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By Sean — 11 years ago
Mikhail Gorbachev has come a long way since he wrote in a high school essay, “Stalin is our glorious fighter, Stalin is the iron of our youth (“Stalin – nasha slava boevaia, Stalin – nashei iunosti polet)” But his love for Stalin faded with Khrushchev’s ‘Secret Speech.” Also gone are the days when he tried to reform the Soviet system with glasnost and perestroika. Gorby as reformer is a nice legacy. But Gorby the fashion model?
Yes. The New York Times tells us that along with several other celebrities, Gorbachev will be featured in Louis Vuitton ads.
[W]hat is a reader to make of a Vuitton ad, coming in the big September books, that stars Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union? A decade ago, Mr. Gorbachev’s appearance in a Pizza Hut commercial was generally greeted as a low point in his career.
The Vuitton ad, however, is part of a campaign to emphasize the company’s heritage in luggage and travel accessories. Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, the ads include other celebrities using Vuitton bags: Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf cuddling in a hotel room, their bags not yet unpacked; Catherine Deneuve resting on a trunk in front of a steaming locomotive; and Mr. Gorbachev in the back of a car with a duffel bag on the seat next to him. Of the group, Mr. Gorbachev appears the least comfortable. He is holding on to a door handle, as if the bag contained polonium 210.
It seems unlikely he will be approached by L’Or?al.
Ha. Ha. Polonium 210. I get it. But Gorbachev does seem uncomfortable. I don’t think its the bag though. He’s holding on to that car handle as if the driver is zipping around that turn. It is a good photo though. Very Cold Warish. Dark and cold. Like he’s going to meet with some KGB types.Post Views: 757
By Sean — 13 years ago
I’ve left Russia. My ten month research trip is finally over. I won’t bore readers with all of the emotion I felt leaving a place that began to feel like home. I’ve decided a while ago not to make this blog that type of blog. There are enough egoists on the net who feel that the intimacies of their life are worthy of public display. Suffice to say that Moscow is an amazingly magnetic city. I met many wonderful people who I know will always be part of my life.
But the question remains: since this blog was created because of trip to Russia, what happens now that I’m no longer there? I’ve decided that I rather enjoy writing about Russian current events as much as about its history. And from talking to some of you (most of who are my friends), it seems that my thoughts on these matters are appreciated. Therefore, I’ve decided to make this a permanent thing. I figure that if anything this will aid my career as an academic, or provide an avenue for a different career path. We’ll see. But let there by no mistake. My main reason for doing this is because I enjoy it.
Now that I’m home and have better access to the internet and other resources, there are a few things I want to add/change about the blog.
- A consistent schedule for posting. So far, I’ve tried to post at least once a week. I’ve been moderately successful in this. I would like to increase to posting two times a week, with hopes of three. For now I will post on Tuesdays and Fridays, and if this works and I can manage the time, hopefully I will also include Sunday.
- More frequent shorter postings that highlight news about Russia and more infrequent longer articles and book reviews about particular themes. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I post rather long pieces. My hope shorter ones will allow me post more frequently. The difficulty will be in transforming my verbosity into brevity.
- Guest writers. I want to start including pieces by some people I know who also make Russia their career. If they are willing to go a long with this, it will provide more voices besides my own. I especially want to include more book reviews and including other people will help with this.
- I would like to hear from those who consistently read the blog. Some of you have posted comments, and though I don’t always respond, I do read and enjoy them. I would like readers to give their input to what they think I should include. My long term hope is that if people post comments this might start discussion on some of the issues I bring up.
- Adding links and other resources is an on going project. This will expand as time goes on. I’m trying to keep the Russian language links at a minimum since I presume most readers don’t read Russian. I will however continue to include links to Russian sites I find interesting.
In addition to all this, look out for a piece on the phenomenon of dedovshchina in the coming week. Dedovshchina or “rule of the grandfathers” is the culture of hazing in the Russian military. Last year Human Rights Watch released a 90 page report on its rituals, frequency, and effects on recruits and the military. If the Russian government ever comes around to the necessity for military reform (which they are avoiding like the plague), dealing with dedovshchina will be a major issue.
