Voices from Russia

Monday, 12 January 2015

Kadyrov Blasts Europe Over Double Standards on Terrorism

President Ramzan Kadyrov


Chechen President R A Kadyrov said that elements who wanted to stir up anti-Islamic sentiment, to distract people from other problems, might’ve set up the unprecedented public response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France. Ramzan Akhmatovich shared his insights through his long-time medium of choice… Instagram. In an extensive post, Kadyrov said that he welcomed the “wholehearted” denunciations of terrorism by world leaders, as well as the millions of people taking part in demonstrations in Paris. He also condemned the killing of innocents by terrorists and said that he considered that the fight against terrorism was the most important task in his life. At the same time, Kadyrov posed a question. Did the denunciations aim only to slam terrorism in France, or were they targeting evil all over the world? He wrote:

Why didn’t the presidents, kings, and prime ministers lead protest marches against the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Afghans, Syrians, Egyptians, Libyans, Yemenis, and Iraqis? Why did they remain silent when terrorists exploded a bomb in the Chechen government HQ or when they blew up a Grozny stadium, killing Chechen President A A Kadyrov [R A Kadyrov’s father] and his aides? Why didn’t they react to the terakt on the school in Beslan and the hostage situation at Moscow’s Dubrovka Theater? Why did thy keep silent when in December 2014 terrorists captured the House of Press and a school in Grozny, killing and injuring over 50 people? It’s impossible to secure Paris, London, Madrid, and other European capitals if society fails to condemn those who raise and sponsor terrorism all over the world, masking it as support for national liberation movements.

Kadyrov suspected that some powerful forces prepared the whole scenario to incite anti-Islamic fervour in Europe or to distract public attention from some brewing global problem. A practising Muslim believer, Kadyrov also pointed up that he and his allies wouldn’t allow anyone to insult the Prophet, even if this would cost them their lives. He wrote, apparently addressing Western political leaders:

If we’re silent, this doesn’t mean that we can’t get millions of people onto the streets all over the world to protest against those who connive at insults to Muslim religious feelings. Is this what you want? The media allowed themselves to get involved in the scandal, so, they should apologise to Muslims to end the controversy. Peace and stability are more important for all peoples than the right of a handful of journalists to disrespect the Prophet.

12 January 2015




The Westerns are tossing around a grenade with the pin pulled out and they’re giggling manically. The murders are wrong… but it’s also wrong to insult a major world religion repeatedly… especially, when one knows that it could lead to random violence. I’m not advising a craven cowardice… I’m simply asking people to be pragmatic and attend to reality. How would the Western “leadership” react if others came into their living rooms and attacked their hedonism, moneygrubbing greed, and neoliberal rapaciousness (at least, neoliberal evils are real and manifest, not puffed-up like so-called Muslim “terrorism” is)? Why, they’d react in a MORE violent fashion that some Muslims are reacting! After all, we’re talking about demented toddlers who dropped two nuclear bombs AFTER Japan made clear calls for peace talks. Russia is right… we should have laws protecting religions from slander. After the Bulgariya sinking, Russians held THREE memorial services… one in the Orthodox cathedral, one in the Islamic mosque, and one civil secular ceremony on the docks. Now, that’s how we should do it! Ramzan Akhmatovich is right… certain parties are using a random act of violence to advance their agenda… and it’s NOT the Muslims…


Friday, 14 February 2014

Chechen Leader Offers Shelter to Second Doomed Danish Giraffe

00 happy giraffe. 14.02.14


Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov offered a home in Chechnya to another zoo giraffe facing death in Denmark. The Guardian reported this week that the Jyllands Park Zoo in Videbæk is preparing to kill a healthy young giraffe named Marius to prevent inbreeding. On Sunday, the København Zoo killed another giraffe… also named Marius… with shot from a bolt gun to the head after the zoo deemed him genetically superfluous. About 27,000 people signed an online petition to keep the first Marius alive, and several other zoos offered him a home, but the zoo went ahead with the killing.

On Thursday, Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram account, “I’m worried by reports that another giraffe is about to be slaughtered in Denmark. I’m ready to accept Marius for humanitarian reasons. We guarantee him proper living conditions and will take care of his health”. Kadyrov described Sunday’s killing, billed as an educational event and attended by dozens of children, as a “savage show”. The zoo dissected the giraffe’s corpse in public view and it fed the meat to its lions, tigers, and leopards. Kadyrov, repeatedly accused by human rights groups of human rights violations in Chechnya, has his own private zoo with lions, tigers, and bears on the grounds of his official residence outside Grozny.

