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Friday, November 23, 2007

EDITORIAL: The Noxious Russian "Voter"

EDITORIAL

The Noxious Russian "Voter"

Russian failure is sometimes so spectacularly grotesque that it would be amusing if it did not portend so much suffering for so very many people.

Take for instance the odious "Russia Today" propaganda network. Right now, by far the largest group of people paying attention to the ridiculous torrent of lies RT is spewing out -- except for the United States -- comes from Russia itself. 14.1% of RT's readers come from Russia, while the next-largest group, far distant at just 8.9%, comes from the United Kingdom. The largest group of readers is American, at 21.8% (clearly a testament to the overwhelming presence of Americans on the Internet today).

Guess who comes next? It's Uruguay, with 5.7%, followed by Malaysia at 4.8%. Germans account for barely over 4% of RT's readers. Canadians less than 3%. France, less than 2%. Italy, less than 1%.

In other words, Russia Today is totally failing to reach the main countries it is aimed at, those allies of the United States in Western Europe whom RT was hoping to split off from the U.S. in some sort of anti-American coalition against a "unipolar" world. RT isn't among the top 30,000 websites the the UK, and not among the top 65,000 in the United States, even though it is engaging in a massive well-financed advertising campaign and undoubtedly every dirty trick in the book to artificially boost hits on its website.

The world is on to the RT sham, and the entity is almost never cited as a source by respectable Western journalism outlets. All sophisticated Russia watchers know what RT is and find it, at most, a source of amusement and a convenient, accessible reflection of the Kremlin's warped world view. But that doesn't mean that, just as in Soviet times, its propaganda gibberish can't seep into some crevices in our foundation, just as joke stories from the blogosphere are sometimes picked up as fact by the MSM. For instance, the Wired blog network recently picked up an RT propaganda piece about the use of sonic torture devices by the Georgian government, shamelessly broadcasting RT footage without providing it's readers any warning of the fact that RT is a Russian government outfit or that the Russian state is accused of seeking to undermine Georgia's sovereignty. We must be ever watchful as the neo-Soviet dictatorship grows more draconian, since their propaganda efforts will only become more extreme and pervasive.

But basically, this blog demonstrates the extent to which the world is wise to Russia's guise, and it's still the Russians themselves who are gobbling up their own idiotic propaganda, imagining that the rest of the world is doing the same, just exactly the same thing that happened in Soviet times. Indeed, this may be the main purpose of RT in the first place -- just as it is the purpose of the Kremlin's attempt to create a monitoring agency to check out human rights abuses in Western Europe and the U.S. We report today on the horrific outrage that results from this careless -- indeed, reckless -- cowardice: Russia's elections are an international disgrace, a sham that embarrasses the country and authorizes the regime to do as it likes, just as in Soviet times. Without supervision, the Kremlin will run amok like a frenzied child and, once again, bring the country to its knees.

It's hard to imagine a more perfect personification of just how barbarically wretched today's Russian polity really is than Kremlin bag man Boris Kagarlitsky, director the bizarre "Institute of Globalization Studies". In his most recent opus in the Moscow Times, Kagarlitsky proudly declares: "I have not voted since 1993. What is the point in voting for State Duma deputies whose only concern is how to avoid getting dispersed or shot at for disobedience? It is even more pointless to participate in the presidential election when the president has already been appointed."

This kind of "thinking" is even worse that that of Russia Today's aggressive and direct support of those in power. Why, it's almost as if he's actually trying to cut the legs out from under those who would go to the polls to talk back to power, helping the Kremlin to minimize the protest vote and enhance its international legitimacy.

Here's the point, Mr. Kagarlitsky, you scum-sucking little microbe: The point of voting is to oust from power an odious, noxious regime that is returning Russia to the dark days of Soviet failure. Anyone, like you for instance, who actually lived through those days, should shriek with horror at the mere verbal suggestion of returning to them, no matter what the "reason," much less at the actual sight of realistic moves to achieve that end. They should prefer instant suicide to doing anything, from voting for Putin to staying at home, that could possibly be viewed a supporting such a path for Russia, a path which can only lead to the same downfall experienced by the USSR.

And, Mr. Kagarlitsky, if you don't like the choices you are presented with in this election season, ask yourself this: What did you do in the last year to support and energize and protect more viable alternatives? What protests did you make when the Kremlin seized campaign literature and blocked opposition candidates form the ballots? What financial contributions did you make to groups still working in Russia and fighting for a new direct? How many times did you use your Moscow Times column to criticize such moves by the Kremlin and to support opposition leaders you respect?

How can anyone who hasn't voted in 15 years dare claim that the institution of democracy is unworkable or that opposition candidates, who've never held power, can't succeed? Only a Russian can put forth such mind-bogglingly subhuman justifications for failure, inaction, cowardice and degradation.

Kagarlitsky, not seeming to realize how much time he's spent, in the MT and elsewhere, seeking to rationalize and justify the status quo in Russia while attacking the Kremlin's enemies, then writes:

Nonetheless, I can fully understand why some people would want to vote for United Russia. They like the current leadership and are satisfied with their present standard of living. So why shouldn't they express support for their leaders? Even those who are unhappy with their standard of living are nevertheless willing to vote for the current leadership -- probably because it makes them feel more at ease. And I completely understand them.What I don't understand is those voters who intend to give their vote to the official opposition -- a hopeless and unfortunate group that is just as much a part of the ruling system as the pro-Kremlin parties. They play a very important role -- to lose honestly and consistently in the elections, thus giving the electoral process a necessary dose of democratic legitimacy. This is what pluralism and freedom of choice are all about, right? I can certainly understand the rationale behind the Kremlin's creation of its own "opposition" parties, but I can't for the life of me understand the people who vote for those parties. This would be like shoppers who buy inferior or defective goods at twice the normal price.

