Anti-Americanism Is the New Black

“If the growth of anti-Americanism testifies to anything, then only to the success of Russian propaganda”
Olga Serebryanaya
February 19, 2015
online812.ru

There is a new trend on Facebook: folks complain to President Obama about the mess and collapse in Russia. Exemplary in this sense is a post written by Oleg Bulgak.

“Why the fuck, Mr. President, is there no seat on the toilet and no toilet paper in the only bathroom for younger visitors at Children’s Clinic No. 133 in northern Moscow? Have you shed your last shred of conscience back there in America? You are personally to blame for the fact the children have to climb onto the toilet bowl, although they could fall off it! Why are you taking such ingenious revenge on us? You make me mad, Barak Obama! Stop playing your little tricks!”

There are many such posts on Facebook, and yes, they are parodies, parodies by sane “outsiders” on the majority opinion, announced last week by Levada Center. According to the pollsters, 81% of Russians have a negative view of the US. Do I need to spell out the fact that if the growth of anti-Americanism testifies to anything, then only to the success of Russian propaganda?

The aim is clear: to shift attention from domestic to foreign issues. At first, this was done by means of a news agenda consisting wholly of events in Ukraine. Now, on the contrary, Russian events are served up only with a foreign connection.

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On Twitter, everyone had a laugh at “Obama is killing Kaluga auto industry,” a headline in a regional newspaper, but few people noticed the following news item, because “outsiders” have long ago stopped reading the news.

“Environment Minister Sergei Donskoi told RIA Novosti that the insects destroying boxwoods and palms in Sochi could have been brought into the resort city deliberately on the eve of the Olympics. ‘We have asked the prosecutor general’s office to establish who introduced the pests. I would like law enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of it,’ said the minister.”

The rhetorical device of propaganda has proven to be a very convenient governance strategy. If you have a problem, blame saboteurs, who will surely turn out to be foreigners or agents thereof. Hence, the capture of the female “spy” with a large family from Vyazma or the crazy Russian Orthodox Church staffer with an FSB ID.

Kirill Rogov explained the idea behind it.

“[The project] is called ‘legalizing repression.’ The idea is inure the public to arrests ‘for treason.’ The arrestees will be weirdos, people around whom there is no consensus in society, and with whom the ‘majority’ finds it hard to identify. The guidelines suggest that the number of arrests that go public should be between twenty and thirty. Then the chief executive will come out and say that the excesses trouble him. […] After this statement, which will be widely publicized, within a month, approximately, the intensity of the arrests will increase tenfold.”

Rogov’s hypothesis is confirmed by the fact that the spy mania has already been substantiated historically. Literaturnaya gazeta made a breakthrough on this front last week. Responding to a question posed by a reader from Stavropol, Nikita Chaldymov, Ph.D., explained that Russia’s woes had begun with Peter the Great’s modernization. Peter badly tarnished the country’s mores, сaused the subsequent persecution of Russian scientist Mikhail Lomonosov, and cut out that very same window through which “crowds of foreign adventurers began infiltrating” Russia. How could it have happened? The answer is clear: the sovereign was switched with someone else during the Grand Embassy.

“Could the tsar, being an Orthodox man, have so quickly turned into an alcoholic and libertine who dispatched his wife to a convent and married a Baltic washerwoman?” Chaldymov asks readers.

It stands to reason the real Peter could not have done these things. Foreigners had planted a spy on the throne.

There is only one hitch with this spy strategy. Another question might occur to the reader from Stavropol. Who occupies the Kremlin now? The real president? Or, God forbid, a changeling?

A Tale of Two Countries

‘MaiDOWN’ Banners Show Inhumanity
Andrei Malgin
The Moscow Times
Feb. 24 2015

A so-called “Anti-Maidan” march was held last weekend in the center of Moscow. It coincided with the anniversary of revolutionary events in Maidan Square in Kiev one year ago. Demonstrators wanted to show that they would not let the same thing happen in Russia. Watching the event on Russia’s state-controlled television, one large banner figured prominently in the coverage. It read, “We are not MaiDOWNS.”

138343“WE ARE NOT MaiDOWNS!”