14 February 2014



Editor’s Note:

Ramzan Akhmadovich shows the good side of the Caucasian character. If he gives his word… that’s it. He’ll go through hell itself to keep it. When he outlawed casinos in Chechnya, he told all the owners to come to him if they needed help in transitioning to another line of endeavour. He kept his word. He’s a Caucasian chieftain, in all senses… that is, when he pledges his word, that’s it. To tell only the “bad side” of the Caucasian character isn’t fair at all…

Did you note that Ramzan Akhmadovich “has his own private zoo with lions, tigers, and bears on the grounds of his official residence outside Grozny”… lions, and tigers, and bears… oh, my!


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Sunday, 1 December 2013

For Russia, Size Matters

Stolypin. Russian Eagle 05.12


Earlier this month, a lawmaker known for loyalist legislative proposals introduced a bill that would criminalise even talking about separatism in Russia. In an apparent attempt to emulate the law that bans promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors, Yevgeni Fyodorov, a deputy of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, proposed, along with two other lawmakers, making the promotion of separatism a crime punishable by up to six years in prison. If one promotes separatism in the media, the punishment could be up to 20 years. There’s little evidence that the legislation will pass. For one thing, fellow United Russia member Pavel Krashennikov, who heads a RF Gosduma legislative committee, criticised the proposal for being excessive, which is usually a signal to ultra-loyal deputies that they need to curb their enthusiasm.

However, the interesting thing about this proposal and others like it is that they unwittingly express some of the government’s most pressing anxieties. The gay promotion ban, for instance, isn’t as much about homophobia among officials (Russian officials aren’t particularly homophobic) as it is about patriotism and the wish to unite people against a common enemy, whilst the supporters of the ban on American adoptions rationalised it as a way to “force” Russia’s dysfunctional foster care system to get its act together. In a bid to show their loyalty, lawmakers will go for provocative measures to try to solve problems that government can’t solve in the first place.

Meanwhile, the threat of separatism is direr than meets the eye. Following the breakup of the USSR, the government faced two bloody separatist insurrections, both of them in Chechnya. President Vladimir Putin’s administration, for lack of a clear-cut ideology, credited itself with reining in separatism after the tumultuous 1990s. The way the government and its supporters see it, Putin’s first two terms were primarily about making sure that the country remains in existence. The state credits itself with a lot of things, but counts keeping the country together as a major achievement. One shouldn’t brush off the government’s preoccupation with this issue as protectionist paranoia.

Historically, Russia was touchy about what it perceived as foreign threats… unnamed forces seeking to tear it asunder. This mentality of a country under siege was the ideological justification for everything from a crackdown on protesters (Putin blamed the US State Department for protest activity) to the gay promotion ban. It may look like the Kremlin is battling bogeymen, but the separatist threat is actually very real, and it has a name… Russia’s size.

Russia’s enormous size is the elephant in the room from which its major problems stem. The threat of separatism isn’t just about the conflict in Chechnya. It’s as much about the country’s lack of road infrastructure, a problem that’s a function of Russia’s size, climate, and economy. If that weren’t enough, it’s also about the very identity of Russia as a multinational state… and if keeping one-sixth of the world’s landmass intact is a challenge, consider the fact that this landmass now includes 21 ethnic republics with different languages and cultural identities.

Fyodorov introduced the draft proposal soon after supposed calls for separatism that came in response to last month’s ethnic unrest in Moscow and the resulting rise in nationalist sentiment. In that regard, many view Russian nationalism as a separatist problem… Putin himself said as much in his address to the nation last year. Taken together, all of this means that the government really is under siege… not from the outside, but from within. The state spends a gargantuan amount of energy dealing with the one thing that makes it great and is its own enemy at the same time… its size. Let’s keep that in mind when we complain about crazy legislative proposals.

21 November 2013

Anna Arutunyan

Moscow News


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Why J-Lo Is More Ethical Than Our Greatest Statesmen

01 Mammon


I’m not sure when I first became aware of the oeuvre of the “singer” Jennifer Lopez… she of the two-note vocal range… but it may well have been when I was living in Kazakhstan in late 1999. As the new millennium approached, her track Waiting for Tonight was in heavy rotation on the German music channel I got with my satellite TV package. It was utterly rotten, but better than the works of Die Fantastischen Vier (click here), so I sometimes let it play out. Anyway, that early association of J-Lo + Central Asian autocracy might explain why I was neither shocked nor all that bothered when word got out that Jenny from the Block performed for Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the dictator of Turkmenistan. I mean… commercial pop star accepts cash for performance… whoa, stop the presses!

