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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Kremlin. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, July 23, 2012

FREE SPEECH: Tough Nugget For KREMLIN To Absorb

  For 20th Century Russian/Soviet History fans, the recent revival of Show Trials made famous by Joseph Stalin, is too much nostalgia for the well crafted prosecution. Persecution. Pictured from left are three members of the punk band Pussy Riot, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, at their hearing on Friday in Moscow where they’re currently on trial for theatrics of their own. The New York Times story titled Punk Band Feels Wrath of a Sterner Kremlin, has reporters ELLEN BARRY and ANDREW ROTH describing how when four young women in balaclavas performed a crude anti-Putin song on the altar of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February, it seemed like just one more episode in a season of audacious, absurdist and occasionally offensive protest. Instead, this case is becoming a bellwether event in the Russian capital, signaling an end to the Kremlin’s chilly tolerance of the winter’s large demonstrations. The three women arrested after their February performance have been held in custody for more than four months, that was extended on Friday by six, through next January and they could be sent to prison for seven years.
  The Times and Reuters compared their preliminary hearings to the trial of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky which took place in the same building. While that case tested Russians’ feelings toward a billionaire businessman, this one targets slender young women with hooded sweatshirts and Twitter accounts who are avatars of the protest movement itself.
  Stanislav O. Samutsevich, 73, whose daughter is one of the defendants, said he was appalled when he heard of the church performance. But the government’s response is so disproportionate, he changed his mind. His voice shaking, while waiting outside the courtroom, Mr. Samutsevich said, “They led the girls into the courtroom in handcuffs. These small girls … half the size of the officers. There is something especially disturbing about it for me. It seems absurd.”
  The criminal prosecution rests on the performance’s inciting religious hatred. An argument supported by Orthodox activists who say the women are Satanists. There are ten witnesses, considered victims in the court proceeding, who’ve said they suffered “moral damage.” A cathedral security guard, “had trouble sleeping after the crime in the cathedral,” said his lawyer, Mikhail Kuznetsov who was interviewed by the newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti. Mr. Kuznetsov said, the band “is only a tiny visible tip of the iceberg of extremists who are trying to destroy the thousand-year-old basis of the Russian Orthodox Church by provoking a schism and using lies to lead the flock not to God but to Satan.” The newspaper further quoted Mr. Kuznetsov as saying, “Behind this stand the real enemies of both our state and Orthodoxy.” The performance at the cathedral “could soon grow into events comparable to the explosion of the twin towers in America.”
  So are we to believe the exaggerated distrust following America’s tragedy emanates from Stalin’s police state protectionism too? Or that basically people can believe whatever we want, whether the PR of governments acceptably promotes a peaceful, compassionate, cooperative humanity, or not? Because in court Friday, lawyers for the victims argued the February 21st performance unleashed a wave of extremism that culminated in a terrorist attack on two Muslim leaders in Tatarstan on Thursday. Though it’s doubtful an omnipotent God/Allah needs help from any of us at all. But go team nonetheless.
  The Times said the government picked a ripe opportunity to crack down since many Russians found the cathedral performance offensive. It’s taken months to provoke support for the women, even in opposition-minded Moscow. But the balance seemed to shift last month, when a roster of famous artists and musicians, including some vocal supporters of Mr. Putin, signed a petition contending the case “compromises the Russian judicial system and undermines trust in the authorities.” Though a poll released Friday by the independent Levada Center found a substantial proportion of 37 percent of Muscovites viewed the prosecution positively and 50 percent negatively. Meaning a jury would rule what on the government’s behalf?
  “When it began to turn into this fantastic biblical story, social attitudes toward the girls changed radically,” said Marat Guelman, a former political consultant and gallery owner whose projects have been denounced by religious activists. “Most of the population now are not so much talking about what Pussy Riot did as much as their fear that these people want to introduce some kind of Orthodox Taliban to Russia, that they will take power,” Mr. Guelman said. “So now I think the authorities are making a big mistake, taking revenge in this way. Society will not support this.”