“MaiDOWNS” — a tactless reference to the Ukrainian revolution and a person with Down syndrome — is a bit of slang that long ago took root among pro-Kremlin Internet trolls. If any foreign readers were unaware, the term “Down” as used in Russia means “absolute idiot” or “imbecile” and carries a very negative connotation.

Language reflects the condition of society. If a protestor carries a sign showing an image of a black president and the word “monkey” below, that person is clearly intent on offending others with racist statements. And anyone who would insult others by comparing them to a person with Down syndrome must sincerely believe that Down patients are unworthy of our respect and represent the refuse of society.

Maternity ward workers regularly persuade mothers who give birth to children with Down syndrome and other defects to give their babies over to the state to be held in special institutions. The statistics are lamentable: More than half of Russian children born with Down syndrome die within their first year.

An unenviable fate awaits the rest: They have no hope for adoption and will spend the rest of their lives as virtual prisoners. I have seen that whole horrible picture with my own eyes because my wife and I regularly visited one such orphanage in Moscow.

As a result, we adopted a boy from the orphanage whose illness, fortunately, is less severe. Parents from the United States used to adopt Russian children with illnesses or disabilities, but the Kremlin authorities put a stop to that, calling it unpatriotic.

I am friends with an ordinary Italian couple who adopted a boy named Vitya in the Siberian city of Kemerovo two years ago. Just three days after they took him home, the Kemerovo authorities passed a law abolishing all foreign adoption.

Vitya was one of the lucky ones. The Russian orphanage staff had considered him mentally retarded and a hopeless idiot, and nobody even tried to teach him to speak until he was five years old. The staff gave him less to drink so that he would urinate less frequently. As a result, whenever he was thirsty, he would scoop water from the toilet bowl with his cupped hands. His adoptive parents had difficulty breaking him of that habit.

Just after the couple gained court approval for the adoption, a young female court clerk approached them and said, “Admit it, you’re only adopting him for his organs, right?”

It turns out that the young woman had read a story in a Russian newspaper claiming that foreigners adopted Russian children with medical problems in order to sell their organs to the thriving black market for organs in the West.

Thank God, Vitya has almost recovered from his mistreatment. Complete recovery is impossible, but at seven years old, he has finally begun to speak. That is largely due to the herculean efforts of his adoptive parents and the Italian medical system. It is terrible to even imagine what fate would have awaited Vitya in his homeland.

It was President Vladimir Putin’s spin doctors that coined the word “MaiDOWN,” and I winced every time I encountered it on the Internet. But now I have seen that same word emblazoned on a huge banner carried  in downtown Moscow.

In Hitler’s Germany, the authorities systematically eliminated children with Down syndrome as part of the Action T4 euthanasia program. Putin’s Russia will never resort to such measures: It will kill those children with indifference and inhumanity.

Andrei Malgin is a journalist, literary critic and blogger.

Photo courtesy of from-ua.com/news

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After a transgender diva and a bearded drag act, a group of middle-aged punk rockers with learning disabilities could be the next performers to challenge prejudice at the Eurovision song contest.

They are far from the kitsch and camp of Dana International or Conchita Wurst, who became heroes for Europe’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community after Eurovision victories in 1998 and 2014.

But Finland’s PKN are aiming to raise awareness of people with learning disabilities – and “have a fucking good time” along the way, the band say.

Opinion polls and bookmakers predict the band will be runaway winners on Saturday when television viewers select Finland’s entry to the Eurovision finals in Vienna in May.

“If Finland wasn’t ready before for a punk Eurovision entry, they are now,” said Sami Helle, the band’s bass player.

PKN, short for Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (Pertti Kurikka’s Nameday), comprises four men with an average age over 40. Their explosive Eurovision entry, Always I Have To, is about having to do things you might not enjoy , such as washing up or eating properly.

Barely 90 seconds long, it has an anthemic quality and its refrain, “aina mun pitää”, is much easier to sing along with than the double umlaut may suggest.

