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WHAT'S IT LIKE LIVING IN RUSSIA TODAY?

 
 
Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Fri 24 Jan, 2003 08:27 pm
RE TWIN TOWERS FILM

Docent, the interjection of humor was welcome. It also provides insight into the Russian mind.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2003 03:25 pm
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2003 04:33 pm
steissd, Thanks for that correction on the Russian layered dolls so popular with tourists. Although you may have left Russia in 1990, your observations are still valuable and interesting to those of us that had a short visit. Your take on trying to negotiate with terrorists is the correct one; once they think they can bargain by taking hostages, we'll never see the end of it. Thank you for your participation in this forum. c.i.
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Docent P
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jan, 2003 01:04 am
>So you think the trial is actually or partially intended to detract attention from Putin's responsibility? Kinda like - search for a scapegoat because of course, it can't be the Leader himself who's to blame?

Yes I think so. There are (also like during Budennovsk) two unpleasant for the Kremlin questions: 1 who allowed the terrorists to enter Moscow? 2 who is responsible for the bloodbath (number of killed hostages as well as killed terrorists and servicemen is still unknown) during the Spetsnaz's action? Actually of course someone responsible for these both things is Putin. In such country as Russia no terrorist would ever come to Moscow without the FSB's support or at least their permission. Then of course none of Alpha soldiers will not fire if his general hasn't been given a direct President's order in writing (this, may be a very strange for a Westerner tradition, was initiated by General Grachev in October 1993). The official propaganda insists about the 2nd topic - it was a great victory may be the greatest since Stalingrad Very Happy , all were conducted in the most brilliant way, so it would have been impossible to save more people than were, then why should we punish someone? As about the 1st question: all happened on the Moscow's territory so try to ask Mayor Luzhkov, we know nothing. In result when the victims said that they have no pretensions to Comrade Putin they unvoluntary confirmed that they share the official position. IMHO the total action is more a confirmation of the official propaganda than a looking for a scapegoat. So all doubtfull persons now can be told: even these greedy and unpatriotic "truth-lovers" are pleased with Comrade Putin, do you want to be holier than Pope?

>Or do you mean that those who started the trial picked a lesser authority simply because they knew it was hopeless to target Putin himself - that he is "untouchable", either because of his power or because he is still too popular?

It could be a reason. Of course it was not the matter for the informers who would pay their money. According to some sources that idea was generated by Nemtsov (btw his name is popular in the Western papers) - the leader of so-called "liberals", "fighter for the Human Rights", "young reformator", big friend of Chubais (another famous person deserving a separate topic) and so on but actually the same strong Putinist as other Russian "liberal politicians" - who once gave his "juridical consultation" where suggested to initiate a case against Luzhkov. But I'm not sure that it was the main reason. Anyway the authorities have many methods to force the victims to initiate the "right" case. It's hard to say what was the strongest.

>Do people still believe the media, now that even stations like NTV have been silenced or coopted?

The most common feeling is total indifference. It's hard to believe or disbelieve the media because they bring up zero information. A typical news program (like a news program of the Communist period) consists of 3 parts: Putin's visit to somewhere (this guy is rushing about the world like an electron around a nucleus - nobody can say where he is at the moment, years ago after he had been just elected some analitics tries to explain his often travels from the point of global geopolitical reasons but now nobody more attempts to see any logic there) or his meeting with someone in the Kremlin or, in the worst case, his vacations at a ski resort with a lot of Putin's speeches (not more sensible or less boring than Brezhnev's ones); the 2nd part is about natural hazards that happen almost so frequently as Putin's voyages and the 3d part is international news - mostly Israel and anti-American actions around the world; possibly sometimes there are vigorous reports about new successes in Chechnya with big numbers of killed terrorists. As about analitic program or discussion clubs - such things have been totally absent for many years. Now the Russian TV has no political programs at all. All the time between these "news" are fulfilled by endless criminal traffic films where good guys (killers, drug dealers and other kinds of criminals) torture and kill in many unusual ways bad guys (the same criminals but ethnic Caucasians). Btw the main leader of the demonstration of such "native films" was the NTV before being shut. Generally this channel has never been opposite to Putin and had no differences from the government's ones. But independently of the NTV's stuff the channel got the reputation of an objective informational source (IMHO very surprisingly).

