Zionist Web sites

See also Megaphone desktop tool - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The Foreign Ministry itself is now pushing the idea, urging supporters of Israel everywhere to become cyberspace soldiers in the new battleground for Israel's image."
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced on Sunday it was setting up an "army of bloggers," to be made up of Israelis who speak a second language, to represent Israel in "anti-Zionist blogs" in English, French, Spanish and German.

... ... ...

...Other languages in which bloggers are sought include Russian and Portuguese.

Halfon said volunteers who send the Absorption Ministry their contact details by e-mail, at, will be registered according to language, and then passed on to the Foreign Ministry's media department, whose personnel will direct the volunteers to Web sites deemed "problematic."

Within 30 minutes of announcing the program, which was approved by the Foreign Ministry on Sunday, five volunteers were already in touch, Halfon said.

In The Northwest Franken gives voice to the muffled left wing

"The mainstream media is cowed," Franken said in an interview this week. "The drumbeat of repetition from the right -- 'liberal media,' 'liberal media' -- has scared them. They don't want to be accused of being liberal.
"This administration has also used intimidation by denying access to those who dare question. (Hearst columnist) Helen Thomas is being shut out because she has the nerve to ask some real questions."

Back in days when liberals ruled the roost in America, a trio of conservatives helped turn the tide with bold ideas and personal stature:

Barry Goldwater was a flinty, conviction-driven prophet; Ronald Reagan brought sunny optimism to the movement; William F. Buckley Jr. was the erudite pundit whose arched eyebrows and flicking tongue made him a comedians' delight.

Nowadays, gorged with political power and fueled by corporate power, conservatism has lost its class.

The political right's public forum has become the partisan, one-sided echo chamber of talk radio, where seldom is heard a dissenting word.

On the screen, our culture is debased and debate stifled by Rupert Murdoch's media empire (Fox News Channel). Where once there was Buckley, now we see Fox loudmouth Bill O'Reilly shouting "Shut up! Shut up!" and "I don't care what you think!" at the anti-war son of a World Trade Center victim before cutting off the young man's microphone.

Al Franken was a master satirist on "Saturday Night Live," co-authoring such famous skits as the one in which a hunched, sweating Richard Nixon (played by Dan Aykroyd) prowled the White House carrying on imagined conversations with his predecessors' portraits.

The advent of right-wing media has inspired fear, but transformed Franken into a fearless critic of those who (he says) "distort, lie, cheat and shill for the Bush administration."

With help from an unsuccessful Fox lawsuit to block its publication and a Los Angeles Book Fair confrontation with O'Reilly -- who shouted "Hey, shut up! You had your 35 minutes. Shut up!" at him -- Franken's latest book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" is atop the best seller lists.

"The mainstream media is cowed," Franken said in an interview this week. "The drumbeat of repetition from the right -- 'liberal media,' 'liberal media' -- has scared them. They don't want to be accused of being liberal.

"This administration has also used intimidation by denying access to those who dare question. (Hearst columnist) Helen Thomas is being shut out because she has the nerve to ask some real questions."

Hard words, but lately others have dared to speak them.

In his Tuesday speech here, former President Clinton spoke of the "supine mood" of establishment media in not daring to criticize Bush.

CNN's crack foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour acknowledged last week that the press muzzled itself during the Iraq War.

"I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News," she said. "And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of work we did."

What happens in a climate of intimidation? A quartet of costs to democracy would include:

In the meantime, defying the invective of Rupert Murdoch's minions, Franken is out raising hell. More power to him.

Did Osama bin Laden Get a Nip and Tuck On the Run Inquiring Minds Want to Know.

A BuzzFlash

Remember that the Sun-Times is part of the Conrad Black Hollinger media empire, which is adamantly pro-Bush and pro-Iraq war. Richard Perle, for instance has close financial and "journalistic" ties to the Hollinger media empire, including more than 400 daily and weekly newspapers in Canada, the United States, Britain, Israel and Australia.

Alert Full Spectrum Dissent Part 1 - Extending The Scope Of The Propaganda Model

Media Lens

...facts, ideas and voices in our culture are filtered by a propaganda system promoting the goals of powerful interests. This is not achieved through any kind of conspiracy but through the operation of market forces allied with "man's capacity of not observing what he does not want to observe", such that "he may be sincere in denying a knowledge which he would have, if he wanted only to have it", in the words of psychologist Harry Stack Sullivan.

But how far do the effects of this system of filtering extend into our ideas about ourselves and the world?

Consider, for example, that the same filtering influences the literature we read. Noam Chomsky argues that George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984 (both standard school texts) are as highly-regarded as they are, not because they provide particularly astute insights into modern systems of tyranny, but because they constituted suitable satirical attacks against our long-time enemy the Soviet Union. Chomsky comments:

"Fame, Fortune and Respect await those who reveal the crimes of official enemies; those who undertake the vastly more important task of raising a mirror to their own societies can expect quite different treatment. George Orwell is famous for Animal Farm and 1984, which focus on the official enemy. Had he addressed the more interesting and significant question of thought control in relatively free and democratic societies, it would not have been appreciated, and instead of wide acclaim, he would have faced silent dismissal or obloquy."
(Noam Chomsky - Deterring Democracy, Hill And Wang, 1992, p.372)

Historian Howard Zinn explains Plato's standing as one of the "untouchables" of modern culture by the fact that he advocated blind obedience to government, and thus has long been in favour with governments and educational systems working to instil the 'right' attitudes in the young. In the Crito, for example, Plato has Socrates refuse to escape from prison on the following grounds, here paraphrased by Zinn:

"'No, I must obey the law. True, Athens has committed an injustice against me by ordering me to die for speaking my mind. But if I complained about this injustice, Athens could rightly say: 'We brought you into this world, we raised you, we educated you, we gave you and every other citizen a share of all the good things we could'. Socrates accepts this, saying: 'By not leaving Athens, I agreed to obey its laws. And so I will go to my death'."

(Howard Zinn, Failure To Quit, Common Courage Press, 1993, p.154)

It is important to be aware of the anti-democratic nature of these arguments and of the high regard in which they are held in modern 'democratic' states, Zinn argues, because they are a way of thinking which every nation-state drums into the heads of its citizens from the earliest possible age.

In their book Political Shakespeare, Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield even dare to suggest that one reason why Shakespeare has been so popular for so long is because his writing promotes an essentially right-wing view of the world, one suitable to the long-standing requirements of the ruling elite. They quote academic Rachel Sharp, who writes:

"The power relations which are peculiar to market society are seen as how things have always been and ought to be. They acquire a timelessness which is powerfully legitimised by a theory of human nature... Political struggles to alter present-day social arrangements are seen as futile for 'things are as they are' because of man's basic attributes and nothing could ever be very different." (Quoted Dollimore and Sinfield, Political Shakespeare, Manchester University Press, 1985, p.138)

This was certainly the view of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who wrote that Shakespeare's plays have continued to be admired for so long because they "correspond to the irreligious and immoral frame of mind of the upper classes of his time and ours".

(Quoted, George Orwell, Inside The Whale And Other Essays, Penguin, 1962, p.104)

corporate media issues

In his classic work, Obedience to Authority, psychologist Stanley Milgram explained how ordinary people, through their unthinking abdication of responsibility, make great evil possible:

"The most common adjustment of thought in the obedient subject is for him to see himself as not responsible for his own actions. He divests himself of responsibility by attributing all initiative to... a legitimate authority. He sees himself not as a person acting in a morally accountable way, but as the agent of external authority." (Milgram, Obedience to Authority, Pinter & Martin, 1974, p.25)

It doesn't matter what job we are doing, or how much we are paid, our actions always have consequences, and we are always responsible for them. It will surely not impress the grieving parents of an incinerated Iraqi child in February that Bruce sees herself as 'just the person who reads the autocue'. We are never 'just' any job description - we are human beings with moral responsibilities.

Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media - corporate media issues

The French philosopher Jean Guehenno has said that "the worst betrayal of intelligence is finding justification for the world as it is". But this is often the role played by experts, to explain the everyday as normal, justifiable, requiring little change, but rather "stability" and few upsets to "world order" unless controlled by us. In fact, the everyday is a horror for many people - the half of the planet that lives in absolute poverty, as well as the victims of torture and repression in the US and British-backed client states, for example.

Elites throughout history have presented their policies as in the natural order of things, which helps to obscure the pursuit of their own particular interests. An important aspect of the ideological system is rendering a single view dominant or "natural", presenting current policies as inevitable, and undermining the possibility of alternatives.

"Globalisation" is presented by elites as such a natural phenomenon, and critics ridiculed as Luddites who cannot stop the inevitable march of history. These curiously Marxist, determinist views mask the elite's goal under globalisation of promoting total global economic "liberalisation" - a far from inevitable outcome, but a strategy chosen by the liberalisation theologists of New Labour, and their allies among the transnational elite.

If the current horrible policies are "normal", the alternatives are "unthinkable". Even to mention the indictment of Tony Blair for war crimes, to oppose British cooperation with the US because it is a consistent supporter of human rights abuses overseas, or even to end arms exports is "unthinkable" in the mainstream and would invite ridicule.

Take the Guardian's Ian Black, who writes that a key aim of the International Criminal Court is to avoid: "politically motivated or frivolous investigations - what one expert calls the 'nutcase factor': for instance, of the possible pursuit of [Northern Ireland secretary] Mo Mowlam or Tony Blair for crimes against humanity". Only "nutcases" could possibly believe Our Leader could ever be guilty of crimes against humanity. (One such "nutcase" is former US Attorney General, Ramsay Clark, who lodged a complaint against Britain in July 1999 for war crimes during its assault on Yugoslavia.)

A customary way for the elite to deflect criticism is to term it a "conspiracy theory", which is common across the ideological system. There is a good reason for it. British elites have built a fundamentally secretive political system for which they are minimally accountable to the public. As noted in chapter 13, they believe the public should have only a marginal say in this system outside elections, and - to judge from some of the views expressed in the Scott inquiry - neither do they think the public should even know what the decision-making processes are. Elites are especially keen to deflect criticism exposing how the system works, which is more threatening than criticising specific policies (which can be dismissed as "exceptions"). The term "conspiracy theory" is often deployed once criticism has moved beyond the specific and is closer to exposing how the system as a whole works.

My view is that "ordinary people" - and I count myself as one of these - generally distrust their sources of information and know, ultimately, not to believe what they read or see. This is partly because ordinary people, in my view, have a much healthier scepticism of those in power than those closer to power or those aspiring to the political class. People have little stake in the elite and therefore have no reason to trust it.

But I do not believe that people can be aware of the extent to which to which they are being misinformed. Foreign policy is different from domestic issues, where you only have to spend time in a hospital or have a child who goes to school, to know the state of public services. But with foreign policy people are overwhelmingly reliant on news rather than personal experience, which makes indoctrination much easier. Even if people have enough self-defence mechanisms to avoid being directly told what to think, it is very likely that the media tells them what to think about.

It is not that one cannot discover much about the reality of government policy. All the sources I have used in this book are public. But you have to make a real effort, and spend considerable time, which is simply not possible for most people. It involves proactively looking for alternative sources of information, usually a variety of different sources, to piece together an accurate picture, and then weighing these against mainstream sources.

It also involves what the great Kenyan novelist Ngugi Wa Thiongo has called "decolonising the mind". Ngugi was referring to Africans needing to free themselves from ideologies often subconsciously adopted under colonialism. The British public needs, in my view, to do the same thing, and consciously unlearn most of what we have been informed about and "educated" on regarding Britain's role in the world. This applies not only to the media, but to school and university too. Again, these are not easy tasks.

Overall, I believe that people are being indoctrinated into a picture of Britain's role in the world that supports elite priorities. This is the mass production of ignorance. It actively works against our interests, which is precisely why the ideological system is critical to the elite, who essentially see the public as a threat.

The basic fact is that anyone who wants to understand the reality of Britain's past and current foreign policies cannot do so by relying on the mainstream. As the chapters on Kenya, Malaya, British Guiana, Iran and others have shown, the reality of British policy is systematically suppressed; whole episodes in Britain's history have become severely ideologically treated. Interpretations of history that accord with the preferences of elites are the dominant ones. Given the extent of this ideological treatment of the past, what has happened is akin to the destruction of history. The task of any independent historian is to reconstruct real-life history, to rescue it from a self-serving web of deceit.

Basic Benevolence - An Extract From Web Of Deceit By Mark Curtis

Media Lens

Beneath this overarching concept of basic benevolence stands a set of pillars - key strategies promoted by the elite that are assumed to contribute to Britain's benevolent role in the world and promotion of high principles. These strategies make up the single ideology on which there is consensus across the elite, as outlined in chapter 13 - such as strong support for the US, in the context of a special relationship, promotion of global economic "liberalisation", support for key elites, and a strong military intervention capability. Reporting and analysis that fall outside this construct - and certainly that directly challenge it - will tend to get excluded.

The ideological system gears into particular action during war, providing justification for the government's resort to force and backing its (always noble) aims. In war, the public is in effect actively mobilised by the various components of the elite in support of state policy. Television news functions even more extremely ideologically at these times, in practice usually abandoning any pretence of objectivity and acting simply as the mouthpiece of the state, though trying to preserve a facade of independence. Only rarely is real dissent possible in such crises in mainstream newspapers and never on television.

Arts & Entertainment You're the best! No, YOU'RE the best!!

How Tim Russert, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews and their talking-head pals wet-kiss each other all the way to the bank. By Scott Lamb

Opinion We're living '1984' today

Editor's note: Lewis Beale writes about culture and film for the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and other publications.

(CNN) -- It appears that the police now have a device that can read license plates and check if a car is unregistered, uninsured or stolen. We already know that the National Security Agency can dip into your Facebook page and Google searches. And it seems that almost every store we go into these days wants your home phone number and ZIP code as part of any transaction.

So when Edward Snowden -- now cooling his heels in Russia -- revealed the extent to which the NSA is spying on Americans, collecting data on phone calls we make, it's not as if we should have been surprised. We live in a world that George Orwell predicted in "1984." And that realization has caused sales of the 1949, dystopian novel to spike dramatically upward recently -- a 9,000% increase at one point on

Comparisons between Orwell's novel about a tightly controlled totalitarian future ruled by the ubiquitous Big Brother and today are, in fact, quite apt. Here are a few of the most obvious ones.

Telescreens -- in the novel, nearly all public and private places have large TV screens that broadcast government propaganda, news and approved entertainment. But they are also two-way monitors that spy on citizens' private lives. Today websites like Facebook track our likes and dislikes, and governments and private individuals hack into our computers and find out what they want to know. Then there are the ever-present surveillance cameras that spy on the average person as they go about their daily routine.

So what's it all mean? In 1984, Winston Smith, after an intense round of "behavior modification" -- read: torture -- learns to love Big Brother, and the harsh world he was born into. Jump forward to today, and it seems we've willingly given up all sorts of freedoms, and much of our right to privacy. Fears of terrorism have a lot to do with this, but dizzying advances in technology, and the ubiquity of social media, play a big part.

There are those who say that if you don't have anything to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of. But the fact is, when a government agency can monitor everyone's phone calls, we have all become suspects. This is one of the most frightening aspects of our modern society. And even more frightening is the fact that we have gone so far down the road, there is probably no turning back. Unless you spend your life in a wilderness cabin, totally off the grid, there is simply no way the government won't have information about you stored away somewhere.

What this means, unfortunately, is that we are all Winston Smith. And Big Brother is the modern surveillance state.

[Oct 6, 2012] Kremlin Stooge

See also Pussy Riot Provocation and "Deranged Pussy Worship Syndrome"
October 6, 2012 | Kremlin Stooge


Uncle Volodya says,

"There is a huge difference between journalism and advertising. Journalism aspires to truth. Advertising is regulated for truth. I'll put the accuracy of the average ad in this country up against the average news story any time."

Paradoxically, I'm always glad when Miriam Elder puts out another piece for Global Post or The Guardian; it's a bittersweet kind of thing, because on the one hand, it's always such a venomous, catty piece of trash. But on the other, it offers me such enjoyable opportunities to contrast her breathless confidences and giggly rubbish with the real world.

The Guardian, as many know already, is turning into something beyond embarrassment in journalistic circles. It apparently doesn't bother to research anything, and also employs serial paint-chip-eater and plagiarist Luke Harding, as if one gluebagging Russophobe were not enough. It obviously is in business solely to sell newspapers, and if it has to turn into something like a comic book for adults in order to achieve that goal, so be it, by God. Suffice it to say that just when you think the profession of journalism cannot get any more maudlin, dozy, lazy or mendacious, the Brits will surprise you. And The Guardian is the kind of paper Brits like to pretend is printed somewhere else. Like Burundi, or Côte d'Ivoire.

Ms. Elder is always at her lyrical best when her subject is Vladimir Putin; a shiver of loathing seems to ripple through her whenever she sees his picture or hears his name, and she is compelled by inner demons to write something spiteful. Consider, for example, this past Thursday's piece announcing Mr. Putin's upcoming birthday, this weekend. Entitled, "Lavish Celebrations Planned for Vladimir Putin's 60th Birthday" (thanks to Jon Hellevig for the link), it promises binge-shopping-expensive events that are apparently being extorted from a country that doesn't really care much for him, but is too weak from his endless crackdowns to protest beyond a quavering exhalation as it gives up its last ruble for the Great Dictator's Neroesque bacchanalia.

I just know we're going to run into controversy over the meaning of the term "lavish", so let's get Webster in our corner before we go any further. According to Merriam-Webster, in the context and grammar Ms. Elder is using it, "lavish" means "marked by profusion or excess"; synonyms are exorbitant, extravagant, extreme, immoderate and excessive. Pay attention, because you're going to be seeing those again.

Ready? Let's take a look.

Right away, we learn that Mr. Putin is a man who has everything. He has been presented on previous birthdays with tiger cubs and sexy calendars featuring scantily-clad women. The latter was a project by extremely attractive journalism students of Moscow State University, although extremely attractive young women in Russia are the rule rather than the exception. I should just like to mention the western press had kittens over that, although none of the women was even close to nude and the calendar was their idea – they were not exploited. But almost immediately – because use of "Putin" and "joke" in the same sentence is not permitted unless the sentence is "Putin is a joke" – a "protest calendar" was rushed out which also featured attractive women; however, all were completely and severely dressed, and wore an "x" of tape across their mouths, suggestive of forced silence. The lighthearted captions were gone, replaced with weighty liberal favourites like "When will you free Khodorkovsky?" and "When will the next terrorist attack be?" and "Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?". There was a difference in these calendars beyond the amount of bare skin on show – one was made without prompting by political forces. Can you guess which one it was? I might add the second calendar was very well-received by the British hypostocracy, where bare tits in the news are as common as breakfast cereal and are regularly featured alongside it in the morning paper.

Mr. Putin celebrated previous birthdays with his old friends Gerhard Schroeder and Silvio Berlusconi, we hear, the latter a virtual poster-boy for corruption who wears a custom wristwatch that cost over a half-million dollars. This is evidently a disdainfully sniffing, you-are-judged-by-the-company-you-keep sort of comment that is meant to suggest Mr. Putin fits well in a threesome of the corrupt.

That so? I have to feel a bit sorry for Silvio Berlusconi, because he didn't seem to grasp how toxic his friendship was, but he was nonetheless a great friend also to western democratic boasters Tony Blair – who he endorsed for EU President – and George W. Bush. Time Magazine described him, in 2008, as Bush's last best friend. I guess that means Bush and Blair were corrupt, too. Who knew? Well, in Bush's case, quite a few people knew – while we're talking about birthdays, how did George W. Bush spend his 60th birthday? At a private, invited-guests-only dinner party at the Chicago Firehouse restaurant, with his good buddy, Chicago mayor Richard Daley. At the President's specific request. That was a big day. While the President and his good buddy, Mayor Daley, were chowing down at the Chicago Firehouse, four of Mayor Daley's top aides were convicted in federal court….of corruption. Well, well; imagine that. Oh, and four American soldiers were killed in Iraq, where President Bush told them they had a job to do that still wasn't finished. For them, it would stay unfinished forever. The oldest of them was 22.

Sorry about that. Something just comes over me when American journalists working for British tabloids draw snarky parallels about how corrupt you are because other people you know are corrupt. Let's move on.

Well, if we needed anything to lighten the mood, here's the suggestion that Putin's rule as President "faces an unprecedented challenge…from tens of thousands of opposition protesters". Is this challenge unprecedented, really? Did more than tens of thousands vote for someone other than Putin in the Presidential election? They certainly did. He still won easily. There are more than 13 million people in Moscow alone, and "tens of thousands" is about as much of a threat as….as….well, I can't even think of a comparison, but it's not very challenging. But thanks all the same for that sad little bit of comedy.

Banners celebrating Putin will be hung on a bridge in Rostov, we hear. Ooooo…lavish. I would almost have to say excessive, and the poor citizens of Rostov will likely see their taxes doubled next year when the bill for that disgusting extravagance comes due. Of course we're going to contrast that with something, and I'm kind of partial to the subject of George W. Bush's birthdays, because they are truly the gift that keeps on giving. How did he spend his birthday the second year he was in office? By flying his entire family – brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, right down to Barney the Presidential Scottie – at taxpayers' expense aboard Air Force One to the 6-acre family summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, one of only 6 sites in the USA over which aircraft are forbidden to fly. I'm afraid that sounds immoderate to me, to say nothing of lavish. If you were wondering how much it costs to operate Air Force One, it's just a hair under $180,000.00 per hour. Average flight time to Portland, Maine from Washington, DC, 68 minutes. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest the cost of some Happy Birthday Mr. President banners, bridge size, would run you quite a bit less than that.

A poetry reading will be held on Arbat, in honour of Mr. Putin's birthday. Will it be more prestigious – lavish and extreme, even – than bringing top-ranked golf pros Phil Mickelson, Fred Funk, Justin Leonard, Jeff Maggert and Brad Faxon to the White House for a birthday bash? I daresay not, but it's the thought that counts, right?

Oh, this is my favourite part. Children from "at least one school" (that means "one" when you want to imply there are many, many more that have passed below the radar) have been "tasked" with coming up with 100 pictures of The Dear Leader, in tribute to his birthday. Yes, the children of Taganrog will not be going home until the pictures are complete, as they colour until their little fingers bleed under the soulless gaze of mirrored sunglasses worn by pitiless FSB agents. According to "documents leaked on the internet".

Really; is there any need of anything as silly as this? The suggestion the "documents" were "leaked" makes it appear they were something horrible that was being kept a secret until some decent soul exposed them to Ms. Elder's unflinching gaze. Meanwhile, reporting that the children were "tasked" makes it appear involuntary and forced, even though it was no more so than a math assignment.

But if we need to continue providing a counter-argument, fine; let's roll. In 2006, at the White House Easter Egg Roll, 100 children assembled from the Gulf Coast States (according to leaked documents found by Google) were waterboarded by the CIA until they sang a song of praise to President George W. Bush, Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the sterling services rendered by the three to their states, which were pounded to shit by Hurricane Katrina. According to the song, "Our country's stood beside us/ People have sent us aid./ Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade./ Congress, Bush and FEMA/ People across our land/ Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!" According to What Really Happened, the response by all three to what sources call the most devastating natural disaster in American history could not have been more fucked up if Pee-Wee Herman was in charge and he sent the Minnesota Quilters to handle it.

Let's take a hop across the pond (not on Air Force One, though; we can't afford that kind of gas bill) to Merrie England, where somebody else had a celebration; Tony Blair's 11-year-old son, Leo. The Blairs hosted an end-of-term party at their £6 Million country home – but then charged all the children who attended £10.00 apiece to ride a bus up to the door, for security reasons. That's kind of refreshing, really – none of that draw-me-a-picture or sing-me-a-song stuff, just show me the money. One can only imagine the shriek of horror were Putin to pull either stunt. In fact, on the occasion that children sang a song to current President Barack Obama, Republican National Committee Chairman (at the time) Michael Steele called it "the type of propaganda you would see in Stalin's Russia or Kim Jong Il's North Korea. I never thought the day would come when I'd see it here in America."

There's much more foolishness in the same vein, such as Putin's giving a poolside interview to a "giddy" (presumably – but not necessarily – female) interviewer while Putin was in the pool. He was, we are told, "bare-chested" – highly unusual for a man in a swimming pool, where most men wear a dinner jacket, snort, snort – and wearing "small black swimming trunks", which Ms. Elder apparently scoped with her X-Ray vision as he was up to his armpits in water.

Much is made in this article of the significance of Mr. Putin's 60th birthday, the age when Russian men are pensionable. I wouldn't put too much stock in that; Mr. Putin is in good physical shape and does not appear to be much of a drinker, or smoke. Unless stress blows up his ticker, it looks like there's a lot of life left in him yet. He can draw on inspirational examples like Winnifred Pristell, a 70-year-old great-grandmother who is also a powerlifter, a current world-record holder who can bench-press 176.2 pounds and deadlift 270. Or Jennifer Figge, who swam the Atlantic at 56. Meanwhile, if you feel like making fools of yourselves by holding "flash mobs" carrying eyeglasses and carpet slippers, be my guest. Just don't act surprised when your party polls less than 5%, as if Russians didn't know what they were missing by not electing such a bright bunch. As Moscow Exile points out in a comment to the last post – it's the same old message, which just gets shouted louder the more often it's contradicted.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Happy Birthday to you.

Moscow Exile

There is absolutely no indication whatsoever on the streets of Moscow that tomorrow (today, to be exact: it's 01:30 Mosccow time, October 7th as I write) is the Russian head of state's birthday: no huge Soviet style pictures everywhere of V.V.Putin, no flags, banners or bunting. Neither have my children been "tasked" at school with celebrating the president's upcoming birthday, though they did have a big concert there on Friday last to celebrate "Teachers' Day". (All profesions have a "day" in Russia.)

Now here's one small part of the way my fellow countrymen celebrate "my" unelected head of state's birthday – every year:

Gawd bless yer, ma'am!


A teeny bit lavish, though, I have to say. Mind you, she doesn't have tens of thousands of opposition protesters threatening her rule; that probably encourages her to live a little.

Leos Tomicek

The Jubilee

And these people criticize Russia for lavishness…


She also described Putin's $1 million inauguration as "lavish".

Obama's inauguration was $160 million by comparison. It should have been mentioned in her article, but it would destroy her argument, of course.


For the sake of quality control, it's regrettable that such journalism is what seems to attract a top dollar in today's mASS media. Rhetorically put, does that individual ever get seriously questioned (not to be confused with softball) about her comments at a major media venue?

There was the earlier dry cleaners article discussed at this blog, along with a poorly structured (in presentation) and not so well thought piece on sexual abuse in Russia.

Up to a point, schlock is worth discussing, while seeking to promote different and more valid options at the high profile of venues.

Beware of the letting some air out the tires approach, which falls short of what can be achieved.

Alexander Mercouris

"It (the Guardian) is obviously in business solely to sell newspapers…."

….in which task it is failing dismally….

Leos Tomicek

I wonder how the Guardian is able to still exist, who reads that rag? And it's online version, are they surviving from advertising? I bet Mail Online is doing far better in that department…


That same site points out The Guardian is third only to the New York Times and someone else, I forget who. In any case, they're the third most-popular in the world. That's a lot of readers. The site points out that it is far more a matter of bad newspaper policy than bad newspaper content that has The Guardian facing "unique challenges".

And not all its content is terrible; from my viewpoint, just its Russia content.

All the salacious fixation with sex and naughtiness is just something typical of British journalism.


"The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, has been a flag-bearer for "open journalism", which invites input from readers".

Somebody should tell his reporters. Unless the word "certain" was meant to be inserted between "invites" and "input". Luke Harding's columns alone get plenty of input that stays up only long enough for him or his censors to delete it. Often it not only disagrees with the viewpoint expressed, but offers proof that it is based on falsehoods or is altogether fabricated.

Alexander Mercouris

The Guardian has in my opinion made a fundamental mistake in the direction it has taken. For the last twenty or so years it has been trying to win the youth readership. As the article in the Economist says a disproportionate proportion of its readers are under 35.

This has badly skewed its coverage. For example in the 2010 General Election it supported the Liberal Democrats who were disproportionately popular in Britain amongst young people because of their promise (since broken) to end student fees. I am sure this must have upset a lot of its older readers who are more likely to support Labour. The ludicrously excessive coverage the Guardian gave to the Pussy Riot case also reflects this youth driven strategy. This too must have been bewildering to many of its older readers.

In my opinion the policy of orienting the Guardian so heavily towards young people is doubly mistaken. First as I have said it alienates the Guardian's older and more established readers – people like Moscow Exile and me – who do not share some of the interests of the younger readership the Guardian is trying to reach out to (eg. its fixation with sexual mores) and who have come to expect a far more rigorous journalism than the kind we get from the Guardian now. This is unwise since it is older readers like Moscow Exile and me who are more likely to continue to buy the Guardian in printed form. Also as older readers have far greater spending power than younger readers the Guardian is replacing an established readership of great interest to advertisers upon whom the Guardian depends for its revenue with a different readership of much less interest to advertisers. It is the desertion of the Guardian by its older readers that in my opinion has called the circulation of its print edition to collapse.

Secondly, the Guardian's strategy towards young readers is anyway wrong. In my experience young people are every bit as critical of sloppy reporting as older readers are. Moreover they are precisely the sort of readers who rather than stick loyally to their newspaper if they become dissatisfied with it (which they are bound to be sooner or later) will go to the Internet to look for alternative sources of news.

As for the success of the Guardian's website, I suspect that this has now peaked and may be drawing to an end. It has now been overtaken online by the Daily Mail, which unlike the Guardian has been careful to remain true to its older readers. Incidentally the Daily Mail whatever its other faults is by some distance the least Russophobic British newspaper.

Also the Guardian's apparent success online has been based heavily on attracting readers in the US. To the extent that the Guardian has altered its coverage to attract readers in the US this will have further distanced the Guardian from its traditional readers in Britain. For example the sort of people who traditionally read the Guardian in Britain are people who would generally be expected to oppose military intervention in other countries The Guardian today along with The Times (another newspaper heavily oriented to the US) is the most fervid supporter of "liberal" or "humanitarian" military intervention. The Guardian's Russophobia may also play well with liberal opinion in the US but I cannot help but think that it may not be so attractive to the Guardian's traditional left of centre British readers who have if anything been historically rather Russophilic.

The other problem with staking so much on gaining readers in the US is that whilst it distances the Guardian from its readers in Britain it relies on readers in another country who have increasing alternatives to get their news. When the Guardian launched its website it had the field largely to itself. Today there is a mass of blogs and news websites in the US to which US readers can go.

There have been suggestions in Britain that the Guardian cannot go on sustaining its present level of financial losses for more than 5 to 10 years. Having staked so much on its website being overtaken by the Daily Mail's website must be a serious blow. I would not be surprised if unless there is a drastic rethink and change of editorial direction the Guardian's readership suddenly implodes in which case the prediction of people like Kelvin Mackenzie (an admittedly hostile source) that it will not exist in 10 years time may well turn out to be true..

Alexander Mercouris

By the way can I also say Mark that your article with its superb demolition of Miriam Elder's latest piece of misreporting is again outstanding and fully up to the standard of all your other posts.

My impression (Moscow Exile can correct this if I am wrong) is that Russians tend to make quite a big thing of birthdays. The celebrations of Stalin's 70th birthday were on a simply enormous scale with films like The Fall of Berlin being timed to coincide with it.

Khrushchev's and Brezhnev's 70th birthday celebrations were also the subject of considerable ceremony as I can remember in Brezhnev's case. So far as I can see Putin is celebrating his birthday modestly and in private. Miriam Elder is spinning a story out of nothing.

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

You are absolutely correct as regards the Russian zeal for celebrating birthdays. This curious obsession that they have in celebrating birthdays has been a great irritation to me during my self-imposed exile in the Evil Empire. I have never held birthdays to be of special importance, even as a child. On more than one occasion I have upset my wife and guests, who have insisted on celebrating my advancement in years, by putting a damper on their endless toasting by saying, "Ah well! Another year closer to the grave". Her indoors, Natalya Vladimirovna, has then tried to assuage our guests' shock on hearing this statement by saying in a condescending tone of voice "That's English black humour".

As regards the Evil One's birthday today, it is now 10:40 Moscow time and there's been no "salyut" or fireworks display, which even the most modest of Russians will do annually in order to celebrate another step closer to his grave, even if it means only a couple of rockets. If, according to the likes of Elder and co., Putin had intended to have a " lavish" birthday celebration today, the sky would have lit up at 10 o'clock, the normal time for huge, state firework displays here.


Thank you, Alex; you're very kind. I agree with the observation regarding the weight Russians put on birthdays, especially Russian women. There have been times we have had to leave an event early so as to rush home and let the lady of the house get in under the wire with birthday congratulations (via email or telephone) to one of her friends in Russia, as it's easy to forget we live a day behind Russia. I don't think men make as much of it, and in that they are in line with the opinions of men everywhere – birthdays stop being of any real importance as soon as you're not a teenager. But women place a great deal of stock in being remembered on their special days; women's day, birthdays, Christmas and wedding anniversary, not to mention Valentine's day. That doesn't include any special occasions that may exist (which you had better remember) only between you two, such as your first date or the day you bought your first home together. Better get them in your calendar now, men, while you think about it; because if you forget one, you shall surely perish. I suffered not being spoken to by my first wife for a day or two because I was unable to recall the colour of nail polish she was wearing the night I slipped the engagement ring on her finger, an act for which I soon – relatively speaking – became profoundly sorry. It was silver sparkle; it is burnt into my memory now forever, even though I haven't seen her for at least 30 years. No, I'm not kidding.

Some women are easier to remember than others, I guess. I never forget my present wife's birthday, and making her happy is just a sensible investment from which I reap a hundredfold.

I enjoyed writing this piece, but it's pretty easy as exposing hyperbole and silliness in Ms. Elder's journalism is not really hard work. I don't suppose she cares much about criticism of her journalistic standards, not as long as she continues getting paid. I just don't see why she wouldn't be more interested in getting paid for writing the truth.


Dear Mark: If you join an online social networking site, you can get it to send you email reminders about special dates like birthdays and anniversaries. You can even have it mail flowers to certain people on certain special days. Hoorah for technology!


I was briefly on Facebook, although I didn't post anything, because a certain American newspaper (I've forgotten since who it was, I think it might have been the Orange County Register) wrote an article that so infuriated me, I just had to comment – but you had to have a Facebook account to do it. So I signed up, just to be able to comment. Which was a waste of time, since it was barely up before it was deleted. I ditched the Facebook account a couple of weeks later when the number of people wanting to be friends got annoying. They were all nice people and I had no problem being friends, I just didn't want to be bogged down with a social-networking profile when I barely have enough time for this blog.

I can get reminders of birthdays and suchlike from Outlook, although so far I have been pretty good about remembering without electronic assistance. I never did get good at noticing nail polish colours, although I will never forget silver sparkle, but luckily you only meet one nuthouse escapee like that in a lifetime. Well, you only ever marry one, I guess. You probably meet quite a few.

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexender Mercouris,

Spot on as regards the decline in the Guardian's sales and readership. I remember well how the Guardian infatuation with the younger reader and the "right on" liberal policy that it adopted in its attempts to attract a US readership that had a West Coast, laid back liberal attitude famously backfired when somebody in London had the crazy idea of advising readers to send emails to US citizens in order to persuade them not to vote for Bush in his second presidential election. The readers' comments in the US section of the The Guardian were soon none too surprisingly filled with vituperative responses from US readers of the Guardian telling the Limeys in no uncertain terms to keep their noses out of US politics. As a matter of fact, they were awfully rude – they really were! It was frightful!

Rather ironic that. It's a pity that Russians can't swamp the US press with language that will be understood by all concerning US governments' persistent meddling in the affairs of sovereign states, even though such meddling is always for the sake of freedom and democracy…isn't it?

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Moscow Exile,

"…It's a pity that Russians can't swamp the US press with language that will be understood by all concerning the US government's persistent meddling in the affairs of sovereign states…."

Hear hear!


If Russians tried to do this they would be fobbed off as Kremlin stooges and banned from websites and probably have their snail mail trashed before opening. The west is good at convincing itself it is the center of the universe and all the 3rd world peasants (e.g. Russians) don't matter.

Russians are far better off making sure that the Navalny's, Chirikova's and Udaltsov's don't get anywhere near power.

Moscow Exile

Glancing through the Sunday morning British newspapers there is not one word concerning the NTV documentary "Anatomy of Protest-2″. The Independent's faithfull shrill Shawn Walker, however, dedicates an article to the results of a Levada poll that shows that 6% of 2000 women asked if they would marry the president replied that they would. This has led to the Independent blaring that one in five want to marry Putin. Be that as it may, embedded in Walker's silly article is the statement: "In recent months, there have been growing protests against Mr Putin's rule".

And that, Mr. Walker, is patently untrue.


In news concerning matters of real import, Russian Federation Council First Deputy Chairman Alexander Torshin has stated that Jabba the Georgian – Givi Targamadze, the Georgian parliamentarian and head of the Georgian parliament security committee – who prominently features in the NTV documentary "Anatomy of Protest-2″ and with whom Torshin is acquainted, is "a cynical and obnoxious man having ample financial resources".

In the article linked below, Torshin describes meeting Targamadze in Donetsk during the Ukrainian presidential elections. That's where Udaltsov probably has probably had a chin wag with the multiple chinned Jabba as well, rather than in Georgia, where the NTV documentary had mistakenly stated that hard-man Udaltsov had been last year.



In case you missed this one from that journo who felt a need to write about Russians being (in his opinion) smelly (a theme that was later on picked up by a JRL/RFE/RL promoted politically left of center blogger with an awereness of that journo):

... ... ...

Leos Tomicek

I found some interesting information on Targamadze, apparently he is a resident of Kiev where he got a warm place following the Orange Revolution which he helped conduct.

This is particularly interesting:

"17 апреля 2006 года в эфире российского "Первого канала" Михаил Леонтьев обнародовал записи телефонных бесед, якобы состоявшихся между Таргамадзе и неизвестными лицами. Согласно записям, Таргамадзе, в частности, обещал убить одного из лидеров белорусской оппозиции Александра Милинкевича и свалить это убийство на Лукашенко – типа дела Гонгадзе. После этого Таргамадзе несколько лет не пускали в Белоруссию – до конца 2010 года. Могли там, кстати, затаить на него обиду – возможно, материал отсняли и передали в Москву в отместку белорусские чекисты".


"On 17 April 2006, on Russian "First Channel", Mikhail Leon'tev featured a record of telephone conversation between Targamadze and unknown individuals. According to these records, Targamadze promised to kill one of the leaders of Belorussian opposition, Alexander Milinkevich, and blame the killing on Lukashenko – something like the Gongadze case. (in Ukraine) After that, Targamadze was for several years not allowed to enter Belarus – until 2010. They could have harboured scorn against him there (in Belarus) – it is possible, that the material was handed over to Moscow by Belorussian chekists."


The same ploy as with Litvinenko, Politkovskaya and likely many others. Make martyrs out of them if they are no longer effective. The western MSM propaganda machine will do its job turning the conspiracy theory into reality.

I have noticed this pattern before. They ignore major news events (and this is a major news event) in order to introduce them later in a totally different context. I expect there to be much coverage once legal action is launched. The spin will be that Evil Tyrant Putin's Regime (TM) has launched a legal witch hunt against the "legitimate" opposition. The content of the legal action will be narrower than the content of the video. The video is just too damning to be presented to western media consumers so it will be ignored.

