The two big stories gripping the Russia blogs this week are the fallout from the savage beating of journalist Oleg Kashin, and the Russian spies in the US story.
But, before I get to either, I’ll direct you to this excellent explanation of the Collapse of the USSR by the Kremlin Stooge. In his own words,
“this is a bit like taking the degree program in about a half-hour. It would probably be a bit of an exaggeration to say that it negates the advantage of a college degree; however, it’s a priceless insight into the initial stumbles that brought down a juggernaut.”
I’m sitting here re-reading his post with a fine whisky in hand. It might sound pretentious, but I highly recommend you do the same. Quality stuff.
Back to Kashin. Everyone has an opinion on his brutal assault, but none are better expressed than this from Poemless.
“Ok, so I read on facebook or twitter about the attack that night. My first reaction was, “That Kashin? Why would anyone wanna kill Kashin?! Vladimir Putin, you are a horrible person! Sick!” Then, “maybe he owed someone money…” Then, “god, I feel terrible about hating him for spamming -I mean, really spamming- my twitter feed. After all, he has great taste in music; he must be a decent fellow, with just a whole lot of time on his hands, but how is that even possible? He’s prolific, everywhere. Maybe he had a twitter bot. I’m going to check his feed… OMG! Silence! … omg. he’s really been attacked. a real live human being. fuck. fuckfuckfuckfuck…” “
Other comments on the Kashin beating include:
- “And punished Kashin was” is Sean’s take on the affair, and it earned him a good yelling from Poemless. He then went on to describe Kashin as a martyr for all seasons.
- Julia Ioffe gives two roundups of events. The first containing the CCTV video of the beating, and the second which notes that “the story arc — at first full of an uncharacteristic empathy and unity, even on the part of the authorities — has plumb-lined straight into the ground.”
- Other articles worth a read include: Natalia Antonova at Global Comment who says its a reminder of a twisted norm and Mikhail Zakharov at Open Democracy who thinks assaults like this come about when “some high-ranking official says ‘I’ve had enough of that (insert appropriate surname here)’, and some rather dimwitted agent or subordinate takes this as an order from on high to act.”
The Russian spies arrested in the US story (more commonly known as the Anna Chapman affair) received a boost this week after it was revealed that the spies had been turned in by Colonel Shcherbakov, a double agent from the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, and a Kremlin official hinted that an assassin had been sent after him.
- The Power Vertical, Robert Amsterdam and In Moscow’s Shadows wonder if the whole affair will be used by the FSB as an excuse to swallow up the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service)
- In response to the allegation that Shcherbakov had relatives in the US, making him suspect, Russian Front points out that pretty much everyone with any kind of status in Russia has relatives abroad somewhere.
- And finally, Russia Blog, who have been posting much more regularly recently, come up with what is possibly the daftest statement of the obvious I’ve read in quite a while – “Sorry, but the Kremlin is not allowed to have people in the US killed. That would change this whole spy farce into something much more consequential.”
- Anna Chapman also did her best to keep the story in the public eye by posing in the Russian Maxim magazine wearing some very skimpy underwear as “Agent 60-90-60”. Russia Blog were disappointed in Anna.
In other blog posts
- “A new leader comes to the Kremlin in a time of chaos, replacing a bumbling and erratic predecessor. He loves to hunt and drive fast cars. He ushers in an era of stability and relative prosperity, thanks largely to high oil prices. People see the first decade or so of his rule as a golden age.” Who are the Power Vertical talking about? Why, Leonid Brezhnev, of course.
- A Good Treaty considers the PR thinking behind Medvedev’s decision to veto legislation this week that would have made protesting more difficult. I was mainly amused by how it threw the Russian opposition into a spin – I mean, if you’re a protester who believes the President is trying to suppress free speech, just how do you react to a President who seems to protect the right to protest?
- Gordon M Hahn argues that Medvedev and Putin see the decision to appoint a new Moscow mayor as an opportunity “to begin opening up the public sphere and reduce tensions with the democratic opposition.”
- The Kremlin Stooge must’ve been really bored this week – he’s spent a whole post ripping into La Russophobe. “Will the Real Russian Foreign Policy Please Stand Up?”, he asks. At the time of writing there were 70 follow up comments to read, if you dare.
- Dividing My Time celebrates its first birthday along with the news that November 10th was Russian Policemen Day. Not to mention that this Friday was Sberbank Workers Day! Hurrah!
- Robert Amsterdam considers the argument that Brazil’s “President Lula is seeking to emulate the Russian model of circumvention around term limits by installing a puppet“. Wouldn’t be the first time that Russia has exported a political system, I suppose…
- Which leads me nicely onto this post from Russia Blog, which wonders if Ukraine’s President Yanukovich is adopting the Putin model of governance.
- A couple of news snippets from Russian Marketer – the mail.ru IPO went spectacularly well, raising almost a billion dollars for a 30% stake, and the first companies are being fined for using English words in their Russian adverts.
- Mat Rodina explains why Russia should Just Say No to the WTO!
- After Russian State TV broadcasts a parody of the Ukrainian President on the same day as Ukraine’s local elections, Jamestown Blog writes about whether it’s a Kremlin conspiracy.
- If you’re after a straight roundup of the news, check out Patrick Armstrong’s always reliable Russian Federation Weekly Sitrep.
- Yelena explains the Russian Days of the Week.
Well, that’s it. My glass of whisky has run dry, so I’ll leave you with this video, found courtesy of Birdbrain which chronicles 10 centuries of European history in five minutes. As she says, “Notice the size of Russia throughout. I love how it’s always been so… huge.”