As about the Internet - it's really the most valuable information source but the problem is that it is still unaccessible for the most part of the population. These rich people who can afford themselves are mostly so called New Russians ("business and political elite" as these animals call themselves) - in other words the dirtiest remnants of our society - criminal "authorities" and former Comsomol (Union of Young Communists) activists connected with illegal businesses. Now such persons are allowed by the Putin's regime to do what they want like invaders in a foreign colony or occupied country and so all of them are the greatest Putin-lovers and "patriots".

>...Yuz Alezhkovsky's Kangaroo

An excellent writer. He is widely known as the author of the anti-Communist song: "Comrade Stalin, you are a great scientist...".

>Wasn't there a writer being prosecuted now, in what was seen as a test case in how far the government can go in tackling critics? Forget who it was - was it Sorokin ? How did that end?

Besides Sorokin there were Pelevin and Erofeev. None of them ever crticized the authorities or wrote anything about politic. Sorokin writes novels about different physiological dirtinesses (very hard to read and almost impossible to understand) with a lot of unprintable words (it's a common tradition in the todays Russian literature) that are his main guilt. Erofeev is the author of horrible stories about criminals (close to Aleshkovsky) with a lot of bad words also. Pelevin's style is philosophical novels with Buddist ideas writen in right literal Russian. His guilt is that some of his personages often take drugs so it allegedly "propagandizes healthless style of life". As about how did they end - one night a militia unit visited the publishing firm that had been dealing with Sorokin and confiscated the total edition of printed Sorokin's book - several thousand examples. Now Putinists may not care about this writer - none of businessmen will ever agree to spend his money for books that can be confiscated at any moment. Sorokin's writer's career is over. The most ridiculous thing is that the state youth patriotic movement "Going together" (created mostly basing on Nazi and pro-Nazi organisations) who used to sink Sorokins books in a giant toilet bowl are avowing to read nobody else but Dostoyevsky instead Very Happy .

As about how far the Kremlin is able to go against political opponents - I guess very far. Putin haven't got a chance yet to demonstrate it.
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>We are to blame for Russia's internal problems, because we have the dollars.

Don't try to see any logic in Marxism.
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>Docent, the interjection of humor was welcome. It also provides insight into the Russian mind.

This is a good example of the cult of personality those existing is so strongly denied by Putinists.
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>...should serve an example to all the governments that face problem of terror

IMHO it's a VERY BAD example. If you see hostages in terrorist's hand you may kill them (terrorists of cource) or do anything else you find neccessary but MUSTN'T PROVOKE the terrorists to kill the hostages. The Putin's so called "hard" position really was a very dangerous provocation, he said: "I will kill you, stupid bandists, independently whether you are going to kill the hostages or not. Anyway you may do with them all what you want. I'm not worried about them." Thanks God Movsar Baraev wasn't enough brutal to blow up the whole theater (or may be he had some problems with explosives). What if he hadn't?

Guys, I'm sorry for the uncomfortable lenght of strings. This damned Windows XP has been just installed to my machine and it makes stringlenghts as it likes Sad . I'll try to outwork this problem soon.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jan, 2003 01:39 am
No problem...I'm just happy to read your posting. What Americans are enjoyed by Russians, eg. writers, movie stars, singers, etc.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Jan, 2003 04:52 am
In his response to my posting C.I. wrote:
Quote:
Your take on trying to negotiate with terrorists is the correct one; once they think they can bargain by taking hostages, we'll never see the end of it.

That us the point. Any of the hostages' situations resemble a plain stalemate. If you do not negotiate with terrorists, the hostages may die. If you do, the particular hostages may be released, but the hostages situations will repeat with frightening regularity, and not every time it will be possible to avoid human casualties.. I support the stance of President Vladimir V. Putin that decided to pay a price once and forever for putting end to the terrorists' blackmail.
I have strong doubts regarding Barayev's sanity either. He did not kill hostages and explode the building not because he had some humane feelings toward the "infidels" (Muslims value the latter cheaper than dogs and swine), but because he was surprised by the chemical attack and was unable to act.
I agree that some of Putin's features resemble these of Mussolini or Peron, but maybe this proves that he is the right person in the right place: Russia needs some strong person at power order after "crime without borders" that affected the country in Yeltsin's tenure. Mussolini-like leader is the least of possible negative results of such periods: a leader resembling Hitler or Pol Pot could be much a worse option.
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Docent P
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 03:35 am
>In his response to my posting C.I. wrote:

>>Your take on trying to negotiate with terrorists is the correct one; once they think they can bargain by taking hostages, we'll never see the end of it.