[…]

David Crouch, “Finnish punk band with a difference take a punt at Eurovision title,” The Guardian, February 27, 2015

Editor’s Note. On Saturday night, PKN won Finland’s New Music Contest, taking 37.4% of the popular and jury vote. The band will represent Finland at the Eurovision contest in Vienna this coming May.

Artists Say No to War with Posters in Petersburg Subway

Anonymous Poster Artists Talk about Their Fatherland Defenders Day Protest in the Subway 
Andrei Sobol
February 24, 2015
paperpaper.ru

Yesterday, February 23, anti-war posters appeared in ad slots in subway cars. Anonymous activists hung three series of posters: quotations by famous authors about war; pastiches of children’s drawings; and avant-garde posters.

Organizers told Paper why they did it, how patriotism can be a bad thing, and where to look for the fruits of this anonymous partisan protest.

The first series of posters featured anti-war quotations by Erich Maria Remarque, Jaroslav Hašek, and Ernest Hemingway. The unknown artists pasted them over municipal government posters.

The second series of work, pastiches of children’s drawings, deal with the impact of war propaganda on children. The artists have tried to convey children’s vision of war.


(left panel) “My brother was killed in the army during peacetime. When I grow up is that also where I’ll end up?” (right panel) “My dad is very strong. He killed enemies, and now he beats me and Mom. Katya, 8 years old.”

“They told me I have to grow up to be a real man. When I grow up I’ll go to war, and I’ll rape and kill! Artyom, 7 years old.”

“My dad is a hero, but he doesn’t have arms anymore. God, let him grow new arms!!!”
“My dad came back from the war without legs. Now he says he’d be better off dead.”

In the third series of works, the anonymous artists decided to shift the focus from the celebration of Fatherland Defenders Day by recalling what else we commemorate on February 23rd: for example, the birthday of the Russian and Soviet avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich.


“K. Malevich was born on February 23. Happy otherness day!”

According to the protesters, who claimed responsibility for all three series, the posters were posted near the subways stations Lesnaya, Ploshchad Muzhestva, and Vyborgskaya. A total of twenty-six works were produced and put up.

Anonymous artist, organizer of the anti-war protest in the Petersburg subway: “Our government has greatly increased spending on militarization, which leads to the allocation of ever smaller sums for the social needs of Russian citizens. Hospitals and schools are being closed, and the educational sector as a whole is suffering. The idea of doing one series of posters as pastiches of children’s drawings was borne out of this. Poverty and unemployment are growing, while aggressive, conservative patriotism is becoming more and more noticeable with every passing day. Incidents of xenophobia and sexism have become more frequent, women are not allowed to control their own bodies, and attempts are being made to ban abortions. The government has apparently forgotten about its own citizens as it thinks only about war and external enemies.

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0TGhhhrWVcM“The army kills. Happy Fatherland Defenders Day!”
SzS8U7CfvosMy dad is a soldier. He kills and rapes. Happy February 23rd! Misha, 6 years old.”
Txk0FImHFHIAn anti-war quotation by Hemingway pasted over a municipal government ad that reads, “On the 70th anniversary of the Victory during Literature Year. […] Together we are reading [sic] Petersburg!”

Additional images courtesy of Left News

Saratov Anti-Fascist Sergei Vilkov Accused of “Nazi Propaganda”

Journalist Sergei Vilkov Accused of Nazi Propaganda at Alexander Lando’s Request
February 25, 2015
Obshchestvennoe Mnenie (om-saratov.ru)

Today, Obshchestvennoe Mnenie journalist Sergei Vilkov, a member of the anti-fascist movement, was charged by the regional directorate of the Center for Extremism Prevention (Center “E”) under Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code (“Propaganda of Nazi symbols”). The charge was based on a November 2011 cartoon, featuring the logo of the ruling United Russian party and a swastika, that denounced links between the authorities and nationalist movements. The cartoon was posted on the VKontakte social network in connection with the fact that Saratov City Hall issued permission for a march by right-wing radicals on November 4th.

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Saratov journalist and anti-fascist Sergei Vilkov

Charges were filed after Center “E” followed up on a public request by Alexander Lando, head of the Saratov Regional Public Chamber, to check the contents of Sergei Vilkov’s social network accounts.

