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Friday, February 08, 2008

Essel on the Russian Zoo (a/k/a "blogosphere")

"Life" in the Russian Blogosphere

by David Essel

A recent entry on Publius Pundit was a translation of a perfectly serious article about Russian moves to destroy the freedom of the internet for users in Russia. This was a translation from, a source about which I know nothing, though a quick glance would indicate it’s a Russian-language Ukrainian publication.

Control and constraint of the internet and the need to protect its freedom is an important subject and and very topical. This week’s Economist, for example, contains an interesting article on "How the Internet is Different in China," looking at just these issues. If the Kremlin has any sense – far from guaranteed! – it will have been studying that example. In true Russian style, however, I would imagine that the Kremlin has sought out some home-grown ‘experts’ who are cooking up some freedom-threatening fiasco or other. The article articulates thing with a Ukrainian bent, but is a perfectly respectable piece of party-political reporting.

What was fascinating about’s article, however, was not so much its content as the comments that followed it. The article got plenty of them – eighty-eight in all.

Comments have my attention at the moment because I entered into a small and pointless polemic on LR with a troll called Misha who commented madly and badly on a recent piece of mine (Learning Russian "History" with Dave Essel). I thought he was pretty stupid and LR said of him “You're a sick man, Misha. But perfectly healthy by Soviet standards. We pity you.” I found myself in full agreement. Another LR piece -- The Sunday Cinema: Annals of Russian Culture -- paints a dismal picture of the intellectual level of Russian cinema-goers, guffawing in all the wrong places during a Chinese film and behaving like boors.

However, the comments following’s piece have led me to change my mind about Misha and about Russian cinema-goers. The audience at the Moscow showing of Ang Lee’s new film “Lust, Caution” were probably the crème de la crème of Moscow’s intelligentsia and Misha may well be the wiliest and most profoundly knowledgeable Kremlin troll around.

At least it seems that way when one takes a look at the rabid animals who commented on the piece. Please note, this is NOT a selection: I have simply translated the first 14 and stopped scrolling down.
Glaza 31.01.2008 21:40:
Go buy shovels, you Ukies! (TN: guess-translation from Ukrainian)

Gleb 31.01.2008 20:43:
This article is a dirty lie!!!!

Dimitri 28.01.2008 9:07:
All Ukies are homos…

Stas 25.01.2008 22:00:
The usual garbage from the homos. What else would one expect before the elections for the President of Russia? What else would you expect hypocritical homos to write?

Helena_11 25.01.2008 19:49:
What rubbish. Whoever catches the interest of law enforcement, they’ll track him down anyway, and to keep track of each and everyone of us will cost more than all the tea in China. Anyway, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of such a thing.

Nikolai 2 16.01.2008 12:15:
The article is of course intended to provoke, but as a techie and not a politician I can’t summon any facts to refute this with complete assurance. Reading the comments, there aren’t many serious opinions from knowledgeable people, mainly remarks based on personal hatred or maybe deriving from non-politically-correct attitudes to the Russian Federation and its policies. To such people I would like to quote the following saying: “The rich man infuriates the poor man not because he is rich but because the rich man has no f***ing need of him”. Turn this saying onto politics, Russia has said goodbye to the ruination of the 90s while the Ukraine, although it may not suffer from the same, has policies which today leave much to be desired. I would like to encourage such people (the non-politically correct) not to be like the “poor man” and not to base their ideas on personal likes and dislikes.

