Putin. Hitler. Dictator. Evil.

Former world chess champion and current Russian opposition politician Garry Kasparov has a new book out, entitled Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped.  Russians aren’t its target audience. Rather, it is aimed at readers in the Western world who might be thinking that it would be better if their countries talked to Russia and tried to find common ground in order to solve mutual problems. Forget it, says Kasparov. Don’t be deluded. Talking is a sign of weakness, and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin will exploit any weakness to expand his ‘dictatorship’ and ‘invade’ even more neighbouring countries. The West, Kasparov argues, has to abandon its ‘cowardice’ and unite firmly against Russia and Putin before it is too late and ‘winter’ arrives.

Kasparov advances this thesis by means of a rapid history of Russian politics from the late Soviet era onwards, interspersed with personal anecdotes. But although the book is notionally about Russia, it is really about Putin, with whom Kasparov appears to be obsessed. In fact, Winter is Coming is little more than a prolonged expression of hatred against the Russian president. The title of this blog post tells you all you really need to know about it. Kasparov thinks that Putin is Hitler; he is a dictator; and he is evil. In fact, the word ‘Hitler’ appears 32 times in the book. Kasparov also regularly uses words such as ‘dictator’, ‘dictatorship’, ‘totalitarianism’, ‘autocrat’, and ‘despotism’, and pursuing another theme, likes to talk about ‘appeasement’, ‘appeasers’, and ‘Chamberlain’. Subtlety is not his forte.

Thus we learn from Kasparov that:

  • The ‘mafia state with Putin as capo di tutti capi’ uses ‘blatantly fascist propaganda and tactics’ (p. xi) and the Kremlin uses ‘overtly fascist rhetoric. … Some of these speeches … closely resemble those of Nazi leaders’ (p. xxiii).
  • ‘Putin respects only power’ (p. 8), and his ‘only goal is to stay in power. … He needs conflict and hatred now’ (p. 69).
  • Putin ‘wants only to keep us all in perpetual darkness’, and aims ‘for the totalitarianism of one person: himself’ (p. 91).
  • ‘Putin’s regime operated on an amoral scale’, and Putin has established ‘full-blown dictatorship’ (p. 159).
  • Russia has returned to ‘the rule of an all-powerful single-party state’ (p. 168).
  • Russia has returned ‘to outright despotism’ (p. 172).
  • ‘Putin had become a dictator, full stop’ (p. 178).
  • Russia is ‘a modern one-man dictatorship spreading fascist propaganda’ (p. 235).
  • ‘I find it impossible to believe that a man like Putin … is not the richest of them all. … Putin is likely the richest man in the world’ (p. 185).

Putin, claims Kasparov, is little different from Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). All of them, he says, are united in ‘their rejection of modernity. … This is the common thread connecting Putin’s attack on Ukraine and the murderous Islam-derived ideology that drives Al-Qaeda and ISIS.’ (p. 254-5). Putin, therefore, poses a serious danger to the West, which needs to stand up to him while it still can.

Unfortunately, Kasparov says, the West has failed to show the required resolve. ‘Instead of standing on principles of good and evil, of right and wrong … we have engagement, resets, and moral equivalence.’ (p. xii) Engagement is the same as appeasement (p. 252). ‘Dictators only stop when they are stopped, and appeasing Putin with Ukraine will only stoke his appetite for more conquests,’ Kasparov writes. (p. xxiv) Complaining about the ‘vocabulary of cowardice’ (p. 244), he comments that Putin ‘and his repressive regime are supported directly and indirectly by the free world due to this one-way engagement policy’ (p. 248). This weakness, he says, has to end.

In its place, Kasparov calls for ‘the moral clarity and stubbornness of Ronald Reagan’ (p. 33) (a call which ignores the fact that Reagan engaged regularly in negotiations with the Soviets). Kasparov’s universe is one of black and white, of good and evil, without any nuance. ‘We cannot compromise’, he writes (p. 256). Any compromise is a sign of ‘cowardice’ which ‘dictators’ will use against us. This leads to strange readings of history. Most people, for instance, probably regard President J.F. Kennedy’s support for the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 as a huge mistake. Not so Kasparov, who thinks that Kennedy’s error was to not press on further. ‘In 1961, JFK recalled US airplanes from supporting anti-Castro forces, leaving them to be massacred by the Soviet-led Cuban army’ (p. 109), he complains. ‘Détente … [was] a euphemism for appeasement’, he writes later (p. 116), and ‘Russia’s invasion of Georgia was the direct result of nearly of decade of this combination of helplessness and self-delusion in the West. Being left unpunished over Georgia invited Putin into Ukraine six years later’ (p. 174).

‘The Cold War ended,’ Kasparov claims, ‘not because Western leaders merely defended their values but because they projected them aggressively.’ (p. 190) He believes that the collapse of the Soviet Union put the West in an unparalleled position of hegemony, which it should have exploited to destroy dictatorships wherever they were found. With the end of the Cold War, ‘UN-crafted compromises were no longer necessary, and often dangerous,’ he writes, ‘Democracy was ascendant, and it was time to formally recognize this and to press the advantage.’ (p. 66) ‘The free world had overwhelming momentum after the fall of the USSR’, he says elsewhere (p. 193). Unfortunately, although US President George W. Bush showed his willingness to use US power to spread democracy, his successor, Barack Obama, ‘stopped pressing the advantage’ (p. xxi) According to Kasparov, after invading Iraq, the United States should have kept on going. He writes:

Preemptive strikes and deposing dictators may or may not have been a good plan, but at least it was a plan. If you attack Iraq, the potential to go after Iran and Syria must also be on the table. Inconsistency is a strategic deficiency that is nearly impossible to overcome (p. 192).

Wow!

Kasparov ends his book by recommending that the West should ‘stand up to the Kremlin and promote regime change’ (p. 207), and ‘declare in the strongest terms that Russia will be treated like the criminal rogue regime that it is for as long as Putin is in power. Call off the sham negotiations. Sell weapons to Ukraine that will put an unbearable political price on Putin’s aggression. Tell every Russian oligarch that there is no place their money will be safe in the West as long as they serve Putin’ (p. 259). The United Nations is obsolete, he claims. In its place he calls for ‘the creation of a united Democratic nations’, which can use ‘military intervention to protect human lives and the greater good’ (p. 260). ‘The free world possesses wealth and power beyond imagining and it must be used,’ he concludes. (p. 261).

Kasparov’s book has one great value – it shows how unhinged his view of international politics truly is. He is, without doubt, an out-and-out true believing neoconservative, who sees the world in simple terms of good and evil, and who believes that the West has such overwhelming power that if it just had the will to use this power, it could bend the world to fit its desires. Indeed, Kasparov admits his neoconservative leanings, by showering praise on one of the idols of the neocon movement – the late Senator Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson – as well as on Senator John McCain, the uber-hawk of contemporary America, whom Kasparov lauds for his ‘moral clarity’ (p. 196). ‘Can anyone … not believe that the world would be a safer, more democratic place today had John McCain been elected? ‘ writes Kasparov, adding that, ‘In the universe where McCain is president, Putin does not invade Ukraine’ (p. 197).

Kasparov’s view of Russia is extremely simplistic. It is all ‘Putin, Putin, Putin’. He denies that the Russian leader or his policies have any popular support, and ignores entirely the possibility that Putin is a product of his country’s system as much as he is the creator of it. It is certainly the case that Russian politics and government leave a lot to be desired, but they are hardly ‘totalitarianism of one person’, ‘a full-blown dictatorship’, ‘an all-powerful single-party state,’ or ‘outright despotism’. Political competition is limited, but it exists; state media channels dominate, but there are alternatives; the president’s power is substantial, but it is not unrestricted.  Russia is just not ‘a modern one-man dictatorship spreading fascist propaganda’.

