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Hoooooo, boy, has it been an interesting week or two on this front.  For those of you new to this story, I've been following the recent policies in Russia to stifle its LGBT community (see here for a quick primer) and a few new shoes dropped this week, including condemnation from Europe and doubling-down in the most ludicrous way by one of the nation's most notorious theocrats.  

As an added bonus, we get to discuss one of the silliest court rulings imaginable, on whether children's toys have a legal right to protest.   You read that right.

Умом Россию не понять...

First, the proposed legislation to fine people for being gay anywhere where children may be present (!) has been chalking up new successes wherever it's been introduced.  Led by the Orthodox Church's right hand bigot Vitaly Milonov, St. Petersburg is preparing for final passage of the text, after concerns over ambiguity briefly derailed the process.  Domestic activists have been working overtime and facing hostility on just about every front.  Maybe you heard about the Aeroflot flight attendant who was forced to marry a woman in order to keep his job?  

The European Parliament wants Russia to know it is not amused.  In a resolution passed last week, the parliament addressed the proposed anti-LGBT policies as part of a larger complaint about Russia's reaction to its pro-democracy protests.  Here's the relevant clause:

15. Strongly condemns the adoption by the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg of a law against propaganda on sexual orientation; equally condemns similar laws adopted in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions; calls on all Russian authorities to stop restricting freedom of expression in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity, in line with the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; calls on the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative to convey the European Union’s opposition to these laws;
I particularly liked this statement by Sophie in ‘t Veld, the Intergroup on LGBT Rights Co-president: "Tchaikovsky and Constantinovich must be rolling over in their graves. Such laws are simply unacceptable."   (To which we could also add a long list of both famous and less widely-known but significant figures like Diaghilev, Nijinsky, Chicherin, Kuzmin, Parnok, Klyuev, and trust me, I can go on all day.  Russia's LGBT history runs richly and deeply.)

In addition it seems our State Department has been working behind the scenes on this issue, too.  The ambassador to OSCE released the following statement, which is light on specifics but suggests that there are some backroom discussions going on.   We'll see how this plays out: Russia is not Uganda and doesn't rely on anything from the U.S, and in fact takes pleasure in sticking it to Western diplomacy.  I should also note that foreign criticism against Russia's policies isn't just coming from on high: last week protesters gathered at the embassy in Berlin to chant their opposition to Russia's hard anti-LGBT turn.

The new twist in the lead-up to the finalizing of St. Petersburg's anti-LGBT law are letters that have been circulated from mothers with gay children.  I'll translate portions from one of them so you can get the flavor of how these letters are framed:

We have an excellent relationship with our son. He has many friends, he was a good student. Those close to us understand and accept him. And everything would be great for him, if you were not taking up these laws against his inner nature and offending him (like all of the LGBT community), by putting it on a par with such a terrible phenomenon as pedophilia. I have no medical or psychological education, but even I can tell you the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. Is it really that hard to understand?! Homosexuals do not hurt anyone either physically or mentally. These are independent adults who are building lives with other independent adults.

You say that you want to protect children. But you seem to have forgotten that we all come from childhood. What do you do with homosexual children and adolescents (my son knew who he was since he was 8 years old), when they hear our legislators on the news saying that this is a perversion and it should stop? Who will protect and support these children (would you say that they are second-class citizens and society doesn't give a damn about them)? ... If in a homophobic society (which legislators like you create) gays are humiliated, beaten, killed, or they commit suicide, then the lives of their family and friends who are heterosexual (for you, apparently, this is extremely important characteristic of a person) are destroyed, too. So who do you end up protecting?

I've heard that you are very religious man. I myself believe in God. I know that the Lord has created everyone, and to say that some of these people are faulty means to criticize his work. I think it's clear you have no such authority to do so. And likewise true believers understand that God is love. And you are breeding hatred in society and in the soul. ...

This is not a letter from some fanatical LGBT activist.  This is from a heterosexual, God-fearing woman who just wishes for her son and other people like him to have happiness and understanding. ...

Please stop, analyze the situation and leave aside this dangerous path along which you're leading our society. There's still a chance to avoid passing this abusive, unstudied law, whose absurd name I do not wish to repeat.

My son is gay. I do not rejoice in this. I rejoice that he is a talented, intelligent and bright person. And these are all as much components of his personality as his sexual orientation. Am I proud of the fact that he is gay? No, because, in my opinion, to be proud of this would be like being proud of the fact that he has dark hair, or that he is right handed. But I am immensely proud that my son his own man, does not live according to other people's opinions and dogmas, and pursues his own path. And no bill will ever change my views and opinions of thousands of other parents.

