Voices from Russia

Friday, 17 October 2008

Exhibition Entitled “The Epoch of Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco” Opens in Moscow

Filed under: cinema,cultural,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

An exhibition entitled “The Epoch of Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco” opened in the Russian capital. It tells about personal life of the Hollywood star who became the wife of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of her tragic death in a car crash. The exposition has been already shown in Monaco and Paris. It was brought to Moscow by the Grimaldi Foundation headed by Sovereign Prince Albert II, Grace Kelly’s son. Later, the exhibition will travel to London, Rome, and New York.

Cultural ties between Monaco and Russia have always been stable. It is well to remind our readers here that, in the early-20th century, the renowned Diaghilev Ballet Seasons were held in Monaco. A major project in recent days was an exhibition from Russian museums entitled, “Russian Artists of the Jack of Diamonds Group: between Cézanne and Avant-garde Art”.

Attending the opening ceremony in Moscow was a representative of princely family, Herve Eryan. “I hope that the exhibition will be a success in Moscow just as it was a success in Paris and Monaco. Cooperation between Monaco and Moscow becomes ever closer, and I hope that the exhibition will open up a new chapter in bilateral cooperation. I want to emphasise that the bulk of this exhibition’s items are stored in the Palace. These things are dear to me. They are beautiful, and I think that for many they will be associated with a certain return to the past and evoke the feeling of nostalgia”.

The exhibition dedicated to Grace Kelly, heroine of one of the most beautiful fairy-tales of the 20th century, allows visitors to trace her life story from the very beginning. Grace Kelly came from a Catholic family that was convinced that everything could be earned by diligent labour. She studied and earned money by participating in TV ad clips. Her best roles were in three Albert Hitchcock films, she became an Oscar-winning actress. Visitors can see a photo of the man whom she loved and wanted to marry, US fashion designer Oleg Cassini, who was of Russian background. Yet, his Orthodox parents did not give their blessing. But, there was Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, whom she married. She became Princess and mother of three children. She rejected the cinema for the sake of her family. True, from time to time she felt regret; but, without the intervention of the car crash she, probably, would have returned to it…

Grace Kelly’s life story is told by the numerous things concerning her brought to the Russian capital. Amongst the most interesting exhibits are children’s toys, her wedding dress, video films made by the Princess, and letters of her husband and numerous friends, including Mstislav Rostropovich, Rudolf Nuriyev, and Mark Chagall. Mstislav Rostropovich wrote to the Princess that he looked forward to his trip to Monte Carlo and hoped to see all her family. In Mark Chagall’s letter, the artist signed his autograph in the form of little fish. Grace Kelly’s daughter Princess Stephanie and numerous courtiers arrived in Moscow for the occasion.

16 October 2008

Voice of Russia World Service



Ideology and Politics

President Dmitri Medvedev’s speech to the Évian political forum on 8 October was greeted with near-total silence by the European commentariat. In it, he proposed the creation of a pan-European security structure to include the present Euro-Atlantic organisation, i.e. NATO. The reason for the lack of much reaction might be that people’s minds have been concentrated on the world financial crisis. It is also possible that the silence is better explained by the fact that Western politicians and commentators simply do not know what to say.

On one level, the speech can be seen in the context of a long historical continuity in Russian foreign policy, renewing as it does Moscow’s decades-old desire for institutional inclusion into world affairs, from Leonid Brezhnev’s signature of the Helsinki accords in 1975 to Mikhail Gorbachyov’s call for a “Common European Home” throughout the 1980s. Russia has been an enthusiastic member of the United Nations ever since it was created in 1945, and so it was natural that Mr Medvedev should call for that institution to be respected and strengthened. At a deeper level, however, the speech expressed a frustration with Western policy which is particularly acute at the moment, and for well-known reasons. It contained an excellent one-liner, “Sovietology, like paranoia, is a dangerous disease” (Western policy-making towards Russia is, indeed, severely infected by both), but, also a reference to something whose importance even the Russian president himself may perhaps underestimate.

Mr Medvedev expressed regret that an earlier attempt to “de-ideologise international relations” was missed. He was referring to the way in which the USA spurned Russia’s offer to help in the war on terror. He offered a new way of achieving the same result with his proposal for a new European security pact based on the mutual respect of state’s rights. Mr Medvedev’s problem is that de-ideologising international relations is exactly what most Western politicians are absolutely determined to avoid.

Of course, American foreign policy is dominated by ideology, that of neo-conservatism. It is a strange hybrid of militaristic nationalism, old-fashioned low-Church millenarianism, with a good dose of neo-Trostkyite dreaming about global democratic revolution. In fact, this is exactly why US foreign policy is so dangerous.  Ideology destroys politics because it encourages leaders to think that they are the bearers of a universal idea, not representatives of a state with finite and special interests. The latter view presupposes that other states have legitimate interests too, which can be balanced out in the give-and-take of international negotiation. By contrast, universal ideas brook no dissent, and states which do not share them are regarded not just as enemies to be defeated, but, even as a threat to humanity itself who must be comprehensively destroyed.

