Voices from Russia

Monday, 26 March 2012

NATO Tells Russia Not to ‘Waste Money’ on Anti-Shield Deployment

Launch of a 9K720 Iskander SRBM.

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The West is scared shitless that Russia can knock out its vaunted “missile defence” with conventional countermeasures. A 9K720 Iskander SRBM or two would put paid to NATO’s fixed radar sites and permanent interceptor silos… with no practical warning. That scares the bejeezus out of the NATO aggressors… hence, the present bluster and implied threat. That’s ALWAYS a sign of weakness and sneakiness…

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On Monday, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that any deployment by the Kremlin of tactical weapons to protect against a planned US-led missile shield in Europe would squander funds that Russia could be use to improve its living standards. He said in a video link-up from NATO headquarters in Brussels, “I have to say that it would be a complete waste of money to deploy offensive weapons against an artificial enemy… an enemy that doesn’t exist in the real world. This money would be much better spent on economic and social development”. Rasmussen’s comments come less than a week after outgoing President Dmitri Medvedev said Moscow was preparing a host of countermeasures to tackle NATO missile defence, including forward deployments of tactical Iskander missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast. Last week, Medvedev also said that time was “running out” for talks on the shield, which Russia sees a threat to its national security. However, at talks in Seoul on Monday, he told US President Barack Obama, “Dialogue on the topic isn’t only possible, but necessary”. On Monday, the White House said Russia and NATO were unlikely to come to an agreement this year.

NATO said that it designed its shield to protect against “rogue states” such as Iran and North Korea. However, negotiations between Russia and NATO member states on the US-led missile defence project have deadlocked over the West’s reluctance to give Moscow legally–binding guarantees that it wouldn’t use the shield against it. On Monday, Rasmussen reiterated NATO verbal pledges that it didn’t intend to use its shield against its Cold War-era adversary, saying, “The anti-missile shield isn’t directed against Russia, nor designed to attack Russia or undermine what Russia calls its strategic deterrent. We consider the missile threat a real threat and we want to protect our populations in NATO member states”. He also repeated calls for Russia to join the shield project, saying, “The best way for Russia to ensure transparency would be to cooperate”. On Friday, Medvedev, who steps down in May, said that NATO member states “keep telling us, ‘The shield’s for you’. However, how should we use it?” Russia doesn’t share the West’s concern over Iran’s nuclear programme, whilst both Medvedev and President-elect Vladimir Putin have said that NATO designed the shield to give it the edge in the strategic nuclear balance.

Sergei Oznobishchev, of Moscow’s Institute of World Economics and International Relations, said, “However, Russia’s reaction to the shield project has been overemotional. It’s nervous because it isn’t involved in dialogue as a real partner”. Russia said the USA failed to take into account Moscow’s concerns over the deployment of the shield on its doorstep. Nevertheless, experts cast doubt on the effectiveness of any Russian response to the shield. Vladimir Yevseyev of the Moscow-based Centre for Socio-Political Studies said, “Russia has nothing to counter the missile shield with. It needs a credible response”.

Rasmussen said he would meet Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin “as soon as possible after his inauguration”, which is set for 7 May. The NATO head also praised US-Russian cooperation on “Afghanistan and Somali piracy”. Moscow announced groundbreaking plans in February to allow the US and other NATO member-states to use a Russian air base in the Volga city of Ulyanovsk as a hub for transits to and from Afghanistan. The decision provoked protests in Ulyanovsk, the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin. Rasmussen said, “We have no intention to establish a base in Russia. This is a pragmatic arrangement which allows us to transport non-lethal weapons and troops to benefit our operation in Afghanistan”.

26 March 2012

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120326/172402648.html

Editor’s Note:

It’s interesting to note that RIA-Novosti often digs up pro-Western voices to post on articles aimed at an Anglosphere audience. It’s not so evident in Russian-language posts aimed at the Sov space (and the Orthosphere in general). As I said, it’s an interesting wrinkle. As for Rasmussen, he’s an extremist rightwinger. He’s a member of the rightwing Venstre Party (they are Neoliberal laissez-faire nutters), and he was Danish Prime Minister in a coalition that included the even more radical Conservative People’s Party and Danish People’s Party. He’s an advocate of Bush-style tax cuts and slashing the social safety net (that’s failed, by the way), and he’s an acrid and noisome Muslim-baiter. That’s to say, Rasmussen makes Rick Santorum look leftist, so, anything out of his mouth’s suspect and without foundation. He’s a real Danish “Rush Limbaugh”, if you catch my drift. NATO’s concerned because the flight of the Iskander is so short that no countermeasures can be taken against it… save a pre-emptive strike against its TEL. In short, Russia could destroy NATO’s “missile defence” without NATO having a reasonable counter. That’s what scares Rasmussen, hence his typical hubristical rightwing bluster. Bet on “RED”…

Oh, yes… Rasmussen didn’t mention that the trillions squandered by the USA on “missile defence” were a contributing factor in the 2008 Great Bush Depression (that would mean criticising Slobberin’ Ronnie’s crackbrained notions… oh, the humanity!). By the way… missile defence still doesn’t work, but the major defence contractors all agree… “Just give us a few trillion more and we’ll probably get the bugs out”… in a pig’s arse, I say. Don’t forget that the “rogue state” that has tossed bombs all over the world since 1991 isn’t Iran or North Korea… my, my, my, it’s the USA isn’t it? You forget that the Axis of Evil is headquartered in the boardrooms of Corporate America at your own peril. All hail Fox News, the Koch brothers, and Citizens United… they’ve got your best interests at heart, dontcha know… they’ll get a new McMansion, and you (you ungrateful and spiteful bastard) had best be content with the scraps that they throw you, or you’ll disappear into the Guantánamo gulag.