It's a passionate, detailed letter, and it ends with a request that she be allowed to testify at the upcoming reading of the odious law.  Naturally such request was denied, but that's not enough for our crazy theocratic friend: he's issued one helluva statement in response.

Milonov's comments are, even by his standards, awesomely audacious.  He not only accuses the letter(s) of forgeries by the gays ("I don't think these were mothers"), but that even if the letters are legitimate, they're a sign of bad parenting that a mother would expose her child to disease, suicide, etc. instead of correcting his behavior.  He uses the word "tragedy".

How over the line is this?  Even our old friends RT, who in the past have gleefully echoed the Kremlin's claims that Russia's LGBT movement is a product of Western imperialism, seem to be taken back by the legislation.  For the first time they're expressing some skepticism about the law and about Milonov's wild accusations.  I find this a happy surprise, and I hope that their newfound skepticism leaks into other areas of their reportage, too.

Speaking of which...

It wouldn't be a discussion of Russian law without a foray into the truly absurd, so as promised, we have the year's most ridiculous judicial decision, straight from the Siberian town of Barnaul.

If you've followed my previous diaries on the pro-democracy protests (here and here), you know that Russians all over the country have been gathering, sometimes at great risk, to protest an election so clearly rigged it was more or less decided before a single vote was cast.  Activists in Barnaul came up with the most adorable way to channel their anger, by lining up toys with mini-placards not unlike those we saw in the human protests elsewhere.  Cute, news-worthy, effective - hats off to the people of Barnaul.

But not so fast!  The local police were worried that such a protest might not meet legal muster because the toys did not have permission to assemble on city property.  So they challenged the toys' legal jurisdiction, and the judge a city official came down with this decision:

Neither toys nor, for example, flags, plates or domestic appliances can take part in a meeting.
Talk about judicial activism!  No one had challenged the rights of domestic appliances, but this judge decides to extend the ban to different categories of inanimate objects, just to stick it to Putin's non-sentient detractors.  

Fortunately the people of Barnaul have a wicked sense of humor:

One possibility, said the activist Sergei Andreev, is a solitary picket, which is allowed to take place without permission from local authorities under Russian law.

"We will stand up one [toy] and the rest will sit on a bench not far away," said Andreev.

Fucking brilliant.

Originally posted to De hominis dignitate on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 03:43 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Missing object in first sentence... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico, GussieFN, annieli, mookins, pfiore8

    ...after squiggle?

  •  I love Russia to death. So much so I mastered the (12+ / 0-)

    language, and I've visited there five times.

    It's a difficult place to understand, because homophobia there isn't being driven by religion whatsoever.  Furthest thing from their minds - if the Soviet revolution accomplished anything, it would be a skepticism of organized religion.

    Sure, the Orthodoxy is mounting a stand against it, because that's what the clergy does everywhere.  But it's not like it is here - the people aren't lining up behind them.

    And we think of Russia as being like Europe, and while it is in many ways, it's not nearly as liberal as, say, the Netherlands or Austria, for instance.  A Democracy, yes.  Barely.  But a decidedly conservative one by European standards.

    “Are you calling the Koch brothers during the recess?” - Henry Waxman

    by thenekkidtruth on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 03:51:04 PM PST

    •  It's kind of a coalition thing: (9+ / 0-)

      The Moscow patriarchate has close ties with United Russia, and they've been publishing some really loathsome editorials lately (I translated part of one in my previous diaries, but if you can read the original, it's just agonizing.)  

      Shuvalov in particular has been touting United Russia's Orthodox credentials.  

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 03:56:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  5 times, my goodness! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tennessee Dave, pico, Nulwee

      I was there 6 times for a job I had. So no problems with visas, travel, etc. Like you, I love the place. I was last there in 2005. It's a great place if the people you meet like you. Otherwise, it can be kind of a difficult place to be.

      Moderation in most things.

      by billmosby on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 05:08:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's kind of a Mother Russia-Aryan-machismo thing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico

      I've been to Russia a few times as well, have friends there, etc.  I have a connection to Russia by way of Kazakhstan, where I have fairly deep connections (and have done some nerd seminars and such in Russia and Ukraine in their own right).

