Tag Archives: hypocrisy

The deafening silence

If you’re a British reader still reeling from Brexit, I’ve got something that might cheer you up on this otherwise sad day. As it turns out, you’re not the only country that’s taken a swan dive into the abyss; we’ve been on our way down for some time and now we’re accelerating our descent.

Today Russia’s Duma just voted on an “anti-terrorism” legislation package that is one of the most repressive laws since the fall of the Soviet Union. In the end some of the most odious measures were removed, but what got in is bad enough.

In truth there’s nothing really shocking about this. In the past couple years we’ve already had numerous Russians sentenced to jail for things like retweets and “likes” on social media, all under the intentionally vague, always hypocritical charge of “extremism.” As Russia’s crisis deepens with no end in sight, the elite knows that it must squeeze more wealth out of a shrinking supply, all the while suppressing the ordinary working people who face the consequences of the regime’s irresponsibility and blatant criminality. One needn’t look much further than the bill’s originator- nutjob deputy Irina Yarovaya. Like Putin and many of his friends, she has good reason to preempt public dissent.

Hey, speaking of using terrorism as an excuse to pass draconian laws, I happen to know a certain TV network that prides itself on exposing the diabolical machinations of out-of-control governments. They constantly feature guests that insist that information should be free, that governments are manufacturing false pretexts to justify repression. They championed Edward Snowden for exposing government spying on private citizens and even gave a talk show to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. I bet they’ll be all over this! 

Oh…That’s it? Just one news story? Oh. Okay.

Funny how it omits some of the nasty bits of the bill that still made it in, such as the increased punishment for “extremism.” But let’s be fair- this was a news story in the Russian Politics section of the website. If we want to see the Russian government get taken to task for cracking down on its citizens’ civil liberties, we need to go to the Op-Edge section! This will be good…

Uh…Alright. I see an article about how the FBI uses terrorism as an excuse to spy on people’s private lives. That’s a little bit hypocritical, isn’t it? Let’s keep digging.

Oh look, here’s an a hypocritical article bashing “multiculturalism,” suggesting that Britain might start to tolerate bigamy among Muslims. This is hypocritical because Russia in fact allows bigamy, as the infamous case of a middle-aged Chechen policeman legally marrying a 17-year-old girl (possibly against her will) taught us last year. The marriage was publicly defended both by Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov and “family values” Duma deputy Elena Mizulina. So if you’re keeping score, Russia allows teenager-old man bigamy whereas according to the article itself, any bigamy is still a criminal offense in the United Kingdom.

I guess I’ll have to keep digging to find an evisceration of Yarovaya and her tyrannical anti-terrorism law.

Uh…Okay. Here’s an article complaining about the rehabilitation of Nazism and antisemitism in Europe. That’s a bit hypocritical given RT’s propensity for featuring and often misrepresenting neo-Nazis and anti-Semites.

Speaking of antisemitism, just a bit further on we get a bizarre Op-Edge by Sam Gerrans, a clear nutcase who once penned an Op-Edge featuring the old “Jewish Bolshevism” trope, one of the cornerstones of Nazi propaganda. Looking at Gerrans body of work, I can’t help but note an odd mixture of severe sexual issues, ironically juxtaposed with anti-Islamic rhetoric which could get him dinged for extremism in Russia. In this particular Op-Edge, Gerrans rants about pedophilia, suggesting that the media is subtly trying to make it seem acceptable. Don’t laugh- he may have a point. Someone should find out what TV shows Putin has been watching:

putin-boy-kiss

Mainstream media! What have you done?! 

As I am not a student of psychology working on a doctoral thesis on repressed sexual issues, I decided to move on from Gerrans and continue searching for an Op-Edge that would take the Russian government to task for its lack of transparency and respect for civil rights and privacy.

I’m starting to get a bit desperate though. Hey! There’s an article about Julian Assange! Maybe this champion of transparency will…Oh…Wait…No. It’s just an article defending him.

Okay what else is there?