Suffer the Little Children

My friend L. writes:

Today a fourth-grader told me that his history teacher [at a school in Petersburg’s Central District] had explained in class that Stalin had shot traitors. “Is it true?” the child asked me. I said the teacher was a foolish woman and it was pity she hadn’t been shot! And that the student could go and tell her so. The child reasonably remarked that if he did that, she would call the police. I then gave him the rundown on Stalin, thus completely and utterly undermining the history teacher’s authority.

Save children-6303

“Let’s Save Russia’s Children from American Slavery!” Placard at Anti-Maidan rally, Field of Mars, Petrograd, February 21, 2015. Photo courtesy of Sergey Chernov

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Fontanka looking for kindergarten that staged “Militiaman Day” with arms
February 24, 2015
Fontanka.ru

Photos from a “Militiaman Day,” allegedly held at a St. Petersburg kindergarten, are being discussed today on the blogs. In the photos, a man in a major’s uniform shows children all sorts of modifications of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, as well as a Dragunov sniper rifle, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and a shaped charged anti-tank grenade. The children happily pose with all these weapons, which are probably dummies used for training.

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The photos has had a bombshell effect on the Russian segment of the Internet. The shots have been compared to images from children’s celebrations in institutions supported by Hamas.

ds1The blogger who posted these photos claims that one of the parents decided to make the children happy in this way.ds3

The only thing that remains off camera is what kindergarten would permit such a celebration? We ask parents who know in what kindergarten the photos were taken to contact Fontanka’s editors.

The images, above, are screenshots from twitter.com as reproduced on Fontanka.ru

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Gleb Kuznetsov writes on Facebook that it is no longer necessary to watch television [to experience Russian war hysteria]: it suffices to pay a visit to a kindergarten: “As she was undressing the child, Grandma vaguely heard what was being said in the group before classes began. Seated on little stools, the kiddies were gathered around the minder. ‘Children. There is a war on in Ukraine. People are dying. Little kids and their parents are being hurt. Enemies have attacked them. But our president is a good man, children. He is fighting for peace… He is sending arms to the militiamen. So today we’ll be gluing envelopes.’ A child of six heard this as was he was changing his clothes and yelled, ‘Hurrah! World war. We’ll beat everybody.”

source: online812.ru

NODsat

While trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of Russia’s National Liberation Movement (NOD), who organized the alternately comic and dismal “Anti-Maidan” rally on the Field of Mars in Petrograd this past Saturday, I discovered (via their website) that NOD had an affiliate in London, the so-called For Russia Party 

NOD-5840Anti-Maidan rally, Petrograd, February 21, 2015. Photo courtesy of Sergey Chernov

The For Russians, it turns out, have typed up quite an ambitious platform:

1. Entry of the United Kingdom (UK) into the Customs Union with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus

2. Introduce a visa-free regime between England [sic] and all countries of the Customs Union.

3. Exit of the UK from the European Union, which has been steadily taking on the features of a union of European states based on fascist ideology.

4. Exit of Great Britain [sic] from the aggressive NATO bloc.

5. Entry of Great Britain into an alliance with Russia for the mutual strengthening of their defense.

6. Introduce compulsory Russian language instruction in UK schools.

7. Introduce the teaching of classic Russian and Soviet literature in UK schools.

8. Protect the property of Russian Federation citizens in Great Britain.

9. Introduce free access for the public in both countries to products and goods from both the English [sic] and Russian markets.

10. Make cheap heat and electricity from Russia available to the citizens of Great Britain.

11. Establish May 9 as a public holiday in England.

12. Special rights and protections for Russian speakers in England.

13. Introduce the legislative framework for preventing manifestations of Russophobic propaganda in British media.

You can visit their digs in Covent Garden if you’d like to join up.

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Anti-Maidan Actions Shouldn’t Make Putin Feel Secure, Vishnevsky Says
Paul Goble
February 22, 2015
Window on Eurasia

Staunton, February 22 – The Kremlin-organized Anti-Maidan demonstration in Moscow should not make Vladimir Putin feel secure because it was in reality an updated version of the Day of the Black Hundreds, Boris Vishnevsky says, groups organized by the tsarist regime to show support for the autocracy but that later did nothing to defend it.