  Lev Rubinstein, a poet, said, “We are seeing an attempt to return the country not to the Soviet period, but to the 17th century.” So apparently still, especially now, it’s not sufficiently understood how that was also Stalin’s authoritarian direction, too.
  Andrei Damer, an Orthodox missionary, said the performance had crossed the line that separated political speech from blasphemy. “One can criticize the authorities, but one cannot scold the authorities like these girls did. From God’s point of view, where they are now is just.” Right. Free speech be damned is what Allah/God can be credited with through the mouths of man. Uh huh.
  Friday’s hearing was closed to the public and defense lawyers said court officials brought a Rottweiler and scolded them for posting updates on Twitter. The defense filed a motion requesting Patriarch Kirill I and President Vladimir V. Putin testify in court. Mark Feigin, one of the lawyers, said, “As Mr. Putin in a decisive manner influences the decision of this court, it would be proper from the legal standpoint to interrogate him.” Though it’s hard to see how antagonizing the court benefits the women who’ll ultimately pay the price for men deciding their fates.
  Pyotr Verzilov, Ms. Tolokonnikova’s husband, said his wife had long understood public protests carried serious risks in Russia. Both were active in Voina, a radical art collective that gained widespread popularity recently with a series of politically tinged actions, such as a punk-rock performance in a Moscow courtroom, or a 210-foot penis painted, guerrilla-style, on a St. Petersburg drawbridge that rose up pointing at the offices of the state security service, F.S.B. But those penalties turned out mild since the penis project actually won a contemporary art prize sponsored by the Ministry of Culture.
  Neither Mr. Verzilov nor his wife thought the authorities would react so harshly this time. He took the couple’s 4-year-old daughter to a hearing this month when it was rumored the three women might be released. On Friday he went without their daughter. “She understands what is happening,” he said. “She tells everyone that Putin put Mother in a cage and now we have to fight so that they’ll let her out.” Please Vladimir?
  Today Reuters’ headlined Putin will not testify. Printing the court rejected a request to call President Vladimir Putin and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to testify in the trial of the three women held in jail on hooliganism charges since storming the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February to stage a “punk prayer” to the Virgin Mary to “Throw Putin Out!”
  The court ruled at Monday’s preliminary hearing, the trial will start in a week, on July 30, and will be broadcast on the court’s website. But contrary to that possibility for openness, defense lawyer Mark Feigin said the court had rejected a list of 34 people he wanted to call as witnesses, including Putin and Kirill. The court gave no reason but said the defense would be able to make further applications to call witnesses during the trial, Feigin told Reuters, adding, “So for now only the prosecution side’s witnesses will take part.” While predictably, the case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and opposition activists and U.S. rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ frontman Anthony Kiedis performed in a “Pussy Riot” T-shirt at concerts in St. Petersburg and Moscow last week. If only free speech were enough, then maybe the Kremlin’s exercise of that right could also lead all of us past the past’s tragic future we’re still humanly, godforsakenly experiencing NOW.
7/23/2012
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March 27 - May 1, 2018
FREE SPEECH: Tough Nugget For KREMLIN To Absorb
7/23/2012 concluded: If only free speech were enough, then maybe the Kremlin’s exercise of that right could also lead all of us past the past’s tragic future we’re still humanly, godforsakenly experiencing NOW.
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Logical Threads
  April 17th. Politics' circus-tral aspects include insight, such as Sean Hannity hardly needing the publicity. What America's Public Forum doesn't seem to lack is a script.
  April 19th. "Pompeo and Kim Jong-un got along" news readers announced, ... 
History's Not Changed At All? 
Looking Forward To Tyrants Getting Along?
  Yes, variables are happening, from which, hope's derivable. Except the idea's taking hold that these are the people capably doing this, when their just reinforcing each others' position they're the power, right or wrong. 
