Russian Communists don’t like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, reports the Associated Press. But the communists in question are not the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), as the report implies. There are several communist parties in Russia and the one that has began a campaign against Indy is a small 500 member sect called Communists of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region (KPLO).
According to their website, KPLO have no official affiliation with the KPRF. Rather they, “are communists, like the KPRF, only better: more modern, younger, lively, and creative.” They forgot to add freakier. Just check out the accompanying photo. I’ve seen a lot of things but never communist vestments. And what’s up with that Young Pioneer? He looks like should adorn someone’s lawn.
And what has the good Dr. Jones done to get the KPLO all hot and bothered? As the Ideological Committee of the TsK KPLO explains in a letter to the film’s stars Harrison Ford and Kate Blanchet:
Your role in the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skill offends all the Soviet and Russia people, all who remember the difficult 1950s, when our country finished the reconstruction after the Great [Patriotic]War, and didn’t send to the United States merciless terrorists.
A bunch of ranting and attempts at historical corrections follow. The film’s plot centers around Indy battling Soviet agents trying to get their hands on some skull with secret powers that, I assume, will aid them in world domination. Maybe someone should let the KPLO know that it’s just a movie, and probably not a very good one in the first place. Also, maybe someone at AP should do their homework and realize that in Russia, not all Communist parties are the same.
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- By Sean — 11 years ago
Russian sports is glaringly absent from this blog. Though I’m a big fan of sports my interest is solely on American professional sports, specifically basketball and baseball. I’ve been tempted to comment on a few Russian sports related stories, especially Andrei Kirilenko’s threats to dump the NBA and his lucrative $63 million contract with the Utah Jazz to return to CSKA Moscow. Kirilenko apparently fell back in love with European ball when he helped Russia win the European tournament and was named MVP this summer. There is no doubt that AK-47 can dominate far more in Europe than he can in the States. Kirilenko’s possible move also seems to be spurred by a bit of nationalist calling. “I would like to be where I am needed and right now I feel that my country needs me,” Kirilenko told Sport Express.
Alas, basketball is not the sport in Russia. It’s football. This is why I’m happy to post this article that Ger Clancy, aka the Irishman sent me about Russia’s upcoming showdown against England. According to Kommersant, tickets for the October 17th match went in a matter of hours. Ten thousand people stood in the rain to snatch up one of the 6,800 tickets on sale at Luzhniki stadium. 570,000 people applied directly to the Russian Football Union for one of the 74,000 available seats.
What is more is that where there are victories in sport, politics is never too far behind. In an attempt to capitalize on Russia’s success on the football field, United Russia has made sure that some of its high profile members will be seated in Luzhniki’s VIP box seats looking to bask in any television camera rays. How Russia’s political parties utilize sport is an interesting topic in and of itself.
But putting that issue aside for now, let’s turn to the real matter at hand: the upcoming match itself.
Last Chance Saloon for Russia at Luzhniki
By Ger Clancy, the Irishman
The Head Coach of the Russian national football team, Guus Hiddink, is a man under pressure. After overcoming a shaky start to his first campaign in charge, including two draws with table-toppers Croatia and a good victory in Skopje, Hiddink is now facing a must-win situation against England in Moscow. Russia’s collapse last month at Wembley has left them two points behind England and anything less than three points for the Russians at Luzhniki Stadium will almost certainly lead to elimination from Euro 2008. Hiddink was hired as Russia coach in the summer of 2006, following a solid performance as boss of Australia in the World Cup, as well a semi-final run with South Korea, in 2002, and Holland (his native country) in 1998. His appointment was high-profile and is widely believed to have been for a six-figure sum. Hiddink’s brief was very simple; drag the Russian national team out of second-world football status. The main reason for his appointment was his ability to make do with limited player resources, as he has done with both Korea and Australia. Although Hiddink has four year contract with the Russian Football Union, ostensibly aimed at preparing the Sbornaya for a crack at a World Cup quarter-final in 2010, failure to reach the European Championships will be more than a disappointment. The disaster at Wembley was a trip down recent memory lane for them and their poorest performance since their 7-1 dismantling in Lisbon under Georgy Yartsev in 2004. But Hiddink can only work miracles with the willing and the believers. The question is can Russia find a resilience and consistency that no Sbornaya has shown since the late 1980s?
