Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 06:14:19 PM EST
Contents: Everything you ever needed to know about this Medvedev fellow, Another little something to add to my wish list, A full length documentary (For real? Yes, for real!), The Nietzsche v. Kant smack down, and Blogging for Charity! Plus, Misha!
So it was apparently not enough for me to come down with a head cold on top of a hangover (was a great party Sat., btw) on top of PMS on top of 2 weeks till Christmas and not one bloody present purchased. No. Lest I imagine I could muster some willpower and venture out into the world, brave the grumbly crowds (I'd fit right in, and have a legitimate medical excuse...) and return home with anything resembling a feeling of accomplishment, not one, but TWO ice storms just hit the area. Upstanding citizens who had spent the previous week shoveling their sidewalks every other day, following numerous snowstorms, have inadvertently created 235 square miles of DEATH TRAPS. Emergency rooms are overflowing with ankle sprains, dislocated hips, heads cracked wide open with brains gushing out all over the place. Shopping bags with their contents spread in disarray in busy intersections and slushy gutters. General hysteria. Age old dilemma between procrastination and assured physical harm. Otherwise known as Winter In Chicago: the global warming years.
Bet the Russians wouldn't let something like a hangover and an ice storm cramp their style. Well, especially given how hangovers and bad weather pretty much constitute the foundation of their style...
Anyway, complain about Russian governance, but apparently they don't take off for bad weather and holiday cheer. No slackers in Novo-Ogarevo. The rest of the world looks out at gray skies and impassible highways and thinks. "I just want to go home, order a pizza and watch tv." Ok, maybe that's just America. Politicians take the holiday season off, knowing fully well that the weekly quota allotted every citizen for critical thought has been exhausted from pricing HDTVs and because they think so lowly of themselves that they suspect any major political decisions announced around the holidays will just bum everyone out and make them switch the channel to America's Next Top Model. Hell, we could bomb Iran next week and you know it would only be discussed once everyone became bored with ice storm tales of horror and had finished their holiday shopping. Only 2 weeks to go! Shut up! Don't interrupt me, I'm trying to concentrate! Americans aren't struggling to decide between Hillary and Barack, but between the pink iPod or the green one.
Not the Russians! The winter arrives, the holidays draw near and the nation's civil servants are all like, "Let's get this party started! Everybody in the house? Listen up, people (little zakuski spoons tinkle against vodka glasses). Can I have your attention? Hey, you Nashi kids, can you stop making out for a second, we have an big announcement. Thanks. Now, .... The next President of Russia is ... Give it up for Dmitrii Medvedev!!!! And his charming PM, you know who I'm talkin' about, VVP himself!!! A Toast! Za Rossii!, Za zdorovye!, Za Operation Successora!"
One year Americans were forced to wait until Dec. 11 to find out who our next President would be. We all remember how nicely that turned out...
Yeltsin actually announced Putin's nomination on New Year's Eve itself. Can you imagine? ...
1. Medvedev Round-Up
The only thing that could possibly be more predictable than the results of the recent Duma elections is Putin's pick of Dmitrii Medvedev for President, and Medvedev's pick of Putin for PM. I heard some wacky predictions ranging from Putin changing the constitution to give himself a 3rd term, to the nomination of the Mayor of St. Petersburg, to the return of Tsarism. Leave it up to those sneaky Russians to do the last thing we'd ever predict: exactly what we expected them to... Sigh. Frankly, I was rooting for Ivanov. Because I heard a rumour that Condi Rice was madly in love with him, and that he did not return the favor. Anyone who can break that bitch's heart deserves some kinda reward. Anyway, everyone's been muttering about Medvedev for ages, saying it's so obvious, Putin would never do it. See, he's sneaky like that. It's his background as a spy that makes him make us think he isn't going to do what everyone thinks he's going to do and then he does it and everyone is baffled. If it's your turn to take out the garbage and you get up and take out the garbage, this is a non-event. If it is Mad Vlad's turn to take out the garbage and he gets up and takes out the garbage, several dozen Kremlinologists high on their own inkpen fumes will spend a month analyzing it for you. Maybe they will even write a book about it, including 20 pages of end notes with references like, "Source close to Putin, wishes to remain anonymous," and go on Charlie Rose to hawk their Putin book and spend gobs of time decrying Putin's cult of personality.
Which is to say, anyone who has ever written anything about Russia is certifiably insane.
