Banning Bard

In another article for RT, published today, I discuss the decision of the Russian prosecutor to ban New York-based Bard College. This is, I say, a ‘foolish and counterproductive’ decision that ‘will send a chill across the academic community, and deter anybody in Russia or the West who is considering future cooperation on even the most mutually beneficial matters.’ Read here.

33 thoughts on “Banning Bard”

  1. You uncritically reference Bellingcat stooge Aric Toler, who in overall terms doesn’t come across as a source whose views should be readily accepted without a critical fact checked follow-up.

    Mainstream US institutions continuously favor propping a certain kind of Russian viewpoint, that runs counter to the majority of Russians.

    The banning of Bard can’t be more stupid than the stated basis for censoring among others the Strategic Culture Foundation:

    Who initiated this kind of manner?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Unless it was based on privileged and as-yet unreleased information, the best guess is that it reflects a growing sentiment within the Russian state that it is under siege from the West and that anything that could be a potential fifth column within Russia needs to be eliminated.

    That ‘growing sentiment’ may well be justified. Merkel is on her way out, and Macron is weak. But apparently their input was ill prepared and fed into the process way too late.

    Haven’t read this or any article on the topic, simply got the news and didn’t like it.

    There were a couple of things I disliked about BDS, Boycott, Divestion and Sanctions (a missing clearly defined aim?), but on the top of it was that it targetted Academia and Culture too.


    1. Soros at worst means well. He’s supportive of things like good government, reducing corruption. The problem is of course he consistently enables people like Orban because often what you get from the ruins of that which you despise is something even worse.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Meh. Soros is a currency speculator, who used to own one of the most profitable hedge funds in history (according to wikipedia). His current ‘fund management’ still is a huge global financial institution.

        These are facts, Dewitt. Facts, providing a meaningful context for analyzing his activities. While “means well”, “supportive of good government”, “reducing corruption” is mere gum-flapping, imo. Like ‘for everything Good and against everything Evil’.

        And Viktor Orban is an extremely successful and (reasonably) popular politician. It says a lot that so-called ‘socialists’ in Hungary currently coalesce with far-right Hungarian ethno-nationalists, forming a ‘coalition’ whose only purpose is to unseat Mr. Orban. And that’s after 11 years of him being PM.


      2. Yeah so Soros is a rich man? He also actually does good things like fund anticorruption and scholarships – including for students like Orban. His distaste for people like Trump and now Orban has little to do with money. And in any case, he is not Khodorkovsky – he did not suddenly discover these values when it was convenient.


      3. No fan of Orban here, but you don’t seem to know much about Soros’ machinations in Hungary. Soros, the financial scammer, promoting reducing corruption, that’s an LMFAO. What he and his university were promoting was neocon ideology, neoliberal market fundamentalism, and uncritical support of the US/NATO. I wouldn’t call this good government.

        He is an American billionaire who has no right interfering in European politics. Show me the European billionaires who meddle in American politics? Thought so.

        The fact that Soros is allowed to openly meddle in Brussels and fund political causes, shows the utter sheepishness and subordination of the EU. The best thing I can say about him is that he still speaks good Hungarian.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, right, Gyorgy is motivated by pure goodness. Case closed.

        …and actually, “rich man” is not what I said. Someone who’s won a $50 million jackpot is a rich man. Someone who owns a multi-billion dollar (tens of billions) global hedge fund is something else. He has financial interests where he intervenes. According to WSJ, he lost a billion on Trump’s victory in 2016.


      5. If true it hardly makes him alone in people – in the market or otherwise – who did expect and did not want a Trump win. So that is not the slam dunk you think it is. Soros’ problem with who he sponsors is he listens too much to the music and not enough to the actual content. But this sin of his is the same of many other western liberals – much like how the Soviets used to give resources and weapons to anyone who called themselves Socialist irrespective of their motives and background.


      6. Soros was born in Hungary, so what? He has been living in the US for 60 years or so and has never paid taxes here or in Europe. He is an American billionaire, period. In the US, oligarchs like him are welcome to hijack democracy, but he has no rights whatsoever to interfere in European or Hungarian politics.