Let’s see…An Op-Edge by the legendary Robert Bridge! Let’s look at the description…

“With US military bases breeding faster than McDonald’s franchises, and 28-member NATO smashing up against Russia’s border…”

Actually US military bases have been closing and personnel are still being cut- right out of the gate this is literally the opposite of true. Shit. Well maybe there’s something here…

This headline says “Foreign investors are interested in connecting with Russia.” Wait a minute…I thought Putin is a bulwark against globalization and Russia doesn’t need foreign investors. Here’s a story about the dangers France faces from Islamic terrorism, but they still publish articles from Pepe Escobar, who said the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France were nothing but a false flag! Fuck! There must be something here! This is RT! The network that dares us to QUESTION MORE! After everything they said about the PATRIOT Act, Snowden, the NSA, and the FBI, there must be some article condemning Russia’s recent draconian anti-terrorism law! 

I scrolled down for several pages but couldn’t find anything even mentioning the anti-terrorism bill. You know, looking back, I noticed that I couldn’t find anything critical of the Russian government or its foreign policy at all. Virtually everything was about how unfair the world is to Russia, and how incompetent America is. This is kind of weird because in other international news outlets it’s not hard to find articles criticizing the policies and actions of their politicians, challenging their claims, and so on. Sure, some publications tend to lean toward one party or another, but in general all but the absolute rags will at least provide some diversity of opinion. There’s something…different about this channel.

You know, it’s almost like they don’t really believe in all that talk about transparency, civil rights, and privacy! It’s almost as if they flog Snowden not because they believe that governments using terrorism as a reason to spy on millions of innocent people is inherently bad, but rather because Snowden’s revelations indicted the US government.

No, I mustn’t give into such paranoid fantasies. I’m sure that RT’s near silence on this issue is just some horrible oversight, no doubt due to the budget cuts they’ve had to endure in 2015. I’m sure someone will get right on an Op-Edge taking Yarovaya and the whole Duma to task for passing such legislation. In fact, I bet they’ll have this article up so quickly that I can actually hold my breath while I wait for it. I think I’ll do that now.

 

 

 

Russia prepared to recognize upcoming Tatarstan referendum

Tatarstan_flag_Kazan

MOSCOW- Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Tuesday that his government was prepared to recognize an independent Tatar state in the event of a yes vote in that territory’s upcoming referendum. The referendum on independence was announced on Monday after armed men calling themselves the “People’s Liberation Army of Tatarstan” seized key government buildings and police arsenals in and around the regional capital of Kazan.

“Obviously we believe in self-determination and the preservation of language, which are two of the demands the rebels have mentioned,” Lavrov told reporters at a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“It would be ridiculous for us to support measures such as the referendum in the Crimea or the federalization of Ukraine while denying those same ideas in our own country,” the minister added.

The uprising in the Russian Federal subject of Tatarstan started one week ago in Kazan and quickly spread to other cities. Local Tatar TV stations showed videos of cossacks and Russian nationalists holding rallies in Moscow, claiming that they would soon be on the way to Tatarstan to “Russify” its institutions and population. In response, the Tatar-speaking population formed “self-defense” groups and started raiding police and military depots in the region. Some Russian sources have repeatedly alleged that Turkish special forces personnel have been arming and training the rebels, a claim which Ankara has repeatedly denied. Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that it was satisfied with Ankara’s explanation.

Tatar rebel in Kazan.

Tatar rebel in Kazan.

President Putin has yet to comment on the uprising, but Dmitry Peskov did field reporters’ questions at an impromptu press conference held on Monday.

When asked about the possibility of a Russian military campaign to put down the rebellion, Peskov called the idea “preposterous.”

“You must be confusing us with the Ukrainian government,” Peskov said. “We are not going to mount some kind of punitive military campaign against our own people even if they start an armed uprising with the help of foreign military forces and outside funding, all for the purposes of separating part of our country or at best, radically changing our constitution.”

Meanwhile in Kazan, the self-proclaimed “Khan” of the provisional government, Marat Abdullaev, announced that the referendum on independence would be held in three weeks.

“Soon we will make our voice known as one people,” Abdullaev told reporters while holding a Turkish license built G3 rifle. “We shall decide whether we wish to become a part of the Turkish Republic, or if we want full independence with the option of joining Turkey at a later date.”

Some sources have alleged that these are actually Turkish special forces troops rather than local militias. Both Ankara and Moscow agree that there are no Turkish troops in Tatarstan, and that the armed men in this photo bought their uniforms from local surplus stores.

Some sources have alleged that these are actually Turkish special forces troops rather than local militias. Both Ankara and Moscow agree that there are no Turkish troops in Tatarstan, and that the armed men in this photo bought their uniforms from local surplus stores.

