On the Russian Front


Last week, Vladimir Putin pretended to hand power to Russia's new puppet president, the amiable former chair of Gazprom's board of directors Dmitry Medvedev. Reuters reports that Medvedev—by which they mean Putin—has "appointed three of Vladimir Putin's closest aides to run his administration, ensuring Putin retains his strong grip on power despite leaving the Kremlin." Breaking with protocol, Putin demonstrated who was in charge before the announcement. As The Moscow Times explains, Putin "not only remained in the left-hand seat, but also spoke first when presenting Medvedev with his new Cabinet." The paper declares the former president "the big winner" in the cabinet sweepstakes, though they reassuringly note that Putin's phalanx of liberal advisors were the "other winners," while a handful of anti-western hawks—the siloviki—were demoted.

And while this is all good news for the Russian economy, Putin continues to bully his critics in the media. Last month, the Associated Press reported that "Russia's lower house of parliament voted…to widen the definition of slander and libel and give regulators the authority to shut down media outlets found guilty of publishing such material." And today, the Times follows up on the case of Russian curator Yuri V. Samodurov, whose controversial exhibitions attacking the church and military have been consistently defaced by nationalists and religious extremists. Back in 2003, the Times explains, "a group of men raided Mr. Samodurov's museum, defacing many of the 45 works in another exhibition critical of the Orthodox Church called 'Caution, Religion!' While charges against most of the men were dropped for a lack of evidence, Mr. Samodurov was convicted of inciting religious hatred."

And so it is again. In an unsurprising move, prosecutors have now charged Samodurov with "inciting religious hatred" for the staging of his 2007 show "Forbidden Art." I am sure, though, that the prosecution is entirely unrelated to Samodurov's recent denunciation of the Putin government as "Stalinist" in its attacks on the pernicious influence of "foreign culture."

NEXT: The Genetics of Ensoulment

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. In Russian cabinet, ex-president chooses you!

    Ahh, Yakov, still able to provide humor in these dark times.

  2. Now why would ‘Caution, Religion!’ be perceived as anti-Orthodox? Could that have meant ‘Caution! The Catholics/Jews/Atheists [take your pick] Are Taking Over!’?

    (I know, bad joke.)

  3. We must confront Russia by expelling them from th e g8 unless they clean up their act.

  4. The only thing scarier than the Soviet Union with a full nuclear arsenal is an Imperialist Russia with a full nuclear arsenal.

  5. The good news is the Putin will eventually die.

  6. Pretty soon Pooty-Poot is going to be stealing Georgie’s lunch money.

  7. The main source of Putin’s power in the international scene is high profits from oil sales, made possible by the high prices for oil since Bush started the Iraq War.

    More unintended consequences of Bush’s war.

  8. Putin and Bush are kindred authoritarian oil brothers.

    Bush canceled our ABMT with Russia in 2001 while Russia struggled with the Chechnyan terrorist uprising. This gave both an opportunity to rachet up the propaganda needed to quell the liberal factions who oppose them.

    I suggest an exchange program so that both can run for president again – but in the others country…. no one would notice.

  9. Neil, if we expel Russia from the G8 (can we do that?), then they may stop exporting female tennis players. Do you want to be responsible for that, Neil? Do you?!?

  10. Epi,

    First of all, given their travel schedule tennis players could always defect to wherever the hell they want. Second, you seem to think that Russian female players are babes. WTF? You mean Sharapova? She’s cute, but she ain’t hot (well, mostly). Name one Russian female player who could hold a candle to Gabriela Sabatini; now that was a woman.

  11. Martina and Billy Jean! Beautiful tennis players and beautiful women.. Not sure if they’ve settled down with the right guy, but I’m available if they’re still single!

  12. You mean Sharapova? She’s cute, but she ain’t hot (well, mostly

    You’re gay.


  13. Sharapova is (to borrow a local saying) as hot as a “freshly fucked fox in a forest fire”.

  14. Kolohe,

    I don’t dig blondes that much, NTTAWTT. (Hope you’re not a blond.)


    You’re kidding, right?

  15. shrike,

    I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean (I’m slow), but thanks for the repartee. I should use that sometimes in the offing.

  16. Hey NP, no big deal.

    I remember my David Hume and ‘de gustibum’ (sp?)– meaning “of taste? there is no dispute”

    I butchered the Latin… I will have another scotch I think…..

  17. shrike, it does sound like you are already having a Scotch. Hey, better now than later. Let me just add that Shostakovich (his lighter stuff) is better for Scotch than Mahler. 🙂

  18. NP,

    Damned ye and yer black hide, only the ‘pipes are appropriate for a wee dram of scotch.

  19. NP – I love Shostakovich too.

    Moreso – Stravinsky.

    The Russians are the BOMB!

    Even Bartok…. YES.

    As a worldly person – I sometimes have difficulty communicating with the Bushnecks….

  20. Love the part where Medvedev speaks while Putin drinks water…

  21. Pro Libertate,

    Actually, I’m a teetotaler. (Seriously. And yeah, I know I usually make boring company.) I was just weighing who is the better composer for libations, that’s all.


    Stravinsky too wrote a fair share of junk (he really should’ve stuck to what he did best instead of kowtowing to the Second Viennese School), but yeah, you won’t get any serious argument from me on that one. I may actually like Bartok more–he gets extra points just for mocking Shostakovich’s 7th in his most famous work. That said Shostakovich is still prolly one of my top 2 or 3 modern favorites.

    If you want my top pick for the entire history of classical music, I’ll prolly never be convinced to put anyone else above Bach.

