The Latest from Putin ‘ s Propaganda Machine

Russia’s propaganda machine has reached the heights of extreme shamelessness. The official version of the murder of the dissident Boris Nemtsov goes as follows: Nemtsov expressed sympathy with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, so several Muslim Chechens got upset and executed him for disrespecting Islam.

This explanation serves several useful purposes:

1. Russians can indulge in yet another bout of feeling aggrieved. They have now become victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack, yet nobody will celebrate them with a wave of “Je suis Russian” placards and marches. Once again, Russians will be denied recognition for their suffering.

2. Putin will give his voters a spot of some sweet, enjoyable Muslim – hating. The Russian neo-Nazis could never get over Putin ‘ s payouts to Chechnya. They will definitely be pleased with this development.

3. Identifying as one of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack allows Russia to deflect the suspicions that Putin was behind organizing them in the first place. And these suspicions have been getting awfully strong lately.

This is well-done on various levels. Yes, the story sounds insane at first, but Putin only cares about how it’s perceived inside Russia, and evidence shows that Russians are gobbling it up.

And we all know how easy it is to sell a “Muslims did it” story to people who are desperate to buy it.

Russia Slides Back Into Medieval Darkness

A Russian Orthodox priest is holding a holy image with Stalin in it
A Russian Orthodox priest is holding a holy image with Stalin in it

The crazy Russian Orthodox priests are trying to prevent a theater in the city of Novosibirsk from bringing to the viewers Tannhäuser, an opera by Wagner. The opera supposedly hurts the feelings of the religious people. Given that less than 2% of people in Russia practice religion (according to the Russian Orthodox Church), this is a very inventive argument.

Banning operas for religious reasons in a historically non-religious country is a sign that all attempts at looking reasonable have been abandoned by Russia’s authorities. Russia is not managing to enter into modernity and is currently fighting a war against Ukraine to punish the neighboring country for its eager and joyful acceptance of modernity.

Vatniki and Their Vatnost

You can’t understand Russia without knowing who the vatnik is and how vatnost manifests itself in every area of existence in Russia.

Thanks to reader Cliff Arroyo for this great link. It isn’t often that one reads anything in English about Russia that actually has value and is well-informed.
These days, I mention “the stupid vatniki” more often than “vile freakazoids,” and that’s telling something. The best thing one can do to understand what’s going on in Russia is figure out who the vatniki are.

If You Haven’t Won the Lottery

People have interesting friends:

Recently, I politely declined to debate with one such baffled male friend, who followed up by sending me some well-intentioned advice on how I could be a more effective feminist. Having never thought much about feminism before, he said, he just didn’t find my social media posts appealing. Too shouty and academic. What I needed was to explain things in a way that appealed to men.

Considering himself as the sort of bloke who “could be part of the solution”, he helpfully sent me a link to a twelve-minute TED talk which contained, in his words, “a basic yes/no test” for misogyny together with proposed steps to solve the problem. In an impressive gesture of hubris, he suggested the next time I was asked to educate a man who was genuinely trying to learn about feminism, I forward this snappy sound-byte resource he had just found for me.

The long post misses the most interesting part: how the author trashed the “friend” for being a condescending, self-congratulating freakazoid and made him curse the horrible day on which he was born, exposing himself to the dark future of crossing paths with her.

In the meanwhile, one is sitting here, itching to brutalize somebody for using the word “shouty”, yet never getting a chance. Life is unfair. Some people

basically already won the life lottery just by showing up

while others never get any luck.

Happy International Women’s Day, everybody, and remember that trashing freakazoids is a great way to celebrate.