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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is There Anything "brave" Russians Fear More than Words?

The Moscow Times reports that the pictured act has resulted in a prison sentence of 3.5 years for the young Bolshevik protester who led the effort. The sign reads (to paraphase): "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Vladimir Putin has got to go!" Heaven only knows what the punishment would have been if they'd invited Putin to do something stronger than resign, which I think would look vaguely similar written in Russian (the protesters pictured below were brave enough to tell Putin to go to H-E-double hockey stix). On the other hand, one also must wonder what would have happened if the protesters had written something about George Bush (or Bill Clinton in Yugoslavia).

By the way, that protester was female.

Remember back in November 2002, when President Putin had a major high school history textbook by renowned author Igor Dolutsky banned because its revised edition dared to ask students to discuss whether he was a dictator? Remember the June 2005 poll by VTsIOM which found that half of the respondents looked favorably on Stalin, with 20% describing his role in the life of the country as "very positive" and 30% calling it "somewhat positive" and only 12% described it as "very negative" (See May 1, 2005 issue of the Los Angeles Times)? Think those two factoids might be related?

I mean, how neo-Soviet can you get? Of course it is rather deliciously ironic that the Bolsheviks are now on the receiving end, as they were during the lead-up to the Revolution (recall Gorky's Mother), but one wonders whether the punishment would have been as severe under glaznost and Gorbachev.

An even sweeter irony is that the Bolsheviks plan to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, where they very well may prevail.

But then one feels rather depressed to realize that there just don't seem to be any Gorkys or Solzhenitsins about these days in Russia, if there were it might actually be the silver lining to be found in the rise of the neo-Soviet state, and the only ones involved in daring protest are from the lunatic Communist fringe. It's a sad day indeed when Russia has only young communsits to look to for moral and political courage. Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing.

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