Sidebar: Dissent in the Russian Press


Translated by Cathy Young

Under Soviet communism, trusted friends surreptitiously passed around critical broadsides against the government, often in barely legible carbon copies of typewritten texts. Today, by contrast, you can encounter dissenting views in a number of newspapers, magazines, websites, and popular radio shows. Some samples:

Adrian Piontkovsky: "Russia is a land of mystery. The powers-that-be can fuck their God-bearing people in any way they like, with all manners of perversions, seemingly for as long as they please. But sometimes, as one of the country's smarter alpha males [Stalin] once remarked, they get dizzy with success, and then they do something—no, not something brutal (brutality would be met with animal fear and respectful trembling), but something stupid. For instance, they fail to deliver bread to the shops in St. Petersburg, or declare a campaign against drinking. And then everything crumbles and the Russian rebellion, pointless and pitiless, begins.

"Or, for instance, the ruler suddenly has his lackeys produce a piece of political erotica about their strong manly love for him. The film is shown on a state TV channel to the entire nation. And it turns out to be so obscene that everyone throws up."
—, October 29, 2007

Yulia Latynina: "Russia under Putin certainly cannot be called a rogue nation—that is, a country in which the only goal of the elite is total control over its own people. Russia under Putin is a bastard nation—a country in which the only goal of the elite is la dolce vita, money in Western banks, fancy cars, and vacations in Nice.

"It is a country whose entire legal infrastructure is geared toward allowing the elite to grab as much oil, gas, and oil and gas money as it can. Such an elite cannot be called anything but a bastard elite. Their natural resentment toward the West for failing to treat them as equals turns into an 'everyone hates us' ideology, which they then feed to the people and which they use to drive the people back into the Middle Ages."
—, January 14, 2008

Leonid Radzikhovsky
: "People understand power when it's clear and simple. The tsar is the tsar, the official is the official. Mixing these roles can only create confusion.

"So, while Putin may have made a winning move, his position is actually not that sweet. Putin as president had all the power, all the honors, and plenty of safety mechanisms.

"Putin as prime minister will have almost all the power (divided power), part of the honors, and very weak safety mechanisms.

"And this, at a time when many expect the oil boom to diminish. But even if that doesn't happen, the people's appetites will definitely keep growing, while respect for state power with its unpleasantly complicated structure will likely diminish. To write 'Medvedev' and mean 'Putin' is complicated mental work. You burden people with that kind of work, you have to pay.

"So, the costs of the people's loyalty will keep growing, while revenues are unlikely to grow. And it's the prime minister who will have to deal with this mess."
—, December 11, 2007