A new approach

Unfortunately, work has prevented me from writing on of the posts I’ve got planned for this week. Luckily The Moscow Times just posted a brilliant article from Mark Galeotti.

I’ve been saying for quite some time now that there needs to be a changing of the guard when it comes to Russia expertise. It’s not just a matter of aging Cold Warriors who stand to benefit from poor relations between Russia and the West; it’s also a lot of people who see Russia in terms of abstract ideas rather than in a more humanist way.

One way or another, you have a lot of people who come to Russia, heads full of hopelessly out-of-date knowledge they gained in college. They arrive and attempt to project this onto Russia and they’re mad when Russia doesn’t fit. This describes both sides of the spectrum.

Long before the degeneration of Russia-Western relations in recent years, I’d seen plenty of idealistic Russian/Russian studies major types who had obviously read a lot of Russian liberal literature. They couldn’t understand why the locals weren’t interested in constantly exploring the horrors of the Soviet Union and Stalin, or why they weren’t orgasmic over the fall of the USSR. Today these people are seen as “vatniks” and die-hard Putin supporters, and to be sure many of them are. Based on my own experience and research, however, I suspect that in the past many Russians were more than willing to engage in an open and honest discussion about the problems and tragedies in the Soviet Union, it’s just that many Western or Russian liberal academics and writers seemed to be interested in nothing but the tragedies, while totally ignoring the positive aspects. This is very different from the critical history we’re used to in our own countries. Rather than listen to some of the counter-arguments it seems many followers of this school prefer to consider the Russian people brainwashed and still under the effects of Stalin, even if they were born after the fall of the USSR. Their agency is removed and they are dehumanized.

On the other side of the spectrum you have the idealistic Russophiles, again obsessed with stereotypical symbols of Russianness. They were upset to see Russians interested more in Latin American dances and learning German or English instead of doing Russian folk dances, quoting Pushkin, and supporting their president so that Russia could challenge NATO and build a “multi-polar world.” They expected Russia to be some kind of bastion of what they consider “traditional” morality, and yet they discovered a country where things like adultery, prostitution, and gold-digging are far more acceptable if not celebrated at times. Of course they couldn’t put the blame on the system, one which rewards lying, corruption, and stealing, so it was the West’s fault. In spite of their professed love for everything Russian, they actually believe the Russian people to be stupid children who need a father-like dictator figure to protect them from falling for “Western” ideas and imports. Well, not all Western things. They should be totally accepting of pro-Kremlin Russian wannabes from America, Britain, or wherever, but it must stop there! Everything else “Western” must be rejected.

Both these people have the same problem- Russians don’t fit their preconceived notions of what they are supposed to be, and so they are to blame. Whether the claim is that they are still brainwashed by Stalin or developmentally stunted by the Mongol yoke, or that they are stupid cattle who need to be protected from the dastardly influence of the West, the conclusion is the same. Russians are not people with agency, differences of opinion, different experiences, etc. In many ways I’d say that Russians are the target of a “noble savage” myth that goes undetected because Russians are “white” to Western eyes. Well, that is they aren’t “white” until someone gets called out on this racism, in which case they are suddenly, temporarily granted “whiteness.”

Galeotti’s idea of the unsentimental Russophile is intriguing to me because it’s probably the first time in many years that I’d actually identify with the term Russophile at all. That one qualifier changes everything. In my youth I was a very sentimental, romantic, fanatically idealistic Russophile, but even before I learned the truth of Putin’s Russia that obsession with superficial aspects of Russianness was already waning. I’d already read my requisite share of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and so I spent my time reading up on the various social problems facing Russia at the time. When I bought into the Putin mythos of that time, his alleged opposition to “the West” was utterly secondary to my mind. What was important was that Russian living standards were rising, and I hoped that this process was further reducing things like corruption and exploitation of women and children. To me this was what saving Russia from the horrible 90’s was all about.

I think this is what made it so easy to make an about face once I got a more accurate picture of life in Putin’s Russia. I was expecting concrete things and they weren’t there. Corruption was rife as ever, it was just ordered in a different way. The humiliating exploitation of Russia’s female population was still in force as ever, almost as if it was promoted by the state and its media. If I’d been obsessed with superficial cultural things like Master and Margarita or Pushkin’s poetry, I wouldn’t have been disillusioned; all those things were readily available after all. Same thing with all the patriotic propaganda. It was there in 2006 and 2007 just as it was today, only back then people saw it for the cynical ploy that it was.

Last year there were times when I started seriously wondering if I could some how just cut Russia (and now Ukraine) out of my life somehow. Physically leaving is only part of it; I imagined a peaceful future life somewhere in the States where I pretend that I just have this missing decade. I imagine changing the channel if a story about Russia comes on the news. But in a rational sense I know this is no less a fantasy than the grandiose dreams I had as a child and a teenager. I’d sooner become a goddamned astronaut before I’d ever be able to hear a story about some injustice or outrage in Russia or Ukraine and not feel a deep visceral anger, as though it were happening to me or someone close to me.

The problem is that with a lot of the current experts, you don’t have that kind of connection. They’re able to talk about abstract ideas and appreciate superficial gestures without showing too much concern about their effects on the ground. That’s why you have Russia critics who still back and praise Khodorkovsky without seeing how incredibly problematic this is, and it’s why you have Russia supporters who insist that Russian endure ever worsening conditions under Putin because…uh…anti-imperialism! Multi-polar world! Neocons! It’s kind of hard to quantify exactly who sincerely cares about a people more, but anyone who is able to hold either of the aforementioned views certainly doesn’t give a shit about the consequences their ideologies hold for Russia.

Obviously one can question Galeotti’s recommendations about expats being the best source. There are many expats who before fawning Kremlinophiles because life for them in Russia, as it is for expats in many countries, is like “easy mode” for real life. Enjoying the fruits of Putin’s corrupt system and the attitudes it engenders (which are essentially preserved 90’s modes of thinking), they happily decide that the Kremlin must be the source of their cushy lifestyle and thus pay homage in return.

On the other hand, what he says about people who work for companies like RT or who have lived here long term is especially true. While long-term expat may not equal trustworthy, I can’t really see how you could have a credible expert without long-term living in Russia, in spite of whatever academic credentials they might have.

I guess now I can admit that I am a Russophile- an unsentimental one. I don’t give a shit about Russian “traditions,” only that their leaders are held accountable to the people, that their natural wealth is put towards their material benefit, that their streets are clean, that they have opportunities for advancement in life, and that their society is progressive and free. I suppose I could say I’m an unsentimental Ukrainophile for the exact same reason. I’m sick of the endless victimhood and tears for those who died in the past, an excuse for not doing anything for those living today and their descendants.

Once again, let us not forget that Russia-Western relations went to hell in a handbasket on the watch of our old guard experts. How long will leaders keep giving them chances before admitting that maybe it’s time to start listening to the next generation, one with far more hands on experience. Will they continue using command “push” instead of recon “pull?” Time will tell.

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132 thoughts on “A new approach

  1. Bandersnatch

    That article is definitely a good one. Not really as well written as many of yours I think but still,legitimate point-wise. I will say though I get a little exhausted of this expat dichotomy people draw up, the expats who are absorbed into the country and those in the ‘expat bubble’. People are abroad for many reasons and merely because you aren’t enamored with that nation or speak its language does not mean who don’t have a grasp of the culture. I would say that no one can claim to be an expert on Russia without knowing Russian. That is certain. Learn the language stupid! if you want to be an ‘expert’. But to know what’s going on politically and socially, in an objective way, you definitely do not need to know the language well or even love where you are. What do you think?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I think these days when Russia and to a much lesser extent Ukraine are trying to fight a propaganda war, it is essential be able to read not only texts from the media of these countries, but the chatter between Russians and Ukrainians. Both nationalities have a tendency to assume foreigners know nothing about them, and thus they will try to sell you a bill of goods if you’re not careful. Pro-Kremlin types do it all the time, but I’ve seen Ukrainians do it as well.

      As for the expat bubble, that can be hard to control. For example I’ve never really been into the expat scene, but does that mean I’m hanging out with Russians all the time? No- my job for a long time meant that I was totally isolated from pretty much both sides.

      I think what some expats forget, however, is that you’ll never really experience life here as a native. So if your life is better here, and it often could be even today, it’s not because Russia’s so wonderful- it’s because you’re a foreigner with skills in high demand, even if the skill is speaking English so as to bullshit people for money.

      Reply
      1. RK

        your point re Expats is an excellent one – however much one knows a language and culture etc one will never be a local and at least as a western expat, one in the main is in a privileged position to some degree (as well as you say a salary etc that means that one is never going to be a typical local.)

  2. John

    Although, really, all these articles are meaningless if the US and West aren’t actually interested in developing a real working relationship with Russia. If the West, and I think this is the case, is entirely ungeared toward cooperation, then recommendations on how to ‘fix’ the problem are lost because that isn’t the agenda.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I think the West is trying to salvage things now, but they didn’t care when it mattered. They were happy selling real estate and hiding dirty money from Russia. Now Frankenstein’s monster is on the warpath because Putin is scrambling to maintain control, and the only card he has is anti-Westernism(thanks to Russia’s notorious inferiority complex).

      The problem right now is that even if the West were to cave into Putin more than they already are, it’s not going to placate him. He NEEDS this conflict otherwise he’s toast.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        I think you are profoundly blind attributing this anti-Western attitude solely to Putin. In fact during his time in office Putin was moderating the anti-Western sentiment that was boiling among the general. Until recently. The very term “Putin’s Russia” you are using from time to time is wrong. There is no such thing as “Putin’s Russia”, quite the contrary: it is Putin who is the product of Russia. He is mainly criticized because it took him so long to finally raise the voice against Western unjustice.
        As for why Putin gave up attempts to establish dialog with the West, the reason is quite simple – it’s no use to talk to anyone who is not interested in listening. The West suffers from ideological autism. It is not interested in cooperation, peaceful coexistence etc. It is interested in promoting its own agenda: full spectrum Western dominance.
        Again you totally misunderstood Russia’s motives. It doesn’t need conflict. The Western backed coup caught us by surprise. We didn’t start that conflict. You have been warned not to do what you did. You chose to do otherwise. Now you see the consequences. We had to react. And we did it.
        Your problem is that you don’t understand the depth of the current tendency in Russia. You attribute everything to Putin. When Putin leaves his position we’ll find another one who do the job more efficiently.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “In fact during his time in office Putin was moderating the anti-Western sentiment that was boiling among the general.”

        Nonsense. I was here in 1999 and since 2006 and the idea that there was this widespread anger at the West is largely bullshit. What there has been is state controlled media and government-funded organizations stoking anti-Western sentiment, and that has largely been a construct of Putin and the presidential administration. You are just falling for it.

        Only a blind person wouldn’t notice that if there has indeed been an increase in general anti-Western sentiment in Russia in the past few years, it has come AFTER an increasingly hysterical media/astroturf organization campaign, coupled with numerous crackdowns on dissent which tell the people how they need to act if they don’t want problems.

        ” He is mainly criticized because it took him so long to finally raise the voice against Western unjustice.”

        Western injustice? You mean like investing in Russia and creating thousands of jobs which actually helped lead to the small but important Russian middle class? You mean giving your oligarchs and bureaucrats the cars, gadgets, and luxury items they crave so much they’re willing to steal from their own people just to get their hands on them? Or are you referring to the way the West happily let that same elite squirrel their money away in European and American banks and real estate?

        SUCH INJUSTICE!

        “The West suffers from ideological autism. It is not interested in cooperation, peaceful coexistence etc. It is interested in promoting its own agenda: full spectrum Western dominance.”

        Yes, it’s the West’s fault your masters are so greedy that they can’t stop stealing long enough to let actual talented Russians create a competitive economy.

        “The Western backed coup caught us by surprise. We didn’t start that conflict. ”

        There was no Western backed coup. Your cowardly puppet ran away, possibly because he was warned to do so by Putin. Putin, being the coward and thief that he is, fears people rising up and throwing off corrupt leaders like himself. Therefore he needs to reinforce the message that popular protest always makes things worse.

        Russia certainly did start that war and annexed part of a sovereign country in the process. All your criticism about Iraq, Libya, Kosovo, etc. just became invalidated when that happened.

        “We had to react. And we did it.”

        There is no “we.” You are a subject of Putin. He owes you nothing and he has no accountability to you.

        “When Putin leaves his position we’ll find another one who do the job more efficiently.”

        First of all, you don’t know when or how Putin will leave. It’s sad that you’re not even cognizant as to why that’s a serious problem.

