I. Must Read Articles:
The Nation: "The Missing Debate," by Stephen Cohen
The man who brought us the first news about this new cold war situation is back, with ... pretty much the same article. But that doesn't mean you don't have to read it, just because you read the first one! All twenty times I posted it... More than a concise and poignant explanation of US/Russia relations, more than a brilliant little gem of geopolitical insight, more than a damning criticism of American policy, this article is a cry of desperation! Obviously he assumes no one read the first article he write on the subject 2 years ago, or he would not have believed he could write it all over almost verbatim without anyone noticing. And he was right! Because if anyone had bothered to read the first article, this encore would not have been necessary. But in this dreary world, if you say anything marginally reasonable about Russia, no one listens to you. That's why Pat Buchanan is absolutely nuts, I bet. One can only handle the frustration so long before one cracks up... Or maybe it is the fact that we agree with Pat Buchanan about anything that makes us crack up. Don't know.
Anyway, go read this new article so Cohen doesn't go around beating himself up over the fact that no one will listen to him. Solidarity, people!!!
Ok, fine. I know you aren't actually going to go read it and that I have to pick out 3 paragraphs to illustrate his point. I hate this part. It's like kicking a good journalist when they are down.
Even the current cold peace could be more dangerous than its predecessor, for three reasons: First, its front line is not in Berlin or the Third World but on Russia's own borders, where US and NATO military power is increasingly ensconced. Second, lethal dangers inherent in Moscow's impaired controls over its vast stockpiles of materials of mass destruction and thousands of missiles on hair-trigger alert, a legacy of the state's disintegration in the 1990s, exceed any such threats in the past. And third, also unlike before, there is no effective domestic opposition to hawkish policies in Washington or Moscow, only influential proponents and cheerleaders.
How did it come to this? Less than twenty years ago, in 1989-90, the Soviet Russian and American leaders, Mikhail Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush, completing a process begun by Gorbachev and President Reagan, agreed to end the cold war, with "no winners and no losers," as even Condoleezza Rice once wrote, and begin a new era of "genuine cooperation." In the US policy elite and media, the nearly unanimous answer is that Russian President Vladimir Putin's antidemocratic domestic policies and "neo-imperialism" destroyed that historic opportunity.
You don't have to be a Putin apologist to understand that this is not an adequate explanation. During the last eight years, Putin's foreign policies have been largely a reaction to Washington's winner-take-all approach to Moscow since the early 1990s, which resulted from a revised US view of how the cold war ended [see Cohen, "The New American Cold War," July 10, 2006]. In that new triumphalist narrative, America "won" the forty-year conflict and post-Soviet Russia was a defeated nation analogous to post-World War II Germany and Japan--a nation without full sovereignty at home or autonomous national interests abroad.
The policy implication of that bipartisan triumphalism, which persists today, has been clear, certainly to Moscow. It meant that the United States had the right to oversee Russia's post-Communist political and economic development, as it tried to do directly in the 1990s, while demanding that Moscow yield to US international interests. It meant Washington could break strategic promises to Moscow, as when the Clinton Administration began NATO's eastward expansion, and disregard extraordinary Kremlin overtures, as when the Bush Administration unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty and granted NATO membership to countries even closer to Russia--despite Putin's crucial assistance to the US war effort in Afghanistan after September 11. It even meant America was entitled to Russia's traditional sphere of security and energy supplies, from the Baltics, Ukraine and Georgia to Central Asia and the Caspian.
Such US behavior was bound to produce a Russian backlash. It came under Putin, but it would have been the reaction of any strong Kremlin leader, regardless of soaring world oil prices. And it can no longer be otherwise. Those US policies--widely viewed in Moscow as an "encirclement" designed to keep Russia weak and to control its resources--have helped revive an assertive Russian nationalism, destroy the once strong pro-American lobby and inspire widespread charges that concessions to Washington are "appeasement," even "capitulationism." The Kremlin may have overreacted, but the cause and effect threatening a new cold war are clear.
Because the first steps in this direction were taken in Washington, so must be initiatives to reverse it. Three are essential and urgent: a US diplomacy that treats Russia as a sovereign great power with commensurate national interests; an end to NATO expansion before it reaches Ukraine, which would risk something worse than cold war; and a full resumption of negotiations to sharply reduce and fully secure all nuclear stockpiles and to prevent the impending arms race, which requires ending or agreeing on US plans for a missile defense system in Europe. My recent discussions with members of Moscow's policy elite suggest that there may still be time for such initiatives to elicit Kremlin responses that would enhance rather than further endanger our national security.