Equally simplistic is Kasparov’s view of the wider world. Some governments are indeed more oppressive than others, but it isn’t a sharp contrast; between black and white there are many shades of grey. World politics aren’t simply a matter of democracy versus dictatorship. The West may have some legitimate grounds for complaint against Russia. But Russia also has some grounds for complaint against the West. If we are to live in peace together, we need to take each other’s perspectives into consideration. As its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown, the West doesn’t have the unfettered power that Kasparov seems to think that it has. There are limits to its powers which no amount of will or ‘moral clarity’ can overcome. Consequently, we have no choice. We have to engage. We have to compromise. And it is simply not true that any compromise is a signal of weakness, which will encourage aggression. Deals can be struck. Engagement can make the world a better place.

Winter is Coming is a dangerous book. Were Western leaders to follow its advice, the result would be unnecessary, prolonged, and costly conflict between Russia and the West. We must hope that saner counsels prevail.

Advertisements

98 thoughts on “Putin. Hitler. Dictator. Evil.”

  1. A refreshing review, considering Garry Kasparov is a loony tit but western reviewers typically love him to pieces in spite of it, because he talks that No-More-Putin catechism they love so well. We have seen example after example in this decade in which Russia went to the UN and implored them to invoke and enforce international law, and that august body declined to do so. Timely intervention by the UN might have averted the Georgian war – which Russia was not interested in fighting but could hardly fail to respond to – altogether, while even negligible intervention in Ukraine by the UN instead of adamant refusal to have anything to do with holding Kiev to its standards might have cut the casualties by half, and if the UN had done a proper job and insisted that military forces could not be used against civilians (prohibited in both international humanitarian law and the Ukrainian Constitution) there might have been none at all.

    The term “Manichean” might have been written for Kasparov, and his simplistic presentation of good and evil would be comical in other circumstances, such as if he were writing comic books. We can hardly look on this effort as just entertainment; however, his book serves a useful purpose. It will act as a beacon advertising the sympathies of those who endorse it.

    Like

  2. I’m glad to see you took my suggestion, Paul; and in your review you’ve hit the nail right on the head.
    Hopefully readers will see and reject Kasparov’s overly simplistic and irresponsible approach, but then again, it has all the makings of a Russia-related bestseller: laziness with facts, overstated denunciations of Putin, simplification of the Russian political system, emotionally charged language…and don’t forget the call for regime change!

    Like

    1. I tried reading it, I simply couldnt go on.

      Too much stupid, I literally felt dumber having read this. I think it is also a great reinforcement of the point that no one can be as thoroughly wrong then someone gifted with a considerable intellect.

      Like

    2. Thanks for the suggestion, J.T. – I wasn’t aware that the book was coming out until you mentioned it. Any ideas for future reviews? Next on my list at present is Tim Judah’s ‘In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine’, but that doesn’t come out here till 26 January.

      Like

      1. Oh, I’m glad I could help! Some more books of interest may include Bobo Lo’s Russia and the New World Disorder, Gilbert Doctorow’s Stepping Out of Line and Does Russia Have a Future?(which I hope to read soon), Samuel Greene’s Moscow in Movement, and Angela E. Stent’s Limits of Partnership.
        For more pain, see Karen Dawisha’s Putin’s Kleptocracy, David E. McNabb’s Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Imperial Revival, and Marcel H. Van Herpen’s Putin’s Wars.

        Like

      2. “Putin’s Wars: The Rise of Russia’s New Imperialism” by Van Herpen

        Couldn’t even finish free sample but it had clear potential to be really entertaining for someone with stronger stomach.

        Like

  3. If you ever needed another reason for why the current Russian “liberal” opposition (Kasparov included) languishes at just a few percentage points in the polls, here’s a great example. Kasparov seems to push his unabashedly pro-western values to the detriment of any support from the Russian populace. But then again, is he even trying to appeal to the Russian populace anymore?

    Like

  4. Dear Paul:
    Great review of a horrible book – and stellar first comment by Tom Welsh – that was brilliant!

    Next, sorry for the spam, but I did this piece on Kasparov a couple of months back. I think it’s relevant in showing the guy’s lack of ethical characer: He was caught in a major bribe scandal. I don’t think he actually has the right to lecture anybody on anything.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the link, Yalensis. The bribe scandal doesn’t seem to have affected his reputation. I guess that the assumption is since FIDE is controlled by a Russian the accusations against Kasparov are not to be taken seriously, whatever FIDE says.

      Like

      1. True.
        But there have been some more developments since then:
        Ilyumzhinov himself has resigned from FIDE. But not due to scandal, he just felt that he couldn’t carry out his functions while being on American sanctions list. Americans are sanctioning him for being a pro-Russian millionaire. Or something like that.
        Meanwhile, Greek Chessmaster Georgios Makropoulos is filling in for Ilyumzhinov as head of FIDE.

        Like

  5. Looks like you’ve already gotten a laundry list of book review ideas 😉 but I’d like to add just one more, The Invention of Russia by Arkady Ostrovsky. The book is a history of Russia from the Gorbachev era to the present, which seems like a useful approach to me. Most of the books about recent Russian history I’ve seen focus separately either on the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Yeltsin era, or the Putin era. If it’s done well, the approach of treating the three periods together seems like a useful one to me.
    In regard to this review, it’s pretty much exactly what I expected. I’ve (fortunately) not had a lot of exposure to Kasparov, but I saw him when he appeared on Bill Maher’s show (and exploded in righteous indignation at Maher for making a joke about Putin invading Poland) and in the Munk debate about Russia (where he and Applebaum spent a significant portion of the debate making ad hominem attacks against their opponents). In general, it strikes me that there’s no real thinking (or need to think) in Kasparov’s universe. Every question has a simple and obvious answer, so all that’s left is to identify the bad guys and commence chest-pounding. In the end, it’s a tremendously childish view of the world.

    Like

  6. “He is, without doubt, an out-and-out true believing neoconservative…”

    Well, I don’t know. There’s always a doubt: something like this could be a product of genuine paranoid obsession – or calculated opportunism.

    Personally, I’d accept the ‘paranoid obsession’ thesis if this wasn’t so aligned with the official propaganda. If he demonstrated an obsessive hatred of Pope Francis, or her majesty queen Elizabeth ii, then I’d buy it. In this case – nah.

    Like

    1. ‘Calculated opportunism’ is not impossible – Kasparov could be spouting the line that he thinks will win him the most favour in Washington. But I doubt it, because he so closely aligns himself with the Republican Party. It seems more like true belief.

      Like

    1. Andrej ninja’d me here with linking this watered-down version of Western jihad against heathen urus-shaitans, who don’t want for America to be a global hegemon and who are, therefore, enemies of the US and EU. Inshallah! 😉

      A for the review – and the putrid pile of the butthurt musings of a completely loon, who decided that semi-competence in one field autimatically translates into hyper-competence elsewhere – great job, Paul!

      But the thing is – Kasparov didn’t say anything really new. It’s now become a completely “new normal” for the “political emigres” from Russia to sound as bat-shit insane warmongers, trying to prove their loyalty to the new Faterland. Masha Gessen does the same, routinely. And let’s not forget Solzhenitsin’s Harward Speach, when he basically called for nuking the USSR. Charming people, those dissidents!

      And, yes, there are people in the West who share 100% of what Kasparov said. Usually, they are 3-4 times younger than him (or about John McCain’s age and mental capability) who call, among other things, for the dismantling of the UN and creating of the NATO 2.0. as the “World Policemen”. They also pretty sure that the US won the Vietnam war.

      Like

      1. And, just to demonstrate this similarity between Gessen and Kasparov – voi la!

        A Russian Revolt, Delayed

        ” He [anti-Putin activist Leonid Volkov] was predicting the regime’s impending collapse when he glanced at his iPhone and said, ‘In fact, right now, as we speak, the long-haul truck drivers are blocking the beltway’ around Moscow. The protest had been awaited for weeks, and it was expected to be big, possibly historic.”

        […]

        “With the beltway closed to them, the drivers could still blockade Moscow by clogging the dozen or so highways that lead to it. They have the numbers to do this. But they may lack the level of organization and trust necessary to carry off such a complicated protest.”