April 16
  I either, don’t believe, or don’t particularly care, whether Russians have incriminating evidence on the president. Beyond individuals, ruthlessness's larger picture is the more perplexing question. The root of our disjointedly not being a, completely, whole ethical humanity. Beyond which laws, that only reach so far in their defense of morality, are exploited. The ethical lapse embraced, and forged, by countless self-serving, self-satisfied, generations. That peccadillo greed we can see, but are far from officially cutting open on an operating table. 
  And so it goes. Crap. 
Fanfare For The Common Person
  I love the Aaron Copland tune. Especially as done by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The calm steady beat rolling up to anthemic chords. How political influence also cascades in waves across, even the most, serious agendas and public opinions. Where discord and blind obedience are worked to feverous pitches, pausing to unleash again and producing The News', general overall, message of overloaded numbness. The problem, as such, being, that the perpetually dilemma riddled world's photogenic tragedies are victimized by the conflicts of power so far removed from individuals' experiences, life's commonly not fair and arbitrarily poised against any us. Justice's blindness. 
  Notice now, that when commending the noble knights of war who're defending us, the crescendo hits such pitches, it's as if General Jack D. Ripper himself were saving our "vital bodily fluids." No? Well maybe. Still, eerily close.
  ...
  So the CBS Radio Bloomberg Business spokesperson repeated their pitch that the president's negotiating style is hard, soft, hard. Yep, news business. The mantra already cascades the land. What politician doesn't crowd, and devour, the plate? Free Speech seems a tough nut to crack, even outside the Kremlin. 
  Hello. 
  Page 523 - An industrialist describing his media company's relationship with ownership. 
  Elliot retreated to his desk and sat down behind it. He waved Margot to a chair as he said, "The danger of thinking writers or reporters are something special. They aren't, although they sometimes believe they are and get exaggerated ideas about their own importance. The fact is, there's never a shortage of writers. Cut one down, two more spring up like weeds." 
Explaining President Trump's En Vogue 
  Well, isn't this an era of provocative headlines? Besides FREE SPEECH: Tough Nugget For KREMLIN To Absorb, Explaining President Trump's En Vogue sounds like a troublemaker. While both hint of the preference for thinking about things a little more. Then maybe corruption needn't be so ingrained, that the law's an incapable refuge for perpetrators and victims alike. Maybe it's best not to forget more reminders from the local CBS Radio National Business News moderator explaining the president's negotiating style. Hard, soften, then come back hard again. Like baking cookies with a cookie cutter? Not when there's so much to world leaders' agreements that don't even make it to small print. It's an Italian film, Dante's CircusThe trampoline excitement on instant repeat
  Speculating, the limits and constraints on free speech are universal. So prohibitively expensive, opinions are silenced or owned, no matter the purported ideology. A crisis long endured, that the freedom of the internet was supposed to break but instead reinforced. To a degree? Degrees. Nothing about anything's set in stone, except power ruling triumphantly. As long as ruthless enough to win, is this planet's operating premise. We are, what's colloquially called, up s___'s creek.
  Will history have lax judgement concerning the legacy of the current head of the EPA for dissolving pollution standards rather than pollution? One person, with powerful allies? Pooh. The ball was dropped on transitioning long ago. Where's the mobile throne industry on transitioning all automobiles to electric? And electric engines that self-charge? Scott Pruitt? Unimaginative pawn. 
  ... Controlling what people think is what happens when forced to have an opinion.  Don't Be Anyone's Sycophant. Patriotism's more than being that. And may Stalin rest as distressed as any of us. Amen. 
  Publications noted: Nearly two decades before the deadly fire on the 50th floor of Trump Tower, President Trump was among the most prominent New York developers lobbying against legislation that would have required sprinklers in all residential buildings.
The Ages of The Great Corner Cut?
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Read The Soapbox View's Practical Satire
Fun, Glum and Prescient? | Dramatizing History's Repetition
Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
The Soapbox View pursues the Twin Legacies