That was more than 3 paragraphs. I hope he doesn't sue me. I'm just trying to help.
Above, you read what I would deem "responsible, well-written journalism." Not perfect, of course. Cohen always throws a bone too many for my tastes. But it is otherwise intelligible and correct.
I had a professor who would make us read really bad novels so that we might gain an appreciation for the really good ones. The following piece of curiously intriguing drivel will hopefully illustrate why I appreciate Cohen.
FP (via AlterNet): "Will Democracy Make You Happy?," by Eric Weiner
See. You think I'm on board this train, don't you? Because I am on the Democracy is not nec. the answer to Everything train. And they would appear to be headed in the same direction, right? Well, sure. Until this one ... derails.
"To assume that democracy automatically makes people happy is to assume that the tail is wagging the dog," says Inglehart. In other words, the well-intentioned nation builders and democracy exporters have it backward. It's not that democracies make people happy but, rather, that happy people make democracies.
THE SCIENCE OF SATISFACTION
This remarkable finding isn't simply a new theory born out of thin air. It's based on hard data that social scientists on the leading edge of the emerging "science of happiness" are now employing to measure cultural artifacts such as trust and happiness, just as political scientists have for decades measured levels of democracy by comparing such metrics as press freedom and voting rights.
These social scientists do so through a disarmingly simple technique. They ask people, "Overall, how happy are you with your life these days?" Surveys such as the comprehensive World Values Survey have posed that question, with little variation, to people in more than 80 nations, accounting for some 85 percent of the world's population. They have produced a mother lode of data. Although the data are often contradictory, a few clear patterns have emerged. We now know, for example, that happy countries tend to be wealthy ones, with temperate climates and, crucially, stable democracies.
The question, though, is which comes first: happiness or democracy? Despite our earlier thinking, there is now growing evidence that a happy population, one where people are satisfied with their lives as a whole, is a prerequisite for democracy.
In the 1980s, happiness and democracy were closely linked (with a correlation of 0.8), thus cementing the democracy-equals-happiness theory in the minds of many political scientists and policymakers. But then came the so-called third wave of democracy, a flood of infant democracies that rose from the ashes of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern Europe. These nations have not enjoyed a happiness dividend, and, indeed, as in Moldova, many are less happy today than they were during Soviet times. Today, the correlation between happiness and democracy is only 0.25, less than a third of what it was in the 1980s. In more than 200 surveys carried out by the World Values Survey, 28 of the 30 least happy nations were registered in former communist states. The remaining two surveys were conducted in Iraq. In Russia, both subjective well-being (happiness) and trust have fallen sharply since its people began voting in relatively free elections. By 1995, a majority of Russians described themselves as unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives as a whole. The same is true of Moldova and several other former Soviet republics. (Russian misery, by the way, predates Vladimir Putin's recent crackdown on freedoms.)
Oh, I do love it when they do that. Look kids, you don't have to be a Putin apologist to be a Putin apologist! (I don't even know what we're apologizing for anymore...) Also, while I've not been to Moldova, I suspect there's a bit of melodrama in this piece. Everyone loves a dreary grey morose Eastern European. Frankly I can't imagine them being happy-go-lucky at all, can you? Anyway, just when you think someone is going to say something smart and fresh, they bust out age-old stereotypes to make their point. Then I forget what they were saying. Oh, yes, no scientific proof democracy will make you happy.
Well... duh. Are we supposed to believe that in all the non- or pre- democratic societies in human history people were less happy than we? Does going to the polls soothe the ache of debt and death and cheating lovers and other causes of unhappiness? It's a silly assumption to begin with. Yet, one we rarely question. Everyone's popped one of Fukuyama's "End of history" pills and the pearly gates have been replaced with the voting booth.
But. Then he pulls this out of his hat!
It isn't hard to fall into the old trap of assuming democracy is such a powerful force that it can sweep aside any cultural differences that might stand in its way. Confronted with the obvious goodness of free elections and self-determination, peoples of the world should shed their cultural vestiges the way a snake sloughs its skin, right? It's a compelling idea, a perfectly plausible one, but one that happens to be wrong. "Culture seems to shape democracy far more than democracy shapes culture," says Inglehart.
