Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

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Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:37 pm

They always said that everything they had was the best, the biggest, the strongest, the fastest.

-- The heaviest missiles,

-- The fastest watches,

-- The strongest pencils.

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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  Constance on Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:09 am

Soviet Russia? As bad as China in the 20th century up until the death of Mao.

Stalin was a madman. Like Mao he created a man-made famine; he crushed the Ukranians.

One of the sad mistakes of the century was when Roosevelt and Churchill let Stalin have Poland in its sphere of influence.

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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:43 am

The most unspeakable horrors of the Soviet era are unimaginable to most westerners affraid


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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:58 am


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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  Old Mack on Tue Jun 28, 2011 5:02 am

pinhedz wrote:They always said that everything they had was the best, the biggest, the strongest, the fastest.
Except a affordable / dependable toaster !


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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:49 am

Old Mack wrote:
pinhedz wrote:They always said that everything they had was the best, the biggest, the strongest, the fastest.
Except a affordable / dependable toaster !
The biggest and the strongest. bounce

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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:19 am

Here in the Air and Space Museum you can see Soviet Russia's BIG SS-20 ICBM alongside it's diminutive American counterpart--the Pershing II ICBM.

If they had to fight it out, who would win? The SS-20 is REALLY BIG affraid


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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  Lee Van Queef on Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:09 pm

Was gutted they lost in Rocky IV.

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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  precinct14 on Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:31 am

Hairy-legged women, with high cheekbones.

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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:25 am

Post-Soviet Russia this, but illuminating:

*******************************************************************************

White Fever by Jacek Hugo-Bader - review

A road trip across a troubled Russia

Luke Harding guardian.co.uk, Friday 15 July 2011 22.55 BST

There is a marvellous image at the beginning of White Fever, an account by Polish journalist Jacek Hugo-Bader of his demoralising road trip across Siberia. He is driving his Russian jeep along the great flat steppes between Ufa and Kazan. The traffic is hardly moving: in front of him are two lorries, one pulling the other on a tow-rope. He overtakes. At the top of the hill a traffic cop pulls him over. Reluctantly, the journalist hands over a 1,000-rouble bribe. (Overtaking on a solid line in Russia is a serious offence.) When he drives off and looks back he sees the lorries turning round and going back down the hill to begin their laborious climb once more – the scam is another ingenious example of how the Russian state fleeces its citizens.


White Fever: A Journey to the Frozen Heart of Siberia by Jacek Hugo-Bader, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has failed to come up with a new national idea. Instead, the US's erstwhile superpower rival has metastasised into a brutal kleptocracy. (This, at least, is the damning verdict of US diplomats, revealed late last year by WikiLeaks.) In a four-month drive from Moscow to Vladivostok, punctuated by frequent breakdowns and one nasty incident in which he slithers off the road into the snow, Hugo-Bader explores this despairing post-communist landscape.

Ideology has disappeared. Instead, other beliefs have filled the vacuum. He finds shamans and former hippies. He travels to a remote community in the Siberian taiga where several thousand people live and worship a Russian Christ. (The Christ's real name is Sergei Torop. A former militiaman, he styles himself Vissarion, claims to have 100,000 global followers, and is fond of issuing commandments on sex, children and how to boil water to make tea.) This is the only place in Russia, Hugo-Bader writes, where he comes across happy people – "cheerful, jolly, calm people who actually greet a stranger in the street".

While some Siberians have turned to mysticism in search of meaning, others cling to the old Soviet faith. The author drops in on Mikhail Kalashnikov, the 88-year-old inventor of the famous rifle. Kalashnikov is unrepentant about his deadly creation. He is also selectively deaf when the journalist grills him about the Soviet invasion of Poland, in which he participated as a young solider. He describes himself as a patriot of the fatherland – by which he means the now-disappeared USSR.

The title White Fever is a reference to vodka. Or, more accurately, to the weird hallucinogenic state that Siberia's indigenous tribes fall into when they drink too much of it. Alcoholism is wiping out entire peoples. To the Evenk tribe it is, Hugo-Bader suggests, "the equivalent of Zyklon B". After vodka, the Evenks get undressed in the freezing cold, lie on railway lines, or shoot themselves in the chest with hunting rifles. In 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, the Evenk village of Bamnak had 17 reindeer herders. By 2007 none were left. They had drunk themselves to death, committed suicide, or disappeared under the ice.

Hugo-Bader sees further depressing evidence that Russia is slowly killing itself. As well as alcoholism there are the traffic accidents (32,000 dead in 2007, as many as in the whole European Union). And there is rampant drug abuse and HIV. Three million Russians are believed to be carrying the virus, with almost a third of them in prison. One of the first things that struck me as a correspondent in Moscow, overlapping with Hugo-Bader, was the absence of old men. There weren't very many of them. Russian male life expectancy hovers under 60.

