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Monday, July 10, 2006

The New Yorker's Timely Reminder of the Gulags: Here we go Again

The New Yorker's July 10-17th issue (see page 84) contained a new version of the opening ("The Phone Call") of Alexander Solzhenitsin's epic novel about the evils of the USSR, First Circle, complete with a full-page photo of Mr. S just after he was released from the Gulag in Kazakhstan in the 1950s. As we hear about Russia providing aid to North Korea to conceal its Nukes and struggle under an avalanche of other news concerning the emergence of the Neo-Soviet Union, this publication could not be more timely.

"The Phone Call" of course deeply resonates with the report from the Telegraph about the modern day tactics of Vladimir Putin, horrifyingly similar:

Aleksei Mikheyev looks down at his wasted and paralysed legs. He lifts one, then drops it. It flops, ragdoll like, back on to the bed. "You want to know what I think of Mr Putin," he asks, his voice emotionless. "Look at me. I can't walk, I can't even go to the lavatory alone. My mother must take me.""So let me tell you something," he says, his tone turning icy. "You never, ever want to take a phone call from Putin." In Russia, a "phone call from Putin" - or "zvonokPutin" - is a chilling euphemism for having electrodes attached to your ears.
Here comes the Neo-Soviet Union. Will the world do better handling it this time? We shall see.

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