        But let me help you with your future prediction. However Putin leaves, what will happen immediately thereafter is incredibly simple. All the thieves that run your country will begin a scramble for the spoils. Some will die, some will be jailed, others will run. The cockroaches will scatter with whatever they can grab, leaving the rest of you back in the early 1990’s, only worse because you’re never going to have triple digit oil prices again plus your gas monopoly is eroding every year.

        Thank Putin for mortally wounded your country with your fucked up system.

        “We”- that’s hilarious.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I should also point out that if you’re really claiming Russians had all this anti-Western sentiment without the massive media propaganda campaigns coming from the Kremlin(some of which go back years), then you’re essentially saying that the Russian people are incredibly stupid, as this would mean they are unaware that their problems since 1991 are in fact the fault of their own leaders and not the West.

        I do know there is an inferiority complex here, by which Russians get really upset at the supposed idea that Americans think their country is the greatest in the world. Let me ask you this- do you think it bothers Germans, Norwegians, Danes, or Japanese what some yokels in Texas think about America? Do you think Germans or Japanese concern themselves over whether or not most Americans might overestimate their country’s contribution to WWII? I’m guessing no. Why do you think that might be?

  3. Estragon

    I have a problem with some of the terminology used. “Russophile” to me is about culture, not politics: a love of Russian culture does not imply a love of the people ruling the country. Western Putinists (guys like Eric Kraus, Mark Sleboda, Alexander Mercouris, and the “Kremlin Stooge” blogger) are something completely different. They’ve signed up for a political movement. If Russia goes blooey, they will probably abandon it in favor of somewhere else. This might have a certain amusement value – can you imagine Sleboda moving to China and lecturing the Chinese on their duties? – but I doubt it will have any positive results in the real world.

    Reply
  4. RK

    yet again really hits the nail on the end esp the point about Russophiles (which is my own way I’d consider myself to be). When I said I loved Russia on a certain liberal media website recently, someone in the US, who probably has a Western Putinist laminated membership card, said that i might love Russians (in some kind of sexual innuendo style I think) but I didn’t love a Russia that was now ‘strong, independent and free’ and that had people like Gorbachev been in charge in 1941 the Nazis would be in NY (so seemingly a Putin and Stalin fan!). Also apparently disagreeing with what Putin is doing and having any sympathy for Ukraine (and not the Bandera side either) makes me a Russo/Slavophobe, Neo-con and a Trotskyite- must tell my Russian friends that (the Trotsky bit does I think further give away the chap as a Stalin supporter who somehow though prefers the live of the West)

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      The funny thing about that sexual innuendo you mention is that many of those types like the ones you encountered are actually themselves patrons of marriage agencies or prostitution. They also tend to have horrible views towards Russian women when talking in private. Hmmm…I guess they only love part of the Russian people.

      The idea that Russia is somehow strong now is hilarious, seeing as how every day we’re hearing stories about prosecutors investigating this or that blog or website in fear of “extremism” or a potential attempt at a “Maidan”, even in cities far away from Moscow. If Russia’s so fucking strong why does it need to routinely censor and control the media and internet so as not to be overthrown by a supposedly small liberal opposition in the capital? Why is it that there’s a government-sponsored Anti-Maidan movement that says Russia has been “occupied” by America this whole time, all the while supporting Putin?

      Reply
      1. RK

        Me bad – it was ‘strong, sovereign and free’ that he said. As a bit of a student of 1930s Germany that sort of language has a certain ring to it. I also notice that most of these ‘Putin strong, Putin good’ folk also hanker after the Milosevic days in Yugoslavia. Again I’d be the first to acknowledge that that conflict was by no means black and white but overall Milosevic clearly unleashed forces such as the various bloc headed Serbian leaders in Krajina and in Bosnia that he could not control even though at certain points he may have wanted to try and settle diplomatically. The chap who went on about sovereign and free was also advocating a role for Russia acting as a rat catching cat on the world stage, saving the world from the USA – that sort of rhetoric is again as daft as that of the pro Bandera types who go on endlessly about how the West would crush Russia in any all out war – but then end by saying in effect that Putin is too smart to charge into a full scale war (so why did you spent 500 words doing a line by line comparison of NATO v Russian tank, a/c and ship strengths!)

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Oh it’s one of those types. One funny thing about them is they can’t really explain WHY or how they would “save” the world from the US. For one thing, look at many of the US’ best allies and you’ll notice they’re all usually developed countries with much better conditions than Russian and far greater conditions than Russia’s “allies.”

        Second, when did Russia truly oppose anything bad the US did? They didn’t stop the Iraq war- in fact they profited from it and IIRC their intelligence services also had some BS about WMDs in Iraq.

        They didn’t save Libya, and they claim they “saved” Syria but I think the ISIS conflict in Iraq and the conflict in Yemen demonstrate that the US was unlikely to have actually invaded in 2013 after that chemical attack.

        All they do now is rally behind whatever corrupt dictator they can, no doubt promising to be the partner who isn’t concerned about behavior, and these dictators inevitably fall because they have no concern for their country after they’re dead.

        The whole stopping the US thing is ridiculous because if we acknowledge that liberal democracy is flawed, the solution is not LESS democracy. Human rights as a concept has flaws as well, but the solution is not less respect for human rights or just agreeing that everyone is horrible and that we shouldn’t criticize each other.

        What is more, the opposition to the United States is more than fine- but why rally behind a country whose economy is comparable to California, and whose political system is nothing but a bad reality show run by morons? Why not bet on a thoroughbred to beat another thoroughbred as opposed to betting on a donkey?

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Oh yeah I forgot to mention. About all that tank fapping, I think what he fails to realize is how few of the latest Russian models of tanks, helicopters, etc. are actually deployed within Russia’s armed forces. Then you have to factor in poorer training of maintenance crews and operators, and the fact that Russia is deploying some of the latest technology in Ukraine yet the rebels are still just barely holding on, fighting a conventional war against an impoverished former Soviet Republic.

  5. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    Whilst Galleoti makes a good point I think there’s something ‘the West’ needs more than his proposal. It needs to be hearing more Russian and, by extension, Ukrainian ‘experts’.

    By that I mean journalists who can explain what is going on and what they think will happen and why.

    I have mentioned before how voices from the left in Ukraine, especially, but also from Russia are entirely absent from the Western left. It is also true that Western punditry and also journalism has hardly any Russians or Ukrainians contributing.

    People like Natalia Antanova and Maxim Eristavi should be much more highly valued and supported than they are. True professionals. I would also mention Meduza and Hrmodske.

    There are now a number of good sources in English but, with the exception of the Guardian Near East network, there all marginal in ‘the West’.

    Reply
    1. Sohryu_L

      Can I be heard, too? Most of the people reading my blog are from Russia or Ukraine for some uncanny reason.

      Reply
  6. Mikhail

    Jim,
    You spilled so much bullshit at once.
    Let me answer in order:
    1. The West was so generous to give the Russian so-called elites what they have now – luxury cars etc. – Yes, because the West thought it would buy them lock stock and barrel. And it succeded for a while. Until Putin came and ruined their aspirations. As far as I know the West is not in the charity business. They did it because they hoped to subdue Russia once and for all with the help of the local compradors. The West invested so heavily in Russian industry that the latter almost ceased to exist. I am not complaining. This is exactly the way the enemy should behave. No hard feelings. The West supported the Russian middle class out of ideological stupidity thinking that Russians would sacrifice their country’s interests for Western “charity”.
    2. Anti-Western attitudes emerged out of nowhere just recently because of massive Kremlin propaganda. – Are you really boasting that you lived in Russia during the 90’s? Is that supposed to give you an overwhelming understanding of what happened then? No, because you are just taking into account what was said officially during that period, while I was living in this country much longer and I know exactly what I am talking about. BTW, saying that propaganda plays that great role you are implicitly stating that you believe that democracy doesn’t matter at all, everything is decided by means of manipulating public opinion. Yes, there is an increase in anti-Western public statements. Did I say there is not? That is simply because Russians have lost their temper. The sooner you recognize that genuine anti-Western sentiment exists in Russia the wiser will be your estimates. If not it’s up to you anyway.
    So long. To be continued…

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “Yes, because the West thought it would buy them lock stock and barrel. And it succeded for a while. Until Putin came and ruined their aspirations.”

      Oh you mean they all started buying Volgas and Ladas? I’m sorry but that didn’t happen. Clearly they loved buying this stuff from the West. Your leaders love it so much they steal from their countrymen(i.e. you) just so they can do it more than anyone else.

      “They did it because they hoped to subdue Russia once and for all with the help of the local compradors. ”

      Yes, because that’s the most important thing for Western nations. We don’t really want to enjoy our higher living standards, we just want to subdue Russia.

      “The West invested so heavily in Russian industry that the latter almost ceased to exist.”

      Your industry ceased to exist because your corrupt, revisionist Soviet system collapsed. You had ample opportunity to fight for it. You chose blue jeans instead. How is that the West’s fault?

      “This is exactly the way the enemy should behave. ”

      Enemies should invest in each other’s economies? Sounds like a losing strategy. The US invested a lot in Japan and South Korea- are they enemies?

      “The West supported the Russian middle class out of ideological stupidity thinking that Russians would sacrifice their country’s interests for Western “charity”.

      What national interest is more important than prosperity and higher living standards for the most people possible? How is it “charity?” Investment and trade are part of the global economy, and Putin’s own government encouraged this for years.

      How is it charity if educated Russians get a high-paying job in a foreign company and manage to afford a middle class lifestyle? I suppose you think they should follow tradition and be happy with whatever some authority figure hands them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.

      “2. Anti-Western attitudes emerged out of nowhere just recently because of massive Kremlin propaganda. – Are you really boasting that you lived in Russia during the 90’s? Is that supposed to give you an overwhelming understanding of what happened then? ”

      Neither of these statements are correct. My visit in 1999 was short, but as you can see from the FAQ I’ve been here since 2006.

      “No, because you are just taking into account what was said officially during that period,”

      No, actually I’m taking into account what I heard and experienced from ordinary people. A lot of the anti-Western rhetoric was still just as readily available back then as well, but educated people didn’t pay attention to it because times were good and the government was more relaxed.

      “BTW, saying that propaganda plays that great role you are implicitly stating that you believe that democracy doesn’t matter at all, everything is decided by means of manipulating public opinion. ”

      I don’t think you understand what democracy means. For one thing, in other countries where the media isn’t almost entirely by the state, that manipulation is a lot harder. This is even more true when the state cannot enforce whatever line the media is putting out. For example, in the Bush years the conservative media(all private) could call you a traitor and terrorist sympathizer for being against the Iraq invasion, but beyond that nobody could do shit. There was no state backing.

      “That is simply because Russians have lost their temper.”

      So it’s like someone keeps stealing from me and after a while I lose my temper and start screaming about a neighbor who lives several houses down the block and has nothing to do with that. Sounds like a good strategy.

      ” The sooner you recognize that genuine anti-Western sentiment exists in Russia the wiser will be your estimates.”

      Oh I realize that the genuine sentiment exists and is now widespread- it’s just that it’s stupid, misdirected, harmful for Russia more than anyone else(save for maybe Ukraine), and it’s really undignified and submissive.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        “Oh you mean they all started buying Volgas and Ladas? I’m sorry but that didn’t happen. Clearly they loved buying this stuff from the West. Your leaders love it so much they steal from their countrymen(i.e. you) just so they can do it more than anyone else.”

        You may be surprised but I admit they probably steal. But I cannot know that for sure. Nobody can be called guilty until his/her guilt is proven. At least in Russia. It seems it is different in “democratic” societies.
        Well, if you prefer to base your judgements upon wild guesses, do you think your leaders don’t steal from you? Why doesn’t your mind go in that direction? I think they steal from everywhere they can reach. Rumor has it US companies with governmental connections have already set eyes on Ukraine’s resources. Sounds like a good reason for a coup-d’etat.
        In short what they steal from me is not your fucking business. We’ll sort it out between ourselves without your consent.

        “Yes, because that’s the most important thing for Western nations. We don’t really want to enjoy our higher living standards, we just want to subdue Russia.”

        Hmm, I did not think so. But you have aroused doubts in my mind. You said that, not me. Well, now it makes sense. You enjoy your higher living standards, exactly because you subdue other nations. By “you” I mean of course not you personally, but your masters, whom you did not elect.

        “What national interest is more important than prosperity and higher living standards for the most people possible? How is it “charity?” Investment and trade are part of the global economy, and Putin’s own government encouraged this for years.”