All Hail the Ukraine!!! All Hail the Heros 16.01.2008 11:19:
We are proud that we live in such a wonderful and free country – the Ukraine. All countries are jealous of us! It’s us who invented chocolate-coated bacon! It’s us who invented salaried ‘shovers’ for passengers of the Kiev metro to help the lazy or less than speedy into the carriages. Our president Yushchenko wields a spade to help put out forest fires! It’s us who spit on the feats of industry and arms of our fathers and grandfathers! It’s us who invented the idea of calling child-killers and cowards heros and erecting monuments to them! It’s us who found a way to elect the president on a third round! It’s us who in the 21st century invented voting by show of hands! It’s from our TV channels that there’s a constant flow of filth and lies! It’s us who take pride that our country has lost 6 million citizens since independence! It’s us who take pride in the fact that 7 million of our citizens work abroad! It’s Ukrainian schoolchildren who were the #1 in the world consumers of alcohol in 2007! It’s our women who have filled half the brothels of the world! It’s us who who are fearful of and unsure about the future for our children! It’s us who invented the idea of not obeying rulings of the Supreme Court! It’s us who sold our industrial giants (Krivoi Rog, Nikolayev, etc.) for a song so that the profits go to foreigners! IT'S OUR YUSHCHENKO WHO HAS AMASSED A $26 BILLION FORTUNE FOR HIMSELF WHILE TIMOSHENKO HAS $11 BILLION (by American calculations)!! It’s us who appoints as Prime Minister a person with a criminal record! It’s us who proudly call ourselves Europeans, traveling abroad with suitcases full of of cigarettes and vodka to sell! It’s us who invented the idea of crapping by the neighbour’s fence and them loudly blaming the neighbour! We’re proud of you, President Yushchenko! Our country is a complete democracy! We’re proud to call ourselves Ukrainians and foreigners only calls us filthy Ukies (каклы) out of jealousy!!!

Kiev 16.01.2008 9:49:
That's the way. Ukraine hates the Chekists and the Pedophile Vladimirovich [Putin]. And the wave of paid comments posted by FSB officers only confirms this. Death to Putin and Patrushev! Freedom for the oppressed peoples! All hail a free internet!

for 16.01.2008 1:48: 16.01.2008 2:35:
Why you got it in for Putin, ORT, Chekists? Are you an idiot or what? Lost your little mind in the Yushchenko Psychiatric Hospital? What you spreading lies and stupidities all over the internet for? As they say, from love to hate is a single step. You got some perverted either love or hate for Putin and the Chekists… Go take medicine, sicko. Though what sort of treatment you’ll get in the Yushchenko Psychiatric Hospital…

To each and every Pioneer of the Putinjugend 16.01.2008 1:48:
Igor Sechin’s group is planning a coup against Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev?… It’s simple really. Either the Chekists will unite against Medvedev and Putin while they still have power or else they’ll wind up on the rubbish heap of history. The oligarchs can come to Medvedev’s defense, mobilising their capital, but the Chekists have the army and the weapons. Cut a long story short, we are witnessing a classical eve-of-coup situation: will the old and well-armed régime give up without a struggle or will it try to retain power? Pack your bags and love the Ukraine. Or else you’ll have nowhere to run to come the next revolution.

What about this for democracy??? 15.01.2008 23:29:
On Thursday Microsoft introduced a new design for its portal for non-IE-browser users. Anyone who uses Mozilla, Opera, Netscape and other bowsers got, instead of the home page, a message that the site content cannot be displayed unless the user downloads the latest version of Internet Explorer or MSN Explorer.

I SUPPORT PUTIN! 15.01.2008 23:27:
The President of the RF stated that Russia will become the world leader of the information web by 2015 when it will have created its own internet. Our version of the Web will be absolutely independent of the World Wide Web and besides Russia will cover the CIS, the Russian President declared to the information.resource Information security was given as one of the reasons for establishing its own Web, since the channels Russian users employ for getting onto the Web are controlled by the USA. There is a danger that the USA could at any time switch them off and leave Russians internetless. The second reason for setting up our own Web is the behaviour of the US regarding domain names. The American Senate declares that only their country should regulate the internet and that it therefore follows that it has the right to distribute domain names and the flow of electronic traffic.