Indeed, this notion of cultural primacy is gaining favor, especially among foreign-policy realists such as Colin Powell. "There are some places that are not ready for the kind of democracy we find so attractive for ourselves. They are not culturally ready for it," Powell said in a recent interview with GQ. That is not to say, of course, that these places won't ever be ready for democracy. They just aren't ready now, and no amount of wishing, or purple ink, will make it so.
All of this can be a bit depressing for those who believe that foreign policy should be informed by an idealistic streak. But, as Iraq has demonstrated, midwifing a constitution won't necessarily turn a distrustful, unhappy society into a trusting, happy one. Of course, the science of happiness is in its infancy, and it would be foolish to base a foreign policy on its tentative conclusions. Social scientists may be able to measure, with some accuracy, abstractions such as happiness and trust, but they don't necessarily know how to produce these qualities--in a person or a nation. What these findings do remind us, though, is that democracy bubbles up to the surface when the time is right and not a second sooner.
OMG. I could spend the rest of my life explaining all the ways this piece is perverse and never get to them all. Briefly: This still assumes Democracy is the end goal - while admitting it doesn't nec. create happiness. Also, it presents the offensive argument that because of their cultural backwardness, Moldovans and Russians and all those dreary Slavs are just, shall we say, in the remedial class, on the short bus. But they'll get there one day! Have faith! (Because you certainly have no facts to rest your worldview upon.) It's not that these folks are incapable of being happy or democratic, it just takes them a bit more time. But here we conveniently leave out the fact that democracy was force-fed to them with a hefty dose of economic rape and pillage. Could this economic injustice inflicted in the name of democracy account for their unhappiness? No, it's their national character. Sure of it.
Sure that's why the Iraqis are so pissy too. barf.
Also, what does "democracy" even mean anymore? People are electing dictators who nationalize industry and strip people of their civil rights. Elections are shams. So I don't even know what democracy is, which countries qualify, or why precisely it is supposed to be an end in itself as opposed to a tool on ther path to progress. Also, if happy people make democracies, that means they are happy before they go off and establish a democracy, so if they are already so happy, why do they feel the need to overhaul their political system, which usually involves a bit of strife?
I could go on and on but I have the rest of this diary to write.
While we are on the topic, though, please go read "The Shock Doctrine." Go on. It's only like 600 pages or something. I'll wait...
II. Puti-Mania: Will Not Die!
Well, my fears of Vladimir Vladimirovich being sucked into the void of history were completely unfounded. We don't know how long he will remain on the political stage. But one thing is certain, the audience is in no hurry to leave the theatre.
It's funny, because in the past one could justify absurd amounts of coverage of Putin by, well, the fact that he was President. Now... everyone's out of the closet. You're just writing about him because you can't tear yourselves away. Haha! Welcome to my world, Mr. and Mrs. Mass Media. Won't you take a seat? Would you like something to drink?
UPI (via Winthrop360): "Putin stays true to himself," by Martin Sieff
You have already observed 2 instances of journalists making it a point to note that Putin is not entirely to blame for Russia's diplomatic and depressive issues. Now you will witness unabashed ingratiating, the likes of which you've not seen before outside the realm of Odds & Ends:
WASHINGTON, May 8 (UPI) -- Vladimir Putin's first actions as prime minister of Russia were typical of the man, emphasizing the qualities with which he has transformed his nation's standing over the past eight years as its president.
Putin wasted no time in proclaiming that the modernization of Russia's dilapidated conventional ground forces and of its still world-class strategic nuclear forces would push ahead as the nation's No. 1 priority.
He also proclaimed his determination to assure public housing for veterans of World War II -- known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War -- and he voted to increase the wages of armed forces servicemen.
It would be a mistake to doubt the sincerity or seriousness of these pledges on Putin's part. He has been focusing on the same issues ever since his surprise appointment as prime minister of Russia by President Boris Yeltsin in September 2000.
Even then, here at UPI Analysis, we were the first to point out that Putin from the very beginning moved fast and effectively to pay Russia's struggling teachers, nurses, coal miners, doctors and other public service workers the endless months of back pay that Yeltsin and his prime ministers had held back from them during their own chaotic and shameful stewardship of Russia's public affairs.