        You first said it was charity on the part of the West to invest in Russia in the 90’s. I think it was not. In fact it was the theft of the century when you “bought” half of the country for a few pennies. But I don’t blame the West for that. They are just capitalist vultures. What can one await from them? Our own capitalists are the real criminals. But don’t tell me the West had anything good in mind towards Russia carrying out that plundering.

        “No, actually I’m taking into account what I heard and experienced from ordinary people. A lot of the anti-Western rhetoric was still just as readily available back then as well, but educated people didn’t pay attention to it because times were good and the government was more relaxed.”

        So you think you are in a position to measure someone’s educational (or even intellectual) level based on his/her political views? Congratulations! This is obscurantism of the first class! Don’t be silly, people can have higher education and hold different views than yours.
        I still think we are talking about different times. I am referring to 1993-98. I can describe my own feelings. When you see how your country is being ruined by foreigners and their collaborators, while central TV stations and newspapers disseminating hateful anti-people propaganda, shame, humiliation and anger are what I was feeling back then. Hardly positive feelings. And you dare to tell me, that everything I felt was because the government told me so or because I am uneducated fool? You don’t even know whom you are dealing with. You disappoint me.

        “I don’t think you understand what democracy means. For one thing, in other countries where the media isn’t almost entirely by the state, that manipulation is a lot harder. This is even more true when the state cannot enforce whatever line the media is putting out. For example, in the Bush years the conservative media(all private) could call you a traitor and terrorist sympathizer for being against the Iraq invasion, but beyond that nobody could do shit. There was no state backing.”

        Ha, no state backing! As if it somehow prevented you from invading Iraq! Correct me if I’m wrong. The invasion was overwhelmingly supported by the people, right? So what that your propaganda machine did not have governmental backing? Damn bastards did their job and brainwashed the population in favor of the invasion. BTW, who is the master and who is the puppet, the government or neocons is an interesting question. What if the government itself is manipulated by the powerful circles who are the real masters and decision makers? The US is an oligarchic capitalist system with a democratic facade. Your country is ruled by private interest groups. It is the government that serves them, not vice-versa. That’s why neither the president nor the people of the United States have a voice in critical issues like war and peace. What puzzles me is that you are still calling a system like that democratic. And even dare to teach others what is real democracy. How many wars did your highly developed democratic civil society prevent lately? Fucking peacemakers!

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “You may be surprised but I admit they probably steal.”

        This is common knowledge in Russia and yes, there is a lot of evidence for this if you’re willing to look. I’ve never met a single Russian who denies this.

        “Rumor has it US companies with governmental connections have already set eyes on Ukraine’s resources. Sounds like a good reason for a coup-d’etat.”

        The US doesn’t own any corporate enterprises- it has very few assets compared with the private sector. What is more, there was no reason for them to overthrow the government when they couldn’t know that Yanukovych would definitely not sign the Association Agreement he himself had prepared. Also there was no reason why Ukraine not signing or joining the customs union would affect US trade with Ukraine.

        “You first said it was charity on the part of the West to invest in Russia in the 90’s. I think it was not. In fact it was the theft of the century when you “bought” half of the country for a few pennies”

        Why don’t you blame the people who sold it to them? Why not blame the state enterprise managers who illegally stripped assets and fled the country?

        “Ha, no state backing! As if it somehow prevented you from invading Iraq! Correct me if I’m wrong. The invasion was overwhelmingly supported by the people, right? So what that your propaganda machine did not have governmental backing?”

        The difference is that the government couldn’t use force to prevent people from opposing the war.

        ” Damn bastards did their job and brainwashed the population in favor of the invasion. BTW, who is the master and who is the puppet, the government or neocons is an interesting question. ”

        Keep in mind this talk of Iraq started less than a year after 9/11, when a lot of people were scared because they don’t understand statistics, terrorism, politics, etc. Furthermore, corporate media sources are concerned about access to politicians, which is why they tend to repeat official source and statements.

        That of course, is a problem. But here’s the difference- in America you can organize protests, usually without a permit unless it’s going to be big(and they typically grant it without question). You can start you own blog or website or even media company without tons of regulation. By contrast now in Russia even major blogs need to be registered like media companies, with all the restrictions that entails.

        “The US is an oligarchic capitalist system with a democratic facade. Your country is ruled by private interest groups. It is the government that serves them, not vice-versa.”

        This is partially true, yet the US is still more democratic than Russia. The smallest details make a world of difference here. For example, our presidents change. So as bad as Bush was, imagine what he’d be like if he no longer needed to worry about being elected? Same thing with Obama. The difference would be huge.

        Second, look at what happened with marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado- this was the result of grassroots movements spanning many years. Now they are setting a precedent for the whole country. Since huge numbers of people are sitting in prison for marijuana-related offenses, this will create a huge positive social change, and it’s because of that civil society.

        Also some of the worst parts of the Patriot Act are going to be allowed to expire, largely because of Snowden’s revelations and the fact that most Americans voiced support for him and anger at the NSA- something politicians react to.

        As for war, note how they didn’t do anything against Syria, how politicians swear there won’t be “boots on the ground” in Iraq to fight ISIS, and they won’t even send weapons to Ukraine. That’s all because of the very negative opinion against foreign wars which was a natural reaction to things like Iraq.

        The point is that there are plenty of reasons to criticize American democracy, but the solution to its problems isn’t endorsing a corrupt dictatorship that is LESS democratic than that.

  7. Callum Carmichael

    Mikhail loves to lecture us on democracy. I wonder if he would care to provide a definition of democracy so we know what he’s talking about? I know it’s fun to argue about broad themes and interpretations, but specific information can work wonders to get a debate unstuck.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Hey I have no problem talking about the flaws in American or Western democracy. But the question remains: Is the solution to those problems a semi-feudal dictatorship?

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        I understand your sarcasm, but believe me or not, first Russia is not a semi-feudal dictatorship (BTW, are you a journalist? It seems so, because you love putting labels) and second judging by your, I mean America’s, recent record, I mean numerous wars, your democracy doesn’t work fine.

        Let’s consider it logically.

        1. In a democratic country (and you claim that the US is such a country) it is the population that decides whether to go to war or not. If the people deliberately supports war it is complicit in a crime. If it does so under the influence of propaganda disseminated by government or influential groups, that means that democracy is not functioning. See case # 2.
        2. In a semi-democratic oligarchy (which I suspect is a more appropriate term for both Russia and the US) it is the authorities (no matter public or covert) which make decisions. In that case the people at least have an excuse, but not very big one.

        I think you stuck to the idea that if some activity is carried out not by the government it is somehow justified. This is a special feature of your country, which is ruled not by the government, but by special interest groups, which are the real deep state. The government just is subservient to those interests. You are upset with “endemic” Russia’s corruption? America has institutionalized corruption. It is called political lobbying. Furthermore, your government supporting political activism in foreign countries is in fact involved in corruption. Monsanto or Halliburton bribing local politicians in various countries are also fostering corruption. That’s why it is absolutely irrelevant who will be the next US president. You are tired of unnecessary Bush’s wars? Here you are – Obama, your Nobel prize winner peace loving president, started, well was about to start, several new ones. Why? Because that would serve interests of his masters. And it is not the people of the United States.
        So what’s the use of democracy if doesn’t solve real problems, but serves only as a buzzword to throw in a discussion like ours?
        I would like even to try to formulate it as a theorem. Look, if democracy means equal rights and possibilities then sooner or later in a society a powerful group emerges, that will start regularly abuse power to gain more power. And nothing will stop them. Because they will have enough power to subdue press, buy judges, politicians, while officially they have the same rights as other citizens. People will continue to pay lip service to civil rights, admire the miracle of democracy and preach others about how to build a true democratic society. Nice!
        In my opinion the solution to this problem, probably not the only one, is a responsible leader which gains overwhelming support from the people and is capable to make powerful groups to toe the line in favor the national interests. What if he starts in turn abusing power? This is possible. But in a country like Russia it is very dangerous, first of all for himself, and stupid thing to do. Unlike the US Russia is a powder keg. While the former can be successfully governed by the likes of Bush II, the latter requires more skill. Everything can blow to kingdom come. This a damn good motivator not to screw things up.
        Again, everything I said doesn’t mean I’m going to teach you how to live. Every country has its peculiarities. The method that I just described probably would not work in the US.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “I understand your sarcasm, but believe me or not, first Russia is not a semi-feudal dictatorship (BTW, are you a journalist? It seems so, because you love putting labels) and second judging by your, I mean America’s, recent record, I mean numerous wars, your democracy doesn’t work fine.”

        Yeah, because it’s not like Russia has had numerous wars. Russia just started a war in Ukraine, in case you forgot.

        “1. In a democratic country (and you claim that the US is such a country) it is the population that decides whether to go to war or not. ”

        I’ve never known a single country where this is the case. This doesn’t mean that Russia and the US are the same in regards to democracy. Callum gave a stellar run-down of what modern liberal democracy should be and how Russia falls far short of it.

        The most basic thing is that governments should be held accountable for their actions at least to some degree. Republicans chose to make war their platform under Bush, and it cost them congress twice, and the White House twice as well(possibly a third time).

        ” This is a special feature of your country, which is ruled not by the government, but by special interest groups, which are the real deep state. The government just is subservient to those interests. You are upset with “endemic” Russia’s corruption? America has institutionalized corruption. It is called political lobbying. ”

        With all the problems connected with political lobbying, it still doesn’t change the fact that Russia is worse in terms of political systems. In fact, people in America don’t realize how much less influential money is in their politics than it was over 100 years ago. That doesn’t mean we have to stop being concerned about that today, but it’s important to recognize what progress looks like before you try to tackle the current problem.

        But again, the issue remains- Why is this problem of lobbying in America a good reason to ignore Russia’s much worse political problems? That’s what Putin and his media machine want us all to do- stop complaining and let him and his friends keep stealing.

        “In my opinion the solution to this problem, probably not the only one, is a responsible leader which gains overwhelming support from the people and is capable to make powerful groups to toe the line in favor the national interests. ”

        The problem is that Putin, if he ever was that leader, was so for a very short period of time. Most of the time he has been the opposite. The peculiarities of the system he built has essentially mortally wounded Russia, because he can’t live forever and when he goes the thieves will be at each other’s throats. Meanwhile the people have been so depoliticized and indoctrinated in cynicism and distrust that they won’t be able to form real institutions after this collapse.

      3. Mikhail

        May I summarize your opinion? Russia bad, America good, blah-blah-blah. This is very subjective. Good for you that you are so patriotic, but your views don’t look well founded. Time will tell who is right. At this point I’d like to end the discussion. It becomes boring. I’m sorry.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        That would be ridiculously distorting my opinion, not summarizing it.

        And it looks to me like time has been telling for quite some time now. The Russian empire was an absolutist monarchy, and about 100 years ago Western and Russian reactionaries were claiming that this backward empire would be the salvation of degenerate, liberal Europe, which was bound to collapse. Which one collapsed? Oh…right. Then there was the USSR, which had a promising beginning but ideologically degenerated back into another Russian empire fairly quickly. That was supposed to overtake degenerate, capitalist America, but which one collapsed again?

        Now they’re saying the same shit they said 100 years ago, while at the same time Russia hasn’t managed to seriously rival the living standards of any industrialized Western nation- yet we’re supposed to believe that it’s the West that’s going to collapse any year now. Sure.

        You know when something keeps failing again and again it might be useful to try something new.

    2. Mikhail

      No, I don’t. I just wanted to draw your attention to obvious facts. As for the definition of democracy it’s in the name – democracy is literally power of the people and for the people. The rest is details.

      Reply
      1. Callum Carmichael

        The rest is not details. The specifics are in fact very important. I consider democracy to mean a system with regular, competitive elections, rule of law (meaning the law applies equally to the elite and the common citizenry), freedom of the press, freedom of conscience and assembly.

        If you actually think about it, “the rule of the people” is impossible unless they have the means to change rulers if they are unhappy with the current one. This also requires free press, to ensure that the public has access to accurate information about their choices. They must be able to manifest in favour or in opposition to a political candidate or party without official censorship.

        Is the West democratic? Jim is correct that there are problems with Western democracy, but the answer is still a qualified yes.

        In the US, there is serious (often viscious) competition between the two parties, and the two do have genuinely different domestic policies (if similar foreign policies).

        Don’t forget either that the West is not just the US. Canada and the UK have three major parties each, Western European countries usually have four or five. To different extents, all of these countries are relatively quick to punish political elites who break the rules, at least in domestic politics.

