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Tag: Putin

RT is not TV. It is Russia today.

Monday, 3 March, 2014 0 Comments

Early in his presidency, the ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin took control of Russian television, forcing out the media magnates Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky, taking over their channels and creating a climate of fear and sycophancy in which his actions are always praised and never criticized. He is now attempting to do the same in a global fashion with a propaganda platform called RT, the abbreviation of Russia Today.

“Our team of young news professionals has made RT the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark,” declares the Russia Today YouTube arm. Adding, “RT news covers the major issues of our time for viewers wishing to question more.” But “more” what? Well, RT specializes in presenting “truther” interpretations of the 9/11 terror attacks and it even ran a lengthy exploration called “911 reasons why 9/11 was (probably) an inside job”. Today, it is broadcasting bare-faced lies such as “675,000 Ukrainians pour into Russia as ‘humanitarian crisis’ looms” and “Tea, sandwiches, music, photos with self-defense forces mark peaceful Sunday in Simferopol.”

Having achieved absolute power within Russia, Putin has negated all hopes of making it a civil society, and he seems determined to reduce his neighbours to the same grim level. With the help of RT, he also wants to convince the world that every country is just as awful as Russia today.


He was greatly interested in armies and fleets

Sunday, 2 March, 2014 0 Comments

The word “tyrant” came to the late Middle English from the Old French tyrannie, which had its origins in the late Latin tyrannia, derived from the Latin tyrannus, via the Greek turannos, meaning “monarch, ruler of a polis”. According to Senator John McCain, Vladimir Putin is “a tyrant at home, a friend of tyrants abroad.” […]

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BHL: The bloodied Games of Putin the Terrible

Friday, 21 February, 2014 0 Comments

“For those who care about democracy, can we, by pulling out of Sochi — or at least by boycotting the closing ceremony on Sunday — ensure that the XXII Winter Olympics will not go down in history as the Games that were the shame and defeat of Europe?” Bernard-Henri Lévy

That’s the plea of Bernard-Henri Lévy, often referred to simply as BHL, the French intellectual and author. Il faut quitter Sotchi! is how he put in Le Monde. In the translated version, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, he pointed the finger at the Russian President: “At these Games, where the flame symbolizing the Olympic ideal has been purloined by a thug, when the winning athletes playfully bite their medals, this time will not the gold, silver and bronze have the metallic taste of blood?” And then he hammers the nail home:

“Do you not see the absurdity — not to say the obscenity — of pretending to believe, up to the last minute of the last day of this ruined Olympiad, that there might be two Putins: Putin the Terrible, who earlier this week issued $2 billion to prop up the regime of his valet Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who then unleashed his forces on the Maidan protesters; and the other Putin, strutting across the stage and through the stands, greeting you with the munificence due those who used to be called the gods of the stadium?”

Talking of Yanukovych, why is the Kremlin propping him up? Simple. If he were to fall, the risk of contagion would reach Russia and its power base would be vulnerable. In Putin’s eyes, the Ukraine is Russia’s barricade against the West. From the perspective of the West, however, and Poland, in particular, a pro-Western Ukraine is a vital cordon sanitaire against an increasingly belligerent Russia. Paweł Świeboda, the president of demosEUROPA, a Warsaw-based think tank, used the conciseness of Twitter to put it all in perspective:

When the Sochi Winter Games end, the Great Game for the future of Eastern Europe will fill the gap in the TV schedules. The West would be well advised not to bring a baguette to this knife fight.


Canadians and Putin: Craven and Courageous

Tuesday, 18 February, 2014 0 Comments

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, visited Team Canada House at the Olympic Park in Sochi at the weekend and was “treated like a rock star”, writes Sharon Terlep in the Wall Street Journal. Her report is graced with a photo of Putin being embraced in a bear hug by the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Marcel Aubut.

That’s the craven Canadian bit. For Canadian courage, here’s Cathal Kelly, sports columnist with the Toronto Star newspaper. Snippet:

When Putin showed up at Canada House on Friday, it was a frenzy. He stood up on a small stage, modeling his own wax statue. The Canadians on hand treated him like Jesus returned.

For one terrible moment, it seemed as if COC boss Marcel Aubut might embrace the tyrant.

“I want to tell you how much we appreciate what Russia is offering…. great Games. Probably the best ever,” Aubut gushes.

Wait. What?

It is one thing to be polite. It is another to pawing the guy who has his foreign enemies radioactively poisoned.

Those on hand, their voices peaking like groupies, rushed forward for selfies. Putin’s expression does not change. He is not after love. He wants tribute. Canada is happy to provide.

Kelly’s report is titled “Canada’s swooning over Putin the tyrant all too common sight at these Games” and what makes it particularly readable is the way in which the writer places the global and the local in context. Seeing Putin in action has helped Kelly better understand the controversial, aberrant Toronto Mayor Rob Ford but, says Kelly: “Where Ford is feckless, Putin is purposeful. Where Ford is bumptious, Putin is regal. And where Ford is kind of a knob, Putin is full-on evil… Even though the average Canadian here has no idea what Putin is really about, they instinctively sense it — the combination of power and malice.”