We are in complete democracy! 15.01.2008 20:51:
There’s not a country in the world where the authorities display such filth, falsity, hypocrisy and cynical contempt. Where those in power want only money and power at any cost. Where ‘glory’ and a ‘place in history’ are of absolutely no concern. History is rewritten in favour of someone or other three times a year. Look around. What has happened? There was the USSR. And in the USSR there was a country second in size to Russia. Its Western parts simmered with nationalist feelings. They simmered, bubbled, and stank. Contributed nothing (as now, in fact). These miasmas and mercaptans (sic) spread over the whole territory and woke up some home - grown Herzens to the idea of struggle for a bright nationalist future. Then this turned into a half-brewed mess. After the glory year of ’17 we were able to get rid of any dissidents. Things got better and better after 1922 then times changed (1944), a semi-wartime footing was set up in the west and an iron hand installed. (The lid was put on the pot which itself was taken off the fire). And to maintain the whole thing in status quo, a strong authority was established in Kiev. And those Kievan authorities, who today call themselves free citizens and great patriots cheerfully suppressed displays of nationalism. Quite right too. Because without such displays, all Ukrainians would live more freely. And Communist Internationalists would pay less attention to the various regions of the UkrSSR. But these people don’t think with their heads. They have a special organ for thinking. It’s called their conscience. And it’s a long way from their heads. Shame, that. And the UkrSSR became a game reserve. Of old-style communism. Moscow became far more democratic while we had iron-hard centralism. We had absolutely no catastrophes, accidents, strikes, or demonstrations. Well, demonstrations, yes – in support of the line. And that’s how come… it’s calm in Baghdad.

Be proud! 15.01.2008 20:50:
What about our politicians? It’s a panopticon. Look at this collection! Bandylegged, holy-tressed ice mermaids, chocolate easter bunnies. And against them other similar comrades, one not a Russian, the other a Tatar, blond lady on a hill, and between them a true Leninist, our little failure. From rags to riches. From lost hamlets to the heights of power, turning our once most educated republic of the USSR into something akin to a large village – lost, unlit, ignorant, and uncultured. Just stop it. And they speechify to the mass in all seriousness, which is paradoxical. One sometimes even gets the feeling that they believe what they are saying. The ideal being to get to the feeding trough. And snobbishly puffing their cheeks, to look down on the cattle you are yourself descended from and who were once your friends and comrades. There’s no country in the world with such a filthy and cynical psychology. The authorities live by the laws of the prison camp.

I’M PROUD OF MY PRESIDENT – YUSHCHENKO! Once this region was great; today it’s an amorphous mess. Without Power. Without Law. Without Justice. Without Rights. Without Freedoms. Without Hope. Not capable of anything. And the people have changed utterly. Become useless. Without pride. So sensitive to everything foreign. Especially if it’s Russian. What, the Jews have gone???!! Then we need a new enemy on whom to shovel the fruits of our pathetic uselessness. We’re the pearls, the rest are shite. And off we go. Look at how independent, progressive and democratic we are. We were colonised, shot, starved in famines. And Russia is to blame for it all. Of course, no one bothers to remember that it was the same in Russia and the killings and famines were carried out under the leadership of the glorious Communist Party by Moldavians with Chinese mercenaries and Georgians with Ukrainian assistants. No one remembers that the UPA [Ukrainian Rebel Army] – a bunch of amateur intellectual dreamers – did the Ukraine more harm than good and the OUN [Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists] probably killed more Ukrainians than the ‘occupiers’ did. That the Ukraine throughout its history was in turn under the yoke of Moldavia/Rumania, Turkey, Austria, Poland and that under Russia it lived freest. Yes. Free, Because there is no such thing as absolute freedom. Because in any family rights come with obligations. In any society. Professor P. Khrienko: “The discussion of the russification of the Ukraine occupies a special place in modern nationalist propaganda. The ruling élites of Russia and of the Soviet Union are said to have hated everything Ukrainian. Imperialist régimes are said to have occupied the Ukraine, turned it into a colony, and to have mercilessly exploited its people. The Soviet period is singled out as the worst time of the colonial choking of the Ukraine. But was it so? During the Soviet period, Ukrainian lands were united for the first time and it became one of the most economically developed parts of the country. Here were produced the best space vehicles, ships, the AN-225 Mriya and AN-124 Ruslan aircraft, planes without equal anywhere in the world to this day, and much else besides. Agriculture was highly developed. The education index of the citizens of the Ukraine was higher than the Soviet Union average. Thousands upon thousands of the nations factories worked for it. And these are just some of the ways that Moscow’s colonial policies towards the Ukraine worked. Metropoles could envy such policies.” We agree on this? Yes, if one’s eyes and minds are not closed. And all was well with the Ukrainian language. Throughout the UkrSSR Russian was a compulsory language in all Ukrainian-language schools and Ukrainian in Russian-language schools. There was state-supported publishing of books in Ukrainian, Ukrainian periodicals, and radio and television in Ukrainian.

