Many people take the emotional but incorrect statements that Putin is a tyrant and a dictator seriously. They imagine some sort of a Stalinist system in Russia. But none of this is true.

As we saw earlier today, the Russian journalist who protested on national TV was fined $280. I’m guessing the fine would be higher if she disrupted a government broadcast in the US. It’s really not that big of a punishment.

None of the protesters in Russia face death. There’s no GULAG. Even Navalny (who is in jail on corruption charges) never claimed that anybody beat or tortured him. He’s tweeting up a storm daily.

The level of government coercion and restrictions on free speech in Russia is somewhere at the level of Canada during the trucker protest. Unpleasant, undemocratic, deplorable but not remotely Stalinesque. There are no firing squads, no labor camps, no mass graves – or any graves – of dissidents.

The reason so few Russians protest isn’t because they are terrorized. It’s because, at best, they have no objections. And at worst, they are very happy with what’s happening. If that sounds difficult to believe, remember what we’ve all seen in the past 2 years. Remember people massively embracing the clearly insane idea of “social distancing”? Took under a week for this particular mass psychosis to take hold. No GULAG necessary. No Papa Doc Duvalier sending his goons to terrorize anybody. Imagine what could be done in 20 years. In 30. In 40.

People like to trust authority. Not everybody but the majority does. And they especially like to trust authority when it tells them flattering things. No terror necessary.

28 thoughts on “No GULAG

  1. Reminds me of a saying I believe from the Roman statesman Sallust, who stated, “Only a few prefer liberty. The majority seek nothing more than kind masters.” But also, I think a problem with Russia is that they do not know much about the concept of democracy or freedom. All they have ever known is tyranny. From my understanding though, the level of restrictions on freedom of speech and thought is a bit more than Canada had. For example, the Internet in Russia has censorship and there have been journalists critical of Putin who have been killed. I don’t think anyone can mock Putin in the way that say people do American presidents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point about the internet. The Russian social media were great and a hub of resistance and intelligent commentary until 2012. After that, it was all censored and destroyed.

      In North America, at least we still have much of our online freedom of expression.


  2. The reason the journalist wasn’t killed is because the video of her protest went viral. It would be like killing a Russian who just won a Nobel Prize. The truth is we don’t know the fate of other less-publicized dissidents. Are we sure they haven’t been tortured or killed?

    Anyway I loved this post because it provides perspective. Putin is no Stalin. We in the West submit to authority as eagerly as everyone else.


    1. Why would the Russians have a problem with killing this woman? They wouldn’t want to spoil their reputation? Clearly, they don’t care about that. They’ve done much worse things and are doing worse ones as we speak.


  3. You are minimizing what is going on there:

    Прошу прощения за длительное молчание. Я не испугался и не заткнулся. Хочу рассказать о том, что со мной происходило за последние дни. Не для того, чтобы пожаловаться. Все мои проблемы — ничто по сравнению с трагедией Мариуполя или Волновахи. И не для того, чтобы похвастаться. То, что вы выступаете против войны и диктатуры, еще не делает вас героем — вы просто становитесь нормальным человеком.

    Возможно, мой рассказ поможет вам правильно вести себя на допросе в ФСБ. Хотя от всей души надеюсь, что это вам никогда не понадобится.

    Saying Putin is less than Stalin is a bit like saying today’s Ukraine is not in WW2 or Holodomor. True, yet unhelpful.


    1. So. . . he was questioned and let go? What a horrifying ordeal.

      By the way, did I ever share the story of how I was questioned by the actual FBI? It was really funny because Klara was very little and she had diarrhea. All through the interview, she pooped up a storm. I thought, “So little and already she shits on the FBI. I’m so proud.”


      1. // So. . . he was questioned and let go? What a horrifying ordeal.

        He had to leave his country forever to escape being jailed and his family being hurt too.

        // By the way, did I ever share the story of how I was questioned by the actual FBI?


        I believe FBI didn’t threaten Klara’s life if you didn’t hide unpopular political beliefs.


        1. Leaving a country like that isn’t much of a punishment. The suggestion seems to be that Russians aren’t protesting by the million because they are afraid to hear something mean. But there are already 13,000+ dead Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Young kids. Where are their family members? Friends? Why aren’t they protesting? Their government already killed their children. This isn’t a verbal threat. It’s a reality. Where are the parents of all the Russian soldiers who will die today and tomorrow? There’s still time to save them. Why aren’t they coming out? Russia has absolutely no resources to persecute a million protesters. Where are they, though? Terrified of verbal threats? That’s their biggest problem?


