Puff, the Magic Cigarette
So, at last, the Kremlin is proposing to do something that a clear majority of the men in the country don't want done, namely make their cigarettes more expensive. For the first time, if it happens, Russian me would directly feel the consequences of life in an anti-democratic society. (It's likely that Russian men are also opposed to the indirect consequence of this move, namely prolonging their lives past 60; Russia leads the world in suicides, and many Russians undoubtedly see puffing as a relatively pleasant way to escape the horror of their everyday lives).
Now to be sure, the mere fact that Russia has signed a treaty is no reason to think it will abide by it. Given that Russia is ruled over by a proud KGB spy (and trained liar), it wasn't the least bit surprising to see Russia unilaterally repudiate the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, and it wouldn't be even remotely unusual if Russia simply ignored this treaty as well.
Moreover, even if the Kremlin did get serious, there's no particular reason to believe it's competent enough to actually make headway. Here of course Russians would benefit from their hideous level of corruption and laziness, making it quite difficult to cause any bureaucratic mechanism to effectively function. After all, Gorby tried to make Russians give up their beloved vodka when Russia was still formally totalitarian, with no measurable results.
The MT reports: "In recent years, the number of smokers in the country has skyrocketed. According to state statistics, 60 percent of men and 30 percent of women smoke regularly. Forty percent of people under 18 have used tobacco. Russia is the world's third-largest producer of tobacco products and pumps out as many as 414 billion cigarettes each year. Unlike other leading producers, however, most of the Russian produce is consumed domestically."
But, at least, Russians must now confront the prospect of feeling actual pain resulting from the dictatorship they have authorized and enabled. So quickly and easily they forgot the suffering they endured in Soviet times, so blithely and childishly the proclaimed that Russia would "never go back."
Today, Russians, Dictator Putin comes for your cigarettes. Do you dare imagine what he will come for tomorrow?
Your theaters, perhaps. Below we report the horrifying story, also from the pages of the mighty Moscow Times, of a theater production on the Dubrovka hostage crisis being shut down after the first performance because the author dared to humanize the terrorists. Apparently, the Kremlin didn't care for that, and gave the whole production the hook. What other bits of Russian entertainment will find themselves off limits?
The Iron Curtain is falling. The Fat Lady is about to sing.