... but the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yuri Osipov (a mathematician) has signed the pro-Kyoto letter to G8 over objections of Russian climatologists. Looks like he was in a hurry to sign it before the official Academy panel on climate change could convene. Still, the panel calls on him to withdraw his sign.
What bothers me most in all this Kyoto business is the number of tricks that Kyotoists use to achieve their goal.
When they replace all the references to carbon dioxide or CO2, which everyone knows as the natural product of organic life, with 'greenhouse gasses' or, to make it more scary, 'greenhouse pollutants', it's a kind of propaganda newspeak that makes me deeply suspicious of every Kyoto proponents' word, including 'a' and 'and'.
Recent poll about Russian opinion on censorship in mass media brought headlines like Poll finds massive support for censorship. What's actually the poll found (here in Russian) was a bit different. Indeed, when asked "Do you think that Russian TV needs censorship" 47% responded "Yes, definitely" and additional 35% answered "Yes, probably". But when asked which kinds of content need censorship (up to three answers, in % of respondents), Russians answered this way:
|the advertisement of dubious-quality medicine||30|
|crime-glorifying movies and TV series||24|
|the advertisement of intimate products (tampons and pads, condoms, toilet tissue etc.||24|
|Big Brother-like reality shows||15|
|tasteless pop music||8|
|excessively graphic reportage on catastrophes, terrorist acts||4|
As you can see, nobody wants political censorship, and this is the kind of censorship that really matters. So headlines like 'Russians want more censorship' are misleading. If one ask Americans whether they supports the censorship that exists on their TV, few would say yes, and many would ask back 'What are you talking about, there is no such thing'. For many do not think about ban on nudity and profanity on public airwaves as censorship. Those who support such restrictions are especially loathe to call it 'censorship', although some, like Jonah Goldberg, prefer straight talk, and call it 'the kind of censorship which I support, as opposed to political one which I oppose'. Well, Russians are with Goldberg on this issue.
Some other notes: the first place of 'sexual content' and relatively low number of 'profanity' would make some think that Russians are more prudish on the former than the latter. But these numbers reflect the character of Russian TV.
Russian taboo words 'the famous Mat) are bleeped, Russian movies very rarely contain them at all, and Western movies are translated in a way that replaces four-letter words with euphemisms, so, say, Full Metal Jacket is aired without any taboo word. When a former cop nicknamed Goblin started to translate Western movies using Russian language in full, many of his critics even said that English taboo words are not equal to Russian mat, that they are a way more acceptable. A funny notion for anyone who tried to listen how real Russians talk on streets or at work.
However, there are no real restrictions on sex and violence. Most of the channels have enough common sense to show movies by Tarantino or Tinto Brass after 10 PM, but milder ones, which would be R-rated in the USA, are showed without any formal restrictions. It's not that daytime TV is packed with them -- no, TV programmers can read polls too, but sometimes when they have no good talk show or Soviet oldie at hand, they can place an R-rated movie on, say, 5 PM slot.
2005-07-20T03:36:36.176+04:00At last. It was a bit incogruent that, while even Finland had a statue of Alexander the Liberator on one of Helsinki's downtown squares, Moscow had not.
2005-06-08T05:40:07.436+04:00It seems that Alexandra Ivannikova, whose case recently got big publicity, will be cleared of all charges. I'm happy that she will be cleared, but, unfortunately, it is not a court, but prosecutor's office again that is the real judicial power in Russia.
2005-06-03T03:00:52.953+04:00So. Mikhail Khodorkovski and Platon Lebedev were found guilty on almost all charges, and sentenced almost to the longest term available: 9 years of 10 years possible.
2005-06-02T03:18:43.286+04:00The Moscow blackout itself was thoroughly covered by Andy of Siberian Light and Lyndon of Scraps of Moscow (many articles, scroll down or look in the archive on May 25-27 postings).
