Voices from Russia

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Snowden: The Only Solzhenitsyn We Deserve

00 Cuz Freedom Ain't Free. 26.10.13

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Is the former NSA analyst a modern-day dissident? There are many interesting similarities between Edward Snowden and the famous Russian dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008). The most recent example of these is the interview Snowden recently gave to the New York Times explaining his actions; he denied rumours that he’d passed American secrets to the Russian and Chinese special services. This interview came too late. It took place several months after the peak of the Snowden hysteria. In the same way, many viewed Solzhenitsyn’s return to Russia in 1994, 20 years after his exile from the USSR in 1974, as belated… ­ it should’ve taken place in 1989-91 as the Soviet state was collapsing.

In the interview, Snowden explained that he didn’t consider his action anti-American and that he didn’t carry any sensitive documents after releasing the information on the NSA’s surveillance programmes to journalists in Hong Kong. He also defended himself against accusations of working for Chinese or Russian intelligence, stating that he’d carefully protected sensitive data from Chinese intelligence officers because he’d studied Chinese intelligence intensively and was well aware of its capabilities. In the interview, Snowden added that the NSA knew that he hadn’t revealed any secrets to the Chinese. For Snowden’s reputation, these explanations also came too late, ­which brings another comparison to Solzhenitsyn. For several months during the spring and summer, American officials mounted an aggressive campaign against Snowden, calling him a traitor, hinting at possible material interests he might be pursuing by making his revelations in Hong Kong and Russia.

Solzhenitsyn was also very careless in terms of personal PR… instead of protecting himself against the accusations of treason mounted against him by the Soviet authorities, he always talked about the global problems of Russia and the world in general, never revealing details of his personal life or otherwise catering to the public’s curiosity. The disparity between Solzhenitsyn and Snowden is in form, not in substance. In the 1950s and 1960s, when Solzhenitsyn wrote his best books, people still read epistolary novels, with letters written by an author of fiction. In Snowden’s time, people prefer the real thing… genuine e-mail messages leaked on the internet. However, in both cases, the authorities reacted the same way. Both the Soviet authorities in Solzhenitsyn’s 1970s and the American authorities in 2013 didn’t deny that the revelations were true.

The authorities just said that the two authors were presenting atypical phenomena. Leonid Brezhnev couldn’t deny the GULag‘s existence, but he said that they were “deviations from the way of Socialist law” and “individual mistakes”. In the same way, the NSA’s defenders in the USA said that the PRISM programme targeted terrorists. They added that it was unfortunate if the NSA sometimes eavesdropped on ordinary citizens; however, this wasn’t standard practise… even if one could count the “individual mistakes” in millions, just like Solzhenitsyn’s revelation about the “archipelago” of labour camps. Some of their compatriots criticised both Solzhenitsyn and Snowden for revealing their findings to foreigners and not to their own domestic bureaucracy. The people who helped Solzhenitsyn transfer the manuscripts of his novels abroad had problems with the KGB, just as the American and British authorities put pressure on the journalists who helped Snowden publicise his secrets.

In both cases, the truth-seekers found some support and understanding abroad. However, here, the similarities of the stories end. Brezhnev could’ve sent Solzhenitsyn to the GULag, the system of camps was still functioning in 1970s, albeit on a smaller scale, but the Soviet leader preferred to avoid a trial, which would’ve been a public relations disaster for the USSR. Instead, he sent Solzhenitsyn to West Germany. Snowden, however, was already in exile when he made his revelations. Since then, US President Barack Obama has attempted to bring him back to the USA to stand trial. In the case of Snowden, the saying is true that history repeats itself not as tragedy, but as a particularly Orwellian type of farce.