Also, to continue with my reporting on youth politics in Russia, look for a piece on the recent attack on the National Bolsheviks by alleged Nashi activists. In late August, a meeting of the Natsbols and representatives of the Communist Youth League, Red Youth Vanguard, and Za Rodina were attacked by 30 masked men with baseball bats and air guns. This incident only points to the increasing role of violence between youth groups. It possibly is another prelude to what tactics groups like Nashi will use during the 2008 Presidential Elections.
Finally, I want to thank everyone whose been reading. The hits on the site have been steadily increasing, with readers from the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Sweden. Keep reading and I’ll keep writing.Post Views: 487
By Sean — 13 years ago
The Ukraine’s Orange “Revolution” continues to hover over Russian politics. In a speech given at Stanford University, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed concern about the growing number of Western NGOs in Russia. Given the influx of Soros money and the other financial backing of Ukrainian groups, especially the youth organization Pora, the Putin government has much to be concerned. For a while now, Administration officials have accused Western governments of funding Russian opposition forces. His comments, however, particularly targeted American NGO interference in Russia politics. As Lavrov told his Stanford audience:
“We appreciate that the USA has legitimate interests in the post-Soviet space, both in the field of combating terrorism and in accessing energy resources. These are entirely legitimate interests, which we do acknowledge, but we would want the methods by which they are realized to be understandable and transparent.”
“The number of non-governmental organizations in Russia is going up. The only thing we will not tolerate is for these organizations to be used to finance political activities, particularly from abroad. This would distort the national political process, thereby undermining the country’s development in the future.”
I can’t help relish the fact that Lavrov said this at Stanford, the traditional center of rabid anti-communism and to some extent, anti-Russianism. I also like Lavrov’s swipe at Stanford alumnus and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “I suggest she read extracts from Russian publications with criticism of the Russian Federation authorities.” This isn’t Lavrov simply posturing. If you read Russian, and Condi does, you will find a lot of criticism of the Putin Administration in Russian print media. Far more that you’ll find of the Bush Administration in the United States. You won’t, however, find that same criticism on Russian television. Most of the major networks are either under the control of or are voluntarily sympathetic to Putin.
In other news, Putin will answer callers’ questions on a live television broadcast next Tuesday. He has conducted these live question and answers shows since 2001. He used his December 2003 live show to announce his running for a second term. There is also speculation he will address whether he will seek a third term as Russian President. Such a move would require changes to the Russian constitution.
The London Guardian has a story of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Dagestan. The article is just another example of the rapidity the Chechen War is spilling over into neighboring provinces. Many have been pointing out that the increased bombings in Dagestan and the rise of militancy threatens to engulf the region.
The show trial of the Andijan15 is underway in Uzbekistan. The fifteen are accused of attempting to overthrow the Uzbek government in May 2005. The Uzbek government blames the uprising on Muslim extremists. According to independent investigations, Uzbek security forces massacred up to 700 people. The government claims only 187 people died in the uprising. Since May, Uzbekistan has prevented the return of Andijan refugees who are in UNrefugee campsin Romania and arrested and tortured scores of alleged “conspirators,” according to a recently released report by Human Rights Watch.
In an what I think is an unprecedented story, Boris Kostruba, a Russian metro officer has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for shooting a 20-year-old migrant worker from Tajikistan, Rustam Baibekov, as he tried to enter the Moscow Metro without paying. According to Mosnews, “Kostruba detained Baibekov, found he had no Moscow registration, started demanding money from him and after a refusal shot him in the mouth.” All I can say is: What the fuck!? Moscow Metro militsia are known as rather violent and corrupt bunch. The list of their activities include: bribery, hassling and beating non-Russians and tourists, and even raping young women as they travel home late at night. Usually nothing ever happens to them. So the surprise for this story is not the fact that Kostruba shot Baibekov in the mouth for skipping the metro fare. It’s that he was actually sent to prison for doing it.Post Views: 2,464