Leos Tomicek

Lot of Western reporting is all just about Putin, literally. Putin suppresses the opposition, The opposition takes on Putin, Putin devises a wicked plan to pulverize the opposition, Russian women want to marry Putin, Putin will have Jubilee better than the Queen, Putin celebrates among protests, Putin kills journalists, Putin is afraid of Pussy Riot…

If those look like headlines or articles you have seen, it is no coincidence. Putin would even be mentioned in articles about things that have little relevance to him. This is a synopsis of such an article:

Act one: Vladimir Putin, evil tyrant, suppresses opposition.
Act two: Pussy Riot takes on Putin, Putin is afraid sends them to GULAG!
Act three: Opinion of experts; don't forget to mention that Kasparov was once a chess champion.
Act four: Opposition prevails against all odds, Putin is a loser, protests continue, the revolution is nye.

Job completed, send that to the editors, collect your check…


The sad thing about this is that the media consumers are such a collection of sheep that they lap this crap up like real news. But it isn't the western sheep that the MSM and their owners should be worried about. They need to brainwash Russian sheep and that is not going too well.

Leos Tomicek

A lot of this reporting is in my opinion geared at domestic audiences. I am not that much concerned about journalists being morons, I have some experience with that industry and know how they work, and I have no illusions. What makes me angry is that Harding is being given space to speak at universities around Britain. This in my opinion lends this hack legitimacy which he does not deserve.

Moscow Exile

Yes, he's an expert. And as you say, Leos, it's the home audience that the likes of Harding are targeting.

I remember how when a few years back Harding wrote about race riots all over Moscow and how dangerous it was to venture out. (There had been some disturbances caused by the usual thing: some Russian hooligan had been knifed by a North Caucasian.) Anway, a colleague of mine got so irate over Harding's hyperbole that he sent him an email inviting him to meet him and to take him to the areas were the rioting was taking place. Needless to say, there was no .


An "expert" at overly propagandistic spin, which attracts the likes of The Guardian and a certain one-sidedly politicized academic class.

... ... ...

Moscow Exile

Well I've not long come back from down town – in fact, I live down town – and I never saw anyone singing and dancing there in the street because today is Putin's birthday, which just goes to show how unpopular he must be. And you can really understand how unpopular he has become as more and more protest against his authoritarian rule in demonstrations throughout Russia because it was only 6 years ago when Polotkovskaya was murdered on his birthday. I don't think anyone will be bumped off today just to please Vovochka. I mention the unfortunate Politkovaya's death because Walker of the UK Independent, whom I have already mentioned above, never writes of Politkovskaya's murder without reminding his readers that she was slain on the Evil One's birthday. He's not the only one who does this.


The Polonium and the birthday choices of the killers show that these were anti-Russian smear jobs and not some actions of a vindictive tyrant. They clearly needed something to tie the cases to Russia/Putin. I know that westerners have been weaned from birth on propaganda portraying Russians as degenerate untermenschen since I have been consuming the same MSM spew, but it's just retarded for killers to go out of their way to link themselves to their crimes. It's the most obvious thing to avoid even for people with IQs under 90.


Miriam Elder is just a member of a pack of well trained intellectual prostitutes. She is not a personality, she is a tool. Or may be victim of special selection process. Here is a quote derected at US journalists that is equally applicable:

American journalists, as far as I can tell, are the most ignorant members of society. Yet, their mouths are bigger than their brains, which is why they spread rumors and lies, and create stories for higher authorities that control them. All the while it seems they are pretty satisfied with themselves, even thinking they are smart.

But the truth is: They have almost no in-depth knowledge of the subjects they report most of the time. Nor do they seem to possess any intelligent capacity to learn the subjects that they don't understand. They mouth off like a runaway train once they have just scraped the surface. This is not just a generalization. Since American journalists (almost all of them) behave in similar ways, one has to conclude that those who go into this profession are self-selected, meaning that only certain types of self-complacent fools tend to choose the journalism profession, at least in this country.

Of course, one can observe that selection is also done by those who have authority in journalism, who are the established fools mentioned above. Therefore, they tend to choose the type of people most compatible with them, creating a cycle of dumb and dumber journalists.


There is no "free" corporate MSM. The journalists are hired and fired at the whim of the owners like Rupert Murdoch. You can clearly see Murdoch's political views reflected in the media properties he owns and built up. That there even is a political slant (e.g. Fox News) proves that this is not "free media". It is biased media and biased journalists hired to do a biased job.

The closest thing to free media we have are blogs and small web news media. But there is still way too much slant and in my opinion this freedom will evapourate as soon as the masses switch away from the MSM (if that ever happens). There is no way the elites are going to allow public opinion to be shaped by agents outside of their control. Free media is a myth.



There is no way the elites are going to allow public opinion to be shaped by agents outside of their control.

You hit the nail. It's ultimately all about elite. And IMHO an interesting feature about the US elite is the Russophobia by-and-large replaced anti-Semitism of XIX century mint. So behavior does not look completely rational to me. I wonder if this problem fixable.

From this angle, the anger expressed at such pitiful stooges as Miriam Elder missed the target. She is doing what she is assigned to do. Effectively all her articles are written in NYC and she just wasted funds and time being in Russia. Unless she is a female psychopath, she probably hates herself for those articles. Writing such a trash after graduating from Johns Hopkins with MS in strategic studies and international economics is really depressing.

But, from another angle, within media there are different groups which actually reflect interests of different strata of the elite. Think why Adomanis was in the past allowed to publish in Forbes more moderate views on Russia then either Miriam Elder and Luke Harding. Anatol Lieven and Paul Klebnikov (btw who represented Forbes in Russia) also were counterexamples to Miriam Elder and Luke Harding. And Anatol Leiven actually represented Financial Times, the most Russophobic of GB mainstream publications (OK, may be The Economist is worse but not by a large measure).

I am actually of very high opinion about the quality of the US foreign policy establishment and their ability to defend important national interests of the country (and in a large picture GB is just a US satellite). So the key question to me is why the US elite views Russia with such an open hostility - as a country that should be subdued (preferably partitioned) and colonized at any cost. "Carthage had to be destroyed" policy is very dangerous for the initiator of the policy too. Countries that are put against the wall fight much better.

Is there something here beyond rampant Russophobia and desire for cheap oil and gas? Are there any legitimate national interests in this huge gamble of alienating Russia ? Especially now when the recent, West inspired, "putch" failed and some backlash is about to follow. Or along with Russophobia this is just an allergic reaction to any emerging political or economic competition on global arena be it Russia or China. And they can do nothing with it.

Another key question is to what extent strong and independent Russia is against the USA global interests ? After all the USA was and is the major beneficiary of the existence of the USSR and the USA first "golden age" (1946-1973) was directly (and positively) influenced by the USSR existence that suppressed the most suicidal impulses of the US oligarchy and actually allowed the formation of large middle class. In a way the USSR serves as a great stabilizer of the internal contradictions within the US society. We all know what happened next and the current state of USA political debate

Actually the "second US golden mini-age" (1991-1999) was indirect gift from the USSR too as the disintegration of the USSR and dollarization of the xUSSR space allowed the USA to return to prosperity by rampant printing of money that were absorbed in xUSSR space and once in a century opportunity to buy brains and assets for pennies on the dollar. I remember mass emigration of Russian programmers in 1996-1999. That was huge with Microsoft alone hiring incredible number of people. Add to this a multibillion market that the xUSSR economic space presented to Microsoft, Oracle and similar companies…

But on the other hand, the forces of globalization definitely still favor the USA so both brain drain and resources drain are to be expected. Why to push Russia too hard if the gifts are just falling into US basket anyway? Neither Putin nor anybody else can changes this, just to slow the process down.


"And IMHO an interesting feature about the US elite is the Russophobia by-and-large replaced anti-Semitism of XIX century mint. So behavior does not look completely rational to me. I wonder if this problem fixable."


Goes to back to the Captive Nations Committee mindset and how some in Nazi Germany used anti-Russian sentiment to prop unrest in the USSR. Before that, there's some evidence of elements in Germany and Austria-Hungary doing likewise with encouraging separatism in the Russian Empire part of Ukraine – without doing likewise for the part of Ukraine that was under Habsburg control.

On your other point Kievite, you seem to take into consideration what Adomanis has and hasn't written in totality. A broad and inaccurate characterization of Jewry in Russia – positively name dropping sources like Ioffe, while staying far away from some others offering a valid perspective which has been downplayed – questioning whether Pussy Riot committed an offensive act – presenting the Russian Minstry of Foreign Affairs as not caring about human rights and not doing likewise with the US State Dept.

This observation is incomplete. There were signs of what he was about beforehand. This didn't stop RT from utilizing him. He's regularly featured at InoSMI and JRL, as well as a DC based venue which suggests to level out things with pro-Russian views in mind.

I understand that Klebnikov had some good views on political and historical matters which were downplayed on account of his writing on other matters.

I respect A. Lieven in a way that I don't the others you bring up. At the same time, his mass media articles tell part of a story that can be expanded.



Goes to back to the Captive Nations Committee mindset and how some in Nazi Germany used anti-Russian sentiment to prop unrest in the USSR. Before that, there's some evidence of elements in Germany and Austria-Hungary doing likewise with encouraging separatism in the Russian Empire part of Ukraine – without doing likewise for the part of Ukraine that was under Habsburg control.

Actually it goes back much further. On January 13, 1826 Decembrist Pestel faced the Highest committee and answered fifty five questions. Here are some of them:

Question No 15:
Is it true that England participated in the plans of European secret societies? To what extent did it assist those societies and financed them from England?
Question No 43:
In your answers you have briefly mentioned that you had heard from prince Yablonovsky and Grodetsky, that the Polish society was connected with the British government and received money from it. But you haven't mentioned the details about their relations, in particular, who was involved. You've told Mr. Yushnevsky the "English cabinet" participated in the activities of the secret society and promised to help if it was necessary. Explain the relations between Polish societies and England. Who is prince Yablonovsky and prince Grodetsky? You've contacted them.

Some things never change…



Thanks for noting and note that Russia didn't involve itself with supporting Irish activists. Instead, it did things like support the Habsburgs when they were having problems with Hungarian activists in the late 1840s. In retrospect, Russias should've stayed out of that latter situation – much like how it had earlier turned down the British request for military assistance against American revolutionaries.

I treat the Russian rule of Poland as a "defensive occupation" (a term concerning previous Polish activity against Russia) of an entity that had existed independently and with a noticeable separate national identity.

Regarding the pre-Soviet period, I see a basis for a Polish desire to regain Poland's independence and a Russian acceptance of such on the provision of reasonably drawn boundaries and a Poland that wouldn't provoke things like its Petliura project, which included encouraging that individual to agree with letting all of Gailcia go to Poland.


BTW Kievite, one can go back even further, vis-a-vis the Polish-Swedish dealing with Mazepa.


Well, it was a tangled web, because Pestel and the other Decembrists originally started off as Jacobins. Their main idea was to abolish serfdom, and they felt that the ideas of the French Revolution were valid. That is, chop off royal heads and establish a Republic.

Later, Decembrists gave partial support to Napoleon, because in some of his earlier conquests at least he did shake things up and help free indentured peasants and so on. Although by the time he (Napoleon) got around to Russia, he had no plans to abolish serfdom or shake things up in any way, beyond just replacing the Romanov dynasty with, probably, his own cousins.

In Tolstoy's "War and Peace", the hero, Pierre Bezukhov, starts off as a Decembrist sympathizer. Later his opinions change, and he becomes more patriotic because the French soldiers are mean to people and beat up the peasants.

As for the Decembrist-British connection, I was not aware of that.



Don't take it as a given that everyone with a John Hopkins affiliation is intellectually swift by default.

On another point you bring up, Russian government funded/involved English language projects can get corrupted when folks raised in an English language mass media mindset get involved. Consider the staff at the now defunct RIAN affiliated Russia Profile – not to be confused with that venue's weekly panel, which typically offered some cutting edge insight.

Moscow Exile

Witness what has happened to the Moscow News.


I recall Edward Lozansky in a RIAN affiliated Russia Profile panel saying that the RIAN acquisition of the Moscow News could serve as a plus. (He was referring to an apparently cash challenged entity in need of a wealther backer.)

Like a number of other things this hasn't happened Ed.

Rhetorically put: is it about actually giving the best shot at improving the coverage or something falling short of that?


Pardon misspell of Johns Hopkins as well as other misspells. Writing on the fly.


Headline of ROSBALT piece: "Gruzian security honchos flee country"

The several rats fleeing the sinking ship include Akhalaya (who was Minister of Internal Affairs during the height of the prison abuse scandal). The rats are scared that the new govt will have them arrested for their crimes in torturing prisoners. Akhalaya and his brother fled the country last night, in the middle of the night, via separate automobiles.
Doesn't say where they went to. Looking at a map, there are only a few countries they could reach by automobile, and I guess they wouldn't head to Russia. That leaves Turkey, Armenia, or Azerbaijan?


Naturally this will not be reported in the western MSM. Their narrative for the last few years has been how squeaky clean the Saaki regime is. This sort of kills that myth.


They've a way of smoothing out things. There's evidence that the replacement might not be so bad from the point of the perceived interests of Western neolibs and neocons. The evidence is already there that some key elements in the West became apprehensive about Saak.

Recall the Kravchuk-Kuchma presidential campaign in Ukraine. At the time, Kravchuk ran on an anti-Russian leaning platform with Kuchma taking the opposite. The victorious Kuchma proceeded to win some praise from the likes of Freedom House, while disappointing pro-Russian elements.

Alexander Mercouris

Here is an utterly devastating demolition of The Moscow Times by one of its former journalists which Anatoly Karlin has posted on his Facebook page. Regular readers of this ludicrous rag that masquerades as a "newspaper" (eg. Moscow Exile) please note


JRL promoted at that unlike some competently earnest advocacy:

For improvement sake, one should consider second guessing some of the folks who've essentially been given a good deal of influence – something that others seem to shy away from – personal gain over doing the right thing.

In short, The Moscow Times patting itself on the back is only part of a greater issue of what's wrong with the coverage.


Wow. What a wingtip to the balls that is. I daresay it will receive no recognition at all, since it contradicts the liberals' dragonslaying narrative, but I think it's fabulous.

Moscow Exile

The Moscow Tribune! I had completely forgotten about that weekly. I wonder when it went down? I shall have to check it out.

The MT is a freebie, by the way, as is the Moscow News. They are are stacked up at hotel and business receptions throughout the city and in "pubs" as well. I have never seen either on sale. The Exile was also a freebie.

The oldest foreign language newspaper in Russia is the weekly Moskauer Deutsche Zeitung (, which was founded over 100 years ago when Bismarck's policy of always remaining pally with the Russian Bear was still in force and which I still read. It makes a refreshing change from the Washington guff that pours out from the pages of MT and MN, which latter has recently been becoming more and more a pale imitation of MT.


Perhaps when I retire I will relocate to Moscow and start an English-language paper that reports what is really happening instead of what westerners would like to imagine is happening. But probably by then printed newspapers will have died out altogether, and I can't even imagine now the work it took to get a breaking story on the streets while it was still news in the age when there was nothing else but printed newspapers.

I knew the Moscow Times was a freebie; I wonder how they count their "circulation" if most of it is 10 copies here and 10 copies there just dropped off in the hotel lobby, because there's no way of knowing how many just get tossed in the trash the next day and it's not like having a subscribers list. What they mean is they printed 35,000 copies a day at their peak, but their actual circulation might have been 5000 less than that.


Remember The Russia Journal and AG?

Moscow Exile

It's all coming back slowly through the misty haze of my vodka besotted pre-marital Moscow past…

As regards MT circulation, "Moscow's biggest English language daily" did a survey years back on its readership, over 60% of which was claimed to be native Russian speakers. In the '90s I very often noticed folk reading MT on the metro – mostly student types. Don't see that much now: they more than likely read it on line, as I do.


On The Moscow Tribune:

The aforementioned Anthony Louis briefly served as Moscow News editor after RIAN took it over.

Leos Tomicek

I still remember exile in print in cafes and restaurants, I would never read anything else in Moscow. Best newspaper in history!


I respectfully caution about that claim.

Some thought provokingly interesting spot on pieces, mixed in with some other instances, which you most certainly don't agree with.

Leos Tomicek

I know it was not always to my liking, but if you compare that with the other newspapers, this was gold…



"Best newspaper" is another matter.

If I'm not ofhand mistaken, Counterpunch has a print edition.

There're others to consider as well.

Wary of some "ratings" that don't give a full picture of what is and isn't quality.


I respectfully caution about that claim…

They didn't like you either, did they?


Actually, I was offered a column by them, when they were on JRL's shit list. I declined because they wanted me to write with expletives.

Do you have any formally written commentary on the subjects I cover? I doubt it, given the kind of trolling idiocy you exhibit here and elsewhere – something that morons can appreciate.


What is JRL, anyway? I keep seeing that acronym and I have no idea what it indicates. Is it Jamestown/Radio Liberty, or something?


An article concerning that venue:


Ah. I've seen it a couple of times, even used it as a citation for something or other, I think. I had no idea it was so influential.


From a few years back, that article doesn't address other particulars which will point to eXile pieces re-appearing at the venue in question and evidence of different views on an issue.

These points don't tell the whole story, inclusive of a behind the scene manipulator who doesn't come out in the open about some hypocritically disingenuous manner, that has essentially gotten a free pass becuase of the (lack of) culture that sees a venue (specifically one person) as a ticket to greater publicity.

Publicity in the form of a back stabbing revisionist isn't as ideal as substantively confronting the existing imperfections in a civil and consistent way that tries to stay away from sheer bias and/or cronyism.

Some reference points include Moscow Exile's earlier ridicule of a Mark Teeter MN article picked up by JRL as well as how often Paul Goble appears there.


October 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm

"Ah. I've seen it a couple of times, even used it as a citation for something or other, I think. I had no idea it was so influential."


For quality control purposdes, the individual running it shouln't be so influential. It's a great pleasure to know that he has limits as evidenced by the other venues out there that haven't been corrupted to the level of bias and phony/crony subservience to a situation in need of improvement.

The more ethically inclined among us take issue with people who seek to limit some competent people (like yours truly) while favoring others (including Gessen and Aslund) in behind the scene discussion.

Perhaps even worse are those suggesting a desire for improvement, but in a self serving way to advance themselves. This type has done things like laud someone in the open or in private – only to change course when they see how some will positively move such a change.

Like I've been saying, the criticism of the coverage is half baked at times. Elder wrote the faulty commentary. Who is paying and/or further promoting that faulty commentary? On the flip side, are some of the court appointed types who selectively and inaccurately dump on someone in an establishment convenient way.

Moscow Exile

McFaul in a blog on USAID departure from Russia:

"USAID has been careful never to take sides in Russia's internal political or economic debates, but instead have provided technical assistance to those helping to strengthen the rules of the game for political and economic development. USAID and its partners have not provided direct financial support to political parties, movements, or individuals in Russia. In the programs in which we shared lessons from the experience of the U.S. in political party development, USAID's partners have invited all Russian parties to participate, giving them all an equal opportunity to do so".

(For some reason McFaul's use of the acronym USAID changes from singular to plural in the first sentence, but no matter.)

Is that first sentence an example of what some US citizens call "chutzpah"?



Most definitely ME.

For that reason, the reality makes it puzzling when Putin reaches out to someone like Gessen, as competent English language pro-Russian advocacy is prone to getting the shaft.


On the matter of bias and DC based NGOs, I recall anti-Russian/Ukrainian nationalist Riabchuk having a NED email address. The bringing up of Navalny as a balance is bogus because the latter hasn't answered Riabchuk's negatively inaccurate comments about Russia.


I think Putin was concerned with his implicit role is ousting Gessen.

If I remember correctly she was canned for not sending correspondent to Putin's fly to help guide a flock of lost Siberian cranes from northern Russia to their southern migratory ground in Central Asia.

The idea that was actually pioneered by Canadian Bill Lishman who piloted an ultralight plane to lead a flock of wayward Canada geese south for the winter.


I thought (could be wrong) there was also something having to do with Gessen trying to get her political slant into a piece which was intended to not be so political.

Regardless, there's way too much attention given her to her, relative to other matters.

On Gessen like bickering of supposedly being suppressed:

Some "dissident". In reality, the greater dissidents are the ones not accorded that image. Felgenhauer getting replaced by Golts isn't some great change. In reality, Felgenhahuer's submitted piece in question had holes in it to the point that even The Moscow Times had to question accepting it.


Yes, I believe it was the plot of the film, "Fly Away Home".

I doubt Putin cares much, for real, about Gessen getting canned; I think he was just playing a game when he invited her to consider letting him intercede for her. Although I believe he would have played by the rules, and if she said yes, please, he would have made every effort to get her reinstated. As long as his critics are so venomous and over the top, they drown out the reasonable complaints that he may feel less comfortable about discussing, because he might not have such good reasons for not doing so. It's easy to dismiss somebody who just keeps screaming, "I HATE YOU!!!" until they have little beads of anger-sweat on their forehead.



In her new role Masha Gessen looks not bad. It's a win-win situation for her and Putin


In some circles, Putin can't win no matter what on that situation with Gessen as well as some others.

I'll say it again without getting blue, he should pay greater attention to other folks offering an earnest English language perspective of Russia related issues.


Can't you be specific for once? Who exactly are those "other folks" to whom Putin, no less, "should pay greater attention"? Five names will do, thank you in advance.


You're being quite hypocritical on the matter of being "specific" – given how you've often conducted yourself here.

The other folks are competent analytical minds in sharp contrast to Gessen's views. People whose views you've not directly/successfully refuted.

Consider how you've chosen to interact with me. You've done this with some others as well – although not to the same extent. Perhaps this can be taken as somewhat of an honor. You appear to be a lower grade version of the kind of anti-Russian hacking that gets high profile coverage.

You can't be accused of being something quite the opposite, based on what you've said and not said relative to the likes of Ioffe, Elder, La Russophobe and some others.


Gessen refused to cover what she saw as another Putin macho stunt. Her boss fired her. She blamed Putin. Putin bent over backwards to prove he wasn't behind her firing, and even pulled some strings to get her the job back; but she refused to return to her post, because she had found a better gig. Meanwhile, at least a couple of the baby cranes made it home. (I still don't understand why they couldn't just fly them there in a helicopter, and then toss them out of the cockpit when they reached the right place?)


I'm sure there's a story to be told of how Gessen as editor has shunned certain views going against her own.

Nothing particularly great abour her insight. It doesn't take much to successfully refute a good deal of what she says.

Yes, Putin would be better suited by reaching out to the competent English language folks who comment on Russian issues from a reasoned position.


An example of an establishment propped source falling short of a more complete analysis:

PR wise, USAID is an effective name. Some might take being against its overall manner as an opposition to any US aid to Russia.


PR wise, USAID is an effective name. Some might take being against its overall manner as an opposition to any US aid to Russia.

I think the most effective was and may be still is the Fulbright program. Approximately 50,000 Soviet citizens visited the United States, including writers, politicians, musicians, and other arts figures. Oleg Kalugin, former KGB general and head of KGB operations in the United States who defected to the USA afre the USSR dissolution, noted that these exchange programs were a "Trojan Horse," because they "eroded" the Soviet system (cited from Wikipedia:


That was then of course.

Eroding the post-Soviet Russian system with something that includes a leaning towards anti-Russian biases is understandably problematical for many Russians as well as some others.


I would say this is probably exactly the way he sees it. He thinks Russia would be better off with an enlightened, progressive liberal leadership, and therefore anything USAID does in pursuit of that goal is good for Russia and Russians. That he would not appreciate inveigling against his own government by a foreign power through its NGO's – even if that foreign power thought it was making decisions in the best interests of Americans, to help them – goes without saying, but in that we see only the one-way blindness of the ideological diplomat.


USAID is certainly not all bad.

Meantime, it shouldn't be the only option for US aid to Russia.

Within reason, the Russian government at large has a right to decline certain things from abroad. Free countries like the US and Canada have taken this attitude – sometimes with an arguably questionable reasoning.

Ken Macaulay

On the subject of the British press, did anyone looked into this, regarding the PR case:

"Any suggestion that the BBC fabricated or staged any footage is absolutely untrue. BBC Moscow's Newsgathering team filmed a Pussy Riot rehearsal on February 17th for a wider report about Russian music and politics ahead of the presidential election. When these pictures were filmed, Pussy Riot did not tell the BBC that they were rehearsing for their later demonstration in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. A report, edited from this material and produced by BBC Russian, was later broadcast on February 22nd – the day after the demonstration. The new voiceover in the BBC Russian piece incorrectly states that the rehearsal took place the day before the demonstration and includes additional commentary which could have given the misleading impression that the BBC was aware of the demonstration. However this is categorically untrue. We are taking steps to ensure the errors are not repeated.

Just found this on John Helmer's blog, & it's the first that I'd heard of it:



Before PR's stunt in the chapel, RFE/RL and the BBC did features on them.

Interesting given their low standing of popularity at that point in time.

As I've noted before, Manhattan is well stocked with more talented (to PR) street performers, who've enough class to not disrespect a chapel, as well as perform in areas that don't hinder the ability of pedestrians to travel.


This one does:

I got a message that the original has some techy related issue.

Interesting read.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Ken,

I think this is momentous. The BBC attended what despite the tortured explanations from the BBC can only have been a rehearsal for the "punk prayer" four days before it took place. The BBC is therefore complicit whether knowingly or not in the committing of a criminal offence. As for Pussy Riot what this shows is that they were already preparing their publicity campaign before the crime was committed.

As to Private Eye what can one say? Its attempt to pass off a veteran BBC journalist as a "British grandfather" is pathetic whilst its failure to mention that one of the Pussy Riot defendants (Tolokonnikova) was a participant in the museum orgy is simply mendacious.


06:44 US Technology Export Case Suspect to Appeal Remand
06:01 Russian Woman Gives Birth on Flight from Ukraine
04:50 Russian Defense Minister Departs for India
03:46 US Government Sues Wells Fargo over Alleged Mortgage Fraud
02:49 Sandusky Sentenced in Latest High Profile US Sex Abuse Case
02:46 Putin to Talk Energy, Investment Cooperation with Iraqi PM
02:30 Monumental Scrub for Washington Reflecting Pool
02:02 Winds Hamper Daredevil's Death-Defying Jump From Space
01:31 Obama's Big Bird Ad Ruffles Feathers
01:10 11 Dead, Thousands More at Risk for Meningitis in US

A sampling of today's English RIAN webpage. It's becoming a US tabloid!

Moscow Exile

And today RT is back with the PR saga giving live coverage of the appeal against their conviction.

The world waits with bated breath.


Al Jazeera has portrayed the case as a simple matter of PR going into a church and saying anti-Putin comments.


If Al Jazeera loves Pussy Riot, then let's send them to Saudi Arabia to do a striptease and sex act in front of that big rock they worship there.


That's a great idea!! They won't even have to do much of a rewrite! They can just shout, "Allah's shit!! Allah's shit!! Better believe in Muhammad, motherfucker!" I can see the tour T-Shirt now.


Just saw another Al Jazeera (AJ) top of the hour newscast that stated these points:

- the majority Turkish public opinion remains against warring with Syria
- in Turkey, there's some pro-Syrian government support, inclusive of an Alawite element in that country
- an acknowledgement of a growing Salafi factor in the anti-Syrian government opposition, which serves to frighten away potential backers and gives credence to the Syrian government position of opposing extreme elements.

A mass media venue the size and scope of AJ can be a mixed bag of good and not so good segments.

I recall AJ's Barnaby Phillips giving a pro-Albanian/anti-Serb leaning slant which is off from reality. He made it seem like a noticeable wave of Serb crime was entering Kosovo from Serbia proper (if you may). NOTHING on what others note concerning crime in and out of Kosovo from Albania – something that seems to be a much greater issue.

Moscow Exile

Which they didn't, of course: they shrieked obscenities whilst using the name of "Our Lord" and waving their arms about and kicking their legs high into the air, accompanied by one of them playing air-guitar on an electric guitar unplugged to a power supply or amplifier. The Putin bit was added later before their video went on line.

That which was described in the Guardian as "pure protest poetry" (see: is what appears on the PR website:

With a bit of luck they'll get another 6 months added on for making a frivolous appeal.


Just saw in news today Pussies made it to list of 3 finalists for Sakharov prize. Their international prestige increases.

Meanwhile, in other Russian legal news, that Caucasian guy (=Murad Agalarov) from the wedding party who shot into the air in the middle of Moscow was convicted of petty hooliganism and received his sentence. His punishment consists of:

He already served 15 days in the slammer
He had to pay a fine of 2,000 rubles.
Most severely, for one full year he is forbidden to carry or use a firearm.


Can be taken as being a mock service which disrespected the Orthodox church practice of no musical instruments allowed in a chapel.

As earlier noted, that particular building complex has a social hall and other areas.

They were looking for fame and got it.

Alexander Mercouris

In fairness to Al Jazeera they did publish Anatoly Karlin's excellent article on the Pussy Riot case.


This is one of the worst political promos I have ever seen. (=Ad for fake elections to the fake Coordinating Committee of the Opposition). Opps make themselves look like a bunch of clowns. (Which they are.)
Sobchak, in particular, made a TERRIBLE choice of wardrobe. For a normally sexy lady, that flesh-colored blouse does NOT make her look sexy at all. What was she thinking? Oi…


Extry extry! Samutsevich is a free woman!

Judge split her off from the other 2 Pussies and allowed her to go home. (changing her term to conditional/time served, whatever…)
Glory be to Sam's new laywer Irina Khrunova. The other 2 stuck with that other, awful laywer, and as a result will probably have to trudge out to the gulag, barefoot and in chains.


Beat me to the punch:

Above link says that the court accepted her claim that she wasn't part of the chapel stunt.

Moscow Exile

If you had seen the interview with the cops that each of them had and which I posted in another thread, Samutsevich seemed the most sensible and also the only contrite one of of the three. Either that, or she is a skilled actress.

She also seemed primarily to be a feminist. Of the other two, the clear ringleader, Tolokonnikova, smirked throughout the interview and then pulled up the cop for his mispronunciation of "riot". He then asked her what "riot" meant, whereupon she sneeeringly explained to him its meaning as though she were adressing a retard.

The other member, Alekhina, also smirked throughout the interview and as she stood up to leave the interview, the cop asked her if she was sorry for offending people in the church. She just answered in a very condescending tone and with a slight shrug of the shoulders, "All right! I'm sorry" and walked out. I don't think that Samutsevich was as well in with PR as was Alekhina.

Moscow Exile

Verdict upheld for Tolokonnikova and Alekhina.

It's off to the colony they go!

The media will have a field day over this of course. They always assume that all these colonies are way out in the Far East and they always conjure up images of Siberia under a permanent blanket of snow.

The colony where St. Mikhail of the Gulag now resides, for example, is in Karelia, yet I often see reports about his languishing away in Siberia.

Nice place, Karelia.

I'm not saying a Karelian colony is 5-star, but I can think of worse places.

Alexander Mercouris

The reason Samutsevich got a suspended sentence is because her new lawyer pointed out that she did not actually participate in the "punk prayer" as she was detained before she could enter the Cathedral by the Cathedral guards.

Given that she always had this defence, which set her apart from the other two, it was of course completely wrong for the same defence team to represent her at the original trial. As lawyers they should have told her that and advised her to get separate representation. It is good to see that there are some decent Russian defence lawyers who know how to argue a case properly.

I presume that Tololokonnikova and Alyokhina will now take their case to the European Court of Human Rights. I discussed the (zero) prospects of that complaint in my second post.


However, if Pussies get the Sakharov Prize, I wonder if the Committee will only give it to the other 2 and snub Samutsevich. Figuring that she is not made of the Right Stuff. Because she gets to sleep in a real bed now; and the other 2 on a bed of nails!


Well, in a cardboard box in a drippy basement, actually. She is, after all, an anarchist true believer who scorns physical comforts if you have to be a wage slave to get them.


She lives with her parents!

Moscow Exile

Her father was at the appeal court. He's bobbing on.

Linked below is a CNN interview with Sumetsevich, who says

"Мы живем в светском государстве. Представители церкви не должны в таком случае вмешиваться в политику. И своей акцией мы хотели обратить внимание на эту проблему" (We live in a secular state. Representatives of the church should in no case interfere in politics and by our actions we wanted to attract attention to this probem).

In the interview, Sumetsevich maintains that Putin is a "mega-authoritarian" and that the decision of the court rulings in Russia are of his making.

The interviewer says, of course, that it is becoming harder to protest in Russia – the usual lie from the Western media, whereas the reality is that the penalties for public order offences perpetrated during protests in Russia have been increased but are often not as severe as those in the West.

Samutsevich states that she intends to continue to protest with PR.


As an a propos, that American-English usage of "lady" for all women really bugs me. The translator, who is a Russian native speaker for sure, using US English phraseology, talks of the "young ladies", in that Sumetsevich and her colleagues are described as "young ladies" when she says: "…the act of the young ladies dancing at the altar…".

As far as one of the women members who performed in Christ the Saviour Cathedral, I should find it hard to describe a woman who fornicates or appears to be fornicating in public as a "young lady"; as regards the PR team in general, neither would I describe their repeatedly shrieking out "Our Lord's shit!" nor their dancing so as to reveal their crotches as ladylike.


An example of someone who was let off on a letter of the law matter, while continuing to disrespect "the system". – something that Western democracy ideologues are prone to patting their given country on the back for doing.

Comparative spin is often a key element in the analysis of propaganda.

Moscow Exile

But Samusevitch and the rest, together with most "Russian experts" and commentators, will maintain that it was not due process of law that resulted in her winning her appeal and having her custodial 2-year sentence reduced to a 2-year suspended one, but that the Evil One ordered that be so because of criticism from the "international community", "Amnesty International", the EU , Madonna, Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers etc., etc. and the whole decent, normal, free and democratic world that exists beyond the frontiers of the Evil Empire.

I guess the CNN interviewer was rather disappointed to hear that Samusevitch wasn't maltreated whilst in remand prison – being "beaten to a pulp" and humiliated are the usual things that Western journalists say happen to anyone arrested and imprisoned in


Something that within reason can be followed up on by noting how the two others remain jailed.

Granted, that mass media can have a dumbing down influence, when constantly spinning a certain line that many viewers follow with a passing interest. At the same time, there seems like a growing apprehension with mass media coverage, in a way that nurtures a more educated public.

I'm partly basing this perception on my own discussions with educated people who watch the news.


The media will have a field day over this of course.
Indeed. It is played as a major, frontpage news:


I think the whole PR campaign is a classic, textbook case of undermining a legitimate government and court system using resentment about church corruption simmering in Russian population. Worth studying by political sciences students from now on:

"The persecution of Pussy Riot has become a global symbol of President Putin's shameless intolerance for criticism and determined crackdown on freedom of expression and association," Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement released by her office.

This Suzanne Nossel is not getting her salary for nothing…

Moscow Exile

Clearly Nossel never listens to Radio Ekho Moskvy or browses the Russian Internet sites or reads "Moscow's biggest English language daily" or Latynina's columns and many, many other Russian news media outlets where there is a never ending, obsessive, often libellous hypercriticism of Vladimir Putin, the man the world has been programmed to hate; either that, or Putin doesn't read them or is unaware of their criticism, for according to the western media and Nossel, Putin's intolerance of criticism would surely have led to their closure and the imprisonment and even death of those who dared criticise him.

And still nary a word in the western press about Udaltsov's alleged treasonous activities.

Alexander Mercouris

Here is a detailed account of the appeal from RAPSI setting out all the lawyers' arguments.

Notice the much more professional approach of Samutsevich's new lawyer who confined herself to legal arguments rather than political statements, a fact commented on by one of the prosecution lawyers.

It is quite clear by the way that the starting point to this lawyer's argument is that a crime was committed. Her point was that someone who was unable to complete a crime should not be treated with the same harshness as someone who completed the crime. In other words the lawyer was not seeking to overturn the conviction but was only seeking to reduce the sentence in which she was successful. By contrast Tolokonnikova's and Alyokhina's lawyer continued to argue against the conviction in which predictably they were completely unsuccessful.

Moscow Exile

From today's UK Telegraph:

"No one should be fooled – justice has not been done today. The government has introduced numerous new restrictions to freedom of expression in recent months. As this decision demonstrates, Russia's judiciary is unlikely to offer much protection to those
who fall foul of them", said David Diaz-Jogeix, the groups's Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director said in an emailed statement.

I should dearly like Diaz-Jogeix to elucidate on the "numerous new restrictions to freedom of expression" that have taken place in Russia "in recent months". It would also be interesting to know what he thinks of the arrest of Pussy Riot copycats in Cologne cathedral a couple of months ago and about the German criminal law under which they have been charged and the maximum penalty that breach of that law entails.



Dear Alexander: That is a very interesting legal point, that somebody who intended to commit a crime but didn't succeed should be punished less severely than somebody who succeeded in committing the crime. That seems logical to me. But I have also heard of cases where if people committed the crime in a group, then they were all treated the same. For example, if a bank robbery led to a murder, then the getaway driver who stayed in the car is punished the same as the robber inside the bank who actually pulled the trigger. That doesn't seem fair to me.
In the case of Pussy Riot, it DOES seem fair to me that Samutsevich would get a lighter sentence. Of course, I never really thought any of them should go to jail, just be fined for minor hooliganism. But be that as it may… the judge did make a distinction.
And the other difference is that Samutsevich has parents who actually cared enough about her to hire a decent lawyer!


It's awfully hard to prove intent. It's like docking somebody 2 points in a spelling bee because you knew they were going to spell the word wrong before they started spelling it. Unless you have crazy planning notes on their computer or something. But it's amazing how often criminals do that.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Yalensis,

"…where people committed the crime in a group they were all treated the same".

What you are referring to is the concept of joint enterprise. It absolutely applies to this case. It is important to understand that Samutsevitch's conviction for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred still stands. As I think I explained once before every crime consists of two parts: intention ("mens rea") and action ("actus reus"). Samutsevitch's conviction was reduced because she did not complete the actus reus. However she cannot be acquitted of the crime because the other two defendants in the joint enterprise did complete it.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Mark,

….and yet Courts do regularly decide questions of intention. They have to do so in criminal cases since as I have just said a criminal intention ("mens rea") is an essential part of a crime. For example if one kills someone accidentally it is not murder. There has to be an intention to kill or in Britain injure someone who does not necessarily have to be the person killed. (eg. if I carry out an armed bank robbery in which I shoot at a policeman intending to kill him but miss and kill the cashier by mistake I have committed murder even if I meant to kill the policeman and not the cashier). .

Courts have sophisticated rules of evidence to help them decide what is proved and what is not. In the US and Britain (and I presume in Canada also) it is for the jury in a serious criminal case to decide what facts have been proved and what have not. Intention is treated as question of fact so it is for the jury to decide the defendant's intention. Once the jury has made a decision it is extremely difficult to set it aside on appeal.


Oh, yes; I agree. But you must "show" intent. For instance, I imagine an argument like, "Your Honour, the defendant should get the maximum sentence since he clearly showed intent – because I say so" would not fly. You might be able to say, "his behavior clearly showed intent" or "notes found at the defendants home and in the defendant's handwriting which the defendant admits to having written describe the plan although the defendant was not able to execute it" and get a conviction, however.

Perhaps Samutsevich's presence in the church, her membership in the group that carried out the crime and the fact that she had to be restrained by clerical staff will be sufficient proof of intent; I couldn't say, as I don't know much about Russian law.

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

Do you recall the infamous case in the 1950s that resulted in the hanging in England of a petty thief whose partner killed a policeman during a London burglary? The one who pulled the trigger couldn't be hanged because he was under 18; the one they hanged was over 18 but had the mental age of an 11-year-old. The younger one took him along to break into a London dairy because he was a big boy and known as a hard hitter.The policeman said to the gunman (gunboy really – I think he was 16) "Don't be silly, son. Give me the gun." The one that was hanged said "Let him have it!" The killer shot the policeman dead. The judge decided that the older boy in saying "Let him have it" was instructing the younger and considerably more intelligent criminal to shoot. The killer was sent to a young offenders' prison and, later, to an adult prison, from where he was released in due course of time; the older boy was legally hanged by the neck until dead.