  22. …if we expel Russia from the G8 (can we do that?), then they may stop exporting female tennis players.

    So? They can’t take away our homegrown female golfers, (SFW, although watch out for the first one) who now out smoke the tennis set anyways (e.g. Mauresmo? Is she still technically a woman?)

    Also, what’s with all the Shostakovich love here? I could barely handle Prokofiev…

  23. Wow…what is that trophy supposed to be in your third link baked?

  24. BakedPenguin,

    Aww, why’d you have to diss Prokofiev? Romeo and Juliet is the best single ballet ever written, and I say this as someone who’s not afraid to give a big, fat middle finger to anyone who spews the nonsense that Tchaikovsky wasn’t the greatest Russian composer, let alone a great composer. His concertos ain’t half bad, either.

  25. Let us remind ourselves why Russia is such an important country. It is not the oil, nor the women, but the vodka (wadka?). Truly a drink of the gods (you can drink yourself to death with barely a hangover; take that beer!). It is why I hope they come to the bosomy tit of freedom. Lest vodka prices rise! or Worse we must drink horrible french vodka like ‘Grey Goose’.

  26. NP – we should never discuss the Russians, apparently. I don’t know why, but I’ve never cared for Tchaikovsky. I’d rather listen to Mussorgsky or Rimski-Korsakov.

  27. BakedPenguin,

    Well, taste is different from judgment, and I do like both Mussorgsky or Rimski-Korsakov me-self. Just curious: If you don’t care much for the (big-name) Russians, who do you like?

  28. NP – I’m a dilettante, basically. Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Mendelssohn. Some Dvorak, Smetana, Schubert. For the 20th century, not too much, but in line with the above – Vaughan Williams & Villa-Lobos.

    I can listen to any baroque music, although solo harpsichord gets old quickly. Vivaldi’s guitar concertos don’t.

  29. BakedPenguin – Hey, no problem. I certainly wouldn’t call myself an expert, either (which is another way of saying that I’m too a dilettante).

    And yeah, Vivaldi’s concertos rock; despite what the snobs say they’re much more fun than much of Mozart’s lighter stuff. Are you familiar with the last movement of his Concerto for strings in C, RV 114? The best substitute for a trip to Venice I know.

    And I second what you said about Baroque music: lively, infectious, and enough counterpoint thrown in to be rarely boring. Music from the Classical period is usually too polite, and for Romantic music the differences between actual composers and mere hacks are just too obvious for us to bother about the latter. Some personal Baroque favorites (besides the bigwigs, of course):

    – F. Couperin, Concerts royaux. Especially the final Rondeau movement of the last Concert–here comes the spring!
    – Vivaldi, Stabat Mater: the best music the Red Priest ever wrote (I’m serious)
    – Corelli, Ciaccona from the last (No. 12) of his Op. 2 trio sonatas. Along with his Christmas Concerto, the loveliest music by this least prolific of all (major) Baroque composers. (YouTube has a video if you’re interested.)

    Now two really obscure gems:
    – Johann Christian Schieferdecker, the final Chaconne movement from his Premier concert. I’m telling you, if this were as well known as Albioni’s Adagio, it’d be just as popular.
    – Michel Lambert, Vos mespris chaque jour. When sung by a bad singer it soon becomes insufferable, but if by a good one… then watch out! You’re about to enter what tennis players call “the zone.”

    Finally I gotta mention Purcell. Some of the very best music ever written. It sucks that he died rather young.

  30. Gabriela Sabatini; now that was a woman

    She’s a man, baby!

  31. I saw that piece on the news about the military parade in the red square to commemorate russian victory in europe. There were old commie women marching with red hammer-and-sickle-emblazoned banners of Stalin’s face….. don’t these people remember what Stalin did to them?

  32. We already have bosomy tits in ample supply, thank you very much.

  33. Nick_M,

    Ha. Yeah, her face does have a masculine bone structure, but seriously, who do you prefer: her or any of the Russian players? I rest my case.

  34. No need to have Russian tennis players when one has the delicious Williams sisters (heh!heh!) And anyway one prefers the 50 inch waisted New York women.

    Perhaps also one can make the Russians beg before they are allowed to buy American stocks, bonds or dollars. And the ultimate punishment. Don’t let them buy American oil and gas.

  35. All this Russia bashing is funny. Germany has more political prisoners today for thought crimes then they did under communism. Courts in Europe have ruled in some cases that truth is no defense and that the burden of proof is on the accused.

    Here’s the great beacon of liberty, Sweden


    But the most spectacular case so far-and one completely ignored by American media-is that of Swedish feminist Joanna Rytel.

    Earlier this year, she wrote an article called “I Will Never Give Birth to a White Man,” for a major Swedish daily, Aftonbladet. [Jag t?nker aldrig f?da en vit man, April 11, 2004]

    Rytel explained why she hates white men-they are selfish, exploitative, vain, and sex-crazed-and just to make things clear, she added, “no white men, please? I just puke on them, thank you very much.”[“Dom spyr jag bara p?, tack.”]

    She wrote that other than the women’s restroom, she can find peace only in the segregated women’s prayer room in the mosque in central Stockholm: “At least Muslim men don’t mind that women have their own community in peace and quiet.” She added that she might let a white man follow her home, but only because “I can have someone to talk with all night long about my hatred towards white men.”

    Members of the Swedish National Socialist Front-an admittedly neo-Nazi group-called the article to the attention of the Stockholm authorities. But they refused to indict Miss Rytel

    The neo-cons want us to think its all ok because these are “democracies.”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.