Russia Watcher’s Field Guide (Essential!)

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Common side effect of discussing Russia and Ukraine.

This glossary/phrasebook, which contains a random list of key terms, concepts and phrases you must know in order to discuss Russia, originally began as an ordinary post. Due to the massive outpouring of positive feedback in response to that post, I decided to make it a permanent page for convenient browsing and updating. New phrases will be added from time to time, and readers are encouraged to suggest their own additions in the comments section.

Anti-Russian: Anti-Kremlin

Pro-Russian: Guess…

Russophobic:

1. Disagrees with Kremlin line.

2. A person who is just as much an asshole as a pro-Kremlin chauvinist, but for a nation that has a historical beef with Russia.

The Western (mainstream) media:

1. Any news outlet that criticizes the Kremlin’s policies at home or abroad.

2. An obscure blog being cited as a source by Russian media. May be linked to the Russian media or government.

The Polish media: Obzervator Polityczny.

Information war: News from foreign media which is critical of the Russian government and its policies. Thanks to the information war, Russian media is justified in fabricating stories, using actors as eyewitnesses, fabricating photographs, and so on.

Whataboutery: The go-to argument for Kremlin defenders everywhere, e.g. “Okay maybe Russia did start the war in Ukraine but it doesn’t matter because IraqLibyaSyriaAfghanistanVietnamHiroshimaNagasakiPhilippineinsurrectionadinfinitum!” 

It is important to understand that when you use a what about argument, you’re not saying Russia and the other country are equal. The “same” thing that the other country did is in fact morally wrong, but the thing Russia did that forced you to resort to whataboutery in the first place is morally right.

Moral equivalence: Used by defenders of Western status quo when an argument isn’t actually whataboutery and is in fact an apt comparison. Basically means: “Yes we do that but it’s different because we have better intentions, or something.”

Soviet Union: Russia.

Hybrid Warfare: A revolutionary new method of warfare developed by Russia which entails invading countries and claiming it’s not really involved in the conflict, fooling absolutely no one at all. Hybrid warfare also involves information warfare, whereby Russia produces massive amounts of contradictory propaganda which is disseminated by so many different sources and is so varied that even the forces waging hybrid warfare have no idea what is going on or what they are doing. Constantly confusing the fuck out of your own forces and keeping them guessing is a terrifying new form of warfare.

RT: A satellite TV network that could have been a respectable alternative media outlet but ended up turning into a propaganda mouthpiece because some idiots decided they were fighting an information war.

Sputnik News: Because RT’s still too objective to fight a proper information war! Expensive too. Be careful on Twitter; Sputnik News is often indistinguishable from its own parody accounts.

Russia Insider: Because even Sputnik News turned down your writing.

Euromaidan Press: Ukraine’s equivalent to Russia Insider.

 

 

CNN:

1. The single source of all negative information about Russia. Everyone in America who does not pay attention to Russian media watches CNN, and it’s all lies! There are no other sources on Russia in the West but CNN.

2. American cable news network known for repeatedly rearranging the borders of Europe and other geographical features via their graphics department. The network is shown in doctors’ offices across America.

Kremlin Whore: What’s that, something you wrote sounds like something that a pro-Kremlin source said, even if your argument is based on completely different sources or has a completely different motive? Did you acknowledge that in one particular case, Russia (or the Soviet Union because same thing right?), might have had a point? Clearly you are a Kremlin propagandist! Enjoy your blood rubles, presstitute!

State Department/NATO shill: How dare you write about corruption in Russia and the concrete consequences this has for the Russian people!

Fifth columnist/Foreign agent: Russian citizen who tries to fight or expose corruption, which of course doesn’t exist in Russia. Okay well it exists, but it exists in every country! Okay it’s much more prevalent in Russia compared to other countries but that’s because the government and bureaucracy is filled with sixth columnists!

Sixth columnist: Nameless politician or bureaucrat who cuts off utilities, cuts salaries, lays off state workers, closes schools, clinics, etc. No doubt paid directly by Obama. Putin has no idea who these people are or how to stop them. He is a great leader though, the only man who can lead Russia!

Russophrenia: The inability of a person to discern distinct, individual news outlets outside of Russia and their diverse range of pundits, analysts, and journalists. Further explanation here.

Political analyst: Dude with a webcam appearing on RT.

Western political expert: Someone who writes for Globalization Research.

Neocon: Anyone who criticizes Kremlin policy.

Anti-War activist: Someone who opposes war and militarism, unless it’s Russia, in which case militarism and war are just fine because uh…NATO encirclement! Hey look, our boys shouldn’t have to die in wars based on the lies of their rich masters, but Russians? Who cares. They can die in wars based on the lies of their even richer masters.

Bandera:

1. The unit of currency of Ukraine, according to Life News (code: UAB).

2. Someone a lot of pundits suddenly heard about in late 2013/early 2014, thereafter scrambling so as to make it look as though they knew what they were talking about when discussing the subject.