Many thought that this hanging was simply a desire of the state to exercise revenge for the murder of one of its law offficers, no matter whether the executed person had actually committed the crime.


Thanks for clarification, Alexander. I believe I am starting to understand now that Samutsevich's lawyer very cleverly did not attack the basis of her client's conviction (the "mens rea"), but sought a lesser sentence based on the lack of "actus reus".
Also, to the earlier point about being mothers with small children being a mitigation in Russian law: this is not surprising, it is probably a holdover from Soviet law and social norms, which held a somewhat chivalrous attitude towards women in general, and mothers in particular. I know that in some societies breast-feeding babies at least are allowed to stay in the jail with their moms..

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Kievite,

I basically agree. This was clearly intended as an act of provocation directed at the government and the legal system. The one thing I would say is that though as an act of provocation it has been fairly successful in the west, it has been far less successful within Russia itself.

There was a rush of sympathy for the Pussy Riot defendants in the lead up to the trial when the defence lawyers made hay on the possibility that they might be given a 7 year sentence, though that was never remotely likely. My impression is that much of this sympathy dissipated during the trial because of the arrogant behaviour of the defendants and of their lawyers and when it became clear that they were not going to get a 7 year sentence. So far as I can judge most people accept both the verdict and the sentence of the Court and consider the conduct of the trial fair (which it was). Opinion polls I have seen put support for Pussy Riot at no more than 1-6% and the poor turnout at the latest March of Millions and the lack of reference to Pussy Riot during the march suggests that whatever sympathy there may have been for Pussy Riot initially has now largely melted away

If I am right in saying this (which I think I am) then I would see it as further proof of something I have always believed which is that the best defence for a society against provocations of this kind is impartial enforcement of the law and adherence to due process..

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

I have just remembered the name of the man hanged as a result of the English law principle of common purpose: his name was Derek Bentley. He was 19 years old.


The actual killer in the Bentley case, Christopher Craig, was released from prison after serving 10 years.

Bentley eventually received a pardon of sorts:

"However, on 30 July 1998, the Court of Appeal overturned the controversial conviction of Derek Bentley who was hanged for the murder of a policeman over 45 years ago. In an unprecedented and very damning attack, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, ruled that his predecessor and Bentley's trial judge, Lord Chief Justice Goddard, had denied Bentley "that fair trial that is the birthright of every British citizen." In a 52-page judgment, Lord Bingham placed the blame for the miscarriage of justice with Lord Goddard. Describing Lord Goddard as "blatantly prejudiced", Lord Bingham concluded that he had misdirected the jury and that in his summing-up had put unfair pressure on the jury to convict".

See: See:


I remember when Bernhard Goetz was charged in New York for the shooting of four black youths on the subway. They apparently attempted to rob him using a screwdriver as a "persuader", and he had also apparently been robbed a short time before that in a similar fashion. He was dubbed the "Subway Vigilante", and came to symbolize the city's having exhausted its patience with the system's inability to cope with violent crime. He was charged with attempted murder and a bunch of other things, but public outcry against it was so great that the system dared not convict. He was convicted eventually of illegal use of a firearm and did less than a year for it.

Lawyers frequently try to mobilize and channel public outrage in favour of their client; in the Goetz case, I think it was more or less spontaneous, but since then and maybe even before, media deliberately tries to shape the narrative so as to bring about the outcome it desires. It is unsuccessful more often than not, but it is still deemed a worthwhile effort to mobilize public outrage and this is the purpose of the revisionism of what actually happened in the Pussy Riot performance.


Suzanne Nossel from the Obama State Department. I could never see a conflict of interest there…


All things considered, this story isn't quite sticking in the way that some seem to desire.

Charlie Rose didn't make this issue an extremely noteworthy one during his recent one on one with Lavrov. Ed Koch doesn't back PR. On the more left of the political spectrum, Diana Johnstone and Mike Whitney haven't either.

Upon being given both sides of the story, American conservatives who aren't so corrupted by anti-Russian propaganda, as well as some of those who are, don't buy into the politically oppressed PR line.

Alexander Mercouris

I notice that Violetta Volkova, one of the three lawyers who has been defending Pussy Riot, is now also defending Udaltsov in the treason case. Poor man! He's doomed!


Oh yes, Volkova has to be one of the most incompetent lawyers in the history of the planet.

Moscow Exile

Well it seems that Udaltsov is right up shit creek now. The Investigatory Committe has today released the following bulletin:

Key point:

"в ходе опроса Удальцов подтвердил факт контактов летом 2012 года с неназванными им гражданами Грузии, одного из которых он называл Георгием Васильевичем. Однако при этом пояснил, что преследовал цель поиска легального финансирования движения "Левого фронта". При этом, он отрицает обсуждение с ними вопросов, связанных с организацией противоправных действий на территории г. Москвы и других регионов Российской Федерации. Что касается зафиксированных на видеозаписи конкретных высказываний участников разговора о планировании таких действий, Удальцов пояснил, что не слышал их в момент встречи."

["During the interview Udaltsov confirmed the fact that during the summer of 2012 he had made contacts with unnamed Georgian citizens, one of whom he called Georgy Vasilyevich. However, he explained that the aim was to find funding for the legal movement "Left Front". He, denied, however, discussing with them issues related to the organization of illegal actions on the territory of Moscow and other regions of the Russian Federation. With regards to the videotape recordings of participants' specific statements in conversation concerning the planning of such actions, Udaltsov explained that he did not hear them at the time of the meeting."]

Remember Udaltsov's first reaction a few days ago to "Anatomy of Protest-2″?

What meetings?

It's all lies, the deliria of madmen!

It's a fake!

In today's Komsomolskaya Pravda article about this matter, the first reader's comment off what seems to be an "opposition" supporter is significant, I think:

"Начало заката нынешней оппозиции. Удальцов, спасибо".

[The sun has started to go down on the current opposition. Thanks Udaltsov.]

He's going to go down, I think.

Another "political prisoner" in the offing?


Moscow Exile

Who's next for the chop, I wonder?

Oh yes! The basketmaker.

That leaves Nemtsov, Kasparov and … Sobchak??!!

Moscow Exile

But in today's Moskovsky Komsomolets there's an interview with Udaltsov, who gives not quite the same to that which the IC revealed at 13:15 today:

- У следствия есть полная запись, которую НТВ обещало предоставить, если понадобится?

- В ходе допроса упоминались какие-то дополнительные видеозаписи, но нам их не показывали. Следователь предложил вместе посмотреть "Анатомию протеста", но я отказался. Сколько можно одно и то же пересматривать!

- О чем вы говорили со следователем?

- Я не могу вдаваться во все подробности, но если резюмировать наш разговор, я донес до сведения следователя, что никогда не сотрудничал с западными спецслужбами, не знаком с человеком по имени Гиви Таргамадзе и никогда не брал денег у западных спецслужб. Также на мои решения и действия никто не оказывает влияния. Меня спросили, готов ли я на проверку на полиграфе, и я согласился.

- Had the investigation a full recording that NTV had promised to provide if needed?

- During the interview they mentioned some full videos, but they didn't show them to us. The investigator invited us all to take a look at "Anatomy of Protest", but I refused. How many times can you re-watch the same thing!

- What did you discuss with the investigator?

- "I can't go into all the details, but to sum up our conversation, I told the investigator that I had never collaborated with Western secret services, that I was not acquainted with a man by the name of Givi Targamadze and had never taken money from Western intelligence services and that nobody has had any influence on my decisions and actions. I was asked whether I was prepared to do a lie detector test and I agreed.




An interesting point in the SLEDCOM article is that Udaltsov's alleged co-conspirators Lebedev and Razvozzhaev did not obey the prosecutor's summons to show up for questioning. I wonder if they already fled the country?

Moscow Exile

This is Violetta Volkova – I kid ye not!

On her XXXXXX-T-shirt she has printed "Mother of God drive out Putin", which, as you no doubt know, is a line from the so-called punk prayer sung by her infamous clients Tolokonnikova and Aekhina and former client Samutsevich.

She'd look absolutely delightful bewigged and gowned in a British crown court, don't you think?

Moscow Exile

Sorry! Samutsevich didn't sing those words: she was refused entrance to the gig.


It looks as if the quickest way to break up her courtroom rhythm would be to roll a sugar donut down the centre aisle.


My God. I could feel myself getting stupider as I read that Telegraph article, the first link. Team Pussy tried to get the verdict overturned because Putin "prejudiced the case" (by which I presume they mean the appeal) by commenting on the sentence after it was passed, when Pussy Riot had requested to call Putin as a witness during one of their sillier stunts, and after the lawyers who would prepare the appeal said in public that it was hopeless because they would lose. Then the first to try it won.


The other example is PR having claimed not to be anti-ROC, only to then see their legal counsel suggestively challenge (in the earlier court proceeding) the judge's objectivity by asking if she's ROC?


Putin prejudiced the case in their favor by suggesting leniency before the verdict. But in the Orwellian world of the liberasts and anarchist posers it was him prejudicing the case against them. This tripe truly is for the totally clueless or mentally deficient.


Putin and the ROC at large.

Alexander Mercouris

Putin was acting fully within his rights in commenting on the conviction and the sentence after the trial judge delivered her judgment. Once the trial judge delivered her verdict the case ceased to be sub judice. As the prosecutor absolutely rightly said during the appeal hearing, it is ridiculous to say that the one person in Russia who should not be allowed to comment on the case is the person who is the country's highest official. It is quite entertaining to see how the champions of free speech in what they persist in saying is a case about free speech complain about the exercise of free speech when it is exercised by Putin.

Alexander Mercouris

Here is an article about today's appeal by Natalia Antonova in the Guardian. I don't agree with every part of it but overall I found it measured and balanced.

What I found actually more interesting than the article itself is the response to it of some of the people on the discussion thread. Notice in particular the angry and intolerant reaction from some of the respondents when Natalia Antonova says on the discussion thread that she does not see this as a case about free speech (she's right), that as an Orthodox Christian she too was offended by the "punk prayer" and when she points out that the defendants themselves during the trial admitted that an offence had been committed.


The article mentions shock that the other two Pussies remain in jail when they "have small children at home". Quite apart from that being a ridiculous attitude – that incarceration should automatically be off the table for criminals who have small children at home (a powerful motivator for boosting the natural birth rate, if ever there was one) – where is "at home"? I thought these girls were anarchists who scorn labour for wages and squat in abandoned basements. What kind of anarchists have a cozy and stable home environment in a nice little flat with plenty of love and values education for the kiddies? Call that anarchy? Give me strength.

The greatest part of the silliness in this case arises from media sources portraying the Pussies as just normal, personable citizens who happened to have a desire to protest against the leader of the country and chose the wrong place to do it. As opposed to social misfits determined to visibly and violently reject every common social value as worthless and degrading, to glorify shiftlessness and if-it-feels-good-do-it irresponsibility and to be generally the least fit role model for a developing child.

Alexander Mercouris

I don't comment on Mark Adomanis's blog (not enough time and I think one has to sign in which I can't be bothered to do) but someone really should take him to task for the totally convoluted logic he is bringing to his analysis of the Pussy Riot case. Here is his latest demarche on it

Having convinced himself that this is a political case (it isn't) and that it is about free speech (it wasn't) and having persuaded himself that no crime was committed (a crime was committed) he is reduced to overcomplicated explanations about how Samutsevich's release represents some sort of "signal" by the authorities to "society".

This sort of thinking completely baffles me. Aside from the fact that this is based purely on an assumption of political interference in the case for which there is absolutely no evidence what is Samutsevich's release on probation supposed to be a signal of? Who precisely is supposed to read this signal? How is anyone supposed to act on this signal? Why not simply accept that Samutsevich was released because Samutsevich's lawyer made a valid legal argument such as any lawyer would understand which requires Samutsevich's release?


Mark Adomanis is a great admirer of free speech, and reckons everyone should be allowed to say whatever comes into their minds without any fear of penalty, and consequently fights the most stubborn trench warfare actions against any attempt to regulate free speech. In theory, I should be able to follow Jewish mourners in a parade to a holocaust memorial shouting "Jew bastards deserved it", and while people might not admire me for it, the reason that should prevail is sticks-and-stones-may-break-my-bones-but-words-will-never-hurt-me. For the Jews, that is; they should just suck it up, because it's a free country. They could call the police and complain that my behaviour was deeply offensive and request I be detained so they could mourn in peace, but according to Mark Adomanis the cop should tell them I have the right to express my opinion no matter how offensive it might be, and they should just get used to it because they do not have the right to infringe upon my freedom just because it offends their right to peaceful reflection.

That's an extreme example, of course, because Jewish rights are a hot-button issue in a country where political candidates are weighed and measured based on their positions on Israel, but let's try another. Freedom of speech says I ought to be able to follow and harangue the mother at her child's funeral, reminding her over and over that she did not deserve to have a child and it was her stupidity which killed it. Another display of intolerable behaviour, but she must tolerate it nonetheless because of my sacred right to have my say.

His postings are often amusing – intentionally – and frequently very perceptive and interesting, but on anything to do with free speech he has tunnel vision that will allow him to see no way but his way, and he will strenuously resist any effort to change his opinion, which is that being able to mouth off about anything you like no matter its effect on other people is practically what made America great. I'm not in the mood for that argument again, since we've already had it and it appears to have had no effect whatsoever on him beyond his grudging admission that within a very, very narrow subset of circumstances, such as yelling "Fire" in a crowded theatre, it might be permissible to restrict free speech. But it should be perfectly OK for me, if I see police chasing a thief, to point out someone at random and shout, "there's the thief!! I saw him grab the purse" even though I saw no such thing, just because I get a kick out of watching them drag some random stranger to the ground and arrest him. Gratuitous malice is a part of the larger free-speech jubilee.

Moscow Exile

This "they shouldn't be imprisoned because they are mothers" wail off Guardianistas and others is hypocritical bullshit!

Only 3 weeks ago it was revealed in the Telegraph that in the UK over 17,000 mothers are separated from their children because of imprisonment.

I presume that the Guardianistas would demand that all these imprisoned UK mothers should be immediatelty released on probation.

The reason why the Guardianistas in particular wail about the imprisonment of two PR members is because they like to identify themselves with them as being right-on, fearless fighters for freedom, justice and all that is lovely in their cosy little bourgeois world.


Why not simply accept that Samutsevich was released because Samutsevich's lawyer made a valid legal argument… ?

Because that's a redundant assumption. Occam's razor, you know. There is neither need nor reason to think that anything the lawyers did or didn't do in this case had much bearing on the outcome.


I'm afraid I'm having a hard time accepting that the performance of lawyers has little effect on legal decisions in Russia. Unless you are advancing the view that Putin personally approves all prosecutions and acquittals. I'm certainly not fond of lawyers, but it's hard to imagine they have no role to play beyond the coincidental in the law.


Adomanis is an idiot. His parents left him in the woods as a babe, and he was raised by a pack of Kremlinologists. That's why his political "analysis" consists of trying to read tea leaves. Tarot cards are more scientific, by the way.


"Adomanis is an idiot. His parents left him in the woods as a babe, and he was raised by a pack of Kremlinologists. That's why his political "analysis" consists of trying to read tea leaves. Tarot cards are more scientific, by the way."


Has a coddled brat hack man child like quality, that has been given carte blanche to selectively describe others as being kooks.

In contrast, someone in a media based establihment position of influence is likely to scream foul if Ioffe or Adomanis get called such.

Establishment influenced mass media review bits hold back on what can be otherwise legitimately said.


… a coddled brat hack man child like quality…

Looks like you're still smarting over the scolding Cali Ruchala gave you back in 2005 when you got booted from

"Personally, I think you're upset at being shut out of a policy wonk club. Should we call it Wonk Envy? Whatever it is, it makes you look like a complete fool - a whining, simpering little brat upset that people won't publish his articles…"



Leave to an anonymous cyber weirdo blog commenter of a coward to recall a trivial exchange from some off the wall person making an off the wall comment – as part of an obsessively peculiar hounding campaign.

The difference between Cali and scumbag ("Peter") with yours truly, is that I've made considerably more substantive inroads, minus the kind of sucking up that some others engage in.

I'll make the effort to drop this, seeing that it involves a stupidly dull troll, who might erroneously think that his getting the last word in amounts to some kind of "victory".

He has yet to substantively refute any of my core comments on a wide range of subjects. As cover, he resorts to off topic banter, along the lines of the other troll, who Leos had earlier mentioned at this thread..

Moscow Exile

"There is neither need nor reason to think that anything the lawyers did or didn't do in this case had much bearing on the outcome."

The argument that in a Russian court of law the prosecution or defence counsel have an effect on a court decision is only redundant if one presumes that all court decisions are pre-determined by some external authority.

That Russian court decisions are pre-determined is a simplistic argument, but it is not "Occam's Razor", namely the principle stating that among competing hypotheses, the one which makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.

The simplest theory, however, may not be the most accurate. Occam's Razor states that simpler theories should be adopted until they can be traded for more complex ones. For example, few now would accept the simple theory of the creation of all as presented in
the Book of Genesis, though for a great period of time many did: more complex theories have been presented and accepted as possible explanations of the creation of all that which we experience.

There are, of course, many who still believe that a sentient, omniscient, omnipotent entity created everything and who refuse to believe any other theory concerning the creation of the cosmos.

Likewise, there are some who believe that there is a seemingly omniscient and omnipotent force of evil in Russia that directs everything, including judges' decisions in Russian courts.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Peter,

As I have always understood it Occam's Razor is the principle that amongst competing hypotheses the one that makes the fewest assumptions is the one that should be selected.

If that is right then it seems to me that Adomanis's theory fails the test. Firstly the claim that this was a political trial is only an assumption and one entirely unsupported by evidence. If one reads Adomanis's post the difficulty he has reconciling the fact of Samutsevich's successful appeal of her sentence with his assumption is obvious. Consider for example this comment

"This (the argument made by Samutsevich's new lawyer – AM) is, to put it mildly, somewhat discordant with the defence's original contention that the band's "punk prayer"was neither offensive nor criminal…."

This is of course true. As Adomanis however admits this contradicts what he has been saying all along, which is that "….Pussy Riot's prayer was purely legally protected free speech" and that Pussy Riot's prosecution, trial and conviction must therefore have been political.

Having however made his confusion clear rather than revisit (and reject) his starting assumption as irreconcilable with the new fact Adomanis tries to reconcile the new fact with the original assumption by creating an entirely new assumption that Samutsevich's successful appeal is somehow a mysterious "signal" by the authorities apparently to the Russian Orthodox Church. This assumption is of course no more supported by evidence than the original one. I for one cannot see the reason for such an elaborate and ambiguous "signal" when a simple telephone call would do.

In other words Adomanis's whole theory now requires two assumptions, one resting rather uncertainly on the other. Rather than adopt this whole cumbersome structure surely it makes far better sense to simply follow the facts and accept that both the trial and the appeal were conducted exactly in the way that they appear to have been and that Samutsevich won her appeal against her sentence because her lawyer presented a convincing argument to the appeal Court?

I say this because one of my other objections to Adomanis's argument and yours is that it appears to reward bad lawyers at the expense of good ones. If one follows the logic of what you and Adomanis say then it would have made no difference to the outcome of the case if Samutsevich had been represented by a chimpanzee. This seems to me very unfair to Irina Khrunova, Samutsevich's new lawyer, who everybody agrees did a very good job taking over the case at very short notice and coming up in a very short time with a good and convincing argument that won over the appeal Court.


Occam's razor?? Jesus Christ on Rollerskates…! You try my patience…
How about Sigmund Freud instead: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."


Mark: Unless you are advancing the view that Putin personally approves all…

Wrong quantifier.

Moscow Exile: … is only redundant if one presumes that all…


Alexander: … the one that makes the fewest assumptions…

There are assumptions and assumptions - your assumption that the Russian judiciary is free of outside interference in high profile cases easily counts for ten.


"…your assumption that the Russian judiciary is free of outside interference in high profile cases"

Wrong quantifier.

Moscow Exile

In the syllogism:
1. All men are mortal.
2. Socrates is a man.
3. Socrates is mortal.
The conclusion (3) is only valid if the major premise (1) is true.
As far as I and millions of others are aware through experience, the major premise in the above syllogism is true; although there may have already been born or one day may be born a man who is immortal, I should imagine such an event to be highly improbable.

In this syllogism:
1. The Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference.
2. The PR verdict was delivered by the Russian judiciary.
3. The PR verdict was not free of outside interference.
The conclusion is only valid if the major premise "the Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference" is true.

I should imagine that Peter believes that the major premise "the Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference" is true – always. If that is the case, then the burden of evidence lies on Peter to prove that "the Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference" is always true.

I, on the other hand, believe it true that the Russian judiciary may sometimes not be free from outside interference (I also believe this to be the case to a greater or lesser degree for all judiciaries worldwide). I therefore do not exclude the possibility that the prosecution or defence counsel can influence a judicial decision made in a Russian court of law.

If, however, Peter believes that "the Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference" is very often or sometimes true, then the conclusion "the PR verdict was not free of outside interference" is not valid.


3. The PR verdict was not free of outside interference.

That's a straw man, the conclusion should read: 3. The PR verdict may not have been free of outside interference.

Like I said, you should be more careful with quantifiers.


Mark: Wrong quantifier.

Which one?


Well, I guess I cannot hold you to it because it is not spelt out, but the phrase "in high-profile cases" seems to leave little doubt you mean "all" high-profile cases. An assumption, as it happens, that I did not make. I don't believe Putin himself personally dictates the verdict in any cases, high-profile or otherwise, although I am happy to stipulate there is political interference in some legal actions, some of which might or might not be considered "high-profile" although no standard for that was established. The Pussy Riot case, while definitely high-profile from a media standpoint, is otherwise not very significant in terms of case law, for example.

And political interference to one degree or other is hardly uncommon everywhere; major political figures might influence the outcome of legal cases by merely altering their facial expression when asked a question about an ongoing legal matter by a reporter, without saying anything.

I'm not talking about that, so I'll be specific. I'm talking about a set of circumstances in which Putin says directly to the presiding judge, whether in public or in private between the two, "I want him/her/them to be found guilty" or words to a similarly unambiguous effect. And I say that doesn't happen.

Moscow Exile

Peter commented:

" 3. The PR verdict was not free of outside interference.

That's a straw man, the conclusion should read: 3. The PR verdict may not have been free of outside interference.

Like I said, you should be more careful with quantifiers."

Afraid not, old boy! The syllogism that I previously wrote and whose conclusion you criticize as being invalid was thus:

1. The Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference.
2. The PR verdict was delivered by the Russian judiciary.
3. The PR verdict was not free of outside interference.

The major premise is universal: no modal auxiliary verbs such as "may", "might", "could" etc; no quantifiers such as ""some", many" etc.

It's the same with:

1.All men are mortal.
2.Socrates is a man.
3.Socrates is mortal.

The conclusion is not: "Socrates may be mortal".

The premise "the Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference" means it is always not free of outside interference just as "all men are mortal" means "always mortal".

The English present tense with no aspect (often called the "present simple" for simplicity's sake, but really it is "simple" in the sense that it is not compound in form, i.e. without an auxiliary verb) is used for truth statements, e.g. "If you heat pure distilled water at atmospheric pressure to 100 degrees celsius, it boils"; or "If you lead a good life on earth, then when you die, you go to heaven and see God and exist eternally in His presence".

Many believe that latter statement is true, hence the present tense in English – all time, any time, always.

Therefore, if that major premise (1) above, namely "The Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference", is always true (present tense of "to be" in the premise), then the conclusion in the above syllogism "the PR verdict was not free of outside interference" cannot be false.

No may might or could have been.


The premise "the Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference" means it is always not free of outside interference…

No, certainly not. In my book, the sentence "the Russian judiciary is not free of outside interference" means that the number of cases of outside interference is not zero.


An assumption, as it happens, that I did not make.

That was a to Alexander, not you. Sorry for confusion.


No, I understood what you meant. But my original statement in its entirety was "Unless you are advancing the view that Putin personally approves all prosecutions and acquittals." To which you replied, "Wrong quantifier". So if the quantifier "all" is unsuitable, is it then your contention that Putin personally approves "some" prosecutions and acquittals? Just to be clear, I'm not talking about "influencing" convictions or acquittals with a sardonic smile or dramatic eye-rolling when asked about the case by a reporter, or even obliquely referring to the eventual legal decision by expounding on the need for law and order, thereby implying leniency would be looked upon with disfavour. Those are examples in which interpretation plays a part, and are common everywhere. I am talking about Mr. Putin giving the judge his or her orders – convict this person, find that person not guilty. Is it your position that Mr. Putin does this in some cases? Because I am afraid my next question will be how you know this to be true.


Is it your position that Mr. Putin does this in some cases?

Well, for all we know Mr. Putin himself may already be too senile to do much beyond enjoying the Patriarch's cottage cheese and chatting with Masha Gessen about birdies - but if you replace "Mr. Putin" with "collective Putin", then yes, I think they do interfere directly in some cases.

Because I am afraid my next question will be how you know this to be true.

I don't. If I did, there would be no need for Occam's help.


I appreciate your honesty. I have seen no signs whatever of senility in Mr. Putin, but I'm not a doctor, and I might have missed something. I certainly hope he's not senile, because 60 is still pretty young in the modern world. Like I said, he stays in shape and seems to eat and drink sensibly; I'd have to say he was quite disciplined. According to the WHO, the world's population aged over 60 will double between 2000 and 2050 and, far from being alarming, this is thought to be a tribute to our increased ability to deal with the causes of earlier mortality.

I'm afraid I don't see any case for Russian political figures giving judges their marching orders, and if that is the case then there is likewise no reason to believe Russian lawyers are just window dressing, although I will grant you the acquittal rate is extremely low. Russia is quite high on the list of countries ranked by rate of incarceration as well – although the USA is the world leader by a wide margin – which suggests there likely are quite a few people in prison in Russia who don't deserve to be there. But it seems to me that although Russian lawyers generally don't go in for lurid courtroom theatrics like O.J's Dream Team, that doesn't necessarily equate to their being useless to due process or stooges for Kremlin fiddling. Certainly trials can be influenced by deliberate leaks, misinformation and political grandstanding, but I have yet to see any direct relationship between such incidents and Putin himself or any of his inner circle. But the liberal opposition would vehemently disagree with me, so you're not alone.

Alexander Mercouris

For anyone interested here is Miriam Elder's article summarising her interview with Samutsevich.

What I find strange about this article is that it does not discuss the lawyers at all. Miriam Elder does not report Samutsevich saying anything about her original lawyers, whether to endorse or condemn them and nor is there any explanation of why Samutsevich suddenly decided to change her defence team. It does seem rather strange that Miriam Elder didn't ask Samutsevich to comment about all this given how much speculation there's been about it. Could it be that she did but didn't like the answer Samutsevich gave her? Perhaps if and when we get the text of the complete interview we'll know more.


I think it's more likely because Samutsevich's discharge is going to be spun as a liberal success story; a triumph against the Kremlin's rapidly-eroding power, and the part played by lawyers – just as such a part is played by lawyers in every country that has the rule of law – is a jarring note in that narrative. Russia doesn't have the rule of law, of course, so it will be necessary for the part played by changing counsel to fade into the background. Otherwise it might look as if the Pussy Riot Affair was not really a huge social issue, and that anyone in similar circumstances (charged with a crime) would stand or fall based on the performance of his or her attorneys.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Peter,

Actually I don't think I am making any assumption at all. It seems to me that it is for those who assert that there was political interference in the Pussy Riot case to prove it. I have seen no evidence to support that claim. The case makes perfect sense without assuming political interference so why assume it?

On a separate point, the RAPSI summary of the appeal which I provided earlier suggests that the defence lawyers said nothing about the two points that have been discussed (1) the point first mentioned to me by Eugene Ivanov, which is that Article 213 does not mention the crime of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and that there is no such crime under Russian law and (2) the point you made about the Judge's reasoning in deciding the question of intention. I wasn't persuaded by either argument but both seemed to me perfectly valid arguments to make on appeal and I am disappointed they weren't made. Instead the defence lawyers seem to have argued the appeal largely on the supposed inadequacies of the expert evidence. If the case does go to the European Court of Human Rights and these points are made there the European Court of Human Rights will want to know why they weren't made in the appeal and it will take a lot of persuading to persuade the European Court of Human Rights to hear them.


… the point first mentioned to me by Eugene Ivanov, which is that Article 213 does not mention the crime of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and that there is no such crime under Russian law…

Oops, looks like you still totally misunderstand the nuts and bolts of this case. Let's try again, slowly.

1. The article in question is indeed Article 213, Hooliganism.

2. This article consists of two disjunct (as opposed to conjunct) parts: п. а) concerns armed hooliganism, п. б) concerns hooliganism motivated by hatred/enmity.

3. 213-а clearly doesn't apply here.

4. The girls have been charged and convicted under 213-б.

5. Despite its near triviality (see above), the legal side of this case is surrounded by widespread confusion caused by the relative newness of Article 213 in its present form. Many people still come across the old pre-2007 version on the internet and get totally misled.

6. Specifically, the previous (pre-2007) version of Article 213 did not contain п. б), the rest is identical in both versions. Thus, the present Article 213-а is equivalent to the old 213, whereas 213-б did not exist in any shape or form before 2007.

7. You are perhaps the biggest victim of this confusion - that behemoth of a post of yours is based entirely on the wrong version of Article 213, and therefore every word of it is wrong including "and" and "the". Sorry, somebody had to tell you.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Peter,

I am aware of the fact that when I wrote my post I was working from an earlier version of Article 213, As I do not speak Russian I had to rely on translations of the Russian Criminal Code provided by the comparative law agencies. These did not provide translations of the current version of Article 213. I have just checked and am surprised to see that notwithstanding the attention the Pussy Riot case has received they have still not been updated to provide a translation of the current version of Article 213. However Anatoly Karlin has provided a translation of the current version of Article 213, the text of which you kindly clarified over the course of the discussion in the discussion thread. Of course the effect of the amendment to Article 213 (as I am sure you must realise) was to make the case against Pussy Riot significantly stronger than I thought it was when I wrote the post.

However over the course of the same discussion in the discussion thread Eugene Ivanov said that Russian defence lawyers have said that there is no specific offence of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred in the Russian Criminal Code. I presume that Eugene Ivanov is reporting what the defence lawyers say correctly and I must assume that Russian defence lawyers are familiar with the wording of their own Criminal Code and the jurisprudence arising from it. I therefore have to assume that there are more ambiguities to the wording and interpretation of Article 213 than I know of and than you tell me. I was expecting the issue to be finally settled on appeal and I am disappointed to see that it wasn't. Likewise the argument about intention that you made previously also does not seem to have been discussed in the appeal, which I also find disappointing even thought I don't agree with it.

Lastly, I

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Peter,

I have just checked Eugene Ivanov's comment and the point the Russian defence lawyers made was narrower than I remembered, Specifically it was that Article 213 does not refer to "insulting the feelings of religious believers" so according to them the offence that was committed was not covered by the Article, There is nothing in the RAPSI summary to suggest that this point was argued by the defence lawyers in the appeal. Nor as I have said does the RAPSI summary say that the defence lawyers argued your point on intention. I notice by the way that you persist in referring to "triviality", by which I presume you mean the supposed triviality of the offence. The RAPSI summary suggests the defence lawyers didn't argue that point either.


I'm pretty sure that's what judges are for; to interpret what took place by reading of the evidence submitted and by listening to the lawyers for both sides present their case for clemency or punishment. I suppose you could spell out the law in such excruciating detail that judges would not be necessary; that the facts on their presentation would guarantee your guilt, but at present if the law says, "if a person shall stab another with a knife or any other object which has a blade, causing death, the one who did such an act shall be guilty of murder" you are unlikely to walk if you stab someone to death with a barbecue fork just because it doesn't have a blade. The judge would interpret the act as within the spirit of the law if not the letter. The evidence in the Pussy Riot case – which I can't believe we are still talking about – suggested the church was chosen deliberately as a venue and that the "performers" did not leave immediately when it was made clear to them that their behavior and presence were unwelcome. There were even repeated attempts to make the case about religion throughout the trial. A decision that there was motivation and that it was based on a desire to debase the reverence held by worshipers for the Russian Orthodox Church lies well within the judge's purview.


Not to mention his opinion on the verdict was specifically solicited by media. What was he supposed to say, after justice was done – "no comment"? The contention by the PR lawyers that the appeal was born to lose even before they applied did infinitely more damage, yet did not even rate being brought up.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Mark,

Russian law does in fact require the Court when sentencing a defendant to take into consideration whether the defendant has dependent children and to treat this as a factor in mitigating a sentence. This is a curiosity of Russian law which appears very strange to a western lawyer. As I have already said in some ways Russian law is more lenient than western law and than it is often believed to be.

The point to say is that the judge at the trial specifically considered that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina have children when she decided their sentence and that was in her Judgment so the judge fulfilled the requirements of the law, which is why this part of the appeal (which only concerns the sentence) failed.

I do not know whether this is true but a respondent on my blog has said that Tolokonnikova's child suffered a serious injury because of her carelessness. I suspect that in Britain both Tolokonnikova's and Alyokhina's children would be taken into local authority care.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Mark,

It's not Adomanis's tunnel vision on this issue that bothers me but his blithe assumption that what he thinks on this subject is or should be the law. If I broke into his house because I disagreed with his stance on some issue and abused and humiliated him in front of his family reading out an obscene parody of one of his articles using scatological language I have no doubt he would call the police to have me removed. If I then claimed that I had merely been exercising my right of free speech when I was subsequently put on trial for burglary and criminal trespass I doubt he would show me much sympathy when the judge and jury rightly gave this argument short shrift.


Ahhh, but his home is private property, where you may not enter without permission and it is a criminal act to do so. But if you wanted to do it in his favourite restaurant, I am sure he would celebrate your right to do it. Public property makes all the difference, because when you are in public you should be able to exercise your right to say whatever you want as loudly as you want.

I have argued that even most public spaces have a designed purpose, and that people in a library have a right to search undisturbed for a book of their choice without Richard Simmons coming in accompanied by a crowd of his devotees and taping a live performance of "Sweatin' To The Oldies" even though a library is not private property, or for some I'll-have-my-rights jerk to flash up his barbecue at center ice in a skating rink and start cooking hot dogs. There are all sorts of arguments why the use of public spaces is regulated by courtesy and mutual respect, but he reckons those principles ought to be challenged regularly in order for the people to know true freedom. And if you support your arguments with examples, he will resort to sarcasm, like, "I am helpless in the presence of your brilliance", and make like you are some kind of big baby for arguing so hard about something that ultimately means nothing because you are not going to change his mind, which is far too restless and agile for you to keep up.


Mark Adomanis exhibits the kind of elitist court appointed phony/crony attributes that run counter to an improved coverage at the more high profile of venues.

Criticizing what he says is only a part of what's wrong with the coverage. The other having to do with what the more high profile of venues utilize over the different and valid points of view, which aren't typically getting the nod.

Going on LR (the source which punked out of a live BBC appearance) to be "interviewed", while not participating in more intellectualy challenging discourse. The silly Tweet exchanges alomg the lines of: "Oh Jenny…" The selective in with the in crowd name dropping "Julia Ioffe has a really excellent…."

Blah, blah, blah.


In America there was a case a couple of years back where Obama was criticized for jumping in and commenting. In this case, he actually knew and was friends with one of the players, Professor Henry Gates. A white Boston cop hassled and arrested Gates (who is African American) on the porch of his own house. Gates was charged with something like disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Nobody knew at the time (least of all the cop) that Gates was a friend of the President's. As one black comedian joked about it, the cop had picked "the wrong n*gg*r" to hassle. (Boston police have a reputation for being racist.) In this example too, it was a high-profile case that was on all the front pages, and Obama was specifically asked about it at a press conference. He responded by saying that he thought the cop was dumb. Obama didn't really do anything wrong, but he was lashed by a storm of criticism and accused of interfering in a legal matter.


Touching on one of your recent points, I know a couple of US court officers and a plethora of attorneys who commented on how American judges respond towards disrespecful attorneys and/or defendants.

According to these sources, most of the judges will stick to the letter of the law in a very even-handed way, while cautioning against rude behavior – adding that such manner can play a role in the sentencing, which can legally range.

In a Military Channel documentary, it was said that the Ustasha concentration camp official at Jasenovac, Dinko Sakic, received a heavier sentence on the way he carried on in court – laughing at the witness testimony against him.

... ... ..

Moscow Exile

Pussy Riot defending their brand name?



Alekhin and Tolokonnikova have accused Verzilov of fraud

"Pussy Riot has no manager"

Punk band Pussy Riot members Maria Alekhin and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have disowned "their group manager" Pyotr Verzilov. Using the Radio Moscow Echo website, the group members published two sheets of paper where he was named as a cheater and a usurper.

"I officially declare that Pyotr Verzilov is not a representative of or plays any role in the group Pussy Riot.

Moreover, Pyotr Verzilov has repeatedly violated the idea of anonymity that is crucial for Pussy Riot, namely he has met journalists and engaged in public activities concerning Pussy Riot without having any right to do so. Pussy Riot is a girl in a balaklava and nothing else.
All press representations about the group made by Pyotr Verzilov are illegal, because, firstly: they have not been agreed with us as equal participants; secondly, facts have been disclosed that damage our concept of anonymity.

In essence, Pyotr Vezilov has taken over Pussy Riot in a devious half-cheating way and, I, as a representative of the group, resent this.

I want to repeat that both earlier and further interviews and representations by Pyotr Vezilov concerning Pussy Riot are at the very least illegal and at worst – provocation and lies.
Pyotr Verzilov assures that all his actions have been in accordance with the wishes of the group members who are now in gaol. This is not so. These statements are false. It is a falsehood that is intended to give him the status of being the principal and the legal representative of Pussy Riot, which he is not ", reads the first sheet of paper.

"After our arrest, Pyotr Verzilov seized control of Pussy Riot representation and decision making, something that, in principle and according to the group ideology, nobody could do, because legitimately the group can only be represented by a girl in a balaklava. In addition, the post of producer/promoter/organizer is not available in an anti-hierarchical punk band. All attempts to take such a position are treacherous towards punk and Pussy Riot

Tolokonnikova N.A. 11 October 2012

Alekhina M.V. 11 October 2012"

As written on the second sheet.

End of translaton.

Poor old Pyotr! This means he'll have to find himself a real job, which, if he's successful in finding gainful employment, will probably be a new experience for him.


Not to mention a new wife, if he can find anyone who will have him. Hard to imagine their marriage – if there ever was one – will survive that as it is effectively a divorce. Hopefully that will address the question of whether Tolokonnikova will show up in Canada once she gets out of the jug. Not without her sponsor, whom I presume is Verzilov. She appears to have made a choice, and decided her vehicle to stardom is Pussy Riot. I'm pretty sure that was a mistake, although it's one for which I at least am grateful. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I see Masha Gessen is making all kinds of friends at her new job. I'm a little sorry I was so mean to her, if it truly is down to her ideas about reconfiguring the operation that Mumin Shakirov is now jobless.


Some of the commenters indicated Petr might have already escaped to America with the little one? In which case, Tolok need to hire a good divorce laywer and try to get her kid back.
The girls might also think about hiring a good copyright lawyer. Petr might have already succeeded in patenting their "Pussy Riot" brand under his own name. In which case, he will get to keep all the money while they rot in jail.
Oi. what a mess…


Would think that they'd be wise to keep up appearances for PR (as in public relations) sake.

Alexander Mercouris

This repudiation of Verzilov is quite fascinating. At least it shows that he is NOT the guiding genius of Pussy Riot.