Heil Yushchenko!!! 15.01.2008 20:47:
Heil Yushchenko and democratic fascism! Kiev, December 27: Life expectancy of men in the Ukraine is 12 years less than of women, and this may lead to the loss of the Ukrainian gene pool due to alcoholism. This information was given at a press conference by Inna Samchenko, spokesperson of the State Committee for Statistics. She opined that men needed to be encouraged to lead a healthier life. At the same time, she remarked that women needed support in the economic sphere. According to Samchenko, women’s wages were on average 30% lower than men’s. Eighty percent of civil servants were women but only 14% of top posts were occupied by women. Furthermore, she went on, science jobs were occupied in equal parts by men and women yet only 40% of women obtained Master’s degrees and only 19% PhDs. Next Ella Libanova, director of the Ukrainian Academy of Science’s Institute of Demography and Social Research said that their research had shown that the gap between the life expectancy of men living in town and country had increased. According to her, country-dwellers were “particularly at risk” and countrymen lived “approximately two years less” than their urban counterparts. According to Libanova as reported in the Gazeta po-Kievski newspaper, there was a trend towards the loss of the gene pool of the Ukraine as a result of alcoholism. The director of the Ukrainian Academy of Science’s Institute of Demography and Social Research prognosticated that the difference between men and women’s life expectancies would ‘decrease a little’ as a result of the decrease in gender differences in ways of life, since the number of women who smoked and drank was rising and reaching nearly the same level as that of men. According to annual figures from the UN, the average life expectancy of Ukrainians does not exceed 68.

Upyourarseyulia 15.01.2008 20:27:
Eat American shit, Ukie bastards, and lick your fingers! We’re going to see more and more of such arseholish articles from you shits before the elections for president of the RF! But maidanauts [those who took part in the demon on the Maidan in Liev], better be careful you don’t swallow so many American shit provocations that you choke or you’ll miss an effusion from that dick Bush who’ll spray so much over your face and in your mouth that you’ll faint from too many orgasms! Keep your mouths open, Ukie shites!!! You’re in shit. I know the f***king moderators at Rupor will delete my post, as they have before, but it’s still fun to keep an eye on you disgusting bastards. You’re like stupid dung beetles in a glass jar: toss in some garbage and you eat it and think you’re having a good time! Don’t hold your breath, Ukie bastards, it’s still 2 months to the elections. You’re funny, you Ukie shites.