        Russian so-called “liberal oppostion” – much lauded and fellated in the West – is in fact a totalitarian sect of the worst type, where local gurus promising heavenly delight on Earth are just interested in lining their pockets with gesheft. As for the “fight against the regime” – they are willing to fight it! Till the last Russian, while in comfort emigration in New York, London or Haifa.

        Like

      2. “let’s not forget Solzhenitsin’s Harward Speach, when he basically called for nuking the USSR” – That’s funny, I’ve read that Harvard speech, and he says nothing about nuking the USSR. On the other hand, he says a lot of things along these lines:

        “But should I be asked, instead, whether I would propose the West, such as it is today, as a model to my country, I would frankly have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society as an ideal for the transformation of ours”

        and:

        “if our society were to be transformed into yours, it would mean an improvement in certain aspects, but also a change for the worse on some particularly significant points”

        Clearly, this is not the Masha Gessen or Kasparov approach. (full text o the speech here: http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/SolzhenitsynHarvard.php)

        Like

      3. Indeed, Solzhenitsyn’s speech was not well received. People had expected him to thank the Americans for letting him live in their country, and to praise America as the symbol of good in contrast to the Soviet Union, instead of which he said that America was decadent. Solzhenitsyn was quite unlike Kasparov. The former was a Slavophile; the latter is a Westernizer.

        Like

      4. 2Estragon

        Orly? His speech was later featured widely in handshakable Western outlets. Should I remind you about 1978 anti-Soviet propaganda film made by the “Committee on the Present Danger” – The Price of Peace and Freedom, where a Noble Laureate, says the following:

        [СССР есть]… мирвое зло, ненавистное к человечеству, и оно полно решимости уничтодить ваш строй. Нужно ли ждать, что американская молодёжь должна будет гибнуть, защищая границы вашего континента?”

        Sorry, if a person is claiming that the “World Evil” is ready to attack the American continent any minute and that the government of the USA shouldn’t wait for such an attack – it means only the justification of a pre-emptive strike. Obviously, nuclear.

        If you want to see another iteration of Solzhenitsin’s views – here’s an excerpt from his interview in Eton (1983):

        Вопрос: Итак, что нам на Западе делать — сражаться с Советским Союзом ядерным оружием, которое уничтожает, или словами, которых советские не слышат?

        Ответ: Если бы, если бы Запад мог сражаться словами!

        Советский Союз при любой разрядке продолжает идеологическую войну, так и объявляет вслух. Ни одной минуты, никогда советские руководители не отказывались от идеологической войны. Все их ложные идеи имеют обманные одежды, и они проталкивают их все 65 лет с нечеловеческой настойчивостью.

        На Западе часто говорят: «Мы нисколько не боимся идеологической войны, наши идеи выше, и мы победим!» Но вы не умеете мобилизовать ваших идей. Вы не умеете настаивать на истине, никогда ни в чём не уверены. Вы должны постоянно услуживать плюрализму. Вы должны представить «фифти-фифти» по каждому вопросу.

        Невозможность признать, что существует в мире определённое Добро и определённое Зло, даже стыдливость произносить эти слова, — делает Запад не способным противопоставить словесную войну Востоку.

        Ярлык «холодная война» приклеили коммунисты. Никогда никакой холодной войны Запад не вёл, потому что он не в состоянии. Потому что каждый, кто выразит идею слишком ясно, слишком прямо, слишком отчётливо, — сейчас же будет одёрнут со всех сторон: «уберитесь! за-молчите! это испортит отношения».

        И потом не забывайте, что защищать демократию словесно — гораздо легче было двести лет назад. Тогда демократия стояла на высоком уровне личной ответственности. Всё держалось на том, что люди знали себе границы, знали свою ответственность перед Богом.

        […]

        Что вы можете на это ответить? Вы потеряли сердце демократии, вот почему у вас нет ясного словесного ответа коммунизму. А коммунизм лжёт блестяще, он толкает на вас легионы лжи. Таково положение в словесной войне.”

        So, answering the question – “Should the West fight USSR with words or with nukes?” – our honest, and highly moral Mental Giant says: “No, you can’t fight with words”.

        Like

      5. Technically, Solzhenitsyn may not have called for the nuking of the USSR, but he came dang close.

        His Harvard speech is full of rabid anti-communism, and not just anti-communism but anti-modernism. He criticized America for all the wrong reasons. Posing as some kind of Russian Orthodox religious apostle, he denounced every form of Western or modern political ideology, while also sliming those decent Americans who had opposed the Vietnam war, with meat-tossing lines such as this:

        (…) members of the U.S. anti-war movement wound up being involved in the betrayal of Far Eastern nations, in a genocide and in the suffering today imposed on 30 million people there. Do those convinced pacifists hear the moans coming from there? Do they understand their responsibility today? Or do they prefer not to hear?

        A complete lie! Most Vietnamese were happy to win their freedom and to see the last of American soldiers on their soil.
        And Solzhenitsyn also not forgetting to label China as EVIL and slim the one billion Chinese people thusly:

        At present, some Western voices already have spoken of obtaining protection from a third power against aggression in the next world conflict, if there is one. In this case the shield would be China. But I would not wish such an outcome to any country in the world. First of all, it is again a doomed alliance with Evil; also, it would grant the United States a respite, but when at a later date China with its billion people would turn around armed with American weapons, America itself would fall prey to a genocide similar to the in Cambodia in our days.

        In conclusion:
        Solzhlenitsyn was NOT a nice person. Nor was he a thinker or writer worthy of any attention. He was a cheap pseudo-intellectual and a poseur who put on airs, made stuff up, and used his lies to make our world a worse place to live in.

        Like

      6. I think that comment, on the whole, is quite unduly harsh. Agree with him or not, Solzhenitsyn had an unusual take on Western capitalist society, and his thinking is certainly not lacking in subtlety and originality. Certainly, speaking for myself, I find that a number of his critiques of “late liberal capitalism”, which was beginning to develop in his day and has proceeded much further in ours, land with a fair bit of force.

        The trouble is that there are two Solzhenitsyns, the conservative traditionalist, opposed to all forms of modernizing cultural imperialism, whether capitalist or communist, and the fanatical Cold Warrior, always pushing for aggressive anti-communist action. Interestingly, you can see both Solzhenitsyns in this one speech. He starts by talking about how there are not two, or even three “worlds”, but many, and goes on to talk about how it’s not desirable for any one of them to be turned into another, and certainly not for any of them to be turned into the West. But then when he starts discussing the Cold War directly, and even aggressive military action (when discussing Vietnam), he seems to forget everything he just said, and gets consumed in an almost Kasparov-like frenzy of crusading zeal. In doing this, he ignores the fact that the best case scenario if America had “stayed the course” and been successful in Vietnam would have been the conversion of South Vietnam into a little island of American civilization in Asia, precisely what he (correctly) abhorred in the beginning of the speech. He also, of course, failed, as people beating the war drum usually do, to properly consider the enormous human cost of the war, and to ask himself by what right he took it on himself to declare the enormous suffering of the Vietnamese people an acceptable price for the achievement of his crusading goals. Having lived in Vietnam myself for the last two years, I can definitely say that some of the wounds left by that war are still not healed, even 40 years later.

        So I by no means want to give Solzhenitsyn a “free pass” for his warmongering, especially in regard to Vietnam. But that doesn’t mean that the positive and insightful aspects of his thought should be disregarded. Solzhenitsyn’s own statement, “The line between good and evil cuts through every human heart,” applied as much to himself as anyone else.

        Like

      7. Solzhenitsyn’s story is quite unremarkable, IMO. More or less standard transformation of a Russian nationalist/anticommunist though the 1990s calamity, the ‘catastroika’: ‘Aimed at Communism but Hit Russia’. Had Solzhenitsyn been alive today, he’d already be fond of and nostalgic for Stalin. Zinovyev was a much wittier and more entertaining fella.