BMD

26 March 2012. A Multimedia Presentation. Спокойной ночи, малыши! “Good Night, Kids!” The Most Beloved Sov and Russian Kids’ Show on the Telly

A contemporary set scene…

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A monument to Valentina Leontieva (1923-2007), the beloved “Auntie Valya”

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The popular cartoon character Luntik first appeared on this show

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Vladimir Ukhin (1930- ), the equally-loved “Uncle Volodya”

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Good Night Kids! is, probably, the most well-known kids’ show on the old Soviet space. It started in 1964, and has remained popular ever since. All of Russia (and all the other ex-Sov spaces) grew up with Uncle Volodya and Auntie Valya. If you want to read about the show, click here and here. Do click on the video links above… you’ll see why all of Russia (and all other Sov lands) love this show.

BMD

26 March 2012. Pray for Fr Michael Kovach! He’s 94… Diagnosed with Lung Cancer…

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I’ve received reports that Fr Michael Kovach in Pennsylvania has lung cancer. He lost his Matushka last year, and, now, this. I think that he’s about 94-years-old. Pray for Fr Michael… if you’re a priest, pray for him at liturgy, and pass the word on to other priests. We can all light a candle for him and pray. Fr Michael Kovach is Fr Daniel Hubiak’s brother-in-law.

May God’s Will be done…

BMD

A Multimedia Presentation. A Short Guide to Russian and Soviet Cartoons

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Vinni Pukh Rules! American Cartoons are Turning Our Kids’ Brains to Mush!

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When most people think of Russian culture, the heavyweights of literature and classical music, such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, usually spring to mind. However, Russia can also boast some major achievements in the field of children’s cartoons. Read and click on for a short… and by no means exhaustive… guide. The heyday of Soviet children’s cartoons was the late 1960s, when Soyuzmultfilm produced a host of warm and genuinely witty cartoons. Watching them before or after a Western-produced cartoon of the same period, Tom and Jerry for example, it’s striking and unarguable how much more manic and violent the “capitalist” cartoons are…

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Matroskin the Cat

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Troe iz Prostokvashino, or as some translations have it Three from Buttermilk Village, was the first cartoon I ever got into in Russia. Made in 1978, and based on a book by Soviet writer Eduard Uspensky, it tells the tale of a young lad who goes by the nickname of Uncle Fyodor. The ginger-haired kid leaves home with a vagrant cat, Matroskin, after his mother tells his father, “It’s either me or that cat… choose!” His father replies, “I choose you… I’ve known you for a long time and I’ve only just set eyes on that cat”. Along with a friendly, if dim, dog called Sharik they end up living in the aforementioned Buttermilk Village. Much of the cartoon’s sharp dialogue appeals as much to adults as to children and many phrases have become everyday expressions, such as:

  • “If I’d had a cat like that, I might not have got married”.
  • “You go out of your mind alone. It’s only the flu you suffer together”.

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Gena and Cheburashka on a greeting card for the 8 March (International Women’s Day) holiday

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Cheburashka is another cartoon based on an Eduard Uspensky book. First released in 1969, it tells the story of the eponymous hero… a strange and exotic creature that ends up in Moscow after falling asleep in a crate of oranges due for shipment to Russia. Once there, he makes the acquaintance of a crocodile called Gena who has been searching for friends by sticking notes around town saying, “Young crocodile looking for friends”. They have many adventures, a lot of which involve battles of wits with one Old Lady Shapoklyak, whose motto is, “You’ll never get famous by doing good”. Cheburashka is perhaps the most famous of all Soviet cartoons and enjoys cult status in Japan. He’s also been the symbol of the Russian Olympic team on three occasions.

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Vinni Pukh and Piglet

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Maugli

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Soviet cartoon makers were also keen on adapting foreign children’s tales, with A A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh and Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book being turned into Vinni Pukh and Maugli (Mowgli). The Soviet Vinni Pukh (also from 1969) bears little resemblance to the Disney version much better known in the West, being a darkish little bear with an oddly strident tone. Of course, he also loves honey and has a number of animal friends. The Soviet version lacks a Christopher Robin, though. Then again, its source was the books by Eduard Zakhoder, who insisted his Russian version of the Pooh stories were a retelling, rather than a mere translation. Check out the English language version in the above link. Maugli (1967-71) also differs wildly from the Disney animated musical and is, by far, a much darker affair, a lot closer to the original Kipling books. President-elect Vladimir Putin recently showed a fondness for Kipling when he described protesters against his rule as “Bandar-log”. “Come to me, Bandar-log”, he joked, taking on for a second the persona of the evil snake Kaa. Unlike in the West, no one in Russia needed an explanation of the origin of the phrase.

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Karlson

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Masha and the Bear

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Karlson (1968 and 1970) was a cartoon adaptation of the books by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, and it told the story of a jam-loving chubby guy who lived on the roof and made friends with a thoughtful kid who really wanted a puppy. Again, the cartoon appealed as much to adults as children. Modern-day Russia hasn’t seen quite the success of the 1960s and 1970s Soviet Union as far as cartoons go. Nevertheless, the recent Masha and the Bear series has proven popular with kids all across Russia and supplied perhaps the first genuinely-strong cartoon character here for years. The cartoons tell the story of an incredibly mischievous little girl and her friend, the Bear.

19 March 2012

Marc Bennetts

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/columnists/20120319/172273179.html

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