2005-04-29T02:40:58.606+04:00Most of the recent commentary about Russia involves Putin's Annual Address to the Federal Assembly.Those who spent their time decrying 'bloody Putin's regime', do it again, featuring his characterization of the collapse of Soviet Union as 'the greatest catastrophe', and conveniently hiding most of the speech itself. However, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. is followed with That was precisely the period when the significant developments took place in Russia. Our society was generating not only the energy of self-preservation, but also the will for a new and free life.... ...They had to accomplish the most difficult task: how to safeguard their own values, not to squander undeniable achievements, and confirm the viability of Russian democracy. We had to find our own path in order to build a democratic, free and just society and state. Other, pro-Russian opeds highlight such details as Putin quoting from Count Witte "The state does not so much create as add substance. The genuine creators are all the citizens themselves… The aim should be not to hinder independence, but to develop it and encourage it in every way" and call it major pro-democracy, pro-free market speech. A CNN observer even told that, listening to his calls to repeal inheritance tax, he thought for a time that he was listening to Bush.If one reads the whole speech, the latter point of view would be much closer to the reality. Indeed, it would be an excellent speech for a pro-market, democratic politician, probably aspiring for top jobs. Had any of the leading opposition candidates been able to produce something nearly as good, he would immediately have become a natural leader.It was not, however, nearly as good as the address of the President of the Russian Federation now in his second term.The obvious gap between Putin's fine speeches and not-so-fine deeds is now being spinned by pro-Kremlin pundits as a result of the meddling of bureaucracy, which takes to the heart only those signals from the top that suit its needs. Opposition, naturally, says it's just the centuries-old 'good tzar, evil boyars' spin designed to cover up for evil tzars. I think both views have some truth.Indeed, some of the reforms promoted by Putin are being hindered by the same Putin. His judicial reforms, including the introduction of the trial by jury, are countered with his meddling in court process. Some examples of such breaches of the spirit of law are well-known in the West: scientists and military analysts convicted for espionage, and tycoons convicted for tax evasion by retrials, manipulations of jurors, dismissals of defendant-leaning juries, etc. Less known is that the same crude manipulations are being used in war crime cases. Colonel Budanov was acquitted, but government set a new trial, which convicted him. Captain Ullman was also acquitted, and now he is on retrial. Such blatant pressure on courts discredits judicial reforms. In Yeltsin's era courts (then mostly without juries) slowly gained trust, although this process was seriously hindered by corrupt judges. Now this fragile trust is broken.On the other side, many cases are indeed of 'evil boyars' type. Putin has fought for small business rights for all his presidential tenure -- with very little success. "Boyars" in the bureaucracy are not even really evil. It is simply a case of ungovernability -- nobody can efficiently control such a vast territory as Russia.Governors and regional elites ignore what Moscow tells them, but if something goes wrong and people become restless, they always blame the federal government. Putin, being tired of such irresponsible tricks, first tried to control governors using democratic means: he, being the most popular politician in Russia, could use his popularity to help friendly candidates. Thi[...]
2005-04-16T11:24:22.590+04:00Back in USSR, Victory Day used to be one real holiday. New Year, too, but New Year celebration, being an atheistic substitute for Christmas, was a holiday without holiness. Blood of the tens of millions made Victory Day a real holiday.
2005-03-14T04:28:04.940+03:00This post was started as a comment on Lex Libertas's posting with a picture of a building, but his comment system is not working right now, and since the comment was too long-winded anyway, I decided to post it here.Here on the building there are two circles below the national emblem. What is depicted on them is not a simple architectural decorations, but orders. On the left is the Order of Lenin, and on the right is the Order of October Revolution (with cruiser Aurora on it). The building itself is former Leningrad Higher Party School, now St.Petersburg International Business Center.Military and civilian decorations in USSR and Russia have two classes. The higher one is called an order, the lower one is a medal. For example, if a soldier did some heroic deed in WWII, he was awarded a medal 'Za otvagu' (For courage). Many medals were awarded for participation in a specific battle, e.g. 'For the defense of Moscow', 'For the liberation of Prague', 'For the conquest of Budapest' (since Hungary was Hitler's ally, it is conquest, or taking, (vzyatie), not liberation).However, if the deed was outstanding, he could be awarder an order 'Slavy' (of Glory), or an order of Red Banner. 'Hero of Soviet Union', 'Hero of Socialist Labor', and modern 'Hero of Russia' are special titles. In the Soviet times, the awardees were decorated both with an Order of Lenin and the special Golden Star medal (with Hammer and Sickle for Labor version). This makes this medal the highest award, like Medal of Honor in USA. But basically, orders are what is called medals in America, and medals are what is called badges and coins.The word 'order' in this sense is a relic from the Imperial Russia. In Russian Empire, just like in the most of the contemporary Europe, orders were knight orders -- they had a limited number of members, they had their complex insignia, chapels, celebration days, the official head of order was usually the Emperor. When a commoner got in the Order he usually officially became a noble (there were exceptions for the lowest ranks in the lowest orders). However, in Russian Members of Orders were called 'cavaler', not 'rytsar' (knight), and this word was used exclusively in the context of orders. So, when the Communists decided to design their own system of military and civilian decorations, they simply used words 'order' and 'cavaler', both of which had already lost most of the connection to the concept of Knight Orders.British system of orders is one of the few traditional ones which made it to the modern world, and now every time a celebrity of any kind gets a British decoration, the world is abuzz. Is Bill Gates a knight now? Paul McCartney surely is, but Gates wasn't dubbed and cannot style himself as 'sir'. Was it appropriate for the former Presidents of USA Reagan and Bush Sr. to become members of the Order of Bath? Well, everyone can remember something similar. However, a mere century ago 'the order' meant 'the Knight Order' with few, if any, exceptions, and there were no confusion when someone was awarded one of them (or, to be more precise, was accepted in one of the Knight Orders).Another confusing feature of the Soviet award system is the practice of awarding not only persons, but legal bodies too. Factories, newspapers, organizations, cities, universities, and, of course, military units were awarded 'the order of Lenin', 'the order of Red Banner', 'the order of October Revolution', etc. Not all of the orders were used in this way, most of the military orders were highly restricted, but these three were quite common. That's why you see the depictions of two orders on the building in Owen's picture. The Leningrad Party School was decorated with them in both senses. Sometimes this practice brought extremely funny linguistic monstrosities such as 'Leningradskii Ordena Lenina Metropoliten imeni V.I.Lenina' (the o[...]
2005-03-24T15:21:28.320+03:00I didn't intend to return to that theme, but
2005-03-09T02:18:59.486+03:00Chechnya loses its Yasser Arafat, says Guardian, and I, for the first time in a while, agree with them.