        Like

      8. “Had Solzhenitsyn been alive today, he’d already be fond of and nostalgic for Stalin” – well he was fond of Putin at the end of his life. How he would have evolved later, we’ll never know.

        Zinoviev was an interesting thinker, but he also made some huge errors. I read an interview with him in Encounter magazine, dating from the 1980s, where he said that the victory of communism all over the world was inevitable and the Soviet system could last forever.

        Like

      9. 24 hours have passed. So, it looks like my response – containing quotes from 2 Solzhenitsin’s interviews and speeches – got eaten by spam-filterm ‘cuse there were too much Russian in them. Harrumph!

        Like

      10. Lyttenburgh, I have found your Russian-filled comment in the spam filter and un-spammed it. For some reason, WordPress doesn’t like too much Russian in one comment. Anyone, it can now be read above.

        Like

      11. Further on the subject of Zinoviev: I mentioned that interview he did with Encounter, in 1984. To my surprise, I managed to track it down – it is in 2 parts, and makes for some fascinating reading. Zinoviev doesn’t fit into any strict ideological “box,” and even when he’s wrong, he has interesting things to say. You can find the interview here:

        http://www.unz.org/Pub/Encounter-1984apr-00008?View=PDF

        http://www.unz.org/Pub/Encounter-1984may-00030

        Like

      12. I’ll read it, thanks. Incidentally, I always get the impression that he is not all that serious; that most of his musings are a bit tongue in cheek. This was the Soviet way, back in the day. Kinda cynical, trying to present everything as the opposite of what it looks like, for the love of paradox. Sorta like what Zizek does these days, and quite successfully…

        Like

  7. Kasparov seems to be churning out the same type of books with a lot of speed – I thought he was on the Bill Maher show early this year to try and promote the previous one. And was slightly (and rightly) ridiculed by Bill Maher. Of a different caliber: I’m quite interested to see what your comments are on the Chaika controversy; the video has caught on in major Russian newspapers as Kommersant and Vedomosti.

    Like

  8. I’m curious about this evident tactic of personification of enemy concepts, ideas, and nations, a-la 1984’s *Emmanuel Goldstein*. I think it probably started in all seriousness with *Fidel*, but on my memory it starts with *Osama*. Then there was *Saddam*, then *Gaddafi*, then *Assad*. Now it’s *Putin*.

    It’s interesting. I don’t believe this was practiced before Fidel. It wasn’t Stalin, Khrushchev, or Brezhnev – it was the godless evil commies, the actual concept, an idea. Or the Evil Empire, the nation. The Nazis, the actual ideology. The Japs, the nation.

    I think maybe this tactic of personification signifies some significant dumbing down of the western populations. What do you think?

    Like

    1. “I think maybe this tactic of personification signifies some significant dumbing down of the western populations.:

      ^This. It’s oh-so-easy to portray your enemies as the Evil Empire ™, and thier foot soldiers as orks. And then adopt classic fantasy solution to the problem – kill the Evil Overlord and then (as if by magic!) everything will be Good!

      No need to talk about such boring stuff like “nation building”, ot trying to analyze the past of the countries “afflicted” with the Evil Ones. No! The narrative both among the commoners and in Higher Places must be One – pile up all problems on one target and then eleminate it.

      And as examples of post-taliban (sniker) Afghanistan, free and democratic Iraq, and liberated and liberal Lybia (no, I can’t, I can’t!) show us – ‘Murican War of Dealing With Problems Works ™. Not.

      Like

    2. The personification question is an interesting one. Maybe it is precisely because we aren’t fighting an ideology any more. But that’s just a guess. I don’t have a good answer.

      Like

      1. I think maybe there was a time when wars (and geopolitical conflicts in general) were presented in realistic terms: here’s our national interests (territorial expansions, border conflicts, colonial possessions, etc), and we are defending them. This is how it’s still presented on Russian TV.

        But at some point this rationale stopped being able to raise sufficient enthusiasm (as in case of American isolationist sentiment in the 1930s, for example), and so they switched to a more moralistic rationale (the evils of communism, humanitarian interventions, etc).

        And then, a couple of decades ago, this approach started failing too, and now we’re pretty much completely into manichaean, religious territory; demon-fighting. This was an innovation introduced by the Bush II administration.

        Like

    3. I think it goes back farther, to WWII.
      Americans personalized Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito, in propaganda movies and satirical songs.

      Even way before that, the English personalized Napoleon, called him “Nappy”, etc.

      Come to think of it, even before that, English wrote propaganda books about French Revolution, such as “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. They personalized enemies such as Robespierre, but not AS personal as what they did later to, e.g., Napoleon.

      In conclusion: I think this personalization process was started by the English, and then picked up by Americans.
      But maybe it goes back even farther than that, not sure.

      Like

    1. The Guardian is lying as usual, in saying that “Putin admits Russian military presence”. He specifically denied any ‘military presence’ as it’s normally understood, while saying military *intelligence* is a different matter. The headline in the Guardian, of course, is claiming exactly the opposite.

      Like

    2. Honestly, sometimes I reckon Putin is just trolling. Here’s what he said:
      Мы никогда не говорили, что там нет людей которые… занимаются там [определенными…] решением определенных вопросов, в том числе в военной сфере. Но это не значит что там присутствуют регулярные российские войска. Почувствуйте разницу.

      Translation:
      We never said there were no people that… are engaged there in [certain…] resolving certain issues, including in the military sphere. But this does not mean that regular Russian troops are present there. Feel the difference.

      It’s as if he deliberately made the first sentence as vague as possible, knowing that journalists will yet again apply selective hearing and contrive sensational headlines.

      Like

      1. I interpret this as meaning that there are military personnel in Donbass as advisors and trainers, and providing intelligence, but there are not any complete military units (so no tank battalions, artillery batteries, etc).

        Like

      2. Yeah, ‘trolling’ sounds about right. And demonstrating the western misrepresentations (like the one from the guardian), obvious to the domestic audience, is probably useful.

        It was the same thing with Crimea: I remember hearing him saying something like: ‘the local militia was maintaining order, but of course our troops backed them up’ (stood behind them). In the west this is (obviously) ‘interpreted’ as “Putin finally admitted” and “Putin lied”.

        I mean, it must be kind of cool to be able to say (in essence) nothing, and watch a predictable barrage of hysterical denunciations… It’s a bit like showing them your middle finger…

        Like

      3. He was responding to the questions about fate of Alexandrof and Yerofieyev from GRU, one soldier, one officer. In May the Russian MoD denied any active relationship between them and Russian army. On numerous occassions they also denied presence of any personnel in active military service in Donbass. When now Putin says “we never said” it is a lie, just as it was with Crimea.

        Like

  9. What Russia is doing in Donbass amounts to a pretty normal “train and equip” mission for the seperatists, precisely so that Russia will not have to intervene directly in the future.

    One can well argue that Ilovaisk saw a short term pinpoint intervention by direct Russian forces. At Debalzeve it was imho already different.

    From how I understand this fiasco, Russian regular military were the strategic reserve of the rebels during this encounter. Apparently, Kiev decided that if territory is abandoned, then this may only happen as a result of direct Russian involvement, and that the decisive strike of the Russian + Rebel forces will be lead by Russian troops. Either committing reserves, or vacating Debalzeve prior to direct Russian intervention was thus forbidden.
    What then happened was that the rebels, slowly and grindingly, took Debalzeve with no to minimal direct Russian aid, while Ukrainian reserves were not committed because the order was to commit the reserves only after the Rebels + Russians comitted theirs. This did not happen, and thus the cauldron was closed.

    Effectively, the “fear of Russian reserves” paralyzed Ukrainian high command, and allowed Russia to basically neutralize Ukrainian reserves without firing a direct shot in anger. Given how savagely Kiev was outplayed at this instance, and how incredibly well adopted the Rebel + Russian strategy was to Kievs, I would not be surprised the appropriate insurgent authorities were better briefed on Kievs strategy then Kievs own batallion commanders.

