Month: October 2009

Equal shares

Prague Watchdog’s Andrei Babitsky, writing under a pseudonym, takes issue with Andrei Soldatov’s recent claim that the Kremlin has ceded control of Chechnya to Ramzan Kadyrov [my tr.]:

What causes anxiety to the Russian government’s voluntary helpers is apparently the fact that Kadyrov is killing people not in order to increase the might of the Russian state, but to strengthen his own personal power. The man in the street, however, is bound to feel absolutely indifferent – after all, murders that are “needed” or “unneeded” by Russia, “useful” or “harmful” to it, will be committed in Chechnya no matter who is in charge. Kadyrov’s power is no better and no worse than the power of the  FSB or any other Russian agency, since they are all reinforced by the same conveyor belt of death. And the protection of the public interest, the interest of the state, will not help the lawyers of the  future to obtain a mitigation of the indictment. What matter are not the goals but the methods, and it’s the shedding of blood that counts, not good intentions. Seen with the eyes of the victims, the Russian state struggling for its territorial integrity and Kadyrov’s provincial dictatorship are no different from each other. In both cases the people end up equally dead, and their injuries look the same. And it does not matter at all how the power is divided up, or which of the criminals cherishes a dream of freedom and independence. 

The new Soviet Russia – 2

Via Marko Mihkelson: An interesting discussion on Russia Today about Russia’s post- (or perhaps neo-) Soviet aspirations in Central Asia and elsewhere around its borders. The contributions by the British speaker are particularly noteworthy, and rather disturbing.

The new Soviet Russia

“Moscow and other Russian cities are still full of Soviet symbolism — streets named after Lenin, Marx, Engels and socialism, as well as public squares named in honor of notorious Soviet secret police chiefs Felix Dzerzhinsky, Moisei Uritsky and Vyacheslav Menzhinsky. The word “Anti-Soviet” — until recently the name of a small Moscow restaurant — can no longer affect them. But criticism of the Soviet Union has suddenly become tantamount to criticism of Russia. Now Russian officials, bankers and oligarchs have pulled on their gray Chekist overcoats, donned Soviet soldier caps with red stars, and hung chains bearing Russian Orthodox crosses around their necks. And Nashi activists have told anti-Soviet dissidents to ‘get out of our country’,”

– Vladimir Ryzhkov in the Moscow Times, on the revival of the Soviet-era war on dissidents

Clinton supports Russian rights activists

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at a meeting with Russian rights activists in Moscow today: 

“Those of you here today understand the risks. You have seen friends and colleagues harassed, intimidated and even killed. And yet you go on working and writing, refusing to be silenced.”

Yulia Latynina, on the non-invitation of opposition politicians to the meeting with Clinton:

“I don’t think it would have been a good idea because the political opposition in Russia is really marginal, not because they’re stupid people and not because they have no audience, but because in a society which is not democratic, there is basically no opposition.”

Finland as a question, Russia as reply

Next March the Finnish publisher WSOY will release an unfinished work by the poet, author and publisher Paavo Haavikko, who died last year at the age of 77. The book bears the slightly odd title Suomi kysymyksessä, vastauksena Venäjä (literally “Finland in question, Russia in reply”), and is an attempt to trace and analyse the historical relations between Finland and Russia throughout the centuries, concentrating on the genetic myths and memories, and the hatred and hostility that developed in the conversation between the two countries, influenced by official propaganda on both sides.

(cross-posted from Nordic Voices)

Vanhanen: Finland needs "deeper ties" with Russia

Via Bloomberg (October 9):

The conclusion in Finland was that we have to deepen our relations to Russia and that we have to try in all ways to bind Russia better and better to Europe,” [Finland’s Prime Minister] Vanhanen said today in an interview at his office in Helsinki. “So, more cooperation with Russia; that was the conclusion we made after the Georgia war.”

Hat tip: Mari-Ann Kelam