Since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency he never really left, Russia’s descent into neo-Soviet authoritarianism has become daily more brazen. Dissidents are once again being put on show trials that call up the ghosts of Joseph Brodsky, Andrei Sinyavsky, and Yuli Daniel. Laws are being jammed through the Duma with the express purpose of making Western-minded Russians fear that they will be arrested for spying for foreign powers.
Rights in Russia: Navalny and the Opposition | World Affairs Journal – November/December 2013.
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The state media regulator Roskomnadzor filed a motion with the court in early October to have the agency’s license revoked, accusing the agency of publishing videos with foul language, according to reports in the local and international press.
Moscow court revokes news agency’s license – Committee to Protect Journalists – 10/31/2013.
Russia as patient has taken a turn for the worse.
While Putin’s machinery poses its challenges to foul language (and gay pride, judging by the latest), it would seem to welcome every opportunity to further abuse basic human rights and democratic values. By way of doing what it has been doing — and doing it better — it has inspired its opposition locally, online, and worldwide.
The MediEval Empire is back!
And it is fast returning Russians to the status of loyal — more and more frequently, barely tolerated — subjects.
Ah, the glory.
The funny thing is, predictably, with Al Qaeda operating in Syria, Putin remains an heroic standard bearer for decency and freedom despite what the Putin-armed Assad regime has done to Syrians (don’t look — at least put it off twenty more seconds) and what Putin’s editing of laws may be doing (are) to Russia’s vast and under-served constituency.
Still, the disappointment . . . .
Peering out from behind the bars of the closed and censored USSR, during the Perestroika period, we young journalists felt an incredible urge for freedom. While we were all ready to make sacrifices for that prize, none of us could not imagine in our worst nightmares that in a free Russia journalists could be killed for their work. Media professionals could be censored in USSR, fired, jailed or even exiled – but not killed. We also believed – and our Western counterparts with whom we were shared this belief – that the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War would herald in a new era of free expression and independent talented journalism would inevitably flourish across Europe and Central Asia. East and West, we would create a bright liberated information space stretching undimmed from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We failed utterly to anticipate and foresee how corrupt authorities and criminal gangs would develop new forms of censorship and pressure to bring our dream so violently to heel.
Nadezhda Azhgikhina: Combating Impunity in the Digital Age – Human Rights in Russia – 11/11/2013.
I shouldn’t, really, but I feel compelled to put these next two items side by side:
Russia’s Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize – Washington Times – 10/2/2013:
The Russian advocacy group International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World nominated Mr. Putin, characterizing his forged agreement with Syrian President Bashar Assad — to turn over admitted chemical weapons cache to international authorities — a world-class and prize-worthy piece of diplomacy, United Press International reported.
Artist Mutilates Self as Putin Paralyzes Russia – Bloomberg – 11/12/2013:
On Nov. 10, Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky undressed on Moscow’s Red Square, right in front of Lenin’s tomb, sat down and nailed his scrotum to the pavement.
Reactions to the radical act, which Pavlensky meant to be a “metaphor of the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of modern Russian society,” ranged from disbelief to mockery. A police source told state-owned news agency RIA Novosti that the action constituted normal behavior “for a mentally ill person.”
Make of that what you will — ouch! — and otherwise enjoy the references.
Netflix has it, so I’m off to watch the Khodorkovsky documentary.
Additional General Reference
Institute of Modern Russia
Institute of Modern Russia (Facebook)
Khodorkovsky (2011) – IMDb
Lenin, Stalin and Their Victims: Archive Footage | Video | RIA Novosti – video (3:03) – 10/30/2013 – “Day of Remembrance for Victims of Political Repression”.
Michael Weiss | World Affairs Journal
One day in the life of Mikhail Khodorkovsky – FT.com – 10/24/2013.
Pavel Khodorkovsky: Charlie Rose (11/07): Video – Bloomberg
Names You Need To Know: Pavel Khodorkovsky – Forbes – 5/9/2011
Pyotr Ofitserov: The Man Who Stood Beside Navalny To The Bitter End – VOA – 7/13/2013.
Russia: Drop Charges for Aiding Dying Patient | Human Rights Watch – 11/11/2013.
Russia: Drop Suits Against Independent Groups | Human Rights Watch – 11/6/2013.