        Is Russia democratic? You said earlier that you would take personal action against corruption. Let’s answer the question of Russian democracy by exploring how you might do that.

        Could you vote for a different President? No.
        Could you work through the current system, by taking your complaints to the anti-corruption committee? No, because this: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-03-12/a-russian-corruption-fighter-s-3-million-apartment
        Could you organize a protest? No, you would be labeled a traitor and 5th columnist, and probably face spurious criminal charges for corruption yourself.

        So what can you do? You can either pretend there is no corruption in Russia, or you can sit at home and complain about it without ever taking any action to improve the situation.

        If democracy is the “power of the people”, you don’t have it.

  8. Mikhail

    I can vote for whomever I like. Who told you that there is no alternative candidates? Who told you that I cannot take part in a protest? Actually I did several times. Don’t be silly to swallow regular propaganda. The level of discussion decreases. I’m a bit disappointed.
    As for the 5th columnists the US should not have tried to interfere in Russia’s internal politics not to raise the issue.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Not really though. Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky aren’t serious presidential candidates. They never expect to be president of Russia. The latter even said elections should be eliminated and Putin should be named “Supreme Commander” for life. Does that sound like something an opposition candidate would do?

      Also no, you’re really not allowed to take part in protests unless you jump through hoops to get a permit, and even then the police will corral you in and you’ll be pilloried in the media.

      And please don’t talk about interfering in internal politics while the Russian government has been doing that since 2014 in Ukraine.

      Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      You don’t eliminate it, but you hold people accountable and it also reduces it because people know they won’t get away with it. The level of corruption is different all throughout the world, and that’s largely one reason.

      Reply
    2. Callum Carmichael

      OK Mikhail. There is a difference between opposition parties and loyal opposition. Zhirinovsky and the communists vote for every bill that comes from the Kremlin. They’re basically fake.

      And don’t discount the use of a good protest. Get a few thousand people together in front of the Kremlin and watch the government squirm. It works in other countries. You don’t necessarily get the results you want right away, but you usually get a lot of exposure, and you put the government on the defensive. They have to either ignore you (which is hard), clear you off with police or the army (which is risky), or give in to some of your demands in the hopes of persuading you to go home.

      Given how much Russia worries about so-called “colour revolutions” I would think you would take protesting more seriously. If the CIA can do it to promote their interests, why can’t you do it to promote yours?

      That said, you demonstrate Jim’s arguments about the ability of the Vatnik to hold mutually exclusive opinions without noticing the contradictions pretty well, so maybe you don’t realize this

      Reply
      1. Shalcker

        You seem to not realise that those “good protests” actually happened – in 2011 after Duma elections. And government actually responded too, offering various concessions “for greater democracy”, like governors actually being elected from given pool of candidates from various parties rather then being appointed directly from Kremlin. But then opposition wasted their momentum by going back to in-fighting and not making united front to achieve practical results. Some of those concessions are getting slowly rolled back now.

        A lot of people got really disappointed in opposition because of that, and even “switched sides”. Many think that well-known Russian figures “for Western Way and Democracy/against corruption” like Navalny are just as fake in their foundation as Zyuganov/Zhirinovsky.

        Protests regarding Ukraine and Crimea also happened; you can check news for Spring 2014.

        Still, polls show that majority supported government actions there. And government is well-known for actually listening to what polls say; not just before elections but all the time. Isn’t that part of democracy – government listening to people opinions?

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Those concessions were also followed by crackdowns on protesters, propaganda smear campaigns, and new restrictions on the internet, bloggers, etc.

      3. Mikhail

        If we did the same thing you also would have reasons to worry. What if we financed NGOs, media, politicians to promote our interests. I just imagine what kind of a shit storm that would cause.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        You know that’s a really good question. If Russia’s such a rising power because Putin’s so smart, when, as you claim, the US made people protest in Ukraine because as we know people are all just whores who have no political beliefs and do anything for money- Why didn’t Putin just pay them to not protest instead? After all, we know that the Russian government DOES have to pay people to come to pro-government rallies anyway.

        Do you know why this doesn’t work? Because even when there are political movements associated with Western NGOs, those NGO’s advocate for things that people ACTUALLY WANT, like fair elections, better healthcare, less corruption, etc.

        Putin’s Russia has nothing to sell. Nobody wants to be part of your backward, corrupt, degenerating empire just for the privilege of “standing up to the West.” Everyone notices that countries in good standing with the West tend to be better off, while Russia’s friends tend to have presidents-for-life, among other problems. Even China changes leadership more often than Russia.

        This is reality.

      5. Mikhail

        “I live in this country too, Mikhail. Thanks to Putin, it is permanently fucked. Enjoy a second 1990’s. This time there will be no triple digit oil prices to save the poor bastard who has to follow Putin.”
        Everything becomes clear now. I know people like you. You may live wherever you like. But if you think that everything is bad in this country while millions of people who live here think otherwise, something is wrong with you, not with them. But no, you think they are just plain stupid, while you are smart. You prefer your inner “reality”, while ignoring the world that surrounds you. I’m just asking why? Has Russia hurt you somehow? Ruined your dreams, expectations? You know what, Russia is not about making you happy. Sorry. After all if you hate Russia so much why not to go home? It’s a win-win outcome both for you and Russia.

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Actually Mikhail, a better solution would be for more folks like you to leave Russia(a pretty normal thing these days), seeing as how it wasn’t people like me who fucked this country. As for the problems I talk about, they are based on my own experience and those of literally hundreds of Russian citizens I’ve encountered over the years, as well as reports from the Russian press(including state-run media, which is often candid about many problems here).

        First of all nobody said “everything” is bad here. There are a lot of countries far worse off than Russia. The problem with Russia is that many of the problems it does have- it shouldn’t. It should be able to have a competitive democratic system that is held accountable to the people. We know it CAN produce civil society and capable leaders because both have cropped up in the past before being stifled and harassed out of existence by the government.

        As far as economics goes, there is no reason why Russia’s living standards should rival those of Germany, Finland, or France right now, to name a few countries. When you look at the total dollar amount of oil alone, sold during Putin’s tenure, you have to ask where all this money went when you see the kind of conditions that exist, in some cases just outside of Moscow. This of course is only counting oil.

        When we look at many developing nations in the world today, most of them have an excuse for their state. They have no resources to sell, they have a legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism, they have tribal divisions or semi-feudal relations. Where is Russia’s excuse? It was the scene of the most cutting edge political experiment of the early 20th century if not the whole century. The state is multiethnic but it is largely Russian and Russians don’t have tribal divisions or a clan system. Russia was never colonized; it was a colonizer.

        So you see the problem isn’t that Russia’s among the poorest, most backward countries in the world. The problem is that on paper it is(or at least was) totally capable of rivaling other industrialized leaders in standards of living and political freedom, but instead it fell short of that, and Putin pissed away the capital he’d been given to make that transition.

        Guess he’d been spending too much time on Buzzfeed, reading about 90’s nostalgia.

  9. Callum Carmichael

    No disagreement regarding the nature of the 2011 protests. They acheived some early victories but then petered out or were coopted. I would counter that this shows that protest can change things in Russia, but the protestors need to be more determined and they need to time them with division amongst the elite.

    Regarding Navalny, however, no he is not fake. There’s plenty to dislike about him, but the authorities take him seriously enough to keep arresting him for nonsense. He’s not a serious presidential candidate, but he’s no sock puppet.

    Regarding Putin’s popularity, however, it is largely manufactured. Lots of TV propaganda to blame. If you check the polls for any other office or branch of government, you’ll find that they are largely reviled. Few Russians like the Duma, or the judiciary, the MVD/police, the regional governers or anything. All Putin has managed to do is decouple his approval rating from his performance as president. For a little while, he can do whatever he wants and the media will ensure that either the West, or some vulnerable group in Russia that can’t defend itself, will get the blame.

    What all this means is that the Russian government’s legitimacy is potentially very fragile, which is why we see so many crackdowns against apparently harmless opposition figures, NGOs,movie directors, etc.

    Reply
    1. Mikhail

      What you are doing is an exercise in futility. In my opinion the performance of Putin as a president is just brilliant. But no, you are convinced that everything is bad in Russia. I live in that country, and you are telling me how bad it is to live here? Are you nuts?

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        Stop reading the so-called liberal press. Basically it is just propaganda. Of course I suppose that’s exactly what you want to hear for some psychological reasons, while ignoring the rest. Your choice.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Actually Mikhail, I’ve worked in media and I also know people who work in the Russian media, so I know the difference in how the Russian news media works vs. actual news media.

        But no need to believe me- try to get a job at a reputable American or European news outlet and try to pitch a phony story like the “crucified boy of Sloviansk” or the “gay porn on the wall of an 11-year-old’s room”, or the “satellite photo of MH17” story and see what happens.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        ” In my opinion the performance of Putin as a president is just brilliant. But no, you are convinced that everything is bad in Russia. I live in that country, and you are telling me how bad it is to live here? ”

        I live in this country too, Mikhail. Thanks to Putin, it is permanently fucked. Enjoy a second 1990’s. This time there will be no triple digit oil prices to save the poor bastard who has to follow Putin.

    2. Shalcker

      Well, there are many clans/factions within government, and the ones doing prosecution are not necessarily the same ones as those who protect him. Navalny is convicted twice at this point (or was it three?) for fraud and yet he is still not in jail, being given suspended sentence every time.
      And the facts about fraud seem to be largely true as well if you actually look at them rather then believe Navalny words without questions.

      As for Putin, his rating IS connected to his performance as president – as did Medvedev’s. Low rating at the end of Medvedev term was said to be one of the reasons for swapping back. But Putin’s support is not uniform on various problems. If you check last Pew Research Center report, people are quite confident in his foreign policy handling, and less confident in his handling of economy and corruption. Majority believes that he is doing things right then not, but unlike with foreign policy not overwhelmingly so. And even with foreign policy support many people do realise that Russian image is hurt by his actions; most are just fine with that.

      Putin often underlined in his “open lines” that his executive branch is not a judge or prosecutor and is both not responsible for them and unwilling to influence them in various court proceedings. He can also dodge blame for government failing to implement his decrees (quite populist) by pinning it on ministers failing rather then him personally failing, and dismissing some of them.

      As for NGOs, sadly they are indeed used as levers for political change nowdays, it would be silly to deny it. Jim seems to believe that “being afraid of NGOs” is sign of weakness; perhaps he is right. But in case of fragility of overall situation precautions are even more necessary to avoid anything resembling current Ukraine (where situation were also quite fragile).

      Reply
  10. Callum Carmichael

    I’m really left disappointed by the debate tactics of Russian regime defenders. And I’m specifically focusing on Russians and people from the former Soviet Union here, the issues relating to Western defenders of Russia are a little different.

    All I hear from them again and again are accusations of swallowing “western propaganda”, and basically variations of “you think Russia is bad, but I’m Russian and Russia is not bad”. Even Russian/ex-USSR expats in the West do this.

    A case in point: after the annexation of Crimea, my department rushed to hold as many lectures as possible on the situation in Ukraine. It brought in Russian, Ukrainian and Western experts (even some on the Ukrainian far right), the professors started incorporating the subject matter into courses, and some students (me among them) traveled to Russia or Ukraine as researchers, or to Ukraine as electoral monitors.

    We have a few students from the former Soviet Union. Some of them took the Russian side in the crisis. Those who did completely ignored all the resources I just mentioned and accused us of “getting all our information from CNN or the Western media” and of being “brainwashed”. It’s like a switch flipped in their brains and they couldn’t entertain the idea that just maybe we non-Russians had access to reliable sources of information on Russia, even though they had seen with their own eyes that we did. Classmates of mine who had served as electoral monitors were told that their opinions on the validity of the 2014 presidential election (that they observed) were “the result of propaganda” by Russian apologists who insisted that that the election was rigged (it wasn’t).

    It gets even worse on the wider internet. Jim has lived in Russia for almost a decade, but he actually doesn’t know anything about Russia because he’s American. Never mind the specific things he or I or anyone else bring up, the Vatnik does not deal in specifics. Anyone who isn’t Russian but has a critical opinion on Russia is “brainwashed”. Any Russian with a critical opinion on Russia is a CIA agent.

    I guess they don’t teach critical thinking skills in that part of the world. Or maybe it’s all a huge conspiracy to get Westerners to think Russians are stupid *rolls eyes*.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      You know why I don’t know anything about Russia? Because my soulless Western mind, in spite of my half-Slavic heritage, cannot unravel the mystery that is the RUSSIAN SOUL! That’s the last resort in many of those arguments.