3. A person who’s really not such a big deal in Ukrainian history BUT DON’T YOU EVER CRITICIZE HIM OR HIS REHABILITATION IN UKRAINE, OTHERWISE YOU’RE CLEARLY A KREMLIN WHORE WHO WANTS TO START A NEW HOLODOMOR! Stepan Bandera was the only liberal democratic nationalist in all of Central and Eastern Europe in the interwar period, and he championed anti-racism, feminism, and LGBT rights! Unless you’re a conservative who doesn’t like those things, in which case he was a fervent defender of conservative traditional values, but DEFINITELY NOT A FASCIST! 

4. Eternal president of post-Maidan Ukraine, according to some Russian press.

5. If you write for other corporate media outlets, you must refer to Bandera as a “controversial” figure and treat both sides equally. Who are you to judge? You just heard about the guy last year.

KGB propaganda: Any and all criticism of Stepan Bandera or the movements associated with him, whether they come from Americans, Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, the CIA, other Ukrainian nationalists including those who worked with Bandera, etc.

Fascism:

1. According to Russians, anyone who opposes Russian authority or hegemony.

2. According to Ukrainian nationalists, Russians.

Europe: According to Russian press, nothing but gays and Arabs.

wtf

THIS IS WHAT VATNIKS ACTUALLY BELIEVE.

America: Sinister country which uses its agents to force Russian bureaucrats and politicians to skim money out of state budgets, demand bribes, and generally rob their nation so they can fork over all the ill-gotten proceeds to American banks, real estate markets, and universities.  American agents also routinely sabotage and destroy Russian roads and other infrastructure with pickaxes.

In Russia, Putin has all the authority, while Obama has all the responsibility.

Patriot: Asshole who is probably stealing something.

Zrada: A Ukrainian word which roughly translates into “I’m really angry because everything isn’t going my way!” See explanation here.

zradacollection1

Sanctions: Unfair, totally pointless economic measures that will in no way harm Russia’s economy. In fact, they are actually helping Russia! They are so absurd and ridiculous the West should totally remove them as soon as humanely possible. Please.

Import substitution: Get ready for cheese made from 80% palm oil. You don’t even want to know where we’re getting the meat from.

Dill: A Russian biological weapon introduced to targets via food.

DNR/LNR (Donetsk People’s Republic/Luhansk People’s Republic): What? What are you talking about? Those are clearly territories of Ukraine! Where did you get the idea that we were engineering a separatist movement to join Russia or become a pseudo-state like the various other pseudo-states Russia has created over the years! We have nothing to do with those states! We just really think that Ukraine needs to be a federal state, even though we actually aren’t, and we constantly talk about not interfering internal affairs of other countries!

Novorossiya: Now what are you going on about? We never said anything about Novorossiya? What does a colonial territory created in the time of Catherine the Great have to do with Ukraine in 2015? Why did you even bring this up! Ukraine should be a federal state! Don’t interfere in the internal affairs of other nations! If you’ll excuse me I left something in my car.

Boris Yeltsin: 

1. Great visionary democratic leader who had absolutely nothing to do with Putin, his rise to power, or the increasing authority of the president in the Russian government. (Please ignore crushing of dissent with tanks and several bloody conflicts)

2. Pathetic drunk puppet of America and the Judeo-Masonic reptiloids who has absolutely nothing to do with the heroic savior of Russia that is Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin: 

Russian president who reminded foreign journalists that there were actually serious problems in the Russian government. Putin is the savior of Russia, and the only possible leader for Russia in spite of being abandoned by his family, apparently unaware of massive, endemic corruption in his country for 15 years, and in spite of failing to produce a single possible successor in 15 years of his tenure. Without Putin, all Russians will kneel before the United States and accept colonial rule. This is thanks to his wise and great leadership!

Dmitry Medvedev: A great visionary who presided over a golden age in post-Soviet Russian history. Ignore him.

The Internet: A dastardly CIA project designed to overthrow governments.

Moscow Expats: A Facebook group which is essentially the equivalent of Yahoo! Answers. Famous for numerous “How is babby formed” style questions, spam, and bizarre arguments.

ISIS: Anything a Russian bomb hits in Syria.

Cheerleader: Insufferable self-righteous asshole “fighting” for a cause on the internet, typically outside the country they’re supporting, who demands the right to determine what is acceptable support for “the cause.” More info here.

The Russian Soul: A magical deus ex machina that allows one to avoid inconvenient arguments. e.g. “Oh but you see…You don’t understand the enigmatic Russian soul!” It is recommended that the speaker wave his or her arms in front of the listener’s face and make ghost noises after mentioning the Russian soul.

Vatnik: Putin’s main target demographic.

The Russian Press: A special investigative organ of the Russian state tasked with finding and archiving footage of gay pride parades and gay pornography and reviewing it for Russian viewers at home.

Somewhat reasonable: Applied to someone whose writing or arguments somewhat agree with your own. Wherever there is agreement, this is where your opponent is being “somewhat reasonable.” Be sure to tell them so!