Meanwhile spokespeople from the US State Department could not be reached for comment, but a receptionist told our correspondent that upon hearing the news numerous US diplomatic officials began drinking heavily, having “existential crises,” and “generally questioning the very concept of reality itself.”

When asked to comment on the State Department’s strange response to Russia’s reaction, Lavrov told reporters that he was surprised by it.

“What is so strange about our response to this crisis in Kazan? It’s almost as if they are shocked that Russia’s position could be so consistent, and I find that personally offensive.”

What it’s all about

This morning I awoke to find this link which purports to map out foreign properties owned by Russian politicians and other various government officials. The major bodies are the two houses of the Russian parliament, i.e. the Council of the Federation and the State Duma, the government of the Russian Federation, and various government organs from Russian cities, municipalities, regions, and federal subjects throughout the Russian Federation.

While I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the map, made using Yandex’s map feature, it is supposedly based on the public declarations which Russian bureaucrats and officials are required to make public by law. I might also point out that in spire of that law, Russian anti-corruption bloggers have often found examples of politicians owning undeclared property, or the property is improperly declared to conceal its real value.Lastly, the distribution of property(the numbers on each arrow denote the number of properties found within a certain area) certainly fits information provided from countless media sources for many years, and I’ve never seen anyone in the Russian government make a serious attempt at denying the very passionate love Russian politicians have for owning property abroad. Typically any denials are merely on an individual level.

Assuming the map is accurate, a few key points jump out at us.

-Note that the further West you go, the more properties you see. There are comparatively fewer properties in Russia’s “Slavic brother nations,” save for maybe Montenegro and Bulgaria, the NATO an EU member. Speaking of Slavic brothers, note that Serbia seems to be devoid of Russian vacation homes.

-Italy appears to be very popular with Russian politicians. Italy also has serious problems with corruption. I guess it makes an ideal home away from home for some people.

-France’s refusal to hand over the Mistral carriers Russia ordered hasn’t led those politicians owning property in that country to engage in “counter-sanctions” by pulling their investment.

-As pro-government conspiracy theorists tell us, the United Kingdom is a major player in the dastardly Anglo-Saxon plot to subdue Russia. Luckily, Russian politicians have been working tirelessly for years to get to the bottom of this sinister plot. This might explain why they own so much property in the UK. To understand the enemy, you must live among them, spend your money in their restaurants, hotels, clubs, auto dealerships, etc. I’m pretty sure Sun Tzu wrote that. Of course it’s not just Russian politicians moonlighting as spies in the second capital of the evil Atlantic empire. In order to plunge the depths of Britain’s arcane knowledge, they send their children to the UK to study at their universities, thus giving them a perfect cover story while they gain access to libraries and archives. Here, these young spies do far more service to their country than by say, you know, fulfilling their mandatory military service requirements.

-It is unfortunate that the map doesn’t include property in the US. It’s probably not as extensive, but it exists. Russian politicians are just as apt to send their kids to study in the US as well. That is America’s real nuclear deterrent. Americans never have to worry about Russia turning the US into “radioactive ash” because this would essentially mean Russian leaders nuking their own children.

-In general, note how much property is in Western and Central Europe, the place which many Russian politicians constantly demonize as degenerate, decaying, and devoid of moral values. Russia’s “patriots” love “Gayropa,” as they call it. So much so that they’ll skim money out of the budget just to buy property there. I guess that really leaves you with two possible conclusions. Either all this talk about “degenerate, amoral Europe” is just empty bullshit for the non-thinking demographic and they know it, or they actually do believe it, but they are really, really gay. Personally I’d go with the former, though I suppose we cannot entirely dismiss the so-called “down-low hypothesis,” first developed by analysts at Stratfor.*

In conclusion, I’m including this as a sort of reminder. You often hear Russian politicians, from Putin on down, talking about Russia’s “independent foreign policy,” and of course the classic, “Muh sovereignty!” They want you to think that America has captured all these nations and is driving them to exert pressure on Russia so that the state will collapse, thus opening the road to a puppet regime that transform the country into an American-dominated banana republic. You know, just like Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, or Norway. Of course Russia’s leaders know that the only way to prevent this is for them to turn Russia into a banana republic themselves, and thus, in time, ruin the country to the point where it is no longer enticing to the American imperialists. At least I think that’s the plan. It certainly looks that way.