Just as a century ago, demonstrators paid for by the regime or pushed to take part by their employers or officials went into the street to “denounce the revolution, praise autocracy, demand the preservation of the existing order and destroy ‘the enemies of the tsar and Fatherland,’” the Yabloko St. Petersburg city deputy says.

In its current incarnation, “the heirs” of the Black Hundreds denounce the Maidan, praise Putin and demand the destruction of ‘the Fifth Column,’” led by notorious Stalinists, supporters of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and demonstrating by their slogans – including “’Putin is Better than Hitler’” – their level of sophistication.

Also like their tsarist-era predecessors, the Anti-Maidan organizers are spectacularly unfortunate in identifying themselves in this way, as becomes obvious, Vishnevsky says, if one compares the Maidan and the Anti-Maidan and if one considers how the Black Hundreds groups behaved when push came to shove — and how the Anti-Maidan people are likely to.

In Kyiv, people came into the Maidan “to drive out a corrupt regime.” In Moscow, they “came to the ‘Anti-Maidan’ in order to express their loyalty and support to the powers that be.” They did not demand the regime meet its obligations to the people but only and instead that “the power not change.”

That may sound good to Putin and his backers, Vishnevsky continues, but he ought not to be too encouraged by this.  That is because “when his power begins to shake, not one of those who came to the ‘Anti-Maidan will come out in his defense” – just as a century ago, “not one of the Black Hundreds types came out to defend the tsarist power.”

But if Putin does not care to look that far back in time, he might consider a more recent example, the St. Petersburg deputy says.  None of those who had shouted “’Glory to the CPSU!’” or denounced “’the crimes of American imperialism’” came out to defend the communist regime when it began to fall apart.

Indeed, he suggests, like their predecessors, those in the Anti-Maidan who “equate Putin with Russia” and swear that they will ‘not give him up’” will betray him among the first. If Putin doesn’t believe that” – and he probably doesn’t – “then let him ask Yanukovich,” an even more recent victim of the delusion of those in power about how much support they have.

But there are more reasons for Putin to be worried. The extremist slogans on offer in the Anti-Maidan action, including anti-Semitic tropes that also link it with the Black Hundreds of the end of the Russian Imperial period, the lack of support from those whose names were invoked, and the small size of Anti-Maidan actions outside of Moscow should be of even greater concern.

As Forum-MSK.org points out today, the workers of the Urals Wagon Factory (Uralvagonzavod) who Putin sees as symbolic of his support among Russia’s silent majority and who were referred to be speakers at yesterday’s event in Moscow are anything but enthusiastic about him and his policies.

Lacking new orders, that plant is cutting back production plans and laying off workers, a situation that is replicated at many industrial sites around the Russian Federation and that hardly is an advertisement for the successes of the Putin regime or a reason for workers to give it more than lip service support.

Outside of the Moscow ring road, there were a number of Anti-Maidan actions. But because the PR needs of the regime were largely satisfied by the 35,000-person crowd in Moscow that could be shown on television and because the regional governments now lack the resources to do more, they were very small, in some cases no more than a handful and in others only a few dozen or a few hundred.

The Kremlin may not care a lot about the size – few in the Moscow media and even fewer Western reporters will cover anything outside of the capitals – but it probably should be worried that those taking part were in many cases the very Russian nationalist extremists it has been prosecuting and that their slogans were even more extreme than those in Moscow.

Moreover, the Kremlin’s PR specialists may be nervous about what happened when regional media picked up on that: In many cases, they were not afraid to say that “the meeting in support of Putin … failed.”  That is exactly what a Karelian news agency did.

In Petrozavodsk, the republic capital, the agency said, a meeting had been scheduled as part of “an all-Russian action ‘in support of national leader Vladimir Putin’” with slogans like “’It is [time] to drive out ‘the fifth column.’” But in the event, Vesti.Karelia.ru noted, “only 15 people” came out in behalf of those ideas.

It may be that the men in the Kremlin won’t take notice of this; but there is no question that the people of Karelia will.