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Russia’s Board Is Set Up To Appear Like Solitaire But Political Chess Never Is

So a New York Times headline, Putin’s Russia Hits the ‘Clear’ Button on the Medvedev Era By ELLEN BARRY insinuates the cat’s out of the bag. Russian co-leadership is being rolled up and put away. Having never had more than symbolic strength for the game anyway, The Scapegoatshould have his place prepared soon.
As Ms. Barry tells it — Lately, it seems, no decree of Dmitri A. Medvedevis too small to overturn. So – Signs have emerged that Dmitri A. Medvedev occasionally acted against the wishes of Vladimir V. Putin. Starting, apparently, right after surrendering the Russian presidency toVladimir V. Putin.
Mr. Putin reversed his predecessor’s decision to decriminalize slander just eight months earlier. He raised the retirement age for top officials to 70, foiling Mr. Medvedev’s attempt to “rejuvenate” Russia’s government by imposing an age limit of 60, or 65 in special cases.
Still, inconsequential. A leader fashions their own stamp as Mr. Medvedev obviously might have also tried himself when figure-head of state. While it has not reached the point where Mr. Medvedev is being airbrushed from photographs, the four and a half months since he left the presidency have brought a pointed departure from his earlier course. The words “reset” or “modernization,” that Mr. Medvedev used, are seldom mentioned. And privatization of state-owned companies is in doubt and the direct gubernatorial elections Mr. Medvedev reinstated as a parting gesture have been weakened by the insertion of a Kremlin-controlled screening process for the candidates.
Still that shouldn’t spell an end to the hope of the good cop/bad cop era. Except there’s speculation – Criticism of Mr. Medvedev has begun to appear in mainstream outlets. Thursday’s news about rescinding Mr. Medvedev’s time change seemed like more of the same. Wrote journalist Mikhail Fishman on Facebook, “So in winter it will not get light an hour later, and in summer it will get dark an hour earlier: all this with only one goal: so that Mr. Medvedev, greeting the early dusk, will remember that he is nobody.”
The political consultant Gleb O. Pavlovsky marked the occasion coining the term “de-Medvedevization.”
But The Times reporter conjectures – It is too early to write off Mr. Medvedev, who recently turned 47. He is now prime minister and remains the leader of the governing United Russia party and the second-most-important politician in the country. A year ago he demonstrated his loyalty to Mr. Putin by walking away from a second term, and Mr. Putin is known to reward loyalty. All in all, this summer felt less like a decisive change of course than a period of frenetic transition, without a clear plan waiting at the end.
And how else would smoke and mirrors appear other than whimsical?
Still, according to The Times, there were unmistakable signs Mr. Medvedev was being cut down to size. On the fourth anniversary of the August 2008 war with Georgia, an event that lifted his popularity, and each anniversary he reminisced on television about the tough, solitary decision he made to send the army into Georgia while Mr. Putin was away in Beijing.
But – This year’s retrospectives were driven by the appearance of an anonymous documentary film in which retired generals excoriated Mr. Medvedev as timorous and cowardly. And when Mr. Putin was asked about the video, he responded by turning Mr. Medvedev’s narrative upside down, telling journalists he had personally approved plans for the assault in advance. That during the crisis he spoke repeatedly by phone to Mr. Medvedev and the Defense Ministry.
Lah de dah. Each man spoke from the point of view of their own political convenience. Name one instance that hasn’t happened?
Another blow that fell on Mr. Medvedev a few weeks later. Still just a public affair but hardly the stuff of all night Kremlin arguments that should bring tyrants to blows. No? well – While still president, Dmitri asked prosecutors to review the case of Taisiya Osipova, an opposition activist who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on what her supporters said were fabricated drug charges. His complaint led to a reversal and retrial, in which prosecutors sought a more modest sentence of four years. But – In August the judge, in a highly unusual move, sentenced Ms. Osipova to twice that time.
Alexander Rahr, a Russia scholar and biographer of Mr. Putin, said hard-liners around Mr. Putin blamed Mr. Medvedev for the burst of dissent that shook the Kremlin last winter. According to this critique, Mr. Medvedev’s presidency ended the “climate of fear” created during Mr. Putin’s second presidential term. Though Mr. Medvedev did not push through significant structural change, influential insiders contend that he “created an atmosphere” that led to protests, Mr. Rahr said.
Yes, it’s the scapegoat’s fault and certainly not due to a tyrannical image.
“They are furious,” Mr. Rahr said. “They think Medvedev woke up this new Russian revolution.”
At best a vacuum people put some hope in. But certainly not the catalyst enduring tyranny is.
Konstantin Remchukov, the editor in chief of the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, says the political chill that set in this summer is familiar to anyone who grew up in the Soviet Union. He counted 30 months of easing political constraints, starting with the publication of Mr. Medvedev’s essay “Forward, Russia” — in essence, a critique of his predecessor’s record — and ending with Mr. Putin’s inauguration this recent May.
Mr. Remchukov said, “When you have a situation more or less your whole life with very little periods of thaw, you can’t treat it seriously. I remember all these periods of being more warm, cooler, frosty.”
But Ms Barry concludes – In a way, the biggest surprise is that Mr. Putin has found it necessary to roll back Mr. Medvedev’s initiatives in the first place. For the four years of the “tandem” arrangement, the consensus among Western experts was that Mr. Medvedev did not do much without specific approval from Mr. Putin. On the day the two men announced they would switch places, a top Obama administration official shrugged off a query about whether this would herald a change of course in foreign policy: “Everyone knows that Putin runs Russia,” the official said.
Ms Barry – suggests that many of Mr. Medvedev’s initiatives toward the end of his presidency, sporadic and incomplete as they were, were undertaken independently, and in some cases against Mr. Putin’s wishes. Though his talk about change was generally not accompanied by action, the Russian presidency is so powerful that for four years, Mr. Medvedev needed only to speak and the system began to work to promote his ideas. That time, however, is over.
“Even the time change; just everything Medvedev touched,” Mr. Remchukov said. “This is the most sad story now, when I see that even minor things they are trying to eradicate from our reality.”
So it’s official Kremlin insiders are shaking things down and setting up the scapegoat because some people are grunmbling in the streets. That’s timid rule dudes, same bs you’re laying on Mr. Medvedev to scapegoat with him. And yes, Lr. Putin has more power in his sneeze. Nothing will smudge the polish on his authoritarian veneer, unless he has the guts to do it himself. Some day President Putin it won’t all be about shifting a few pawns to the other side of the board. The castles are up, it’s time the people were let in, and just as Mikhail Gorbachev brought the future, this era’s future is up to you.
But, see, here’s the thing, Watching how the Kremlin pretends to rule tends to hide what really goes on in peoples’ lives when government does all the talking and deciding. This Times video series, Above the Law follows the Russian peoples’ realinsists on being detached from normal lives. Apparently the communists superiority complex is what still hasn’t died.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

