Month: November 2013

Brodsky Anniversary

It’s exactly 50 years since the poet Joseph Brodsky was attacked in the pages of Vechernii Leningrad as “A Pseudo-literary Parasite”, in an article that led to his trial, imprisonment and exile.

http://grani.ru/Culture/Literature/m.221170.html

Dead End

Having read the Kindle edition of Peter Savodnik’s The Interloper I’m left with a sense of  incompleteness – the book aims to show that Oswald was a far less mysterious personality than most accounts make him out to have been, yet in doing so it raises many more questions than it answers.

In particular, the author’s analysis of Oswald’s inner life seems to lead merely to a confirmation of just how blank and uninteresting that life was. While the study of Oswald’s time in the Soviet Union is well researched, it reveals a dead end: although it’s clear that while in Belorussia Oswald did come into contact with many representatives of the KGB, and was deeply involved with them, there appears to be no link between this fact and anything that might have led him to assassinate the U.S. President. Indeed, as Inessa Yakhliel, who knew Oswald, has recently pointed out, he “spoke about Kennedy very sympathetically. He said he was the only sensible president. Those were his words.”

Savodnik makes much of the ease with which conspiracy theorists have set out to present their own versions of what really happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963, and advances his own “simple” explanation – Oswald was angry about issues in his confused personal life and took it out on the president – as most likely to be near the truth. Yet this eagerness to promote the “lone gunman” theory also has its questionable aspect: for in the same way as the conspiracy theories can be used to promote particular political agendas, so can the supposed absence of a conspiracy.

The Kindle edition of the book contains a number of typographical glitches, most of which are unconnected with Oswald’s own idiosyncratic English spelling (in letter and diary passages quoted frequently in the text). In particular, Russian street names and words are sometimes presented wrongly, as in the often-repeated “Kalinina Ulitsa” for “Ulitsa Kalinina”, and there are some odd transliterations that lead, for example, to the Cyrillic letter “у” being rendered as uy. I haven’t seen the book’s print edition, but hopefully these typos have been ironed out there.

Kremlin Dilemma

On October 24, Russia’s Kremlin-friendly politician LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky went on television, where he shouted and ranted about the North Caucasus, apparently calling for barbed wire to be placed around the region, for the fertility of ethnic North Caucasians to be suppressed, and for an increase in the military presence and level of surveillance in the area. His comments received wide support from viewers, by a ratio of three-and-a-half to one over those of his opponents on the show.

Zhirinovsky’s high-profile intervention came in the context of the suicide bombing in Volgograd,  the riots in Biryulyovo, and the recent ethnic pogroms in several of Russia’s cities.

Writing in North Caucasus Weekly, Jamestown analyst Valery Dzutsev commented that

the controversy surrounding Zhirinovsky’s latest comments may not end up being as beneficial to the political players as initially assumed—emotions within society are running high, and the politicians might be forced to actually take some decisive steps beyond simply making a show of their indignation. The Kremlin does not seem to have a good way out. If Moscow reprimands Zhirinovsky, thereby supporting the North Caucasians, it will face a backlash from ethnic Russians. If Moscow does not react to Zhirinovsky’s tirade, it will disappoint the North Caucasians and undermine the positions of the governors in the region. Since the Russian government cannot afford to offend ethnic Russians, the North Caucasians are likely to bear the brunt of ethnic-Russian resentment. This is likely to result in ever greater levels of distrust between non-ethnic-Russian North Caucasians and ethnic Russians, while the governments in the republics of the North Caucasus will have to adopt much more nationalistic stances in order to retain some credibility among their constituents.

Later, on November 12, Caucasian Knot reported Zhirinovsky as saying that his comments had been misunderstood:

“I regret that part of our society  got a negative impression. I spoke only about combating terrorism,” Vladimir Zhirinovsky said at a plenary session of the State Duma.

The LDPR leader also stressed that he meant “to take measures if terror acts were committed”, “Interfax” reports.

As far as the statements about birth control were concerned, then, according to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, he was talking about international practice, and did not make them with regard to the Russian  Federation.

The LDPR leader expressed his regret about the situation.

 

Foreign Policy of the People’s Alliance

From the program of the unregistered People’s Alliance Party (“Народный Альянс”) , which holds its Congress in Moscow today:

Russia will pursue an independent foreign policy based on mutual cooperation, not confrontation. Our country will benefit from its unique territorial position, neighbouring the majority of the major players in world politics and economics: Europe, China , Japan and the United States.

We are confident that the strategic interests of Russia in the world today are very similar to those of developed Western countries, in particular with regard to reducing tension in the world, the fight against international terrorism, and the ensuring of freedom of trade. It is with them that Russia will develop equal partnerships and alliances. At the same time Russia refuses to support regimes that are built on lies, violence and suppression of democracy in their countries.

For historical reasons the post-Soviet countries have closer cultural and linguistic ties. This must and will be used for the development of Russian-Eurasian commercial and economic integration in market relations, in so far as it will contribute to the mutual benefit of our countries. Russia will support the countries of the former Soviet Union and the movement for democracy and civil liberties, while avoiding crude political or military interference in the affairs of neighbouring countries.

Nazi Russia

It is sad to admit that in the 21st century there are no mechanisms in the country or the international community to stop the country’s rapid slide into the abyss of violence. In the recent past, it seemed that the country was heading “back to the U.S.S.R.,” but now the situation is more reminiscent of Germany in the 1930s, when gangs of storm troopers ruled the streets, beating up and killing Jews and others with impunity.

Read more: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/the-kremlin-storm-troopers/489306.html#ixzz2kKMixTgJ 
The Moscow Times 

NATO plans bigger exercises

Reuters reports that

NATO plans to sharply increase the size of its exercises in Europe in coming years to ensure allies keep working smoothly together despite winding down combat operations in Afghanistan, senior NATO commanders said on Thursday.

More than 40,000 soldiers may take part in war games planned for Spain and Portugal in 2015, according to U.S. Army Lieutenant-General Frederick Hodges, NATO’s land forces commander.