      I actually know the feeling you’re talking about here because I get it from vatniks and Ukrainian vishivatniks all the time. Both sides don’t really know much about how the wider world works, that we have our own academia, that we have our own actual scholars publishing material based on information in their archives while their authors are busy making shit up to back this or that political narrative.

      The CNN thing also seems to be a go-to thing not only for Russians, but also their die-hard supporters like Robert Bridge(works for RT). You know what the funniest thing about the CNN trope is when it comes to my news? Most of my life I lived without cable television(and I haven’t watched television for several years now, not to mention American TV, which I basically never watch). That means that I barely ever watched that channel.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        The problem of your argument is that you are trying to “enlighten me” about things I know far better than you. And your heritage has nothing to do with it.
        As for the rest …
        There is no such thing as mystery of the Russian soul. It is just autist Western mind reluctant to understand anything beyond its horizon makes a mystery out of it. You are incapable to understand Russia not because it’s “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery”, but because you are too lazy to think beyond your schemes. Furthermore the West is fucking fundamentalist on a par with ISIS. You don’t see any reason in undestanding anything. For what the hell? You are dead set on converting everything according to your world view. In your opinion everything that resists must be destroyed. You don’t understand alternatives. That’s the essence of your problems with Russia and the rest.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “The problem of your argument is that you are trying to “enlighten me” about things I know far better than you.”

        Clearly you don’t know, because basic objective facts go against your claims. In fact I think you’re well aware of all the problems I’ve pointed out, but like most vatniks you pretend they don’t exist out of fear or hatred of foreigners or whatever.

        “It is just autist Western mind reluctant to understand anything beyond its horizon makes a mystery out of it. You are incapable to understand Russia not because it’s “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery”, but because you are too lazy to think beyond your schemes.”

        What you fail to realize is that Russia is incredibly easy to understand. It’s not that people don’t understand your “special path,” it’s just that it’s objectively wrong. If your Kremlin ideologues have such great ideas- why does Russia still lag behind so many European countries, even ones that are in major trouble like Greece? Why is aren’t European women flocking to marry Russian men for passports instead of vice versa?

        I mean your brilliant geopolitical theories have done so much for Russia, right? WHERE ARE YOUR RESULTS?

        ” You are dead set on converting everything according to your world view. In your opinion everything that resists must be destroyed. ”

        Yes, that’s why the US is currently waging a war on the UK, Norway, Finland, etc., because of their radically different political systems, economic policies, and worldviews, right?

        Oh wait.

    2. Mikhail

      So you have an opinion? Excellent! I have mine. Opinions are like asses, everyone has them. So what is your point? That I should hold the same opinion as you? No way. Your opinion is about to undermine my country and subdue it to your interests. It doesn’t make sense to me.

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Well Mikhail everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not their own facts. History and current facts speak for themselves.

        I’m not the one undermining your country or subduing it. The people who are doing that are in the Kremlin and Duma and you’re fully aware of that. But you’re not allowed to protest against them or oppose them in any meaningful way, so you lash out at authorized targets.

  11. Mikhail

    I don’t know you personally. Apparently you believe in what you are doing. But the people you side with (Nemtsov etc) have proven themselves as sworn enemies of my country. I cannot wish you good luck in your activity. I hope you will fail. Some day I think you’ll find how dead wrong you are. You know why? Look at this country. You don’t like the way people live here and what they think? The result of this opposition you vs Russia is quite obvious to me. You won’t change it. Rather it is Russia that will change you, not vice-versa. You are not the first one who tried to. Read Leskov’s “Iron Will”.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      First of all, I don’t side with Nemtsov. I don’t know how Nemtsov’s ideology evolved over the years, but I’m sure even if it had changed radically, we’d still have many political disagreements. There’s one thing I would definitely say, however, and it is this: He shouldn’t have been gunned down, much less in full view of the Kremlin. This is your “sovereign democracy.”

      I have looked at this country, and I know plenty of people, perhaps thousands, who refuse to believe in the fairy tale that Russia is eternally corrupt and that the Russian people are stupid cattle who need a strong leader(who’s actually subordinate to a Chechen guy) to rule them. The government has driven many of them abroad because it is afraid of them, but they are only putting off the inevitable.

      There is no successful country in the world that has done what Putin has. He’s deciding to play a game he can’t possibly win.

      Honestly I don’t care if Russia changes or not. Just stay the fuck out of Ukraine, the Baltics, and all your neighbors. While you’re at it, fuck off from Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, etc. and let those people decide their own destinies. Don’t drag them down with you and your myth of the eternal “Russian mentality.” They aren’t Russian. If that’s how you want it, that’s all people like me would ask- that if you must continue your national suicide, you do not take others with you. The rest of the world will move on.

      I guess in the end, I just have more faith in the Russian people than you. Tell me who is the “patriot” then?

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        Funny. Russia does not need neither Baltics nor Ukraine unless there’s no NATO troops there or elements of the US ABM system.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Why should Russia get to decide what is in those countries? Russia respects national sovereignty right? In any case, there were no NATO troops in any of those countries until someone decided to go on a little military adventure and start kukarekuing around the Baltic with military aircraft.

        The US was literally getting out of Europe and then Putin, who apparently thought he’d miss the Americans, decided to bring them back.

      3. Callum Carmichael

        Just so Mikhail doesn’t get confused, there were no NATO troops deployed to Ukraine before the Russian invasion in 2014. No NATO troops in the Baltics either except for local forces. The only possible exceptions were a few exercises, in which Russia also took part.

        Now, I think I can predict the future here. Mikhail is going to deny that Russia invaded Ukraine even though his beloved President has admitted as much.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Well that’s funny because at first he started with the whole “Look what you made us do!” line, which implies that they did invade Ukraine because they have some kind of right. So it’s a question of whether he’ll admit to them invading.

        That’s kind of weird though- Putin is supposed to be this badass who doesn’t give a damn about sanctions, but he also swears he isn’t doing anything about the “genocide” and “atrocities” that are supposedly “Russian” people of the Donbass.

        This is really weird- they annexed Crimea because Russia is a “civilization” that must protect its own, yet the whine endlessly about the horrors of what’s going on in the Donbass while simultaneously swearing they have nothing to do with it and they’re doing nothing to protect those poor people.

        So much for the strongman.

      5. Callum Carmichael

        No ABM systems there either, and why do you care? The American ABM systems still don’t work in practice, and it’s not clear they could work in principal. Are you afraid the Americans might be able to stop Russia from nuking people?

  12. Mikhail

    You can’t be serious. The US does not fight with the UK, Norway etc because they are already in your pocket. On rare occasions if not the US have other options than waging war: money, blackmail, staged protest etc. This is all political technology, you know. Anyway show me an example of a situation where their opinions on important international political issues were “radically” different than that of the US.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “You can’t be serious. The US does not fight with the UK, Norway etc because they are already in your pocket”

      You see this is why people hate you. You can’t imagine that maybe these independent countries side with the US because of common values and mutual benefits. Apparently in your geopolitical worldview, all countries must be perpetually at war or in someone’s pocket. Now do you understand why Ukraine doesn’t want to be with Russia? There’s no chance of an equal partnership. At least the EU let’s them pretend.

      “Anyway show me an example of a situation where their opinions on important international political issues were “radically” different than that of the US.”

      Oh I’m so glad you asked. Remember when the US wanted to get NATO involved in the Iraq invasion? Who were the two biggest opponents, who shot that idea down? France and Germany. Then Spain pulled out, followed by the Italy and the Czech Republic.

      In another example, Norway has an economy radially at odds with that of the US, and that which is highly recommended by US and IMF economists. For example, it has at least one oil company that is 100% state owned, i.e. more state-owned than Russia’s oil companies.

      More important than this, Norway has the world’s largest capital fund, the sovereign pension fund. Because Norway believes in ethical investment, that fund will not invest in certain companies for a number of reasons. Many of those excluded are US companies. This effectively bars them from investing in some rather large American corporations. Also note that there is only one Russian company on the list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Pension_Fund_of_Norway#Excluded_companies

      If you actually bothered to look, you’ll find plenty of disagreements between these countries, but it is far more beneficial for them to either agree to disagree or work out the disagreements in a normal manner rather than going to war or trying to overthrow governments.

      This might be surprising to you, but many people go out to support protest movements on their own, because they actually believe in things and value them. Your RT apparently thinks that’s the case with Occupy Wall Street at least.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        Thanks for the info. I’m not talking about the factual omnipotence of the US, I mean your ideology, which was clearly formulated by various representatives of the US establishment. In short “America über alles!”. Of course I don’t think that US is omnipotent. In many cases it is not. Of course you cannot force your vassals to toe the line all the time. It would be too costly. But that does not change anything. Did those countries succeed in preventing the US aggression against Iraq? Is the US government under sanctions? You see Norway is not that influential and imporant for the US. Nevertheless they are your faithful vassals. At least for now.
        BTW, I would like to see what happens if Germany decides to leave NATO. Probably coup-d’etat?
        I’m not at all surprised that people can go out to protest on their own. People are always dissatisfied with something. That’s the US that uses peoples’ beliefs and instigates them against their own governments. Pretty smart.
        As for the Ukraine, after the fall of the USSR they are desperately looking for a substitute. They thought that for their betrayal of Russia the West, the EU in gratitude would sustain their economy. They proved wrong. Because according to the Western plan it was Russia that would be obliged to pay for the Ukraine’s colonization by the West. Russia refused to do so. That’s why they hate us, while not paying for gas, begging for discounts and threatening to cut off gas delivery to the Western Europe. “Fuck you, but give me a discount, please!” A responsible behavior. I only wish that “European values” and “European order” were imposed on them and harder.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “Thanks for the info. I’m not talking about the factual omnipotence of the US, I mean your ideology, which was clearly formulated by various representatives of the US establishment. In short “America über alles!””

        I’d say that most Americans, or at least most of the rational, educated ones, abhor rampant American jingoism. That being said, do you really expect American politicians not to put America first and foremost when discussing topics? Why do you expect them to do something that Russian politicians wouldn’t dream of? There’s far more mainstream criticism of American policy in American media and society than one might find in Russia these days.

        “But that does not change anything. Did those countries succeed in preventing the US aggression against Iraq?”

        It forced the US to should much more of the burden, which hurt the mission, which in turn led to the downfall of the Republican in congress in 2006 and the loss of the White House two times in a row(probably going to be three, now).

        ” Is the US government under sanctions?”

        No, because imposing sanctions against the US would do more harm to those countries imposing them than vice versa. See that’s what happens when a country WORKS to become economically relevant. Russia didn’t, instead choosing to let a small coterie of thieves steal its natural wealth while neglecting to help diversify the economy. Therefore most of the industrialized world is able to get by just fine while sanctioning Russia.

        “Nevertheless they are your faithful vassals.”

        Again, this is why the world hates you. You assume that countries either have to be at war with each other or they are vassals of somebody. Please, go to the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, etc. and inform them that they are vassals of the United States. I’m sure you’ll be quite surprised at the reaction.

        What this is is projection. The 19th century worldview that dominates Russian political thought sees only great military powers or vassals. Ukraine doesn’t want to be Russia’s vassal so it must want to be the West’s vassal.

        I’m very sorry but the world left you behind.

        As for Norway, did I not just mention that it has the biggest capital fund in the world, which will not invest in many major US corporations simply because they do things like manufacture tobacco products? Not to mention they have massively profitable state-owned oil and telecommunications companies which I’m sure an American company would love to get their hands on. America’s current bid to become top oil producer would be immensely shortened if they could just pull off a coup in Oslo and get that company privatized. And yet…They don’t. Hmmmm…

        “BTW, I would like to see what happens if Germany decides to leave NATO. Probably coup-d’etat?”

        Why would Germany want to leave NATO? It’s one of the most important members.

        “That’s the US that uses peoples’ beliefs and instigates them against their own governments. Pretty smart.”

        Or…Maybe they just have their own beliefs and values and unlike in Russia, where you bend over and take it while grumbling on some internet forum and curse America all in the name of precious “stability”, they prefer to get out in the streets and lobby their government in the easiest way they can.

        It’s called “freedom of assembly.” One wonders who instigated America’s founding fathers against the British.

        “They thought that for their betrayal of Russia the West, the EU in gratitude would sustain their economy”

        See again, this is why people hate you. You assume that all these smaller nations want to be someone’s colonies and they “betrayed” you. You never even consider actually studying what these people said, in their own words, and what they believed in.