Soviet, and later Russian football, has never fully recovered from defeat at the hands of Holland in the final of Euro ’88. At the time the team was loaded with superstars including Vasily Rats, Igor Belanov, Anatoli Demianenko, Renat Dasaeyev, Sergei Alyenikov, Alexander Zavarov and Oleg Protasov. Belanov scored four goals at Mexico ’86 and was crowned European Footballer of the Year six months later. Dasaeyev was widely considered the best goalkeeper in the world at the time. The rest of the team was renowned and feared across Europe. At the height of their powers in 1985, on the way to the World Cup in Mexico, they beat England 2-0 at Wembley in one of the best away performances of the whole decade, and they routed Hungary 6-0 at Irapuato at the finals. Their counter-attacking style was awe-inspiring. The team routinely conceded control of midfield to the opposition and defended using a high-back line a few yards from their box, with a sweeper behind. The Soviets could play percentages with the opposition for two main reasons: the presence of Dasaeyev in goal and Khidiatullin at sweeper, neither of who were easily beaten, and their own potency in attack. They scored countless goals by dispossessing the opposition near the Soviet eighteen-yard line, followed by a lightning break-out up the field of only two or three pin-point, long range passes and a clinical finish at the other end. This was the last golden age in Soviet football.
The Soviets waltzed to the final of Euro ’88, thumping Holland, England and Italy on the way. However, a Gullit-Van Basten inspired Holland were reborn in the final and beat them 2-0, ushering in a new superpower in European football. From there onwards the decline began. The Soviets qualified for Italia ’90 but were unceremoniously dumped out in the first round out by Romania and Argentina. The defeat to Romania in particular had huge effects on the European landscape. Not only did it signal the end of the road for the USSR as a football power, it shifted the balance of soccer dominance in Eastern Europe from Moscow and Kiev to Bucharest and to a lesser extent Sofia, Belgrade and Zagreb. A re-built Soviet team qualified impressively for Euro ’92 in Sweden (playing there as the CIS) only to tamely bow out at the hands of an already-eliminated Scotland. By this time the Soviet nation had collapsed and at start of the 92/93 season, for the first time ever, a Russian national team was attempting to qualify for a tournament, World Cup USA ’94.
The tale of woe since the birth of the Russian national team has been almost unrelenting. Russia have qualified for four tournaments in the period 1992-2006, and failed miserably on all of the occasions to get out of the first round. Almost always rumors of trouble within the camp surfaced in newspaper articles. This was especially true of 1994, when a players’ spat with coach Pavel Sadyrin soured morale in the team. Both reigns of Oleg Romantsev ended in scandal and recrimination over favouritism to Spartak players and dire performances on the pitch. Their exit from the World Cup in Korea-Japan in 2002 was especially shambolic. The defeat to Japan (which may or may not have helped ignite a drunken riot in Moscow) and the astounding collapse against Belgium brought Russian football to new lows. The incidences where they failed to qualify for tournaments at all were even worse. A last-minute goalkeeping disaster against Ukraine in 1999 not only dumped Russia out of Euro 2000, it gave four points out of six to their bitter rivals. It should also be noted that Russia failed to qualify for France ’98, meaning they went six years without reaching a major tournament – an unheard-of situation for fans of the old USSR in the 1980s.