My own feeling is that despite continuing attempts to maintain a show of unity eg. in Samutsevich's interview with Miriam Elder in the Guardian today the cracks in the facade are starting to show. Firstly there is the still unexplained decision by Samutsevich to change lawyers and to argue her case separately from the others. Now we have this extraordinary attack on Verzilov who was by the way continuously appearing on British television before and during the trial when he seemed to be acting the part of the group's spokesman. Incidentally so far I have not found any reference to the attack on Verzilov in the British press. Miriam Elder does not discuss it in her interview with Samutsevich.


Yes, and I think I have to back out a speculation I once made that the Pussy Riot was a cult with Petr as the alpha male guru (sort of like a non-violent Charles Manson type).

That was the only theory that made sense to me at the time, but it is clearly not true. If anything, Tolok is the cult leader (despite being the youngest and being a female), and Petr just a weaselly hanger-on, seeking to bask in her reflected glory. Tolok is a leader of the group, and an ideological fanatic. Her ideology is ridiculous, but she evidently believes in it, and so do some of the others. Well, that's my latest theory. It does explain why Tolok feels the need to dismiss the father of her child, now that she has him pegged as insufficiently pure of heart. The corollary is that Samutsevich will also be rejected by the group as a sell-out, because she chose her personal well-being over martyrdom for the cause. (Whatever that cause is.)

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Yalensis,

I too thought Verzilov had a bigger role than he clearly does. I also agree with you about Samutsevich. For the moment she continues to sing the same song as the others. However if you study her recent interviews carefully it appears that she wants henceforth to protest in a more moderate way. I doubt that is Tolokonnikova's view.

Moscow Exile

Dear AIexander Mercouris,

I should think that perhaps the reason why Elder makes no mention of Samutsevich's defence lawyers in her article, which I have not read, concerning her interview with the freed PR member and the arguments that were used in their client's defence or of Samutsevich's new lawyer, who successfully appealed against the conviction, and the legalities of the appeal argument, is that in doing so Elder would have had to admit (a) that Samutsevich's original defence lawyers were only showboating and using their clients' trial as a podium for their political position and (b) that Samutsevich won her appeal according to due process of Russian law, the existence of which due process, indeed the very existence of any systematic processs of law in Russia, the likes of Elder refuses to acknowledge as it a basic premise of the Western media that there is no law in Russia save the directives of the Evil One.

Moscow Exile

I should add that I have witnessed Russian criminal law in action in that I have participated as the chief witness in a criminal trial.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Moscow Exile,

I agree with all this.

Obviously I am in no position to give blanket endorsement of the entire Russian legal system. What I would say is that I read some months ago a comment by the President of the European Court of Human Rights in which he said that Russians should trust their courts more and that the jurisprudence of the Russian Constutitonal Court and of the Russian Supreme Court is up to world standards.

Speaking for myself, I used to deal when I worked in the Royal Courts of Justice with the odd Russian case. These were either civil commercial cases or family law cases. My experience was that Russian courts dealt with these sort of cases as well as did courts in western Europe. There was simply no comparison with the snake pits that are the court systems in places like Nigeria or the Indian Subcontinent where people actually advertise in newspapers offering to act as witnesses in court cases.

That of course was my own personal impression. However the latest World Bank report on the Russian economy seems to bear it out. It acknowledged that enforcement of contracts in Russia is of a high standard and comparable to western Europe. Apparently Russian has even created some sort of electronic database onto which contracts are registered to limit disputes and to ease enforcement. That is a great deal more than what we have here in Britain. The reason Russia comes so far down the ease of doing business surveys seemed according to the Wolrd Bank report to be related more to poor infrastructure problems than inefficiency or corruption on the part of the legal system.

Of course it may be different in the criminal justice system. Those cases I have looked at (Pussy Riot, Khodorkovsky, Magnitsky) seem to have been handled properly but they are high profile cases which presumably get the best judges and prosecutors and where the authorities can be expected to be careful to conduct themselves in the best way possible in view of likely outside scrutiny by the European Court of Human Rights. I accept that the situation may be very different in other cases or in cases tried in poor rural areas or small towns where local Judges may be intimidated or in the pocket of local bigwigs. However as I think I have said before, though Russian judges are excessively prosecution minded that is also true of courts and judges elsewhere. At least in Russia the trend in sentencing seems to be towards it becoming more lenient – the opposite of the trend in the US and Britain.

I would say that it is also a myth that western judiciaries are entirely free of political interference. I happen to know of some cases in Britain where political interference did occur but I am afraid I can't discuss them. However one well known case where political interference happened was the Oz trial of the 1970s. This was a prosecution for obscenity against the editors of a magazine. It is now acknowledged that after the editors were convicted political pressure was brought on the appeal Court to change the sentence and that Lord Widgery, the Lord Chief Justice who was actually presiding over the appeal Court, actually met the defendants in secret during the appeal in order to negotiate a compromise.

Alexander Mercouris

Here is the World Bank report I was referring to. The discussion on the ease of enforcing contracts in Russia (the crucial test of a commercial law system) is on page 31. I would add that the report as a whole is a great deal more optimistic about Russia than was the report on Russia released the previous year.

As for the comment by the President of the European Court of Human Rights rating the Constitutional and Supreme Courts at world levels if anyone wants to find it I think I read it on Itar Tass.


Western propaganda machine (including Miriam Elder, Mark Adomanis, and many others) invested a huge amount of ideological capital in this silly case. From it drawing very far-reaching conclusions about Russian legal system (or absence of Russian legal system) and other matters. Using it to "prove" that Russia is a rogue state ruled over by a mad dictator (just like Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, Akhmadinejad, etc etc), and thereby almost ripe for regime change to rescue the oppressed Russian people and liberate their oil and gas reserves.
In order for the ideology to work, everything has to be just so. Samutsevich's defection was the first fatal crack in the smooth seamless surface of this fake narrative. Despite attempts to salvage the party line about Russia being a lawless state, Sam's successful appeal proved the opposite. That's why everybody is scrambling now and trying to salvage something from this debacle.
Sam herself probably feels a lot of guilt about getting cold feet and betraying her "cause", hence she is in denial that her actions will have any repercussions on her future relations with her friends. Meanwhile, Western media has to try feverishly to stitch together a new narrative.


P.S. In Sam's interview with Miriam Elder, I was interested to see that she read Chernyshevsky in the prison library. As an ex-literature major myself, I have only respect for anyyone who undertakes a serious study of Chernyshevsky. However, if Sam had actually read her "What is to be done" very closely, she would have seen that (1) Chernyshevsky's idea of women's lib involves women working at honorable professions, for example doctors. Not vulgar pole dancers. (2) Chernyshevsky's ideal revolutionary Rakhmetov, would have never taken the deal. He would have gone off to the colony and slept on a bed of nails, just to prove his point.
After they have some time to get over their shock and think about it, the other Pussies will never forgive Sam for bailing out. If she had done nothing and said nothing, and the judge had simply made that determination on her own, it would have been okay. Just a random act of Fate.
But the fact that Sam took charge of her own destiny, switched lawyers, and separated herself from the others is the thing that they will never forgive. This is is what makes her an anti-hero from the Chernyshevskian perspective. There is no chapter in "What is to be done" about "That woman who got cold feet and had herself sprung on a legal technicality".
This is why Miriam Elder doesn't mention this fact, and why Sam doesn't mention it either in her interview. They are both in denial, both still trying to pretend that Sam's release was some random act of Fate, and not the result of a deliberate effort (what many will see as a betrayal) on her part. Both still trying to pretend that Sam is fervently still devoted to the Pussy cause and will be out there fighting evil Putin every day from her position of freedom.
Based on my knowledge of literary prototypes, I make a prediction that can be verifiable or falsifiable within 5 years: Sam will pretend to still be involved in Pussy Riot, at least for a time; but the group will break up. When the other two return from the colony, they will ostracize her. Sam will move on, get a new life, marriage, children. Eventually, in order to assuage her Survivor's Guilt, she will have no option except to switch ideologies and become a fervent believer in Orthodox Church. In other words, she will switch from Chernyshevsky and pull a Dostoevsky.


And she will write a book "My Life as a Pussy" (or something like that), detailing the inside story of being wild and free as an anarchist but ultimately acknowledging you can never win against the system.

This is certainly not a bold prediction, as all three are likely deluged with book offers in both English and Russian. And a smart anarchist would strike now while the iron is hot, because this issue just does not have the legs to outlast their imprisonment.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Yalensis,

I agree with all of this. Incidentally I have got the impression that Samutsevich has a closer relationship with her family than Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina. Her father has been actively involved in defending her and gave evidence on her behalf both to the police and at the trial. I wonder whether it was he who suggested to her that she change lawyers? I may be wrong about this but I don't get the impression that Tolokonnikova's and Alyokhina's families have been so supportive of their daughters. If so this may also be a sign that Samutsevich is more distant from the group than the other two.

Incidentally when he was first interviewed by the police Samutsevich's father blamed Tolokonnikova for what had happened to his daughter and accused Tolokonnikova of turning Samutsevich into a "zombie". He withdrew this claim later and gave different evidence at the trial.

Incidentally I would not be in too much of a hurry to drop your Charles Manson theory. Based I am afraid on extensive experience my immediate reaction when I see women engage in the kind of grotesque sexual behaviour engaged in by members of Voina is to suspect gross sexual abuse by the men of the women in the group. A barely reported part of the Judgment is that the Judge found on the basis of psychiatric tests that both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina (but not Samutsevich) suffer from personality disorders. This might also be a sign that they have suffered abuse. One of the Judge's reasons for sending them to prison was that this was the only way of ensuring that they obtained treatment. Unspoken in this is the possibility that she was anxious to separate Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina from the men who were abusing them. If there is anything to this then the whole Pussy Riot phenomenon and its "feminism" might be best understood as a rebellion by the women against the men in the group. This is of course all speculation (but I emphasise speculation based on extensive experience) and the criticisms of Verzilov may support it. Of course if this is right then it will all in time come out at which point the western supporters of Pussy Riot and the Guardian may find that they hav awkward explaining to do.

Moscow Exile

Is this woman Latynina really sane?

Look at this terrible rant from Novaya Gazeta on the PR appeal, where amongst other astounding statements, she writes:

"The Pussy Riot lawyers took the only adequate line of defence, and it is thanks to them, that this process became the first fully-fledged political process in Russia."

As I was translating I was going to make comments on her ramblings, but there are so many points to contend that I've just translated quickly what she has written.

She does go on so. It's a quick translation. My apologies for any innacuracies. But really, I wonder why people pay her to write such shit:


Have Pussy Riot's Lawyers Been Acting in the Interests of their Clients?

The tale of Ekaterina Samutsevich's release reminds me of the granting of parole to Platon Lebedev.

As long as Putin is in the Kremlin, Khodorkovsky will remain in prison. One should not hope for anything: don't have any faith, don't fear, don't beg.

And then all of a sudden on August 8, 2012, during a visit of Lebedev's regular lawyers, whose duty it was to make his petition, the Velsky District Court suddenly grants his appeal and decides to reduce his sentence to 3 years and 4 months. That is to say, he would be released on March 2, 2013. After a month and a half, the Arkhangelsk Regional Court – who could have doubted it – overturns that decision. It is obvious that they cannot give Lebedev parole because that would have meant that they would have had to grant Khodorkovsky parole on the same grounds.
Why did the Velsky court make this decision? Because (a) it meant nothing; (b) it created a feeling of hope when there was none; (c) it led to a confusion of spirit in the convicted persons at a very important moment – the moment when Putin clearly wanted them to write for a pardon – (g) very opportunely, by the way, to the Strasbourg Court. You see, they say we have independent courts and they arrive at different decisions.

It's absolutely the same story with Ekaterina Samutsevich, a story with the change of her lawyer (as well as the story of the deprivation of Pyotr Verzilov's authority) - no politics but personal feelings and relationships, to which everyone is entitled. Samutsevich's lawyer was changed because the LGBT coterie and her friend Anno Komarov and the role of gays, transgender and lesbian in defence of Pussy Riot is probably more significant than the surrounding public.

What was next?

Now the cry has gone up that the girls were sent down because their lawyers had acted unprofessionally. Especially all of a tremble was Limonov, who stated that Samutsevich's release was a "slap in Violetta Volkova's face for her lack of professionalism". "We have first heard of it today, for example, that Samutsevich was detained before the girls rallied in the church." But the lawyer Igor Trunov (strange that deputies Zheleznyak and Schlegel didn't do this) had already rushed out with the same plea to the Bar Association. The authorities dream of depriving Pussy Riot's advocates of that status; Trunov, as I understand it, has decided to help them.

Well this "we first heard about it" is nonsense. Volkova talked about it in court. But yes, since all three lawyers argued that dancing was not a crime, they could not at the same time prove that "it was a crime, but Samutsevich did not take part in it".
Secondly, the Pussy Riot lawyers took the only adequate line of defence, and it is thanks to them, that this process became the first fully-fledged political process in Russia. A lawyer is obliged to comply with the interests of the applicant and the Pussy Riot lawyers did just that. I don't think that if counsel Volkova had repeated all the time: "Yes, Yes, these vile creatures were hooligans, but mine didn't manage to do this" it would have been in interests – in the broad sense of the word – of Ekaterina Samutsevich. In certain situations it's better to serve two years than to ruin your whole life.

Thirdly, by the altar danced five girls, but only three were judged. And how would have Volkova and Samutsevich looked if they had been shouting out everywhere, "Hey, I wasn't there, instead of me send down the three [??] who were there!"?

Fourthly, if dancing is to be considered a crime, then it's not very impressive to be taken away from the altar before the dancing has begun. As an analogy just imagine: six hijackers pop into a bank a bank to rob it. Five of them take the money but the sixth is cut off at the entrance by a guard. And the sixth says: Yes, I wanted to rob the bank and do not consider this a crime: the circumstances are not strongly mitigating.

Fifthly, Samutsevich's abrogation is not a "betrayal". She directly stated in a speech: "We reject the authority of the President", "I do not believe that we committed a crime", "there is no split whatsoever in the group Pussy Riot". God grant that we all behave that way if we find ourselves behind of bars.

Once again: the judge gave a suspended sentence and Samutsevich finds herself on absolutely the same grounds as when she first found herself locked up for 2 kopecks. And it happened because the Kremlin saw imaginary weakness. And so they decided: Hurrah! Now we (a) can show the West that we are not animals and (b) cause a split in the group, which (c) will come in handy for Strasburg.

But the most important thing in this story is, in my opinion, this: the authorities attempted to show the weakness of Pussy Riot, but instead, suddenly showed its own weakness. It showed that it remains, as before, ready to act rather more quickly in the exploitation of the weakness of others (in this case imaginary ones) – by creating a split in the opposition, by fines, by compromising on the TV screen, but not by major repressions causing a closure of accounts in the West.

End of translation

Definitely certifiable!


It is the last point that most clearly explains Latynina's rage – that it will make Russia look more humane in the eyes of the world and bolster the appearance of a rule of law which relies on, well, rules and in which a decent lawyer can argue that a crime may or may not have been committed, but that in the instance her own client was not involved. For Latynina, the very worst outcome would be that Russia would become more civilized or would at least successfully create that appearance, because it is only so long as it can appear to be the captive plaything of a brutal and vicious thug that Latynina herself has an audience. Really, what would she have been if she had decided to write accurately about the things that take place in Russia, or even to be a writer of fiction on a subject totally detached from politics (which she is, she writes science fiction) for the international market? Ordinary at best. Nobody would have been giving her medals or calling her a hero anything.

The irony is that the supposedly brutal Russian state will not grant Latynina her fondest wish; the arrest her on some pretext, beat her silly and then clap her in a stone dungeon forever so she could write a Pulitzer prize-winner in her own feces on the walls. She really is the worst sort of rambling nut.

Moscow Exile

And here's another woman whom I disagree with:

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Moscow Exile,

What Latynina has done in what seems to be a confused and angry article is provide further grounds to question Volkova's competence. If you study Latynina's argument carefully what she seems to be saying is that Volkova could not make the arguments as forcefully in the trial that Khrunova made in the appeal because had she done so she would have undermined the defence of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina who were also her clients.

That is actually true. There was an obvious conflict of interest between Samutsevich on the one hand and Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina on the other. For that very reason Volkova should not have been representing Samutsevich in the first place when she was also representing Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina and she should have advised Samutsevich right at the outset of the case to seek separate representation from the other two.

I am glad to see from Latynina's increasingly tortured arguments on their behalf that the lawyers are coming in for increasing criticism with even people like Limonov now criticising them. I repeat what I have been saying for months: if all three defendants in this case had been properly and professionally represented and had had their defence conducted properly and in a more conventional way all three would almost certainly be free by now.

Alexander Mercouris

"It's better to serve two years than to ruin your whole life".

I find that most sinister. And what a give away. Latynina obviously does want Samutsevich to take the martyr's crown and go to prison for two years. I am glad Samutsevich takes a different view.

Moscow Exile

As a by the way to this rather sad tale and mention therein of Radio Ekho Moskvy, I read an interesting piece on RT earlier today concerning the abomination that the Nobel Peace Prize has become and which has just been awarded to…wait for it, wait for it!… the European Union. See:

What's the connection with this PR story, one may ask? As I have said, earlier today and before the Peace Prize winner was announced, there appeared on RT this criticism of the whole Nobel Peace Prize show:

And there it states:

"This year's winner(s) will be drawn from 231 different nominations, 188 of whom are individuals, while the rest are organizations.

Among them are Russia's own radio station Ekho Moskvy and the Memorial human rights center".

Ekho Moskvy?

Publisher of the prison missives of those redoubtable fighters for freedom and justice Tolokonnikova and Alekhina?

But Peace prize?


As a matter of fact, I rather enjoy Ekho Moskvy and its panting liberalism. It's always good for a laugh. But if Ekho Moskvy was nominated for the Peace Prize, then why wasn't Latynina, head-banger Russian liberal in-chief, not nominated? Surely she should have been in the running for the illustrious award as well?

The funny thing for me about the liberals' favourite radio station Ekho Moskvy, and something that barely gets a mention amongst the chattering classes and Russian commentators, is the fact that the station is 66% state owned. So much for the stifling of free speech by the evil Putin regime.


When they gave it to Liu Xiaobo they must have ignored some of his truly repugnant views because they wanted to "send a message to the regime". Ekho Moskvy is the same, despite their "lets disenfranchise the poor" editorial line. I think it shows that Norwegians are just as vapid and celebrity obsessed as Americans and Brits.

But I am glad the EU won. They really need that money.

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

I agree entirely with what you wrote about Latynina's sentiments towards Samutsevich's appeal success, namely:

" 'It's better to serve two years than to ruin your whole life.'

I find that most sinister. And what a give away. Latynina obviously does want Samutsevich to take the martyr's crown and go to prison for two years. I am glad Samutsevich takes a different view".

Latynina would have liked to spend the next two years scribbling away about the monstrous injustice meeted out to an incarcerated Samutsevich whilst she, the illustrious "defender of freedom" journalist, lived a life of comfort.

She wrote another monstrous rant the other day, where she insisted that the majority of those who protested recently in Moscow are not members or supporters of the Communist Party or nationalist factions but middle class folk – like herself, of course. And her rant stank of elitism and derision towards the lumpenproletariat, whom she clearly believes should not be allowed to participate in elections.

The article was called: "Yulia Latynina on why we need to elect an opposition coordinating board" and it began:

"As a person not involved in them [the opposition coordinating committee elections](because, you know, not everybody should participate, some are needed to describe them), I just try to describe. I do not promise to be politically correct….

Most of those who have gone out on the marches are bourgeois. They are free and successful people. They want their leaders to be free and successful people. Most of them do not want a professional revolution, because they have more interesting life experiences. Freedom for them is not a goal but a means. Their circumstances reflect their actions…."

Doesn't she just love herself and her class of "intelligentsy" and hate the members of great unwashed, who clearly do not have "an interesting life and experience"!

Moscow Exile

Another point as regards the rant made by Yulia "Pinochet" Latynina (as Anatoly Karlin has humorously labelled her – see: against Samutsevich's decision to hire a new lawyer, which decision led to her appeal success, is the role that homosexuals and the LGBT movement in Moscow has played in ensuring that she is not at present suffering that noble fate which her other PR colleagues are enduring and has, therefore, avoided becoming a martyr for the cause of freedom in Russia, a shameful fact that Latynina suggests Samutsevich will suffer from for the rest of her life.

Now I don't know if Samutsevich is a homosexual: I couldn't care less one way or other if she is or is not. Latynina, however, states in her rant against Samutsevich's appeal success:

"История со сменой ей адвоката (как и история с лишением полномочий Петра Верзилова) - это никакая не политика, а личные чувства и отношения, на которые каждый человек имеет право…"

[The story about her changing her lawyer (as well as the story of the disempowerment of Pyotr Verzilov) is in no way about politics, but about personal feelings and relationships, which everyone has a right to.]

Well, I'm glad we've got that staight, Yulia. I agree with you that personal feelings are… well, personal. But political feelings? Hasn't everyone also got the right to have them as well?

She goes on:

"Адвоката Самуцевич сменила потому, что ЛГБТ-тусовке и ее другу Анно Комарову роль геев, трансгендеров и лесбиянок в защите Pussy Riot представляется, вероятно, несколько более значительной, чем окружающей публике".

[Samutsevich changed her lawyer because, for the LGBT clique and her friend Anno Komorov, the role of gays, people of transgender and lesbians in the defence of Pussy Riot very likely presented itself as being of far greater importance than the public at large.]

The public at large? Does she mean by that expression the 96% or so of Russians who are not homosexual …or does she mean the minority of Russian citizens that believe that PR did no wrong and were wrongly imprisoned, namely those who have the same opinion that she has in this matter?

It isi nteresting that Latynina presents herself as being a Liberal, but she doesn't appear to be a very PC one. In fact, in her rant concerning the need for an opposition coordinating committe, which I mentioned in a previous posting, she says:

"As a person not involved in them [the opposition coordinating committee elections](because, you know, not everybody should participate, some are needed to describe them), I just try to describe. I do not promise to be politically correct…."

(This is from her lenghty and turgid rant about OCC wich appeared in Komsomolskaya Pravda a few days ago. I was going to post the link when it appeared but it is such a convoluted, rambling piece that I trashed it.)

She does not promise to be PC in her reporting of the OCC election sham? So I guess that if any "LGBT clique", gays, lesbians, etc. don't vote the way she likes, she'll call them a bunch of queers who cannot recognize the nobility of the great fight for freedom in Russia because of their bering blinded by their sexual peccadilloes?

She really is a liberal-fascist, is our Yulia! In fact, the convolutions and turgidity of her prose reminds me very much of the style in which Mein Kampf is written and which leads most readers of it to conclude that its author is barking mad. Everyone is wrong and deserves her scorn if they veer away from her party line: those who vote for Putin should be disenfranchised; those who decide not to suffer a noble martyrdom for the cause should suffer the consequences of this ignoble decision for the rest of their lives.

As a footnote: LGBT activist Anno Komorov, whom Latynina mentions (quoted above), seems to be chummy with Elder of the Guardian.



Very interesting intrigue from the gay angle. Reading between the lines and trying to decipher Latynina's mad barkings, seems like there might be a political split going on within the Russian gay movement itself.

Seen in this light, Sam's defection from the Verzilov-Tolok clique makes more sense. If Anno is in fact Sam's partner (=speculation), then by definition Sam's parents are her in-laws; therefore it also makes sense that they would all be acting together like a unified family, to do what is best for them and not what is best for Verzilov/Tolok.

Still on the gay theme, Russian media (and also Western) is reporting an increased level of violence against gays in Russia, like this recent attack against a Moscow nightclub:

Along these lines, Russian Orthodox Church is flexing its new-found muscles by calling on government to ban gay clubs and federalize anti-gay discrimination laws.
Well, what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander: If ROC has privacy rights to prevent, say, raucous Pussies from invading their private altars to dance and carry on; then by the same token gays should have the right to dance in their own private clubs without ROC-inspired goons invading and beating them up.


You see, I totally misread that one, although I did pick it up from Latynina's foam-spattered diatribe. I thought she was suggesting Volkhova was a lesbian.

I just put it down to Latynina praising those of whom she approves no matter if they are red to the elbows with the blood of the innocent, and flailing with anything in reach at those of whom she disapproves. It's quite possible she is allowed to continue her crazed barking without any interference from the Russian government because the government perceives she is the worst possible advertisement for the image westerners would like to present as representative of their countries – inclusive, free and welcoming. And in this the government can't be far wrong, because I can't think of anyone who is actually a worse advertisement for western society. Maybe there's a medal for that, too. We should nominate her for it.


"It's better to serve two years than to ruin your whole life."

Well, that is partially true, but it depends on the quality of the Cause that one believes in(on a scale of 1 to 5 ranging from "Resistance to Nazi Occupation" to "Fight for my Right to Par-teee!"); and the level of one's commitment to this Cause (on a scale of 1 to 5 ranging from "True Believer" to "Lukewarm Platonic Supporter").

Why is Lat assuming that Sam has ruined her own life? Because Opps will call her a Judas and ostracize her? Maybe something even more sinister than that – like they will cut her out of the lucrative marketing deals?
Can Sam survive Latynina's severe disapproval? I don't know, but I predict that she will find Jesus eventually…. As will they all….

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Moscow Exile and Yalensis,

I completely missed the homophobic innuendo in Latynina's article. For the record I am sure I have seen a photo somewhere of Tolokonnikova wearing a pro gay badge on her lapel during a march. Who is Anno Komorov by the way?

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

He is the person in white. I write "he" because he asks on Facebook to be addressed as a male

His Facebook profile:

His name, by the way, is a mixture Latin and Russian: "Анно" is the Cyrillic spelling of "anno"; "Комаров" is the genitive plural of the Russian noun "комар" – "mosquito".
Hence, Анно Комаров means "The Year of the Mosquitoes".


Dear Alexander: I missed Latynina's homophobic innuendo too, until MoscowExile pointed it out. We should probably get this clarified, because I don't want to be unfair to her.
This is a confusing issue, truly, because most of the major Opps personalities (including Latynina, Pussy Riot, etc.) are officially pro-gay, if only because Americans/Europeans insist on that as part of their overall liberal political plank. (Behind the scenes, however, several Opps leaders, including Nemtsov and Navalny, have been overheard making homophobic jokes.)
I think the American/European influence and the mixing of street demonstrations with gay rights has produced only bad consequencies for the incipient Russian gay movement. It sets up a false dichotomy: If you are gay, then you are by definition a White-Ribbon traitor and pro-NATO compadore. This leads to backlash against gays, because the Russian public at large, which is socially conservative and already identifies gays with pedophilia, now identifies all gays with liberals/traitors as well. In fact, the very term "liberast" is a play on "liberal" with "pederast", it confuses homosexuality with pedophilia, and also confuses being gay with opposition to the established order and just generally being a big troublemaker.
Not good. In order to avoid more backlash, gays should for the time being stay out of politics and focus on issues of fairness and reforming laws, etc. They will have to fight against increasing ROC influence, however. No way around that.

Alexander Mercouris

I notice that Latynina says that Volkova mentioned at the trial the fact that Samutsevich did not participate in the "punk prayer".

I have checked the day summaries of the trial provided by RAPSI

The summaries are not complete. In particular no summary is provided for the first day. Whilst I cannot therefore definitely say that Volkova did not mention at the trial that Samutsevich did not participate in the "punk prayer" the only reference I can find to this issue in the RAPSI summaries is not in any submission made to the Court by Volkova or by any of the other defence lawyers but in the evidence given to the Court by Samutsevich's father on the fourth day. A reason for thinking that Volkova may not have mentioned the point in her submissions to the Court during the trial is that If RAPSI's day summaries are to be believed neither she nor Feygin mentioned Samutsevich's non participation in the "punk prayer" in their closing speeches at the end of the trial.

I say all this because I have previously found that Latynina is not to be relied on when it comes to such matters. By the way the fact that it was Samutsevich's father who brought up the point in the trial strengthens my view that it was he and not some gay cabal that persuaded Samutsevich to instruct new lawyers. It also suggests that Samutsevich's father was getting independent legal advice.

I say this because


From what I understand, Anno is a biological female (who looks rather young and very cute, by the way) named Anna Komarova, but is undergoing some process to become a male, so the new name would be masculined Anno Komarov.
Russian law permits transgender changes and gives full gender rights to the person under their new gender. For example, a male becoming a female would then get an earlier retirement age.

Alexander Mercouris

Gosh guys, thanks!

I agree with both of you

(1) If Samutsevich chooses to go down in flames in the spirit of her hero Chernyshevsky that is a matter for her not for the likes of Latynina of all people to demand of her;

(2) in my opinion the mixing of the gay issue with opposition protest has been an all round disaster for exactly the reason Yalensis says; and

(3) Latynina is a "liberal fascist" exactly as Moscow Exile says. Her homophobic smear of Samutsevich shows it as does her nasty attempt to involve Anno Komarov (a person most Russians must find weird) in her decision. The one thing I would say is that the more time passes the less "liberal" Latynina looks and the more "fascist".


I don't understand her logic – Putin is free and unarguably successful, even if Belkovsky failed to prove he is a multibillionaire. Why not just keep him?

Still, I'd bet if you constructed a mathematical model which could successfully forecast the percentage of the population which would be opposed to any initiative regardless how popular it was amongst the society in general, it would come up with something close to what shows up at every "March of a Million". There are just some people who are more in love with protest than they are with real social engineering, and who if given exactly what they want would blink in surprise, and then want something completely different.


To date I have not found one single reference to the Udaltov case in Western press, except for this Polish piece, which I saw via INOSMI:,76842,12653940,Siergiej_Grozny_straszy_Kreml.html

Russian translation:

Piece claims that it's all a frame-up, tape was fake, etc. At first I thought it must have been written before Udaltsov went in for questioning and then basically admitted that the tape was NOT a fake. But I checked the date – piece was written yesterday or today. So, in that case, I suppose the piece can be taken as harbinger what the Western "party line" will be on this case: deny reality, claim frame-up, etc.
The Polish piece has no comments, I am guessing the average Pole has zero interest in this case. The INOSMI version has a few comments, including one claiming that Givi Targamadze has fled from Gruzia. But I cannot find any confirmation of this claim elsewhere. It would interesting to see if Russian prosecution subpoenas Givi. They could certainly charge him with something.


If they had video like this showing nefarious activity by some pro-Putin individual then there would not a single squeak about fake video. Has anyone seen a convincing fake video on their life? I am not talking about actors posing, that is not faking and can easily be dismissed.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Yalensis,

So far as the British media is concerned you are absolutely right. There has been NO reporting of the Udaltsov case. It makes an astonishing contrast to the way the Britsih media widely reported (and trashed) the first Anatomy of a Protest. I suspect that because of the video film this one is just too difficult to spin away. I seem to remember that Marx once said that it's what they don't tell you that is sometimes more important than what they do. If I am not misquoting Marx then here is an example of it.


Navalny's silence also speaks volumes. His blog hamsters have been begging him ever since it happened to refute the "dirty lies" against Udaltsov. Instead, Navalny has chattered on endlessly about all other matters, but not a single word about Udaltsov.
I recall there is one scene in the "Anatomy" movie, I don't know if it really happened that way or just a clever edit; but in this scene, Udaltsov's honcho, Lebedev, is on the phone with Targamadze during the Bolotnaya protest. Givi (his voice taped on a tapped phone) is ordering Lebedev to relay to Udaltsov that he MUST NOT allow the mob to return home without first announcing the date of the next demo. Lebedev relays these orders to Udaltsov (through his earbuds).
Sure enough, Udaltsov hops onto the podium, and announces, "Please, folks, before going home I call on you to remember to mark the date on your calendars for our next demonstration on … [I forget the date]." Camera cuts to shot of Navalny and Yashin staring at each other in disbelief. As in "He just said WHAT!" [cause, see, the steering committee had never agreed on a date, so Udaltsov had no right to just blurt that out…]
In conclusion, Alexander, I see your Marx quote and raise you with Sherlock Holmes: "The curious thing, Watson, is that the dog did NOT bark…"

... ... ...


WTF is "hysteria"? I thought it was a discredited medical concept from the 1800s. I didn't realize the new generation was so soft and tender psychologically that being locked up in a room is like being thrown into an oubliette. This is not just a Russian problem and it has serious long term ramifications for civilization.


That's pretty funny. God grant that such children never experience bullying like that which drove Amanda Todd to suicide last Wednesday; she is shown in the video telling her story with sentences written on cards because she could not speak; she had badly damaged her throat by drinking bleach in a previous suicide attempt. This time she was successful. If I were her father I would be out on the streets somewhere now hunting those who bullied her to death.

The kids in your story have learned entirely the wrong lesson, observing that pitching a fit will get you sympathy and attention and will get those who would discipline you punished, rather than that stealing is wrong. What a world.


Secret video reveals how the youths were treated by store security. Shocking! I bet they will never do it again.
That Turkish delight does look awfully tempting, though…

Moscow Exile

It surprises me that at RIA they are not aware that the English word "marmalade" is a linguistic "faux amis" that does not mean "мармелад" in Russian. The confection in the story which is alleged to have caused hysteria amongst some children is usually known as a "fruit jelly" or a "fruit pastille" or "fruit candy"; the children did not steal jam made from oranges.


I think everybody got it from the picture, but it probably was not widely known in the English-speaking world. Besides, we live in an atmosphere of good-enough, where as long as you know what the speaker means it doesn't matter if they're accurate. My wife got a circular in the mail the other day from a local business, advertising a "girl's night out" which would give them free massages and manicures, that sort of girly stuff, and a dramatic discount on storefront merchandise.

It is set to take place "Nov 3th" rather than "Nov 3rd". A small thing, perhaps, but in my opinion society is getting more and more lazy and illiterate, and would rather communicate through LOL's and BRB's.

We can easily address the Marmeladniyy issue, though, via a blitz of forced attention to Katya Lell's "Мой мармеладный", which was a modest hit during my earlier visits to Vladivostok. This one also illustrates for budding songwriters that if you can't find a word that rhymes or need a longer word to keep cadence, you can just make it up – there is no such word in Russian as "Jagga jagga", and Lell admitted in an interview that she made it up although she did come up with an interpretation for it that fit the general mood of the song. Now that I mention it, Russians aren't tremendously big on the Mmmmm's and Yeah, yeah's that English-speaking vocalists are accustomed to inserting in songs to fill dead air.

Katya Lell also performed "Mussy Pussy", which I believe is also meaningless in Russia. What the hell; she's good-looking and has a nice voice. Who cares if her lyrics pass the Byron test?

Moscow Exile

In the Russian folk song "Kalinka" you hear "eye lyoo lee lyoo lee" as a kind of "tra-la-la foll di roll doll" that you sometimes hear in Eglish folk songs:

Калинка, калинка, калинка моя!
В саду ягода малинка, малинка моя!
Ах! Под сосною под зеленою
Спать положите вы меня;
Ай, люли, люли, ай, люли, люли,
Спать положите вы меня.

Калинка, калинка, калинка моя!
В саду ягода малинка, малинка моя!
Ах! Сосенушка ты зеленая,
Не шуми же надо мной!
Ай, люли, люли, ай, люли, люли,
Не шуми же надо мной!

Калинка, калинка, калинка моя!
В саду ягода малинка, малинка моя!
Ах! Красавица, душа-девица,
Полюби же ты меня!
Ай, люли, люли, ай, люли, люли,
Полюби же ты меня!

Калинка, калинка, калинка моя!
В саду ягода малинка, малинка моя!

The "peezy" bit in the expression "easy-peezy" is also untranslatable and in my experience sometimes gives rise to a little consternation amongst some Russians upon hearing it.

Moscow Exile

According to exit polls it looks like Chirikova has come third in the Khimki mayoral election and has no chance of claiming victory. See:

Those stupid, stupid degenerate working-class slobs of Khimki don't want freedom! They don't even know what freedom is! They just want cheap holidays in Turkey and cheap booze in Russia and delusions of Russia being a world power! And it's a dream, I tell you! Wait until the oil runs out, then they'll see!!!

Will there never be democracy in Russia?

Or, as one commentator has pointed out at the above linked article:

Выборы явно не лигитимны

[The election is obviously not legitimate.]

(That was a cynical comment by the way. As I write it's been awarded the title of No.1 comment.)


I tell you, she scuppered herself when she sang that little anti-Putin ditty. Those few lines cost her the election, because up to that point I think if she had sold herself right she could have done it. She was up on regional issues, reasonably bright and articulate and seemed to have learned a bit of a lesson since her "This is Surkhov propaganda" days. But in choosing to ally herself with Pussy Riot (whom, as I said before, I can't believe we are still talking about), she broadcast for all to see and hear that she had learned exactly nothing and remained the same narrow-minded, self-centered child obsessed with protest for the sake of being a protester.

I'm not very good at drawing flow charts electronically, but if I could, the chart of "Reacting To Elections as a Liberal Oppositionist" would start off with the usual box saying, "Were you elected?", leading to (Y) Yes: Awesome!!! Celebrate the arrival of democracy in Russia, and proclaim it the cleanest election ever!! or, (N) No: This is an outrage. The election was obviously rigged. Can you prove rigging? This would lead to (Y) Yes: Great!! Beat up the airwaves with video clips and witness testimony. If you can find people who will claim they were paid to vote a certain way, get it written up in western newspapers and thoroughly discredit the election's legitimacy!! or (N) No: Great!! Beat up the airwaves with video clips of anything that can be alleged to be vote-rigging and invented witness testimony. Pretend you have evidence of people who will claim they were paid to vote a certain way, get it written up in western newspapers and thoroughly discredit the election's legitimacy!! Can you discredit the victor by character assassination? (Y) Yes: Great!!! Make it appear that he is the reincarnation of Stalin and intends moving Russia (or your town, or whatever) further from beneficial western reforms and back to the dark ages. Say it is just like 1917 as often as opportunity affords. Or (N) No: Just make it up. Link your failure to win with the nation's fortunes in general, and claim you were betrayed by the Lumpenproletariat who are content with bread and circuses and will always vote for the party in power as long as their stupid bellies are full.

Alexander Mercouris

Let's not be in too much of a rush. It's only an exit poll. However it does look as if Chirikova has lost Khimki. Predictably she is claimiing falsification of the vote.

Mark, you've put your finger on it. If the election had happened a year ago she might have won. Russians do care about ecological issues and if she had focused on those she might have maintained her popularity. It is her involvement with the protest movement that has done for her. I would add to the song against Putin her visit to McFaul as one of the things people in Khimki will remember and hold against her. Not only is Khimki a working class suburb but if I am not mistaken it is where the Germans in 1941 were beaten back just before Moscow. It is natural to suppose that people there will be proud of this fact and doubly patriotic in consequence.

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

Yes, Khimki is about the closest the German army got to Moscow in December 1941. Actually, there was no Khimki then other than a tiny village. When you come off the spur road that leads to Sheremetevo airport and join Leningradskoe Shosse, there's a huge memorial fashioned like a tank trap out of three huge steel girders and which serves as a memorial to where the nearest to Moscow German positions were in 1941. When I first arrrived in the USSR, the road from Sheremetevo to Moscow was pitch black at night and surrounded by fields and forests: now it is all ablaze at night with illuminated advertisement hoardings and mega-malls, such as IKEA, and other huge retail outlets that are the result of Khimki's huge expansion in the past 20 years. I don't think all that many bourgeoise white-ribbonists livre in Khimki: I dont think all that many live in Russia as a whole.

As it happens, my dacha territory is situated on what was the final front line during the Battle of Moscow, but my country plot is situated some 54 miles southwest of Moscow. The nearest village to my dacha was the focus of a German attack, one of the last they made during the battle. And not very far away is the village where they hung partisan heroine Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya (see: I pass a monument to her every time I go to my dacha.