For PR, Russian Prison Is Not Quite Holiday On Ice

Since Russian prison warehousing is brutal, it was only a matter of time before Reuters would run this headline, Pussy Riot "risk lives" in Soviet-style prisonsThe freed member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, was interviewed at a small McDonald’s outside Moscow because of security concerns. 
"There is no hot water in Mordovia and there are only special prison clothes given out which are very cold for the weather," said Samutsevich. "THEY CAN DIE. There is no medicine. In Soviet times they thought that if people fell ill, that was their own problem ... if someone gets sick and nobody helps them, they can die - unfortunately there have been such cases and they happen periodically."

While four days earlier, in Reuters, the same reporter, Michael Stott wrote 
President Vladimir Putin flatly rejected Western criticism of imprisoning the Pussy Riot punk protest band, saying they deserved their fate, "deserved what they got," because appealing to the Virgin Mary, to get rid of the president, amounted to "group sex" and threatened the moral foundations of Russia.
Damn kidsThe point of the dinner was business, Reuters explains, but sicken-ly quotes Vladimir, "when BP managers came to me and the government and said we want to cooperate with Rosneft, we could not say no." Reflecting a mood and vernacular of a certain film franchise.

Yes, concern is business and imprisoned citizens' fate just afterthought. So the two Pussy Riot members face harsh, Soviet-style prison camps where their lives may be in danger due to a lack of medicine and no hot water amid sub-zero winter temperatures, according to a recently released band member.
Though for accuracy, putting the band member on the spot for verification seems questionable because Russia's prisons are not for the pampered and for them to suddenly be more habitable is assumptions on paper or computer screens just meant for entertainment. That's what the trial's horror was about. The situation Pussy Riot was being railroaded into.
Again, though words are Samutsevich's, it hardly seems necessary for her to carry such weight on her shoulders. According to Reuters - Samutsevich predicted that Putin's government would in the end fall victim to mass unrest and said the clampdown on dissent now under way in Russia showed just how scared the Kremlin was. "The system itself is crumbling. It's becoming more repressive ... those in power have very strong fears and their behavior is more and more wild. We could end with a total collapse like the Soviet Union." In their situation how could she think of anything that didn't sound dramatic. 
Still Vladimir. These are your people. Czars stood up to their own citizens. Stalin died on top, but I'm telling you his legacy sucks. Carnegie and Rockefeller left memories such that their eventual benevolence almost completely overshadows their prejudices toward common people on their rise to the top. But remembered for a repressive regime is what you're up against. Not whether or not the president sleeps in a nice bed every night. 

Samutsevich said Pussy Riot's top priority now was to campaign to free the band's two imprisoned members and it would call on other members for help. "The band doesn't consist just of the three of us," she said. "There's more, way more people, around 20 members in the band." Way more? Ya gotta love these women's positive outlook. 
Reuters prints she said, Putin was trying to present the sentences against the band members as "some kind of ordinary court case for an ordinary criminal charge. But this is totally wrong and he is not succeeding". 
However according to Reuters - Polls have shown that in Russia's predominantly conservative society, where Orthodox Christian believers are a majority, most citizens approve of the jail terms for Pussy Riot and dislike their actions. More than 40 percent in a recent poll said the women's prison terms should have been longer.  

Not surprising where questioning government is not safe. 

So - Asked about popular hostility to the band, Samutsevich said the Kremlin had used its control of state television channels to present a distorted picture of Pussy Riot. This obscured the band's real purpose and its political protest message. Instead, official media constantly emphasized that the group were anti-religious blasphemers.


I don't recall anti-religious sentiment as part of the show. The blaspheming was human and simple, nothing about it denounced anyone's belief in God.

Viewers, Reuters recounts, Samutsevich said, "didn't see us, they didn't hear us because the federal TV channels have done their best to cut out our speech. They would cut all the episodes from the video (of Pussy Riot performing in the cathedral) where you could hear the lyrics of the songs. And when people hear the lyrics, they immediately understand the purpose of our action."
Opposition figures have pointed to the irony of Putin, a former KGB spy, speaking solemnly of the sanctity of religion in a country where, for decades, the Soviet Communist Party - which the Kremlin chief served for decades in his KGB role - repressed all forms of religious expression.
Satire Vladimir, all it was, was satire. You need to start standing tall for everyone, and not just those you can convince to worship the icon of Kremlin power.

SOAPBOX VIEWC@ST 
 October 31, 2012 
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