      Anyways, this struggle doesn't surprise me in the least.  A lot of Russians I meet, particularly men (although to be sure, not exclusively men at all) have a real contempt-by-way-of-bewilderment at LGBT personhood elevation, and seem to view it with a cynical sort of amusement as a non-Russian western (particularly American) invention.  Sort of a holdover of disdain for the western bourgeois....dunno.  The diarist touches on this, I know:

      Even our old friends RT, who in the past have gleefully echoed the Kremlin's claims that Russia's LGBT movement is a product of Western imperialism
      Just saw a bit of RT last week, btw, and was reminded of just what a media tool it is.  Didn't run into this.

      It pales though, unfortunately, to the typical mistrust and contempt I've encountered in Russians at Americans and Europeans or...well, anybody of original African descent.  The sort of embrace of the Aryan of Mother Russian origin goes back centuries, of course, and nobody in the West, certainly not America, can dodge not having had racism, antisemitism, anti-Catholicism, etc. etc. as a major and ugly pattern of their history.  But to the extent that the west and USA are coming around in the last 25, 50 years or so, that just seems to have left Russians behind on their acceptance of people of black skin based on my observations.  

      They've mostly reconciled themselves to Jews (hello?! having a good portion of the Russian intellectual and artistic heritage of Russia having been Jewish...), but without diving into other points, boy oh boy do a lot of Russian folks (trying not to generalize here, but the Russians I know who don't feel this way would have no problem with generalizing here :) feel alienation from and contempt for blacks.  It's pervasive; I know black folks who have been to Moscow on business suddenly find that their hotel reservations have been cancelled and there are no more rooms while their colleagues behind them got lodging subsequently, gutteral expressions of disdain and disgust from passers by on the street, it goes on and on.  Folks I've met in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Chelyabinsk, who seem fairly enlightened and hip, right up to the point where they say something like "well, I like your NBA better than our basketball, except that we've kept ours clean and don't have to worry about black players." (sic)

      I can't imagine what kind of dynamics must have been kicked up in the day to day of the Soviet-Angolan relationship of the 1970's.

      Anyways, in fact, Russian expats that I know who have learned to embrace multicultuturalism and particularly celebration of diversity with folks of African descent won't hesitate to say that it involved major degree of un-learning the deeply engrained culture of their youth and former country.

      I realize this may index closely to a lot of the sort of neo-Nazi contempt for folks of the lower Caucasus and Central Asian former SSR's, but virtually everybody I know who is in Russia will speak to neo-Naziism with unbridled contempt and instant rejection as they should.  They'll quickly point out that the growth of neo-nazi crap is a byproduct of economic disenfranchisement, unemployment, erosion of national self-esteem, etc and is a scourge to their country.  But if a black friend of mine comes over, they will quickly excuse themselves and leave the room or the restaurant we're at or whatever.  They'll pretty quickly do the same if my non-black friend turns out to speak unambiguously in a reference to  his or her gay or lesbian self or reality.

      To that extent, not trying to steal the spotlight from the excellent focus of this diary and diary series, but I guess I just have to say that sadly, none of this surprises me in the least based on these threads of cultural alienation to the "other"; in fact, the awakening of acceptance in some parts of society to the reality and contribution of LGBT societal members is unexpectedly encouraging to me.  Long way to go here in terms of mindset, I'm afeared.

      •  Great comment. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        waytac

        There's a healthy bit of irony in the contempt for people of African descent, all things considering (emphasis mine):

        Пора покинуть скучный брег
        Мне неприязненной стихии
        И средь полуденных зыбей,
        Под небом Африки моей,
        Вздыхать о сумрачной России,
        Где я страдал, где я любил,
        Где сердце я похоронил.
        Of course Pushkin is an exception, you'll hear.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:29:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I sometimes wonder if straight (10+ / 0-)

    men who can't tell the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia also can't tell the difference between heterosexuality and pedophilia.

    I suppose the hate is just hate, and trying to apply logic to hate is like trying to apply literature to a sucking chest wound. But I still wonder.

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 03:54:27 PM PST

  •  But could the toys, flags, plates and (7+ / 0-)

    domestic appliances take part in a meeting at the time of the nation's founding? Obviously that's the relevant question.

    Read my stuff at burn after writing and The Huffington Post @indiemcemopants on Twitter

    by Scottie Thomaston on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 03:58:15 PM PST

  •  I especially like the part of the judge's decision (7+ / 0-)

    in Barnaul where he claimed that toys can't protest b/c they are not Russian citizens.

