What did you expect?

So I was reading this RFERL piece about a Russian businessman who claims to have rendered crucial assistance to the Russian government in the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent, aborted “Novorossiya” project. The reader is free to question the veracity of the witness, who remains anonymous, but I will say that for the most part, his story fits what we know and his attitude is exactly what one might expect from a disillusioned Russian imperialist. One particular line caught my eye, however:

“The Russian World that I dreamed of, that the people of Crimea expected, that the volunteers who died in Donbas believed in, crumbled into dust before my very eyes,” he recalled.”

Since 2014 we’ve all heard of this so-called “Russian World” (Русский Мир), but nobody’s been able to really define it. Earlier in the interview, the businessman laments what went on in the Donbas, where some people tried to make the Russian World a reality:

“In the pro-Russian zone [in Donbas], weapons were handed out to criminals and drug addicts who robbed people, ‘commandeered’ businesses, homes, and cars,” he said. “The situation for the Russian World project became more and more catastrophic. That romantic of the Russian World, Girkin, could not cope with the anarchy that was developing around him.”

Sounds to me like he got the Russian World right there. To be fair, it’s not so much exclusively the Russian world as it is largely the post-Soviet world, but of course a lot of that world happens to be Russia.

Honestly, what exactly was that Russian World he dreamed of? How was it supposed to be different than the actual, existing Russian World? Did these morons actually put their life on the lines believing that by carving out a portion of Ukraine, Russia would suddenly cease to suffer from massive corruption, crumbling infrastructure, and absence of rule of law?

The Donbas turned out exactly as we should have expected. It was a haven of organized crime, and then a government run by criminals hired those local criminals and sent some of their own criminals to start a war, and SURPRISE! The territories under the control of criminals are basically rife with, well, crime. How utterly unpredictable. Were I a Game of Thrones fan this would be the place where I write some joke referencing the unexpected death of a beloved character. But since I’m not I’ll just sarcastically say that turn of events was as unpredictable as the episode of BBC’s Fall of Eagles when Austro-Hungarian Crown Prince Rudolf killed himself along with a woman of ill repute.

Joking aside, this question of the Russian World or Russian civilization is a pretty serious one. Increasingly we hear Russian politicians and their supporters claim that theirs is a unique civilization, as good as if not better than the West. Now I don’t believe in “Western” superiority, but I and millions of others can’t help but notice that this degenerate West, which was supposed to be on the point of collapse for at least 100 years and still managed to come out on top in spite of two World Wars, seems to be doing significantly better than Russia according to almost every indicator.

Point this out, and the Russian World fans will tell you that what their country lacks in material wealth, they make up for in “spiritual values” or “moral values.” First of all this makes no sense, because Russia doesn’t lack material wealth. On the contrary, Russia’s unbelievably rich. And yet somehow that wealth barely filtered down to the majority of the population. While there were definitely concrete successes under Putin’s long reign, some of which haven’t yet started to rapidly roll back toward 90’s levels, there are many other indicators which beg the question: “What did they do with all that money?” And the answer to that question can largely be measured in yachts, luxury cars, palaces, property in New York, London, and the South of France, for starters.

On the topic of moral values, we must first conclude that both lying and stealing are both immoral and roundly condemned by virtually every religion and value system the world over. So those are two strikes right there. But of course the vatniks like to claim they have some kind of morality based on “traditional family values,” which just as it does in any country, turns out to be a really bizarre obsession with sexuality. And here too, Russia doesn’t really have leg to stand on when condemning Western countries. They attack tolerance for LGBT people in the West, but this is not a moral argument. If you think it is, just consider that the Mormons, for example, believe masturbation to be highly immoral. See how that works? In any case it’s a moot point because contrary to the stated beliefs of Russia’s leaders, Russian LGBT people exist whether they want to acknowledge them or not, and I think some of them know very well that homosexual activity takes place all the time in their country behind closed doors. Oh yes, I think some of them are authorities on that topic.

Whether its corruption or sexual promiscuity, the Russian World advocates always have a way out. “Oh no that’s not us! That’s the Western influence!” The extreme version of this is the so-called “National Liberation Movement’s” hilarious thesis that Russia has been “occupied” by the United States since 1991. But to whatever degree, the claim is idiotic. If the Russian soul has this inherent value, if the Russian World is so unique, it should have manifested by now. It should look different.

Imagine for a moment: Someone recommends you check out a diet plan to lose weight. You meet the person who developed the diet, and notice they are grossly overweight. You meet numerous people who swear by the diet and they’re all morbidly obese. You never see a single person adhering to this diet who is not overweight. Maybe, just maybe, there’s something wrong with that diet.

