Update on Flight MH17

So the UN passed a resolution to create an international tribunal that would investigate the tragic crash of flight MH17. Russia vetoed the resolution and expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

“Fuck you, families of victims. By the way, so sorry for your loss.”

Russians will squeeze every single drop of collective enjoyment out of this tragedy. The crash of flight MH17 is now a favorite subject of stand up comedians in Russia. Everybody is having so much fun with the situation.

You have no reason to care, and that’s perfectly fine, but I speak Russian as my first language, my husband is from Russia. It horrifies me to see the depths of bestiality and nastiness the people of Russia have reached.

The Sarcophagus in the Red Square

It’s like Putin is trying to freak everybody out on purpose. I’m sure you are familiar with the following famous image of the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin:

As the clock strikes 12 on the most important night of the year (the New Year’s eve), the people of Russia and the Russian-speaking immigrants all stare at this image.

But this year, the famous tower looks like this:

There is a whole variety of conspiracy theories explaining that scary sarcophagus. My theory is that Putin wanted people to concentrate on something even uglier than him during the festive season. And he is succeeding.

Putin’s Press-Conference, Part III

Putin then heaped praise on the Ukrainian President Poroshenko, saying that Poroshenko was ready to collaborate with Putin but some mysterious members of the Ukrainian government were preventing him from doing that. This limp-wristed attempt at discrediting Poroshenko tells me that Putin fears him and sees him as a political force to be reckoned with.

Then Putin confirmed that the heroes of the Donetsk Airport were still alive and still fighting. This is great news because we’ve been fearing that they were no longer among the living.

There was also a long discussion of how the mean, horrible Ukrainians just had to get into a war (with themselves) on purpose to prevent the Russians from enjoying their massive win at the Olympics. They are really obsessed with those Olympics, folks. It’s been almost a year, and they are still going on and on about the Olympics. There is a huge sense of grievance that is being fostered in Russia about those Olympic Games. I actually started feeling sorry for the Russians after hearing this endless blabber about the Olympics. Poor freaks.

One of the journalists was holding up a pink bunny and a poster that said, “I have a kind question.” I found that to be an interesting journalistic tactic of attracting attention. 

Putin informed the audience that the line between a member of the opposition and a traitor to the nation was very blurry. You’ve really got to appreciate the honesty with which he warned the dissidents of what awaited them.

What I find really funny is that Putin moves, talks and gesticulates exactly like the career criminals in Russian TV series that N. and I love to watch. I think he works with an acting coach to acquire this persona because people watch a lot of these shows and find it easy to relate to this kind of character.

Ukraine Freedom Support

Nothing annoys me more than the way in which the war of Russia against Ukraine is described in the Western media. Here is one example:

Over the weekend, Congress passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, a bill which would impose stricter sanctions on key Russian sectors like weapons and energy, and which authorizes the President to provide lethal aid to Ukraine for the first time. . . President Obama so far appears to be holding back from signing the bill immediately, despite bipartisan pressure for him to put pen to paper. With the economic situation rapidly deteriorating in Russia, however, having the bill hanging over the Kremlin’s head, maximizing uncertainty and unease may not be the worst strategy.

Are you seeing the problem with this analysis? The journalist is discussing  a bill called “the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014.” Got it? Ukraine freedom support. But the analysis is all about how wonderful not signing the bill will be in the dealings with the Kremlin. How about Ukraine, though? The one whose freedom this bill is supposed to support? It’s not even mentioned in this analysis!

The idea that any of the pathetic “sanctions” introduced against Russia have had any effect is completely bizarre. The idea that the Kremlin is anything but overjoyed with news of this bill is even more bizarre. The fantasy of Putin cowering in “uncertainty and unease” is simply deluded. 

It’s high-time to stop trying to impress Putin. The West has proven itself to be signally incapable of that. The only people who have managed to thwart Putin in any way recently are Ukrainians. Instead of pretending that they don’t exist, it would be much smarter to help them keep thwarting him.

The value of Ukraine Freedom Support Act is symbolic a lot more than anything else. Ukrainians need to hear that they matter to the West, that their struggle is understood and supported. They need at least a tiny gesture of goodwill in their direction. And while the American President is mumbling and fumbling, Ukrainians are dying for the Western values that they alone in the world seem to recall and cherish.

Russia Discriminates Against Men

The following reform is being proposed for Russian universities:

Dmitry Livanov, Russia’s new education minister, has unveiled controversial reforms for his country’s universities. Chemistry World reported that the changes proposed include consolidating universities and ending the tradition of free tuition.