  4. May be, some Russians would get this comparison. As the saying goes, “to each in his own tongue”. A short and strong post imo:



  5. НЕВЕРОЯТНЫЕ ПРИКЛЮЧЕНИЯ УКРАИНЦЕВ В ИСПАНИИ. Украинец съездил по турпутёвке в Испанию, рассказывает про корриду:
    – Ну, арена така гарна, на трыбунах – испаньски чоловики, уси таки гарни, спокийни… Испаньски жинки – гарни, спокийни… Выпустыли быка на арену – вэлыкий такий бык, спокийный… Тореадор выйшов – гарный такий, спокийный… Раптом тореадор достае комуняцький флаг… И вси як з ума посходили!!!

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Владимир Путин на совещании с правительством заявил о «национал-предателях» и «пятой колонне» в головах:

    «Народ России сможет отличить патриотов от предателей, такое очищение общества только укрепит страну <…> Да, безусловно, они [Запад] будут пытаться делать ставку на так называемую пятую колонну, на национал-предателей, на тех, кто зарабатывает деньги здесь, у нас, а живет там. И живет даже не в географическом смысле этого слова, а по своим мыслям, по своему рабскому сознанию <…>

    Я совсем не осуждаю тех, у кого виллы в Майами или на французской ривьере, кто не может обойтись без фуа-гра, устриц или так называемых гендерных свобод. Но проблема абсолютно не в этом. А, повторюсь, в том, что многие из таких людей по своей сути, ментально находятся именно там. А не здесь, не с нашим народом, не с Россией. Это и есть, по их мнению, признак принадлежности к высшей касте. К высшей расе. Подобные люди могут и мать родную продать, только лишь бы им разрешили сидеть в прихожей у этой самой высшей касты. И они хотят быть похожими на нее, всячески подражая ей, — сказал президент.


  7. OT: Today I saw someone had made a message (with black duct tape) on the back of a van. Letters over a foot high.

    ***** PUTINA

    (in modern Poland the five asterisks are understood to stand for the verb jebać (which for the slavic deprived means ‘to fuck’)


    1. The professor, whose last name is the Russian equivalent of “moronic” says that the people who denounced their friends and relatives during stalinism were looking out for the good of their country and it’s wrong to condemn them.


      1. It’s curious that the professor mentions in positive terms the year 1937, the height of Stalin’s purges. Since 1961, this was considered a tragic year in Russian history, a metaphor for everything terrible. The revisionism of talking about it like it was a good moment in history is scary.


          1. My father always said that there’s an enormous subconscious admiration for the Nazi Germany in Russia. I thought he was imagining it but with the embryonic swastika of the Z and the 39 bot, it’s becoming hard to deny that there’s something to it.


            1. “an enormous subconscious admiration for the Nazi Germany in Russia”

              The values are so similar (expanding eternal empire, rising from knees etc) They just different catchwords on the surface (and Soviet-Russian style can’t compete with Nazi chic….)

              They even had a mini “Triumph des Willens” rally today in Luzhniki stadium… apparently it didn’t all got to plan and Putin’s speech was interrupted by a glitch….

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Back in the 1930s, the aesthetic of Stalin’s regime and the Nazi Germany was indistinguishable. Solzhenitsyn believed that Stalin felt genuine love and admiration for Hitler, which made the betrayal of the invasion even more painful.


              2. As somebody said on Twitter, the speech went exactly the way the Russian soldiers are fighting in Russia. These people can’t do anything without fucking it all up.


    2. // el, it would be nice if you could post links (so that text can be dropped into google translate) rather than images…

      I will when I can. The thing is I do not create those images myself.

      Because of restrictions and cleansing of livejournal Russian-speaking platform from everyone not 100% putioid, Russian users start using images more than usual in the attempt to fool AI algorithm searching for forbidden words like ‘war’.

      Btw, the word ‘peace’ is also forbidden, and old Soviet slogans миру мир (peace to the world) had been taken off some buildings. Orwell hasn’t gone far enough with ‘war is peace’; nowadays in Russia there is neither war nor peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. // My father always said that there’s an enormous subconscious admiration for the Nazi Germany in Russia.


    More proofs (if necessary):

    Многие задавались вопросом, что же обозначают знаки на российской военной технике и, главное, почему же мы используем «чужие» аглицкие буквы?

    Даём духовную дешифровку. Буквицы, которые мы видим, это ранняя кириллица, где многое заимствовано из греческого алфавита. Греческая «дзета» выглядит так «Ζ, ζ», в славянском мире получила имя «Земля», воплощая энергию созидания. […] Далее попробуем читать не “V”, а Ѵ (ижица) как «совершенная душа», […] Буквица О – Онъ, Бог, Творец.

    В общем, мы русские, с нами Бог.

    На небе Бог – на ζемле Россия. Есть такая сербская пословица.

    Надо было просто под красным флагом идти и все. как наши деды. И все


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