And yet White Fever includes plenty of unexpectedly joyous moments. During his epic car journey, Hugo-Bader encounters other travellers – a 22-year-old Vladivostok prostitute content with her lot, and a wandering Chinese man, riding on a horse from Moscow back to Beijing in time for the Olympics. Amid the devastating Aids epidemic, he meets Svetlana Izambayeva – Russia's Miss HIV positive. Svetlana gives haircuts to other carriers. She runs a support group and has a TV programme. She has fallen in love, and given birth to a healthy daughter.

The strength of this book is that it dwells on human stories that lie outside the parameters of conventional newspaper reporting, and the translation from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones is pitch perfect. White Fever has little to say about the current clique in the Kremlin – though Vladimir Putin appears briefly as a young lieutenant in the Leningrad KGB, when he breaks up a hippy commune. But Hugo-Bader is a sympathetic companion, and he offers a compelling portrait of a society in moral and social breakdown.

Luke Harding's Mafia State: Spies, Surveillance and Russia's Secret War will be published by Guardian Books in September.

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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  eddie on Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:27 pm

Mafia State by Luke Harding - review

A first-hand account of life in modern Russia

AD Miller
guardian.co.uk


Andrei Lugovoi, who is wanted in Britain in connection with the murder of Alexander Litvenenko. Photograph: Justin Jin

With its love of aberration and misfortune, news always tends to be more bad than good; since it focuses on governments, coverage of a country with a nasty one is liable to be especially grim. When I was a correspondent in Moscow, friends and I often debated whether, with our perpetual stories about expropriations and violence, we might be overdoing it – as our government handlers and some self-interested western financiers claimed. No, we concluded: if anything, the truth was in some ways worse than we reported – because tracing the trails of violence and graft to the satisfaction of English libel law was often impossible.

The importance of Luke Harding's book lies in its first-hand account of a relatively mild but telling bout of state-sponsored harassment, of a kind that, like much else in Russia, is intentionally opaque and deniable. Shortly after the Guardian sent Harding to Moscow in 2007, the paper published an interview with Boris Berezovsky, a renegade tycoon who fled to London in 2000. Despite Harding's protests that his role in the article was marginal, it earned him the ire and special attentions of the FSB, the main successor to the KGB, which under Vladimir Putin, Russia's once-and-future president, has become the real power in its vast land.

The FSB assumed, as it did with most foreign journalists, that Harding was a spy. As is standard, it bugged and followed him; more unusually, its agents repeatedly broke into his home, playing dark practical jokes on him and his family. Finally, the authorities in effect chucked him out earlier this year. Like a yob who starts a fight in a pub by saying you have spilled his pint, the Russians offered pretexts that both parties knew were ludicrous.

Harding conveys how it feels to live in a place where the powerful are subject to few or no rules, and where there is no one to complain to. His description of Andrei Lugovoi, the alleged poisoner of Alexander Litvinenko, is an apt comment on the FSB caste: "Some vital moral part is empty and lacking, as if someone had hacked off his conscience with a pair of giant scissors."

This personal story is threaded around a thematic account of the last few years of Russian history: the ongoing brutality in Chechnya and the rising, mostly ignored violence elsewhere in the north Caucasus; the Georgian war; the second Khodorkovsky trial; Russia's awful demography and the post-imperial spasms of its foreign policy; the shaming farce of the Medvedev-Putin double act. Harding reports all this colourfully (though so do many of his Moscow colleagues, whom he needlessly criticises).

In Harding's familiar but plausible analysis, the Putinistas have two main motives. One is grudge-bearing nationalism, allied to a deep conviction that other countries operate in the same way, even if their rulers suborn courts and elections more neatly. As he notes, those nationalistic instincts don't stop some senior apparatchiks stashing their assets and in some cases their families in London.

The other, more important motive is personal enrichment. On the face of it, this is a paradox: why pillage a country that you want to flourish? Though Harding doesn't explore it, the reasoning of the ruling class seems to go like this. In theory, and eventually, Russia must be great (ie, feared by others; the welfare of its citizens is not a big consideration). But this particular Russia, the one we have inherited, is a contemptible mess – and if we don't plunder it, someone else will.

The title of this book comes from one of the American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and filleted by Harding for the Guardian (the other reason why the FSB had it in for him). In their portrayal of a virtual merger between the Russian state and organised crime, and a system built on kickbacks and extortion, the WikiLeaks files endorse the summary of the fictional Moscow correspondent in my novel, Snowdrops, who says that, in Russia, there are no politics or business stories: "There are only crime stories."

But while that jaundiced view might have some validity at the level of officialdom, there are lots of other kinds of stories to tell about ordinary Russians, not least concerning their glorious and resilient culture. Other than in the occasional references to long-distance train rides, or the perambulations of Harding's wife around Moscow's historic architecture, there is little trace of the glory here – unsurprisingly, perhaps, in a book fuelled by rage against the kleptocrats and spooks.

There is one exception. Harding meets and describes a dauntless group of human rights activists, lawyers and journalists who, being Russian, are not covered by the thugs' unwritten rule that irritating foreigners can be bullied but not killed. He writes that Natalia Estemirova, who worked in Chechnya for the human rights group Memorial, had an "almost otherworldly courage and moral presence". She was murdered in 2009. As Harding acknowledges, compared with such fates, his is "VIP treatment". For as long as it produces heroes and heroines such as Estemirova, Russia still has hope.