        But what you don’t understand is that this worldview automatically implies that the only solution to avoid being “colonized” is essentially vassalage and colonization by Russia, and nobody wants that.

        If the 1980’s USSR was so wonderful for Ukrainians, or anyone for that matter, people would have fought to keep it. It’s that plain and simple. That they did not shows that it had become moribund.

  13. Mikhail

    “Just so Mikhail doesn’t get confused, there were no NATO troops deployed to Ukraine before the Russian invasion in 2014. No NATO troops in the Baltics either except for local forces. The only possible exceptions were a few exercises, in which Russia also took part.”

    No, I don’t. Because NATO set eyes on Ukraine and particularly Crimea long before 2014. Already Yushchenko has set the goal for the Ukraine to enter NATO. Many military NATO/Ukraine excercises were held. Despite protests of the Ukraininans. So do you expect Russia would wait untill actual NATO troops appear near its borders?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Military exercises have been conducted between the US and Russia. In fact, Russian spetsnaz teams actually did counter-terrorism drills in Colorado(IIRC) as late as last year or 2013.

      You speak about protests of “Ukrainians”- so those people in the Fedosia were Ukrainian now? That’s interesting. In any case, you know what the NATO troops DIDN’T do? They didn’t annex the place and make it the 51st State of the Union.

      Russia had NATO troops(local forces) on its borders since 2004. Russia also has the largest army in the world facing Siberia, a potentially hostile army with territorial claims against Russia incidentally.

      What difference does it make if Yushchenko talked about joining NATO? You respect national sovereignty right? You’re not for interfering in other nations’ internal affairs right?

      What right does Russia have to decide its neighbors can’t have independent foreign policy and national sovereignty?

      Reply
  14. Mikhail

    “No ABM systems there either, and why do you care? The American ABM systems still don’t work in practice, and it’s not clear they could work in principal. Are you afraid the Americans might be able to stop Russia from nuking people?”

    Are you telling me that the US government is actually toying with useless things wasting tax-payers money? Why the hell are they doing that? Don’t you understand the reason behind an ABM system? It’s about making a first strike and neutralizing the retaliation.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-emptive_nuclear_strike
    Yes, I am afraid that the sense of impunity will tempt you to nuke us first hoping your ABM will absorb our response. You see the very idea of the ABM is highly destabilizing. Furthermore the US is currently developing even more dangerous concept https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prompt_Global_Strike
    It’s so simple that I can’t believe you don’t understand that.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “Are you telling me that the US government is actually toying with useless things wasting tax-payers money? Why the hell are they doing that?”

      Yes, that’s exactly what they’re doing, and they’ve been doing it for years. Do some research on stuff like the RAH-66 Commanche or better yet, the F-35, and marvel at the kind of non-working bullshit the Pentagon pisses billions away on.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        “Yes, that’s exactly what they’re doing, and they’ve been doing it for years. Do some research on stuff like the RAH-66 Commanche or better yet, the F-35, and marvel at the kind of non-working bullshit the Pentagon pisses billions away on.”

        Nobody knows that for sure. For Russia it would be rather naive to ignore this activity. The cost of error is too high.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Don’t worry, Russia’s system will have collapsed yet again long before the US develops a system that can reliably intercept ICBMs.

    2. Callum Carmichael

      ABM doesn’t work. I’m fully aware that ABM is to neutralize an enemy second strike capability, but even if every missile interceptor hit its target it wouldn’t work. You would never have enough interceptors to stop every nuke, especially if Russia usef MIRVs (which it has), and even a singular nuclear explosion in New York or Washington DC would be too high a price to pay for any war with Russia. The Americans figured that out like 50 years ago.

      But Russians seem to be terrified of American technology. When they’re not deriding it as useless junk, of course. What’s that about Vatniks being able to hold simultaneous contradictory opinions again?

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        I’m not well read up on the ABM system, but could it be possible that the Russian fear is that this could be used as an air defense system against conventional bombers, in the event that someone,for example, wanted to take a certain peninsula?

      2. Mikhail

        I don’t think American technology is useless junk. I think it’s quite dangerous and must countered by all means,

  15. Mikhail

    “But what you don’t understand is that this worldview automatically implies that the only solution to avoid being “colonized” is essentially vassalage and colonization by Russia, and nobody wants that.”

    I wish that relationships between Ukraine and the West were something else other than colonization. But unfortunately the course of events does not provide ground for optimism. However I see no problem with the Ukraine colonized by the West. It is up to Ukrainians to decide whether they want to be EU slaves or not. Ukraine decided to divorce. OK, it has the right to do so. But first we must settle our property issues. Ukraine must give back territories it was granted. Second Russia must ensure that Ukraine will not be a member of any military/political block aimed against Russia, neither de-iure nor de-facto. For Russia these are national security issues. Besides Ukraine will not have any trade preferences and gas discounts. Afterwards it may go to hell.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “It is up to Ukrainians to decide whether they want to be EU slaves or not. ”

      Are the Norwegians slaves? Are the Czechs slaves? The Dutch? The reason why you see all these people as slaves is because Russians are essentially slaves. Remember, it’s your leaders who don’t change, not theirs.

      “Ukraine must give back territories it was granted.”

      Nope. You lost those territories and the Russian government recognized them as such. It’s not my side, but you should have fought harder for your other slavemaster, the Tsar, if you wanted to keep those territories.

      There is no legal basis for those territories going back to Russia. Russia is neither the heir to the Russian empire, nor the sole heir to the USSR.

      ” Second Russia must ensure that Ukraine will not be a member of any military/political block aimed against Russia, neither de-iure nor de-facto.”

      Why? Why should Russia be allowed to interfere in the decisions of sovereign nations, the same thing your leaders scream about all the time?

      ” For Russia these are national security issues.”

      Why does anyone need to care about Russia’s security interests? The biggest enemy of Russia sits right in the Kremlin. Maybe the rest of Russia should join NATO or something.

      ” Besides Ukraine will not have any trade preferences and gas discounts. ”

      This is the one rational thing you’ve said here. Of course soon Russia’s natural gas monopoly won’t be an issue anyway.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        “Are the Norwegians slaves? Are the Czechs slaves? The Dutch? The reason why you see all these people as slaves is because Russians are essentially slaves. Remember, it’s your leaders who don’t change, not theirs.”

        No, they are not. Because they have a substantial economical base not to be treated like that. This is not the case with Ukraine. At best Ukraine has a chance to become a EU slave. But most probably it will be left to its own devices. We’ll see this in the near future.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Prior to SOMEONE starting a war there, Ukraine certainly had a good shot at rivaling one of the Baltic countries or Poland. One advantage Ukraine has over Russia is a sense of identity which in turn creates a sense of community. That’s one reason why they protest in the first place.

        Look in any major Russian city, and even some smaller towns, and see how people generally treat each other. Now compare that to Vilnius, Krakow, or Prague. The people are far more polite. Hell, the people in the poor-as-hell Donbas were extremely polite in my experience- toward me and toward each other.

        Russia on the other hand is incredibly atomized, a scenario which corrupt people in power take advantage of. People here are increasingly saying “we” this and “we” that, but there is no “we” and everyone knows it whether they admit it or not.

  16. Mikhail

    “If the 1980’s USSR was so wonderful for Ukrainians, or anyone for that matter, people would have fought to keep it. It’s that plain and simple. That they did not shows that it had become moribund.”

    The 1980’s USSR was not wonderful for anyone, but hell can anyone in his/her right mind claim that Ukraine made progress compared to the ’80s? With ruined economy, civil war and political turmoil? Was it worth all these “achievements”?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “The 1980’s USSR was not wonderful for anyone, but hell can anyone in his/her right mind claim that Ukraine made progress compared to the ’80s? With ruined economy, civil war and political turmoil? ”

      They wouldn’t be making progress under Russia, which by the way only made any progress at all thanks to triple digit oil prices(which aren’t coming back for a LONG time).

      Also nice try slipping that “civil war” bit in there, but we all know this war wouldn’t be happening but for more Russian interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        “Also nice try slipping that “civil war” bit in there, but we all know this war wouldn’t be happening but for more Russian interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs.”

        I’m sure there would be no wars if one side of the conflict just surrendered. But that applies more to the realm of fantasy than the world we live in.
        If there was a probablity of undesirable consequences, but you giddily ignored all the warnings you have received, you can’t blame anyone for the current dire situation but yourself. And Ukraine was warned many times not to do things it did. Now you have the result.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “And Ukraine was warned many times not to do things it did. ”

        Do the things it did? Like being sovereign country? Like not wanting to join the customs union?

        I’m sorry but this excuse doesn’t fly. It’s like a wife-beater shouting “Look what you MADE me do!”

  17. Mikhail

    “Again, this is why the world hates you. You assume that countries either have to be at war with each other or they are vassals of somebody. Please, go to the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, etc. and inform them that they are vassals of the United States. I’m sure you’ll be quite surprised at the reaction”

    Ha-ha, actually I did. I visited the Netherlands and talked with people there and they told me that their government was absolutely spineless and sucking up to the US. I’m sure I could find similar opinions in France, Germany or the UK. Well, it depends on what kind of people you meet. You can find a variety of opinions everywhere. I understand that it is all subjective. Do you?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Well judging by the standards of living in some of those countries, it must be nice to be a slave of the US. The benefits are better than those which exist for Americans.

      Still, you have to remember those people didn’t opt to be under Russia’s thumb. If they could weigh both options, we know which one they’d choose and why.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        Is it a confirmation that yes, those countries are under the US control?
        BTW, who the hell told you that Russia wants them to be under its thumb? I’m sure it doesn’t even if they will be begging for.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        No, it isn’t. Many Americans believe that their sovereignty is somehow threatened by the UN or some mythical “North American Union” that was supposed to take over the country years ago.

        And clearly Russia does want them under its thumb because this is the only relationship between countries you can apparently conceive of.

        This is the problem with geopolitics, a theory that has no results to show for it in modern times. While other countries are living in the real, 21st century world, Russia’s “experts” are playing RISK.

  18. Mikhail

    “Look in any major Russian city, and even some smaller towns, and see how people generally treat each other. Now compare that to Vilnius, Krakow, or Prague. The people are far more polite. Hell, the people in the poor-as-hell Donbas were extremely polite in my experience- toward me and toward each other.

    Russia on the other hand is incredibly atomized, a scenario which corrupt people in power take advantage of. People here are increasingly saying “we” this and “we” that, but there is no “we” and everyone knows it whether they admit it or not.”

    It seems we live in different Russia’s. Mine is certainly not like yours. I think everyone lives in his/her own reality. Yours is dragging behind you wherever you go. You live in a bubble. It is a dirty, unpleasant world, where people are trying to deceive and insult each other. You know there’s a Russian proverb: a pig can find dirt everywhere. Got it? People I meet everyday are usually polite and helping. Viktor Pelevin has put it brilliantly: http://books.rusf.ru/unzip/xussr_mr/pelevv03.htm?32/41

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Mikhail, now you’re just lying. You’re not going to fool anyone. This is the problem with post 2013 Russia. People started lying about the things they talked about all the time before now.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        Definitely you have read about it in newspapers or internet. Anyway it is not my problem.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        And experienced it, and have friends and acquaintances who experience it, and on social networks, etc., etc. This is no secret.

  19. Mikhail

    “Do the things it did? Like being sovereign country? Like not wanting to join the customs union?”

    Of course as a sovereign country Ukraine has the right to join NATO or EU just like anyone has the right to jump off the bridge, but it would be a very stupid thing to do. You cannot ignore the major power on your border and conspire against it. The disastrous consequences are evident.
    Now about the rule of law.
    After bombing Yugoslavia and invasion of Iraq the US have clearly shown us and the rest of the world who is not under the US control that it is not the right what matters, but intentions and capabilities. It is pointless to endlessly tell the US that attempts to drag Ukraine into the Western sphere of influence will be disastrous. The message the US have sent was clear: either you have power to impose your will onto others or you will be subdued, destroyed or colonized. That’s the way the US treats sovereignty. Don’t tell me about the rule of law in international politics. Ever. You cannot preach about rule of law, human rights, democracy while at the same time invading foreign countries, torturing prisoners and supporting dictators.

    Reply
    1. Sohryu_L

      We do not usually assault Russians in Kyiv, but I’ll make an exception for you.

      Go fellate a dog.

      Reply
    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      ” You cannot ignore the major power on your border and conspire against it. The disastrous consequences are evident.”

      So why did Russia do nothing all that time since 2004, when the Baltic states joined NATO? Are they not conspiring?