That wasn't a good response to my words but rather some philosophical gospel truth which has a far relation with the topic.

>President Vladimir V. Putin that decided to pay a price once and forever...

You are mistaken. Putin himself has paid NO PRICE unlike 180 killed Russian citizens who paid their lives because someone decided to rise Putin's rating for saving his millions in Switzerland banks. I hope you see what I mean here so now I'd rather say two words about another thing.

>Russia needs some strong person at power order...

One of the biggest idiocy issued by the putinist propaganda (and surprisingly widely spread abroad) is that Putin is a strong politician (if only you don't mean promises "to water in the toilet" as the signs of strenght). Especially it sounds ridiculously when you compare him with Yeltsin. Of course we can say a lot of bad things about Yeltsin BUT what nobody can deny - he was a VERY STRONG POLITICIAN. No comparison with such worm as Putin. Just remember their careers - Yeltsin made himself fighting always stronger enemies (in example he defeated Grishin's mafia that was impossible even for Andropov). Putin made his career kissing his chief's asses: Cherkesov, Sobchak and at last Yeltsin. The first and the last brave move he ever afforded himself (and what I really respect him for) was when he was surprisingly offered by Yeltsin to become a new president. According to his official biography Putin honestly answered "I can't be a president". We must know what kind of person Yeltsin was like to understand the courage of this reply. Yelstin hadn't heard such challenges for ages. So he advised Putin to go away and think better. Unfortunately Putin had courage enough for a half hour. Soon he returned to the room and said that he agreed.
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 01:35 pm
I am sorry, Docent P, what proofs do you have regarding millions in the Swiss banks that allegedly belong to President Putin? Any politician has competitors and enemies, and I suspect that this rumor was born in the heads of the Saudi counselors of the Chechen gangsters.
I have never claimed that Mr. Putin was a strong politician; I have no idea what politician is he. But I consider him to be a strong administrator and statesman. And that is what any country passing through war against terror needs, IMHO.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 01:47 pm
steissd wrote:
... he had some humane feelings toward the "infidels" (Muslims value the latter cheaper than dogs and swine), ...


We make quite a different experience with our Muslim friends and neighbours.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 02:12 pm
Docent, Whether right or wrong in the Moscow incident, Putin did the right thing. Hostage taking have decreased over the years, because they know it doesn't pay. Will it end? No, it will not, but anybody contemplating taking hostages to deal will think twice before they do. That is a good way to reduce hostage taking. If they learn that hostage taking will pay, it'll increase. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. c.i.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 02:19 pm
c.i.

Gas pumped into the theater killed 127 hostages, and two more captives were shot dead. The gas injured more than 700 hostages

You really think "THAT IS A GOOD WAY TO REDUCE HOSTAGE TAKING"?
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 02:25 pm
If those that send their militants to take hostages realize that such a measure brings no effect at all, they will stop these practices. I do not claim that they will cease all the hostilities, but hostage taking will be excluded from the list of options.
The large number of casualties is explained by lack of experience in usage of the phentanyl aerosol. It is a relatively new chemical warfare (unlike the organic phosphorus compounds that first appeared in '30s), so its safe dosage was unknown. By the way, as far as I understand, it is supposed to be a non-lethal weapon.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 02:55 pm
Walter, Hind is always 20/20, but Putin was put into a situation that he was unable to handle efficiently. Do you blame him or the hostage takers? c.i.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 03:10 pm
c.i.


I don't blame him - "really" - , I haven't been there and don't know, what was considered why, but I'm sure that such an action in a "western" country had caused a big public outcry!
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steissd
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 03:14 pm
That is why such a situation in future is more likely to happen in any of the European countries than in Putin's Russia (we must remember that there were no hostages situations in the former USSR, while in Europe and in Israel such situations happened from time to time).
I do not want these to happen anywhere, and I wish the European FBIs to neutralize terrorists prior to their committing an action, but if the bin Laden-like leaders know that they may extort something by means of hostages taking, they will certainly use such an opportunity.
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Mapleleaf
 
  1  
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2003 08:09 pm
Docent, I hope you don't mind, but I may repeat some questions. Such as
Quote:
What Americans are enjoyed by Russians, eg. writers, movie stars, singers, etc.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Feb, 2003 10:16 pm
steissd wrote:
The large number of casualties is explained by lack of experience in usage of the phentanyl aerosol. It is a relatively new chemical warfare (unlike the organic phosphorus compounds that first appeared in '30s), so its safe dosage was unknown.