Yes, yes, I know, Berdymukhamedov’s a nasty man. That’s true. However, you know what? I recall that when I was in Kazakhstan, Vanessa-Mae (click here)… now largely forgotten, but at that time considered a superhot pop/classical act… played in the capital Astana during the New Year celebrations and nobody cared. Indeed, lots of pop stars have performed for shady types in oppressive post-Soviet régimes for two decades now. Nevertheless, since J-Lo isn’t yet totally washed up, all of a sudden, it’s news. Of course, J-Lo’s entourage claimed that she wouldn’t have performed for Berdymukhamedov had she known who he is… apparently none of them heard of this thing called “Google”. Then, a human rights organisation revealed that she’s raked in as much as 10 million bucks (325 million Roubles. 7.7 million Euros. 6.6 million UK Pounds) over the years performing in Azerbaijan, Belarus, and elsewhere, and has even serenaded the ever-charming Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, so the professed innocence seems dubious.

Of course, she’s hardly alone in her penchant for entertaining dodgy geezers… Beyonce and Mariah Carey once sang for members of Gaddafi’s family; Sting hung out with Islam Karimov’s daughter for ca$h; and lots of celebrities chilled at Kadyrov’s expense, from Hilary Swank to Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu. It’s the same story every time (unless you’re Depardieu, who doesn’t care)… “Oh, I didn’t know…” even as they’re trousering a wad of dollars, which some later gave away out of sincere regret/for face-saving PR (delete as appropriate). You can believe their claims of ignorance if you like, but, you know, Gaddafi was kind of famous, and, as I said, there’s this thing called Google…

The selectiveness of the outrage bothers me. You see, all of these celebrities are clear about what they do… they perform for money. J-Lo is a businesswoman and she does business in dodgy places, like ExxonMobil or Coke or Apple. However, she’s a trivial person; she doesn’t matter. If we’re going to savage her, then, there are some bigger targets we ought to focus on first. Like Tony Blair, for instance… his consulting agency Tony Blair Associates is currently advising the government of Kazakhstan in exchange for buckets of cash. That’s much dodgier than an aging single mother of two dancing for some khan in the desert; indeed, dancing for the khan is more honourable… it’s an ancient art and comes free of Tony Blair’s self-righteous, self-exculpatory blather.

What about Bill Clinton, everybody’s favourite vegan ex-president? He makes millions each year blathering away to foreigners; a speech from Clinton can cost you half a million bucks (16.25 million Roubles. 400,000 Euros. 325,000 UK Pounds), and he won’t even put on a skin-tight sparkly dress for you. Sometimes, he talks to Canadians and Swedes, but if the payday is good enough, he’ll jet off to Saudi Arabia, a country so oppressive it makes Turkmenistan look like a San Francisco nudist colony circa 1968. The rulers of assorted oppressive oil-rich regimes gain a lot of cachet by hosting Clinton. What prestige did Berdymukhamedov gain by having the fading singer of Love Don’t Cost a Thing mime on stage for him? Zero.

Then, there’s Al Gore, who hates global warming so much that he sold his rubbish TV station to the Emir of Qatar for 500 million USD (16.25 billion Roubles. 380 million Euros. 330 million UK Pounds), and I needn’t add that the champion greenhouse-gas-generating emir isn’t known for his progressive views either. Sure, Gore got a bit of stick for that, but not enough. That’s not fair. Has J-Lo spent her career banging on about human rights in Central Asia only to turn against everything she’d ever said as soon as the payout was awesome enough? No. On the other hand, Al Gore smeared himself with filthy lucre as quick as he could.

Let’s be reasonable here. J-Lo is paid to entertain. Sometimes, she entertains unpleasant people. However, she’s got a toy boy… she has to keep him in bling, you understand, and, at least, she works hard for an hour or so on stage to get her money. Compare that with some of the most respected, allegedly enlightened statesmen of our age who’ll spout platitudes at just about any old thug if the bucks are big enough. I know who I think is more honest.

17 July 2013

Daniel Kalder



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