    Like

    1. Ilovaisk, Novoazovsk and Debaltseve offensives would be all not possible without significant, direct Russian reinforcements, pulled from Krasnoyarsk, South Ossetia and other distant areas. Ilovaisk happened just as Ukraine was close to encircling Donesk and take control of its border, which would end the war immediately. This was precisely the moment when Russia made a strategic decision to move from a special operation started by Girkin entry from Russia into Slavyansk into a covert miliatary operation. But if they didn’t, the reputational impact for Putin inside Russia would be devastating (all the time between February and August their media were constantly repeating that Ukrainian state and army are crap, so defeat from a non-existing state would be definitely humiliating). Debaltseve saw yet another reinforcements pulled from as far as Buryatya. Novoazovsk offensive was another interesting case study when well-equipped army with tanks and MLRS literally out of nowhere – that is, obviously crossing the border from Russia, as they had no else to come from.

      Like

      1. ‘Ilovaisk happened just as Ukraine was close to encircling Donesk and take control of its border’ – not exactly true, Cortez. The Ukrainian Army made two attempts to encircle Donetsk, the first being an attack from Debaltsevo towards Shakthersk in late July, and the second being an attack from north and south towards Krasnyi Luch in mid-August. Both failed. By the time of the Ilovaisk offensive the threat of encirclement was largely over. Meanwhile, far from being close to taking control of the border, the Ukrainian Army had actually lost about 100 km of border about ten days before the Ilovaisk offensive, when it abandoned what the rebels called the ‘southern cauldron’. The reasons for the direct intervention of Russian forces around 24 August, i think, have less to do with preventing a rebel defeat and more to do with ending the increasing humanitarian problems caused by Ukrainian shelling of Donetsk and Lugansk by forcing the Ukrainians to sue for peace through the means of inflicting a short, sharp defeat upon them.

        Like

      2. “all the time between February and August their media were constantly repeating that Ukrainian state and army are crap”

        I don’t know if Ukrainian army was crap, but one thing is quite clear: during the spring and summer of 2014 the Ukrainian army did not want to fight. The people’s republics in the east were invaded by voluntary/mercenary nationalist battalions, not by the regular Ukrainian army. In one case, a regular Carpathian mountain division (iirc) simply left the front-lines and went backed home.

        And later, during the Kiev’s mass-mobilization attempts, draft evasion was huge. These are the facts.

        I believe it’s still the case that only a relatively small number of otmorozki will agree to fight there.

        Like

      3. You apparently forgot that there was no humanitarian catastrophe in Donbass before armed and masked commando of around 50 soldiers led by Igor Girkin crossed the border from Russia and actually started the war. And no, they did not enter any “people’s republic”, they entered territory of independent state of Ukraine. This is precisely when the humanitarian catastrophe started, and it was long before any volunteer batallions or Ukrainian army engaged.

        Like

      4. I read that there were 20 people, and of course you don’t know how many of them crossed the border, and whether they were soldiers or ordinary citizens.

        And to declare that this event “actually started the war” is beyond ridiculous. You’re simply trolling at this point. I don’t know why.

        There was a coup d’etat in the capital. The legitimately elected government was overthrown by a coalition of ultra-nationalists from western provinces and pro-western liberals, financed and organized from abroad. This event is now known as the ‘revolution of dignity’. This is when – and why – the civil war started.

        This is what usually follows a revolution. Which is why “peaceful transfer of power” is probably the most important reason for having constitutions and elections.

        Like

      5. I know there were 50 people who crossed the border and that they started the war because this is precisely what Girkin was boasting long ago, and it’s confirmed by latest book by Gubarev. It’s also consistent with the media reporting. Before Girkin entered on 12 April there were anti-Kiev protests in Donbass, but no weapons and killings. After 12 April this was well organized, armed rebellion with abductions and executions of opposing figures, such as Volodymyr Rybak.

        Like

      6. “I know there were 50 people who crossed the border and that they started the war because this is precisely what Girkin was boasting long ago”

        Ha-ha, I know, I know. This is one of the deadliest weapons in the arsenal of the “Ukrainian Information Army” (http://3.i-army.org/index_en.php). Every time I get it, I nearly die laughing.

        So, Mr. Girkin is your Pope, then, your infallible authority? In that case, sure, if Girkin said it – it has to be true. Hallelujah.

        Like

      7. If you’re insisting on calling Yanukovych government a “legally elected” you clearly have no idea whatsoever about what was actually going on in Ukraine before in 2013-2014. I bet you have no idea who Oksana Makar was for example. Unlike you, Putin knew precisely about the critical political situation in Ukraine as in his speech of January 2014 he was trying to be very compassionate and said he fully understands their anger with the corruption and rule of government-sponsored gangs. Unfortunately, Obviously, he couldn’t do anything about it as the corruption and lawlessness is the very essence of the “Russian mir” of which he is a frontman.

        Like

      8. “If you’re insisting on calling Yanukovych government a “legally elected” you clearly have no idea whatsoever about what was actually going on in Ukraine before in 2013-2014. “

        Yes, he was – internationally recognized, elected president of Ukraine. Period.

        “…and said he fully understands their anger with the corruption and rule of government-sponsored gangs”

        Yeah, as opposed to the modern-day Ukraine completely devoid of corruption and government (and oligarchs)-sponsored gangs. Oh, wait!..

        “Obviously, he couldn’t do anything about it as the corruption and lawlessness is the very essence of the “Russian mir” of which he is a frontman.”

        And now pan cortez adds racism to zir portfolio. Bravo! Stay classy!

        Like

      9. Andrej, when reading OSCE reports you must have noticed that they mentioned on a number of occassions that their monitoring capabilities are very limited. The observers on border checkpoints (e.g. Gukovo) are not allowed to inspect the border outside the checkpoint, in spite of the fact that this area was never shelled by Ukraine. They are not even allowed to fly drones from Gukovo. Guess why.

        Their mobile observer teams reported that they are routinely stopped at separatist checkpoints and not let through. OSCE also reported that their drones are frequently jammed, which suggests presence of advanced electronic warfare units on the separatist territory. Guess where did they come from.

        Like

    2. Dear Andrej:
      I think this is a good analysis.
      Russia expects the locals to take the brunt of it and handle things themselves, insofar as possible. Regular forces come in when necessary.

      Like

      1. The beauty of it is that it is believable, and does not neccessiate gross stupidy or premediated treachery of any party. It explains several key fact about it, such as:
        1: Why did Kiev not abandon Debalzeve when the encirclement became freaking obvious?
        2: Or commit the reserves (and iirc there were reserves, which was different from Ilovaisk)?
        3: Why did the rebel forces advance World War 1 trench warfare style? Presence of Russian regulars would have meant combined arms assault, which did not materialise?
        4: Why are there somewhat credible indications that Russian regulars were present, without any corresponding indications that Russian regulars were fighting?

        Some other things that I am suspecting, in general:

        Seperatist use of Russian training facilities and establishment of curators-seperatist relations:
        1: Having went through a lot of OSCE reports, it would appear that the rebel controlled border was generally very permeable to personell, but not neccessarily to military vehicles.
        2: Going from my own abilities as a conscript, and considinering that my conscription is about 12 years in the past, I could perform adequately in my role (artillery gunner) provided someone gets me a 2-3 week refresher course. I would assume that most seperatist manpower consisted of such reactivated former conscripts.
        3: The neccessary refresher courses were, probably and partly, held in Russia. I would further guesstimate that, if 30ish seperatist personel graduate from such a course, 35ish pass it since this kind of course would be an excellent opportunity to get the units in touch with the “curators”. The future curator may very well be the person holding the course, this would greatly aid with the degree with which the rank and file accept him, and also give him a far better overview on what the capabilities of individual soldiers in his curated unit are.