Russia’s poor showings in the last 15 years are down to a number of factors. In 1992, it was widely thought that the backbone of the Soviet/CIS teams had been Ukrainian and hence any Russia team would struggle without stars from Dynamo Kiev. But this has not been borne out by results. Not only have Russia been awful, Ukraine have been too. Ukraine qualified for nothing until Germany 2006 and even then was one of the poorest teams at the tournament. Their second-round match with Switzerland was probably the single worst finals match ever played. Also, in 1990-1992, the Soviet team disintegrated – there were almost none of the eighties superstars left at that stage. Poor coaching of the national team, in particular a failure to either control strong personalities in the dressing-room or inspire players on the field, has certainly contributed. It is also plain that Russia has been without world-class footballers in key positions for a long time (in particular on the left) and this will hinder any coach. But the chief protagonists in this long dark period are the players themselves. With the possible exceptions of Victor Anopko, Alexei Yevseev and Alexander Mostovoi , no Russian player has performed consistently well through the course of a whole qualifying tournament and finals. It is time the players themselves stood up and firmly took responsibility for their own performances on the field. Through 15 years of dark times, coaches, tactics and all types of variables have changed, but poor showings from the players have remained the same. The match at Wembley was a nightmare from Russia’s past. However, England are already missing players through injury for the rematch in Moscow including Emile Heskey, who tormented the Russians last month. A draw will not be a disaster but realistically Russia need to win if they wish to progress. Both Arshavin and Sychov are dangerous forwards and if the Berezutskiis and Malafeev can hold it together at the back, Russia may just get the three points they need. If the Russian players themselves can get their act together, Hiddink, as wily a coach as one could find, can lead them at last into a new future.
Russia vs England, 17th October 2007 Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow [19:00] MSK.
- By Sean — 9 years ago
Andy Garcia has been cast to play President Mikheil Saakashvili in the upcoming film Georgia. I just hope that Garcia’s audition required to see how he looked chewing on his tie.
The film, directed by Renny Harlin, will revolve around the last year’s war between the Caucasian nation and Russia. Though war remains extremely politically charged on both sides, the film promises to “not take sides” reports the Telegraph. I have no idea how that will be possible considering that its executive producer is Papuna Davitaia, a pro-Saakashvili MP. Nevertheless, Michael Flannigan, one of the film’s other executive producers, told Georgian TV: “Our main concern was to show war as a bad thing. We had an opportunity to make a really anti-war film.” We’ll see about that. My prediction is that war will be shown to be a “bad thing” only when the Russians are involved. But who knows? I do count on one thing, though. The film will have lots of explosions. Sadly, it hasn’t been announced who will play Medvedev or Putin. I’m with FP Passport and second Daniel Craig for the role of Putin. As for Medvedev, that’s a tough one. Unless they can somehow resurrect Nicholas II, I’m stumped.
According to the Telegraph, Georgia’s plot will involve an American journalist/do-gooder and his faithful cameraman who find themselves “caught in the thick of the conflict and are forced to make tough ethical choices.”
Well that’s interesting. This plot sounds similar to Russia’s drama/agitprop action film Olympus Inferno which was broadcast earlier this year. Olympus Inferno focused on an American insect hunter and a Russian journalist who stumble upon “damning evidence” that Georgia started the war and, surprise, surprise, tough ethical choices ensue.
Not much else has been said about the film, which is to be released next year. But from the little information available, it sounds like it’s going to be nothing short of total crap.
More dashing photos of Garcia as Saak can be found here.
- By Sean — 3 years ago
One of the outcomes of the Maidan Revolution, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the ensuing war in the Donbas has been a marked explosion in Russian propaganda. So much so that dissecting it has become a genre in and of itself. Indeed, over the last two years an entire discursive universe has emerged to analyze, adjudicate, and combat Russia’s “weaponization of information.”
Alexey Kovalev’s “Hello, is this Noodle Remover?” is a recent example of this effort sniff out the stink in the Russian media’s bullshit. And what large steaming piles of bullshit he’s found.
Below is a translation of one of his posts (I originally saw it on Maximonline.ru. My translation is of that text) that caught my eye. Links between the Kremlin and American and European rightwing groups has been well documented. So that fact that neo-Nazis, LaRouchies, and other fringe rightwing characters find their way on Russian television is that surprising. Perhaps what is novel about Kovalev’s post is that the circle he uncovers all seem to be one degree or so from the Kremlin.