    •  I had to make a slight correction: (6+ / 0-)

      it was a city official rather than a judicial decision.  But yeah, it's a pretty amazing way to frame that.  

      My little plush чебурашка is going to be devastated when he finds out.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 05:10:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  lol ! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pico, sdf

        ничего . . .

        “Are you calling the Koch brothers during the recess?” - Henry Waxman

        by thenekkidtruth on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 05:16:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  All I can think (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pico, Nulwee

        when I read this

        Neither toys nor, for example, flags, plates or domestic appliances can take part in a meeting.
        is that Russian satire is (and ever has been) provided a fantastic embarrassment of riches.  Just think what contemporary Gogols, Bulgakovs, Zoshchenkos have at their disposal!

        С ума сойдешь ...

        -- Stu

        •  Не дай мне Бог сойти с ума... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sdf, Nulwee, billmosby

          as Pushkin put it.

          Glad to see someone who's read Zoshchenko... The other two have a decent readership in English, but Z's humor is sometimes so tied to the language that it's hard to translate.   Back when I used to teach Russian language I'd assign this story, in part to assuage English-speakers that sometimes, even the native speakers don't know their own grammar.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:56:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh; and I include (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico, Nulwee

            a few of his brief vignettes in my 20th c. Russian history survey ("Dog Scent," "The Crisis," and "Poverty" from the collection trans. by Hugh McLean as Nervous People) as wonderfully satirical takes on the NEP-era zeitgeist.

            -- Stu

          •  That jives with what I was told (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico

            by the woman who managed the local office of the expediters we used in Ekaterinburg. She said that it took a couple of years of college study of Russian to become sufficiently proficient in it for business purposes.

            I was cursed to have some of the best interpreters to work with- I didn't quite get to the point where I could converse in Russian or read anything much more than signs. It's been almost 7 years since I was there but I still go to Yandex and try to pick my way through the descriptions and comments on the pictures people post there.

            The U.S. interpreter we worked the most was the daughter of the Naval Attache to Moscow in the early 60s. She convinced everybody to let her go to an ordinary Russian school starting in about the 7th grade at that time, not knowing much more than a few words of the language. Many years later after studying the language formally, her first job as an interpreter was working for Paul Warnke at the SALT talks. Seems she had a knack for jumping right into things.

            When she wasn't working for the HEU Transparency program (the program I worked for), she sometimes worked for Laura Bush when the need arose. Which is ironic because she was about as much of a leftie as I have ever personally met, lol.

            Moderation in most things.

            by billmosby on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:23:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  unlike in the United States (10+ / 0-)

      where we let our plastic figurines run for President (Rmoney), I guess action figures are just resident aliens in Russia.

      A gathering of lego figures can be quite powerful.  And I wonder what the transformers will do when they hear about this...

      Thanks for the very informative piece.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 05:31:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When is the European Parliament going to protest (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl

    the increasing restrictions on access to abortions in the US, or America's racist war on drugs, which serves to keep the "excess" black population off the streets?

    Also, I don't recall the European Parliament's protesting that the US didn't have an elected president during 2001-2004.

    •  Put that aside for a moment: (5+ / 0-)

      do you disagree with the criticism on the face of it?

      Keep in mind that although they are separate bodies, the EU member states are also members of the European Convention on Human Rights, of which Russia is a signatory, and of whose court Russia falls under the jurisdiction.  They've been brought to that court already on their anti-gay policies, and lost, and were fined.  So this isn't an arbitrary move by members of the EU.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:01:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wasn't aware of the European Convention of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        Human Rights, and that Russia is a signatory to it.

        Still, the European Parliament is behaving very hypocritically. Most EU countries are members of NATO, and NATO is engaged in neoimperial exercises in Afghanistan and Lybia. I may me old fashioned, but I believe that indiscriminately bombing civilians from the air (how can you bomb discriminately?) is a worse human rights violation (it is actually a war crime) than not granting gays equal rights.

        On top of that, every time the US/Britain/NATO bomb a Muslim country into rubble, destroying a secular government, women's rights go down the drain.

        When NATO stops with the war crimes, the European Parliament can tell Russia how it should treat gays.

        •  Interesting logic (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IndyReader, pico, Nulwee

          The Eurocracy is hypocritical about NATO, therefore it cannot stand up for the rights of Russian LGBT's.

          You're not looking for intellectual respect, are you?

          Since hypocrisy about imperialism is an automatic disqualifier, what political institutions are allowed to stand up for the battered queers of Russia.