        The guy doesn’t know anything about Hungary, which is not surprising given that he has spent the vast majority of his life in the US. Apart from the few deeply unpopular political operatives he funds in Hungary, nobody gives a toss about him, because he has no credibility in the country. His political operation, which masqueraded as a university, has relocated to Vienna. So the dumb kids of Ukrainian and Georgian oligarchs can now pay the exorbitant tuition fees in Austria to buy their useless gender studies degrees and move to
        equally useless NATO think tanks.

        Besides, the old geezer will be dead soon enough and there won’t even be any reason to discuss his malign influence on European politics.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. The Soros brothers are the liberal counterparts of the conservative Koch brothers. All of these billionaire oligarchs, which also include Bezos, Musk, Zuckerberg, the Google and Apple guys, have a very malign influence on US democracy. Even that horrible old warmonger McCain recognized that and tried to limit oligarchic money in politics. Thanks but no thanks. We don’t need foreign, including American, billionaires in European politics. Hijacking and undermining American democracy should be enough for them.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Soros is not for wars of foreign intervention, and also he is among the few billionaires who actually funds candidates who want to get big money out of US politics, again because he cares about good government. Also yes Soros has lived in the US for a long time but the attention he pays to Hungary is no accident – it is still his country and he still cares about it.


      9. I didn’t say it was a slam dunk. I said it was a meaningful context for analyzing his activities.

        He’s been a billionaire and international financier/speculator for something like (at least) 40 years now (convicted, in France, of insider trading, incidentally).

        Had he liquidated his enterprise in the 90s to pursue his (alleged) philanthropic mission, that’d be one thing. But no, he is still the owner of his own personal massive hedge fund. Making money in the countries where he creates political crises, leading to mayhem, to debasement of national currencies, to friendly politicians coming to power.

        Muddying the waters — to fish in muddy waters; that’s what it looks like to me.

        Is something wrong with my analysis here? And what are your assumptions based on, other than agitprop?


      10. Oooh he shorted the pound sterling one time. As a Brit I can only say big whoop. The peg was stupid and bound to give, Soros just recognised that earlier than most. Besides, spending lots of reserves on an unsustainable currency peg, is what created the crisis not Soros. And the worst that happened was a devaluation that – because Britain had not done Brexit stupidity at the time – made British exports more competitive.


      11. If Americans are happy with their political candidates being selected by billionaires, the Koch brothers and the Soros brothers, that’s their prerogative. Foreign billionaires’ attempts to interfere with European politics have to be resisted by European citizens. Your country is not in Europe and you are free to promote American meddling in the UK, which is an American lapdog anyway. The yanks interfered on both sides of the Brexit debate. And Pompeo also openly boasted about the US undermining Corbyn. We Europeans, however, want the EU to be an independent and sovereign entity, not an American vassal.

        Hungary is not Soros’ country. He left 60+ years ago and doesn’t have a clue about the country. He is an American oligarch, who is not welcome to meddle in Hungarian politics. The right to participate in democratic politics is earned by living in the place, paying taxes, and contributing to society. He does none of these in Hungary. His malign influence in our politics has been greatly reduced. We don’t need New Yorkers to tell us how to live our lives. He should limit himself to throwing mud in the DC swamp and running one of the New York crime families.

        The current rector of Soros’ CEU is the failed Canadian neoliberal politician and certified warmonger Michael Ignatieff. This clown, who has blood on his hands as one of the promoters of the illegal invasion of Iraq, a supreme international crime, was pontificating about the rule of law while living in Hungary. This war criminal, who thankfully slithered away to Vienna, was put in his position by Soros. Nuff said about Soros’ opposition to war. Are you paid by Georgie boy? Cause you seem to be dutifully reciting his propaganda points.


      12. I have rarely read so much errant malignancy in one response, but there we are. I think if you are looking for New York crime you should look to Trump and his corrupt entourage. Plus, in view of your politics, your complaint about Pompeo and Corbyn is very strange to me to say the least especially as Orban and Johnson are allied politically.


      13. I have never voted for Orban. I oppose foreign billionaires’ meddling in European politics as a principle. You seem to be in love with Soros’ meddling in foreign countries. You can promote this in the UK, knock yourself out. British politics has been captured by corrupt American and Russian billionaires anyway.