21 October 2013

Dmitri Babich

Russia Behind the Headlines               

http://rbth.ru/opinion/2013/10/21/snowden_the_only_solzhenitsyn_we_deserve_31015.html

Editor’s Note:

The Snowden Affair revealed that the WASP Amerikantsy (and those who suck up to them by imitating them) are amongst the most nasty, cruel, egotistical, and foolish hypocrites that the world has ever known. The motto of America is, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. Note well that Vince Lombardi evaded military service in World War II, hiding behind a deferment as a teacher. That’s what America has become… a violent bully bent on winning at all cost, scorning all duties to the greater society. This is especially prevalent in the Republican Party… after all, they nominated a draft-dodgin’ tax evader as President (who sent American jobs to China during the election campaign… now, that’s patriotism for ya! Marx was right… “Capital knows no homeland”).

Edward Snowden’s a hero… those who criticise him are cowardly putzes, all of ‘em, no exception. America’s become a rogue nation… it’s been the main cause of war in the world since 1991. If one can say that any nation sponsors terror, the USA does that in spades with its drone strikes, CIA interventions, and indefinite detention at Guantánamo. The Taliban and Palestinian “terrorists” (the former are mostly Afghan patriots fighting the latest feringhi invader, and the latter have a legit grievance per the UN) are bush-leaguers in comparison… the number of their victims pales in comparison to the pile of dead left by “peaceful” America. The USSR bankrupted itself arming itself to defend itself against American aggression (Iran, Chile, Guatemala, and Nicaragua proved that the USA trampled on all those it considered weaklings)… the USA bankrupted itself reaching for world hegemony whilst coddling the Affluent Effluent at the same time. The two situations are in no way comparable.

WASP Amerikantsy love preaching to all of us (that’s why the konvertsy are forever preaching to we ethnic Orthodox). They’re “better” than all the rest of us, dontcha know… as proven by Wounded Knee, the Trail of Tears, Hiroshima, Agent Orange, and PRISM… I think that I’m going to stop there. Don’t they make you sick beyond all words? God has a special cold corner of Hell for such evil sorts (especially for the Born Agains and their hangers-on… there’s nothing worse than a godless hypocrite spouting religion). May God see this and judge…

BMD

 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Snowden Shortlisted for Sakharov Prize

00 Statue of Liberty. Soviet. 01.10.13

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The European Parliament announced that fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on a short list for the prestigious Sakharov Prize celebrating freedom of thought. The Greens and the leftist GUE/NGL group nominated Snowden. On Monday, European lawmakers cast their votes for nominees in the short list in a secret ballot. The list also includes three jailed Belarusian dissidents and Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, who’s the odds-on favourite to win the prize. Snowden, a computer specialist and former employee of the US National Security Agency (NSA), was the focus of international attention over the summer after he leaked classified evidence of US government surveillance programmes to the media. He fled to Hong Kong, and, then, to Moscow, where Russia granted him temporary asylum in late July, despite repeated extradition demands from Washington. Parliament leaders will announce the winner on 10 October, and the awards ceremony will take place in Strasbourg in December. The European Parliament awarded the 50,000 Euros (2.185 million Roubles. 67,800 USD. 69,800 CAD. 71,900 AUD. 41,800 UK Pounds) prize, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, every year since 1988 to honour champions of human rights and freedom of expression. Past recipients included anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African President Nelson Mandela, Chinese dissident Hu Jia, and Reporters Without Borders, a French NGO advocating freedom of the press.

1 October 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://www.en.rian.ru/world/20131001/183869306/Snowden-Shortlisted-for-Sakharov-Prize.html

Friday, 10 May 2013

“The Sentiments Expressed by the Bolotnaya Square Protesters are Different from those Expressed by Other Protesters in Russia”: Natalia Narochnitskaya

00 RIA-Novosti Infographics. Portrait of a Protestor. 2012

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Valdaiclub.com interview with Natalia Narochnitskaya, Director of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris and president of the Historical Perspective Foundation in Moscow

VC

Do you think the inspections of NGOs by the Prokuratura discredit these groups in the eyes of society, which is the goal, or do they discredit the government?