          I look forward to your stimulating reply.

          •  If you want to fight the oppression of LGBT's (0+ / 0-)

            instead of complaining about what's going on in a country over which the US has little control, why don't you use dKos to support Bradley Manning?

            Since his arrest last May in Iraq, Manning has been treated as one of America's most dastardly traitors. He faces more than 30 charges, including one – "aiding the enemy" – that carries the death penalty (prosecutors will recommend life in prison, but military judges retain discretion to sentence him to die).

            The sadistic conditions to which he was subjected for 10 months – intense solitary confinement, at one point having his clothing seized and being forced to stand nude for inspection – became an international scandal for a US president who flamboyantly vowed to end detainee abuse. Amnesty International condemned these conditions as "inhumane"; PJ Crowley, a US state department spokesman, was forced to resign after denouncing Manning's treatment. Such conduct has been repeatedly cited by the US as human rights violations when engaged in by other countries.

            The UN's special rapporteur on torture has complained that his investigation is being obstructed by the refusal of Obama officials to permit unmonitored visits with Manning. (Even the Bush administration granted access to the International Red Cross at Guantánamo.) Such treatment is all the more remarkable in light of what Manning actually did, and did not do, if the charges are true. For these leaks have achieved enormous good and little harm.

            As far as I know, no diary on Manning was ever front paged, the way this one was.
            •  Don't be daft. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RfrancisR, MrJayTee, Nulwee

              In the Community Spotlight box alone, try this one or this one just from the last couple months.

              But I find the idea that we can't protest anti-gay laws unless we promote Manning deeply offensive on your part, as well as the idea that there's something illegitimate about lending our vocal support to Russia's LGBTs.  I'm not an armchair critic: this affects me when I'm over there, which is not infrequently, and I know this stuff firsthand.

              Let's take this to its logical end: You haven't written any diaries on Manning, ergo you can't complain that you haven't seen more diaries on Manning.   Should I apply that reasoning to your comments here, too?

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:40:21 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Re: Don't be daft (0+ / 0-)

                I don't know how you can tell that those two diaries were in the Community Spotlight—I didn't find an easy way to search what has been in the Community Spotlight.

                And I just found this, which got so many comments that it must have made it to the front page. So I am relieved to find that the dKos community has indeed been supportive of Manning, instead of being in lockstep with whom many here like to call "the President".

                You can protest anti-gay laws all you want. I just think that the West lacks the moral authority to criticize Russia about anything. And this problem was exacerbated for me by your quoting the European Parliament on this. You can be sure that if Americans did the same thing the Russians are doing, the European Parliament wouldn't raise a whimper of complaint. Is the European Parliament protesting the New Jersey governor's veto of the gay marriage bill? I don't think so. The US doesn't have to be a signatory of the European Convention for the European Parliament to protest.

                As for the "pro-democracy" protests in Russia, you are just repeating Western propaganda. And it is ludicrous for the West to teach Russia about democracy, considering the state of democracy in the West's leading nation.

                If you hadn't cited the European Parliament as some kind of authority, I wouldn't have raised any objections.

                •  This line of thinking: (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  pico, MrJayTee, Nulwee
                  the West lacks the moral authority to criticize Russia about anything.
                  Is juvenile, and really sounds like excuse-making for the maltreatment of LGBT people in Russia. Further, it is logical fallacy. The fact that the US or the West has some notable inconsistencies on human rights doesn't delegitimize their efforts to spread human rights in other realms of diplomacy.

                  If only perfectly behaved nations can criticize human rights violations, then there aren't any nations who can criticize human rights violations in any other nation, and therefore all attempts to make progress on any human rights issue will be thwarted. That's a preposterous and counter-productive position to take.

                •  Ha! (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RfrancisR, MrJayTee, kalmoth, Nulwee
                  As for the "pro-democracy" protests in Russia, you are just repeating Western propaganda.
                  А Вы - кто же?  Вам хочется говорить о пропаганде в связи с выборами?   По-вашему, откуда эта так-называемая западная пропагана, которую я распространяю?

                  On your other question, you can search by tags (Rescued).  As for the rest, I've already spoken my piece.

                  Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                  by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:50:50 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "Liberals Stunned by Huge Counter-Demo" (0+ / 0-)

                    The Tug of War in Moscow

                    For a month, Moscow was bracing itself for the February 4 Rally. It was pre-planned and prepared by the anti-Putin pro-Western liberal opposition. [...]

