Have you ever wanted to be a media pundit? If so, I fervently want to destroy everything you have ever loved in a flaming pyre right before your eyes before slowly cutting your…
Have you ever wanted to become a media pundit? Would you like to sound like an expert on the situation between Russia and Ukraine without actually knowing anything about either of these countries or their current conflict? NOW YOU CAN!
Simply copy and paste these paragraphs into comments sections or Facebook discussion and prepare to be respected as a politically astute, well informed expert on Russian issues. Try memorizing one and regurgitating it at your next social function when the topic of Russia or Ukraine comes up. With convincing delivery and a hint at the prospect of cocaine back at your apartment, you might manage to seduce a Russian studies undergrad!*
1. On the nature of Putin and the hierarchy of power in Russia
What you need to realize is that the power structure in Russia is a delicate balancing act with Putin at the top of the pyramid, the siloviki in the middle, and players like Navalny and Pussy Riot on the fringes, near the corners. Those fringe elements frighten those in the middle layer, who in turn pass their concerns up to Putin at the top. Putin plays the role of an arbiter in a neo-Stalinist system where individuals possessing sufficient blat are able to air their grievances and seek redress from the leader. Until the fringe elements can negotiate the layers of Russia’s system and find themselves among the siloviki, you’re unlikely to see any substantial change in the next few years. It all comes down to whether or not Putin is a gambler or a cautious chess player, but who can possibly read him? Time will tell.
2. On the conflict in Ukraine
Well you have to realize that this is a conflict which goes back for hundreds of years, and is therefore terribly complex as it is multi-faceted and synergistic. It will not be solved any time soon. The issue is that Ukraine has been traditionally divided into the Ukrainian West and the Russian-speaking East. The Western Ukrainians, who are in fact the real Ukrainians, see their destiny in Europe, whereas those in the East see it as being with Russia in Putin’s Neo-USSR. Oh and by the way, only call it “Ukraine” and not “the Ukraine.” Using the is really offensive to Ukrainians. Did I mention how old and complex this conflict is? It’s extremely complex and explaining it would involve a long, detailed lecture on its history which stretches back for centuries.
3. On economic issues in Russia
The real question is whether Russia as a BRIC country will be able to weather the prospect of drastically lowered oil prices while simultaneously facing competition in its natural gas sector. If not, your’e going to see more silent austerity in the long-run followed by a tanking ruble which might not be possible to stabilize by dumping dollars and instituting a new payment system whereby China purchases its oil in Russian currency. With Russia’s resource-based, economy still not having been properly diversified to any appreciable degree, we’re probably going to see serious trouble on the horizon very soon.
4. On human rights in Russia
It’s no secret that dozens of journalists have been killed in Russia and government complicity simply can’t be ruled out. Quite the opposite, these deaths must be laid at the feet of Putin, a long with all the other human rights violations which began in Russia since May 2000. Prior to his rise to power, Russia was a budding democracy with great potential. Now corruption and repression have become the norm under the neo-Tsarist, neo-Stalinist, neo-Communist, ultra-nationalist regime. Any attempt to suggest that this state of affairs might be “more nuanced” or who tries to bring up things like context or analogies is clearly nothing more than a shill for the Kremlin regime and an apologist for their bloody atrocities. As a member of Amnesty International, this is something I simply cannot tolerate and you shouldn’t either. FREE PUSSY RIOT!
5. On living in Russia as a foreigner(actually living in Russia not required)
As the song goes, Moscow never sleeps. On Friday night, whether at Propaganda or Krizis, the room is always packed. Young ladies are dressed to kill and their smiles are more than enough to charm an unassuming Westerner like me to his death. But you have to remind yourself. This is Putin’s Russia. That beautiful, svelte Slav with the golden locks of hair like a Ukrainian wheat field and eyes bluer than the waters of the Volga could be a honey trap, looking to seduce me. After I’m passed out after a wild night of passion, she’ll go through my things and try to determine if I really am just an English teacher. I don’t want her to suspect that I’m a spy, so I buy her six drinks. When she asks for a seventh I refuse and she suddenly walks off and starts talking to some drunk Russian guy. Point for me. Looks like I just narrowly missed a night of interrogation in a small room in the Lubyanka! Now at this point I begin to wonder where I can get a nice tall glass of kvas and some blini with a nice, wholesome girl who doesn’t work for the FSB. I really love kvas. I must be truly Russian.
*Probably not though.