Seriously speaking, of course the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies have nothing to do with sovereignty of preserving the well-being of their people via state control over major industries. It has everything to do with what you see in that map, regardless of how accurate it may be. As I’ve said dozens of times before, the formula is simple. These people don’t want to be held accountable to their own citizens. They don’t feel they need to be. There’s the cattle, and then there’s the elite, and they are the elite. They see themselves as being “true” Europeans, in spite of how poorly they understand that continent. Being held accountable and not being allowed to steal will put them on the level of the common Russian citizen. There they will have to struggle, and many of them lack the talent to succeed in a normal market economy. Thus they rely on their connections.

So once again, when you hear anyone, be it Putin or an ideologue like Markov babbling on about defending Russia’s sovereignty or how the West wants to make Russia submit, simply remember that the only people humiliating Russia are the thieving class which has subjugated it. The only thing you should hear is “I want to steal. I don’t want to be held accountable. I want to keep stealing.” Sovereignty in this case refers only to other countries turning a blind eye to this activity.

*Not really.

Frankenstein’s monster

A couple hours ago I read that Francois Hollande has called for an end to the sanctions against Russia.  The reaction from some quarters was predictable. The Russian press will be overjoyed at the idea of the sanctions being removed, as this would prove that they don’t work. Then again, the same people also say that they spit on the sanctions, and that it doesn’t matter whether or not they are removed. Never mind them, for a moment. They’ll still be doing their mental gymnastics if we leave them alone for a bit. I’m more concerned with the reaction of the anti-Moscow pundits.

No doubt this will soon be portrayed as betrayal and appeasement. Somebody’s going to make a reference to Nevillle Chamberlain, I guarantee it. These will be some of the same people who warned us about all the influence Russia had bought up in the West in places Berlin and especially London. Russian money was the fifth column of Europe, so to speak.

Personally I can stand these narratives, which absolve the US and European governments of all responsibility. Their only failing was that they were too naive and trusting. Any attempt to point out a causal relationship between Putin’s current behavior and the tolerance shown to him especially by European governments will be labeled “whataboutist.” They will throw out accusations of “moral equivalency,” no doubt.

Well I’m terribly sorry but this radical leftist is going to keep saying “I told you so.” What Putin and his cronies learned over the course of 15 years, is that the neoliberal system is ripe for gaming. Western nations, especially the US in this case, declared the market supreme. Of course the long history of capitalism has taught us nothing it hasn’t taught us that the market is indifferent to things like human rights and democracy.  Everyone’s money is good in the market, and Russia’s leaders accumulated a ton of it thanks to high oil prices.

Essentially, Putin’s Russia today is a product of the neo-liberal triumphalism of the post-Soviet era. It began with the utter lack of concern Western powers showed over the fate of Russia in the 90’s- their lack of criticism over the crushing of protesters with tanks and armed troops in 1993. These people were supposed to embrace democratic values, yet nobody made any concerted effort to explain what those values were supposed to mean, or to make sure those who espoused these ideas knew what they were talking about. The most important human right, the one that mattered more than any other, was the right of private property and the profit derived from it. Nobody cared who got fleeced, only that there was money to be made.

After that, it continued with the acceptance of dirty money coming out of Russia, and the welcoming embrace of the first round of oligarchs.The very same men who made Putin possible were lauded as human rights crusaders living in exile. In the same period, Putin watched and learned many lessons from the US’ war on Iraq. He learned that when you’re powerful enough, you can impose your will as far as your army can reach. He learned that it was alright to take actions and declare whether or not they should be seen as setting a precedent or not. He learned that you could just make some flimsy excuse about protecting people to justify a war.

None of this absolves Putin and his circle of their responsibility for their actions, but any pundit, journalist, or intellectual who does not take into account all these enabling acts is engaging in rank hypocrisy and dishonesty. If Western nations don’t want whataboutist arguments and propaganda thrown in their face, they need to form a far more principled foreign policy, and this goes doubly so for the US. Putin’s cynical worldview draws its lifeblood from the failures of democratic regimes. If these regimes do nothing to improve their behavior, they have nobody to blame but themselves when they unleash monsters. Mistakes happen, but they need to be corrected. It’s called accountability.