The bottom line is, the Russian World is what the Russian World does, and not what delusional dreamers such as Alexander Dugin or  Igor Girkin think it should be. If these figures thought that carrying out the Kremlin’s will would lead to anything other than the perpetuation of thievery and corruption, what can we call them but ridiculous naive? This is why their whining about “disillusionment” just like the source in the article is so pathetically laughable. You help a criminal in his crimes and expect something other than more crime? These people are either cynical liars or utter morons.


19 thoughts on “What did you expect?

  1. Asehpe

    Indeed. Crime begets crime, and those who think otherwise are just dreaming. I wonder how many other ‘disillusioned idealists’ there are among the first-wave “Novorossiya” supporters who actually put their own boots on the ground and went there to make the dream come true. I can see dissertations in the future being written on this topic…

    1. Shalcker

      Just like there are lots of “disillusioned idealists” on Maidan side…

      “Clash of idealists” unwilling to compromise in almost every historical instance ends up neck deep in blood and crime.

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        There’s a very big difference. The Maidan people are still fighting to change their country. The Novorossiya way is to serve a dictator and hope he showers you with treats or allows you to steal them on your own.

      2. Asehpe

        But the Maidan people aren’t neep deep in blood and crime, whereas the Novorossiya pseudo-idealists are… sort of an important difference there.

      3. Shalcker

        They aren’t? Did Buzina got killed in Novorossiya? Was that string of “suicides” in former Party of Regions bosses just their conscience catching up to them? Was corruption defeated already?

        Or how about more recent list on Mirotvorets of ALL journalists that ever got accreditation in Novorossiya, namings them “scoundrels”? That sounds exactly like something uncompromising idealist would do…

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        False equivalence, the typical weapon of the Putin apologist. The occupied territories make the rest of Ukraine look like it has rule of law by comparison.

      5. Shalcker

        Do they? Which statistics do you use for this assertion?

        Those territories are same country, ruled by same people that lived in same cultural space for decades. Akhmetov still holds his properties there, despite being declared “person non grata” by rebels – and many of them still work too, somehow they didn’t disappear into lawless oblivion…

      6. Asehpe

        Which statistics do YOU use for your claim?

        There’s crime in Saint Louis. There’s crime in Somalia. There’s a difference.

      7. Shalcker

        Look, i started with premise that both sides are deep in crime and blood.
        You disagreed? I added a few deep-in-Ukraine examples (i could also add a few territorial battalions acts to that list but that could be chalked to “war, shit happens”). Then Jim said “but by comparison rebel territories are worse”.

        …which comparison? What exactly do i need to prove there? I AGREE that rebel territories have crime and blood. So does “non-rebel” Ukraine. Both sides are unreliable at reporting it. If you want to argue that “crime level” is substantially different I would need to see what you want to take into account.

        Numbers? Definitely more crime in Ukraine – it’s bigger. “Per capita”? Arguable – risks are fairly high unless your crime in rebel territories is using existing power structure – but those cannot include that many people, and they still need normal life to function too…

        Types of crime? Probably skewed in different directions. Less journalists overall in Donbass to be persecuted. Any corrupt old officials that could face retribution either already did or fled. Corporate “raiding” in Donbass is non-existent, and still happens in Ukraine.

        As for “blood” both sides shell each other (and civilians) and both sides kill or otherwise persecute “opposition”. That’s obvious fact.

      8. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Again this is a false equivalence. For one thing, internal Russian documents (GRU, IIRC) declared the territories to be lawless last year. Many of the local officials are criminals and former gangsters. Other militia leaders have told stories of the looting and robbery perpetrated by them. Government-controlled Ukraine has its crime issues but nothing compared to the occupied territories. Even in small eastern cities I never so much as felt threatened, nor did I feel someone was trying to steal from me.

        Part of the reason why the occupied territories turned out that way is because the Russian government has long maintained relationships with organized criminals, and they used them to do their bidding in Crimea and the southeast. Of course when you give them guns and turn them loose, things don’t go so well.

      9. Shalcker

        You’re not proving it’s not “neck deep in blood and crime” in Ukraine by this though.

        Ukraine still remains remarkably corrupt and people still die there for political reasons (like murdered advocate to those guys later exchanged for Savchenko).

        Are “two less inches of blood below jawline” make all the difference to you?

      10. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Again you’re making a false equivalency. Government-controlled Ukraine is nothing close to the occupied territories in terms of crime. Just today there’s been a report that a member of the OSCE SMM might have been kidnapped or illegally detained in occupied territory.