Narochnitskaya

It depends. The Western media are sure that these inspections discredit the authorities… that’s how they portray these audits. These NGOs, especially the most-high-profile ones, are their icons and they’ll portray them as heroes. As for Russian society, certain people, mainly in Moscow, share this view, but people in the rest of Russia don’t see these inspections as discrediting the authorities in any way. It’s important to understand that our society doesn’t have a united stand on this issue. The sentiments expressed by the Bolotnaya Square protesters are different from those expressed by other protesters in Russia. That’s my answer.

VC

Will these inspections further strain relations between activists and the authorities?

Narochnitskaya

Again, it depends. I think there are two unequal camps in the activist community. The *liberal Western-oriented camp that calls itself the “non-systemic” opposition is concentrated in Moscow and it’s very small on a national scale. However, this is the only opposition that the West notices, and, as a result, they’ll probably grow even more hysterical in their hatred of the Russian government.

*”liberal” in Russian terms is the same as the Anglospherelibertarian”. The latter term isn’t part of Russian intellectual/political discourse. That is, when a Russian attacks “liberalism”, they attack the non-regulatory Hobbesian anarchism of the Anglosphere Right. That is, Russians uncontaminated by Western constructs oppose and anathematise anarchy of any sort; it doesn’t matter if it’s religious anarchy (“evangelicalsectarianism… an Orthodox bishop called it “Christian atheism”… how true!), societal anarchy (libertarianism), intellectual anarchy (“anarchy” per se), or moral anarchy (immorality)… in Russian terms, all four have an intimate and indissoluble correlation.

As for the majority of activists in the rest of Russia, they lean more towards left-wing views. They aren’t sad that the 1990s are over, but they feel like the car broke down on the road leading away from the ‘90s. These people are more worried about pensions, re-industrialisation, jobs, fighting corruption, and the decline of Russians as the dominant ethnic group in the country. However, they like Russia’s strong foreign policy and tough response to Western pressure. I don’t think these audits had any effect on their attitudes. They might even welcome them.

VC

Do you think there’s a connection between the audits of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), during which the auditors removed their computers and papers with Angela Merkel’s position on Cyprus?

Narochnitskaya

Maybe, but I don’t think so. By the way, in the West, many experts believe this, and in private conversation they’ll say that EU leaders probably gave Cyprus an ultimatum… make no agreements with Russia, or you won’t receive any cash and the EU will simply engineer its collapse in one week. I’ve heard this from British and French experts. In a brief statement on Cyprus’s collapse, Viktor Gerashchenko said off-the-cuff that probably this decision was directed against Russia and that Cyprus was being punished for its pro-Russian position and refusal to let the West anywhere near the deposits discovered on the country’s continental shelf. There was a risk that Russia might get a hold in this key strategic area in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, I still believe that the EU had bigger motives in Cyprus. We can hardly consider the removal of computers as a “retaliatory measure”. They simply caught these NGOs in the same net as all the others.

VC

Do you think that these inspections are a pretext to put off the issue of establishing visa-free travel between Russia and Europe?

Narochnitskaya

For Europe and the EU, this is the pretext they’ve been looking for in order to hold up a process that they’re simply not ready for. No doubt, they’ll use it and cling to it. However, in reality… and experts have long known this… they aren’t ready for visa-free travel with Russia. They’re doing everything to impede the process, saying that they’ll have to deal with a wave of illegal workers from Asia and the Caucasus.

VC

What problems are Russian NGOs facing abroad?

Narochnitskaya

The media speaks ill of Russia or not at all. The French press is in the lead and the European media in general is acting in much the same manner. They welcome only those Russian NGOs that rabidly insist that no country in the world is worse and has fewer rights than post-Yeltsin Russia. They invite such people to speak on television very often. By the way, they’re from NGOs that receive official funds from the US budget. The US Congress is partially-financing institutions of the Republican and Democratic parties, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and many Russian NGOs. I shudder to think what they would’ve written about my Institute of Democracy and Cooperation if we’d received a penny from the Russian budget.