I note with interest that the maiden name of Kosmodemyanskaya's mother was Churikova, an alternate spelling of Chirikova. Coincidence? Likely; I'm sure if Chrikova were linked in any way with a heroine of Russia – even if it was Stalin's Soviet Union, we would never hear the end of it.

Once I would have said, "good for her" if she won the election, because she's young and idealistic and anyone can make a mistake (think Ksenya Sobchak). But she smoked any such neutrality from me when she came out in support of Pussy Riot, because that represented to me someone who is in love with protest and attention rather than having the interests of any identifiable citizen-group at heart. She can't stand Putin, can't stand the 60% or so of the electorate who support him, and is ready to support anarchists over the ROC and its worshipers. Who's left? Liberals and dilettantes and western provocateurs.

Moscow Exile

Oh yes, she's already bang at it putting falsification claims in.



Khimki. 14 October. INTERFAX.RU

Candidate for mayor of of Moscow region Khimki, Eugenia Chirikova , has announced that there has already been filed in court one lawsuit involving what are, in her view, electoral process violations. "Two violations have already been noted today: one has already been filed in court and we are now preparing another violation lawsuit", Chirikova told reporters on Sunday. According to her, in one of the new Khimki housing blocks every flat had before the elections five or six people registered as having "special voting rights". "Our observers had earlier familiarized themselves with the number of registered people, however they were not allowed to view the list of voters, which is a violation. A suit has already been filed", Chirikova said.

In addition, she said campaigning was still going on for one of the candidates, which is also a violation.

Interfax does not have at its disposal any comments from the authorities and the local election committee concerning this information.


The "special voting rights" that were, she claims, issued to very many people in one block, are, I presume, the authorization of voting rights for electors who are living/working away from their registered electoral constituency. The people whom Latynina and others claimed were carousel voting during the presidential elections were tunnel construction workers being bused in to a local polling station and shift workers
from a printing works.


The biggest violation of the election was that this anti-Russian twat was allowed to run. There are some lines that cannot be crossed and one is treating the public as degenerates not worthy of voting. Russia today is not some monstrosity where the public is in a grip of Nazi-like hysteria. They do not deserve to be brow beaten simply because a bunch of neo-liberal whores can't make progress at the polls thanks to their own brazen dislike for the voters.

These neo-liberal vermin should get on the planes to the western promised land and flee to freedom! Maybe it is time for the Russian public to organize large mobs to make sure they head for the airport as soon as possible. Bringing along pots, pans, knives and broom sticks would be appropriate to run these scumbags out of town.


I think another thing that hurt Chirikova was when she came out for Free Syrian Army and even tried to collect money for them. Opinion polls show most Russians do not favor the Syrian insurgents. If elected, Chirikova was going to use her office to promote NATO agenda in Middle East.


And here she was running for a position involving domestic matters.

In NYC over the years, it has been accepted with understanding the reason why those running for local office have issued pointed stands on matters like Israel and Northern Ireland.

In contrast, Chirikova's support of the armed anti-Syrian government opposition is for a certain foreign audience, which isn't generally supportive of mainstream Russian views.


Regarding Syria, a good analytical summary on what seems to have motivated Turkey to change its geopolitical stance:


Not legitimate because the candidate who lost routinely put down the electorate, right? WTF are these morons smoking. It is hard to swallow that rational people could actually believe that pissing on the Russian public will earn their support. I have to conclude that these "liberals" are in fact mentally sick.

Moscow Exile

She's put more than 50 complaints oof irregularities so far. Golos is doing the same.

Tiny turnout as well.

Moscow Exile

Yep, she's ant-Russian for sure. She thinks her fellow countrymen are "cattle" mostly – has said so publicly. And she says that if things don't get better here, she's leaving.

I wonder where to?

Moscow Exile

Official result at Khimki:

"Первый экс-заместитель губернатора Тульской области и временно исполняющий обязанности мэра Химок Олег Шахов победил на выборах главы города с результатом в 47,61% голосов. Его основной соперник лидер движения "В защиту Химкинского леса" Евгения Чирикова набрала 17,13%. Третье место занял бывший замглавы Росприроднадзора Олег Митволь с 14,41% голосов избирателей.

Выборы в Химках состоялись 14 октября. "Главой городского округа Химки избран Шахов Олег Федорович с результатом 47,61% голосов "за", ― сообщает пресс-служба избирательной комиссии Московской области. Что касается кандидатов, не вошедших в первую тройку, то никто из них не набрал более 10%. Например, лидер группы "Коррозия металла" Сергей Паук Троицкий, посуливший химчанам в случае победы веселье и угар, получил чуть более 2,5% голосов граждан.

Читать полностью:

[The first former deputy governor of the Tula region and acting mayor of Khimki, Oleg Shakhov, was elected mayor with 47.61% of the vote. His main rival, the leader of "In Defence of Khimki Forest", Evgeniya Chirikova, gained 17.13%. Third place went to the former deputy head of Rosprirodnadzor, Mitvol, with 14.41% of the votes.

Elections were held in Khimki on October 14. "As head of the urban district Khimki was chosen Shahkov, Oleg Fyodorovich, whose 'yes' votes represented 47.61% of votes cast", said the press-service of the Moscow Region Electoral Commission. As for the candidates that are not included in the top three, none of them has received more than 10%. For example, the leader of the party "Metal Corrosion", Sergey 'Spider' Troitsky, who promised Khimki residents that if he won there would be fun and frenzy, won just over 2.5% of the votes..

Read more:

Chirikova is raging over "falsifications". However, according to Golos chief Lila "this is all Surikovskaya Propaganda" Shibanova:

"Поступало очень много сообщений из Химок. Но я боюсь, что это такой информационный шум, поскольку 3 тысячи наблюдателей, которые заявились в Химки - это ненормальное количество для количества участков. Несмотря на то что у нас колл-центр наполовину работает на Химки, а наполовину - на всю остальную страну. Это вызвано массовым количеством наблюдателей, а не массовым количеством нарушений", - сказала РИА Новости Шибанова.

Читайте далее:

["There were numerous reports about Khimki, but I am afraid that it is data noise, since 3,000 observers turned up in Khimki. That's an abnormal amount for the number of polling stations, although our call centre has been operating at half its capacity for Khimki and the other half for the rest of the country. This is due to the massive number of observers and not the mass of violations", Shibanova told RIA.

Read more: # ixzz29MVlluQU]


Notwithstanding what Shibanova has said, Chirikova the mouth has still not stopped yappping about falsifications.

What I find again interesting about all of this, though, is the (as far as I have so far ascertained) zero coverage in the West of Chirikova's defeat and of United Russia success nationwide. It's the same with the Udaltsov story.

The silence is deafening.

Alexander Mercouris

October 15, 2012 at 4:39 am

Dear Moscow Exile,

There's one article on the Financial Times's foreign pages by its Moscow correspondent Charles Clover. It takes the predictable line: United Russia's success in the local and gubernational elections is because of tough registration requirements, administrative pressures on voters and voter falsifications. It continues to insist on United Russia's growing unpopularity despite the election results. It mentions Chirikova's failure to win Khimki without mentioning the derisory level of her vote and it has a quote from her in which she complains of being assaulted and of falsification of the vote.

Putting aside the question of Chirikova's failure at Khimki, the generally low voter turnout in this election and the return of all the governors who stood for re election shows what I have always suspected: that the return to direct elections of governors was not a popular demand and priority and as a concession to the protesters by Medvedev was unnecessary.

Incidentally I notice there was a swing to the left in the Czech local elections and that the Czech Communists won their usual 20% of the vote.


October 15, 2012 at 6:41 am

Chirikova strikes me as a little too hotheaded and fond of the spotlight to be a good holder of public office. That's fine when she is arguing a cause she really believes in, and I don't doubt the honesty of her convictions on the environmental front. But the footage shown of her earlier in these comments as well as the glimpse of her outside McFaul's office where she was shouting about Surkhov propaganda suggests she snaps at people about everything, perhaps in the belief she will not be taken seriously as a woman unless she is aggressive as a terrier on every issue. Unfortunately, in my experience all that does is alienate the people who work for you until nobody wants to talk with you. Pretty hard to get anything done that way.

Additionally, I didn't hear anything about her plans except to save the forest. That's all very well, but what's going to happen with respect to roads, municipal services, infrastructure? Any new employment prospects opening up? People who live there can't eat trees.

It looks as if the best candidate for the job, based on what the voters know at the moment, won the election. It was a double blow to the Opposition, because not only did their candidate lose by quite a wide margin, but it seems there was either no get-out-the-vote effort or it was a monumental failure considering turnout was below average. The more she shouts about falsifications, provided she cannot prove anything, the better, as it portrays her in the worst light – a spoiled liberal brat who cannot stand to lose at anything. She looks destined for the scrap-heap politically and is an embarrassing echo of Boris Nemtsov, who also had national political aspirations but could not win mayoral elections in his home town.

Leos Tomicek

October 15, 2012 at 4:40 am

I am sure calling people cattle is a vote-winner.

Alexander Mercouris

October 15, 2012 at 7:49 am

Dear Mark,

As it happens I DO question the sincerity of Chirikova's convictions as an environmentalist. I say this as someone who previously argued that she was someone who began with sincere convictions but who was subsequently led astray by the flattery she got. Her conduct since I made that comment has made me change my opinion of her radically. If the truth be said over the course of the protest movement she has made no effort to bring environmental issues to the forefront at all. Instead she has devoted all her time and energy to bashing Putin whilst reciting all the tired liberal mantras we know so well. I now think that instead of being a genuine environmental activist she was a liberal all along who opportunistically used environmental issues in order to gain support for herself.

Incidentally the results in Khimki suggest that the people there, who have good reason to know Chirikova well, think as I do. That there is strong environmental feeling in Khimki is shown by the fact that the Green candidate got 13% of the vote. If one assumes that many of the people who did vote for Chirikova in Khimki did so because of her reputation as an environmental activist and her work in trying to preserve the nature reserve then the total aggregate vote for the two candidates who are identified with environmentalist issues is 30% (17% for Chirikova, 13% for the Green). In other words if Chirikova had come to the election in Khimki purely as a Green or environmental activisit her base support would have been as high as 30%, in which case she might have been able over the course of the election campaign to build on that support and win. In the event because of her involvement in the protest movement many people in Khimki who care about environmental issues were not prepared to support her and chose to vote for the Green candidate instead.

Moscow Exile

October 15, 2012 at 11:34 am

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

You're right. The genuine Khimki forest defenders soon sussed Chirikova out as regards her opportunisticaly using environmental issues as a podium to further her political carreer. The video below was shown a while back. It's called "Chirikova Has Ditched Khimki Forest". There's an English subtitle function bottom right of the screen:


October 17, 2012 at 3:48 am

Chirikova is simply another American project and paid agent, just like the others. Americans try to figure out what makes Russian people unhappy enough to rise up in sufficient numbers if not to overthrow the government, at least to create the appearance of such chaos that NATO would have to step in and take over. Survey says Russians are upset about privatizations and corruption – voila, Americans produce Navalny and his Rospil project. Survey says Russians are upset about environmental damage – voila, Americans produce Chirikova and her fake environmentalist movement. And so on.
In order for real change and real reforms to take place in Russia, the very first thing that needs to be done is to staunch the inflow of American money into Russian political system.


The counter-punching should be done intelligently unlike this bit which was the lead news item at the RT homepage as of midnight this morning NY time:

One can sympathize with the arrested individuals.

However, is this really a worthy lead news item?

One senses that RT might see a hypothetical demo against some of its coverage as being disruptive and/or not too news worthy, if such a gathering was situated near RT and not formally approved.

FYI, anyone doing what the arrested two did would face the same consequence – heightened security at a private American college just prior to a nationally televised presidential debate.

Regarding some private follow-up to this piece:

The journo in question maintained an anti-Serb BS line for a period AFTER his NYT departure, thereby contradicting the suggestion of his simply following orders.

From the point of responsible media advocacy, some of what he's on record for saying about issues like Srebrenica should should be followed up on.

Constructively critical pro-Russian advocacy doesn't shy away from such matters.


You are way too serious here, friends

Alexander Mercouris

This is the best and funniest comment on the subject of Pussy Riot made by anyone up to now.


Perfect! This parody takes actual artistic talent.
I love that Tolok, with that look of religious rapture on her face, is holding up a raw chicken…
Thanks for a good laugh!


And here is the original, by artist Vasily Surikov. I suppose you could call this an early example of "Surikovskaya Propaganda":


Yep, that is some funny shit, right there. I see Pete's still having trouble getting it up, or else he's just a born exhibitionist. If that was mine, I don't think I'd be waving it around in public like it was some kind of pork sword. That's a great PhotoShop, and St. Tolka holding the denuded chicken aloft in triumph is all the symbolism any reasonable society could handle.


I interrupt your cheerful Chirikova schadenfreude with an announcement – I have just gotten round to checking my email after being away a week, and have learned that our book is out. This was a collaborative effort by Jon Hellevig, Alexandre Latsa, Anatoly Karlin, Patrick Armstrong, Eric Kraus, Peter Lavelle, Nils van der Vegte and myself, edited by Jon Hellevig and Alexandre Latsa. Here's the press release:

Although the press release sports the jaunty visage of Uncle Volodya we have all come to know, that picture is not on the book, although it may be in it. I haven't seen it yet, and you know as much as I do. The cover art appears below the press release, and I think I like it.

I should tell you there is nothing new in it from me, as all the content that I supplied was taken from this site. I understand it to be a series of essays from each of the contributors although, as I say, I couldn't tell you for sure because I haven't seen it in its completed form.

It's also downloadable as an e-Book, they tell me, which is all the rage although I don't have an e-Reader myself – I'm planning to wait until they're obsolete before getting one, just as I would have done with the Smart Phone if my employer hadn't given me one and made me turn it on. Anyway, here's the link that allows them to keep track of downloaded pdf versions.

When I get a chance I will add a new page, called "Library", and I will put this book in it as well as "Russia Versus Napoleon", and we can all add what we think are good reference books as we go along.


I had no idea this was in the works. That's way cool! Big congrats!


Congrats, Mark! Do you know what e-reader it will be published to? To my knowledge, Kindle cannot handle Cyrillic fonts.

Also, I noticed typo in blurb, it says "think-thanks" instead of "think-tanks". (probably Freudian slip).
Is it too late for editors to correct that?

Alexander Mercouris

May I also add my very warmest congratulations. I have been reading the book since last night. Excellent!


Thanks very much, Alex; I appreciate your kindness.


There's a couple of mistakes; it also says "seach" instead of search in English above the search box. I'll mention it to Alexandre and perhaps he can fix it. And thanks! I don't know much about e-readers, but it's not even out in Russian yet; just English until later this year.


Here is good summary of Khimki election, with 100% of votes in and counted:
Oleg Shakhov of United Russia Party won, with 47.61% of the vote. Shakhov had been acting Mayor anyhow, after then-Mayor Strelchenko retired in mid-August.
Second in votes came Evgenia Chirikova, who got around 17% of the votes.
Oleg Mitvol, of the Green Party, came in third, with around 14%.
In all, there were 16 candidates, including joke-candidate Spider (=Sergei Troitsky), a heavy-metal guitarist known for his racist, homophobic and pro-Hitler opinions. Not mentioned in article how many votes Spider got. Obviously, not enough to make it to the medals stand.
Official results accorded fairly closely with those of exit polls.
Took part in election 148,500 residents of Khimki, which is only 27.8% of eligible voters. Fortunately for ruling party, there is no legally mandated minimum "Явка" in these types of regional elections. I suppose theoretically just one person could have showed up to vote, and that would have been enough to pass the bar.

Alexander Mercouris

October 15, 2012 at 4:51 am

Dear Yalensis,

By my calculations that means that no more than around 4.8% of the Khimki electorate came out to vote for Chirikova. Admittedly the low turnout affected the vote of all of the candidates. However Chirikova is the only one of the candidates who could in any way be called a national figure and she is a leader of a protest movement that is supposed to be sweeping Putin away. If Chirikova scores so badly in Khimki, the place with which she is above all associated, where else can the protest leaders wiin?

Incidentally judging by her visible anger I suspect that the result has come as a shock to Chirikova herself. I have no doubt that she thought when she registered as a candidate that she would win.


October 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Of course she assumed she would win! She is an out-of-touch-with-reality narcissist!


October 15, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Not to mention that the Opposition always keeps stroking each other and saying the only thing which could prevent them winning in a landslide – because the people really are behind them, or will be just as soon as they get a taste of how good life can be – would be vote-rigging by Putin The Evil. Therefore when they lose embarrassingly, ipso facto it is because of vote-rigging by Putin. QED.


Opps are in despair and disarray:

Party "Just Cause" ("Right Cause"?) blames White-Ribbon Opps for crushing defeat of all Opp parties in yesterday's elections and victories of ruling United Russia Party. Also curses out Opps for their ridiculous "Coordinating Committee" internet elections as a virtual alternative to real elections:"pravoe-delo"-po-itogam-vyborov-14-oktyabrya-2012

Meanwhile, on Navalny's blog, Navalny posted a very weak propaganda piece comparing the pathos of the corrupt Khimki elections with Felix Baumgartner's glorious feat that happened on the same day. (Not sure what the connection is, just a propaganda trope, I guess, that West does very great things, and Russia does very poor things.)
[P.S. I am a big fan of Baumgartner too, not taking anything away from what he did… But his feat does not have anything to do with Russian elections.]
Anyhow, returning to Navalny, Chirikova's defeat put his hamsters into the final stages of shock, denial, and clinical depression. Their last hope has been shattered. Being a mean and vindictive person myself, I quite enjoyed sampling their despair.
Among the hamsters, some rage that this proves they will never accede to power through legal elections, therefore armed struggle is now the only option. For example a hamster named un_standart:

Честные выборы будут. Обязательно будут. Только с оружием в руках.

"Legitimate elections will take place. Will certainly take place. But only with weapons in our hands."
To which "Prostitutka-Mila" responds impishly:

и тебя выберут, да

"They'll elect YOU, yep."
(Recall that Prostitutka-Mila is a well-known blog personality who once engaged in Twitter correspondence with a gullible Ambassador McFaul. She enjoys teasing the hamsters.)
Several hamsters, in their despair and rage, express the thought (similar to Latynina) that Russians are such hopeless cattle, they will NEVER see things the right way, so fuck 'em. One hamster even proposes taking the vote away from women, since most of them vote ruling party. Here is the most representative thought from a hamster (actually, a chimpanzee – which is his avatar) named sch_1970:

Ну и мразь же этот наш российский народ! Эти гниды конченные – обычные училки или конторские крысы, наверное, каких миллионы. Пока в стране проживает, в основной массе, быдло-население, не видящее себя ни в какой другой роли, кроме как в роли покорного и ничтожного раба, никакими движениями ничего реально сделать нельзя. Домашнее животное, коим и является российский народ, должно жить в хлеву – и это справедливо. Мычите и срите себе под ноги, быдло. Стыдно мне сегодня быть россиянином.

"This Russian people of ours is a pile of filth. These bottom-feeders and office plankton, these rats, there are millions of them. So long as our country is populated by such cattle, which does not see for itself any other role other than that of a worthless and obedient slave, then it will not be possible to accomplish anything real. Domestic animals, that's what the Russian people are…. Just moo and piss yourselves, cattle. Today I am ashamed to be a Russian."
This sentiment is seconded by the other hamsters. Poor little critters. I feel sorry for them …. NOT!

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Yalensis,

When they write such crap about the Russian people why are they surprised when the Russian people won't vote for them?

I agree by the way with all your sentiments.

Incidentally I also agree with the MP from Just Russia. The great achievement of the protest movement has been to draw attention away from the two big parliamentary opposition parties, Just Russia and the KPRF, so that they have been unable to build on their good showing in the parliamentary elections last year. On the contrary so far from maintaining momentum they are going into reverse.


Once again, a powerful rallying-cry in politics is to say you are ashamed to be from the country of your birth. That really makes people from that country want to line up behind your banner.


Yeah, high on the list of ineffectual campaign slogans is:
"You filthy disgusting cattle, Vote for ME!"


Or, "Moo and piss yourselves, but who's got your hay?? It ain't Putin!!!"

Moscow Exile

re: Baumgartner

The name literally means "tree gardner".

A tenuous link to tree-hugger Chirikova perhaps?



Maybe because people WANTED to chuck Chirikova out of a space capsule?

Moscow Exile

And here's the latest excuse from Novaya Gazeta (carpet chewer Latynina's rag) for the white ribbonists' dismal election results:


The vanishing voter: why there was a low turnout on Otober 14th

Why the turnout was low on October 14th

On a single day of voting, new governing authorities having various degrees of authority were elected by an insignificant number of voters. Then there is the small fact that the representation of citizens was distorted by violations of the traditional kind and by diffuse party-spoilers who were not representing anyone but their promoters. This catastrophically reduced the turnout. The legitimacy of the present government is slipping; it is becoming more ephemeral and blows about from the mouth of Aeolus like dandelion fluff .

A lean political menu, totally mindless spoilers and essentially only one brand on offer (because advertising had only offered one standard, United Russia, because the rest is supposedly toxic), reduced interest in the election.

But political strategists of the old school tried too hard: it could hardly have been in their plans to include *such* a decline in the turnout insofar as the government is delegitimized by figures closer to base.

Everything is clear concerning this matter. However, the question that is immediately raised is: What if the elections again solve nothing? What will there remain to be done – the square [Bolotnaya Square– ME] again?

It would seem that an intelligent voter with an average income and who demands political freedom appeared in the winter of 2011-2012. He clearly stated that he needed fair elections and that he is, at last, ready to participate in them. So where has this voter gone over the past symbolic nine months?

It stands to reason that civil actions which do not have an immediate effect, and prohibitive and repressive legislation, put the dampers somewhat on political activity. The experience of a single voting day showed that everyone was still under the control of the government and those who want to support it, rather than that they show their strength and speak out. Hence it appears that they are non-politicized citizens: those who do not wish even to have any influence on the situation, whose political apathy stems not from disappointments in politics but from political conformity – and from their principles as well.

Finally, the elections of 14 October took place not in the centres of the protest movement, but there where their specific regional conditions exist and where there often is a strongly politically conservative mood. Of course, this is only partly applies to Khimkam [the Khimki campaign – ME]. And there, in my opinion, Evgeniya Chirikova showed excellent results, which is an argument in favour of a more active participation of the opposition in elections at all levels.

According to Albert Hirshman's old as well as famous theories, in political (and economic and domestic) conduct there are three paths that one can choose: Exit, Voice and Loyalty . The option "exit" is a refusal to participate because of one's depression, which, in turn, is associated with deafness.

After Bolotnaya a substantial number of citizens chose the strategy of "Voice", namely to put forward some demands in the hope of being heard. Some of them a few months later, having received no feedback, clicked the button "logout", which is an understandable human reaction. Others, perhaps, even went back to the "Loyalty" option, realizing that the fight for change in this country is a long and emotionally costly business. But the strategy of "voice" has not been cancelled.

And for those on the verge of taking the "Exit" option, this option could be taken literally – even as far as including political asylum abroad in case of persecution.

Some of those who make the choice of "Loyalty", as do, for example, very many sensible economic experts, do so because they advise government bodies. But the main thing in the "Voice" option is that it is a positive programme; it is political participation, including participating in elections. There is simply no other way, unless you choose the option "go and hang yourself" or the strategy of internal or external exile.

You just have to remember that the elections on 14 October are not the end, but the beginning. And that beginning includes the beginning of a new voter to replace the old one.

Author: Andrei Kolesnikov

End of translation

A few points:

1. "The legitimacy of the present government is slipping…"

What leads the author to that conclusion? The election results???

2. "…the government is delegitimized by figures closer to base…"

And the figures? Economic meltdown? Demographic crisis? Flight of capital? Where are the figures? Perhaps life would be better for white-ribbonists in Portugal?

3. "It would seem that an intelligent voter with an average income and who demands political freedom appeared in the winter of 2011-2012. He clearly stated that he needed fair elections and that he is, at last, ready to participate in them. So where has this voter gone over the past symbolic nine months?"

There you have it again! This sneering elitism! The intelligent ones are white ribbonists: the rest are drunken, feckless, moronic slobs – быдло.

4. "The experience of a single voting day showed that everyone was still under the control of the government…"

So those that voted for ER did so under governmental duress?

5. "Finally, the elections of 14 October took place not in the centres of the protest movement, but there where their specific regional conditions exist and where there often is a strongly politically conservative mood."

Right! Got you! It was the country bumpkins who outvoted the city slickers.

6. "Evgeniya Chirikova showed excellent results…"

Yes, outstanding results: she lost by no small margin on her own patch!

Moscow Exile

No comment.


Yes, apparently in Loopy-doo Latynina-Land, gathering in half the vote of the victor when you are a candidate with a national name – international, even – is expressive of "excellent results". She would have won, if only she didn't lose, in other words. Just keep in mind, someone is paying Latynina a fairly good salary to come up with this sort of conclusion.

If the Russian press really were "Kremlin-Kontrolled", Latynina's hoarse yapping would be buried under a bow-wave of ridicule from competing papers which would skewer her mad reasonless reasoning in much the same way we do, but for a great deal broader audience. Is there Russian ridicule of Latynina? Not that I've seen.

Moscow Exile

As a matter of fact, it wasn't Latynina who wrote the article, but a seemingly like minded columnist at Novaya Gazeta, a certain Andrey Vladimirovich Kolesnikov (see: Admiitedly, it's hard to spot the difference between what these types write becuse they all appear to be barking mad.

Alexander Mercouris

Either way it's delusional. If Chirikova's 17% on a 28% turnout is a success what does a failure look like?


I am having a debate about the number of Russian street children in a Finnish message board. One poster there claims that Russia has 2 million children living in the streets and her source was from 2001. I tried to find a more recent source but did not manage to find one yet.

Does anyone know where I can find the latest and a reliable estimation about the number of children living in streets in Russia?


A tragic subject – the kind which tends to get covered with propaganda, along the lines of Elder's articles on the mistreatment woman in Russia, which has been substantively debunked.

Romania has been known to have this problem for a number of years following the collapse of the one man dictatorship in that country – an issue that still might be quite evident there (would've to follow-up).


I don't know the answer, but maybe the UNICEF website?

Moscow Exile

The scandal of the street children was the result of the scandalous policies of Tsar Boris the Drunk and his advisors. In the late '90s hordes of children appeared in Moscow. That was the price, it seems, that had to be paid for "freedom and democracy" in Russia.

From the "Russia Journal" archives, 2002:

"One reason for the current situation is the socio-political and -economic changes that swept through the country in the ´90s that destroyed previously held societal values without offering any substitutes. Liberalization of the economy, mass unemployment hyperinflation and, later, privatization took their toll on the masses, impoverishing most of them overnight and, consequently, making sustaining families almost an impossible task".

And that's why Putin once said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the greatest geopolitical catastrophes of the 20th century. Yet all the Western scribes and "Russian experts" persistently sell that line of his as a revelation of his desire to restore the USSR.

The homeless children usually hung around metro stations or rode all day underground. According to the cops, most of them were not from Moscow and had come to the big city to escape brutish, drunken parents. Very many of them had come from former Soviet Republics in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Many were rounded up and sent back whence they came because people started commenting about this army of schoolchildren that had suddenly appeared in Moscow as if from nowhere. I've not seen them for many years now – and there were big gangs of them, boys and girls, at the big central metro stations.

I later learnt that although many of the homeless minors were the unfortunate offspring of social inadequates, a major cause for their sudden appearance was that that darling of the West, Boris the Drunk, had ordered that all but three state run orphanages be closed in Moscow. One of his "advisors", no doubt, had told him to do this: one his Harvard Business School chums. The orphanages were told to either become self-supporting or close: all subsidies were stopped. That, I should think, was a big reason for the sudden appearance of an army of waifs on the streets at the end of the '90s. However, there were alot of them who were not homeless: they were begging for a living; and there were fears – well founded, I should imagine – that some of the children were prostituting themselves.


Note in the article that it wasn't those wonderful liberals – the Nemtsovs and his ilk – and their policies that alleviated the problem: it was Putin.

Ah, the good old days when Russia was going full steam ahead in becoming a democracy fully integrated wuith the "community of nations".

And then along came Putin to spoil it all.

Chrisius Imperator Maximus Omnipotensque

"One reason for the current situation is the socio-political and -economic changes that swept through the country in the ´90s that destroyed previously held societal values without offering any substitutes. Liberalization of the economy, mass unemployment hyperinflation and, later, privatization took their toll on the masses, impoverishing most of them overnight and, consequently, making sustaining families almost an impossible task". Hey I wrote this!

Alexander Mercouris

Here is Miriam Elder's unusually subdued and factual report on yesterday's elections:

I think this is the end of the protest movement and the "White Ribbon" Revolution. It has died not with a bang but a wimper. Consider:

1. There are now pending criminal claims against Navalny and Udaltsov, which appear to be well founded in both cases. The charges against Udaltsov are particularly difficult to deny and are extremely easy to understand since his criminal activity was captured on film and involves an insane plot involving terrorism, rebellion, armed revolution and civil war;

2. The protests even in Moscow have dwindled to a hard core of around 15,000 protesters many of whom seem to be ultra leftists. Despite the staggering publicity the case got the Pussy Riot case has totally failed to energise the opposition. On the contrary it has left it even more marginalised and discredited;

3. The liberals as is their want have fragmented into scores of different parties and grouplets each bitterly opposed to the other. Prokhorov who back in the winter seemed to be making a bid for leadership has disappeared from the scene whilst Kudrin, his erstwhile rival, seems to be trying to get back into Putin's good books. There is no sign of any single indiviidual able to unite and lead the liberals. As anyone with any knowledge of politics knows it is precisely when a political movement dwindles beyond a certain point that it fragments into mutually antagonistic factions. That seems to be the fate of liberalism in Russia;

3. The liberals as always have proved totally unsuccessful electorally, Chirikova's exceptionally bad result in Khimki being a case in point. Their consistently awful electoral showing means that they have created substitute fake elections to their Coordinating Council rather than fight real ones. Meanwhile rather than face up to the reality of their electoral failure and draw some conclusions from it they blame falsification of the vote. Whilst some falsification has surely taken place the way the liberals go on about this issue shows that for them it has become an alibi for their continuing electoral failure so that they do not have to re examine themselves or their policies or their political positions.

One would like to think that the western funders and sponsors of the White Ribbon movement would learn some lessons from this debacle. I doubt they will though.


Compare the "miscarriage of justice" BS around Pussy Riot to the real case of Paco Larranaga. I saw the documentary described here: and it shows what happens around the world.

There was some fuss over Paco Larranaga but nothing on the scale of the slap on the wrist that two of the Pussy Riot members got. Larranaga was facing execution by lethal injection.

The rest of your post summarizes well the state of the "White Revolution". These sneering elitists could never tap into popular Russian discontent. So naturally their "revolution" fizzled out.


"Here is Miriam Elder's unusually subdued and factual report on yesterday's elections:"


Reality can eventually sink in with some who've spun differently.


I suppose it was subdued compared with some of her crazed barking, but for my part I still noted a lot of delusion, "unprecedented protests" and all that stuff.


I didn't bother to click into that piece of hers – instead choosing to make a general observation.

Part of quality control advocacy is to measure the concentration on suspect journalism while advocating for the inclusion of substantively different and valid input that hasn't often been getting the nod at the more high profile of venues.


October 15, 2012 at 9:35 am

If the Western sponsors wanted to undermine Putin they'd be better advised to support Just Russia but the liberals are far more in line with the ideology of the Western elites and Just Russia would be unlikely to subordinate Russian interests to those of the West so chances are NED will stick with the liberals.


Shame how when applied to Russia, "liberals" has come to suggestively mean certain individuals.


There is a new problem in Russia. Forcible seizure of children by child welfare agencies around the country based on very flimsy pretexts. One such case involved a poor single mother whose child was abducted by the state (in my view) on the pretext that she was too poor and should get a better job! These cases did not exist 10 years ago on this scale at least and this smells really bad to me. It is some sort of bureaucratic provocation designed to stir popular discontent. I don't see why Putin would want this nonsense on his watch since it is not like he sending is political enemies to gulags.

In addition to seizing children they can put them up for adoption abroad! Sending the child of some "poor" (not under the bridge poor) mother to the USA to be abused sexually and physically (not in all cases I admit, but the risk is not infinitesimal) is an outrage.

I bet the children of the Pussy Riot gang will not be forcibly seized. This issue highlights that Putin ain't no Stalin or Hitler. His power is, in fact, quite limited.


A recent piece on the subject:


I saw an TV Ontario program on weapons design that highlights the inane mythology in the west about WWII and Soviet military tactics and weaponry. The program is called "Genius of Design – Blueprint for War" (video:

It asserted that the T-34 was nothing more than a mass produced piece of crap that achieved success on the battle field (Kursk) merely through numerical superiority. They contrasted it with the "vastly superior" Tiger I.

There has been a spate of revisionism about WWII in the west recently. For example the book "Kursk 1943: A Statistical Analysis" by Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson which engages in semantics to lowball German losses and the impact of the battle of Kursk. The conclusions of this study are put in context by Steven H. Newton ( Here is another exchange at where poster "outline" puts a fire under Zetterling's nuts.

Reviews of one of Zamulin's books can be found here:

The bottom line is that, there was no Soviet "tank wave" attacks as is being claimed by revisionists who clearly see the Nazis as part of the west and its inherent superiority over the Russian untermenshen.

In 1943 the Tiger I had an 88 mm gun while the T-34 had 76.2 mm gun and this was it's greatest disadvantage compared to the Tiger I. It is cute how the T-34 is being compared to a tank in another class. The Tiger 1 should be properly compared to the T-44, T-34-85 and especially the IS-3 ( which appeared in 1944.

The IS-3 is vastly superior to the Tiger I and you can see the Germans abandoning the boxy overly high profile design of the Tiger I in the Tiger II. It is clear to me why the propagandists in the TV program didn't compare the Tiger II to the T-34. The Tiger II looks like a Soviet design!


I called a friend of mine who is a modeler in a big way of military equipment; coincidentally, he and I visited the National War Museum in Ottawa last Friday, and all the tanks you're discussing are on display in the basement. There's even a Valentine (so called, allegedly, because the design was presented to the War Office on February 14th) which was recovered from a bog in Ukraine near the village of Telepino in 1990 after it had fallen through ice in 1944; the Valentine was built in Canada but nearly the entire manufacturing run was shipped to the Soviet Union.

My friend reckons – from a lifetime of interest – that military historians rate the T-34 as the best tank of the war; this was due in large part to its sloped armor, which has the effect of doubling its resistance to penetration by anti-tank guns. The T-34 was a very nasty surprise for the Germans, and the Tiger I was rushed into service to meet the threat.

The Tiger II, as you correctly pointed out, employed the sloped armor design which was pioneered by the Soviets in the T-34 and which afforded such excellent ballistic protection. Incidentally, the Tiger I and Tiger II employed more or less the same engine, even though it was not quite adequate for the Tiger I due to its weight – the Tiger II was even heavier. This resulted in many breakdowns. The Panther was also an excellent design which stood out because of the high standard of its armament (like the Tigers), but it was built with slave labour by Polish and Jewish prisoners, who sabotaged what they were building at every opportunity; this resulted in frequent breakdowns.

It's misleading to suggest the Tiger 1 was superior because it was not only built specifically to counter an unexpectedly good tank, it didn't even do a very good job of that due to its mechanical problems. It wasn't until construction of the Tiger II that Germany got on the ballistic-protection bandwagon, and the Tiger II had an even worse record of engine failure. The Tiger, Tiger II, Panther and Sherman of the day all had gasoline engines which caused them to frequently burn like torches when they were hit. The T-34, by contrast, was a very reliable diesel that minimized this danger.

The Nazis managed to build only about 1,600 Tigers, 450 Tiger II's and 5000 Panthers (the latter much easier to produce considering they were built by POW's). The Soviet Union produced more than 30,000 T-34′s. There are many, many more working T-34′s today than there are Tigers, of which only a handful remain.


The makers of the BBC program that I brought up fail at the premise of the program. The larger numbers of the T-34 produced are not simply a reflection of "junk" quality but better conceptualization of what needed to be designed and built during a war. They kept on harping about the over-engineering of the Tiger I as if it was a mark of quality. No, it was uselessness of the how good is your car's cup holder variety. As you note the Tiger I had mechanical failures that contradict the trope being peddled by this program. Clearly the cost of this tank was not enough.

If you try to build a boutique tank during a war you fail at design. Production volume is more important than many of the other parameters. Anyway, the Soviets did upgrade their tank cannons and armour. The program would have you believe that all they knew how to do was build mass produced junk.


Yes, the original T34 had a 76mm gun, and its successor an 83 or something odd like that, an unusual bore size. Germany had to go to an 88 before they found something that would penetrate the 34′s armor even with a glancing blow, because of its sloped sides. Production volume isn't always the answer, particularly when the product is crap, but the T34 wasn't crap. Lots of historians snickered because the T34 often went into battle with spare transmissions lashed to its sides, as if it makes no sense to carry spares and smart soldiers abandon their tank in the field when they can't get it running. This was also used to allege the T34 was mechanically unreliable, but nothing could be further from the truth. It's hard to kill a diesel engine, and the T34′s was a pretty good one.

As was pointed out earlier, if the Tiger and its successors really were all that superior, the Nazis would have won. That's not meant to mock German engineering, which is internationally renowned. But there was nothing boutiquey about the Tiger's engine, it was just a bad design and underpowered to boot.


Keeping in mind that the Tigers were outnumbered in a good number of encounters.


Yes but if a tank takes a lot of resources to build and therefore can not be built in large numbers then that should count against it. The 1300 Tigers the Germans built represents several thousand PzIVs and tank destroyers they did not build. Seen in that light did the Tiger even justify its production run? Personally I don't think it did, not because it would be a bad weapon design in itself (it was good, albeit it suffered from poor mobility), but because it did not represent what the Germans really needed at the time. The Tiger looks good on a poster hanging above the bed of your average Wehrmacht-worshipping teenage WWII enthusiasts (who are the kind of people who go on to make these stupid documentaries), but it was probably a misallocation of resources to ever build it.


Towards the end of the war, they were in a pickle. It became tougher for them to mass produce. In turn, the thought of producing a limited amount of super quality weaponry served as a practical approach to best addressing a difficult situation, that appears as a no win scenario either way.

Although hypothetical, one can still nevertheless wonder how well the Tigers in question would perform against their foes under more numerically equal conditions.


The proper matchup is not Tiger I vs. T-34, it is Tiger II vs. IS-3. The IS-3 is basically a modern tank, while the Tiger II was playing catchup to the design choices of the T-34 (slanted sides, etc.).

Trying to paint the Tiger I as the best tank of WWII is just inane but that is what was being done routinely. The T-34 (76.2 mm cannon) should be compared to the Panthers.

The Germans did produce great weapons, notably the Me-262 jet fighter. But at the same time they could not outclass the USSR in MLRS weaponry. Their rocket propelled mortars ( did not even approach the characteristics of the Katyusha rockets.


Interesting enough immediately after the end of WWII Yugoslavia received large numbers T-34 tanks from the Soviet Union. Then when the Tito-Stalin split followed a few years later the country also received large numbers of American Sherman tanks as part of US military aid to the Communist country (also got F-86 Sabre fighter planes to go with its MiGs). It was therefore the only country in the word with an abundance of both the American main battle tank of the Second World War and its Soviet equivalent.

50 years later as the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was taking place and as military material was being worn down by prolonged use and different belligerents found themselves desperately starved for armor and firepower the T-34 tanks begun to be rolled out again from depos and even museums for the use in battle. Nobody touched the Sherman tanks however. Until 1999 and the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia that is when a few were dug out from God knows where and used as decoys for the Americans to blow up.