The reason why this is an atrocious plan is not only that the low-income people will be prevented from accessing higher education. There is a much more tragic reason why a free higher education should exist in Russia.

Russia is a country that discriminates against healthy young men by forcing them to join the army where they are more than likely to be starved, tortured, raped, and forced into slave-labor. Every male high-schooler in the country lives in horror of the draft.

The only ways of avoiding the draft are:

1. Having several children in rapid succession (this is obviously something that the racist Russian government worried about the rise of Chinese and Muslim immigration wants to promote.)

2. Pay a huge bribe.

3. Go to college.

N. told me that the terror of being drafted had shaped his life. He knew that, even though he was tall, broad-shouldered and practiced martial arts, he would not come out of the army with his mental and physical health intact. Between the ages of 17 and 27 (when you can legally be drafted), everything he did was conditioned by the goal of avoiding the draft. Since he is from a very modest family that did not have money for the bribe and is ideologically opposed to the idea of procreating to avoid the draft, the possibility of getting enrolled at a college for free saved him from the army.

I know dozens of tragic stories about ruined lives and horrible personal misery as a result of this discriminatory draft policy.

The Constitution of the Russian Federation proclaims the equality between the sexes. Yet, this horrible form of discrimination against people whose only crime is to be born with a penis persists. It is unconscionable that the Russian government would now remove the only legitimate way out of being drafted that many men still have at their disposal.

It’s one thing when only the rich have the chance to get a higher education. I think that it’s completely wrong, of course, and that education has to be accessible to low-income people and penniless immigrants like I used to be. But when you get to the point where only people with money (or without a penis) can avoid being raped, starved and beaten, we have moved to a completely different level of horror.

Russia is not a poor country, mind you. This is not about a shortage of money. This is about a hateful genocidal policy aimed at punishing millions of young men for the fact of their existence.

Putin Is Elected President in Russia

The moment Putin got elected as Russia’s not very new President, look what happened to my Stats page:

Usually I have one or two people per day alight on the blog in search of information on Putin’s Botox treatments. Today, it’s 75 already, and it is only 11 am here.

Russian people have a very unique relationship with their political leaders. They both love them and hate them passionately. They also find it very hard to let them go in any significant way unless they die. They have gone and voted for Putin, and now they will have a blast analyzing his photos and ridiculing his plastic surgery.

I’m sure there were a few falsifications during these presidential elections in Russia. At the same time, it is obvious that Putin won fairly, and that most people wanted him as president. On the one hand, there wasn’t a single viable alternative candidate because a true opposition in the country is non-existent. On the other hand, the people of Russia are not ready to let Putin go yet. They will now get a chance to play out their favorite role of eternal adolescents making fun with their online buddies of the strict father whom they both fear and adore.

Want to Self-Promote? Call Yourself a Feminist!

It is now so prestigious to call oneself a feminist that people do it simply to self-promote. Remember how all of those spurious feminists who supported Sarah Palin suddenly cropped up? And then there were those weird Ukrainian “feminists” who ran around naked because, according to them, feminism is all about women having the right to get their naked bodies ogled in public spaces.

Here you can see these idiots defiling which is probably the most important cathedral in all of Russia

Now, there is a group of stupid little fools in Russia who try to self-promote by claiming they are feminists:

Anti-government protests in Russia are taking many different forms, from mass rallies and marches to defiant street art and music.

Just recently, members of a feminist punk group were arrested in Moscow’s Red Square after they performed a song ridiculing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The group, which calls itself Pussy Riot, says it’s planning more stunts before March’s presidential elections.

What this gushing article (and the gushing posts in my blogroll) forget to mention is that these “feminists” have defiled a church and insulted the feelings of believers by offering an unsolicited performance of a song whose lyrics are extremely offensive to religious people. I have many very serious issues with the Russian Orthodox Church (to put it very, very mildly) but defiling places that people consider to be holy is just not on. And it definitely has nothing to do with feminism.

The only good news is that money-hungry self-promoters see the feminist label as something that can bring them popularity. Only 15 years ago, producers of a certain TV channel in Russia wondered if the word “feminist” was decent enough to be pronounced on screen during prime time. And now people are using it to self-promote.