Quite. Which makes you wonder all the more about the judgement of the decision to choose, of all possible solutions to end a hostage-taking, the use of a "relatively new chemical warfare" the safe dosage of which was "unknown".

In the US, I believe, they have specially trained forces for example, specialised in various strategies to liberate hostages with a minimum of casulaties. Without letting the hostage-takers escape. Difficult, for sure, but it's been done, many times. The choice of experimental chemical arms suggests something worse than ill judgement: indifference.

If there is one tradition Putin has carried through from the old Soviet days (and Yeltsin, before him, only marginally less), it's the indifference to civilian casualties, needs, interests - his behaviour suggests this is still the country that wins wars by using unlimited reservoirs of cannonfodder. You have to remember - Putin is from the Soviet KGB school, never a dissident, trained to the core in letting the interests of the state override any possible individual or citizen right. He has stacked the administration with his Leningrad KGB proteges.

Look at the way this was done. The soldiers were given no proper instructions, often were not aware of what they were using, period. Casualties were carried off at random to hospitals around the city without the doctors being told what gas they were suffering from. In fact, a complete media silence on what gas was used ensued, with families of the injured, too, simply being turned away and refused any information. The doctors could have saved many if it weren't for this insistence on secrecy. In the name of vital military interest? Nonsense - in the end, they had to own up anyway, when it was too late. It was pure instinct.

Remember the Kursk - the way the Russian authorities insisted on maverick theories of a collision, refusing the support the US offered to try to save the sailors - all to avoid having to admit any mistake, any possible technical fault in their long-undermaintained fleet - to avoid, above all, that outside helpers might come up with proof of anything they might be faulted for. So the seamen, who at the time were still thought to perhaps be alive, die - so what? In this particular brand of Russian-Soviet tradition, they don't even figure in. It isn't even a strategical choice - it just doesn't even come up as a consideration, witnessed by the brusque treatment of the widows, when in the end all they wanted was some information, a body to bury.

This is the administration that, like Yeltsin's, persecuted a former military man for "leaking" information on how the Russian nuclear fleet is leaking or rotting in the Arctic, threatening unimaginable harm to the environment - persecuting him for treason even when the same info was already confirmed by others abroad. It's not the interests of the nation, but that of the state apparatus that goes above all, in this centralist-military-bureaucratic ideology.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Feb, 2003 10:26 pm
nimh, I'm afraid you are correct in your conclusions. The state will do whatever is necessary to protect the state, and sacrifice its people. c.i.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Feb, 2003 10:31 pm
No, this way does not seem like either the best or even the most efficient way to to reduce hostage taking to me. Because yeh, let's talk strategy instead of human rights.

I personally don't see how killing a comparatively staggering number of the civilian hostages does anything to deter terrorists. On the contrary. The terrorists could well argue that this hostage-taking was in fact a successful one, one to inspire a follow-up, because it cost so many lives.

After all, the likely underlying agenda of the Chechens (much like that of the Palestinian suicide bombers) is to cause a maxium of harm, hurt and distress among the Russian civilians, in the hope that their government will be intimidated - or pressured by the population - into concessions.

It is by causing maxium damage that they keep the "Chechen question" on the political agenda as something that cannot be ignored, that needs to be dealt with. They know that the first reaction will be a violent clampdown, but will hope - knowing that they have nothing to lose, anyway - that if they keep on attacking either:

a) the Russians will grow tired of this nauseatingly lethal conflict and will decide to just let this outpost of their empire go - that's basically, after all, what Yeltsin did before, when the war didn't work out, and hey, it worked for the Vietnamese - or,

b) the West will pressure Russia into negotiating, to ensure the pacification of this troubling minor conflict when bigger strategic interests are at risk in the region - it's worked for the Palestinians in the past, and if it won't work under Bush, it might under his successor.

Imprisoning the hostage-takers, denying them the right to become holy martyrs, and at least limiting the number of civilians killed in "collateral damage" would have truly emasculated the terrorists.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Feb, 2003 10:35 pm
I forgot to say "thank you" to Docent P for his interesting, extensive replies to my earlier questions! Really appreciate them!
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