The T-34 still fought wars long after nobody had an idea what to do with a Sherman.


Likewise with the limited shipment of Shermans to the USSR. Used mostly in situations where direct hard battle conditions weren't likely.


"It asserted that the T-34 was nothing more than a mass produced piece of crap that achieved success on the battle field (Kursk) merely through numerical superiority. They contrasted it with the 'vastly superior' Tiger I."


Never mind the the mass produced Sherman and its comparative shortcomings. The best German tanks were known to have issues along the lines of the performance car that was vulnerable to a frequent need for maintanence unlike some of the competition.

Belittling the Soviet WW II effort with inaccurate innuendo lingers on as evidened by James Brooke's recent VOA piece brought up earlier at this blog.

Moscow Exile

You'd love it here:

Click on the pictures.

Kubinka is not far from my summer residence.

Что русскому здорово, то немцу смерть

Bloody awful music in the last video, by the way!


The items shown make up for it.


Moscow Exile

Revisionism such as this from Richard Evan's description of the Battle of Kursk, 1943, in his much praised trilogy on the history of the Third Reich, volume III, "The Third Reich at War":

"…Still, by 11 July 1941, Manstein's forces had broken through the Soviet defences and were within reach of their first major objective, the town of Prochorovka.132

Here the Soviet generals launched a counter-attack, with the aim of encircling and destroying the German forces. The leading Soviet tank general Pavel Rotmistrov sent in fresh forces, advancing up to 380 kilometres from the rear in a mere three days with more than 800 tanks. Keeping some in reserve, he sent 400 of these in from the north-east, and another 200 from the east, against the battle-weary German forces, who were taken completely by surprise. With only 186 armoured vehicles, a mere 117 of them tanks, the German forces faced total destruction. But the Soviet tank-drivers, tired after three days' driving and perhaps also fired up, as Red Army troops often were, by liberal doses of vodka, failed to notice a massive, 4.5-metre-deep anti-tank trench dug not long before by Soviet pioneers as part of Zhukov's preparations for the battle. The first lines of T-34s fell straight into the ditch, and when those following on finally saw the danger, they veered aside in panic, crashed into one another and burst into flames as the Germans opened fire. By the middle of the day the Germans were reporting 190 wrecked or deserted Soviet tanks on the battlefield, some of them still burning.

The number seemed so unbelievable that a senior general arrived personally to verify it. The loss of so many tanks enraged Stalin, who threatened to have Rotmistrov court-martialled. To save his skin, the general agreed with his commanding officer and with the senior political commissar in the area – Nikita Khrushchev – to claim that the tanks had been lost in a vast battle in which more than 400 German tanks had been destroyed by the heroic Soviet forces. Stalin, whose idea it had originally been to send Rotmistrov's forces into the fray, was obliged to accept their report. It became the source of a long-lived legend that marked Prochorovka as the 'greatest tank battle in history'. In reality it was one of history's greatest military fiascos. The Soviet forces lost a total of 235 tanks, the Germans three. Despite all this, Rotmistrov became a hero, and today a large monument marks the site."

Well, whatever…

The invader still got beat.

Alexander Mercouris

October 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm

I am not a military specialist or historian. However German history is something I have studied. All I will say is that it is now I think largely acknowledged that it was in July 1943 ie in the immediate aftermath of the failure at Kursk and not after Stalingrad that the Nazi leadership began to think seriously that it might lose the war.

In war as Napoleon said the moral is to the physical as three is to one. The pattern of the war on the Eastern Front until Kursk was that the Germans had always been able to take the offensive in the summer. In the summer of 1943 a German offensive was defeated at Kursk almost before it had begun despite a massive German effort to prepare for it. Kursk was the last attempt the Germans made to regain the initiative on the Eastern Front. When they failed to win at Kursk they sensed that the war in the East (and therefore the war as a whole) was lost. Though the Germans continued to fight with incredibly tenacity it was the Soviets thereafter who held the initiative. In the summer of 1944 it was the Soviets who took the offensive with Operation Bagration, which led to the greatest military defeat the German army suffered during the whole of the war, and it was the Soviets who kept the initiative right up to the fall of Berlin.

Incidentally putting aside any questions of historical accuracy or of Rotmistrov's role (and I am frankly a bit dubious about Richard Evan's account) I still think the first of Ozerov's war films which is about the battle of Kursk is a good film though I have heard that it is not popular in Russia.


The pattern of the war on the Eastern Front until Kursk was that the Germans had always been able to take the offensive in the summer.

Yes, but there are complexities beneath that. In 1942 the Germans are only able to take the offensive in the summer, because of a costly, self-inflicted Soviet debacle at Kharkov in the spring. Stalin set the goalposts too far and insisted on them being reached no matter what (sounds familiar?) leading to the Soviets becoming overstretched in the end and having to relinquish all the gains made initially at a very high cost.

The more fundamental pattern of the Soviet-German war is the Soviets - courtesy of their highest leadership - constantly dealing catastrophic blows to themselves, which enables the Germans to do what should otherwise never been possible - to very briefly look like they may be a match for the combined might of East Slavdom.

Alexander Mercouris

Again I am not a military strategist but I don't in the end agree with this. Both Stalin and Hitler made mistakes during the war but on any objective analysis Hitler began the war from a position of clear if not overwhelming advantage. He was the leader of a much more economically advanced and developed country than Stalin and in theory he had the resources of continental Europe at his disposal, which meant that he was in theory in a much stronger position than Stalin was at the start of the war. Rather than argue that it was Soviet mistakes that "enabled the Germans to do what should otherwise have never been possible" it makes far more sense to see the war in the east in the way it was seen at the time, as a completely unexpected Soviet success over what everyone (including the US and the British) assumed was a much stronger opponent. In summary the USSR won the war despite starting the war from a position of disadvantage for many reasons but one of them was surely that Stalin and the Soviet military leadership made fewer mistakes and got many more things right than Hitler and the German leadership did.


It is true that on June 22nd 1941 Hitler is far better positioned than Stalin, but that is a consequence of Stalin's many catastrophic blunders in the pre-war period. Stalin did not commence on the path of suicidal idiocy only with the beginning of the war, but had been on it for far longer.

If the Americans and the British were taken completely by surprise by the failure of the Germans in Russia and the success of the Soviets that is their thing. I would point out the Americans and the British had a low regard for the competence of Slavs in general and Russians in particular. I myself hold the Russians in far higher regard and estimate their capacities much more favorably, meaning I have a far higher estimation of what they are capable than your 1940s Brit or Yank. No Russian triumph has ever come as a surprise to me. When there is a fight and the Russians are in it with their all, a victory for their side is never a surprise.


The demonization of Stalin is typically excessive. It has to be admitted that he was not a total screwup as evidenced by the existence of advanced Soviet weaponry. Stalin personally signed off on these projects. If he was a drooling idiot he would have been busy purging their designers or something. Alexander makes a key observation about the failure of the Germans to keep the initiative after 1943. So the blitzkrieg ground to a halt in two years on the eastern front. The USSR was definitely not prepared for it to the extent it should have been but the adaptation to the German pressure was epic and is only being downplayed because of Cold War propaganda that continues to this day. The west are all Nazi fanboys.

The metrics trotted out to prove that the Soviet side was mired in total incompetence and mismanagement are all contrived. They add the 3.6 million Soviet POWs who died at the hands of the Germans to the Soviet casualty list while at the same time not counting the KIA German allies from Hungary, Romania, Italy and elsewhere. If the only reason that the Soviets did not lose was because they were sending human waves (a Chinese tactic NEVER used by the Soviets) then the ratio of Axis to Soviet dead on the eastern front would not be 4,428,000 to 6,927,204 (

Of course, there was mismanagement and incompetence but it existed in the Reich as well. The lack of preparedness for the war is also being spun to serve an agenda. The USSR was an agrarian state in the 1920s. Germany was an industrial power. The USSR would simply not have had the capacity to fight the Germans (in a conventional industrial war) without the industrialization of the 1930s. This is routinely overlooked since it does not fit the narrative. Stalin's purges of the military in the late 1930s would be totally irrelevant without industrialization. And those purges cannot be treated in the Mickey Mouse way they are since there was a lot of German spy infiltration into the USSR armed forces. If Stalin removed the cream of the Soviet military through his political witch hunts then one cannot explain the appearance of very competent and even great Soviet generals on the eastern front.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is another propaganda canard beaten to death during the Cold War and today. Poor little Poland had a similar pact. And while various Russia haters whinge about Stalin sending wheat to Germany they ignore that American oil companies were sending Hitler oil. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was a brilliant tactic that bought the USSR nearly two years to boost its war capacity by 40%. This is not peanuts that can be fobbed off as inconsequential. They were critical for the USSR to win the war.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Kirill and Hoct,

Any attempt to discuss Stalin always runs into the problem that if one appears to give him credit for something can be made to look like moral justification for his other actions. Anyway the subject of Stalin's wartime leadership is an enormous one and the academic literature is prodigious. Much of it is very bad but gradually more objective history is being written and even in English we now have a wide range of books the cover the subject well.


1. I think most academic historians today agree that the Molotov Ribbentrop Non Aggression was a correct and appropriate response to the very difficult position the USSR found itself in the lead up to the attack on Poland in 1939. As I have said before the best account in English is still that of AJP Taylor in the Origins of the Second World War. Molotov's memoirs (or to be precise his conversations with Felix Chuev) are also indispensable reading on this subject. Taylor's view, with which I agree and which in my opinion has never been convincingly refuted, was that Stalin had no realistic alternative but to agree to Hitler's offer of a Non Aggression Pact.

2. There is less consensus about Soviet policy between 1939 and the German attack in 1941. However I think a consensus is again beginning to emerge that Stalin's actions during this period were intelligent and rational and based on the best information available to him. In saying this it is important to say that what is today obvious would not have been obvious to Stalin between 1939 and 1941. For exampley whilst Stalin might receive intelligence reports that pointed to a German attack in June 1941 he could not be sure how reliable such reports were and there were rational reasons for thinking that they might not be reliable. Nonetheless the suggestion that Stalin was taken completely by surprise by the German attack and had not prepared for it is now known to be wrong. If you want to read a good book about the diplomatic struggle prior to Barbarossa then Gabriel Gorodetsky's Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia (Yale University Press 1999) is probably the best. Molotov's conversations with Felix Chuev are also again indispensable.

3. On Stalin's actual wartime leadership, there is now an almost complete academic consensus that it was brilliant and inspirational and that Stalin was far and away the greatest military and political leader of the Second World War. Even strongly hostile historians like the British military historians Max Hastings, Antony Beevoir and Rodric Braithwaite now grudgingly concede this. More to the point the outstanding quality of Stalin's wartime leadership was recognised by those people best able to judge it namely Stalin's own generals (including Zhukov) who remained fiercely loyal to Stalin's memory to the end of their lives and Hitler himself, the quality of whose own wartime leadership is also now being positively reassessed, and who made known his respect for Stalin on numerous occasions beginning in August 1941. There is unfortunately no comprehensiive history of the Soviet German war in English that takes fully into account all the mass of information that has recently come out of the Soviet archives. The best narrative account remains in John Ericsson's Road to Stalingrad and Road to Berlin, which despite being written in the 1970s have actually stood up well.

I would add that one of the main problems in any discussion of Stalin is the large number of myths that exist about him based on all sorts of stories of doubtful provenance most of which have now been proved to be untrue. Examples include

1. A speech that Stalin is supposed to have given to the Politburo in August 1939 in which he is supposed to have justified the Non Aggression Pact as a plot to play the Germans and the western powers off against each other leaving the USSR in control of Europe. This speech (first published in a French newspaper in November 1939) has long since been exposed as a forgery but it still appears in numerous accounts of the war including in a book of important political speeches that I came across recently;

2. The claim that Stalin had some sort of nervous breakdown in the week following the start of Barbarossa and hid away in his dacha until he was persuaded to resume leadership of the country by a delegation from the Politburo supposedly headed by either (depending on the account) Molotov or Beria. The story of this breakdown has become embedded in much of the literature but documents from the time including Stalin's appointment diary show that there is no truth to it;

3. The claim that Stalin and Molotov engaged in secret negotiations with the Germans in November 1943 with Molotov supposedly having a secret meeting with Ribbentrop to discuss peace terms. This story also appears in numerous books about the war but again there is no truth to it.


1. I doubt that academic historians agree the Molotov-Ribentropp Pact was a "correct and appropriate response" to the situation the USSR found itself. Any academic historians I have read have been extremely reluctant to make that sort of value statements and to say something was a "correct" course of action. I therefore have difficulty believing many of them would have come forward to say it was "appropriate" of Stalin to conclude it.

Beside Stalin's blunder with the Soviet-German non-aggression pact was not in signing it. But in deluding himself it gave him real security, and attempting to keep it alive at all costs in 1941 and late 1940 to the detriment of the USSR.

2. Stalin's actions being rational or intelligent has nothing to do with it. Stalin was a rational and an intelligent being ergo his actions were rational and intelligent. That does not mean they were also not blunders, showing extremely poor judgement, or enormously costly for the Soviet people.

Again I do not know why you think there are signs of a pro-Stalin consensus as regards 1939-41, it would be mind-boggling if that were the case given just how idiotic his actions proved to be in the period. Instead of reiterating them here, let me point to a blog post of mine where I listed the gravest ones: link (scroll down to 'Prelude to Invasion').

3. Hastings, Beevoir and Braithwaite are popular historians, they are not military specialists, and Beevoir is a poor one at that. The preeminent Western historian of the German-Soviet war from the Soviet point of view is David M. Glantz. John Erickson was extremely good, but was working at a time before the opening of the archives to which Glantz had access. Another author I recommend highly is Roger R. Reese who is the preeminent social historian of the Red Army in the West. They have written a number of very important works, but for what we are discussing here The Stumbling Colossus by Glantz and Stalin's Reluctant Soldiers by Reese would be the most relevant. In neither work will you find a great deal of praise of Stalin's leadership.



On a point raised, Stalin didn't go along with M-R on the basis that it would ensure no future Nazi-Soviet war. One view suggests it was a move to buy time. Fault has been attributed to Stalin for not accurately surmising when the Nazis would attack. That view doesn't mean that Stalin didn't rule out an eventual Nazi-Soviet war. Regarding these thoughts, note that the Soviet movie on Nevsky heroically beating back Germans came out in 1938 before M-R. Upon the announcement of M-R, Nazi and Soviet propaganda each had to make some adjustments.

The Nazi-Soviet agreement was a "non-aggression pact" as opposed to a "treaty of friendship" – a point suggesting a cynical diplomatic move over one that's has a more cheery aspect. Having already seen how the Nazis acted and knowing his own situation, Stalin wasn't naive to think that the Nazis couldn't violate an accord.


One view suggests it was a move to buy time.

I am aware of that, but I disagree. Not in the beginning and not in the end, but there was a time IMO between late 1939 and midd 1940 when Stalin came to believe he had real security. A belief which was momentarily shattered when France fell.



In answer to your second guess on one of the points I brought up, Stalin was likely aware of the Nazi versus Soviet and other military capabilties at the time of M-R. If Stalin turns down M-R, what's to keep the Nazis from moving closer east? As for the Soviets making a hypothetical post-Munich alliance with the West, just how trusted could the West be? Consider how Czechoslovakia was handled and the "Phony War" which characterizes the initial lack of Allied action to the Nazi attack on Poland. With this in mind, Stalin prudently pursued the M-R option – something having ethical issues, which for accuracy sake should be measured with the options of the time and what some others were doing as well.


The west are all Nazi fanboys.

You are alone in thinking that. Stating that serves only to demonstrate you are not well read in works of Russian/Soviet history produced in the West, many of which are superb. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but then you shouldn't make blanket statements about it.

If he was a drooling idiot he would have been busy purging their designers or something.

Which to a large extent he did. Many weapons designers ended up arrested in the purges and this coupled the general climate of fear and aversion to risk cost the Soviets their world lead in aeronautics. With the I-16 and the DB-3 the Soviet Union in 1936 possessed the most advanced aircraft in the world. In 1941 its gigantic air fleet (still largely composed of the same types of planes) was greatly obsolete.

human waves (a Chinese tactic NEVER used by the Soviets)

Now you're being unfair to the Chinese.

The USSR was an agrarian state in the 1920s. Germany was an industrial power. The USSR would simply not have had the capacity to fight the Germans (in a conventional industrial war) without the industrialization of the 1930s. This is routinely overlooked since it does not fit the narrative. Stalin's purges of the military in the late 1930s would be totally irrelevant without industrialization.

So what? You're implying we should think of it as a package, either you take the industrialization and Stalin, or you take no Stalin and an agrarian USSR, as if the Russians were incapable of building factories without a butchering, dumb-eyed Georgian Communist in the Kremlin.

Since there was a lot of German spy infiltration into the USSR armed forces

It's the first time I've heard of if, and I'll go out on a limb here and say it is complete bull.

If Stalin removed the cream of the Soviet military through his political witch hunts then one cannot explain the appearance of very competent and even great Soviet generals on the eastern front.

Obviously he did not repress all the officers, or even all the competent officers. That goes without saying. It is undoubtful, however, he must had removed many commanders who would have been extremely valuable. Rokossovsky is an example of someone who was very nearly lost to the officer purge. What a waste that would have been, but how many other of a similar caliber actually did end up lost to the army?

In any case the officer is hardly the only, or even the central Stalin's blunder and it's effect had been overstated. Even the Red Army's poor quality of officers (particularly at junior levels) was not primarily due to the purge (but due to the frenzied expansion).

And while various Russia haters whinge about Stalin sending wheat to Germany they ignore that American oil companies were sending Hitler oil.

We are talking about competence not morality. Supplying Hitler was not a crime, it was a blunder. I don't care about Americans or the Russia haters you like to bring up over and over again. I care only about Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians. And from that point of view I have a serious problem with Stalin supplying the German war machine and helping make the drive into the Soviet Union that will eventually result in 27 million dead Soviet citizens. But perhaps you don't?

The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was a brilliant tactic that bought the USSR nearly two years to boost its war capacity by 40%.

Very brilliant of Stalin to give Hitler the breathing space he needed to defeat France and establish hegemony in Europe, which is what made him such a threat and so drunk on power.



Bravo on your point (shared by others) about the either Stalin/forced methods or no advanced Russia and the rest of what comprised the USSR. Russia was in the process of industrial advancement before WW I.

On Molotov-Ribbentrop (M-R), the USSR had earlier shown interest in an alliance to oppose the Nazi move on Czechoslovakia. The West chose to appease the Nazis, with some at the time believing a Nazi-Soviet war with the West left out (or mostly left out) to be possible. This view included the hope of the Nazis and Soviets weakening each other in the process. MR served as a counter-reaction to how the West carried on against a Czechoslovak state that was on pretty good terms with the USSR.

The shipment of Soviet aid to Nazi Germany as Nazi forces began their attack on the USSR highlights one bungling aspect of Stalin – in that instance having to do with his not believing the available Soviet and Western intell. on the timing of that Nazi attack.


"Bravo on your point (shared by others) about the either Stalin/forced methods or no advanced Russia and the rest of what comprised the USSR. Russia was in the process of industrial advancement before WW I."

Averko, nobody disputes this.

However, the Soviets did this at a rate far exceeding anything the sclerotic Russian Empire was able to manage.


Your ongoing mantra continues to downplay the pre-Soviet Russian period as one that was in process . Reminded of the Russia Profile journo who compares Stalin with Stolypin, without noting how much more time the former had.

During WW II, the ability of nations to mass produce weapons was considerably greater than before WW I. There was also the matter of Russia launching an early massive strike into Germany – much in contrast to when the Soviets first enter into Germany (not including some relatively speaking trivial air attacks that you earlier brought up).

I do recall your acknowledging the role WW I played in bringing about the rise of the Bolsheviks. Believe what you want, as a number of Russians and others are off the sovok reservation on such matter. So there's no misunderstanding, Russia was in a process of change with or without WW I.


" There was also the matter of Russia launching an early massive strike into Germany – much in contrast to when the Soviets first enter into Germany""

The Soviets counterattacked against 134 German divisions on the first day of Operation Barbarossa. The WWI Germans had about a tenth of that East Prussia in 1914. Seriously, Averko, you clearly have no conception of the relative scale of the forces engaged in the two cases, because your actual knowledge of these two events is clearly miniscule.

I mean, someone who thinks France didn't start WWI with a massive offensive into Germany clearly has no clue about WWI.


I agree. Molotov-Ribentropp was a wise and necessary tactic to buy time. I am not a fan of Stalin, but I think he did the right thing on that occasion.


"Poor little Poland" took a piece of Czechoslovak territory along with Nazi Germany and Hungary.

Polish sources consider the territory taken by Poland as land that was historically/ethnically Polish – territory unfairly given to Czechoslovakia at the end of WW I.

Never mind the historic and ethnic background regarding the territory which the USSR took from Poland in 1939.

The Nazi attack on Poland's western border showed more resistence than what was evident when the Soviets attacked from the east. The Galician Ukrainians are presently known for having a generally anti-Russian leaning view. This grouping were by no means pro-Polish in 1939. In fact, during the Russian Civil War, the Galician Ukrainian army accepted being under White Russian command – a move motivated by the Petliura-Pilsudski alliance, which saw Petliura recognize all of Galicia as being Polish.


"In 1942 the Germans are only able to take the offensive in the summer, because of a costly, self-inflicted Soviet debacle at Kharkov in the spring."


The Germans had planned their 1942 summer offensive with AG South, since it was the only one they had rebuilt to a state fit for resumed offensive operations. The Soviets beating them to the punch actually disrupted their plan.


"The more fundamental pattern of the Soviet-German war is the Soviets - courtesy of their highest leadership - constantly dealing catastrophic blows to themselves, which enables the Germans to do what should otherwise never been possible - to very briefly look like they may be a match for the combined might of East Slavdom."

Um… from 1914-1917, the Germans repeatedly and completely trounced "…the combined might of East Slavdom." with a fraction of their total ground forces. Their main effort was against the French and British Empires the whole time.

By contrast, the USSR between 1941 and 1944, the USSR absorbed ~80% of the German warground war effort, with the economic support of the resources of pretty much a united continental Europe.

Seriously, it's talk like this that exposes just how clueless you are.


So there's no misunderstanding, the excerpted comments directly above aren't from yours truly.

As for the ongoing comparison with WW I: upon the attack on the USSR, the Soviets didn't strike immediately into Germany. Such an attempt would've likely (at the time) been detrimental to the Soviet side.

This contrasts from (the early in WW I) Russian strike into Germany. A war in which Russian involvement greatly assisted the Allied effort in the West. In retrospect, Russia would've been better off holding back. By 1917, Russia's arms supply situation was considerably better, with the morale having gone down as a result of the earlier offensive moves that were made. In WW I, the Germans were much better at taking advantage of elements opposed to the Russian government (Lenin in particular) unlike in WW II, when Nazi ideology limited support for disgruntled anti-Soviet government people with roots on the territory of the USSR. The Nazis only began to really let loose in supporting such activity when they became desperate in the form of the war clearly turning against them.

The histrionic delivery along the lines of: ***** you don't know what you're talking about…. – doesn't serve as a substantively convincing argument.


"upon the attack on the USSR, the Soviets didn't strike immediately into Germany. Such an attempt would've likely (at the time) been detrimental to the Soviet side."

In 1914, Rennenkampf and Samsonov attacked about a dozen German divisions.

In 1941, the Soviets counterattacked 134 German divisions.

Seriously, Averko, to pretend that Russia faced tougher circumstances in 1914 than she did in 1941 is just ludicrous.


More foolishly faulty bravado for you, which in part misrepresents what has been expressed.

In 1941, the Soviets didn't launch any noticeable attack on Germany to the degree of what was evident relative to Russian forces vis-a-vis Tannenberg in the early phase of WW I.

In hypothetical terms, it's quite appropriate to surmise that Russia would've been better off to have held back on that early WW I strike – once again noting how catastophic it would've been for the USSR to attempt an immediate attack of that sort on German soil in the early phase of its WW II campaign – something that wasn't really even practical to consider at the time.



The Germans had planned their 1942 summer offensive with AG South, since it was the only one they had rebuilt to a state fit for resumed offensive operations. The Soviets beating them to the punch actually disrupted their plan.

You're correct, my statement was problematic. It was 1 AM and I had come home from work earlier and the 2nd ('42) and 3rd ('43) battles of Kharkov merged into one in my head.

Um… from 1914-1917, the Germans repeatedly and completely trounced "…the combined might of East Slavdom." with a fraction of their total ground forces.

That was not a problem of efficiency, but of effectiveness. The Germans only advanced Barbarossa-deep into the Russian Empire once the Russians stopped defending it (as they entered into a war with themselves). But before the Bolsheviks came to power the Russian Imperial Army did far better in preventing a German occupation of huge swathes of the land mass populated by East Slavs than would the Red Army in 1941, which would yield, what, 50-60 million (?) people to a foreign occupation in a matter of 5 months.

We must conclude even the Russian imperial government (whose competence issues are well known) did a far better job at national defense than did the (still more incompetent) Stalin-era Soviet government. During its lifetime, the Russian imperial government never allowed such a disaster for the East Slav peoples to occur.

But, kudos for finally starting to make actual points and not just arguing by assertion ('Oh, White Russia could have never done that'.) You claim to be well-read, you should make more of them, maybe I'll even learn something. For example do tell us why the Red Air Force with its 16,000 serviceable aircraft on the even of the war (more than all of the rest of the world combined) could not prove a match to the far smaller German Air Force? Or why losing so many tanks that the Soviet Union should go from possessing the largest tank armada in the world in June, 1941 to fielding only 200-300 tanks after the Winter Counter-Offensive, should be seen as such a success? Were there in fact mistakes made? Is it in fact the case that it should have made far more sense to for the Communists in charge of the USSR to be satisfied to field a smaller number of weapons and men, and to possess, on paper, a less impressive force, but for which there would have been enough time and human and material resources to train, lead, equip and maintain with competence?

Do you acknowledge any blunders on the part of Stalin at all? The Soviet Union was at least just as powerful as Germany in the second half of the 1930s, I hope we can agree at least to that, jet up to 27 million Soviet citizens would perish at the hands of Hitler. In fact the war was more costly for the Soviet victors, than the German vanquished. It seems obvious Stalin must have blundered *somewhere* to allow this to happen? Where do you see his blunders?

That Wehrmacht crushed the 3,500,000 man Western armies in six weeks in 1940. Those 3,500,000 Western troops killed a grand total of 27,000 German troops in the process.

If that ain't "mighty Wehrmacht", I'd like to see what counts as "mighty" to you.

So what? Everything is relative. Considering the Soviet potential the Wehrmacht had no right to be mighty vis a vis the forces of the USSR. There was just as much industry behind the Red Army as there was behind the German army, and potentially just as many human resources (without the purging of politically unreliable officers and banns on reactionary classes from entering the profession). Even when it comes to combat experience and associated learning opportunities the Soviets got plenty against Japan, Finland and in Poland. Jet despite that the Red Army in 1941 (which is hardly even battle-ready) is nowhere a match for the German Army? Why is that so? It isn't a problem of might, because the Red Army is actually the greater force on paper, it is a problem of efficiency. And that is not down to an inherent fighting ability of a Russian, it is the fault of catastrophic blunders of the Soviet government, primarily Stalin.


That particular "competence" issue you mention of pre-Soviet Russia appears to have had an ideologically motivated tone at times.

Russia's WW I effort against the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian forces went pretty well. With hind sight especially now at play, Russia would've likely fared better if it refrained from driving into Germany so early in WW I.

As previously mentioned, WW I era Germany (and to an extent the Habsburgs) did a better job at utilizing anti-Russian government elements with Russian Empire based roots better than the Nazi utilization of anti-Soviet government elements with USSR territorial roots.


I am not trying to thump my chest claiming total Soviet superiority. But the semi-explicit claim of this BBC program that Russians fought with tank waves is utter masturbatory prattle of Russia haters. It looks to me that the producers of this piece read the book by Zetterling and Frankson and concluded that German losses at Kursk were of no consequence. The ratio of Soviet tanks to German tanks at Kursk was not 10:1 or 5:1 and the losses were not at these ratios.

But according to Zamulin the numbers on both sides were exaggerated. That I can believe.

Ken Macaulay

One thing that amazes me about the characters that come up with this Western superiority cr*p is how desperately they try to avoid talking about how the Nazi's conquered the whole of Europe in less than 10 months! It wasn't even a contest – they just rolled over them.

The Soviets had more than their fair share of problems, especially in 1941, but the German Army in 1940/41 is generally recognised by the real military experts as one the most formidable land armies in history, matched probably only previously by the Romans & the Mongols – since then only by the post 1943 Soviet army. All their major losses were on the Eastern front with their elite regiments decimated, & by the time West came into Europe the German Army were a shell of their former strength.

For those interested in military affairs, the Soviet Storm – WW2 In The East series is very good, & you can find some of the episodes on YouTube.


What you bring up relates to what I just posted a bit above in answer to HOCT, regarding a likely contributing factor to why Stalin considered M-R.


First you complain about "Western superiority cr*p" then turn around and sing praises to the Wehrmacht. An armed force of a Western state. Yes the Wehrmacht was by considerable distance the most superior army in 1941. So this lets Stalin off the hook? Had he not, by this time, been in charge of the Soviet Union for 15 years, and had he not spent just staggering quantities of resources and energy on expansion and rearmament meant to increase the fighting capabilities of the Red Army in the years before the war? So why wasn't it the case that the Red Army on the eve of the war was not at least as powerful as the Wehrmacht? Because unlike, say Yugoslavia, the USSR actually had the capacity to build, field and maintain such a force.

I have difficulty with any sort of "the plucky little Soviets sticking up to the mighty Wehrmacht" narrative. It is patronizing, condescending and insulting. It's actually more racist than what you complain about.


After the Nazi attack, the Soviets were able to re-group and build themselves up in the east for the purpose of beating back the Nazis.

The US and some others were militarily lacking a bit as well just before WW II. Germany and Japan couldn't match the industrial military output of the US and USSR.


"So this lets Stalin off the hook? Had he not, by this time, been in charge of the Soviet Union for 15 years, and had he not spent just staggering quantities of resources and energy on expansion and rearmament meant to increase the fighting capabilities of the Red Army in the years before the war?"

Sure he did. But most important, he endowed Russia with the industrial capacity to rapidly build a new, modern army while the prewar army bought the time and gutted the Wehrmacht.

Imperial Russia, or a White Russia, would never have managed that.

"I have difficulty with any sort of "the plucky little Soviets sticking up to the mighty Wehrmacht" narrative. It is patronizing, condescending and insulting. "

That Wehrmacht crushed the 3,500,000 man Western armies in six weeks in 1940. Those 3,500,000 Western troops killed a grand total of 27,000 German troops in the process.

If that ain't "mighty Wehrmacht", I'd like to see what counts as "mighty" to you.


You keep overlooking the different circumstances that have been previously raised, relative to the inaccurate and seemingly ideoligically motivated comparison that you make.


"You keep overlooking…"

You keep demonstrating that your knowlege of military economics and the actual course of WWI and WWII are less than google-deep.


at 12:51 pm

If anything, you exhibit a knowledge of military economics and WW I and II along Google search and Wiki lines.


at 6:18 pm

(Scanning my bookshelf just on WWII in the East…)

John Erickson "The Road to Stalingrad"
John Erickson "The Road to Berlin"
David Glantz "When Titans Clashed"
David Glantz "Stumbling Collossus"
David Glantz "Soviet Military Operational Art – In Pursuit of Deep Battle"
David Glantz "From the Don to the Dnepr – Soviet Offensive Operations December 1942-August 1943″
Soviet General Staff Study of the Battle of Stalingrad
Soviet General Staff Study of the Battle of Kursk
Vasilevsky "A Lifelong Cause"
Shtemenko "The Soviet General Staff at War"
Samsonov, et. al., "Sovetskii Soyuz v Godi Velikoi Otchestvennoi Voini"

And these are just the big books…

Truly Averko, you are more mouth than facts. I am the anti-Averko.


As in you're the pro-troll.

I've shelves of primary and secondary source material on that and other subjects.

Comparing book shelves by itself isn't substantively convincing.


Averko, I bring referenced facts to the discussion.

You have nothing more than "I know you are, but what am I?"


Your brash delivery hasn't successfully refuted any of my core points.

You're of course free to spin the contrary.


That's because your 'core points" are supported by nothing but endless re-iteration. You reference no sources, and present no facts.

Your "core points" are like the apex of the Great Pyramid floating on thin air.


Not true on your first thought, with the last one applying more to yourself.


Anyone up for more Pussy Riot news?
Tough! Take it anyway:
Novosibirsk resident Irina Ruzankina keeps suing PR over and over again for moral damages. (Civil lawsuit, I am assuming?) Seems our Irina was so traumatized by watching the girls on TV that she felt she needed some cash. Maybe to pay for her psychiatrist sessions?
Judge keeps dismissing her suit, though…


Hillary falls on her sword:

Hey, all the smart people were saying a month ago that she needed to take responsibility for the Benghazi fiasco, instead of trying to weasel out of it.
I guess she finally had to do it, because the issue will certainly come up tonight when Romney debates Obama. Now, as soon as Romney brings it up, Obama can point to Hillary and say, "It wasn't my fault. SHE screwed up."

Meanwhile, other reports say Obama is readying a small army of drones to hover over Libya and burn people as needed. Yes, but WHICH people? There are a few outlier theories out there according to which the Benghazi consulate attack and assassination of Ambassador Stevens was done by a pro-GADDAFI Green Resistance movement.

That is one of those things I would personally LIKE to believe, but probably is not true. Common wisdom still has it for an Al Qaeda attack. If Obama had been able to send in FBI investigators in a timely fashion, I think they would have been able to figure out whodunnit. But FBI was kept out too long, most of the the evidence was destroyed.


Hopefully, tonight's debate (which includes foreign policy) will be a good one.

Ken Macaulay

The current Libyan military consists mostly of various anti-gaddafi militia groups that have got the official nod, while still essentially remaining militia groups.
The chief suspects are various anti-gaddafi militia groups which haven't got the official nod, but the lines are very blurry which is which.
Most of the former official police apparatus has been dismantled, & it's former members have either been killed or are in hiding from these psychotic *ssholes…
Stevens himself was acting as a liaison & co-ordinator between such groups throughout the 'uprising'.
There is no chance in hell of a clear story coming out of this mess.

The only thing this 'enquiry' is going to determine is who's going to be declared the next official enemy & get 'predatored', while they try to put a 'hopeful' spin on the nightmare that is the 'new Libya'.


Dear Ken: While all that was going on in Benghazi, the town of Bali Walid (which still flies the Gaddafi Green flag) was resisting still another incursion of "official" militias from Tripoli and Benghazi. This led some pro-Green ideological elements (probably wishful thinking) to assert that in fact the Greens had pulled off the Benghazi embassy attack and assassinated Ambassador Stevens. Needing to avenge Gaddafi, obviously. But in order to support this theory they had to assert that the 9/11 connection (the attack happened on 9/11 which a sacred date for jihadists) was just a coincidence. Well, coincidences do happen. And the Greens do have a few militias left, I guess. But I don't think they operate within Benghazi. I wish I knew the truth, but all in all, more likely that jihadists did it, even though one then has to explain why these animals turned on their best friend, Ambassador Stevens. One day they are having tea with him and loving him like a brother, next thing you know they are dragging his corpse through the streets and gloatingly snapping pictures with their iPhones.

Ken Macaulay

One of the interesting little side stories is that the pro-western militias (organised mostly by France with a solid assist from the UK) turned out to be useless in the fighting, & the Islamic militias & Qatari special forces did most of the fighting on the ground (although the NATO bombing campaign was the biggest factor in the overthrow).

And guess who got most of the power positions in the new Libyan government?

Ali Zeidan – the very recent Prime Minister of Libya "served as the National Transitional Council's Europe envoy, and is credited as having played a key role in persuading French President Nicolas Sarkozy to support the anti-Gaddafi forces"

Abdurrahim El-Keib – the former Prime Minister. A Libyan exile who prior to this was a US professor for over 20 years.

Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf – former head of the CIA backed National Front for the Salvation of Libya, now currently President of the General National Congress.
etc. etc.

Basically the Western clique got most of the power positions, & many of the islamic militias are not real happy.


I am rooting for the Islamic militias to run the compradors out. But it would be better if there was a secular Libyan government as under Gaddafi.


Meanwhile, like an intrepid cub reporter, I am trying to follow a weird "story" involving Navalny's fake online elections to the "Coordinating Committee" of the Opposition. It involves somebody named Sergei Mavrodi. Best I can tell Mavrodi is some kind of Ukrainian Bernie Madoff and is known for creating a ponzi scheme in the 90's called MMM (and I still can't find out what the initials MMM stand for). Now Mavrodi has created a second ponzi scheme called MMM-2012.

What does this ponzi scheme have to do with Russian Opps? Well, apparently Mavrodi has submitted a slate of his own candidates to Navalny's Opps "Coordinating Committee" and is currently actually in the lead, defeating the likes of Navalny, Kasparov, Sobchak, Udaltsov and the others for title of "Grand Leader of the Opposition National Front".

The Opps elections themselves are a type of Pyramid scheme (voters even have to successfully complete an online money transfer in order for the right to cast a vote), and Mavrodi is an expert in this area, so I suppose it goes without saying that he is a formidable opponent. Oi, I don't think this is what McFaul had in mind when he came up with this kooky idea…


Update: MMM stands for "мы меняем мир" ("We are changing the world").
Just saw it on the photo in the first link – duh!



Moscow Exile

THe thieving bastards robbed my wife of a load of money in the first MMM foray. For some perverse reason, she still keeps her worthless MMM vouchers as a kind of black souvenir of the wonderful '90s.

I hadn't met her when she was conned into the MMM pyramid scheme. Had I known her then, I would have told her, of course, that it was all a scam.

And now these criminals are launching the same scheme again.

Never give a sucker an even break?

Alexander Mercouris

This makes perfect sense! The Coordinating Council is a political Ponzi scheme so what better than to put an expert in charge?


Mavrodi blows Gaidar out of the water for the most-hated political or semi-political figure of those turbulent years – when I was writing an earlier post, I can't even remember what it was about although I think it revolved around a series of stupid statements made by Nemtsov regarding Putin being universally despised in Russia – I said to my wife, "I need a name, somebody Russian that Russians really hate", and without hesitating, she said "Mavrodi". It looks from what you say that he was actually not Russian, but in the context of a Slav stealing from fellow Slavs and being forever reviled he fits very well. A lot of people lost their shirts thanks to Mavrodi.

Alexander Mercouris

Could he be Greek? In Greek "mavros" means black. "Mavrodis" whilst not a common name makes perfect sense as a Greek name.


His ancestry probably derives from Greece but I doubt he or his ancestors were ethnic Greeks.


Any etymological connection to English word "marauder"?
If so, that would be appropriate.

Moscow Exile

Nope: the regular verb and noun appeared in English in the 1690s from the French "marauder" (17c.), from Mediaeval French "maraud": rascal (15c.); of unknown origin, perhaps from French dialectal "maraud" – "tomcat" and echoic of its cry. A word popularized in several languages during the Thirty Years War (cf. Sp. "merodear", Ger. "marodiren" – to maraud, "Marodebruder" – straggler, deserter); by punning association with Count Mérode, imperial general in 30 Years War.



Thanks, @Exile. I'll keep that link. Etymology is fun.

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

He's from the Ukraine, which means he could be a descendant of one of the original "pindos" [пиндос -pindós], which word was an obsolete colloquialism that has for some unkown reason become a modern Russian term of contempt for a US citizen, but was formerly a term of abuse used by Russians of Greeks.