        Stuff I dont get:

        Something I find puzzling is how limited the cyber component is at the moment. Russia has very very formidable cyber capacities, and could very easily “transfer” considerable parts of their cyber capacities to the seperatists and proceed to have a lot of fun at Kievs expense. Even considering that Ukraines cyber capabilties arent that bad due to the degree of “practical experience” they gain from heavy corporate raiding (given that corporate raiding is a big thing in Ukraine, and given that it generally carries a major cyber component) one would generally expect more “results” should be SVR and GRU (or just cyber criminals in Russia who wish to demonstrate their potential usefullness to the state) unleash their capacity.
        Given that Russia is very very publically demonstrating their military capabilties (cruise missle launches from the Caspian etc.), it would stand to reason that they would also be interested in showcasing their cybercapacities in order to establish deterrence.
        On the other hand, the Russian authorities may have decided that major cyber confrontations will happen anyway, and that demonstrating cyber superiority over Ukraine will not deterr the USA at all from conducting cyber attacks, so leaving the USA in doubt on Russias full capacities is the better choice.

        Like

      2. Well, one of the aspects of this situation is Russia going the extra mile trying to avoid antagonizing the population of the former Ukraine territory. In fact, the Kremlin is trying to appear as helpful, friendly and sympathetic as possible, all the time. Kiev, OTOH, is blaming Russia for everything, as we know. That’s the ‘information war’ component. Any visible cyber attack (if I understand correctly what you mean by that – things like DDoS, for example?) would benefit Kiev, in this respect.

        Like

  10. Ilovaisk, Novoazovsk and Debaltseve offensives would be all not possible without significant, direct Russian reinforcements, pulled from Krasnoyarsk, South Ossetia and other distant areas.

    Mr. cortex – are you geographically challenged? Do you have any idea where Krasnoyarsk is?

    Also – I’d really like to see some proof to your ballsy claims here.

    Debaltseve saw yet another reinforcements pulled from as far as Buryatya.

    [long, histerical laughter]

    Soooo – you are for real indoctrinated by the Western Truth (copy-pasting Ukrainian pobratims), are you?

    Like

      1. “Having seen Russian tank crew member Batumunkuyev first met by Kobzon on official TV channels…”

        Where and when? Links, sources, proof.

        “…and then interviewed by Novaya Gazeta…”

        OH, YIS! Novaya Gazeta – the Golden Standart of the Honest Journalism in This Country ™

        “Same for another Buryat soldier Bato Dambayev, followed by Simon Ostrovsky from VICE news on precisely the same places where he took photos of himself in Russia – and Donbass”

        I’ve seen this “investigation” by the LICE NEWS. For it was inconclusive. Dacha-style country-houses look pretty much similar wverywhere across the former SU. But you, of course, much more knowledgeble of Russia and Russians than me (Russian living in Russia) OBVIOUSLY drew all correct conclusions. Yep, that’s right.

        “Add to this dozens of reports of Russian contractors who returned from Donbass and openly admitted presence of Russian army troops, arms and vehicles while giving interviews to Russian media in places like Ekaterinburg, St Petersburg, Murmansk or – again – Buryatya. Taken together, these unrelated pieces of circumstatial evidence are now found in hundreds, and form a convincing picture of what was really going on there. It is not a secret to anyone in Russia, gentlemen, it’s only a bunch of Westerners who still believe in “we never said that”

        Before their hypocritical invasion of Iraq the US officials at least had put up some semblance of “presenting the evidence” kind of circus to justify their actions (not approved by the UNSC btw). With Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine I don’t see even that. It’s just “assumed by everyone” ™ to be true. And anyone who demands any concise proof and links is vatnik, colorad and Putinists agent.

        Cortez, what do you know about Russian military organization? Anything at all? ‘Cause you kinda ruined any claim to credibily by claiming that, and I quote you, that “Ilovaisk, Novoazovsk and Debaltseve offensives would be all not possible without significant, direct Russian reinforcements, pulled from Krasnoyarsk, South Ossetia and other distant areas. “ This is rediculous claim. As it turns out, I served in the Russian Army (Signal Corps, 2012-2013). There were Yakuts, Kalmyks, Azeris from Astrakhan, Lezgins from Dagestan, one guy from Sakhalin (self-described hipster-baptist) and a smattering of folks from Moscow, Moscow’s oblast, Smolensk, Voronezh, Vologda, Bielgorod, Novgorod etc. The thing is – where are you drafted from has pretty little with the fact where will you be serving. So claiming that the Evil One had to basically strip bare his hordes from the outlying provinces only to keep the despicable “separs” alive is… good – if you buy Ukrian propaganda 110%.

        tl;dr : Gib us internationally recognized evidence or GTFO.

        Like

    1. Having seen Russian tank crew member Batumunkuyev first met by Kobzon on official TV channels and then interviewed by Novaya Gazeta I’m keen to treat him as a credible piece of circumstatial evidence. Same for another Buryat soldier Bato Dambayev, followed by Simon Ostrovsky from VICE news on precisely the same places where he took photos of himself in Russia – and Donbass. Add to this dozens of reports of Russian contractors who returned from Donbass and openly admitted presence of Russian army troops, arms and vehicles while giving interviews to Russian media in places like Ekaterinburg, St Petersburg, Murmansk or – again – Buryatya. Taken together, these unrelated pieces of circumstatial evidence are now found in hundreds, and form a convincing picture of what was really going on there. It is not a secret to anyone in Russia, gentlemen, it’s only a bunch of Westerners who still believe in “we never said that”.

      Like

      1. Personally, I would be happy if Russian troops invaded Ukraine, and restored law and order, returning the elected president and the majority party (the Party of Regions) back to power. And KPU too, legal again, and back to the government. People voted for them.

        However:

        “Taken together, these unrelated pieces of circumstatial evidence”

        I once watched Opération Lune, the mockumentary by William Karel. Presented with carefully selected circumstantial evidence (‘mounting evidence’, as they like to say, in the media), you get the very strong impression that the 1969 moon landing was staged by Stanley Kubrick. And, you know, he has there real videos of interviews with Kissinger, Rumsfeld, and other top-level officials — all seemingly confirming this story.

        And what do *you* have for the evidence – social media? Some photos someone posted on the internet? Some statements made by some people no one ever heard of?

        Like

      2. There is law and order in Ukraine currently. The only region where there is no law and order is those areas in Donbass controlled by Russian separatists. An interesting case study is Slavyansk, one of the first cities taken by the commando of Girkin in early 2014 who started their rule from abducting and murdering deputy Rybak, then looted public and private companies, extorted money from businessmen and performed other activities the world has seen previously in Chechnya. Today Slavyansk is again a normal, peaceful city because Girkin was kicked out by Ukrainian army. Donetsk, Lugansk and other cities controlled by the separatists are still playground for armed gangs most interested in looting and extortions, now completely stripped from any ideology. If you still believe this should expand to the rest of Ukraine, then you would probably should follow the example of early Soviet supporters in the West and move to live in Donbass yourself to experience that “law and order”.

        Like

      3. Well, you are, of course, entitled to an opinion, but not to your own facts: you don’t know who murdered Rybak, and you’re passing your fantasy as a fact.

        Same goes for Slavyansk being, today, in your view, a “normal, peaceful city”. The opposite view would be, obviously, that it’s a DNR city under foreign military occupation, terrorized into submission. And I believe a significant portion of the pre-war population of Slavyansk would share this, latter view. What exactly portion – unfortunately we don’t know. But hey, they voted in a referendum last year, and that could give us some clues. If you are really interested.

        As for armed people (who you call ‘gangs’) in the republics – duh. These are two small unrecognized republics under a massive brutal military attack by ultra-nationalists, backed by the US and European governments – ultra-nationalists who view them as sub-human and openly advocate extermination policies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNupUPjLdUI

        As for me going there, well, I’d like that. Obviously it’s not that simple, but it may happen, actually. There is a chance. I’ll keep you posted.

        Like

      4. How do you know I don’t live in Russia either? This is the Batomunkuyev article: «Мы все знали, на что идем и что может быть». I’ve seen some “patriotic” forums debunking this as if the soldier did not exist, or the interview was entirely fake. But his story is confirmed by dozens of articles in local media, such as this one Мать раненого забайкальца, которого навещал Кобзон, отправится в Донецк. And here’s the Kobzon video. Do you see any inconsistencies here?