From the very beginning, Putin was determined to re-establish the credibility of the Russian state and to fulfill its financial and social obligations to the people who were dependent on it.
Putin also made clear from the very beginning his determination to "restore the vertical" -- to re-establish the national unity and coherence of the Russian state. This was not merely a preference for autocratic government over democratic government: Essentially it marked a conclusion Putin and his policymakers had reached that the corrupt, nightmarish chaos that had wracked the Russian state in the years under the ever drunken and often incoherent Yeltsin after the collapse of communism resulted in millions of lives cut short through appallingly deteriorating living conditions.
I don't know when our little Russian judo master KGB spy terror made the leap from "totally evil, doesn't even have a soul..." to "sincere, good leader, and don't blame him for anything, ok?" Maybe people have been reading my diaries and have fallen in love with the man, despite themselves. I haven't heard an NPR Morning Edition Putin Hate-Fest in a while. Kind of eerie... Maybe, no longer in the position of boundless power afforded by the ... Presidency, he seems less threatening to the public. But that makes no sense, as everyone, even President Medvedev, is of the opinion that Putin is still in the driving seat. Literally.
Reuters: Russia's Putin keeps his Kremlin chair
Dmitry Medvedev may be Russia's president but Vladimir Putin has kept his place in the Kremlin.
When Putin came to his old office in the Kremlin on Monday to propose the names of ministers for his government, the former president made for his customary seat on the left of the desk.
But he paused before sitting down and told President Medvedev: "Now this is your place," Russia's Kommersant daily reported.
"Oh, what's the difference?" Medvedev answered and immediately sat on the right of the desk, where Putin's guests traditionally perched for the eight years of his presidency.
A photograph of the two leaders published on the Kremlin's www.kremlin.ru website showed them smiling at the start of the meeting. Putin sat on the left and Medvedev on the right.
The pictures, c/o Scraps of Moscow
President Vladimir Putin and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, March 7, 2006.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, May 12, 2008.
LOL! Good times, good times...
Putin not only kept his chair, he kept his advisors in the President's office too.
Reuters: Russia's Medvedev keeps Putin aides in Kremlin
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday appointed a close aide to former president Vladimir Putin, Vladislav Surkov, as the Kremlin's first deputy chief of staff, Interfax news agency reported.
Putin's former press secretary Alexei Gromov will be a deputy chief of staff, Interfax said, ensuring some of Putin's closest allies remain in the Kremlin after he moves to the post of prime minister.
If I were a Russia Expert, I would be all like, What Up? This Medvedev fellow is supposed to be a kinder, gentler leader. What is he thinking keeping promoting Surkov to his first deputy chief of staff? Surkov, the "Karl Rove" (totally unjustified comparison, btw - I mean, have you seen him? HOT.) of the Putin Administration, the creator of the mean teen cult "Nashi," the ideologue behind the doctrine of "Sovereign (shut up and leave us alone. we do what we want. you just buy our gas, suckers) Democracy," the "grey cardinal" of the Kremlin (still don't understand that title...), the Goth band lyricist, the Chechen.
The man pretty much embodies everything about the Putin Administration that could scare people.
Scary. Scary hot, that is.
If I were a Russia Expert, I would be all like, "This just goes to show you that Putin is still the man in charge, since that scary Surkov fellow's still lurking in the wings. Keeping Putin's chair warm. When Putin isn't in it..."
Maybe that is the case. Or ... maybe Medvedev cut a deal with Putin: "You can make all the decisions, but I want Surkov, ok? That way he and I can rock out together while you're running the country and stuff." That place is going to be party central. People are going to call the cops on their neighbors in the Kremlin. "Those kids and their loud music! Tell them to keep it down!"
But wait! There's more!
Transparent: [Only True] Legends & Myths About Putin
It is soooooo not just me, folks.