      11. Shalcker

        “Nothing”? You mentioned “organized criminals”, does your memory somehow fails to remember same “organized criminals” on Ukrainian side in “territorial battalions” and elsewhere? With confirmed crimes on their hands?

        No, to me they are one and the same country. With same willingness to break the law if they feel they’ll not be found out/persecuted, and same willingness to use (deadly) force to crush dissent. Apples of the same tree, living on different sides of artificial divide.

        And quick google shows that Ukraine actually keeps count on crimes in occupied territories. Most of those registered “crimes” are things related to “separatism” though. That you’re not willing to look into even those numbers is quite telling…

        And while looking for “organized crime connections”, google got me to http://prokurorska-pravda.today
        To show that they are strictly pro-Ukrainian check this – http://prokurorska-pravda.today/article/prokurory-predateli-ili-pochem-nynche-rodina
        …yet their materials seem to show definite “neck deep in crime”

      12. Shalcker

        “Nothing close”? You mentioned “organized criminals”, does your memory somehow fails to remember same “organized criminals” on Ukrainian side in “territorial battalions” and elsewhere? With confirmed crimes on their hands?

        No, to me they are one and the same country. With same willingness to break the law if they feel they’ll not be found out/persecuted, and same willingness to use (deadly) force to crush dissent. Apples of the same tree, living on different sides of artificial divide.

        And quick google shows that Ukraine actually keeps count on crimes in occupied territories, so statistics ARE there if you would be willing to look. Most of those registered “crimes” are things related to “separatism” though.

      13. Asehpe

        Mr Shalcker, again, where are your sources and your numbers?

        See, if you want to disprove a claim, you need more than simply allegations that “it’s just as bad in occupied Ukraine as it is in free Ukraine”. You could claim it’s just as bad in Italy — see Mafia. Or in France. Or in Israel. Or anywhere for that matter. As long as you don’t show numbers, it remains a he-said-she-said thing that cannot be decided. I’m sorry, but if you care about this discussion, you’ll have to produce numbers and sources. If you don’t, all you do can be achieved by simply saying “I think so!” and “That’s my opinion!”. And that’s the end of the discussion.

        I say again: there’s crime in Saint Louis. There is crime in Somalia. There is a difference. If you want to claim there is no difference, let’s hear something other than “I say so!” and “here are a few anecdotes!” Because these things can be said by anyone, anywhere, at any time, and are therefore utterly unconvincing. If you don’t show something better than that, you’re not going to convince anyone.

        You say there is organized crime in free Ukraine. Jim here says there is even more organized crime in occupied Ukraine. I again repeat: how are you going to solve this without showing numbers? Again: if all you have is your belief in an equivalence, then Jim is perfectly within his rights to claim the opposite — he’s merely pointing out that opinions and statistics are not the same thing.

      14. Shalcker

        There is increase in crime everywhere in Ukraine, including rebel territories. In their official statistics Ukraine counts them too. I don’t see why exactly do you want to single them out?

        Here is Ukrainian article from 2015 that gives some data by regions – and it puts Kiev as top crime center overall, with Dnepropetrovsk oblast being second and Donetsk oblast being only third:


        Apparently there were more murders in Donbass in first half of 2015 (5013) but Kiev (with 912) and Odessa (with 840) actually beat Luhansk (with 712). On the rest of crimes Kiev leads by huge margin.

        As another example, strana.ua/news/16091-v-kieve-uchastilis-ulichnye-krazhi-i-ugon-avtomobilej.html – there is 80% growth in number of thefts and 100% growth in car hijacking in Kiev.

        And here is fairly big article analysing 2015 crime statistics in depth:

        Takeaway seems to be that there is about 50% growth in serious crimes in Ukraine while petty crimes go under-reported compared to previous periods and that’s how “overall” statistics shows “only 0.3% increase” in total crimes – while resolution of cases and amount of them being sent to court dives hard even there.

  2. Justin Lookin

    > West, which was supposed to be on the point of collapse for at least 100 years and still managed to come out on top in spite of two World Wars

    think Roman empire.. or ancient Egypt … they lasted way longer than “West”, way longer…. but everything has its end

    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Yeah, the entire world has its end. But is there any reason to think that the West is “on the point of collapse” now? Nope. Virtually every indicator says the opposite. If someone had said that the Roman empire would collapse within a year back in say, 20 BCE, would anyone believe them? No. Perhaps one day this “West” will collapse, but it will be preceded by measurable signs. So far when it comes to collapsing, Russia’s got the West beat hands down.


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