        Like

      5. So, I see Kobzon (or someone who looks like Kobzon) talking to some guy with (presumably) burned face, who says he is Buryat and that he’s a gunner by trade. That’s all I see on this video.

        And that’s exactly what I was talking about when I referred to the Karel’s mockumentary: you’re watching the video, and you perceive it in the context someone suggested to you.

        But the context is not on the video. There could be a million different contexts for this video.

        Like

      6. “There is law and order in Ukraine currently. The only region where there is no law and order is those areas in Donbass controlled by Russian separatists. “

        You… you are serious?

        – There is currently a rally in Kiev in support of people accused of Oles’ Buzina.

        – Right Sektor “activist” disrupt Odessa’s court hearings

        – Rada looks like a parody of circus and Por-Wrestling.

        – Last month grenades were thrown both in Kharkov and Uzhgorod.

        – Kivoy Rog elections were anything but definetiely not “free and honest”.

        And what evidence of “no law and order” in the People Republics can provide you, pan cortez?

        Like

      7. Did you consider that there may be a significant relationship between the unrecognized status of these “republics” and the fact that they were established by an armed, covert intervention by Russian operatives?

        I don’t know who personally killed Rybak but the last time he was seen alive (and filmed) was when Girkin’s militia arrested him. No one ever heard from him anymore and a few days later his dead body was found dumped near the town.

        If you want more evidence about abductions, killings and extortions in Donetsk and Lugansk there are at least a few independent reports prepared: OHCHR (2014) (2014), OHCHR (2015) and Polish MEP (2015). All of them document incidental abuse by Ukrainian units as well, mostly volunteer batallions, but in case of the separatist authorities the abuse is systemic and continued.

        As for Lyttenburgh’s argument about corruption in Ukraine – yes, it’s still systemic and widespread and there’s dozens of way how the reforms can be screwed up, stopped and reverted once again. It would be very sad taking into account the progress they’ve done so far e.g. in cleaning the so much hated road police. On the other hand, I don’t think people will allow it. The very reason you’re still seeing people marching on the streets in Ukraine periodically is they’re desperate to enforce their leaders’ promises.

        My recent visit in Russia was much more depressing – people are just frustrated, because the levels of corruption and oligarch’s privileges are just as annoying as in Ukraine, but they can’t even hope, as Putin’s speeches are exactly the same since 1999 and most of the old problems he was talking about back then are still there.

        Like

      8. “he was seen alive (and filmed) was when Girkin’s militia arrested him”

        It’s been a while, but as I remember this is not true at all. He wasn’t arrested by any militia, he just got into his car and left. Later, both he and his chauffeur were found dead.

        Could be anything. All kinds of shit happen in a civil war. That is why overthrowing legitimately elected government may not be a very good idea. In most cases.

        As for the oligarchs in Russia – no, that’s not true that “the levels of corruption and oligarch’s privileges are just as annoying as in Ukraine”.

        A huge difference – and the main achievement of the post-Yeltsin Russian society – is that in Russia the oligarchs don’t control the state anymore. Of course they do influence it, but to lesser extent (imo) than even in the US, let alone Kiev, where oligarchs ARE the state.

        Same with corruption. Corruption in Russia means bribing bureaucrats and making business deals. In Kiev corruption is the main function of the state – state is business. Same in the US, with 100,000 registered lobbyists distributing $10 billion annually. It is legal in the US, of course, but it’s the same thing.

        Like

      9. Corruption in Russia means, in the first place, stealing state money. In the second place it means bribing law enforcement, judges and other public officials to get impunity from any crime, including the very same theft, murder or anything else really. In the third place it means bribing other public officials to get a job in a place where you can steal public money. This is precisely what Vasileva, Serdyukov and others did, passing the whole cycle once and once again. And you can only judge the effectiveness of Putin in “fighting corruption” by what are Vasilyeva and Serdyukov doing right now. The former was formally convicted but then immediately pardoned. The latter was just recently nominated into management of a public helicopter manufacturing company. Journalist investigations about enormous illegal fortunes of Yakushin or Chaika were simply ignored by the authorities… or actually not, the journalists were harassed and accused of serving CIA. So no, it’s not “the same” as in the US or anywhere else, not even closely similar. The scale and impunity of the corruption is not comparable to any other state in the world. And it affects every single citizen of Russia who needs to pay bribes on the roads, in hospitals, schools, universities and public offices.

        Like

      10. No, Rybak did not “leave on his car”. He was arrested by the militia which was filmed by local media and witnessed by hundreds of people. There’s also intercept of calls between Bezler and Girkin commanding their soldiers to bury Rybak’s body.

        Like

      11. “There’s also intercept of calls between Bezler and Girkin commanding their soldiers to bury Rybak’s body.”

        Your link is just some audio recording. It’s easy to make an audio recording. Some people saying some words. Someone also typed some words displayed on the screen. This, by itself, means nothing.

        That’s why humans invented various institutions, like law-enforcement agencies and courts, where accusations can be investigated, challenged, etc.

        These institutions are components of the larger institution, called ‘state’.

        The problem is, when the state collapses, following a ‘revolution of dignity’ or some such, a civil war starts, and these institutions immediately collapse too. They cease to exist.

        And then, as I already said, all kinds of shit happen. People get killed, some in the course of political conflict, others simply due to general lawlessness, ensued from the collapse of the state and its institutions.

        That is why making a ‘revolution of dignity’ may not necessarily be a great idea. It’s unlikely to bring any dignity, quite the opposite, at least in the short term. And then it becomes difficult to return even to the level of dignity that existed before the ‘revolution’. Tsk, a paradox…

        Like

      12. “My recent visit in Russia was much more depressing – people are just frustrated, because the levels of corruption and oligarch’s privileges are just as annoying as in Ukraine, but they can’t even hope, as Putin’s speeches are exactly the same since 1999 and most of the old problems he was talking about back then are still there.”

        Oh! So you are either Russian emigre or not Russian at all. Got it.

        Pan cortez, great Immanuil Kant teaches us (among other things) that there is a difference between how things are perceived and how they are in reality. In reality, handshakable international agencies put present day Ukraine as more corrupt than Russia.

        As a Russian who lives in Russia – and whose friends and relatives belong, probably, to a different class than yours who are “just frustrated” and “can’t even hope” (poravalitniki and kreakls, right?) I can say that people are stoic and calm in their attiduted to present hardships. Probably, they lack something to make panic-striken and depressing statements any moment they face a set-back in their life.

        “And you can only judge the effectiveness of Putin in “fighting corruption” by what are Vasilyeva and Serdyukov doing right now.”

        If you are claiming that under Putin the level of corruption in Russia actually growth (i.e. – the governemnt doesn’t fight it) then you imply that somewhere in the past there was a period of Russian history devoid of said corruption. When?

        “Journalist investigations about enormous illegal fortunes of Yakushin or Chaika were simply ignored by the authorities… or actually not, the journalists were harassed and accused of serving CIA.”

        Accused by whom? Putin himself? And, no they don’t serve CIA – they serve Browder.

        “The scale and impunity of the corruption is not comparable to any other state in the world. “

        Loud, pathos-reeking words unsupported by facts and more appropriate for some propagandist chants.

        “And it affects every single citizen of Russia who needs to pay bribes on the roads, in hospitals, schools, universities and public offices”

        There is difference between the “need” and “do”. I’ve never in my entire life paid a bribe. Neither 2 of my brothers or their wives. What for? I don’t bring chocolate or congac to my local therapist when I have a flu or need to make an X-ray shot (for free – as opposed for $300-900 in the Bastion of Liberty).

        I never paid bribes for my grades – neither in school or in Uni. My brothers wives got their drivign licenses without paying bribes (only 1 of my brothers drive).

        Pan cortez – stop painting Russia as some sort of Mordor. Stick to the facts.