Rejoice Yushchenko! Rejoice shite-ocrats 15.01.2008 20:46:
Over 70% of Ukrainians think that Ukrainian society is not developing and has ceased to develop. These figures come fromopinion poll crried out across the Ukraine by the Gorshenin Institute for its annual research program “Mental Foundations of Choice” and were presented by the institute’s director Kost Bondarenko. In particular, 36.7% of those questioned believe that society is not developing, 33.9% think that it is going backwards, and only 18.9% expressed the view that society was developing, while 9.8% did not know and 0.8% held another view. Half the Ukrainians questioned thought that morals were overall not satisfactory in Ukrainian society today, 37.3% found them satisfactory, 3.4% thought that on the whole they were high, and 9.3% did not know. Most critical of the state of morality in society were people for whom the main source of morality was the family or the Church. Seventy-four per cent of those questioned considered the family to be the main source of morality, 34.6% – the state, 33.6% – the Church, 31.3% – school or other educational institution, 21.9% – television or cinema, 21.7% – literature, 0.6% – other, 4.5% – didn’t know. To the question: “Why do you think that people obey moral norms?”, the overwhelming majority (56%) answered – because of internal convictions, 22.8% – in order to look good in the eyes of others, 14.9% – so as not to be condemned in the eyes of others, 0.4% – other reasons, and 5.5% – didn’t know. Furthermore, one third of Ukrainians had no objections to marital infidelity, two thirds – to pre-marital sexual relations, 18% – to homosexual relations, and one in eight did not object to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Most valued in life were health (75%) and material wealth (68%). Two thirds of Ukrainians consider rudeness and swearing to be impermissible. Half of those questioned saw nothing wrong in appropriating a lost and found object and evading taxation. Two thirds of Ukrainians consider it permissible to denounce an acquaintance to the police if the person has committed a minor crime. The poll was carried out between 1-10 November 2007 in 1290 population centres in the Ukraine. Error margin 2.2%.

TTR 15.01.2008 20:42:
Ukrainian moderator shites DELETE ANTI-ORANGE COMMENTS. That’s your shite Ukrainian DEMOCRACY for you!! Same democracy as in the USA! Today the rabid maidanauts simply delete comments and lie by publishing paid-for articles. Tomorrow like the c***ts they are, they’ll justify the murder of peaceful people! SHOW SOME DECENCY YOU UKIE BASTARDS AND DON’T LIE THAT YOU’VE GOT FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
These outpourings do not deserve analysis. The levels of stupidity, ignorance, rabid anger, bile and sheer viciousness are staggering and that is all one needs to note. Is this a snapshot of the Russia we rarely see but that the Filippovs I write about and the trolls on LR represent in a veiled way? I fear so. What is seriously worrying is that without a doubt, this is how hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Russians think. And with a closed internet, we might not even know it and sites like LR might not be able to make this fact better known in places where it should be known, in countries where reason and reasonableness reign and where elected decision-makers make their decisions and base their negotiations on many mistaken assumptions about their interlocutor. No wonder Russia wants a closed internet.

For now, however, I am pleased to be exiting the zoo.

ED. NOTE: If you care to horrify yourself still further, check out the post on Moscow Through Brown Eyes, which documents a litany of skewed racist reporting on the Russian web.


Anonymous said...

Hats off to you, Mr Essel. A truly prodigious translation effort. My personal favorite was this one (re Yanukovich, in the voice of a supposed Ukrainian):

"It’s us who appoints as Prime Minister a person with a criminal record!"

"WHAT?!?" I can imagine a Ukrainian saying, "BUT THAT WAS YOUR GUY, YOU STUPID RUSSIANS!"

I guess the rooskies are having a hard time finding a replacement for "Kham" ("The Barbarian" - Yanukovich's nickname from prison), and now they're blaming that on the Ukrainians too. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

You never bothered to answer even one of the 50 or so points I raised in my lasts posts, so why is my name still being mentioned in this blog at all? I posted a lot of logical and heavily-researched information about Putin, Stalin and Russia (under the thread about the new Russian history book).

I waited and waited for someone intelligent to reply to even one of the powerful and persuasive points that I raised in my posts, but it was all in vain, in here.

Then as now those who want to attack me do not feel the obligation of actually arguing against the ideas which I expressed in my writing. Then as now they simply engage in useless ad hominem abusive attacks against me as a person and a human being.

Here is a Latin Lesson about such a dishonest (and intellectually lazy) approach debating valuable arguments.

La Russophobe said...


Au contraire, we'd say you HAVE been answered, rather powerfully indeed.

Little boy doesn't like the heat he finds in the kitchen? Little boy should beat a hasty retreat.

Do you think your comment contains a substantive point about this post? We think not.


Truth hurts, doesn't it? You see, you live in a world of neo-Soviet illusions where all those who criticize Russia are helpless, ignorant fools. So when you venture outside it, get a rather brutal shock.