Why I Like the Russian Protests More Than the #OWS

I don’t think that the protests in Russia are going to achieve anything major in the nearest future. Putin is still going to win the next Presidential “elections” in Russia. Even if the elections are not falsified (which, as we all realize, is not likely), he will still win. Most people still like him (these are the folks who don’t read newspapers or blogs and only watch official pro-Putin channels on television). Besides, there is no opposition to speak of at the moment.

If we are to see any tangible results of the Russian protests, we will have to wait for a few years. It will take a while for viable opposition forces to emerge and produce their own leaders.

Still, I am a lot more enthusiastic about the Russian protests than I am about the #OWS. These are both middle-class movements. However, the peaceful Russian revolution of 2011 never pretended to be what it wasn’t. Its participants calmly explain in interviews, on their blogs and social networks that they are comfortably off, well-to-do, middle-class folks who are fed up with how their country is run. They don’t beg anybody for compassion. And they don’t regale us with stories of how they have wonderful, comfortable, debt-free lives but still “live in bated breath” because of some imaginary disasters. Most importantly, there is no swapping of tales of personal woe and misery that the #OWS protesters enjoy so much and that, more often than not, are inflated dramatically. For obvious reasons, the religious vocabulary that bothers me so much at the #OWS is also absent among Russian political agitators of the moment.

The Russian protesters say that they want to be in charge of their country’s politics. They talk about democracy, the voting system, the ways in which the currently existing parties are flawed, the way the budget is structured, the reasons why they are disappointed with Putin, the ways they evaluate the history of their country over the past 20 years. I have not read a single account, blog post, newspaper article, interview, etc. where a protester would plunge into a tale of his or her debts, employment history, educational achievements, sickness, marriages, etc. as part of his or her analysis of the political situation.

As we all know, personal is political. The way we live our lives is intimately connected to our politics. However, it would be a mistake to turn this statement around and say that political is personal. When politics becomes nothing but a bunch of personal narratives, we end up with a political reality where people elect presidents on the basis of their attractions as beer-drinking buddies, politicians’ personal lives matter a lot more than their policies, and a candidate’s success is defined by whether she can cry on cue or whether he bowls well. Only too often, the #OWS protesters approach the political arena as if it were a stage for a reality TV show, a place where personal dramas are to be aired for no other purpose than to allow an Oprahesque unburdening of emotions to occur.

Another reason why I prefer Russian protests to the #OSW is that the Russian protesters do not attempt to pretend they are proletarians when, in reality, they are middle-class folks. The vogue of brandishing fake working-class credentials is associated in Russia with the decades of the Communist regime. This is why nowadays people see nothing shameful in being financially comfortable.

The #OWS protesters, however, are tortured with middle-class guilt. This is why their “we are all in the same boat” slogans sound so hollow. I remember how my union organizer tried to convince me that he and I did not differ in any way from a truck-driver. At that time, he and I were students at one of the most prestigious grad schools in the world. We had great medical insurance, only had to teach for 50 minutes a day, and rarely woke up before noon. Unlike my union organizer, I hadn’t been born rich, so I didn’t feel any need to mask the silver spoon in my mouth by claiming I knew anything about the reality of truck-drivers.

This is, however, precisely what the #OWS does. Its middle-class participants mask their middle-class concerns behind the rhetoric of fake solidarity with the dispossessed. They self-righteously compete in producing stories of misery because they seem to believe that only misery entitles you to an opinion and to activism.

When the Russian protesters talk about their participation in the revolutionary movement, they always begin by explaining how they are entitled to be in charge of their country because of their success in running their lives, careers, companies, blogs, bank accounts, etc. The #OWS protesters, on the other hand, proudly claim failure as their chief qualification for the role of political activists.

Patriarchy and Men

If you think being a man in a profoundly patriarchal society is easy, think again. I’ve been listening to the Russian radio again and I almost choked on my pomegranate juice when I heard a man announce in a very intimidating and tragic voice:

“Does it sometimes take you more than ten minutes after you’ve had sex to prepare for the next sex act?? If so, you have erectile dysfunction! And you need to take care of it now, before things get worse!”

By things getting worse, the radio host must have meant that it takes some people – oh, horror! – as much as 20 minutes to prepare for the next sex act. And those who need a couple of hours (or days) must be hopeless invalids.

Seriously, is there anybody older than 18 who never needs more than 10 minutes between sex acts?

And I’m not even starting on the issue of how many people have trouble finding any partner, let alone one who’d be willing to go again ten minutes after sex.

Even people who are extremely healthy can be bullied straight into an erectile dysfunction by such announcements if they hear them often enough.