                    But the surprise of the day loomed elsewhere. While the pro-Western opposition gathered on the Bolotnaya Heath («Marais») just across the river from the Kremlin’s red crenelated walls, a small demo was also planned as a token of government support on the Poklonnaya Hill, overlooking Moscow from the west. The White Fronde of the Heath applied for a 60,000 rally permit and made it; pro-government forces planned for 15,000, and even this assessment was considered too optimistic: a previous pro-government rally made between three to five thousand. Indeed, demos are good “against”, not “for” the government.

                    But the Poklonnaya Hill demo turned something completely different – the rally of the opposition to the White Fronde. And this rally had 138,000 participants, by the police count, almost ten times more than predicted. [...]

                    It happened because this second and largest rally was not “for Putin” – there were many speakers known for their dislike of Putin and his regime, but they hated the “white” (or “orange” as they say) opposition of Bolotnaya Heath even more. If the West hates Putin, it should try the forces woken up by the rally. It became a rally against neo-liberals, against pro-Western policies, a rally of Red-Brown (or “patriotic”) alliance of statist, nationalist opposition of Russia-First. They out-Putined Putin in no time. [...]

                    Nobody predicted Putin would wake up the sleeping beast of popular feelings. The western mass media missed the point altogether, claiming that the participants were hired or forced to demonstrate, or alternatively that there were few of them. Fox News did their best by broadcasting pictures of the Hill demo and saying it was the Heath. Other western agencies published pictures of 1991 rallies saying they were taken yesterday on the Heath. In Moscow, nobody was fooled: people knew when they were licked.

                    There is a huge untapped potential of Russia-First feeling, connected with resentment against Western imperialist policies. [...] Putin is a compromise figure between the westernized liberals and Russia-Firsters; he used some of the Russian nativist rhetoric while carrying out liberal economic policy. Russia-Firsters survived his years, but they were never allowed into the corridors of power, where such figures as Alexei Kudrin and Anatoli Chubais, favorites of the IMF, prowled. This opposition burst forth with the Hill rally. [...]

                    The Russians are afraid of “orange” revolutions, as arranged by your friendly National Endowment for Democracy and other tools of the State Department. Many, perhaps a majority of the Hill demonstrators were afraid of a replay of the Nineties, or of Tahrir, and they were happy to support Putin as a symbol of stability. The government stoked up the fears, by flooding with publicity a visit of the opposition leaders to the US Embassy. Michael McFaul, the new US Ambassador found himself in the centre of controversy, with many parliamentarians demanding that he be sent home, for this meeting took place almost immediately upon his arrival and even before he presented his credentials.

                    The US is up to its old tricks, but Putin is not the West's lapdog the way Yeltsin was, which is why the West hates him.
                    •  hahahahahahaha (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kalmoth, Nulwee

                      Oh, lord.  You really have no idea what's going on over there, especially if that's your source.  And of course you'd have to rely on an English-language dispatch from a notorious ideologue like Shamir*, because you have neither the access nor the ability to read primary sources.  Figures.

                      Not that you'll take my advice, but: try reading my last couple of diaries on this issue.  They have, if nothing else, a large variety of primary sources, some translated for your convenience, so you can develop a fuller picture of what's going on over there.   They also address some of Shamir's baseless claims about influence, propaganda, and paid protesters.

                      Although it turns out you don't reject propaganda after all, you just prefer a certain type.

                      * A compendium of my favorite Shamir quotes:

                      Soviet Russia was a land of spiritual and educated men who loved their work, were proud of their country, despised money, were hospitable and kind.

                      'Russian cruelty' and 'GULAG horrors' were Euro-centric racist slurs.

                      In order to justify [the Soviet betrayal of Jews] they had spread the black lie of "Russian anti-semitism".

                      This is the kind of thing I'd find funny if it weren't so horrifying.  

                      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                      by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 04:08:24 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yeah, let's make ad hominem arguments with (0+ / 0-)

                        out of context quotations.

                        As for the election, the results matched exit polls pretty closely. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some irregularities in the ballot counting, but it doesn't look like they affected the results appreciably. As you may recall, in the 2004 US presidential election, exit polls indicated that Kerry would win. This suggests that there was less fraud in the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections than there was in the US 2004 presidential election.

                        Again, the US is in no position to teach Russia about democracy. Nevertheless, last October, the State Department allocated $50 million to support Russian "civil society". Putin is showing extraordinary hospitality in not arresting operatives for the National Endowment for Democracy the way the Egyptians have.