Russia: TV Crew Reporting on Sochi Olympics Harassed | Human Rights Watch – 11/5/2013: “From October 31 to November 2, 2013, Russian traffic police stopped Øystein Bogen, a reporter for TV2, and cameraman Aage Aunes six times while the men were reporting on stories in the Republic of Adygea, which borders Sochi to the north along the Black Sea coast. Officials took the journalists into police custody three times. At every stop and in detention, officials questioned the journalists aggressively about their work plans in Sochi and other areas, their sources, and in some cases about their personal lives, educational backgrounds, and religious beliefs. In several instances they denied the journalists contact with the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow. One official threatened to jail Bogen.”
Russian Union of Journalists – Main Page; Russian Union of Journalists : The Other Russia: “News from the Coalition for Democracy in Russia.” Note: Items listed in several categories — I have not checked all — seem to trail off in early 2013.
The Bell | The Interpreter
The stage illusion laid bare | openDemocracy – by Peter Pomerantsev – 7/8/2013. Review of Ben Judah’s Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin.
Vladimir Pastukhov | openDemocracy
Vladimir Putin: his place in history | openDemocracy – by Vladimir Pastukhov – 2/9/2012
No shame in protesting against pro-Putin conductor, Valery Gergiev » Spectator Blogs – 11/12/2013.
Putin’s All-Purpose Weapon – NYTimes.com – by Masha Gessen – 9/30/2013.
Vladimir Putin, Through Western Eyes (Photos) | News | The Moscow Times – 9/27/2013.
Wikipedia Reference Section — Putin’s Accusers and Accused (You Figure Out Which is Which)
Alexander Bastrykin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alexei Navalny – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Boris Berezovsky (businessman) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Dmitry Medvedev – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Edward Snowden – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
NSA leaker Snowden gets Russian Web technology job – latimes.com – 10/31/2013.
Guardian faces fresh criticism over Edward Snowden revelations | Media | theguardian.com – 11/10/2013.
Investigative Committee of Russia – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sergey Sobyanin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mikhail Khodorkovsky – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Paul Klebnikov – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pussy Riot – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Related Late Breaking News
Jailed Anti-Kremlin Punk Rocker Launches New Appeal | Russia | RIA Novosti – 11/7/2013: “Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, said he had been informed the Pussy Riot band member was being relocated to a prison colony in the territory of Krasnoyarsk, located 3400 kilometers (2100 miles) east of Moscow, but authorities have yet to confirm that information.”
Pussy riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova now missing for more than three weeks – with her disappearance sparking fears some of the Greenpeace 30 could also be ‘lost’ – Europe – World – The Independent – 11/12/2013.
Pussy Riot leader lost in Russia’s prison system, husband says – latimes.com – 11/10/2013.
Sergei Magnitsky – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Georgy Satarov – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rights in Russia (organization)
Rights in Russia (Facebook)
Nadezhda Azhgikhina: Combating Impunity in the Digital Age – Human Rights in Russia – 11/11/2013.
United Russia – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Viktor Bout – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; incidentally, recently back in the news: Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’s U.S. conviction upheld | Reuters – 9/27/2013; Arms Dealer Viktor Bout ‘in New Appeal’ to U.S. Supreme Court | News | The Moscow Times – 11/8/2013.
Vladislav Surkov – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yury Luzhkov – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedia Reference Section – A Glance at Dissidents of the Soviet Era
Andrei Sakharov – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Andrei Sinyavsky – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joseph Brodsky – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mihail Chemiakin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “With his colleagues from the museum he organized an exhibition in 1964, after which the director of the museum was fired and all the participants forced to resign. In 1967 he co-authored with philosopher Vladimir Ivanov a treatise called “Metaphysical Synthesism”, which laid out his artistic principles, and created the “St. Petersburg Group” of artists . In 1971 he was exiled from the Soviet Union for failing to conform to Socialist Realism norms.”
Mikhail Baryshnikov – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mstislav Rostropovich – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “Rostropovich fought for art without borders, freedom of speech, and democratic values, resulting in harassment from the Soviet regime. An early example was in 1948, when he was a student at the Moscow Conservatory. In response to the 10 February 1948 decree on so-called ‘formalist’ composers, his teacher Dmitri Shostakovich was dismissed from his professorships in Leningrad and Moscow; the then 21-year-old Rostropovich quit the conservatory, dropping out in protest.”
Natan Sharansky – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pyotr Grigorenko – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rudolf Nureyev – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Soviet dissidents – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (section contributing source)
Vasily Aksyonov – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yelena Bonner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yuli Daniel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
All of that above: barely a morning’s drag-and-drop with a hint or two of actual writing in it . . . . I like it although it could change that old book title and jazz and music line “That was then, this is now” to “That was then: THIS is still THEN.”
Perhaps we could have both for a while — then, now, and then.
▶ The Monkees – That Was Then, This Is Now (Version 1) – YouTube
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