Oh, right, Medvedev. So, he's one of those St. Petersburg loyalists Putin is always importing into the Kremlin. He's the Chairman of Gazprom's board of directors. He's endorsed by the political parties: United Russia, A Just Russia, Agrarian Party of Russia and Civilian Power. He's NOT a former KGB/FSB guy. He's considered an economic "liberal," meaning, I suppose, a Capitalist, but not a puppet of the West. He's pretty young.
But more importantly: He's a metalhead who does yoga and has a wife who likes to party!
Russian 'bear' who loves Black Sabbath set to succeed Putin
In a recent interview with the Russian magazine Itogi, Medvedev revealed his passion for rock music, saying that, "vinyl really sounds better than CDs."
The man who may well become leader of the largest nation on Earth said he had spent much of his youth compiling cassettes of popular Western groups, "Endlessly making copies of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple."
All these groups were on state-issued blacklists during Medvedev's Soviet-era schooldays.
"The quality was awful, but my interest colossal," he said.
Medvedev went on to boast of his collection of Deep Purple LPs, saying that he had searched for the albums for many years.
"Not reissues, but the original albums," he added, concluding that, "If you set yourself a goal you can achieve it."
Svetlana Medvedev, Russia's likely 1st lady, met hubby at school
An influential Russian business daily, Vedomosti, said Svetlana, described by her friends as a strong-willed woman, had graduated from a financial and economic institute.
She is also reportedly a party animal. In 2005, Svetlana was seen at a housewarming party thrown by Russian pop diva Alla Pugachyova. She also attended the singer's birthday party in April.
In the same month she became the head of a sponsors' board for a program on spiritual and moral development of Russian youth under the patronage of Alexy II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
On October 24, she attended the opening ceremony of Fashion Week in Moscow, according to the Express Gazeta tabloid.
What a bunch of hipsters they're going to have running that country...
Putin's Purple reign man
His dual role as chairman of the vast Gazprom monopoly puts him at the vanguard of Russia's revival on the back of high energy prices. One of his most famous photographs shows the politician frying an omelette for a babushka in a newly gasified village.
Medvedev's frequent meetings with young families, his casual clothes and his homey interviews (he practises yoga and likes swimming) have been carefully crafted to identify him with Russia's emerging middle class: a new generation that can afford to redecorate their apartment, get broadband internet, buy a decent stereo and go on holiday to Turkey.
Born on September 14 1965 into a family of professors, Medvedev was known as a conscientious student who voluntarily joined Soviet work gangs collecting potatoes on weekends.
Ok. On the "Coolest President Scale" Russia just went to all the way to 11. Why can't I get a headbanging, downward dog posing, Soviet potato work gang volunteering candidate for President? Am I going to have to defect or something? I have a few more kinda serious remarks on the topic of Medvedev before I close with a gem of Wisdom from Mark Ames.
First, I'm really going to miss Putin. He better stick around in some fantastic capacity. And I don't mean as a Louis Vuitton model. I guess Dima sounds like a lot of fun, but you just can't replace the fabulous VVP... </sniff>
Second... Ok, now I'm serious. Come back. Pay attention for a second:
Everything everyone is saying about Medvedev being a Putin puppet or a surefire advocate for Putin's policies was said about Putin when Yeltsin chose him. The point is not just that they were wrong, but the system does not seem to be designed to support such a plan. Just sayin'...
From the eXile:
Trying to understand Medvedev and his significance through the liberal/Stalinist prism explains nothing; Dmitry Medvedev is neither liberal nor neo-Stalinist, but rather, Russian, the sort of Russian who was groomed in the chaotic and savage transition from perestroika through Putin's stabilization. That's a bit too morally complex for folks like Anne Applebaum, who still believes that Putin-The-Terrible stole her wallet from her Moscow hotel room. The naming of Medvedev in truth muddies the simple moral arithmetic. But to understand Medvedev's meaning is to attempt to understand Russia, and that supposes a lot from us outsiders, starting with our admission that we don't get a single fucking thing about this place.
Preach it, brother!
2. Propaganda: Skipping The good, and heading right for the bad, and the ugly.
"The Putin System."
I came across this in an eXile article about how the Kremlin was censoring Latvian TV for showing this less than complimentary made-for-French-TV documentary. I have no idea how the Kremlin can censor Latvian TV. But I do know that the filmmakers display a deep respect for the Soviet art of agit-prop. Not sure who gets the last laugh here...