The Russian Wikipedia article on "pindos" says that the term originated in southern Russia as an insult for Greeks and had even been used pejoratively a century ago by Chekhov, but at that time the term had lost its ethnic specificity and had come to be used against any foreigner from the south.

Then, In the 1990s "pindos" suddenly re-appeared as Russian army slang during the Kosovo crisis, it having then become an insulting term for American soldiers serving there, Now the word refers to any American.

In the article there is a lot of theorizing about the origin of the word, one theory being that it originated from the name of the Pindos [Πίνδος] mountain range in Greece, and at first specifically not to Greeks from that part of Greece, but to hardy Greek mountain ponies.

So Mavrodis might very well be descended from some dark Greek forefather (not at all unlikely if he hails from what is now Southern Ukraine) and if he is an "opposition" supporter (quite possible) he might now be described by some Russians as a pindosnik [пиндосник], a supporter of US policies and an American "wannabe" .


Well, apparently Navalny and the other Opps "leaders" are alarmed about Mavrodi butting into their gig, so now they are seeking to ban his slate from running in their fake political "primaries".

Personally, I think Mavrodi is attracted, like a shark, to the scent of money. Via these fake internet elections Navalny has been collecting a lot of information about people's passport IDs and bank accounts. Already 80,000 people have signed up, and each sucker, I mean person, was forced to authenticate himself online with photo ID and electronic money transfer. P.T. Barnum would be bursting with pride!


Over the course of time, what's now considered as as southern/south easten Ukraine has attracted a good number from southeastern Europe.

Moscow Exile

South-west Ukraine's the same: I was in what was known as Bessarabia last year – not far from Belgorod-Dnestrovsky. I should imagine that very many there are descendants of Wallachians, Ottomans, Greeks etc. They all spoke Russian though. Not once did I hear Ukrainian spoken.



Some Serb, Bulgarian and Sephardic folks as well.

If I'm not offhand mistaken, Mila Jovovich's family background (Serb-Ukrainian roots) fits into this setting

Ken Macaulay

The very good blog 'The Vineyard of the Saker'

is looking for the statements made by Radovan Karadzic & Col. Andrey Demurenko at the The Hague – .

Tends to do very detailed followups if anyone can help…


Al Jazeera (AJ) had that story at the top its hourly newscast aired this past morning.

In typical Western mass media fashion, AJ featured Geoffrey Nice (a former ICTY prosecutor) for uncontested analysis. He misrepresented K's position to fit the standard propaganda line.


Peter would be a good candidate, if he's paying attention. He can find anything, and has the advantage of being fluent in Russian, although those statements are more likely to be available in English (at least as translations).


The Karadzic trial transcripts are posted here, the one from yesterday is not up yet.


Thanks, Peter; I knew you'd come through. Ken, would you forward that link to The Saker?

Ken Macaulay

Thanks Peter,
Have sent The Saker the links, & hopefully he'll get a little more balance into the issue out in the blogosphere.

Moscow Exile

More news to warm the cockles of one's heart:

"Addleshaw Goddard has received around £50m in fees from its representation of Boris Berezovsky over the last four years, as details of the Russian oligarch's £20m fees to the Bar have also emerged".


And "Berezovsky to pay rival's £35m costs".


Somehow I don't think I shall see Boris Abramovich walking along carriages in the Moscow metro pleading: "Дорогие пассажири, помогите мне!"

Schadenfreud is so wicked!

Leos Tomicek

I don't know if anyone has posted this before here, (more than 500 comments above) but Udal'tsov is brought to trial for "organisation of mass unrest." The footage with Mr. Targamadze was apparently made in Belarus. The version that this was a trap set up by the Belorussian KGB seems to be credible:


Your post is the first on this breaking news. Now let's see the western media start it's routine Pussy Riot style propaganda.

Note the trope language in this English RIAN piece. "State run" applies to the CBC in Canada and most stations in Scandinavia but is never used to describe them. I would say the BBC is state run as well but with a smokescreen of being self-financed. The BBC's performance exposes it as a government puppet (e.g. Iraq and the 45 minute WMD lie).


Rock on, Leos!!! Although I think the western media will ignore it yet awhile, until it gets its groupthink storyline straight.

Moscow Exile

The Guardian hasn't ignored it. I posted a link 3 hours ago (above) to their agency article that appeared here this morning. The Reuter's article barely mentions the NTV documentary and all the talk in other articles is of a "political trial". That old ratbag Alekseeva has kicked off already about political trials and suppression. As i have already commented, of course the trial will be political: the alleged crime is political! After all, Udaltsov hasn't been charged with petty larceny, has he?

The thing is though, is that this news in the Western press appears as if out of the blue, for there has been nary a word in the West of the "Anatomy of Protest-2″ documentary, so the news of Udaltsov suddenly being charged appears as though he has been charged because he has been organizing protests.

It's "another Putin clampdown", isn't it?


The early edition of today's Al Jazeera newscast suggested such.


It will be difficult indeed for any western outlet which caters to any but an audience of chinless mental defectives to make a case that the Kremlin is afraid of Udaltsov, and a "clampdown" is necessary to prevent his reaching a full boil. He wants only to be sporting a sandwich board that reads "Jesus is coming" followed by a string of numbers and letters representing biblical verses to be regarded as charmingly crazy. Even his supposed allies regard him warily and solicit his support only because their numbers would look so pitiful without it. The western hype of he and his wife as the "it" protest couple is just more going through the motions. I don't think anyone really ever expected great things of Udaltsov except maybe Udaltsov. And now he's gone too far – someone should have warned him it would end in tears. I know my Mom would have; she never missed an opportunity to issue that apocalyptic warning.

Moscow Exile

No it's not! Scroll back. I posted about this 3 hours ago. The news broke here at 8:30.


That's actually my mistake, as well; I understood Kirill to mean Leos did a post – which is to say a story, on his blog – about it rather than just a comment here. In that, you were indeed first, having the advantage of being up and around when all we debased westerners are asleep. I have to put in a plug here for my hotel; it might be only a Comfort Inn, modest, yes, it's true, but were I single I would propose marriage to my King-size bed. It is soft and seductive as an illicit liaison, and getting up this morning was hard indeed.

Leos does have a post up which obliquely refers to the Udaltsov affair, quite a good one (here) which includes a lot of detailed peripheral information about connections, but there's nothing so far about Udaltsov being formally charged.

You were also way out ahead of the accusations of political motivation, but I can't give you too much credit for foresight there as that is a knee-jerk reaction to everything that in any way interferes with the march forward of the liberal agenda. It's always politically motivated, and they seem to have learned nothing from Khodorkovsky's getting all the way to Strasbourg with it only to be told – in the most formal terms by the highest of authority – that he is full of it. Fortunately for him, you are not assessed a fee for wasting that particular court's time, but there may be a few who harbour a teensy grudge toward Khodorkovsky and others like him because their own cases take years to get a hearing.

Moscow Exile

The news broke here when I was about to leave for work at 8.40 this morning and when, I should think, most western Kremlin Stooges that frequent this site were still a-bed.

When I came home for my dinner at about 2 o'clock this afternoon, I posted the glad tidings at the end of the last Udaltsov thread, which is now way back – about half-way in fact.

I'll post again what I posted earlier so as to make it unnecessary for all of you who are still up and around this morning (I've just got back home from work and it's 6.30 p.m. here) to scroll backwards and forwards in search of what I posted and, more importantly, to access the embedded links:

Moscow Exile says:
October 17, 2012 at 2:38 am



The shit has at last hit the fan!

Yea verily, there will soon be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Now the countdown to Amnesty International declaring that the case is politically motivated.

Well guess what – it is! Negotiating with foreign powers and/or their agents with the intent to overthrow of one's state is not petty theft.

Moscow Exile says:
October 17, 2012 at 2:46 am

Note how Moscow Times gives an unbiased report:

"As evidence for his claims, Markin [the Investigative Committee's official spokesman] cited hidden-camera footage taken by NTV reporters during filming for "Anatomy of Protest 2," the latest mudslinging film broadcast Oct. 5 by the channel known for attacking Kremlin foes.

A "mudslinging film" was it?

That implies that the documentary was libelous as a whole, whereas the MT later reports that "Markin denied that footage used in the program had been spliced, pointing to 'voice identification' tests conducted by investigators".

I should think, however, that for many reading the MT report that the term "mudslinging", will probably stick like…errr…mud.

Moscow Exile says:
October 17, 2012 at 2:50 am

MT: "…opposition lawmaker Ponomaryov said the charges appear 'completely politically motivated'…"

So they are, you numpty!

And the alleged offences with which Udaltsov has been charged are politically motivated as well.

Moscow Exile says:
October 17, 2012 at 2:52 am


Moscow Exile says:
October 17, 2012 at 2:57 am

The news broke at 8.30 a.m. Moscow time this morning, 17th October.

No news of Udaltsov's arrest though.

Moscow Exile says:
October 17, 2012 at 3:04 am

That old bat has had to get her two pen'north in, of course:

"Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, said Udaltsov was unlikely to be the only opposition leader or rights activist to be facing charges".

What an astute observation!


Seems that the cops must have given RFE/RL a buzz so that they could come and watch the fun.

There then follow some comments by Yalensis.

I think Udaltsov will go down for 10. If I were State Prosecutor, that's what I would demand. For Udaltsov cannot deny that he has already colluded with ant-Russian Federation and terrorist movements: he made public his meetings with Tatar separatists in Tatarstan, who are not well liked by the majority of Tatars.

But the mantra "political trial" has already started.

I reckon Udaltsov hasn't been arrested yet so that he'll make a run for it and then they can arrest him on an aeroplane as they did Khodorkovsky. And when he says his flight was not an expression of guilt but of fear of an unfair "political trial", it can be thrown in his face that he has been meeting miscreants and terrorists for a considerable period of time and that his meeting with Jabba the Georgian was only one of several treasonous subterfuges.

An interesting point: where was Elder, Tin-Tin's replacement in the Evil Empire, when the Udaltsov news broke? She certainly must have known of the Udaltsov scandal, (then again, maybe not: she might have been arguing in a laundry somewhere or engaged with Twittering Anno Komarov), but it was clearly Guardian policy not to report it. And even today, what appears in the Guardian is only an agency report. So when Elder finally starts scribbling away, she will be able to go straight into overdrive about "yet another crackdown by Putin's authoritarian regime" because the Guardianistas only get what is fed them. And those who do read the International web and who know of the background to Udaltsov being charged with serious crimes against the state, can write to Comment is Free and say that Elder writes bollocks just as Harding did and still does, only to see "comment deleted" appear shortly afterwards where their post previously was.

And that's "freedom" – Western style!

Moscow Exile

No, they're not going to risk letting the bird fly: Udaltsov now under 48 hour arrest. He was arrested after the cops had searched his flat this afternoon:

They've got 48 hours to charge him..

(Why, isn't that just like in the West??)

I reckon he'll be charged before the 48 hours are up – well before. And then it's SIZO
(СИЗО) – remand prison – until he stands trial.

Moscow Exile

Nope! That under arrest for 48 hours story was what Ponamarev released – perhaps to whip up a fenzy amongst "the millions"?

Latest news is that Udaltsov has been released, but has signed a statement saying that he will not leave Moscow.


So Udaltsov and Navalny are now in the same canoe, it seems, and both are paddling up shit creek.


In a number of instances, the Western mass media coverage leaves something to be desired.

Udaltsov seems like he might either have a public relations handler and/or has undertaken a transformation to conform with the hope of receiving greater support.

This NYT piece from May of this year expresses the apprehension about him:

A more recent piece notes a change of his prior slants:


In case somebody missed this. This is part 3 of NTV coverage of opposition:

Moscow Exile

Thanks, Kievite!

The programme shows blatant child exploitation by Verzilov, US TV stations and the US Congress. Are US citizens so naive as not to see that he is milking the child for all her worth? Has Verzilov too few friends and/or relatives or too little money to look after his child while he propagandizes in the USA? as regards his income, does he earn one, and if so, how? Until quite recently he was studying philiosophy at MGU, but got sent down, unlike his wife, who dropped out of the same faculty earlier this year. Who financed Verzilov's education? Why did he leave Canada yet not relinquish his Canadian citizenship?

As regards towing his child around the USA, I wonder how many mothers with young children are at present incarcerarted in US gaols? Quite a large number, I should think. And only 3 weeks ago there was a headline story in the British press that each year 17,000 mothers in the UK are separated from their children as a result of the imposition
on these women of custodial sentences.

Yet Verzilov tows an innocent around the USA just to show how wicked Russians are as regards imprisoning young mothers.

In any case, I should imagine that the social services in the UK would seriously consider the removal of a child from the legal custody of its parents if they were to fornicate in
public and to take part in other scandalous public "events".

Moscow Exile

So Verzilov has appeared with his child at the US Congress and in US TV studios?

Should his western sponsors again invite him to make a publicity tour with his child, then I suggest that his sponsors and supporters be shown some of the linked below photographs taken when he made an earlier public appearance in Russia, but this time with his now imprisoned wife, who was then also with child – the child with whom he has recently made public appearances in the USA:

and a translation of the following should also make interesting reading for Verzilov and Tolokonnikova's idolizers:


Thanks for video, @kievite. So far I only had time to watch the first 15 minutes or so. Extremely distressing to see how that little girl is being exploited by Verzilov and his western sponsors.

Tolok needs to have a DNA test done on the kid. If Verzilov is not the biological father, then she needs to try to get the child back to Russia. May be already too late though.


CNN's Erin Burnett has hosted at least two softball segments with Verzilov – one which included the child in question, flippantly calling for her mother.

Burnett's treatment of PR is noticeably different from her put down take of OWS:

Moscow Exile

Verzilov waxing none too eloquently in Oslo, Norway. He's on tour owing to popular demand, it seems. The Oslo Freedom Forum describes Verzilov as an "activist and artist" who has shared "several provocative and politically-charged artistic performances by the Voina Group and the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot", but not as an MGU philosophy drop out who has no visible source of income. It also seems that neither his and PR supporters in Oslo or the USA, or anywhere else for that matter, has bothered to read or, if having read it, pay attention to the missive that his wife had published on the Moscow Echo website, wherein she disowned herself from her husband's actions as regards PR, saying that he was an imposter and that he had usurped the right to represent the "feminist punk group".


He should really reconsider those skinny jeans, because the combination of his broad hips and narrow shoulders makes him look like Mr. Bean.


Well, Lordy Lordy, Navalny FINALLY broke his silence on Udaltsov. I guess after weeks of silence he finally received instructions from his pindosi handlers laying out the Western party line on this case. Party Line = Udaltsov is innocent, the video is a fake, it's all a put-up job and a pack of lies, a Belorussian/FSB provocation.


This is Surkhov propaganda!!!


Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?

What a joke! The splicing claim is just retarded. Faking a video is not as simple as faking a photograph. And there are experts who can expose faked photos. It is way easier to expose faked video. Audio splicing can also be exposed but you can't fake a video and nobody here or amongst the mass media consumers has ever seen a faked video. They are propaganda myths of convenience.


A contrasting take on what led to Udaltsov's arrest:

Note the suggestion of an overbearingly influential TV show which encourages legal action. Such a TV situation has existed in the US – typically dealing with consumer fraud and environmental safety issues.



Just like I said – although I'm certainly not psychic and it was perfectly predictable – Udaltsov's arrest is owed to the amount of fear he inspires in the Kremlin. He's now "a key – if not the key – player in the opposition". The title of key player in the opposition rotates through the ranks depending on who is under arrest today, and then that arrest is always because they're such a huge threat they're making the Kremlin's tenants wet their pants. It wasn't very long ago – weeks rather than months – that Udaltsov was haranguing invisible crowds only he could see as he lurched about with his bullhorn while the cleaning crews swept the empty square. Yes, Udaltsov is a huge threat – Putin may as well negotiate terms now while he still has a chance of holding on to a few shreds of power, as Udaltsov proclaims himself King. What a silly farce. How do members of the opposition keep coming out to protest, with such pathetic representation and such a delusional press? This isn't an opposition, it's a sideshow.


It is better to remind everyone that Uldatsov is a hardcore Stalinist at every turn. I notice that Miriam Elder is trying to wiggle it back to the defensible position in today's Guardian. So why give them any room, unless you think Ms. Elder is going to eventually strap a suicide vest on herself?


According to this piece, he has changed:

Quite possibly a matter of changing for the purpose of trying to gain greater support.


Probable outcome of Udaltov's trial:

Panel #1 – Udaltsov: I will be defended by this fat lady here…
Panel #2 – Volkova: The regime is full of shit!
Panel #3 – Judge: 10 years of hard labor…
Panel #4 – (self-explanatory)

Moscow Exile

The curious thing so far in this Udaltsov business is that the Investigation Committee seems to be focusing its attention not on the man in the dark glasses and with the shaven head but on Konstantin Lebedev, "an aide to the Left Front coordinator".

Lebedev was yesterday declared to have been held in custody for 48 hours pending charges to be made against him within that period of time. The other party to this threesome that has been having lengthy interviews with the IC is Leonid Razvozzhayev, who is also an "aide", this time to duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, whose father was secretly filmed not so long ago proposing a deal in a café with a Japanese diplomat over transfers of Russian territory to Japan and who is a pal of McFaul. It was Ponomaryev junior who wrongly stated yesterday that both Ulyanov and Lebedev had been detained for 48 hours.

Now Lebedev has been officially charged. A spokesman for the IC has stated that
Lebedev had been charged under Article 30 and 212 of the Russian Criminal Code for the masterminding of massive disorders. The spokesman added that Lebedev had not pleaded guilty and had refused to testify.

But Udaltsov still remains free, having signed a declaration that he will not leave the



Oh you poor dear. Bugger off to freedom in the west! You don't get to decide for Russians what regime they should have. Russians decide it for themselves via the ballot box. A ballot box where they can chose from 4 or more presidential candidates not all part of the same mafia like in the USA where there is simply no substantial difference between the Democrats and Republicans when it comes to foreign policy and the pro-corporate agenda.


Quite a BS bit.

I don't read Marc B often enough to know for just how open he would be to writing a piece on someone like Medinsky, minus the kind of negative comments that have been said of him.


Example of "freedom". Imagine the stench if something like this happened in Russia.


That story was the lead headline at the RT homepage early yesterday morning.

Answering BS with BS isn't good media.

Regarding the US political situation, one can very much sympathize with the lack of a strong third party political base and the way Repubs and Dems dominate nationally televised presidential debates.

The arrested individuals didn't have pre-approved clearance to carry on near a venue that at the time was understandably facing heightened security. You let them go unhindered and that leaves others to seek promoting their cause as well – which can lead to a chaotic situation.

As you touch on, consider Pussy Riot, Navalny or Udaltsov suddenly deciding to see fit to engage in a given high profile area where permission is typically required beforehand.


Well, this is not just a security issue. As with Ralph Nader the US Democrat-Republican mafia control who is on the ballot through the "electoral committees" which they dominate. So third parties and their candidates local or national do not have a chance.

But the US media which dominates the information space of the west is the one that lectures Russia about democracy. In addition we have Hillary "Cornuta" Clinton declaring every Russian election to be illegitimate. US politicians and US media and their sycophants are in no position to pronounce on democratic standards.


You raise some thought provoking points that are very much within reason.

That said, protesting the non-invitation to a debate by sitting on a road and blocking traffic in a (at the time) highly regarded security zone (where two prez candiadtes are situated along with others) will reasonably result in an arrest.


Concerning the subject of goverment and mass media inaccuracies:


Relating to a matter raised in the Common Dreams link noted by Kirill:

This has been an issue in the past as well.

Some of the general commentary on Russia has an ironic twist of sorts. Many Americans aren't so happy with either the Repubs or Dems, while nevertheless being inclined to vote along the lines of the existing power structure.


And there are no liberast analogues calling them cattle and attacking them in other terms. So Russians get attacked for actually expressing their choice at the ballot box.

Some fanatic fringe wants them to only vote for pre-selected parties and candidates who are approved by the western media and elites as "democratic" aka bootlick comprador scum prepared to sell their country down the river.


To best grasp the Dominic part, it's better to click intoaround the 7:00 minute mark. An emphasis on how some can get motivated to carry on in a certain way.

The rest of the skit is pretty good.


Sorry – should've been posted directly below the below link to the SNL skit in question.


On the matter of choice, Saturday Night Live just aired a pretty good spoof IMO of the Obama-Romnay debate at Hofstra.

As of this moment, it doesn't appear available online.


Here it is:

Pretty rough on Long Islanders. My favorite is Domnic who comes in at around the 7:15 mark.

Moscow Exile

at 1:24 am

More good news from Russia – unless, of course, it is just one big lie, which the Western media no doubt will say it is if it should deign to report this news – is revealed in this bulletin from ITAR-TASS: "Number of teenage drug abusers in Russia down by 60% in 5 years".



at 6:03 am

Only neo-liberals, libertarians and other right-tards deny links between crime, poverty and drug abuse and the state of the economy. They pretend that it is all "personal" responsibility. The same collection of kooks who claim you can always find a decent job if you just look hard enough, again it is all your "personal" initiative. As if society and job opportunities are not a factor.

So one could have predicted that there would be a decline in drug abuse as the Russian economy increased and the fact that the average income is growing at 15% per year. Of course, drug abuse will not go away since rich kids can do it too. But a lot of it is associated with poverty, much like alcohol abuse.


Next big thing coming down the pike a few days from now will be the so-called "Elections to the Coordinating Committee of the Opposition". To review: This "election", held entirely over the internet, is an attempt, led by the usual suspects (Navalny, Udaltsov, Nemtsov, Kasparov, Sobchak, Chirikova, and the rest) to legitmize the Opps movement by showing that it really does have mass popular support, and a popularly elected leadership. (As opposed to Dmitry-Samozvanets type usurpers.)
Opps claim they have passed the 100,000 person barrier (of persons signing up over the internet for the right to vote. Right to vote consists of presenting an authenticated ID such as passport, and also paying a 10,000 ruble participation fee.
From Opps POV, these "elections" prove 3 things: (1) that non-parliamentary Opps can become a legitimate mass anti-Putin movement with popularly elected leadership committee, (2) it is the way that elections should be run in ANY democracy anyhow, with only legimately authenticated voters/taxpayers casting a ballot over the internet, and (3) as a result of this election, Putin will have to step aside and yield power to this mass movement of the intelligent computer-savvy elite.

I would add my own paranoid opinion that this process has been orchestrated by the American State Department, as a way of setting up a transitional government for Russia, along the lines of the Libyan NTC or the Syrian government-in-exile, [insert many other examples…]

Apetian has a piece on this, be sure to read (there are graphs and charts!), he claims the chart shows that the sign-up process has been falsified:

I also add that the Putin government is sufficiently leery of this process (they consider it a pretty good gambit on the part of the enemy) that they are attacking it in their own way, via the Mavrodi MMM Pyramid influx of fake voters; and also an investigation underway by the Moscow Prosecutor's Office, accusing the "election committee" of embezzling 53,000 rubles. I am on that story and will have more later…


Correction: I meant to say 530,000 rubles.
That's a bigger number.


The Putin regime better get off its ass and serve the interests of Russians and Russia and make sure these Trojan horses are crushed. Dirty tricks are perfectly acceptable since the west is engaged in them endlessly at home and abroad.

I would focus on the organizers and any associates that transfer money from abroad into their pockets. I am not sure why there already is not a law on the books preventing shadow government and elections. The Duma better pass one ASAP.

Alexander Mercouris

100,000 is nothing in a country of more than 140 million. In fact it's pathetic.

PS: I am in Finland on an urgent business trip so the time I have to comment is limited (Peter will say thankfully). However I'll be keeping watch. Back in London on Monday.


As previously noted, Putin and some others can do such by not reaching out as much to the likes of Gessen and instead start seeking to do more for those with a reasoned pro-Russian viewpoint.

RT highlighting the lack of diversity with the Repubs and Dems has a bit of an ironic twist.

Leos Tomicek

They have to control that election process of theirs somehow. I mean, they do not want to allow another faux-pas full of massive lulz like that video with Tesak.


"The Turkish authorities recognize the legitimacy of the cargo seized from a Moscow-Damascus passenger plane but have a problem with its processing, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday."


Apparently not all western media were spreading pro-Pussy Riot propaganda. But you now see how they will be punished for spreading the truth.


A vital piece of missing information is that Fitch drinks the "infinite oil" koolaid. These accountants don't understand the difference between shale oil and oil shale. They also don't understand that rosy predictions about tar sands are nonsense designed to scam investors out of money. While tar sands output increased by 300-400,000 barrels per day since 2000, Norwegian output of conventional oil fell by 2 million barrels per days from 3.3 to 1.3 million. The tar sands will continue to have a slow production ramp for decades. They are simply nothing like conventional oil plays and involve industrial processing and inefficient extraction bottlenecks such as SAGD (the steam does not always go where you want it to).


Note how the author just makes stuff up. No vociferous opposition to Putin and a pliant media? LO f*cking L. Harper has been treated with kid gloves by the Canadian MSM. He prorogued Parliament twice for petty reasons of power and there was nothing like the sort of hysteria whipped up around Trudeau, in particular the war measure act to fight the FLQ terrorists in the 1970s.

As for the Russians in the interview admiring Canada for its treatment of the Inuit, these morons should bother to get a clue first. Farley Mowat has written a nice set of books no less significant than Solzhenitsen's Gulag Archipelago about the plight of Canada's Inuit during the 1940s and 1950s, e.g. People of the Deer. Typically Mowat was attacked as a liar by the twats that would have you believe the west is paradise on earth not subject to human fallibility.

By contrast the aboriginal people of Russia's far north did not feel the pain of Stalin's gulag filling exercises. Here is a list of aboriginal minorities in Russia's north:

Here is PDF discussing the demographics of these peoples:

All the yapping about aboriginal rights in Canada being so much better than in Russia is so much BS. The Inuit lived in North West Territories up until the 1999. This was nothing like the Republic of Sakha ( So all of the progress is very recent. I remember the wife of Joe Clark (Canada's Prime Minister for a brief period in 1979) going on some trip to the USSR in the 1980s pushing for aboriginal rights. What a sick joke!


You bring up points that Markedonov's not too distant RIAN affiliated RBTH article didn't note, while playing up to the idea that the Russian government needs to do something to acknowledge those pressing the stated Circassian genocide issue.



As presented below, the stated Pope's support appears a bit half assed:

Excerpt –

Despite the international outrage at their treatment and reports in Italy last night of the Pontiff's sympathy with the musicians' accusers rather than the young women, the Holy See appeared unconcerned.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Independent: "I have nothing to say. This was reported on the site of the Russian Patriarch and it was about a meeting I was not privy to. I have no intention of disturbing the Pope to ask him about it."


Much more powerful if directly said by the person in the open as opposed to another source.


Good news for secular humanists!
Putin has come out against regional schools (in Muslim regions, it goes without saying) forcing and/or allowing little girls to wear hijabs.
On this very delicate issue, Putin's statement is very balanced: he stressed the importance of respecting people's religious feelings, and also allowing regional autonomy as much as possible.
But taking everything into account, Putin stresses that it is necessary to underline the SECULAR property of the Russian government and the separation of church and state. Russia is not an Islamic Republic (or an Orthodox Republic), and it goes without saying that public schools are secular by nature. Like others of my ilk (secularists, atheists), I have been upset about the introduction of religious (=ROC) instruction and prayers in Russian public schools. This should not be happening, nor should girls be wearing headscarves in school in the Muslim regions. As several commenters have pointed out, it is more important for the schools to teach children mathematics and science. They can learn religion at home, if that is what their parents desire.
Putin has even suggested that Russian Federation may return to the Soviet practice of common school uniforms across all regions of the country. Under the Soviet type dress code, girls would wear little ribbons in their hair, but not headscarves. This seems to be the best and easiest way to do this. If all children everywhere dress the same, then it will not be an issue.
Putin points out that he has come to this conclusion partly based on the European experience with this issue; recall that several European countries (including the most important one, France) have had to deal with this explosive issue and have banned headscarves in the schools. It sounds silly, but it's actually important.
I am happy to see this, and pleased with Putin's handling of this issue.


A few years back, a good number of US public schools went the uniform route.

On that issue of a dress code, I lean towards a reasoned individuality.

Moscow Exile

Yalensis wrote: "Putin points out that he has come to this conclusion partly based on the European experience with this issue; recall that several European countries (including the most important one, France) have had to deal with this explosive issue and have banned headscarves in the schools."

Why do you say that France is the most important one?

Important in what way? Economically? Militarily? Culturally? Or is it simply because France is simply the largest European secular state to have banned hijabs? In any case, France has been a secular state for over 200 years and I believe that in French schools one cannot wear crosses in a way that they are displayed: for example, they have to be tucked down one's shirt or dress.

I should think that banning hijabs in France is nothing as compared to the banning of circumcision in Germany. Bear in mind, it would be rather an indelicate operation in trying to prove that the German circumcision ban was being adhered to: one could hardly ask every little Turkish boy attending school in Germany to drop his pants before lessons. Or perhaps not: Ve haf vays off making sure der order iss obeyed!

I remember years back when, in the non-secular state whence I originate, there first appeared the problem of what to do with Sikhs who wished to join the police force or be employed in any organization where the wearing of a uniform was compulsory, e.g. to work as bus conductors on London Transport. Eventually, Sikhs were allowed to wear matching turbans to their uniforms with the appropriate badge of the organization to which they were employed attached. Of course, that's what they'd been allowed to do in the British Indian army for donkeys' years right up to the end of the British Indian Raj. (My father always treated Sikhs with the greatest of respect because he had watched them go into action in North Africa without a "tin hat", for which action they continuously suffered the consequences of suffering an inordinate number of fatal head wounds.) And yet quite recently at Heathrow airport, London, staff were told not to display crosses: this order came from the person there who is called a "diversity officer" or something nonesensically similar.


Dear Exile: The reason I put France as the most important European country is because I am a Francophile. Simple as that.
Seriously, it's because of their long history dealing with these issues of secularity. I think the French actually invented the concept of secularity, no?
Re. Germans, I didn't know they had banned circumcisions. I think that's a good idea too. For medical, as well as religious, reasons. (Circumcized men have a better sex life.)
Re. Sikhs, well I guess one does have to make an exception for them, because they are such good soldiers. Although, I don't understand why they can't compromise and wear a turban-shaped helmet when in battle?

Moscow Exile

Sikhs have a few religious symbols that they are obliged to wear at at all times. If I remember rightly they are the turban, which is, of course, the most visible symbol; long hair, which is tied up in a top knot under the turban; an armband; and a small dagger (symbol of a warrior caste). Oh yes, and every adult Sikh male is called "Singh" (lion).

I think the Sikhs made an adaptation to the dagger rule so as to comply with UK legislation, wherein a knife having a blade longer than 4 inches is considered to be a weapon: the Sikhs carry a tiny little knife now so as not to infringe UK law.

Common sense in politics is often about compromise.

It's the same with ritual slaughter. Way back in Victorian England there was made an adjustment in law to accomodate Jewish ritual slaughter and there has seldom been any fuss and bother made about this except by the most rabid anti-semitic elements in the UK. Compare this possible thorny question about kosher and halal – no problem in the UK apart from with veggies, vegans and "animals' rights" activists – with what has been happening in Russia of late, where there have been many vociferous complaints about the slaughter of sheep by Muslim faithful outside of mosques in Moscow. Laws are soon to be enforced to prevent this, which will, no doubt, be nothing but grist to the Muslim fundamentalists' mill.

As regards the ban on circumcision in Germany, this was proposed by a federal German state as the ritual mutilation of a child was considered to be an infringement of human rights. But the ball started rolling and some, including the head of the Conference of European Rabbis, even said that this new legislation was the "worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust".


Anyway, the proposed legislation led to such a a fury off the faithful that now legislation will make circumcision legal on condition that "The new law will make circumcision explicitly legal, as long as it is carried out by trained experts, and parents are informed of any medical risks".


I should hope that when informing parents about the risks involved in ritual circumcision the German authorities make them aware of what happened recently in New York:


Dear Exile:
If a Sikh male is required by his religion to have long flowing hair, what would happen to him if he became bald through no fault of his own?
My brother went bald, for example, but fortunately for him he is not a Sikh.


Sikh and you shall find:

Moscow Exile

Well that's a thing I used to wonder about as well. The reason why I know a little about Sikhs is because my father served in the 4th Indian division of the British 8th army in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He wasn't Indian, by the way: the "Indian" divisions in the British army always had a 1:2 ratio of British to Indian regiments, and there was no Indian artillery. Anway, as regards baldness amongst Sikhs, he told me he'd never seen a bald one, that when they washed their hair they let it fall and it went right down their backs. (By the way, I've jut remembered another one of their always carried symbols of faith: a ceremonial comb for their flowing locks.) And he said they always put oil on their hair before tying it back up again. It must be genetic thing with them, this absence of baldness.

Moscow Exile

Forgot to add: the Sikhs apparently used to tell the Tommies that haircuts called baldness, which must have been pretty disconcerting to the British sodiery in the Western Desert as my father told me that he and the rest of the "other ranks" of his acquaintance preferred to be skinheads in the heat and dust that they had to endure.

Moscow Exile

By the way, this eastern way of thinking, namely that one shouldn't modify what god in his infinite wisdom has created and have mullets or mohicans etc., is also reflected in the Russian Orthodox Church, in that Russian priests are bearded and don't have haircuts.


Interesting; I would have also chosen France as a model, just because the press creates the impression that France is the European country that has the most restive and troublesome Muslim population and is, among European countries, the biggest cauldron of protest for Muslim rights. This includes but is not limited to traditional dress and ceremonial custom.

They'd have to go some to beat Canada, though, which in 1984 changed its dress regulations for both the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces (we were still called the CAF in those days, although it has since been reduced to just "CF" because the "Armed" qualification alarmed some among the tender-hearted, who felt it was too suggestive of violence) for – in the case of the CAF – one Sikh applicant. And to the best of my memory, he fdid not even stay in; he lasted a year or two and quit. In any case, Sikh members of the national police force or Armed Forces may retain the following traditional accoutrements;

A CF member who is an adherent of the Sikh religion (Keshadharis) shall wear CF pattern uniforms and adhere to standard CF dress policy and instructions, with the following exceptions:

a. Hair and beard shall remain uncut, provided that the operational mission and safety is not jeopardized when it is required that the member wear occupational and operational equipment such as gas masks, oxygen masks, combat/vehicle/flying helmets, hard hats, scuba masks, etc. When a hazard clearly exists, the hair and/or beard shall be modified to the degree necessary for wearing the required equipment.

b. In addition to uncut hair, four other symbolic requirements of the Sikh religion are authorized for wear by both male and female members (see paragraph 16.), with all orders of dress. Should a conflict arise between the requirement to wear safety or operational items of clothing and equipment and these religious symbols, the manner and location of wearing these symbols shall be adjusted. Unit commanders retain the right to order the manner of this adjustment as necessary to meet valid safety and operational requirement.

c. A turban shall be worn by male members with ceremonial, mess, service and base dress. Turbans shall also be worn with occupational and operational dress, subject to the safety and operational considerations noted in sub-paragraph a., above. When engaged in combat operations, operational training or when serving with peacekeeping or multinational contingents, adherents of the Sikh religion shall, when deemed essential, cover their head with a patka or other customary clothing item (see paragraph 21.), over which they shall wear the headdress (including combat helmets) and other items of military equipment as ordered by the commanding officer.

15. Except as otherwise provided by paragraph 14, the turban worn by male members and authorized headdress worn by female members shall not be removed while wearing uniform. Similarly, when on duty wearing civilian clothing, a civilian turban and an appropriate civilian woman's head covering shall not be removed. Specifically, such headdress shall not be removed:
a. on parade;
b. by a member of the bearer party at a military funeral;
c. during the administration of the Oath of Allegiance by an attesting officer;
d. when attending or being paraded as the accused before a trying officer at a summary trial or investigation;
e. when attending or being paraded as the accused before a court martial;
f. when entering a consecrated building;
g. when entering a mess, canteen or dining room; and
h. at formal or informal functions, when the removal of headdress might otherwise be considered appropriate.

16. Adherents of the Sikh religion shall, subject to the provisions of paragraph 14., observe the following five symbolic requirements:
a. Kesh – leave hair on the head, face and body uncut;
b. Kanga – wear a comb;
c. Kara – wear an iron bangle (bracelet);
d. Kacha – wear under-drawers of a specific design; and
e. Kirpan – wear a symbolic dagger with an overall length (including handle and sheath) not exceeding 23 cm (9 in.).

Moscow Exile

I remember when long hair came into vogue amongst young men in the early '70s. I was working down the pit and it seemed almost overnight that these Apache injun types suddenly appeared underground – young lads from 18 years of age to their early 20s. (You were not allowed to work underground if you were younger than 18.) There was one I remember in particular whom all the wags called "Gloria" because he used to take so long in the pithead baths after a shift shampooing and combing his hair that reached down to his waist, whereas the rest of use were short-back-and-sides or skinheads. Anyway, it soon became Mines and Quarries regulations that these Apaches wear hair nets, which were issued out free at the pit bank. And we all thought that they would have a haircut rather than suffer the indignity of wearing a girl's hair net, but they didn't: they chose to wear their hair nets with pride, often in the fashion of a 1940s "snood".



All sounds reasonable to me ..excepting
For the ceremonial Sikh nickers…
How can they tell, except by inspecting?
Snicker, snickers…

Moscow Exile

Dear Yalensis,

They just look like ordinary shorts to me. I've worn such things for years.

Best wishes.

Moscow Exile Singh


Which answers the crucial question: Boxers or Briefs?


I recall that Mormons are also supposed to wear Special Underwear that they are never supposed to remove except to shower or bathe. I'm not sure to what degree that custom is observed in the modern age, but I think it's just left to the individual's honour to adhere to custom. This is the first I've heard of Sikhs having a similar requirement.


So Samutsevich is running to the European Court of Human Rights. These clowns need to learn what civilized behaviour is. Human rights are not about crapping on somebody's head because you have some BS "cause". The worshipers at the cathedral have human rights too and the law that S. got charged with is designed exactly for hooligans such as S.

If this so-called court of human rights will pronounce in favour of S. then it will just affirm that it is a propaganda kangaroo court. Does it deal with any actual abuse cases? Paco Larranaga is being kept in jail in Spain because he is not admitting his "guilt". I would say that is a clear violation of his human rights to impose such terms on his parole. The reason he was transferred out of the Phillipines was exactly because his jail term was travesty of justice so why does he have to admit to "guilt". What a joke!


The ECHR is kind of a buy-now-pay-later proposition anyway, whereby Samutsevich and Pussy Riot get another day in the news cycle, but Samutsevich will be probably waiting on her first hip replacement by the time the case actually gets to the hearing that decides whether the court will even allow the case to be heard. Just another day in the life of arrested-development adolescents who must do or say something every day that keeps the attention on themselves. Also, Samutsevich must downplay any inference that she is not a true Pussy and that she has "gone straight". This is likely her only chance to ever be anything, since she is not the most attractive of the group by far and the telegenic Tolokonnikova would certainly steal the limelight if she were free.

I had to laugh at her "Russia is just a big prison" interview with the invertebrate sycophant Mark Bennets, in which with one breath she was wide-eyed in wonder at the support they had received from heavyweight pop-music stars like Madonna and Paul McCartney, and with the next was grimacing at the dreadful saccharine pop music that was constantly played in the prison, as if it were some kind of torture. What does she think Madonna and Sir Paul play? Stripped-down mosh-pit alternative?


The "support" factor across the political spectrum has some questionable choices.

In the instance of the above, the ECHR option serves a BS cycle.

Other possibilities include the kind of structures (think tanks) that Andreas Umland recently harped on.