However, the same is also true of those European leaders whom Medvedev was evidently trying to woo. The very existence of the European Union is based on ideology, on the view that the harshness of “old politics” can be overcome with a new, softer “European ideology”, and that narrow national interests can be overcome and transfigured into universal ones within the post-modern, post-national, and unpolitical Euro-structure. The one thing that is guaranteed to make any Euro-politician quake with hostility and fear is any hint at the notion of the balance of power.  Power is a dirty word in Europe because European leaders, like Americans, hypocritically think of themselves as pursuing ideology, not politics.

The mindset of Russian political leaders could not be more different. If the Communist experience taught the men in Moscow one thing, it is that ideology is fatal for both domestic politics and international relations. They know that the ideologies of socialism and the international class struggle brought Russia to her knees. In 2007, Vladimir Putin specifically attacked Lenin for destroying Russia by putting the ideology of world revolution first.  Post-Soviet Russian leaders have learned that politics is better than ideology… much better.

Because the faith of European and American politicians in ideology remains unshakeable, they retain a hatred for politics in the true sense of the term. Hence, their hatred of Russia. Just as Marx and Engels regarded Christian Russia as a threat to their ideology, so EU officials understand that the Russia of Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev behaves politically, not ideologically. Moreover, since Russia is both indisputably a European state and, yet, also physically too big and too powerful to be “integrated” into either the EU or NATO (that word which fully expresses the dull suppression of all national difference within a single anonymous euro-technocracy) EU policy-makers rail against it in frustration because its very existence threatens their most deeply-cherished beliefs about the world.

So, when Dmitri Medvedev says he wants international relations to be de-ideologised, he is asking for something of which Western policy-makers (especially Europeans) have either never thought about, or against which they react with fury. De-ideologising international relations would mean abandoning the European ideology. It would mean precisely re-introducing politics itself, that delicate art of reconciling what are recognised as legitimate competing national interests. The EU, based as it is on the ideological denial of the very notion of the nation-state (and even of the nation itself), has spent the last fifty years trying to do the opposite. Until Moscow fully understands this, the strange mindset of European leaders, its attempts to overcome it will be doomed to failure.

17 October 2008

John Laughland

Director of Studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris



A View from Moscow from Valentin Zorin… Crumbling Myths

A South Ossetian refugee child in a MChS camp in North Ossetia near Vladikavkaz. According to the American press, per the orders of Bush, Rice, and Cheney, these refugees did not exist. McCain and Palin seconded this ukaz, so you know what to do on 4 November…


One American myth after another is crumbling under the pressure of new challenges. We see Americans lose belief in the omnipotence of their country and confidence in their economic institutions. All talk of the freedom and sovereignty of the American press ended in the small hours of the eighth of last August. The catchy “all news fit to print” motto failed the test of time. The New York Times and all other media outlets of the USA kept silent for 24 hours, during which the Georgian military pounded Tskhinvali, the peaceful capital of South Ossetia. For 24 hours, the people of America had no idea of the South Ossetian tragedy. What was happening in South Ossetia was unfit to print. It was turned the other way around. The extension of a helping hand to the victim of that brutal and treacherous attack broke the conspiracy of silence, and stories about a Russian attack on small and helpless Georgia made centrepiece news in the American media.

Only an incredibly naïve person would dismiss as simply coincidental the chronological link between that conspiracy of silence over the destruction of Tskhinvali and the barrage of anti-Russian rhetoric in the American media. I’m dead certain that Tskhinvali-based American correspondents were quick to report what was happening to their editors. Their ability to scoop top news has been proven time and again. However, what kept radio stations, television networks, and newspapers from rushing reports from Tskhinvali to their audiences? If brainwashed Americans felt an urge to find an answer to that question, many things would fall in place. The far from incidental, indeed, conspiratorial, decision to keep silent about developments that shook the world and are likely to leave an imprint on the future does more than leave an indelible stain on the record of American journalism. It ends all talk about the mythological freedom of the American press.

The ruling élite have long held the American media on a short leash. More than one development spotlights the media’s dependence on the powers-that-be. The government auditors have, most likely unintentionally, let the masses in on how much the Bush Administration paid, over a very short period of time, for the promotion of its policies in television broadcasts and the printed media. They put the White House’s publicity expenses at 1.6 billion dollars but stopped short of saying anything else. Television and newspaper reports earn credit for the success of the White House’s efforts to convince Americans that Iraq had nuclear weapons, that Saddam Hussein kept in touch with al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and that military action against Iraq provided the only guarantee for the safety of the USA. Much water flowed under the bridge and many lives were lost before Americans decided they’d been fooled. It’s a sad but undeniable fact that public opinion was swayed strongly in favour of the war on Iraq in March 2003. The pages of five-and-a half-year-old press editions make it clear why it did.

The editors of two leading American newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, may wish they’d never admitted that they’d once been summoned to the White House where George W Bush asked them to axe all criticism of his Administration. An influential member of Congress, George Miller, described the propagandistic efforts by the Bush Administration as unprecedented. He was alarmed by these efforts. Reflective of the true state of affairs is the shameful performance of better than half of American media outlets in the days when women and children were dying under the ruins of a peaceful city in South Ossetia and the well-planned and clearly-orchestrated media campaign that was launched in the wake of the South Ossetian developments. The preachers of forcibly-imposed Americanism have to wave goodbye to another highly-cherished myth.

17 October 2008

Valentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service



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