Friday, August 28, 2009

it depends on how it's said...

I try to put mostly positive things about Russia, Russian, Russians here on this blog—after all, it’s a medium through which I try to support Russian Studies here at Stetson. I’m reluctant to post things that might further stereotypes about the area for obvious reasons. That said, a friend sent me this article

, and it is so beyond the pale that it merits a post. The article recounts an attack on a ninth-grade kid, Tagir Karimov, who lives in St Petersburg. (His name is clearly not Russian, probably Central Asian.) On his way to school, he and a friend Suleiman (also not a Russian) were beaten by “a group of 25-30 youth” who screamed «Убивай хача, мочи хача!», «Бей черных, бей хачей!», «Россия для русских» Roughly: We should kill the “khach”, wipe out the khach! No more darkies! Beat the khaches! Russia is for Russians!” (Хач is a very derogatory term for people from the Caucasus—derived from a common Armenian first name). The verb мочи is very coarse—it literally means “soak” but here it means something like “kill”—Putin likes the word. Its reflexive form, мочиться, means urinate…)

They nearly killed the kid, who spent months in a coma. Anyway, xenophobia-fueled hate crimes are certainly not exclusive to Russia. What shocked me, however, is the official response to the crime. The investigative commission in Petersburg made the following finding:
На основании выводов экспертизы Следственный комитет отказался расследовать дело об избиении до полусмерти петербургского школьника Тагира Керимова, поскольку не нашел в нем признаков экстремизма и ксенофобии.[…] Эксперт Центра судебных экспертиз Северо-Западного округа Елена Кирюхина пришла к выводу, что фразы «Крысам – крысячья смерть!», «Россия для русских» в контексте дела не направлены на разжигание межнациональной розни или унижение достоинства человека по национальному признаку. Направленность же публичных призывов «Убивай хача, мочи хача!», «Бей черных» и других эксперт затруднился определить однозначно. «Данные фразы могли как иметь, так и не иметь ксенофобской направленности», что зависит «от мотивов, которыми руководствовались произносившие их».

A very quick and dirty translation: “ON the bases of the expertise conclusions, the Investigative Commission declined to investigate the beating since it did not find any signs of extremism and xenophobia… Elena Kiriukhina, an expert at the judicial center, came to the conclusion that the phrase “A rat’s death to the rats” and “Russia for Russians” in the context of the affair were not directed at inflaming international [interracial] differences, nor did it abase the dignity of a person through national characteristics. The expert found that the aims of public calls to “Kill the khach, beat the darkies,” and other such calls, were difficult to define unambiguously. “The given facts may or may not have a xenophobic aim, depending on what motives the people who pronounce them.” Right. Ambiguous. Depending on the motives.

One thing that Russia lacks is strong non-governmental organizations. Say what you will about the NAACP, Southern Poverty Law, ACLU... Such a conclusion here, in the United States, would surely draw the fire of dozens if not scores of such organizations, along with the attention of our (mostly) free and disinterested local and national media.

Russia has no such safeguards.

Count your NGOs as blessings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Стихи на этот урок...

The second-year class will memorize these famous стихи by Pushkin...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Film Adaptation Of 'The Brothers Karamazov' Ends Where Most People Stop Reading Book

This is very funny.

The best line.

According to director D.J. Caruso, great care was taken to painstakingly recreate the experience of slowly inching one's way through the dense work of literature. Starring Viggo Mortensen as both Alyosha and Aleksey, depending on the scene, and Laura Linney as someone's mother or aunt, the film opens with a three-minute-long summary taken directly from the novel's back cover.

The idea of Aragon playing Alyosha is really funny.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lenin Lives! Kills!

Just when you thought it was safe...

The Associated Press: Lenin statue collapses, kills man in Belarus: "Lenin statue collapses, kills man in Belarus

(AP) – 3 days ago

MINSK, Belarus — A massive statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin collapsed on a man who was hanging from it Monday, killing him on the spot, authorities said.

The 21-year-old man was drunk when he climbed onto the five-meter (16-foot)-high plaster monument and hung from its arm, the Emergency Situations ministry said. It then broke into pieces and he was crushed.

The statue in the southeastern Belarus town of Uvarovichi was built in 1939."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Remember the good ol' days...

When we knew who the bad guys and good guys were?
How Russia Defines Genocide Down - "Last week, as Russia used the anniversary of the war to undertake a public relations effort to press its case that Georgia caused it, the genocide charge was largely absent. The Georgian conduct was instead labeled criminal.

(As is customary these days, given that both countries have hired Western public relations agencies, the Georgians issued their own dossier, maintaining that Russia was responsible for the war.)"

Friday, August 7, 2009

Remember when we thought we'd won the Cold War?

New things and new ways to break things. Russians, in all fairness, have historically proved to be cutting-edge breakers...

The meltdown that left 45 million Twitter users unable to access the service on Thursday came in two waves and was directed at a single blogger who has voiced his support for the Republic of Georgia in that country’s continuing conflict with Russia.


Twitter was overwhelmed by the attack and its site was paralyzed for hours. Facebook, certain Google Web sites and LiveJournal had better defenses, but still faced temporary problems.

It’s possible that Cyxymu was targeted because the user was so active online, Ms. Jones said. “They knew where to find him,” she said. “Some of the others might not have been so overt.”

The attacks coincided with the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Georgian conflict. “When the conflict started a year ago, there were various denial-of-service attacks coming from both sides, attacking Web sites.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Remember when we thought we'd won Cold War?

No one ever expects the Russian nuclear submarine!

"It's the military trying to demonstrate that they are still a player in Russian political and economic matters," Mr. Polmar said.

One of the submarines is the newer Akula II, officials said, which is quieter than the older variant and the most advanced in the Russian fleet. The Akula is capable of carrying torpedoes for attacking other submarines and surface vessels as well as missiles for striking targets on land and at sea.

Defense Department officials declined to speculate on which weapons might be aboard the two submarines.

While the submarines have not taken any provocative action beyond their presence outside territorial waters of the United States, officials expressed wariness over the Kremlin's motivation for ordering such an unusual mission.

"Anytime the Russian Navy does something so out of the ordinary it is cause for worry," said a senior Defense Department official who has been monitoring reports on the submarines' activities.