This is not to say that Russian television has the monopoly on the tin foil hat brigade rolodex. Anyone with enough patience to look askew at Fox News will notice Birthers, 9/11-Truthers, and other conspiracy mongers gracing their screens. Nevertheless, what attracted me to this particular post are the wacky neighbors Russian state media has cozied up with (I have somewhat of a strange fascination with cultists of the Right and the Left) and how this confirms my belief that Russian propaganda is so propagandistic—turned all the way up to 11—that it’s essentially a (unwitting) parody of itself. It’s all very meta.
Hello, is this Noodle Remover?
These experts appear on domestic Russian channels like the Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and for the foreign market like RT and Sputnik. They are used for legitimizing propaganda talking points abroad: You see, we didn’t come up with all this about America being treacherous. Even American experts say so.
There’s quite a small set of people who migrate from story to story where they are introduced as “experts,” then “analysts,” and then as “journalists and writers.” Even though they aren’t considered experts in their own country. In Russia, this could be the speaker of parliament, the heads of large state-owned corporations, or someone who serves in some other high governmental post and as such spin the most elaborate conspiratorial nonsense for the public. And it will be printed in the state media, and no one will raise an eyebrow.
But in the West, unlike in Russia, the idea of a reputation still carries some weight. And even if people hold some very fringe views or flirt with conspiracy theories, they try to keep it to themselves if they want to serve in high office. Those who can’t manage to keep their love for tin foil hats quiet are left with only a small number of websites for their small circle of adherents or channels like RT where their fantasies are broadcast live to a considerably larger, though on a global scale still marginal, audience. So first they make it on RT, and then from there they land on Vesti as “experts” who on closer examination turn out to be village idiots, swindlers, and outright Nazis.
Where do they get all these people? Does some unknown VGTRK editor sit there and come up with some reputable foreign expert to put on air to talk about American plots?
Let’s try to sort this out with a Vesti story on “armchair experts” as an example.
Take, for example, William Engdahl [3:40 in the Vesti report] who says that “the US government has concocted a entire plot to demonize Russia.” Engdahl is the author of numerous books, articles and speeches about the dangers of GMOs, that global warming is a myth, and that the CIA is behind every incident in the world, from the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran to the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. He often appears on RT, and in particular on the program Truthseeker in July 2014, the same episode about “crucified children” that was eventually taken off the air after numerous viewer complaints.
In addition, Engdahl is a regular contributor to the Centre for Research on Globalization and frequently publishes on the website globalresearch.ca. Noodle Remover has already written about why this site is a valuable source for various “analysts” and “political scientists” for Russian television. And Michel Chossudovsky, the Centre for Research on Globalization’s founder, is on the scientific council of the Italian magazine Geopolitica, whose editor, Tiberio Graziani, in turn, sits in the high council of the International Eurasian Movement, whose leader is Aleksandr Dugin. If you don’t already know who this is, then read on, so I don’t have to tell you. In general, in just a few years this multifaceted personality has morphed from a “nutty professor” into one of the most influential Russian public intellectuals with a huge impact on domestic and foreign policy. There’s perhaps nothing that demonstrates Dugin’s attitude toward Russia’s leadership than this quote from 2007. His views haven’t changed much since:“There are no more opponents to Putin’s policy, and if there are, they’re mentally ill and need to get their head examined. Putin is everywhere, Putin is everything, Putin is absolute, Putin is indispensable.”Alexandr Dugin, the leader of the Eurasian Movement, at a reception for Izvestiia newspaper September 17, 2007.
There is an Italian magazine for far right intellectuals that supports Putin on the principle “the enemy of my enemy” (the main criteria is to be against America), and there on the scientific council is Engdahl on the next line after Dugin. We can assume that Engdahl is personally acquainted with Dugin and through him he enters the minds and offices of the highest managers, including the heads of VGTRK, and not put on air on the personal initiative of some junior editor.
It seems that generally European right-wingers, neo-Nazis, Eurosceptics and various conspiracy theorists in Dugin’s orbit are the main source of “experts” for Russian television. And not just for television. Take for example, Manuel Ochsenreiter, who appears regularly on RT and Russian television channels as a “journalist.”