                        •  Out of context? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          kalmoth

                          Please, by all means, explore the original context - I refuse to link to his site - and get back to me.  Enjoy those quotes in their original antisemitic, deluded, and irresponsible rewriting of history.   Give me a single reason why he shouldn't be banned as a source on this site.

                          "Putin is showing extraordinary hospitality"... Wowsers.  

                          I'm just going to cut this thread off with statements from members of the U.S. funded propaganda army of Western infiltrators.  Look at how they're dismantling Russia from within!

                          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                          by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:34:10 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Must be another self-loathing Jew (0+ / 1-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Hidden by:
                            pico

                            like Gilad Atzmon. I suppose that you think that Shamir was delusional when he wrote that the BBC's Panorama program was going to smear WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and then the BBC proceeded to do exactly that. In fact, the program ends with the shocking discovery that not only did Assange associate with a known antisemite: he didn't even find anything wrong with his views!

                            Dear Israel/Adam,

                            Someone wrote saying they refuse to associate with an organisation that would work with an antisemite like Israel Shamir.

                            From a brief sampling of your writing I did not find the allegation born out, in fact, I found these samples to be strong and compassionate.

                            Here is what Shamir's "antisemitism" amounts to, as he explains in the same article:
                            Naturally, as a son of Jewish parents and a man who has lived in the Jewish state, deeply and intimately involved with Jewish culture, I harbour no hate to a Jew because he is a Jew. I doubt many people do. However I did and do criticise various aspects of Jewish Weltanschauung like so many Jewish and Christian thinkers before me, or even more so for I witnessed crimes of the Jewish state that originated in this worldview.

                            As for the accusation of “Holocaust denial”, my family lost too many of its sons and daughters for me to deny the facts of Jewish tragedy, but I do deny its religious salvific significance implied in the very term ‘Holocaust’; I do deny its metaphysical uniqueness, I do deny the morbid cult of Holocaust and I think every God-fearing man, a Jew, a Christian or a Muslim should reject it as Abraham rejected and smashed idols. I deny that it is good to remember or immortalize such traumatic events, and I wrote many articles against the modern obsession with massacres, be it the Jewish holocaust of the 1940s, the Armenian massacre of 1915, the Ukrainian “holodomor”, Polish Katyn, Khmer Rouge etc. Poles, Armenians, Ukrainians understood me, so did Jews – otherwise I would be charged with the crime of factual denial which is known to the Israeli law.

                            If you consider those views to be antisemitic, then you simply want to use the label "antisemite" to stigmatize too significant a deviation from the dominant narratives of our society. Israel Shamir is an "antisemite" in the same way that Norman Finkelstein is an antisemite.
                          •  Nope, you don't get to do that. (0+ / 0-)

                            Not here, not on this site.

                            I used "antisemitic" to refer specifically to his denial  Russia's anti-Jewish policies, which he considers "a black lie" based on some sense of betrayal (and he actually argues that Stalin had Jewish friends, therefore...), as if the widespread trials, reprisals, and propaganda between '48 and '53 never happened.  This is beyond acceptable and I don't want this trash here.

                            Seriously, if this is the kind of stuff you're going to defend, then we're not even having this conversation.  You're hide on site, and I hope other people do the same.

                            Next you'll be extolling the virtues of Papa Stalin.

                            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                            by pico on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 04:06:35 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So now we've stooped to censorship. (0+ / 1-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Hidden by:
                            pico

                            That didn't take long. But this is what is to be expected from dKos regulars. When you can't provide a well reasoned response to a post which subjects to doubt the conventional wisdom, censor the post.

                            I just read this post by Shamir about the recent Russian elections. It is based largely on cables by the US ambassador in Moscow, which we have access to courtesy of Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks. The ambassador says that Russian public survey organizations are reliable. What's ironic is that United Russia did significantly worse than polls indicated, whereas the Communist Party did significantly better. So if the "Putin regime" was engaging in election fraud, it's lousy at it. I guess the US Republican Party didn't spend enough resources teaching the Russians how to do it.

                            Furthermore, what the election results show is that what Russians are rejecting is not Putin but neoliberalism.

                            Anyway, thank you for showing me and other trusted users your true colors. It simply doesn't make any sense to impose a blanket ban on all the writings and opinions of a given author, on the basis that some of his alleged opinions are allegedly objectionable. Since you obviously are not interested in carrying on this discussion in good faith and do not bother to make the relevant citations, I have no reason to believe that the allegations you make against Shamir are true.