        Like

      13. If you have never paid a bribe then you’re probably working at MVD or army and instead of bribes you just use your professional connections. What I’m saying is that Putin did not prevent oligarchs from stealing from the state budget. He merely took them under his wings. Did that improve anything in the living standards of majority of Russians? Well, I could see a lot of improvements and economic growth while oil and gas prices were skyrocketing in 2000’s. This was a textbook example of trickle-down economics. But did the elites and governance style change at all? Between 2002 and 2011 over 880 billion dollars were illegally transferred out of Russia. Majority of the Russia’s public figures have property in Europe and USA, as well as their kids or families are living there, at the same time publicly denouncing the “rotting and demoralized West”. In Transparency International’s CPI Russia rank 136 out of 175 countries. In WEI’s Juridical Independence Index it ranks 123 out of 142 – and you could perfectly see why in cases of Magnitsky, Savchenko Sentsov and Vasilyeva. Russia at the same time created extremely sophisticated companies like Kaspersky, Yandex or Mail.ru, so it’s definitely not a problem with the people being not competent or creative. If you look at WEI’s Global Competetiveness Report it shows precisely what Russia is strong at (education and IT skills) and what are Russia’s weakest points: weak and inefficient institutional framework, corruption and favorism and corrupted judiciary framework. You can either deny it and ignore completely (like Dugin’s argument about the “spiritual uniqueness” of Russia), or you can admit and try to fix. But if the authorities are the weakest part of Russia, then you definitely can’t fix it by giving them more and more power and labelling all criticism as “fifth column”.

        Like

      14. Bowder. Yes, I know – the new Trotsky. Last year it was Psaki who covertly spoiled all the milk in kolkhozes and stole all the candies, this year it’s Bowder. Did you notice that when Chaika was accussing FBK of “working for Bowder” he did not really speak much of the actual facts mentioned in their report? He did not deny Artem’s ownership of the hotels, involvement of Lopatin and Tsapok etc. He just said “it was done on order of Bowder”, like that cancels all the legal documents obtained by FBK. Are you saying that it was Bowder who secretly bought the $3m house in Switzerland, hotel in Greece and shares in Sugar Kuban, and then covertly re-registered them to poor Chaika? But FBK just obtained documents from public company registers, including ones in Russia. And the registers exist just for that purpose – to check who owns what. Or maybe it was Bowder’s conspiracy to create these registers in Russia in the first place?

        Like

      15. What is Mr. Chaika, the government official, being accused of, exactly? I mean, is there a charge, a half-way credible allegation of an actual crime, that could be presented to a judge? If so, what is it?

        I mean, I remember, back in the day, Mr. Clinton, the US president, and his wife were accused of all kinds of things: multiple murders, distribution of drugs, and what not. Mr Bush II, as I remember, was accused of rape. So? No one cared, and the “the actual facts” weren’t discussed in the mainstream media, only in marginal publications. And that seemed perfectly normal. So what’s different here, other than that the official being attacked is Russian?

        Like

      16. Cortez – why are you telling things that are simply not true? Are you lying deliberately or just so poorly informed/deeply indoctrinated? Nearly every single post by you contains some ballsy claim or sweeping genralization, which you loath to support with meaningful proof.

        Let’s see:

        “Bowder. Yes, I know – the new Trotsky.”

        No. Brodwer fancied himself as a White Man in Raj and was shocked, shocked that those filthy natives could treat him – Culturally Superior Beign – as total crap. Not even close enough to Trotskiy. So, nope – despite your’s and liberasts fantasies about “scaral victim” no one will get Browder and “Ciepick surprise”. This dude is pathetic and too butthurt, who can’t grasp that for him (also – and for some Russian oppos) it was better to burn down than to fade away.

        “Last year it was Psaki who covertly spoiled all the milk in kolkhozes and stole all the candies”

        Once again cortez – you are telling lies. Psaki was a great source of lulz and entertainment. No one took her seriosuly. People are still saddened that she is gone from the august halls of State Dept briefing room. Some stil furiously “ship” her with Vitaliy Klitchko.

        “Did you notice that when Chaika was accussing FBK of “working for Bowder” he did not really speak much of the actual facts mentioned in their report?”

        The fact that Mr. Browder decided to immediatelychime in and that Browder’s accusations were spread high and wide by every handshakable journo in Russia and beyond surely doesn’t help his cause.

        “But FBK just obtained documents from public company registers, including ones in Russia”

        Then they should go ahead and defend their claims and accusations in the court. That’s how the things are done, right? If they have nothing to fear and they are100% sure in that – then they are welcome to try it.

        Like

      17. “If you have never paid a bribe then you’re probably working at MVD or army and instead of bribes you just use your professional connections.”

        :DDDDDDDDDDD

        You are funny, cortez, I grant you that! Funny – but indoctrinated!

        No, I don’t work for MVD, Army, FSB, Gazprom, Mossad, Byelarussian KGB (but I have “Minsk” fridge – does it count?), Discordians, Illuminati, Freemasons or Priory of Sion.

        I could make similar claims about you, accusing you of beign a grant-sucker working for the State Dept, Freedom House, Heritage Foundation or the CIA – but I won’t. I only hope that you, cortez, for the sake of meaningful conversaton, will stip making sweeping and unsupported claims in the future.

        “Well, I could see a lot of improvements and economic growth while oil and gas prices were skyrocketing in 2000’s. This was a textbook example of trickle-down economics”

        “Не благодаря, а вопреки!”. Hmm… where did I hear this kind of insane-troll logic?

        Cortez, you decry Russia’s current corruption. What, you expect it to be gone in one swoop after “Rough 90s”? Well, any time anyone got arrested for beign an oligarch or a corruptioner in Russia liberast media (and, by pure coincidence, some Western pundits) start wailing about “New 1937”.

        The thing is – Putin decided that staging “new 1937” against corruptioners might be a good idea at the first glance, but decided against it, opting insted to cow into obedience said oligarchs and make them share with the state – an idea absolutely alien and impossible to execute in the shining beacon of freedom and democracy such as Ukraine (which is ranked even worse in transparency and corruption ratings).

        Is there corruption in Russia? Yeah. So? You can’t deny that there is progress against it. Not sweeping, granted.

        Like

      18. Browder came to Russia to make business, not to pose as bwana mkubwa as you seem to be implying. He was making a lot of money for many Kremlin politicians and investing in Russian companies, including Gazprom. His problems started in 2005 when he (and finance minister Fyodorov) started alerting Putin about former Gazprom leadership stealing its assets. I don’t think he did it because of his deep belief in rule of law, but simply because this resulted in Gazprom – and thus Browder – losing money. Putin reacted to that as expected: kicking Vyakhirev and replacing him by Medvedev and Miller. But Browder apparently pissed off enough important people to blacklist him in 2006, steal Hermitage assets in Russia through Karpov, killing Magnitsky on the way. The ridiculous “tax evasion” case was invented only in 2013 when Browder again pissed off the people involved by passing the Magnitsky Act.

        Like

    1. Big Blue would make a better (or at least – more honest) leader of Russian opposition, that’s for sure. Or the head of FIDE…

      Slava Robotam! 🙂

      Like

  11. What is it with chess champions becoming unhinged? I’m thinking of Bobby Fischer here (among other things, a rabid anti-semite). Quite clearly, capacity for hyper-rationality as demanded by high-level chess play does not readily translate into mature moral-political thinking. Perhaps, on the contrary, it entails some degree of OCD-type behaviour and/or monomaniacal preoccupations with some given subject matter, i.e., some target that must be defeated, etc.

    I don’t mean to over-analyze or psychologize the issues, but there’s something like this going on here. His relentless self-promotion and ramblings on facebook are a quite a site.

    And of course, he’s taken quite seriously in interviews. He was recently on CBC radio on The Current where, among other things, he claimed with full confidence that Putin is responsible for the murder of Nemtsov because in Russia’s mafia state system nothing, nothing at all of this nature, can happen without the approval of the top mafia “don” or “capo” (or whatever). Etc.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s