Of course, the journalist Ochsenreiter is more specifically the editor of the far right journal Zuerst!, which has been involved in several scandals in Germany (for example, the publisher Bauer dropped the magazine due to its sympathy for Nazism). Moreover, Ochsenreiter isn’t just a frequent commentator on Russian television; he was an “observer” to the “elections” in the Luhansk People’s Republic, which is defending itself against the aggression of the fascist junta. All with the help of a real German neo-Nazi, who publishes a German magazine about the glorious victories of the Wehrmacht.
This is literally the cover of the magazine Deutsche Militärzeitschrift, which Ochsenreiter edited until 2011.
Continuing with the Vesti story. Jeffrey Steinberg comes on next after Engdahl [at 3:51]. Steinberg is an author for Executive Intelligence Review which is published by the so-called LaRouche Movement. This “movement,” to put it kindly, is actually just a bunch of LaRouchies—a quasi-fascist cult with fairly seedy rituals (read about “ego-stripping“, for example). Their views are also purely cultish and conspiratorial. LaRouchies, for example, are completely nuts about the British royal family, which, in their view, are to blame for all of mankind’s troubles, Queen Elizabeth II personally controls the drug cartels, and so on. Jeffrey Steinberg, for example, claimed in an interview that Princess Diana didn’t die in a car accident but was killed by British intelligence on the orders of Prince Philip (Conspiracy theories that Diana was murdered and didn’t die in an accident are popular). EIR magazine regularly publishes covers like this:
As you probably guessed, American magazines with such covers and viewpoints, while they aren’t illegal to publish (try to imagine something like this in Russia), don’t enjoy a massive following, to put it mildly.
Are they active in Russia? First, there’s a LaRouche office in Russia—the so-called Schiller Institute. And the Executive Intelligence Review has a Russian website with all the same stuff as the original only it looks even more insane in Russian:
British agents and advocates for genocide organized the American imperial coup in Ukraine. My God. However, they just didn’t show up yesterday. Lyndon LaRouche himself has been regularly interviewed on RT since 2008.
But he also didn’t appear out of thin air. The thing is, Lyndon LaRouche isn’t the personal and longtime friend of just anyone, but of Sergei Glazyev, the adviser to the President on regional economic integration. Here’s LaRouche and Glazyev together at a joint press conference in 2001:
And here’s a personal congratulation from Glazyev to Lyndon LaRouche on EIR‘s Russian site:
As you can see, these “experts” and “analysts” on the Russian television aren’t picked out of thin air or by the whim of broadcast news editor, but from the friends of those in the highest levels of the Russian government. Dugin, Glazyev, and the Rodina Party have close ties with the European and American far-right, neo-Nazis and other yahoos, who are dragged on television as influential Western political scientists and journalists when they really aren’t. And they are so very pleased when they’re let on television. Even if they’re introduced as important people in Russia and not back home. The Rodina Party, which Glazyev belongs, is also a major supplier of a variety of hand-fed “experts” for television. For example, Vesti has constantly quoted John Laughland at least since 2002:
Now Laughland is cited as the “Director of Studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.” The respectably named Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, or the Institut de la Démocratie et de la Coopération is headquartered in Paris. Only Laughland is not really he director of this institute nor is any Monsieur for that matter. It’s Natalia Narochnitskaya, a former Duma deputy from the Rodina party from 2003 to 2007. Putin personally appointed her as director.
Narochnitskaya has also been good friends with Laughland for ages.
The Institute for Democracy and Cooperation is an NGO officially established and financed from Russia. So, if you see such experts on television, don’t be fooled by the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation and Mr. Laughland criticizing NATO, America and democracy. It’s all for the homeland. In such cases don’t let your noodles hang on your ears and stay by the phone.
PS: Noodle Remover thanks Anton Shekhovtsov, whose profound research has provided a lot of useful leads on the links between the Russian political establishment and the European and American far-right.