Russian Libertarians Aren't Drinking Putin's Borscht


Vera Kichanova

As Vladimir Putin burns bridges and makes his country increasingly unpopular internationally over his instigation of war in Ukraine, polls have shown that the Kremlin leader's domestic approval rating has climbed to a staggering 88 percent.

There's been plenty of analysis of this surge noting Russians' desire to return to the glory of the good ol' Soviet days, but some are skeptical and believe there are other reasons people are ostensibly uncritical of their government. Perhaps the person who understands this best is Russia's most prominent libertarian activist, journalist, and elected official, Vera Kichanova. (You can read her Reason interview here.) Yesterday, she penned an article in Forbes detailing the opposition and the chilling effects of the government has on it:

Not all of us Russians believe Vladimir Putin's propaganda machine. While the Western media broadcasts images of pro-Kremlin protesters supporting Russia's military actions in Ukraine, rarely are anti-war demonstrators like myself mentioned. In March, 50,000 of my fellow countrymen went out in the streets of Moscow, holding Russian and Ukrainian flags side-by-side, in protest of our government's aggressive actions in Crimea.

Kichanova states that Putin does have support from many, but it is generated by misinformation spread through Russia's sizeable state-owned media.

According to a new law that Vladimir Putin has just signed, anti-war Russians like myself risk receiving up to five years in prison for speaking out about the innocent people being killed with our taxes. Previously, participating in a non-permitted rally was an administrative infraction. Now, if a protester is detained in a demonstration for the second time, he or she becomes a criminal. I myself have been arrested six times for peacefully protesting, once as a reporter. I had all my documents with me, but the police simply ignored the fact I was doing my job. With propaganda gathering momentum and taking its terrible toll, opportunities for real journalism are gradually disappearing as lies force out the truth.


Indeed, a tragedy that's being widely overlooked by the West during the Ukrainian war is the crackdown on Russia's domestic political opposition. Russia, which has already been ranked by Freedom House as "not free" and has a notoriously high death rate among journalists, recently introduced a law requiring bloggers to register with the government and another prohibiting people from accessing the Internet anonymously. Earlier this month, Russian prosecutors gave Slon, a news site for which Kichanova writes, a 24-hour notice to remove one of her articles about anti-Kremlin separatists in Siberia. One of the nation's most vocal anti-corruption advocates and politicians, Alexei Navanly (whom I speculated could become "the Ron Paul of Russia" in an article here), has also been censored by the Putin regime. In the newly-Russian Crimea, the native Tatars' political leaders have been exiled for spurious reasons.

For more Reason coverage of the conflict in Ukraine and related issues, click here

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    1. Eta kracivaya, da?

      1. nye plokha

    2. Eto, Kennadnya, moi gaspadin svobodnik

  1. I sincerely hope nothing bad happens to Russian Velma.

  2. I have it on good authority that libertarians support the following:

    Police brutality and violent anti-government militias
    Russian colonialism and aggressive anti-Russian foreign policies
    Black market organ trade in stolen kidneys and free markets

    1. Several months back, there was a nincompoop claiming that King Leopold wasn’t really part of the state and all the atrocities in the Congo were therefore a product of the free market!
      Now, commie-kid and craig don’t quite reach that level of stupid, but there are times when the question is in doubt.

      1. I remember that. I’m thinking it was mtrueman?

        1. Close to what passes for thought in trueman’s case, but I think it was another short-lived troll.

          1. Anyone who thinks the economies of 19th century India or the Congo free state were anything resembling a free market is either very ignorant of the subjects, or very stupid.

            1. In his case it’s both.

              mtrueman|2.15.14 @ 2:22PM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

              Rubber is rubber, markets are markets. That’s what empowered the king.

  3. Brave woman

  4. Russian Libertarians

    all five of them?

    1. Fortunately it’s easy to hold meetings because they’re all being held in the same gulag.

  5. Wow. A libertarian in Russia. And I thought I was lonely.

    1. She’s a US plant trying to lure Snowden.

  6. But, Putin is European. I thought Europe had all the answers. He wants to have all news reporters, analysts, and bloggers be registered with the government. Just like Europe and the American Democrats.

    ‘m confused…

    Or: Putin is the Most Libertarian Leader in the World! #SalonPitch

    1. Actually Putin is Asian and not European.

      1. Putin is from the European part of Russia.

  7. “Why aren’t libertarians talking about Russia?”

  8. Imenno poetomu tam net russkikh libertariantsy.

    1. BTW, I wasn’t allowed to post that in Cyrillic. The Anglocentrism of this site is appalling!

    2. Anybody call for a Russian grammar Nazi? Well, too bad, I’m here anyway 😀

      “Imenno poetomu tam net russkikh libertariantsEV”

      I was about to complement your overall grammatical performance, while also expressing bewilderment at you having conjugated the adjective correctly while not even bothering with its corresponding noun, but then it occurred to me that the mistake might be the work of Google Translate, along with the rest of the sentence. Turns out that that’s how GT translates “That’s exactly why there are no Russian libertarians.” by default. You almost had me there, Yank.

      (“Yank” isn’t racist, right? And neither is assuming that you’re American and not, say, Kiwi? We Russians are at least a couple of decades behind politically correct language, so I’m never entirely sure…)

      1. Oh, and before I get out-grammar-Nazi’d by someone else, *compliment

        1. Also, now that I know what the original English sentence was, I can take my grammar Nazi’ing to the next level. Since the “there” isn’t really referring to a specific place, the “tam” becomes superfluous in the Russian sentence, while the “net” would sound better at the end of the sentence. Actually, that would still sound weird and not quite in tune with the original meaning, so better replace it with “ne byvaet”.

          “Imenno poetomu russkikh libertariantsev ne byvaet”

          There, now it’s a perfectly grammatically sound Russian translation of your original sentiment./shitnobodycaresabout

          …can y’all tell I’m drunk? What am I talking about, I have admitted to being Russian, so how can I be anything but drunk? 😉

          1. Shouldn’t you be a grammar commissar?

      2. Yeah, it’s Google Translate. My languages are English and every third word of Spanish.

  9. No one “drinks” borscht, dolts.

    1. Jeeze, thank goodness a pedant showed up! I’m surprised Bo isn’t here to tell us that.

      1. Now you’ve done it.

    2. In Putinist Russia, borscht drinks YOU!


    3. You’ve never had borscht puree?

  10. Screw Russia. It’s a corrupt, inept country whose people refuse to embrace the kind of reforms that would allow them to become a real world power.

  11. Alexei Navanly, the Russian Ron Paul?

    Well, he is an ethnic nationalist.

  12. Let’s all pretend the CIA had nothing to do with the unrest in Ukraine.

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