Mind you that such entities can serve a constructive purpose.

Alexander MercourisA

If Mark will excuse a little blog whoring I analysed the prospects of a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights in my second Pussy Riot post. In my opinion it has practically no prospect of success.


Whore away. I agree completely, but an application to the court is still a good tactical move, and that's why Samutsevich is making it. It keeps the Pussy Riot case in the news cycle, which is a sort of diminishing-returns venue; once you drop out of the news, you generally have to do something at least as outrageous or more outrageous than the original event – or have something at least as outrageous or more outrageous done to you – to get back in.

This way, every aspect of the case can be dragged in simply on the basis of Samutsevich's application, as a sort of "refresher" for the old couple living in White Plains who might not have already heard of Pussy Riot. Meanwhile, an application to the ECHR will be spun – for certain applicants – by the western press as if it had an excellent chance of success. It's no-lose under those circumstances.

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Mark,

I agree with all of this. Also Pussy Riot and their supporters can always do or try to do what Khodorkovksy and his supporters including Amsterdam and Gessen have done which is claim that defeats in the European Court of Human Rights are actually victories.


As of a few minutes ago, this little news blip from the RT homepage:

Kurdish militants blow up Iran-Turkey gas pipeline, 28 soldiers wounded
­Insurgents of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkish province of Agri have blasted gas pipeline delivering 27 million cubic meters of gas from Iran daily. Reportedly 28 Turkish soldiers deployed in the area were wounded as a result and hospitalized.


Not as propagandistically sexy a story as plastering a lead early morning headline featuring the arrest of two Green Party candidates for blocking traffic along a roadway by an (at the time) heavily police monitored area (having to do with a nationally televised presidential debate).


I personally LOVED the Green Party arrest headline on RT. It shows a more aggressive propaganda stance on their part towards America and the West. Misha calls it "responding with b.s. to b.s.", but I call it "tit for tat". Which has proved, in Game Theory, to be the most effective tactic in dealing with an aggressive enemy. I posted a comment on Adomanis blog proposing that Russian propaganda outlets respond to every American attack with a variant on the "Yes, but you lynch Negroes." I am happy to see they are starting to do this! (What it would hopefully lead is to is both sides eventually declaring a truce, and maybe West putting its Luke Hardings and their equivalents on a leash.)


We disagree.

I think it would've been much more productive to have a major feature at the RT homepage on the lack of a third party movement in the US. IMO, the arrest of the Green Party candidate wasn't the lead world news headline

Yes, I'm aware that the Al Jazeera (AJ) headline news (at around that time) on Russia led with Udaltsov's arrest. However, that wasn't the lead AJ headline.

I also think that RT would benefit by having a good hard talk weekly media review show that has on quality downplayed input, plus establishment elites from the major networks and/or people who worked for them at one time. Let it be a constructive free for all.

RT has done a good deal of good. Why leave it open to a valid criticism that it could easily avoid?

The fight (if you may) can be won in a more noble way.


To further underscore a point made, I reference the following:

The above piece is coming from a certain lean, while nevertheless acknowledging (what can be termed as a) flip side point that notes a highlighted The Kyiv Post (KP) piece. An acknowledgement is given to that particular, while also noting the KP's shortcomings. (A more recent one having to do with a faulty "Russian Killer" piece of theirs brought up by Leos and yours truly.)

I don't feel guilty about linking the above piece as an example – especially when seeing some of the sources that JRL, Adomanis and have promoted.


IMO, a more reasonable "tit for tat" presentation:

Yalensis' reference on the lynching of African-Americans as an example to serve as a constructive tit for tat function brings to mind an excerpt in this piece (As noted in the full text, Riabchuk is the one who made the comment about Jews ruling the Russian Empire.):

"The Jews in the Russian Empire experienced instances of discrimination, violence and the potential for upward social mobility. It is a sheer crock to believe that 'the Jews arguably ruled the Russian Empire.'

Nationalist anti-Russian leaning sources appear to have difficulty acknowledging that Russia's success includes the Russian acceptance of many non-ethnic Russians, who over the course of time have willingly blended in with Russian identity. This point does not deny ethnic problems in Russia, which are periodically distorted along the lines of Riabchuk's oD commentary.

The adage of two wrongs not making a right can further emphasize that hypocritically applied highlighting is not proportionate with reality. During the Russian Empire's existence, other countries/empires saw harsh manner accorded to some like the African-Americans and Indians in the United States, as well as a few of the non-Turkic peoples in the Ottoman Empire. Imperial thinking is by no means exclusive to Russia. The term "white man's burden" was not coined with Russia in mind. Besides Russia, there are numerous countries that simultaneously have chauvinistic and reasonably patriotic advocates.

Over the course of time, the term 'Russification' has been used in a comparatively hyped way. When compared to Gaelic use in Ireland and Scotland, consider the greater popularity of the Ukrainian and numerous other non-Russian languages in the former Soviet Union. Yet, 'Angloization' is not as popularly used."


You'll be hard pressed to find this kind of an analytical contrast from Adomanis, Ioffe and JRL favored material. An ongoing cronyism has left out some effective pro-Russian input.



Interesting documentary on how Romania's past has a negative influence on its presence. I'm also reminded on how human rights has been geopolitically used as a propaganda tool.

The above referenced documentary doesn't note that the West greatly ignored the human rights abuses in Romania for geopolitical considerations. Under Ceausescu, Romania became a nice pain in the ass in the Warsaw Pact by dong things like attending the 1984 Los Angeles summer Olympics (boycotted by the other Warsaw Pact countries), continuing diplomatic relations with Israel (after the other Warsaw Pact nations had broken relations with the Jewish state) and holding high level talks with the Chinese (at a time when other Warsaw Pact nations weren't doing such and when US-China ties had greatly improved).

The above documentary falls under Western mass media influenced media.


Here is more on the Mavrodi-Pyramid story. Recall that Mavrodi has flooded Opps fake elections with his own applicants and candidates.

(According to Apetian and others, an estimated 30,000 of the sign-ups are actually members of the Mavrodi Pyramid.)

Boris Nemtsov accuses the government of egging on Mavrodi to this provocation, in an attempt to destroy "legitimacy" of these fake elections.

To date, Opps claim to have collected over 130,000 applications so far; each applicant had to pay an entry fee of 10,000 rubles. If my calculations are correct, that amounts to 1,300,000,000 rubles which, at today's exchange rate is $42,163,984 American dollars. Did I do the math right? I am sure peter will let me know if I didn't. $42 million bucks is no chump change!

Opps chairman of this process, a guy named Leonid Volkov, assures us that all this money is being guarded by an Auditing Company, it will go towards financing the new Opps movement (called "Movement for Honest Elections"), and none of it will go into the pockets of the organizers. Likewise, they assure us that all the personal/demographic information they have collected on applicants (passport ID, which includes date of birth, etc.) will not be saved in any marketing database afterwards. My personal theory is that it is the personal DATA, even more than the money, that Mavrodi is after!

And Mavrodii's side of the story:

Be careful when you click on this link, through. A popup opens up, and some eager-beaver "associate", no matter what time of day or night, tries to lure you into their chatroom so you can sign up for the ponzi scheme. Just click on the "нет спасибо" (="no thanks") button to dismiss this beaver, otherwise next thing you know you will be sucked into this ridiculous cult…


I read somewhere that the financial aspect requires only a token amount and can be as little as one ruble; it's just to get the bank to verify your identity. I'll have to look it up, but I don't have time now as I'm just checking out and the next opportunity will likely be in the Calgary airport.

Alexander Mercouris

The latest I have heard is that the voting to the Council is being disrupted by a hacker.

PS: It is in some ways a relief to be in a country, Finland, where Russophobia is not endemic or the fashion. On the contrary they see Russia as their once and future market. For anyone who has never been to Helsinki it is full of Russian monuments including statues to Alexander I, Alexander II and an obelisk put up by Alexander III.


Dear Alexander: Sounds like you are enjoying your trip to Finland! I envy you, I have always wanted to visit Finland, but never got the chance. I've heard it's really nice there. .

Alexander Mercourisa

Dear Yalensis,

I don't know about Finland as a whole never having seen all of it it but I love Helsinki. It's a beautiful city . Russian classical and art nouveau. Physically like St. Petersburg but the vibe is completely different. The Finns are a warm, silent, totally honest and efficient people. They don't like Swedes here but Russians are OK and there are lots of Russians as well as Russian restaurants. They are big on technology. A Russian computer programmer and IT person would be tops. PS. the girls are lovely. .

Moscow Exile

Dear Alexander Mercouris,

They don't like Swedes because Finland was a Swedish province for 700 hundred years and Swedish was the language of governance – kind of like England and Ireland. I remember when I lived in Sweden how Swedes used to tell jokes about Finns in much the same way as some English people do about the Irish and Russians about Chukchi.

Finnland was ceded to the Russian Empire at the Vienna Congress, 1814-15, but as an autonomous grand duchy: the Tsar was Grand Duke of Finland, never its tsar. I've known plenty of Finns who have been quite happy living and working here – including the time of the USSR – not least because of the availability of cheap booze!

As regards Helsinki having a Russian feel about it, because of this the murder mystery "Gorky Park" was filmed entirely in Finnland and its capital, although the story was set in the Soviet Union: they placed Soviet symbols on the impressive former Russian imperial public buildings in Helsinki and scattered around street signs written in cyrillic so as to kid the cinemagoer.


On the flip side, I've been informed that the Finnish media entity Sanomat (which has had a working relationship with "Independent Media"/Moscow Times) is biased against Russia.

Some years back on Radio Moscow, Pozner severely criticized Gorky Park for inaccurate depictions. This was back around the time that movie came out. I don't recall the specifics. Dr. Zhivago had some scenes shot in Finland.

Moscow Exile

Oh yes, no doubt there were inaccuracies in Gorky Park. It was shot in 1983. The first Western film shot in the Soviet Union was "Russia House", starring Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer. It was made in 1990 and there really are some wowsers in it, the most noticeable being when Connery is walking across Red Square with Pfeiffer, they pass Spassky ower on their right and St. Basil's on their left and walk down to the river embankent with the Kremlin wall continuously on their right. On reaching the embankment, they turn right, and – lo and behold! – before their very eyes stands the magnificent lavra of St. Sergius – Troitsa, which in reality is situated some 50 miles northeast of the Kremlin.

And I remember how in that silly James Bond film shot in St.Petersburg an English actor playing a Russian small-time crook drank his vodka as though it were highland malt whisky, sipping it slowly whilst gently nursing his whisky tumbler: no salted gherkin, no herring in oil, no sprats – no nothing!

Definitely not the Russian way!


… the Finnish media entity Sanomat (which has had a working relationship with "Independent Media"…

That's two factual errors in half a sentence.


About as true as your other recent attempt to besmisrch an online foreign policy webzine, whose core contributors (as well as some others) have a substantively greater stature than your cowardly trolling self.

BTW, on your crank activity here and elsewhere, I was given notice (not divulging as it's none of your business) of your recorded Brussels and London IPs, which jive with someone who thinks you could very well be some not so swift Russian liberast NGO flunky/wannabe, who frustratingly lobs pot shots from a very safe distance.

Moscow Exile

A typo there, Misha: it's "Sanoma".

Sanoma is a Finnish publishing group:

Part of the Sanoma group is Sanoma Independent Media, which is part of Sanoma Media Russia & CEE.

Sanoma certainly has had a relationship with Independent Media and the Moscow Times for a long time as Sanoma Independent Media (SIM) has as one of its publications the Moscow Times: in fact, Independent Media, now known a Samona Independent Media, was founded by Dutchman Derk Sauer with the launch of MT in 1992, when I began to live in Moscow. So MT and I are old friends.


I've worked at IM and SIM on more than one occasion. Sauer is no longer CEO there (He is now called "Chairman of the Supervisory Board"), but when he was, I remember him stating about 10 years ago that there were really only two cities in Russia and all other places of human habitation there were nothing more than villages, if not in size then certainly in attitude.

I have never enjoyed my periods of employment at IM/SIM because I was always quizzed there time and time again by my Russian colleagues about why I lived in Russia. It seemed to me that they couldn't understand why I had chosen to live in Russia with my Russian wife and our three children. In short, it seemed to me that most of those Moscow IM/SIM employees with whom I have become acquainted are Navalny hamsters who desperately wish to live in the "free world".

A result of believing one's own propaganda, I should think.

Moscow Exile

And a typo off me as well! I wrote "Samona Independent Media" on one occasion above.


Which brings to mind a perhaps appropriate schoolboy mock-Latin phrase that I and my horrible chums used to come out with over 50 years ago:


I wrote that on my Latin exercise book when I was 11 and got soundly flogged for it by the Latin master, who was a right bastard!


Moscow Exile,

On that Sanoma/Sanomat matter -

Pardon the miscue that's not so far off the mark, unlike a good portion of Peter's input.

I've heard Sauer being described along the lines of a former playboy Communist with Sorosian tendencies. Don't know him well enough to comment one way or other.

I share your take of TMT. Someone who has been there has described herself/himself as a Bolshevik, while suggesting views that don't conform with more Russian patriotically inclined views. That particular individual has readily parroted the faulty English language mass media line on former Yugoslavia, while scorning the general Russian view on that subject.


Moscow Exile,

From the Pierce Brosnan era, I recall a James Bond movie depicting a scene in Azerbaijan, where an Orthodox priest is featured instead of a Muslim cleric.

Martti Ahtisaari comes to mind as a Finn with a not so Russia understanding slant.

By no means saying that he's the norm.

Moscow Exile

I don't know any Finnish, but I think that perhaps that letter "t" that appears at times on "sanoma" might be a definite article, possibly as a result of Swedish having been enforced on the Finns for 700 years or so.

The North Germanic group of the Germanic languages, namely Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic have this curious feature of adding the definite article to the noun as a suffix, whereas the indefinite article is a separate word coming before the noun, as it does in the other Germanic languages. So the Swedish word "folkhus", literally means in English "folk house" and is probably best translated as "community centre". However, if I want to say "the community centre" in Swedish, then I should say "folkhuset", the suffix "-et" meaning "the". Not all Swedish nouns have the definite article suffix as "-et" though:it depends on how the nouns are declined or, as the case may be, not declined. For example, "a bottle" in Swedish is "en flaska", but "the bottle" in Swedish is "flaskan".

Конец шведского урока!

Moscow Exile

Nope! That's yet another theory thrown out of the window: I've just found out that there are no definite articles in Finnish, and a good thing too! If the Russians and the rest of the Slavs can manage without articles, both definite and definite, to say nothing of the Romans, why have them?

Alexander Mercourisa

I seem to remember that Warren Beattys film Reds was also filmed in Helsinki. This is not so surprising. The centre of Helsinki looks like a miniature St. Petersburg.

Obviously there are anti Russian Finns but they are not the sort of people I am meeting. For the rest Moscow Exile has it right. Finland was for centuries a poor province of Sweden. Swedish is still an official language along with Finnish and Swedes still form a kind of ruling class, own a lot of the land and control much of the economy. The biggest department store here in Helsinki is called Stockman, which as its name suggests is Finnish.

Finland's conquest by Russia was as many Finns say and as is set out in the museums here the making of Finland. Finland was granted a wide degree of autonomy within the Russian Empire. It had its own currency, army, parliament and government with the Tsar its monarch holding the title of Grand Duke. The capital was moved to Helsinki which was rebuilt on a magnificent scale and the Finnish language was for the first time given official status allowing a real literature to develop. As the Finns proudly tell you they were whilst still the Tsar's subjects the first nation in Europe in 1907 to give women the vote and equal status with men. This period is referred to here as the Golden Age of Finnish culture – think of Sibelius.

What appears to have destroyed a mutually satisfactory relationship was Nicholas II policy of fostering political centralisation and Russification with political decisions that had been formerly been left to the Finnish government increasingly taken by Nicholas II and his ministers in St. Petersburg and with Russian rather than Finnish increasingly given the status of the official language. This was bitterly resented and fostered for the first time a secessionist movement in what had previously been a loyal territory. People bitterly resent Nicholas II here and his memory and that of Stolypin who they also hold responsible for these policies are mud.

For the rest there are still dark memories here of the Winter War of 1939 and of what the Finns call the Continuation war ie. the Second World War, which caused the loss to Finland of Karelia and very heavy losses. Helsinki was heavily bombed by the Soviet airforce and you still see signs of bomb damage. However people have largely put all that behind them. What they do remember is that after the Second World War in the 1940s and 1950s the massive growth of trade with the USSR spurred by reparations payment industrialised the country transforming it from a poor agricultural one into a wealthy industrialised one. The country was badly hit economically by the USSRs collapse but it has now recovered as to a great extent has the trade with Russia.

Lastly on the subject of Russian style buildings, the Russian embassy here is one of the biggest and most magnificent embassy buildings I have ever seen. Stalin built it and it was finished in 1952. It is a magnificent neo classical palace with the Soviet emblem over a splending pediment by the main door.


The not so Russophile historian John Lukacs has said that Finland had the greatest autonomy of any (at the time) future nation under a European empire.

"Russification" is a comparatively hyped term relative to other realities like the linguistic situation in Ireland.

Stolypin's aforementioned stance nevertheless stressed the need to maintain Finnish autonomy:

On the issue of respecting the desires of people of different ethnic and linguistic origin than the given power structure, consider what the world was like at the time. Within reason, pre-Soviet Russian political development saw fluctuations of reform minded advocacy from the top getting hindered by enhanced terrorist acts. This situation nurtured a more conservative (if you may) approach, which was by no means final on the notions that:
- WW I wasn't fought, thus quite likely resulting in a changing Russia (which was in play) nurturing a changed political course that was nevertheless different from what came about
- WW I was fought differently without the early Russian attack into Germany – a move that served to help the Bolshevik cause.


October 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

In his memoirs, Mannerheim lauds Stolypin minus any criticism of him. Manerheim also speaks highly of his experience in the Russian army.

In his memoirs, Miliukov mentions the bit about Stolypin's stance on Finland. Miliukov goes into some detail in his support for Finnish autonomy and liking of Finland. He mentions having a different relationship with Poland – something that relates to the contrast on how the two were treated in the Russian Empire. Finland didn't pose a threat to Russia the way Poland did. The Russian acquisition of Finland occurred at a time when the Finns developed some displeasure with the Swedes who had previously occupied them.

Alexander Mercouris

I don't know what Stolypin's policies actually were. What I report is what Finns say about him.

Alexander I and Alexander II have a very good reputation here. Alexander II's statue dominates the main square. Even Lenin is favourably remembered. He often travelled to Finland, liked the country and supported its independence. Whether fairly or not Nicholas II and Stolypin are blamed for doing things wrong. Finland's and Poland's relationship with Russia is totally different. Russia because of the Partition ended Poland's state. Russia through its war with Sweden created Finland's state.

The language is impossible. One of the problems if you come here is that no Finnish word remotely resembles any word in any other European language one knows. Incidentally it is not the same as Estonian. Though the two languages are related they are not mutually intelligible. Feelings of friendship for Estonia have long since faded and Finno Ungric solidarity is a myth.

The Swedes are resented as the old colonial masters. One is constantly reminded that this is not Scandinavia and that Finland is not a Nordic country.


How many noticeable Lenin statues are there in Finland? I've known my share of Finns over the years. They don't come across as being favorable towards Lenin.

Finland never threatened pre-Soviet Russia in the way that Poland did. In the lead-up to WW II, Finland posed a strategic threat to the USSR.


Let's see what if anything substantial comes out of this meeting:


Russian influence motivates the Ukrainian government to consider acting in a way that stands to benefit Crimean consumers:


A change in legal representation:

Moscow Exile

TNK-BP official arrested over fraud allegations:

It's a small world!

I started teaching Korneev a fortnight ago. He didn't turn up for his lesson last Monday evening and I tried in vain to contact him: all lines were dead. I was very concerned about his whereabouts. He was a charming fellow.

Плохой Игоряшка!

Moscow Exile

Or should that be Игорёшка?


Naughty little Igor!

Moscow Exile

More evidence of a "Putin authoritarian crackdown" as yet another close associate of Udaltsov has his collar felt:

When will they finally come for Udaltsov, I wonder? He and other "oppositionists" have begun pushing the line that he has never advocated violence as a means to achieving his goals, yet the arrested man in the above linked news bulletin is dscribed as being one of his "aides".

For sure this rounding up of persons strongly suspected of criminal activities will be reported in the West as the actions of an illigitimate authoritarian state.

Q. When is a suspected criminal not a criminal?

A. When the suspected criminal is an "anti-Kremlin" Russian citizen.

Moscow Exile

And one of Udaltsov "aides" has run. Razvozzhayev, who was interviewed earlier by the Investigation Committee has bolted. As of this evening he is now on a wanted list:

And Udaltsov still walks free.

Run, Sergei! Run!


Do you have anything about Ilya Ponomarev's father and his deal to sell out the country (even just the Kurils which are strategically vital) to the Japanese? Damn Wikipedia page has nothing on this at all – strange since Japan has never been anything but an enemy of Russia.


October 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Oh haha.

He wrote his own page. Someone with greater knowledge should challenge him by editing it.


Has involved a cottage industry of sorts, inclusive of some paid NGO activity.

Recall running into someone awhile back, who openly bragged about getting paid to do such work.

Moscow Exile

For Cartman: Lev Ponomarev acting in the interests of Russian "freedom and democracy" (allegedly):


Romney goes on about Russia as the number one foe of the US, with establishment Kuchins ( ) quoted for saying the cautionary obvious:


Give the author of this piece more RT, WRF and Valdai feature time:

Moscow Exile

I-am-not-a-man-of-violence Udaltsov mouthing it off again at today's meeting in Moscow:


Udaltsov: "power provokes the emergence of new "Primorsky Partisans"

(Primorsky partisan see:

material posted October 20, 2012 14:09, views: 280

Oppositionist has appeared at Moscow rally.

At a rally in support of the election of an opposition coordination council of appeared Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov. He announced a soon to be agreed with capital city officials rally at Pushkin square on October 30 in support of political prisoners.

At Trubnaya Square, where a rally in support of the elections of an opposition coordination council appeared Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov. He was released on Wednesday from the investigative Committee inquiry into "Anatomy of Protest-2″, on condition that he does not leave the city. under the recognizance, in protest of the anatomy of the -2 ". He is now considered to be a suspect to a crime.

"Repressive measures are detrimental to the authorities", he said. "I call on and write to people to be prepared at any moment to take radical actions. The situation is becoming increasingly tense and at any moment we may see the new "Primorsky Partisans" who will start to kill United Russia. God forbid, of course I do not want evil, but we cannot stop the people."

Udaltsov said the most important thing now is to consolidate. "People must act in unison", he explained. "If new street arrests happen, hundreds of thousands must go to the Investigative Committe building."

With regard to the elections for the opposition coordinating committee, Udaltsov said that this is a historic moment for Russia. For the first time in the country there are fair elections. "If we don't manage to get the vote just now, we'll just hang on for a few more days" he added. added.

End of translation.

Why don't they just arrest the rabble rouser and have it all over and done with? He's just begging to be arrested! Why not just give him what he wants and to hell with the hypocritical Western hand wringing and Madonna and Yoko Ono comments that will follow??

Moscow Exile

Not "Power provokes.." but "The authorities provoke.."


Wasn't it Udaltsov who was just dissing and mocking the online elections a week or so ago, saying they were just a big waste of time ? Is it too much to ask for him to make up his mind?

Moscow Exile

It certainly was. In fact, he said in as many words that the election would only result in the formation of a committee that would only consist of a bunch of wankers. (He actually used the term онанист [onanist]).

Moscow Exile

I think Udaltsov is desperately searching for a revolution.


Too bad for him that there's no time machine.

Moscow Exile

Forgot to post the link to the original:

He's urging acts of terrorism to take place ("Primorsky partisans"); he's advocating murder by armed bands; though "god forbid" he doesn't want this to happen.

The lying little shit!

Moscow Exile

No, I didn't forget!

Too little sleep.

I feel like going down to Trubnaya and having ago at that idiot!


I notice his buddy Razvozzhaev is still on the lam, albeit still managing to blog from his secret lair:


Raz brags:

Также он сообщает, что ни близкие, ни товарищи не знают места, где он скрывается. Развозжаев добавил, что он – таёжник, сибиряк, и может довольно долго жить в экстремальных условиях.

"He [Raz] asserts that nobody, neither (family) nor comrades knows where he is hiding. Raz added that he is a man of the taiga, a Siberian, and that he can survive for quite a long time in extreme conditions."

Hint to FSB: Raz is hiding out in Ponomarev's Moscow dacha!

Moscow Exile

"I call on and write to people to be prepared at any moment to take radical actions. The situation is becoming increasingly tense and at any moment we God forbid, of course I do not want evil, but we cannot stop the people."

He "calls upon" people to take "radical actions".

What kind of "radical actions"?

"[W]e may see the new "Primorsky Partisans" who will start to kill United Russia deputies."

Are these the "radical actions" that he envisages, or does he wish for "radical actions" to prevent urban guerrillas?

"God forbid", he says, "I do not want evil"….

But then he says "we cannot stop the people".

The ones whom he calls upon and writes to?


Navalny's fake internet elections are a bust. Before the servers crashed (be it Denial of Service attack by Putinoid hackers or simple technological incompetence on the part of the organizers), only 8500 people were actually able to vote (out of 165,000 registrations, recall that tens of thousands of these registrations are actually fake Mavrodi-Pyramid people).
Navalny blames the Kremlin for his failure. Putin personally transformed himself into a rat and chewed through the network wires.


All's fair in love and war. Navalny can go lump it.


Extry! Extry! Breaking news!
Razvozzhaev nicked by coppers!
Nicked in Kiev!
Confused laddie got lost on his way to the tundra.

Moscow Exile

So he's asking for political asylum there in the Ukraine?

Moscow Exile

Judging by the pictures that are coming on line from Trubnaya Square, I get the feeling that there is a distinct absence there of the upwardly mobile, pampered young members of the bourgeoisie, the "creative" types and other associated freaks that have been present at similar events in the past. In fact, they all look decidedly long in the tooth and trapped in the past. "Courts and Police Under the Control of the Workers!" says one placard.

I bet they still address each other as tovarishch.


Moscow Exile

According to this report, no more than 300 at Trubnaya:

The Western press constantly reports that people such as these "send a clear message" to Putin of the nation's dissatisfaction with his "regime". And the same press also reports that Putin quakes in fear before these masses of opponents.

Leos Tomicek

October 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

I am willing to bet that Putin has not even heard about this protest, like the vast majority of Muscovites.

Alexander Mercourisa

As I said before, the charges against Udaltsov are the end of the protest movement. The other protest leaders were unwise enough to cede him leadership and he has now been exposed as taking money from a foreign government with whose representative he was caught plotting terrorism and armed insurrection. To top it all everybody now knows that he announced the protest on 20th October 2012 on instructions from Targamadze. Why would anybody with sense want to attend such a rally with such a man.

As for the elections to the Council they were always a nonsensical idea.


Dear Alexander: I agree that Udaltsov's probable arrest (and the arrests of his 2 co-conspirators) will sound the death-knell of the current Opps movement. To understand the Opps POV (and I think I do, to a certain degree, because I read their blogs), they believe that it is IMPOSSIBLE to form a regular parliamentary Opposition in Russia, due to the fact that all elections are essentially rigged (in their opinion). Therefore, it follows from this, that the only way of changing the government is by non-parliamentary means, i.e., street demonstrations. They see things backwards: instead of (1) have elections, (2) run for office, (3) come to power, the believe it is necessary to proceed in the following order: (1) come to power, (2) institute fair elections, (3) run for office. In order to accomplish this goal of coming to power outside of the regular process, they have formed this "mass movement" called "Movement for Fair Elections".
Now it goes without saying that this leaves Opps very vulnerable to the charge that they were themselves just a bunch of usurpers ("samozvantsy") declaring themselves the power when they had no power. On a more realistic level, Opps were constantly bickering among themselves as to who got to speak from the tribune during street demonstrations. For example, why did Nemtsov always get to orate a speech when nobody else liked him? Who elected HIM?
Flowing from this practical problem, a small core of the Opps leaders (Navalny and others) came up with this idea of holding "elections to the Coordinating Committee" of the Opposition. The purpose is to give this leadership "Committee" legitimacy to actually call themselves a leadership and make decisions on behalf of the masses; and organize the tactics of future street demonstrations. Since the elections could not be held in the real world, they were held in the virtual world of the internet, where people like Navalny reign. (As a computer programmer, I add that internet elections ARE in fact possible and plausible to carry out in a fair manner, but need to be handled by competent technicians, which is clearly not the case with these particular elections.)
So, anyhow, this "Coordinating Committee" will be like the Politburo of the Communist Party, except that the movement itself is not a political party, it is a "popular front" of all anti-Putin elements, ranging from oligarchs to communists (and everything in between).
Given that Udaltsov had the most numbers in the game and formed the backbone of the street protests, it is impossible for the rest of the movement to denounce him or dissociate from him. If the peaceful wing of the movement WERE to formally dissociate themselves from Udaltsov, then they could survive politically. But they still wouldn't get any votes among the real electorate. Therefore, they are all stuck with each other. Reminds me of that old movie where a chain gang are all linked together, and when one falls into the river, they all drown.

Alexander Mercouris

October 21, 2012 at 8:59 am

An altogether brilliant and accurate analysis Yalensis! I completely agree.



Also at



Example of how a limited Q & A can raise valid points, which upon follow-up elsewhere (in this case the West) can get spun in a direction that's different from what the person interviewed prefers.

From an analytically public relations perspective, put yourself in the hypothetical position of Lukashenko and answer the posed questions in a way that simultaneously considers the foreign audience, while not sacrificing the gist of Lukashenko's personal impression of Assad and neolib/neocon influenced foreign policy.

That segment touches on the periodically brought up thought that a good number of Russians (in and outside government) have limits on caring how many folks in the West are likely to view their presentation of views. Conversely, there's the arrogant ignorance coming from many in the West, who're overly reliant on English language mass media/English language mass media influenced spin.

I don't agree with the suggestion of one of the commenters who believes that the Kremlin pre-approves what Lukashenko says.


Upon another glance, I'll revise a bit by noting that it isn't the comparative PR disaster (with the Western audience in mind) as the RFE/RL link (linked above by yours truly) which discusses some other comments by Luka.

On Assad, an alternative could've been along the lines of stessing: my impressions are….

Afterall, how well can you personally judge a person under limited conditrions?

Life has taught me that some of the more eanest of folks don't initially come off as well as some shysters who know just what to say (for immediate impression sake) in given situations.

I'll leave it at that.

Moscow Exile

Udaltsov announces that the next "March of Millions" is to be in December.

Somehow, I don't think he'll be participating.

Today's meeting at Trubnaya Square finally peaked at 1,000 attending. Udaltsov is now pushing for a new angle of protest – against those imprisoned after the March 6th disturbances. Apparently, he thinks one shouldn't be arrested, charged and held on remand until one's trial for orchestrating and/or participting in large scale civil disorder.

Video embedded in article linked below:

Moscow Exile

They say 1,000 attended but they must mean that 1,000 came to register for the true, democratically elected government in waiting (and maybe soon to be in exile), which wizard wheeze Navalny and, no doubt, McFaul and his Washington chums have dreamed up. Judging by the paucity in numbers as seeen in the video embedded in the above linked Komsomolskaya Pravda article, they came, registered and went home – possibly because there was no speechifying going on.

This must the first meeting this year where Udaltsov has not urged oppositionists to stay on beyond the alloted time of the meeting and to "occupy" the territory on which the gathering has taken place. Perhaps looking at the age of the majority that seem to have turned up, he might have thought it would have been a waste of time to take out his usually ever present bull horn and urge them all to the barricades.


The western media just has to add a zero at the end of the figure like it did before. Truth is what the MSM decrees it to be. Of course Udaltsov wants disturbances to lend weight to these joke protests. Since every media consumer lemming "knows" that something is "seriously" wrong if people are "violent".

The clearest metric on how serious things are in Russia is the scale of attendance at these rallies. Udaltsov and the participation of Stalinists at the rallies since last December indicate that the liberast path has totally failed and now the foreign organizers of this demonstrations are hoping to latch onto a strain of socialist discontent in Russia. But the clowns have missed the boat. They should have backed the commies around 1999. Since then the support base has atrophied thanks to economic growth.


More on Opps "elections". Navalny is still blaming Putin for the technical failures that occurred yesterday (server crashing, etc.) I'm not sure that's fair. I myself work in a reputable and large IT shop, and our servers are always crashing too, even without Putin's sabotage.
Anyway, Opps "elections" have been extended one more day so that all the hamsters can vote. Navalny stresses very earnestly that people should study the candidates, listen to the debates, vote for the slate of their choice, keeping in mind that these "candidates" and leaders-to-be will henceforth be speaking in their name (like, at future street actions, and will also have the authority to order the mob to storm the Kremlin, for example).
This all sounds wonderful… except for the fact that the process is rigged. Navalny himself addresses the thorny issue of the "quotas" or "curias" that he and his friends decided on:
Отдельно скажу про квоты (левые, либералы, националисты) или, как их ещё называют "курии".
Введение квот было неочевидным компромиссом в пользу коалиционности, они очень многих раздражают. Тем не менее, они уже есть и кандидаты по ним будут избраны.
В этом смысле, позиция "ни одного голоса куриям" – дурацкая и играет только на руку "идеологическим сектантам", желающим провести только своих.
Всё равно от каждой квоты будет избрано 5 человек. Если вам в принципе не нравятся все, кто идёт по квоте, то просто вышибайте тех, кто не нравится больше всего.
Голосуйте за тех "квотников", кто проделал наибольший политический прогресс в последнее время, кто вёл кампанию, кто способен работать с остальными без идеологического догматизма и ада.

"Let me speak separately about the quotas (Lefts, Liberals, Nationalists), also called curias.
Introduction of these quotas was a necessary compromise in light of the coalition-like nature (of the movement]. [yalensis: In other words, it's a super-rotten Popular Front]. In light of this, the slogan, 'not one vote for the curias' is stupid and only plays into the hands of the ideological sectarians…" (etc.)
Okay, everybody raise your hands, who would buy a used car from Navalny, aka [KirovLes=SelVorik]?


And here is another very interesting article on these internet "elections":

By the way, my earlier remark about would-be voters forced to pay an entry-fee of 10,000 rubles was incorrect, I apologize for that. The 10,000 rubles is the fee for a would-be leadership CANDIDATE. (I only just now "got" that.)
A simple voter had to pay a much lower fee, in fact any amount, the token amount being for the purpose of authenticating oneself via Yandex or other online banking system.
One could also register without a fee by providing a passport photo ID.
Even so, many people lost money, however small the amounts, in attempting fruitlessly to authenticate their identity. There are obviously many technical glitches. Internet voting cannot truly become a reality (even in countries with a small population) without a better technical infrastructure and network administrators who actually know what they are doing.
Author of above piece shows screenshots showing his ordeal in attempting to register.
In summary, only 80,500 people ended up with an authenticated "right to vote" (out of 165,000 total registrations). This gives a fairly accurate number for the level of support enjoyed by the Opps movement. Around 80K people throughout Russia. Maybe more, if you count the technologically illiterate. It's not a lot, but it's certainly enough to keep stirring things up.
I predict that Americans (especially if Romney is eleted) will recognize this new "Coordinating Committee" as the true, legitimate government of Russia, and start to funnel money and weapons to them.


Oh, I don't think the west will go as far as funneling weapons to opposition leaders. Just the notion of recognizing a group of 80,000 registered "voters" in a country of 140 million would be completely stupid as it would accomplish nothing. Hell, even the BBC was falling over itself attempting to "spin" the dismal turnout for this opposition "election." Russia isn't Syria. I don't think the Russian government will tolerate such a direct destabilization of their country in cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg, especially when you consider that they're finally beginning to reign in the NGO's. Overt terrorism is a different thing entriely. If a hypothetical Romney administration is that stupid and unhinged from reality, then god help us all – meaning, they'd better be prepared for the potential fallout which could very possibly include a catastrophic nuclear confrontation.

Alexander Mercouris

I agree partly with RC and partly with Yalensis. I think 80,000 is about right as the total strength of the white ribbon opposition. However I think even the most fanatical opponent of Putin in the US understands that this is far too small a number to give the Coordinating Council legitimacy. Even if the inspiration was the Council in Benghazi I cannot imagine anyone in the west is so mad as to recognise it as Russia's government.

However I am afraid that if a terrorist movement were to emerge in Russia there are some people in the west who are reckless enough to provide it with arms, not directly but through proxies for example amongst anti Russian extremists in the Baltic States, who seem capable of anything. After all it's widely accepted that the jihadi insurgents in the Caucasus were getting help through Georgia – the talks between Udaltsov and Targamadze show the extent to which this was until recently still going on – and this would hardly have been possible without some degree of western acquiescence. Indeed what after all were the Udaltsov Targamadze discussions if not talks about getting a terrorist campaign underway. As I have argued previously if a terrorist movement did take shape in Russia the west would blame the Russian government for it and there would certainly be support for it whilst without unequivocal proof of western arms and other support to the terrorists Russian complaints of such western arms and support would be airily dismissed as paranoia.

The one thing I would say is that the effect of terrorist movements is that they tend to strengthen the governments against which they are directed. That certainly was the effect in Germany when it experienced terrorism that grew out of a protest movement in the 1970s. I mention Germany as it seems the closest parallel to Russia today. I would add that it is now known that the main German terrorist group, the Red Army Faction, is now known to have received help from the East German Stasi unknown to the USSR where Brezhnev and Andropov – who was then the KGB chairman – implacably opposed terrorism in any form. Anyway the effect of the RAF's terrorist campaign, as even its members began to realise, was to make the West German government stronger not weaker.

I fully expect the same to be in Russia should a terrorist movement ever happen there. Not only would Russian terrorists be breaching what seems to be a very powerful taboo against Russians killing each other for political reasons, which would guarantee them a total loss of popular support and a rally behind the government, but they would also be up against security agencies that have been brought to a very high level of efficiency by the need to fight the Caucasian jihadi war. The only thing that would briefly work in their favour is that after the experience of the 1980s and 1990s and because of the unrelenting liberal propaganda cynicism towards authority in Russia is exceptionally high. The result is that the inevitable liberal claims that the terrorists were government provocateurs might initially be believed by some people. I doubt however that most people would believe it and when it became clear this was not the case – as it quickly would – the rally behind the government and the collapse of opposition to it which I discussed would immediately take place.


These are all great comments, and I hope everyone will save a few of them for the post on the subject that just went up. Don't exhaust yourselves!!


Thanks for your response Alex.

I agree that it would most certainly be done through proxies in a manner that does not directly implicate the west for supporting such a movement. As I stated, they are aware that Russia is not Syria and that there's FAR too much at stake if they're caught red-handed arming extremists carrying out brazen attacks in Moscow. If it turns out that any part of the opposition has a hand in it, it would be the end of that movement in Russia. This scheme would ultimately have the opposite effect that Washington intended. It does still carry risks, but as you stated, any evidence that the Russian government brings forth will be dismissed as paranoia, regardless if it's true or not.

Moscow Exile

Perhaps Udaltsov is hinting at the possibility of urban guerrilla style terrorist actions when he keeps stating in public his message to Putin: "Now is the time to build bridges before it is too late"?

Is that a threat?

Too late to prevent what from happening?

Is he threatening this: "[W]e may see the new "Primorsky Partisans" who will start to kill United Russia deputies"?

That's what he said at Trubnaya Square:

Moscow Exile

Now if I were so desperately in search of a revolution as is Sergei Udaltsov, then this is the kind of news that I would exploit in order whip up the fury of the mob:


The fellow in that photo looks like he knows what he is doing - as he gazes lovingly at that gherkin!

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