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Monday, April 23, 2007

EDITORIAL: The Thug Who Rules Russia's Parliament


The Thug Who Rules Russia's "Parliament"

Last week, we reported on the fact that Boris Gryzlov, speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament (the Duma), had used the Virginia Tech killings to bash the United States in the manner of a classic Russian nationalist thug. Gryzlov's exact words were: "The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries, but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions."

Now, let's leave aside the question of whether it's wise for Russia to adopt such a provocative stance towards the world's only superpower at any time, inciting a new cold war just like the one that destroyed the USSR, much less at a time of great national tragedy for America and while Russia remains mired in horrific poverty with a plunging population and no allies. After all, it could be argued, if Russia wants to commit suicide, surely that's Russia's own business.

But do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if, in the wake of the Beslan or Dubrovka mass killings (or Chikatilo for that matter), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (Gryzlov's counterpart in the U.S.) -- or, say Yulia Tymoshenko -- were to have proclaimed: "The situation where a country dictates rules of behavior to other countries [Ukraine, Georgia, Chechnya, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland -- and the United States concerning Iraq for instance], but cannot keep its own people in order, does raise questions"? Seriously, do you dare? Those foreigners from the speaker's country wouldn't be safe on Russia's streets after that (not that they are now).

Having said that, let's leave aside even Gryzlov's revolting, moronic hypocrisy. Let's discuss this: The man hasn't got the slightest clue what he's talking about.

First of all, unlike Russia, the vast majority of America's universities are private or controlled by local government. The U.S. government, unlike the Kremlin, controls none of them. U.S. policy has absolutely nothing to do with how universities are run in the United States. I
t can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn't actually have, and the reason it doesn't have that power is clear: To avoid the kind of dicatorship that is now destroying Russia.

Second, even if the U.S. government did run universities, the ability of Americans to have guns like the ones used in the Virgina Tech killings is guaranteed by the Constitution. Even if the U.S. government wanted to somehow "keep its own people in order" (in Gryzlov's eerily Stalinesque turn of a phrase), it has no power to do so. Again, the U.S. government can hardly be blamed for failing to exercise a power it doesn't actually have.

Third, while it's certainly true that Americans have to live with fear of their fellow citizens, Russians do too. In fact, as we've previously documented, Russia's murder rate is five times higher than America's. American people are far more "in order" than Russians even with events like Virginia Tech in the mix. Gryzlov simply chooses to ignore that fact, just like he ignores Beslan and Dubrovka (to say nothing of Chikatilo).

America makes an intentional tradeoff in accepting huge personal freedom. It has decided, in a plebiscite, that it's better for citizens to live in fear of each other than of their own government. Ther
efore, it's enacted federalism, dividing power among states, and the right of citizens to own guns. In Russia, the opposite is supposed to be true. Russians are supposed to exchange safe streets, achieved through rigorous control over individuals, for the risk of being abused by their own government's awesome, potentially arbitrary centralized power. Americans, unlike Russians, feel they'd rather take their chances with other individuals of equal power than with a huge government apparatus that has monopolized the use of force. Russians, for some reason, prefer to be oppressed by the Kremlin rather than their neighbors. But as is often the case in Russia, plans don't match results. Ironically, Russians actually get the worst of both worlds, government abuse and raging crime. But even if Russian streets were safer than American streets, the Russian government's abuse of power has killed far more Russians than individual Americans' abusing their liberty via gun violence. In fact, the numbers aren't even remotely comparable -- and the guns in American citizens' pockets never harm other countries, the way the Kremlin's minions have done.

In short, this is why Russia is a failed society, with a declining population and an average wage of $2.50 per hour: Because it's ruled over by crude thugs like Boris Gryzlov, who utterly fail to grasp basic facts and govern the country from within the constraints of a hallucination.

Who is Boris Gryzlov? He graduated from college in 1973, at the height of the Brezhenev era of Soviet communism. Wikipedia states: "
He supported controversial Kremlin policies in Chechnya and won a reputation of trusted and loyal supporter of the Russian president." In other words, he's a Kremlin sycophant, not a check on executive power like Nancy Pelosi (or even Dennis Hastert) in the United States. By "controversial policies" is meant massive human rights violations for which Russia has been repeatedly convicted in the European Court of Human Rights. In 2005, Gryzlov famously uttered: "Parliament isn't a place for political discussions." Now, he rules that parliament, and he drives another nail into the coffin that represents Russia's future.

And don't forget the big picture: This man is a Putin sycophant (that's the two of them, pictured above). He channels the Kremlin when he speaks. So, for all intents and purposes, it wasn't actually Gryzlov who used the Virginia Tech killings to attack and provoke America.

It was Vladimir Putin.

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