                          •  "Good faith" is exactly what you haven't (0+ / 0-)

                            been engaging in.  You're DNR from here on.

                            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                            by pico on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 05:42:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You just can't think outside your narrow box (0+ / 1-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Hidden by:
                            pico

                            You can only engage people who inhabit the same oxygen depleted echo chamber as you do.

                            And your linking to that poster is very silly and off the mark, considering that my mother had a virulent hatred of Bolshevism, because both my parents had to escape from it twice. Also, given how enthused you get by what you think are pro-Western demonstrations by Russians, you must hate social democracy as much as you hate communism. Or more likely, you don't even know that there is a difference.

                        •  with all due respect... (0+ / 0-)

                          you don't know what the fuck you are talking about. Или, наоборот, ты все знаешь, кремлядь.

                    •  sorry, mate... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      pico

                      you just swallowed and regurgitated about half a metric assload of Putinoid propaganda.

        •  If only this diary were about that topic, then (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico, RfrancisR, Nulwee

          that would be worth discussing.  But not here.

          'Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that Government is best which is most indifferent.' -- F. D. Roosevelt

          by LandruBek on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 08:11:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Geography factoid... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, Nulwee

      America. It's not in Europe.

  •  just brilliant (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FarWestGirl, pico, one love, sdf, Nulwee

    Where do we send toys to help in the democracy protests?  Really!  I think Elmo would love the people of Barnaul.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Feb 18, 2012 at 10:44:45 PM PST

    •  What a great idea! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sdf

      I'll see if I can find anything.  So far I don't see anyone who's accepting toys on their end, but what a nifty form of solidarity that would be.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:04:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That would be круто (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sdf, pico

        . . . to have a growing protest of toys gathering in the park, increasing day by day in silent protest!

        I used to live not terribly far from Barnaul and I would love to be a part of that protest.  Да здраствует Операциа Игрушка !  And of course I'm proud that Barnaul is standing up for its LGBT people.

        'Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that Government is best which is most indifferent.' -- F. D. Roosevelt

        by LandruBek on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 08:26:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  With (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pico

          slogans, perhaps, such as Игрушки не игри!

          -- Stu

          •  "Don't toy with human rights!" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico, sdf

            "Stop playing around!"

            "Justice is not a game!"

            And to adapt the Internationale a little bit:

            Довольно кровь разливать, власти,
            Тюрьмой, стыдом, нищетой!
            У вас — вся власть, все блага мира,
            А наше право — звук пустой !
            Мы жизнь построим по-иному —
            И вот наш лозунг голубой:
            Вся власть народу правасудому!

            Enough blood-spilling, you bosses;
            enough prison, shame, and poverty!
            You have the power, all the resources,
            But our "rights" are an empty cry
            We'll build our lives a different way
            And on a Pride banner display:
            "Power to the People of Equality!"

            which seems appropriate for silent plushies, robots, and dinosaurs quietly holding their signs.

            'Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that Government is best which is most indifferent.' -- F. D. Roosevelt

            by LandruBek on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:09:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Er I meant (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico

            "игры," конечно.

            -- Stu

        •  Minor clarification: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Nulwee

          It's my fault for not making this distinction clearer in the text, but the Barnaul protests are about the Duma elections in December.  Depending on which area of the country we're talking about, some of the protests have been more welcoming of LGBTs than others.

          Not far from Barnaul?  Very cool... I'm embarrassed to say that the furthest east I've spent any significant amount of time is Saratov.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:29:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  wow I had no idea it was getting this bad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico

    I did no about the rise of neofascist  and of the christian right, but I didn't know they had proposed this type of legislation.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:31:17 AM PST

    •  What's especially galling about this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kalmoth, Nulwee

      is that United Russia (the party leading this push) bills itself as a specifically anti-fascist group.   They have a youth group called Nashi (literally "Ours") who've been compared (with good reason) to fascist youth groups for their occasionally violent tactics and their exclusionary, nationalistic rhetoric.

      These are scary people, and with the Kremlin's ownership of major media outlets, much of the organization for and discussion about the pro-democracy protests has taken place on LiveJournal, which is way more prevalent there than it is here.  We sometimes overstate the extent to which social media has been playing a role in the Arab Spring, but in Russia there's no doubt that sites like LJ are major sources of information and organization.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:49:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly, it's a real problem... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico, Nulwee

    moreover, homophobia is one of the trump cards in Putin's deck.

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