Marcel Aubut is the craven Canadian who embraced evil. Cathal Kelly is the courageous Canadian who named it.

Putin


Fack ju EU

Monday, 10 February, 2014 0 Comments

The comedy Fack ju Göthe premiered on 29 October in Munich and by the end of 2013 it had become the first film in six years to sell more than five million tickets in German cinemas. It’s about an ex-con forced to take a job teaching at a school located over the spot where money from a robbery is stashed so that he can dig up the cash. What’s made the film such a hit is the language. Ostensibly, it is the language of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but it’s actually American Hip-Hop that’s been remixed with German by immigrants from Turkey, the Maghreb, Russia and the Balkans. The result is a pidgin that allows its speakers communicate by dropping articles, mashing up prepositions and disregarding the genitive, the dative and the conjunctive. And central to it all is the word “fuck”, or “fack” as it’s enunciated by those who find \'fək\ difficult to pronounce.

The word was in the mouths of Germans again at the weekend, but this time the establishment was voicing it, thanks to Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State whose F-bomb was secretly recorded and dropped on YouTube (apparently by the Russians). The impact was felt from Berlin to Brussels.

Fack ju EU

Although Ms Nuland could have been more subtle, her analysis is fundamentally correct. This was proved in another Russian-recorded conversation, this time between Helga Schmid, a representative of EU High Commissioner Catherine Ashton, and Jan Tombinski, the EU Ambassador in Ukraine. Snippet:

Helga Schmid: “I just wanted to tell you one more thing in confidence. The Americans are going around and saying we’re too soft, while they’re moving more firmly toward sanctions. […] Well, we’re not soft! We’re about to issue a very strongly worded statement about Bulatov!”

When was the last time that Putin lost sleep because of “a very strongly worded statement”? No wonder Nuland is so contemptuous of these people. Putin has no intention of going down in history as the Russian tyrant who lost the Ukraine and he’s not going to let statement typists stop him, either. He knows that the US and the EU have more power than the Russian Federation does, but he also knows that they don’t have a joint approach to Ukraine. Brussels and Berlin prefer to busy themselves drafting “strongly worded statements” and, as with Syria, the Obama administration keeps sending out signals that confirm Putin in his belief that he can bully the Ukraine without paying a price.

Fack ju EU, indeed. But it’s not just Victoria Nuland who’s saying it.

This just in: Switzerland goes there. It’s said Fack ju EU, too.

Denglisch


The Tyrant Games

Sunday, 9 February, 2014 0 Comments

The Olympic Games have a long and ignominious history as a glossy brochure for evil regimes, from the Nazi Games in Berlin in 1936 to the Communist Games in Moscow in 1980. Now, we have the Putin Winter Games in Sochi, an enormously expensive show that’s an ideal metaphor for the current Russian regime: corrupt, […]

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The Genghis Khan way: Russia’s neo-imperialism

Wednesday, 22 January, 2014 0 Comments

On Monday, in a Neue Zürcher Zeitung article titled “The Third Empire,” Ulrich Schmid looked at how the Russian culture scene is being exploited by Putin’s authoritarian state for its imperialistic propaganda goals. “Largely unnoticed by the world press, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was awarded the ‘Imperial Culture’ prize in January 2012 for his ‘resistance to Western expansion’. The patrons of the honour were the Russian writer’s guild, the Russian literature foundation and several Orthodox organizations.”

Schmid notes as well that the steppes of Russian cinema have been experiencing something of a Mongolian invasion of late. Films such as Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan (2007), The Secret of Genghis Khan (2009) and The Horde (2012) have been big hits. All of them portray the image of strong ruler who created a gigantic empire thanks to his unconditional demand for discipline. The not-so-subtle message is that Mongolian harshness and the Russian capacity to endure suffering are the perfect platform for empire building. This interpretation of history, writes Schmid, hews close to the ideology of Eurasianism. Seen through that prism, the Western model of the market economy plus representative democracy appears alien to a Russia that was, in parts, dominated by the Mongols for more than 300 years. Eurasianism claims that Russian culture is different its European counterpart due to this Asian impact and that Russia, therefore, must follow a separate path. The popular enthusiasm for all things Mongol plays into Putin’s hands as he’d like to create a Eurasian Union, which in terms of economic power and political weight, would act as a counterbalance to the European Union.

He’s got big dreams, that Vlad.

The Horde


Snowden deserves life in Russia

Monday, 20 January, 2014 1 Comment

For an entire swathe of useful idiots, Edward Snowden is a hero. In fact, however, he’s a thief. password Worse still, he’s a traitor. In an eye-opening account of Snowden’s amorality, Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball of Reuters reported that he gained access to his cache of documents by persuading some 25 of his fellow employees to give him their logins and passwords, saying he needed the information to help him do his job as systems administrator. Most of these colleagues were subsequently fired. It should be noted also that Snowden signed an oath, as a condition of his employment as an NSA contractor, not to disclose classified information, and he was well aware of the penalties for violating that oath. But he stole an estimated 1.7 million documents, anyway.