OMG! And you thought I had issues!
from a Nashi fashion show
Well. I do. But I don't have any "VOVA! I am with you!" bikinis... In case you're wondering what to get me for Christmas.
BTW (and I say this as someone who does not like Nashi and their antics) if I hear one more man go off on how there is no feminism in Russia, or about how Russian women prefer to be sex objects, or any of that crap, I am going to scream. There are certainly, just as in America, women who fit that description. Oh yes. And the man-woman role mess over there is messier than I'd like it to be. But despite everything you've ever read about Russia, women are practically running that country. From the single mom/student/wage slave, to the urban professional, and of course the babushka whipping everyone into shape, if every Russian woman rolled over and acted like a blow up doll all day long, that country, like most countries, would come to a screeching halt. Whether it's a product of the Soviet "everyone's a worker" system or a result of the fact that a generation of men was lost in a war and a following generation or two were lost to substance abuse and joblessness, all the Russian women I've known have been well-educated productive members of society. And the kind of bad asses I would not dare tell how to live their lives. I'm sure the Russian woman/willing sexslave thing is good for human trafficking business, but it's not a fair reflection of reality. Or of the women who get up, deal with a family, head off to work, go to night school and come home and make sure there is something to eat because no one else can be bothered. And all the while maintain her human sexuality. I went to Russia thinking I was a feminist and came back humbled. I'll leave it at that.
And wtf? A feminist can't have crazy Vovka bikinis and show off her sexy little body? Sounds like it's the blogger, not the Russian women, who has a messed up idea of feminism...
3. Kant over? If Nietzsche's new negative attack ad works...
Those crazy German Philosophers. I bet Joe Trippi is trying to get a contract with Heidegger... Don't do it Martin! He's a genius, but he'll fleece you!
4. Blogs I Like.
You see me linking to the same old few blogs every week or so. It's not that there are not other blogs out there, or that I don't read them; they just don't fit into my finely crafted pro-Russia gospel. So I don't mention them, because everyone knows the key to quality journalism is to omit anything that does not advance your agenda. It's like Poe's theory of the short story: "each choice made in the construction of the narrative must contribute to the dominant and pre conceived effect so as to lend the story a sense of consequence." Indeed. However, sometimes there are things which are completely tangential, loose ends, odd wanderings. But you, dear reader, should not be kept ignorant on account of my quest for textual integrity. So I'm sending you on a side trip, faithful that you will return.
A vocabulary test. For each word you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. I could play this all day...
~ Russian Film Blog
Er, just what it says it is. I haven't chosen the films for my ET Filmblog Diary, and am not 100% certain they'll be Russian, but if you want to brush up, get brownie points, curry favor, or just read about Russian Films, check this place out.
Amnesty Calls on Russia for Fair Trials of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev
Today the human rights watchdog Amnesty International issued an important statement calling upon authorities of the Russian Federation to meet international fair trial standards in the new processes against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. (link, PDF).
The statement notes: "In April 2005, Amnesty International called on the Russian authorities to ensure that Mikhail Khodorkovskii and his associates receive a fair trial which complies with Russia's obligations under the international human rights treaties to which it is a party. Two and a half years later, the organization is repeating its call, with increased urgency, as no visible steps have been taken to address concerns which were raised by Amnesty International as well as many other human rights organizations and lawyers. Amnesty International will continue to urge the authorities to ensure a fair trial for the two men."
Well, any excuse to mention Misha. But boy does this take me back... A friend and I started the AI chapter at our High School. No one ever wanted to watch documentaries about torture cases in Turkey, but the Jamnesty concerts with their "alternative" bands and kids from the fringes of suburban society were some excellent times. It's hard being a kid who actually cares about shit outside what's happening at the mall or on tv. Anyway, then I went to college and was too busy breaking the law to spearhead letter-writing campaigns for people who hadn't. Pretty pathetic. I don't think I've made up for it by buying my Christmas cards from Amnesty International each year either... Anyway. Misha. Amnesty International. Almost makes me wanna bust out the stationery or hold a concert... </sniff>
Ok, mes amis, thanks for reading. Hope you all have a lovely week.
If you're in the US, be careful. Don't slip and fall and bust your skull wide open. No one wants to see your slimy brain, ok. Gross. The rest of you, be careful too. Don't get the idea your finely crafted Protected Designation of Origin European brains are more pleasing to the eye than ours. elitists...