The day after Victory Day I went to a local grocery store in my neighborhood where I saw this magazine with a cover picture from which I could simply not tear my eyes. It must have been the combination of buff arms with a hat on a gorgeous horse and that carefree facial expression that did me in - I never buy tabloids in any country, let alone in Russia (did they defeat the dictatorship of the proletariat so as to read brainless gossip and look at paparazzi pictures of the rich and famous half-naked on the beach?), but this time I forked up the 20 rubles because I couldn't wait to gorge myself in useless information about the elite in Moscow, including everyone's favorite Vovochka. I don't know how it was back at the beginning of his 'reign', but it must have seemed very unlikely in 2000 to imagine the then new president Vladimir Vladimirovich in eight years time turning into - like it or not, but that's what it looks like - a sex symbol.
You know, I frequent this website to brush up on my language skills, not to gawk at guys. They usually take some cultural topic and use it to tackle some linguistic challenge, like declensions or idiomatic phrases, etc. I don't really know what the lesson of this post was... But here are some fun facts from the tabloid:
Ещё пять лет назад медики Владимира Владимировича говорили, что президента невозможно заставить выпить элементарную микстуру от кашля - Путин не любит медикаменты. [Already five years ago the physicians of Vladimir Vladimirovich said that it is impossible to make the president drink elemetary cough medicine - Putin doesn't love medicines].
Зато баня, мёд и массаж приветствуются. [But on the other hand steam baths, honey and massage are welcome].
Ok! We can arrange that!
But wait! There's more!
RT: Rare photos show Putin in new light
Vladimir Putin may have just stepped down as President to become Prime Minister. But a new photo display at the Manezh Exhibition Hall in Moscow is giving people the chance to relive the highlights of his eight years as Russian leader.
From candid shots to meetings with world leaders, images of Putin at work and play are on show, just a stone's throw away from the Kremlin.
Thirty-three photographers are featured in the exhibition. One of them is Anatoly Zhdanov of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, who says the camera loves Putin.
"He has these features in his character that make it incredibly interesting to film him. It's not easy, but later when you see these unbelievable shots of him you understand it's something special," he said.
This exhibition shows a side of Putin many have never seen. Part of it is due to his private photographers and part to those who kept shooting when they shouldn't have.
Awwww! Seriously, how evil can he be?
Speaking of Art Exhibits... The AP has been running an article with the headline, "Putin: art should help strengthen state." Yet, if you actually read it, which the AP may be SHOCKED to find out some people do, you will find nothing in the story to verify this claim! Some how the AP turned this innocuous remark by Putin
"It wasn't by accident that the Konstantin Palace was chosen as the new home for the collection. It has been returned and restored practically from the ruins and today it is a symbol of the revival of our country, representing the continuity of our historic, spiritual and cultural traditions," he said.
into evidence of scary fascist authoritarian Soviet evilness. Of course, that sells better than "Putin makes boring-ass comment about some culture we don't even care about." I'll given them that. And I'm not even really disappointed in the blatant negative spin. No one expects these people to report objective facts. But there is one thing we do expect of our mass media: Groupthink. Looks like the "Putin is evil dictator for life who will eat your little babies, grrrr..." ship has sailed, and no one told them. How embarrassing.
But wait! There's more!
MT: Medvedev Gets Sexed Up on the Internet
First, the Russian people -- with a lot of help from Vladimir Putin -- made him president. Now, someone seems to be trying to turn Dmitry Medvedev into a sex symbol.
In a clip that has been drawing attention on the Internet, a curvy young brunette declares her love and passion for the recently inaugurated president, in a dubbed and altered version of a prank video originally focusing on U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama.
The video opens with a then-candidate Medvedev promising a United Russia party congress that he would cooperate with former-President Vladimir Putin and, if elected, be true to Putin's policies.
But the busty young woman in the video -- clad in a tight T-shirt with a Medvedev portrait that does a fair bit of moving around, is devoted only to the new president.
Yevgenia Baturina, the editor of the women's magazine Gloria, which is published by The Moscow Times' parent company, Independent Media Sanoma Magazines, said she found the idea of Medvedev becoming a sex symbol "rather funny."
"Women like strong men with the right expression in their eyes. Eyes that project force, intelligence, independence a certain 'bounce,' and sometimes even some obstinacy, are desirable," she said. "But Medvedev looks at Putin like he is looking at a divinity, and this is almost feminine."
"Even the animal 'medved' has nothing to do with Medvedev," she added. "Despite his surname, he has nothing in common [with a bear]. He looks more like a hare or a squirrel.
"So far, his rating among the ladies is, unfortunately, not very high," Baturina said.