By the way, I’ve just come back from America where I had a conversation with a prominent banking analyst. I asked him directly what he thinks about the campaign in the press against the new law requiring that NGOs funded from abroad must declare this if they conduct political activities in Russia. He laughed and said that in the USA foreign funding of political activities carries criminal penalties. He said a man from China contributed to a local election campaign in one city and received a 10-year prison term.

No matter what we do and what important events with distinguished people we hold, there’ll be little or no coverage. Sometimes, they invite us to be on television. If a Russian NGO in a foreign country doesn’t spew hatred for the government, even if it readily discusses our sins, they’ll always describe it as a Kremlin agency funded by the budget, even though this is a total lie. This is the constant insinuation you hear, based on some blogs. The academic community in Europe is much fairer and more objective, and it’s easier to work with them. We’re trying to involve them in serious roundtables where we always criticise corruption and other vices in Russian politics or the economy. Three years ago, our office in Paris opened with a seminar offering a comparative analysis of anti-corruption laws in France and Russia, which put Russia in an unfavourable light. We had interesting speakers on our side, and we acknowledged that corruption is a systemic problem that can’t be resolved quickly. However, nobody cares about this.

Here’s another example of what often happens. When my name came up in connection with the establishment of my institute’s office in Paris, many newspapers asked me for an interview… l’Express, Le Figaro, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and The Chicago Tribune {did Sophia Kishkovsky or Serge Schmemann interview Professor Narochnitskaya? Perspirin’ minds wanna know…: editor}. I talked with all of them at least for an hour about everything, including culture, insight into life in each other’s countries, and the desire to break the glass wall of misunderstanding that separates us. A French woman from l’Express and I even got to talking about Baudelaire’s poetry and hugged each other goodbye. You should’ve seen what her newspaper wrote! I regretted that I was so naïve and didn’t switch on the recorder. I could’ve published it online so that everyone could see that they clearly instructed her to write a negative story. Nevertheless, I didn’t say anything negative and she published in her newspaper three routine anti-Putin paragraphs that had nothing to do with our conversation and one sentence about our meeting… “This is the aim of the agency that will be headed by Natalia Narochnitskaya, whom I had a chance to meet”.

I can concur on Professor Narochnitskaya’s observation. Western media sorts NEVER tell it as you tell it and you must use the utmost caution in talking to them. Never be verbose… be concise, for they can edit your words in such a way that it’ll seem that you either support their position or that you’re a marginal nutter (this is particularly true of TV presenters). In fact, very few Western “authority figures” tell the truth (“winning by any means, fair or foul” is the most important component of the Western Corporate Weltanschauung)… be very, very careful in your dealings with them, especially, with clergy… never talk to a clergyman on substantive matters without a witness or two (doubly so, if he’s a convert or an SVS grad). As Paffhausen illustrated, all too often, they do lie whenever it’s convenient for them, and they’re bloody sincere and unctuous about it, too…

Frankfurter Allgemeine was the only newspaper to report what I said without sneering and in good faith. Its coverage reflected their understanding of what I said. An article in Le Figaro read, “Oh what a fierce debater they’ve sent from Russia!” I take pride in this! Speaking about freedom of the press in the West, the press is so subordinated to editorial policy that it’s long ceased to reflect the diversity of public thinking and public opinion in its own countries. Public opinion in these countries is much more complex, and many more people are quite fair in their views of Russia. I won’t say they’re fond of Russia, but they’re willing to listen calmly to positive information about the country. My European friends and partners tell me they’re sick and tired of hysterical Russophobia in the press. Incidentally, already, Russophobia has become marginal. The articles by André Glucksman have become so grotesque that they remind me of our incomparable Valeria Novodvorskaya {a pro-Western Quisling… she writes for the New York Times… did this traitor mentor Sophia Kishkovsky? Interesting angle, no?: editor}. The press has taken it so far that soon its coverage will have the opposite effect. This is what happened with anti-capitalist propaganda in the Khrushchyov era. We’ll discuss this problem… the origins of Russophobia… at a conference at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy in May, which I’m attending. The Italian side, not us, suggested the idea. This is already a good sign.