      The truth is that Putin is afraid to see successful democracy in a country with such a large Russian population. It makes it so much harder to claim that the “Russian mentality” makes dictatorship necessary.

      “It is pointless to endlessly tell the US that attempts to drag Ukraine into the Western sphere of influence will be disastrous. ”

      Who was attempting to do that? Your own boy Yanukovych set up that EU association agreement himself. Also it was nothing but a trade agreement. Nothing was said about getting rid of Ukraine’s non-aligned status(Russia took care of that by starting a war and annexing territory), nor joining NATO or even the EU(something everyone said is at least a decade off).

      Serbia also has an EU association agreement, is on the way to membership, and may even join NATO. Are you going to attack them and set up a “republic” there? Maybe Putin will conspire with Orban to create the Vojvodina People’s Republic?

      ” The message the US have sent was clear: either you have power to impose your will onto others or you will be subdued, destroyed or colonized. ”

      Serbia is not colonized nor is it destroyed. Iraq was the product of a policy that quickly discredited itself in the eyes of most Americans and the world. Luckily unlike in Russia, Americans have the ability to express their disapproval of these policies via elections, protests, independent media, etc.

      “You cannot preach about rule of law, human rights, democracy while at the same time invading foreign countries, torturing prisoners and supporting dictators.”

      But unlike me, you’re fine with all these things. You see if your only argument is “what about…”, then what you’re essentially saying is that you have no problem with these things.

      I spent years as a “dissident” against many American policies, but the difference between you and I is that I find them bad no matter who does them, not just when it’s the US.

      Reply
  20. Mikhail

    “And experienced it, and have friends and acquaintances who experience it, and on social networks, etc., etc. This is no secret.”

    Again this is just your private experience. Mine is different. If it were a hell of a problem it would somehow appear. I think people tend to exaggerate their troubles.

    Reply
  21. Mikhail

    “And clearly Russia does want them under its thumb because this is the only relationship between countries you can apparently conceive of.”

    This is just an ideological statement without any substantial proof.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      It’s apparent by your words, which are basically identical to those of every Kremlin supporting follower of “geopolitics,” the worst political idea in history.

      Reply
  22. Mikhail

    “Why does anyone need to care about Russia’s security interests? The biggest enemy of Russia sits right in the Kremlin. Maybe the rest of Russia should join NATO or something.”

    Somewhere in your about page I have read that you are a humorist. That explains a lot.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      That’s not an answer. You constantly duck my questions and change topics. The question is simple- Why does the world have to consider Russia’s interests? I don’t like the idea of might makes right, but when it comes to the US, China, or the EU, it’s understandable. All of these countries make essential contributions to the world economy. Russia, thanks to the design of its leaders, does not- which is why it’s so easy for the world to put sanctions on it.

      You have to have something positive to contribute in order to be considered.

      In the case of America, it often has horrible foreign policy, but even people who hate American policy look at how life is in that country and wish they had that kind of freedom. It’s also the reason why Americans will scream about living under tyranny at a protest and then go home and play with their PS4. They don’t know what tyranny is.

      That’s not to say that there aren’t serious problems in American society or with its government; the point is, however, that you can’t make radical changes if you don’t acknowledge the system for what it is.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        “Why does the world have to consider Russia’s interests?”

        Who is “the world”? The West doesn’t have to consider Russia’s interests. It’s up to you. We will fight for our interests with all means we have. That is the answer.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Did it ever occur to you that nobody is trying to “fight” you? This is the problem; no matter what the West does you’ll scream about how they’re trying to encircle you. As a result, you support policies(which are mostly detrimental to the majority of Russian citizens) which ensure that the siege fantasy becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  23. Mikhail

    “What difference does it make if Yushchenko talked about joining NATO? You respect national sovereignty right? You’re not for interfering in other nations’ internal affairs right?
    What right does Russia have to decide its neighbors can’t have independent foreign policy and national sovereignty?”

    If that policy threatens the very existence of my country I think all means are justified. And no, I don’t respect national sovereignty right if a particular country is going to be used as a launch pad for aggression against my country. I insist that all means be used to prevent it.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Oh, so you’re basically a neoconservative. Tell me then, why did Russia do nothing about the Baltic states joining NATO?

      And again, Ukraine still had its non-aligned status for months after Russia annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbass. Had neither of those things happened, the new government probably wouldn’t have canceled that. They had far more important things to deal with.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        “Oh, so you’re basically a neoconservative. Tell me then, why did Russia do nothing about the Baltic states joining NATO?”

        I think the Baltics are too small and irrelevant from a geostrategic point of view. Russia is not interested in them, unless they pose a significant strategic threat. Everything may change in case of substantial military escalation.

        “And again, Ukraine still had its non-aligned status for months after Russia annexed Crimea and invaded the Donbass. Had neither of those things happened, the new government probably wouldn’t have canceled that. They had far more important things to deal with.”

        There is very little trust in America’s intentions with regards to military role of Ukraine. There is even less trust in formal agreements. I think that Russia’s military planners consider the possibility of the elements of American ABM or even short range ballistic and cruise missiles be secretly deployed in Ukraine without any formal agreements. Personally I think that most probably Ukraine will be used as a base of intelligence operations against Russia. Probably it is already used.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        The Baltics is still a perfect place for launching that land attack against Russia, that we all know NATO is just chomping at the bit to carry out, right? Stalin sure thought so in 1939. Also the Baltics would be perfect place from which to launch an invasion to cut off Kaliningrad from the rest of Russia and hold a referendum to give it back to Germany(you know what those people would vote for if they were given a week to organize a referendum).

        So we’re supposed to believe that all this time the US was demilitarizing Europe, particularly Eastern Europe- yet with the signing of an EU association agreement it would automatically lead to a complete 180 degree turn in American policy and a fast-track to NATO membership for Ukraine? And this would happen- why? Exactly? The US has the perfect pretext for military operations in Ukraine now and they’re not using it. So why would they use it when they had no pretext whatsoever? Why didn’t they deploy their forces in the Baltic in 2004-2015?

        And what makes you think that a country which learned it can’t simultaneously conduct efficient military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and didn’t want to contemplate them in Syria would suddenly get the idea that a land invasion to conquer Russia would be a great idea? Please tell me what the US gains from this that would be worth the ridiculous costs. It can’t be oil, because the US is finding its own new sources of oil and will soon be the largest oil producer.

    2. Callum Carmichael

      How does NATO expansion possibly threaten your country? Is NATO going to launch a ground invasion of Russia from Ukraine or something? If you think that, I have a bridge to sell you.

      The Baltic states have been in NATO since 2004. There were “NATO” troops 100km from St. Petersburg since 2004. Coincidentally, that was when living standards and wages were skyrocketing during Putin`s first term, and the Kremlin didn’t make a big deal of it. Also coincidentally, NATO expansion first became a “problem” in the Russian media narrative when the Russian economy started having problems. A skeptic or a cynic might be inclined to think the “NATO threat” was a way to distract the Russian population from domestic economic issues.

      Oh and you said a while ago that you would “fight corruption without [our] help”. You never said how you planned on doing that.

      Reply
  24. Mikhail

    “How does NATO expansion possibly threaten your country? Is NATO going to launch a ground invasion of Russia from Ukraine or something? If you think that, I have a bridge to sell you.”

    How is it not? It is not intentions that matters in international politics but capabilities. Do you propose me to rely on your good will? I highly doubt it exists. Even if it does, it may change. Some day you will decide that it is clever to launch an attack against Russia. I cannot know that for sure. We have seen what NATO did to Yugoslavia, Iraq and Lybia. I think that in the field of national security it is more wise for Russia to rely on its army, navy and air force than anyone’s good will.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “Do you propose me to rely on your good will? I highly doubt it exists. ”

      Russia had been working pretty closely with NATO and directly with the US for over a decade. Like Callum pointed out, isn’t it funny how the NATO hysteria started to grow as economic problems cropped up on the horizon? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence though.

      “Some day you will decide that it is clever to launch an attack against Russia. I cannot know that for sure. We have seen what NATO did to Yugoslavia, Iraq and Lybia.”

      And you think that Russia is comparable to Iraq, Libya, or the FRY? Who’s the patriot again?

      “I think that in the field of national security it is more wise for Russia to rely on its army, navy and air force”

      From the look of those things, I’d go with good will. I don’t know any Americans who made a Russian soldier sit on a bottle, or who would want to.

      Reply
  25. Callum Carmichael

    NATO didn`t invade Iraq in 2003, the US did. Most of its NATO allies refused (my country certainly did).

    In any case, are you saying that Russia is comparable in military capability to Yugoslavia, Iraq and Lybia? Because these countries were all practically defenseless at the relevant times. They were all smallish countries with decrepit militaries and no natural defenses.

    Even ignoring Russia’s nuclear arsenal (and believe me no strategic planner can ignore it), Russia is so big that an invasion would be prohibitively expensive even before you factor in combat and casualties. There would need to be a huge incentive to justify such an expense, and there just isn’t.

    Don’t rely on NATO’s goodwill. Rely on NATO understanding the concept of a cost-benefit analysis.

    And anyway, Russia had a chair at NATO and an ability to make its voice heard. Russia also cooperated with the NATO operation in Afghanistan. NATO and Russia do not need to be enemies, and indeed have both benefitted through cooperation. And plenty of NATO countries (especially Germany) have been sympathetic towards Russia even into the Ukraine crisis. Russia has non-confrontational options and it would be better served by using them.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Exactly. There’s just one problem with all of that- none of those facts can help shore up Putin’s power. He needs external threats to justify submitting to his corrupt system.

      Reply
      1. Mikhail

        “Putin’s corrupt system” does not bother me. Nor did it in times when international politics was less intense than now. Because if missiles start falling there will be neither “corruption” nor “system” at all.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        This article basically describes the mentality you’re showing here: http://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2015/05/29/the-soft-totalitarians-hole-of-choice-mgtow-poetry-korner/comment-page-2/#comment-771581

        To Russians this seems like defiance to the “NWO”, when in reality it looks incredibly submissive to any outside observer who is sufficiently familiar with life in Russia.

        Basically it’s like some guy going into a minimum security, “resort” type prison, and immediately deciding that the big guy on the other side of the cafeteria plans to rape him. The fear of this impending rape by someone who barely pays attention to him drives the new prisoner to immediately demand that his cell mate rape him instead, and make him his “bitch.” Now the prisoner loudly proclaims to everyone that he is somebody’s “bitch,” and that big guy he saw on the first day had better not mess with him.

        Not for a moment does he ever consider that the large man never had any intention of raping him, or anyone else for that matter, as he’s serving six months on some kind of tax violation.

        Does our prisoner seem defiant and courageous, or submissive?

  26. Mikhail

    “So we’re supposed to believe that all this time the US was demilitarizing Europe, particularly Eastern Europe- yet with the signing of an EU association agreement it would automatically lead to a complete 180 degree turn in American policy and a fast-track to NATO membership for Ukraine? And this would happen- why? Exactly? The US has the perfect pretext for military operations in Ukraine now and they’re not using it. So why would they use it when they had no pretext whatsoever? Why didn’t they deploy their forces in the Baltic in 2004-2015?”

    1. The US have withdrawn land forces from Europe because:
    a. they need them elsewhere see Afghanistan, Iraq.
    b. they know Russia does not pose a military threat to Europe
    2. At the same time the US have deployed elements of ABM in Romania and strengthened ABM capable naval task force in Mediterranea. There are also plans to deploy ABM systems in Poland.
    3. The US does not want to deploy troops in Ukraine beyond 300+ military advisors in fear of unnecessary escalation. In that case Russia may retaliate and Ukraine may cease to exists as a sovereign state. The US government hoped that Poroshenko settled down the conflict in Donbass (either by killing the opposition or by starving them to death) and then the US could start turning Ukraine into an anti-Russian bastion. I’m not sure if the US government still believes it is possible.
    4. Some forces are currently being deployed in the Baltics, Poland and Czech Republic, not much though. The situation is fluid. Everything may change.

    “And what makes you think that a country which learned it can’t simultaneously conduct efficient military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and didn’t want to contemplate them in Syria would suddenly get the idea that a land invasion to conquer Russia would be a great idea? Please tell me what the US gains from this that would be worth the ridiculous costs. It can’t be oil, because the US is finding its own new sources of oil and will soon be the largest oil producer.”

    Who said that the US should necessarily conquer Russia? It is logistically impossible. Inflicting a significant damage would be enough to quell Russia’s opposition to the US global plans. The US empire is not driven solely by the need for oil. Showing an example of punishment which befall those who dare to resist the new world order will have a great strengthening effect on the US global power.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “1. The US have withdrawn land forces from Europe because:
      a. they need them elsewhere see Afghanistan, Iraq.”