And yet, the craven mass population of Russia continues to look the other way, and their cowardliness is personified in Kagarlitsky who, even here, won't criticize the people of Russia directly or appropriately. He says he "understands" their desire to vote for a neo-Soviet regime, but he doesn't comment on that reality. One might "understand" why a murderer killed (he was angry at an unfaithful business partner) but that doesn't prevent a civilized person from concluding the murderer should go to prison.

Even here, Kagarlitsky won't name a single person not running who he would vote for if they were on the ballot.

Like a classic Russian, though, he does manage to make an important point even as he is destroying his country:

But what leaves me even more bewildered is those who place their votes in the category "none of the above." Although most of these voters are educated people who have a strong interest in politics, they are apparently unable to read the law or are quite rusty in math. All votes cast in the none-of-the-above category are distributed proportionally to the winning parties -- or party, meaning United Russia. Moreover, these apparent protest votes help raise the count for voter turnout, which the Kremlin needs for legitimacy purposes. You have to give credit to the State Duma, though, for taking pity on voters when it simultaneously eliminated the minimum requirement for voter turnout and removed the none-of-the-above option from ballots. But even if the authorities are willing to leave the voters in peace, the opposition parties are not. The Other Russia coalition is calling on voters to write in the names of its candidates on election ballots, even though the Central Elections Commission has already said these ballots would be considered invalid. It's a bit strange that politicians and supporters of The Other Russia believe that the authorities, who will undoubtedly falsify these elections, would be so honest as to report the actual number of invalidated ballots.

Despite this outrage, Kagarlitsky offers no pointed criticism of "President" Putin and instead states: "A win for United Russia is inevitable, and the system is designed in such a way that all attempts by the opposition to prevent this victory at the voting booth will, paradoxically, only serve to strengthen the party of power."

Inevitable? Was it "inevitable" that the mighty USSR would collapse in the early 1990s without a shot being fired? Was it "inevitable" that the tiny Bolshevik fringe group would seize power from the immortal Tsar in the early 1920s? Was it "inevitable" that only a few years after the KGB had so disgraced itself in the collapse of the USSR, and murder of millions, the people of Russia would freely elect a proud KGB spy as their "president"?

Kagarlitsky sounds like a fatalistic cave man, one who might react in horror to the striking of a match as if it could only be explained by black magic. One who might sit at home with his finger up his knows, scratching his head like a monkey while the nation's future is decided at the polling place -- and publish justifications for other countrymen to do the same, just in advance of the polls (he concludes: "I think that politically aware citizens can stay home on Dec. 2 with a clean conscience. Besides, the weather on election day is almost always cold, and voters would prefer not to go out at all, except, perhaps, to go shopping for New Year's gifts.")

In other words, he sounds like a Russian -- you know, the ones who work for less than $4/hour on average and don't live to see their 6oth year, even as they fancy themselves cleverer than anyone else on the planet.

NOTE: The cartoon above, showing "millions of lemmings" taking the plunge from a high building, is from the Elllustrator blog.

3 comments:

Snake Oil Baron said...

While I find this article, like the rest of this blog, fascinating and informative I need to make one small interjection:

"respectable Western journalism outlets"

Is that some kind of coded message? I am not sure what it means.

La Russophobe said...

Yes, it's code for "not owned outright by the government of Russia."

Julie said...

This brief comment is posted here by the Russia Today TV channel, for the benefit of those who are interested to know facts, not biased interpretations, and to make their own conclusions, whatever they may happen to be.

Russia Today is a TV channel, not an internet media outlet. Its web site is only meant to be a support to the channel’s main activity, which is TV broadcasting. Even then, the statement above about our site not being among the U.S. top 65 000 is, putting it in simple an unambiguous terms, a lie. Whether such a statement was made due to failure by the author to do his homework properly, or done intentionally to mislead the readers, is not for us to judge.

We are obviously not in a position to evaluate our own work. Nor are those, however, who had never made an effort to simply sit down in front of the screen and watch the channel’s output without prejudice.

Perhaps members of the Association of International Broadcasting are in such a position, though. Please feel welcome to visit this prestigious international organization’s website to see who has made the short list in the “Channel of the Year” and two more nominations in the recent annual awards.

Ofcom, the strict British media watchdog, who has officially recognized Russia Today as a credible media outlet and had it approved for broadcast in the UK by BSkyB, the country’s biggest satellite platform, is in such a position as well.

Numerous people who agree to speak to Russia Today, not necessarily being supporters of Russia’s current policies, ranging from Condoleezza Rice to Garry Kasparov to Gennady Zyuganov, are in such a position, indeed.

More than 60 cable operators who carry Russia Today around the world, including a little known company called Time Warner, are in such a position, too.

This list could go on and on and on.

The number of visitors to this blog is miniscule and definitely extremely small if compared with our audience, whether you like it or not. It’s a part of our policy, though, to try, whenever possible, to react to remarks posted on the web related to Russia Today. Naturally, we will not engage in any discussions, much less with a person whose language includes insult and lie.

We do hope, however, that this remark can prove beneficial for this blog’s guests who would be willing to create their own opinion about Russia Today by watching it. Needless to say, our website is always open to discussion, criticism and suggestions.