8 May 2013

Valdai Discussion Club

http://valdaiclub.com/politics/58200.html

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Anti-Putin Oligarch Berezovsky Buried in Surrey… He was a Suicide

00 Brookwood Cemetery. Surrey UK. 08.05.13

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After the burial of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, found dead at his house near London, was over, the mourners began leaving Brookwood Cemetery. One of the witnesses said, “The guests are leaving, no one’s talking to reporters”. According to sources, a memorial service preceded the burial. On 8 May, Berezovsky’s funeral, took place at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. However, his will, drawn up just nine days before his death, left more questions than answers.

Berezovsky always intended his funeral to be a private affair, closed to the media. Very few of his friends attended the service. Surrey Police confirmed to VOR that they’d be attending a funeral at Brookwood (near Guildford) to prevent any hindrance to the proceedings, although they refused to say if it was for Berezovsky. However, they denied reports that armed police were in the area. Thames Valley Police, which is leading the investigation into his death, wouldn’t confirm funeral arrangements, saying it was a private affair. The few mourners included his friend Akhmed Zakayev and members of his legal team. According to a tweet from journalist Luke Harding of The Guardian, there were fewer than 30 people at the cemetery in Surrey. He also reported that a Ukrainian TV crew hid in the bushes.

The self-made billionaire… said to be worth 3 billion USD (93.5 billion Roubles. 2.28 billion Euros. 1.93 billion UK Pounds)… was a former academic who built his fortune with investments in oil, cars, aluminium, and the media. He played an integral part in Vladimir Putin’s rise to power in 2000. However, they fell out when Putin began charging many oligarchs with tax evasion. Berezovsky fled to England in 2000, where he lived until his death. The Times reported that although he’d recently changed his will, his executors refused to carry it out and a court appointed an accountancy firm to deal with his finances, said to be in some disarray.

Friends of Boris Berezovsky claimed that someone strangled him to death, despite a post-mortem examination that showed no sign of a struggle, and that he died with a ligature around his neck consistent with hanging. He was found dead in his bathroom at his mansion in Mill Lane, Ascot, west of London on Saturday 23 March. Nevertheless, friends say that he wasn’t suicidal; they believe that someone strangled him. Reports circulated that he was due to be cremated at Gunnersbury Cemetery on 6 May. However, being a municipal cemetery, that seemed unlikely as it was a bank holiday in the UK. The inquest opened and adjourned on 28 March 28, after which the police released a brief statement in which a spokesman confirmed, “The results of the post-mortem examination, carried out by a Home Office pathologist, found the cause of death is consistent with hanging. The pathologist found nothing to indicate a violent struggle”.

8 May 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_05_08/Russian-businessman-Boris-Berezovsky-buried-in-Surrey/

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On Wednesday, Russian-born oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who died at his home near London in March, was laid to rest at the Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey in the UK. An eyewitness told RIA-Novosti, “The guests are leaving; they’re reluctant to talk to journalists”. About 60 people were present, including Berezovsky’s close friend Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev, along with the deceased oligarch’s three ex-wives and his daughter Yelizaveta. Journalists weren’t allowed at the funeral, the date and location of which were kept secret to keep the media away. According to eyewitnesses, the casket remained closed during the ceremony. The 67-year-old self-exiled tycoon was found dead in the bathroom of his home in Ascot in southern England on March 23. The official cause of death hasn’t yet been announced, but a post-mortem examination found that the death was consistent with hanging.

8 May 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/world/20130508/181038322/Self-Exiled-Russian-Businessman-Berezovsky-Buried-in-UK.html

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