With revolution, something goes, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean something else takes its place, or much of it, all at once. With Pussy Riot getting more media play in these its quiet years than perhaps (darn!) it did in its earlier and exuberant phase, a part of the global conscience has been taking a second look at the state’s now anachronistic prison system plus its deeply antiquated view of its own purpose.
What brought this into focus was the notice that what has given way in Syria is of the same corroding poison: the Ghost of Soviets Past and perhaps (ach!) the Phantom of the Czars.
is it about to lose its last ally in a newly democratised Arab world, of which Syria will remain a vital hub whatever happens? Russia inherited its Middle East presence from the Soviet Union, but it did not gain any new friends. With Gaddafi gone and Assad on his way out, Russia stands to lose more than physical assets.
Syria: a Soviet hangover turned headache | Comment is free | The Guardian 1/31/2012
Here we are coming up on two years later and Syria as a fine place to work (perhaps [grimace]) and play isn’t looking so good.
With the Kurdish Community enjoying autonomy and perhaps (egads!) enjoying fending off Al Qaeda a little less, with the faces of satellite-made maps rearranged significantly, with more than 110,000 souls absent forever and some millions struggling with new and insecure quarters, in the country and in other countries, and two superpowers arguing over the rules rather than the war, Syria has long passed the point of repair and territorial restoration.
In the post-Soviet internal grab fest, the Assad’s Syria just went on working as it had before the revolution.
Somebody forgot to invent and install Assad Regime in Syria 2.0
Or start to work on the problem.
(it’s like a hiccup).
Tomorrow Today Amnesty demands “Russia must investigate prison abuse allegations by Pussy Riot member”:
“The prison administration claimed that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova had been placed in isolation for her own protection, but we are concerned this could be yet another punishment for demanding that her own rights and the rights of other inmates are respected. What authorities should do is investigate the allegations she made,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s office in Moscow.
If there is a dictator around and true to form, he will blame the adverse and scrutinizing media challenge on foreign agents and then do nothing or, at best, attend the cosmetics by summoning up the empire’s most renowned tailors of public relations to sew up a caring and concerned cloak to wrap around the matter.
That sort of thing suits emperors.
However, if the dictator is absent and another kind of administrator present, independent assessments and studies will be supported, an open conference or two may be arranged (and, perhaps [pfft] institutionalized), and Amnesty will be answered with a degree of candor possibly unknown to Russia’s best invested class.
Also wheezing around like an old fart on matters post-Soviet: my own United States of America:
In 1974, Congress enacted the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which limits trade with “nonmarket” countries that restrict emigration. While it did not mention the Soviet Union, it was clearly aimed at pressuring Moscow to grant Jews the freedom to leave the country. Two decades after the fall of Communism, that is no longer a problem, but the law is still in place.
A Costly Anachronism – NYTimes.com Op-Ed, 2/27/2012
I don’t know if the matter has been addressed, and, right now, I don’t want to know. Celebrities in jail and civil wars grab everyone’s attention and inspire the nimble to undo the wrapping and have a look at who, what, where, how, and, perhaps especially (oh, groan), why!
That’s kind of wonky, y’know?
“If Jackson-Vanik is not lifted, American exporters — including big players such as Caterpillar and Boeing — will be paying higher tariffs than European and Asian competitors” just doesn’t reach out and sing to me quite the way that Pussy Riot’s Prison Blues do.
Prison people, New Times, n.d. (in Russian, machine translated)
Khodorkovsky, Tymoshenko Revive Old Tradition Of Prison Correspondence 9/6/2013
1. To citizen and professional journalists and publishers: please dateline everything published. Otherwise, one may as well be reading short stories. Perhaps (I think that was one too many).
2. Khodorkovsky’s in a funny spiritual space. My impression from reading Fragile Empire is that he had leaped from the Communist Party into private ownership of whatever he could get his hands on during the transition, and though his heart may have been in the right place despite its oil-laden and much enriched blood, the wrangling over taxes would seem to reveal as greedy a Republican soul as any known to the royalty of black crude in Texas.
On the other hand, Putin’s Robin Hood may have played if the distribution architecture hadn’t so favored so many Merry Men of old and new acquaintance — no funny propaganda intended. Then too the revenue generating resource and the money have to move through their trade and economic channels and should a president not start with his own channels?
Perhaps (this one’s different) not.
Tempered modification may be the watchword for how states of affairs evolve in Russia.
While concentrations and movements in wealth and power hold interest, there’s an underlying dimensions analogous to operating a wood burning stove: whose job is it? How much fuel should it be given? How much oxygen, ventilation, and exhaust? Who is harvesting the wood? Who is holding it? Who is sitting next to the stove? Why? How? By what right? Etc.
With Putin, Russia has avoided anarchy.
It has not avoided oligarchy, so far, nor has it transformed itself in the direction of an integrated global political modernity. That’s a thing larger than “the west”: it includes India, for example.
And Kenya for another.
Two steps forward.
One step back.
Russia is going to be fantastic!
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