Why don’t you ever write about the West?!: Yes, why is it that you, a correspondent working in Russia or someone living in Russia, dealing with Russian issues on a daily basis, possibly with family members in Russia, and having a personal stake in the future of Russia, regularly write about Russia instead of say, the United States? What? You do write about the US? Okay why don’t you only write about the US, in spite of living in Russia for years? Why do journalists even cover Russia at all?

Multi-polar world: A world in which other leading nations treat Russia, a country with an economy just under that of Italy, as though it were some kind of 19th century great power and allow it to have its own sphere of influence for no known reason whatsoever.

Sovereignty: The right of dictators to rob their own nations blind without any interference or even criticism from abroad. Null and void if you’re one of Russia’s neighbors. A nation’s sovereignty is called into question if it enacts any policy the Kremlin doesn’t like. Only by deferring to the great Russian superpower in all matters can a nation truly be considered sovereign.

Geopolitics: An outdated, nihilistic, 19th century worldview that has been adopted by out of touch pseudo-intellectuals who think global politics is basically a game of Risk.

If you think this is a guide to foreign policy, call RT right now for a guest spot!

Geopolitical expert: It’s kind of like being a World of Warcraft expert, only more obscure and less useful.

A reaction to Tom’s theories on Geopolitics:

 

The Great Patriotic War: The most terrible war in history in which tens of millions of Soviet citizens of all nationalities perished, many of them exterminated solely for their ethnicity or religion, thousands of villages and cities were razed to the ground, and cultural wounds still felt today were created. Russia commemorates the solemn event of Victory day by totally monopolizing the Soviet struggle, making state-funded films which are insulting to veterans and actually make the Germans look better than the Red Army, dressing up little kids in soldier uniforms from a war they know nothing about, making body art, putting on a WWII-themed dog show and various other bizarre spectacles, and of course- selling shit. Russia reserves the right to lecture any other country on the topic of the Great Patriotic War, in spite of the fact that Russia is nothing like the USSR and the values of its modern government are far closer to those of Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy than the Soviet Union.

Hey I thought fascist symbols were banned in Russia!

Vladimir Lenin: An evil German/American agent who destroyed the Russian empire, murdered the Holy Tsar and his family, and worst of all, invented Ukrainians and their language…BUT DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH ONE OF HIS STATUES YOU BANDERITE SCUM! 

Josef Stalin: A deeply religious, conservative Russian nationalist leader who put right the wrongs of Lenin (except he still inexplicably believed in the existence of Ukrainians for some reason, possibly American related) and turned the USSR into a new Russian empire in preparation for a long struggle with the American Judeo-Masonic underlings of the Reptiloids from the planet Nibiru. Stalin won WWII because of his deep faith in Russian civilization and he lit candles in St. Basil’s Cathedral every night.

Dmytro Yarosh: Fuhrer of Ukraine. Has crucified so many Russian speaking kids he made the road between Slovyansk and Kramatorsk look like the Via Appia after Spartacus’ revolt. It is believed that Yarosh stepped down from his position in Praviy Sektor so as to convert to Islam, join ISIS, and carry on the jihad against Russian children in Syria. He is now believed to be going by his new name, Damir ibn-Anatol Al-Ukrayiini.

So THAT’S who left all these dishes in the sink!

Objective, impartial investigation: Any investigation that absolves Russia or its proxies of all guilt. Preferably carried out by the Russian government.

Provocation: What you call it when you shoot down a civilian airliner or shell civilian territories in the course of a war you started. Essentially, it means cowardly accusing the other side of committing the deed in question, even if this would mean deliberately shelling or murdering their own people, without making a direct accusation.

UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) Veteran: The beginning stage for a Ukrainian NKVD veteran.

Decommunization law: A law in Ukraine aimed at ridding the country of the USSR’s legacy of censorship, rewriting the past, and politicizing history via censorship, rewriting the past, and politicizing history. The law is expected to somehow rid Ukraine of post-Soviet corruption. How this is supposed to happen is anyone’s guess The law was largely written and sponsored by two people who have a great personal interest in it, but that doesn’t mean you should get suspicious or anything!

Subtle propagandist:  The subtle propagandist is the sneakiest of all Kremlin propagandists. They don’t work for Kremlin state media, are routinely hounded and attacked by pro-Kremlin people, and they investigate and cover stories about Russian corruption, aggression in Ukraine, and all kinds of matters which are terribly embarrassing to the Kremlin. But every once in a while they’ll criticize the actions of the Ukrainian government or write some story that shows the real human suffering as a result of corruption or Kremlin mismanagement, and at this point the reader feels so sorry for the victims that they decide Putin must be pretty good after all. If this doesn’t make sense to you, congratulations.

When you're confronted with the harsh reality of life in Putin's Russia, you'll definitely start to sympathize with Putin!

When you’re confronted with the harsh reality of life in Putin’s Russia, you’ll definitely start to sympathize with Putin!