AD Miller's Snowdrops, published by Atlantic, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize

© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  eddie on Tue Dec 27, 2011 7:29 pm

Vladimir Putin's world is falling apart

The Russian media has lost its fear of Putin's authoritarian regime. History tells us the end must be nigh

Masha Gessen

guardian.co.uk, Monday 26 December 2011 16.15 GMT


'Vladimir Putin is planting hardliners in key positions … in an attempt to bring back the fear that has enabled his rule for 12 years.' Photograph: Ria Novosti/Reuters

Watching an authoritarian regime disintegrate is like watching an episode of the American television series House, MD. Someone who was enjoying an active lifestyle at the beginning of the series is experiencing multiple organ failure 15 minutes later, with the doctors frantically trying to figure out why, and which vital organ is going to go next.

A friend sent me a link to a programme broadcast on Russian national television recently (the link was to a YouTube clip, since most people I know do not have actual working television sets – the habit of watching TV has quietly died among the educated class here over the last 10 years). For over 10 minutes it made fun, crudely and openly, of Vladimir Putin's annual televised Q&A session. "What do you make of this?" my friend wrote. "Is this fake?" It was not fake. And what I made of it is that television, the most vital of organs in a state like Russia, is failing.

NTV, the channel on which the show was broadcast, is owned by the state gas monopoly, Gazprom, which has a large press holding. Technically, the channel does not have to take orders from the Kremlin, but in the past 10 years (since it was wrested away from its founder) it just has. And now it is just going to stop.

The thing about harsh authoritarian regimes is it's not laws, or courts, or the rigid government hierarchy that makes them run. It is fear. And once the fear is taken out of the equation – suddenly, for the vanishing of fear is always sudden – it becomes clear that these courts, laws and hierarchies do not work. Everything just starts falling apart.

That is what happened here 20 years ago: institutions just stopped taking orders from the Kremlin. The media stopped fearing the censors who still sat in their offices at every media outlet. The police stopped applying absurd regulations, enabling the birth of private enterprise. Ultimately, the heads of the Soviet Union's 15 constituent republics lost their fear – and the empire fell apart, in what by history's standards was the blink of an eye.

In August 1991, when Communist party hardliners tried to wrest back power, fear was the magic component they lacked. Some people got scared, to be sure – but enough did not. Radio journalists continued reporting on the coup and finding ways to broadcast even when their signal was repeatedly cut off and their offices were invaded by special forces. Print journalists from several newspapers that had been shut down got together to put out a joint publication they called the Common Newspaper. And ordinary people, including college students, professionals, and former army military men, flooded into the streets to protect the Moscow white house where Boris Yeltsin sat, personifying democracy.

The Moscow mayor and many other local officials were not frightened by the hardliners, and so refused to obey their decrees. Instead of being paralysed by fear, institutions just kept marching on as usual: the airports worked, the phones did not get shut down, people could get from place to place and communicate with one another. Finally, key generals did not obey the hardliners' orders, forcing them to retreat in disgrace. In the end it was they who were scared.

Right now Putin is scrambling, planting his own hardliners in key positions. He has appointed his old friend, the FSB general Sergei Ivanov, as chief of the president's staff – even though Putin has not yet been officially re-elected president. He brought back Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's odiously aggressive nationalist envoy to Nato, to serve in his cabinet in Moscow. In the coming days, he is likely to make more appointments that will show that his is a harsh, nationalist, authoritarian government. He is doing this because he is scared – and he desperately wants to bring back the fear that has enabled his rule for the last 12 years.

But Putin's own media is already failing him. Some of his closest aides are sending out friendly signals to the protesters. They have lost the fear, and that means the whole edifice will come tumbling down. That process is unstoppable: Dr House will not come to the rescue.

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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:00 pm

There was once a professor at the University of Minnesota named Irwin Marquit (maybe worth a google--I'll check).

Although he was a physics professor, he mostly just talked about the virtues of communism (he had tenure).

Among his many claims, he was fond of saying that there was no organized crime in the Soviet union, because the social structure did not have any of the components needed to support the system of organized crime.

To me, it seemed that organized crime in the Soviet Union had taken over and become the government.

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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Wed Dec 28, 2011 1:54 pm

Erwin--not Irwin (still cheerful after all these years) What a Face :



Current Research
"I have been interested in the scientific methodology on the basis of which fundamental concepts in physics are formed. This has led me into the interface between philosophy and physics, which I attempt to approach with a dialectical-materialist scientific methodology. In the course of this effort, I have found that the dialectical-materialist methodology has been inadequately developed in a number of areas. Since the methodology has been more fully developed in the social sphere I have interested myself in its application to both society and nature (Marxist studies). My research therefore extends over a wide range of areas. A selection of my papers on dialectical materialism and the physical and other natural sciences can be found on my University of Minnesota home page:" http://www.tc.umn.edu/~marqu002


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Re: Soviet Russia -- your impressions?

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:49 pm

Japanese bubble-gum acts captivated by Russian culture:


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