        Thankfully your country has left the EU, so you can’t influence our future any longer. Brexit was beneficial for Europe too, for it removed the yanks’ most enthusiastic lapdog and Trojan horse from European politics.



      Excerpt –

      “The UK FCO projects were carried out covertly, and in partnership with purportedly independent, high-profile online media outfits including Bellingcat, Meduza, and the Pussy Riot-founded Mediazona. Bellingcat’s participation apparently included a UK FCO intervention in North Macedonia’s 2019 elections on behalf of the pro-NATO candidate.”


      Meduza is propped at this venue unlike the Strategic Culture Foundation.


  3. Are there any Russian funded partnership educational institutions in USA or anywhere for that matter?

    If not-, why not ?

    Then you will have your reason why Russia has done what it has done.

    You cannot give the enemy access to the minds of your young people


    1. This is a good point. There are a few exceptions (=sincere, knowledge-seeking scholars), but I get the impression most of these American “exchange students” go to Russia with one purpose in mind: Get to know your enemy, in order better to destroy him. Some exceptions being people with ethnic roots, who want to reconnect with ancestral homeland, etc., and have very few options in terms of study programs.

      Also, I know some Americans who went on some of these exchange programs, and they told me, in every group travelling to Russia there is always at least one embedded CIA agent. Sometimes very easy to spot!


      1. When I was a student in the USSR, the batch of fellow countrymen that I met up with in London before flying off to the Evil Empire were all about 20 years younger than I was.

        I was 41 then. And before we flew off, we were all invited to attend a briefing at the Foreign Office to get the low-down on the SU and its citizens.

        I didn’t go, but apparently warnings were given there never to accept an invitation to be a guest of a Soviet family.

        Upon my arrival in the SU, I had the misfortune to live with my fellow countrymen in a Moscow hostel for 2 weeks before my being sent off to Voronezh — alone. All the others stayed in Moscow or Leningrad.

        At first, many Soviet students thought I was a spook because of my age.

        As regards the non-fraternization advice from the Foreign Office, not only did I accepted invitations to be a guest of Soviet citizens, I often stopped the night with my hosts, and soon I had a Russian girl friend, who was my paramour for the next 5 years. (Not the present Mrs. Exile, I hasten to add! )

        Interestingly, I am sure one or more of my much younger fellow students had been “got at” to serve Queen and Country on an ad hoc basis, for it was clear that not a few of them loathed the USSR and it’s citizens. They made no secret about this matter.

        To my knowledge, only one of my batch returned to Russia, a girl from Manchester who married a Russian and still lives in Moscow.

        I met up with her by chance about 20 years ago here in Moscow. She told me that her husband, who was a TV director when they got wed, detested Berezovsky, who by that time had absconded to the UK. His detestation of Berezovsky had something to do with that criminal’s skullduggery when taking over the TV. channel for which the director worked. Berezovsky had fired him and many others because of his politics.


      2. Exile, your experiences totally jibe with my beliefs and impressions. Namely, that the U.S. (and also British, apparently) exchange students are, on the whole, Russia-haters. With a few exceptions, of course, of people like yourself, and the woman who married a Russian and stayed there to raise a family.

        I don’t really care that these students hate Russia, people are free to think whatever they want, and their political beliefs should not be an impediment to their right to travel and study. What matters is that these programs are corrupted by the CIA and the British Foreign Office.
        These disgusting spooks corrupt scholars, just like they corrupt journalists.
        It’s completely wrong, and somebody should put a stop to it. There should be laws banning government/intelligence intereference in academia and journalism.


      3. A case in point: she who is now top “Russia adviser” in Washington, an Englishwoman fro m a similar background as mine — hails from a northern England coal mining town, father a miner, only I was a coal miner as well, undertook Russian studies, but studied in post-Soviet Russia, whereas I studied in the USSR.

        But then a strange thing happened to her: whilst a student here, she was offered and took work with a USA media channel. On her return to the UK, having graduated in the UK, she was offered a scholarship in the USA, and from some prestigious Ivy League organization, she moved on to Washington, began to work fir the government and is now a US citizen.