One official with United Russia, the party headed by Putin, said the clip was a joke created by young people "who have their own way of looking at politics."
"What I'm sure of is that this is not something done by the opposition," he said. "They would never come up with such an idea. All they can do well is scream."
As for the danger that Putin might become jealous were Medvedev to replace him in the dreams of Russian women, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he didn't know the answer to the question.
"Medvedev is the head of the state, the president of the Russian Federation, and Putin is the head of the government. This is all I can say," he said.
"A hare or a squirrel?" Poor Dimochka...
But I think we've found our answer to what Vladislav Surkov, along with his army of crazy teens, is up to in Dima's new administration! LOL!
But wait! There's more!
Ivanov Report: Between Putinophobia and Putinomania: Why Are American Media So Obsessed with Putin?
A serious attempt to explain the phenomenon of ... Putinomania:
...there is something utterly irrational in the way that the American media treat Vladimir Putin, the former president and current prime-minister of Russia. Their tireless effort to interpret each of Putin's actions or words in the most negative fashion borders on obsession.
The negativity of the American media toward Putin reflects, first and foremost, their patent inability to understand, mush less predict, the complex events taking part in post-Soviet Russia. It's also an honest acknowledgment of just how little influence the United State has retained over once-weak and obedient Russia.
In an attempt to explain to themselves and to their sponsors of what went "wrong" with Russia, the media came up with a convenient excuse: Putin. It's his "authoritarian drift" that made the country "unpredictable."
(This isn't a joke. This actually is one of the conclusions of the Council of Foreign Relation's report, published in March of 2006, under the title "Russia's Wrong Direction." Ironically, one of the report's authors, Michael McFaul, has relentlessly taught us, over time, that "unpredictability" is a salient feature of "mature democracies").
Needless to say, no serious studies analyzing Putin's policies and political views ("Putin has no ideology") have been conducted, unless you count as one a discussion on whether or not Putin has a soul or which letters can be read in his eyes. It's little wonder therefore that after 8 years of his presidency, the question "Who is Mr. Putin?" is still being asked (replacing the perennial "Who lost Russia?").
Adding to the obsession is a fascination -- perhaps, even hidden admiration -- with Putin himself. Openly politically incorrect, articulate, opinionated, masterful of minute detail on any topic, Putin is such a stark contrast to anemic American politicians unable to pronounce a foreign name or remember the difference between Shiite and Sunni.
Yep, yep. ... Also, it's because he's sexy. Well, that's my reason. And because he's "Openly politically incorrect, articulate, opinionated, masterful of minute detail on any topic." And er ... seems to have done a decent job of restoring Russia's influence in the world, overall. That's why I like him. And why the American people are scared of him. Anyone who doesn't pretend to be as homely and ignorant as us scares us. Except Obama. Because he tempers his good looks and sharp mind with pandering sentiments about America's greatness. Putin has too much dignity to pander to us like that. Dignity... Scares us...
A while back, someone asked if Odds & Ends was a contest in which everyone must guess which story is not true, and maybe get a prize or something. As if all those pics of VVP weren't reward in themselves. Heh. No. The stories you read here are true. I leave it to the professionals to make shit up and report it as fact. That said, if this were a game where people had to choose what news item was a fake, I'd put my money on this one:
FP: Giuliani enters the political ring in Ukraine
Giuliani was in Kiev on Tuesday, speaking with former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, who is running for mayor. Giuliani has signed on as an advisor to Klitschko's campaign. At yesterday's press conference he offered this advice:
"If Vitaly is elected mayor of Kiev, my first piece of advice for him would be to say ... no more corruption, corruption is over."
Klitschko is one of the front runners in a wild election that has drawn 79 candidates, but the ex-boxer known as Dr. Iron Fist has been mocked by his opponents for his perceived lack of intelligence and poor command of Ukrainian.
Except, that's just way too scary and weird to be made up. Oh well, too bad. No prize for you.
Now, I will leave you with another installment, c/o English Russia, of "Look see! People in the Soviet Union were, like, normal! Sometimes even happy! Despite their well-known Slavic cultural tendency to be depressed all the time! I know, totally wild huh?"
That last one is for Anne "the free market created all those beautiful Russian girls" Applebaum. ;)
Ok everyone, thanks for reading, and have a lovely weekend!