      Partially true, yes.

      “b. they know Russia does not pose a military threat to Europe”

      Also true.

      “3. The US does not want to deploy troops in Ukraine beyond 300+ military advisors in fear of unnecessary escalation. In that case Russia may retaliate and Ukraine may cease to exists as a sovereign state.”

      Actually in that case NATO would easily defeat that rag tag force you call an army. After the VDV and other volunteers are ground down, the conscript force will be a pushover.

      “The US government hoped that Poroshenko settled down the conflict in Donbass (either by killing the opposition or by starving them to death) and then the US could start turning Ukraine into an anti-Russian bastion.”

      Putin turned Ukraine into an anti-Russian bastion, not the US.

      “4. Some forces are currently being deployed in the Baltics, Poland and Czech Republic, not much though. The situation is fluid. Everything may change.”

      Yes, because of Russia’s actions.

      The fact is that the US has been in the process of reducing its military for years now. It was first envisioned in 2000 if not much earlier.

      “It is logistically impossible. Inflicting a significant damage would be enough to quell Russia’s opposition to the US global plans. ”

      WHAT global plans and how was Russia resisting them? By buying US treasury bonds? By the elite buying real estate in the US and sending their kids to universities there? By accepting billions in US investment to help develop Russia? By joining the WTO?

      All this “resistance” is a fantasy. The reality is that you are ruled by a corrupt dictator and his friends that don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. Thus they use the media and system they control to make you paranoid about some kind of outside threat while they continue to rob you and you thank them.

      Reply
  27. Mikhail

    “NATO didn`t invade Iraq in 2003, the US did. Most of its NATO allies refused (my country certainly did).”

    NATO is basically a US club, in the sense that the US uses smash someone (pun intended).

    “In any case, are you saying that Russia is comparable in military capability to Yugoslavia, Iraq and Lybia? Because these countries were all practically defenseless at the relevant times. They were all smallish countries with decrepit militaries and no natural defenses.”

    Do see the significance of a sizable military for the notion of “national sovereignty” in the modern world?

    “Even ignoring Russia’s nuclear arsenal (and believe me no strategic planner can ignore it), Russia is so big that an invasion would be prohibitively expensive even before you factor in combat and casualties. There would need to be a huge incentive to justify such an expense, and there just isn’t.”

    That’s why the US is working on the ABM and PGS. That is exactly to render Russia’s nuclear arsenal useless.

    Reply
  28. Callum Carmichael

    We already established that NATO often refuses to do America’s bidding. Or did you not read that part? And we established that ABM in its current iteration doesn’t work. Do keep up.

    So, the US intends to wage a general war of some kind against Russia, probably involving nuclear weapons, in order to punish Russia for… something? “Standing up to the US” by helping US forces operate in Afghanistan? For accepting billions of dollars in foreign investment or selling millions of gallons of oil to Europe? Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia did little or nothing to oppose NATO. Even the war against Georgia in 2008 secretly delighted France and Germany, who thought Georgian menbership was a stupid idea and used the war to rule it out.

    The US has no motive to want war with Russia. Nothing. None. Even now, with Russia annexing bits of its neighbours and kidnapping officials from NATO countries, the US is not threatening Russia with anything more than sanctions.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      The Vatnik Phrasebook always fails when the evil Western “liberals” go off script (i.e. every time). It works so well in those geopolitical discussion groups though!

      Reply
    2. Shalcker

      Somehow all the bits where Yankovich worked against Russian interests do not deter Jim from calling him Russian puppet. Same thing with NATO.

      One day the system might work and by then it would be impossible to uproot short of outright invasion – and that has way higher cost then saying “We do not accept this!” right now. It’s important to reiterate boundaries within which others are actually free to do their things rather then boundaries they have in their own minds. Redraw the lines that got somewhat hidden by sands of time.

      All the moves done by US are shifting things from “unthinkable” to “possible” to “actually done” to “scaling up things actually done”. Like latest move with heavy weaponry to be stored in Eastern Europe and Baltics just in case.

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “Yankovich” was never president of Ukraine; he writes parodies of pop songs.

        YANUKOVYCH, while doing things like arranging the EU association agreement, generally followed Russia’s political line. He leased them their base in the Crimea, he set up language laws(which I don’t necessarily see as bad) protecting the Russian language.

        If Yanukovych wasn’t seen by all sides as pro-Russian, why were the Russians so buttmad about him being “overthrown” and why did he flee to Russia? If you want to see real defiance, look at Lukashenko.

        “Like latest move with heavy weaponry to be stored in Eastern Europe and Baltics just in case”

        Oh you mean the one provoked by Russia annexing and invading a neighbor while conducing all kinds of snap drills and military flights around the Baltics?

  29. Shalcker

    Well, same thing with NATO! While occasionally protesting and ignoring financial commitments like 2% defence spending they generally follow US political line.

    As for Russian language laws i distinctly remember he was actually accused by East/Crimea of not doing them as he promised when being elected and taking sweet time. He really wasn’t loved by anyone when he fled, Russia included. Crimea lease extension was just pretence under which he could reasonably get more money to support Ukrainian economy.

    Still, he was legal head of the state and Putin with his legal background seems to put that quite highly among things you need to care about. He fled to Russia because he actually had friends there (as many Ukrainians do) and because it clearly wasn’t safe for him in Ukraine.

    “Provoked”, yeah, sure, whatever. If you aren’t going to wage land war ever what difference does it make how long it takes to get heavy weaponry to front lines? It’s again shifting things from “unthinkable” (land war in EU!) to “something we are preparing for”. And that shift is dangerous path to thread.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      ” While occasionally protesting and ignoring financial commitments like 2% defence spending they generally follow US political line.”

      Well except for that time the US was really dead set on invading Iraq and two of the most important NATO members immediately said no way.

      And Turkey’s been defying the US for years now.

      “Still, he was legal head of the state and Putin with his legal background seems to put that quite highly among things you need to care about.”

      Well that’s why he shouldn’t have fled. They’d made an agreement for his sake. There’s no evidence that he would not have been safe in Ukraine.

      ““Provoked”, yeah, sure, whatever. If you aren’t going to wage land war ever what difference does it make how long it takes to get heavy weaponry to front lines”

      That’s exactly what happens. In Russia politicians and the media openly talk about Russia violating other countries’ sovereignty. They have done just that, and they continue to beat their chest with these military drills. They brought NATO there, and particularly the US, which was on its way out.

      And for the record redeploying forces abroad is a major undertaking. I’ve seen what a pain in the ass it can be for a single signal company to load up its shit to go halfway across the US.

      Reply
      1. Shalcker

        Let’s look at one thing first: Yanukovich fleeing. Who exactly was going to provide him security? His security apparatus basically abandoned him (after he betrayed them in December). In Crimea film as far as i remember Putin even says they have known locations for ambushes and had to call him to change route. On news everyone called to have him tried for Maidan killings and corruption.

        How can you say he was safe with straight face? What exactly is factual basis for your opinion? :/

        Did anyone said he was safe back then in February? That they will protect him from mob justice? Can you show me? I’m seem to remember he said he asked EU guys if they can and they refused. Looking at his first press-conference in Russia he said he was ready to return if his security will be guaranteed. Did anyone answer that in Ukraine?

        Also check this: http://carnegieendowment.org/2015/02/25/year-after-maidan-why-did-viktor-yanukovych-flee-after-signing-agreement-with-opposition

        How could he be safe?

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “Let’s look at one thing first: Yanukovich fleeing. Who exactly was going to provide him security? His security apparatus basically abandoned him (after he betrayed them in December).”

        Not all of them. Many protesters reported an eerie quiet on the morning after he left- they clearly were unaware of what happened.

        Yanukovych still had control of the army. At most he could have fled to Donetsk, where he had support.

        ” In Crimea film as far as i remember Putin even says they have known locations for ambushes and had to call him to change route.”

        Oh yeah, that’s a trustworthy source. Same guy who said there were no Russian troops in the Crimea or in Ukraine.

        “I’m seem to remember he said he asked EU guys if they can and they refused. ”

        Oh, well Yanukovych said that? He seems like a trustworthy source.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        You also have to remember that many of the protesters were non-violent and if they really wanted to lynch people a lot more people could have been killed after those events.

  30. Shalcker

    You’re speaking in conjectures again. Can you show quotes? Who in army expressed support of Yanukovich and suggested he will provide him protection? Can you give a name, or at least source of this information?

    Wiki says “The riot police withdrew since early in the morning because they feared Yanukovych’s government of would shift the responsibility of the violence of the previous days on them .. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry was left without leadership from early morning. .. Andriy Parubiy reported Euromaidan self-defence had peacefully gained control over Kiev and its Government buildings,[233] and that the military was standing with the opposition.[234]”
    So, “standing with opposition” seems to be the mood of that moment.

    Don’t see any opening for Yanukovich to stay in country here.

    Also, Donetsk? Conjectures again? He actually DID get to Donetsk. But, quoting wiki again:
    “According to the State Border Service, Viktor Yanukovych also tried to flee via a charter flight in Donetsk, but was stopped by border guards. The border agents were “met by a group of armed men who offered money for flying without the proper clearance”. Yanukovych then left by armored car, his whereabouts unknown.[258] Former Interior Minister Zakharchenko also attempted to fly out of Donetsk and was denied access for similar reasons.[259]”
    If there was any support for him clearly it wasn’t enough to stay there…

    Sure, many protesters were non-violent. How does it make situation safer for Yanukovich though? There clearly weren’t going to defend him as human shields, and it’s impossible to deny that violent ones were also present – with several Western Ukrainian armories looted and unknown amount of weapons in hands of protesters already.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Shalcker, you’re forgetting this thing called the burden of proof. You’re saying that there was a credible threat to Yanukovych’s life. It is your burden of proof to show evidence that this was the case. There was no revolt in the army, and no general revolt in the police.

      Since the protesters and the opposition agreed to a cessation of hostilities, there was no reason to assume hours later that they’d turn violent.

      Again, the burden of proof is on you to show that he was actually in danger.

      Now what I would readily believe, assuming there was more evidence, is that Putin or his agents told Yanukovych(or his people) that he was in mortal danger. This is because in light of all the events, this is what made it easy for Putin to justify his invasion and call into question any government that followed Yanukovych.

      Reply
      1. Shalcker

        I just want to see where your conviction that there was absolutely no threat to his life comes from. I have shown mine that there were no friends left for him – none in power in Ukraine at least, and plenty of groups who held grudge against him, some of them quite violent and armed.

        He dismissed head of Army on Feb 19 before signing agreement, how can you say army was behind him? Perhaps there was no open revolt but it certainly wasn’t going to do his bidding.

        Head of police escaped same day as Yanukovich; and there was fire in Berkut barracks in Lviv just a few days before with two Berkut members dead. Police was completely demoralised; in Western Ukraine many already openly went to Euromaidan side against Yanukovich.

        Protesters didn’t actually agree to what was signed too! Quoting wiki:
        “In response to the deal, Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh rejected the agreement, stating “We have to state the obvious fact that the criminal regime had not yet realised either the gravity of its evil doing,” and said the agreement failed to address the arrest of Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko, Berkut commanders alleged to have been involved in the murder of civilians, removal of General Prosecutor and Defense Ministers, ban on the Party of Regions and Communist Party, and guarantees of safety for those involved in the opposition. He called for the ‘people’s revolution’ to continue until there is a full removal of power from authorities.[207] Euromaidan leader Andriy Parubiy insisted that elections be held as soon as possible, and reiterated that one of the main demands of protesters has been the resignation of President Yanukovych.[227] Automaidan also announced it would also not accept anything short of Yanukovych’s resignation.[228]

        Vitali Klitschko apologised to the crowd on Maidan if he offended anyone by shaking hands with Yanukovych.[229] Activists on Maidan responded to the deal by booing opposition leaders. Activist Volodymyr Parasiuk warned from the stage that if Yanukovych does not resign by 10:00 the next day, an armed coup would be staged.[230] From the stage of Maidan Oleh Lyashko expressed his support to the demand that Yanukovych resign by 10:00, “Either he resigns, or we take him away.” Lyashko told Maidan. Outside of Kiev, it was later discovered that the summer home of pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk was set on fire.[231]”
        Here, violence is already there and homes are burning just a few hours after deal is signed; the deal is falling through.

        Would you NOT escape in situation like that?

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