        She turns up now and again in the Kremlin as part of the US diplomatic corps entourage — and writes books about the parlors state of Russia.


  4. I doubt this program is the only mechanism for Americans to undertake activities in Russia. There is probably something special about it to attract the attention of the Russian authorities. We don’t know what evidence this decision was based on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there something shady about the program. I am not sure why else they would place this ban. To make a political point?

    The Russians also may not care much about relations with the U.S. at this point. There was an article in RT by a Kremlin connected person several months ago arguing that the optimum arrangement between Russia and the U.S. would be to stay away from each other.


  5. I should add that there is something disturbing about U.S. Russia studies. The late Stephen Cohen tried to set up a Russia studies scholarship before he died and, incredibly, it was rejected by the U.S. Russia studies association because Cohen was critical of America’s Ukraine policy. I was astonished he didn’t receive more support from other scholars, although the rejection was eventually overturned. What is going on with U.S. Russia studies? Why was Cohen the only American Russia scholar trying to debunk the numerous anti-Russian canards in the U.S.?


    1. Why was Cohen the only American Russia scholar trying to debunk the numerous anti-Russian canards in the U.S.?

      Simple answer: Cohen was a real Mensch. He was the only one who wasn’t latched onto the CIA teat. Almost all of the others are simple Orwellian propagandists. Like I said in my comment above, They study Russia in order to destroy it, as in “Know thine enemy!”
      The goal of these American “scholars” was the dismantling of the USSR. Having achieved that, their new goal is the dismantling of the Russian Federation, they would like to turn it into tiny warring tribal fiefdoms, as like back in the days of the bard Boyan.


  6. Professor, here I can only restate things told to me by a very, very knowledgeable “old Russia hand”, about whom you, I hope, at least heard a thing or to – Mr. Eddy T. Nafeegh*. He drew my attention to several things, and so do I, hoping that our over-vigilant commentariat on Issusionality will spread the word:

    Exhibit A : Dastardly Russian HAKEЯS hack their way into pristine Totally-Not-A-CIA-Outlet-Nope-No-Totally aka DEA. That was is in… . Now we have bans and declarations of undersiribility of one Westie NGO after another. Ahem,

    Exhibit B (the wackiet one):TL;DR – yeah, the Westies totally wanted to use the student exchange program as an element of the regime change in Russia.

    Exhibit C: the West is crying “uncle” after all. Quotes:

    “Touting “the Bush record,” a White House website argued that George W. Bush administration’s Freedom Agenda “supported the emergence of democracies in Georgia and Ukraine through its support for civil society and democratic activists during the successful Rose Revolution in Georgia and Orange Revolution in Ukraine.””


    “A major complication may be rooted in the civil society concept itself.”

    “This definition encompasses a much broader array of social enterprises beyond the ideal of a civil society organization. The Taliban, MS-13, and the Proud Boys all qualify as “groups of citizens organized to act in pursuit of their interests, broadly conceived (both material and ideal).” This may be why studies reach such disparate conclusions about the impact of civil society organizations: Heterogeneous inputs should produce heterogeneous outcomes.”


    “At a level below policy, program officers making decisions on civil society support could engage in some useful thought experiments. They should ask themselves how they would perceive other governments extending similar support to civil society organizations in their country. Would they approve of a foreign government funding an organization that engaged on potentially hot-button issues such as grazing on federal land, small arms and light weapons policy, immigration issues, election management reform, or political appointees and senior officials? If an organization funded by a foreign government participated in street protests, would this constitute illegitimate interference? If these scenarios give one pause, then a U.S. civil society assistance project may warrant more thinking.”


    “The Bard College”? All others? Fuck them all, I say! Oh, you don’t like it? It’s something against your so-called middle class sentiments? Fuck them too!

    Want to change the situation? Go out in your “free” and “liberal” country and make your “servants of the people” change Russia’s designation from the official enemy to something more friendly,

    Then wait for a generation while actively repairing ALL the damage suffered from your propaganda courses while rebuilding mutual trust.

    Then you will have a chance to righteously whine.


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