Then there’s Snowden’s admiration for the enemies of freedom, which became public in a statement he made in Moscow last July, soon after Vladimir Putin granted him asylum. He thanked the countries that had offered him support. “These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, have my gratitude and respect,” he declared, “for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful.” Earlier, Snowden had said that he sought refuge in Hong Kong because of its “spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.”

The man is either naïve or evil. Take your pick.

On Friday, President Obama limited Snowden to two mentions in a more than 5,000 word speech as he criticized his “unauthorised disclosures.” There was no suggestion of clemency, and there will be none. “It may seem sometimes that America is being held to a different standard, and the readiness of some to assume the worst motives by our government can be frustrating,” said President Obama. “No one expects China to have an open debate about their surveillance programs, or Russia to take the privacy concerns of citizens into account.”

Edward Snowden has sentenced himself to life in Russia, which is ruled by an unpleasantly authoritarian regime. He deserves his fate.

This just in: “The heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees suggested on Sunday that Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, may have been working for Russian spy services while he was employed at an agency facility in Hawaii last year and before he disclosed hundreds of thousands of classified government documents.” The New York Times

Note: It’s telling that Snowden has not released any documents detailing the cyber-operations of Russia or China, even though he must have had access to the NSA’s reports on the hundreds or thousands of hacking campaigns that they have carried out over the years.


What the Time ‘POY’ award tells us about Time

Thursday, 12 December, 2013 0 Comments

Time magazine began its tradition of selecting a “Man of the Year” in 1927, when the honour was conferred on Charles Lindbergh. In 1999, the title was changed to “Person of the Year” and the winner was Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Today, lots of publications copycat the Time idea and just as dog-owners are often said to resemble their pets, the awardees usually mirror the prejudices of those doing the awarding. No wonder, then, that Edward Snowden was voted Guardian person of the year 2013 and no surprise, either, that its German ideological replica, Der Spiegel, followed suit.

Mercifully, Time bypassed the data thief currently residing in Russia, and, instead, it picked Pope Francis. But the award is not quite the occasion for joy that it might appear to be as Freddy Gray points out in The Spectator in a post titled “Why Time’s Person of the Year should be Pope… Benedict”:

“It was telling that, in their blurb about the nominees, Time announced that ‘the first Jesuit Pontiff won hearts and minds with his common touch and rejection of church dogma’. Of course Pope Francis has not rejected Church dogma at all. Time were quick to correct themselves, yet their mistake revealed again the liberal bias against Catholicism: Catholics are only praised if they are seen to rebel against their Church. This attitude makes Catholics distinctly uneasy. It can only be a matter of time before the journalists who now laud Francis turn on him. They will say he has disappointed them when he does not embrace all gay rights, condoms, and women popes.”

We should be grateful that the Time award did not go to Assad, Putin or Snowden, but we should be wary of its dogma. After all, it resembles its owners and they’re no friends of the legacy Francis represents.

Time Person of the Year


The bureaucratic birthday Nobel Peace Prize

Tuesday, 10 December, 2013 0 Comments

They’re handing out the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today. According to the instructions in Alfred Nobel’s will, the recipient is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five-member body appointed by the Parliament of Norway, and over the years it has displayed its fondness for similar officialdoms. Peace An outfit called the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, headquartered in The Hague, is this year’s recipient. Just 185km down the road in the Flemish region of Belgium lies Ghent and back in 1904 the prize went to the Institut de droit international, which was founded there and today maintains an infrequently updated website.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, a somewhat sombre group, seems to have a weakness for bureaucratic birthdays. The 1917 prize was given to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was similarly rewarded in 1946, and again in 1963, the year that happened to be the centennial of its founding. In 1969, the Committee gave its prize to the International Labour Organization, which was celebrating its 70th birthday, and when the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was having its 30th birthday party, it got the gong from Oslo. And then, the ultimate love in, the Nobel Peace Prize celebrated a century of its existence by awarding the 2001 honour to the United Nations and Kofi Annan.

Next up? In 2016, Unicef will be 70; in 2020, Terre des Hommes will be 60; in 2021, Amnesty International will be 60 as well, and in 2022, Vladimir Putin, the protector of Edward Snowden, will be 70.


Kasparov checkmates Putin pawn Snowden

Friday, 4 October, 2013 0 Comments

It’s heartening to see that the grandmaster Garry Kasparov has more than 50,000 “likes” on Facebook. Not surprising, though, when one considers the quality of his posts. Take the 1 October one about the repulsive fact that the leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden has been shortlisted for the Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament. As Kasparov points out: “…his providing cover to the Putin regime should disqualify him from any award bearing the name of the great Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.” And for the useful idiots in Brussels and across the West in denial about Putin’s police state, Kasparov adds: “The next day, the Russian Communication Minister announced that the Russian FSB (KGB) can listen to ANY conversation, read any email or text or any other form of communication with no warrant or special permission. I imagine Snowden will have some strong comments about this!” Doubt it. Pawns don’t speak.

https://www.facebook.com/GKKasparov/posts/10151918633533307

Note: The word “pawn” is often used to mean “one who is sacrificed for a larger purpose”. Because the pawn is the weakest piece on the chess board, it is often used metaphorically to indicate outright disposability: “He’s only a pawn in the game.”