I Want My HBO (House of the Dragon)

This newsletter from the Russian streaming service Amediateka showed up in my inbox a few minutes ago.

Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon. Premieres August 22

See “House of the Dragon” on Amediateka. We don’t want you to miss the biggest and most interesting premieres (“House of the Dragon,” the prequel to the great and mighty “Game of Thrones” is coming soon!), so we’re reminding you that we have a very useful newsletter. From which, however, you can unsubscribe. What you can definitely keep are the subscription promo codes*: a treasury of international TV series is now closer!

What is Amediateka? What does it have to do with HBO?

Russian streamer Amediateka has struck an exclusive deal that allows it to offer all series from WarnerMedia’s HBO Max, in addition to library content from the US studio.

The agreement, which is effective immediately, hands Amediateka shows including the reboot of cult TV series Gossip Girl, Steven Soderbergh’s film No Sudden Move, sci-fi series Raised By Wolves, Israeli war drama Valley Of Tears and teenage drama Genera+ion. 

HBO Max hit The Flight Attendant is also available, along with Sex And The City sequel And Just Like That…, with shows accessible on the streamer in Russia and the CIS.

Animal Kingdom11.22.63 and Person Of Interest are among library series available, along with documentaries including 15 Minutes Of ShamePersona: The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests and docuseries Generation Hustle and the upcoming One Perfect Shot.

Tatyana Kalita, CEO of Amediateka parent Amedia TV, said the deal would provide “resonant and highly sought-after” shows to its audiences, adding that the streamer had enjoyed “stunning success” with the recent special episode Friends: The Reunion, which Amediateka exclusively released in Russia and CIS in May.

(Source: Richard Middleton, “Amediateka gets HBO Max shows exclusively in Russia and CIS,” Digital TV Europe, 3 August 2021)

But didn’t HBO’s parent company WarnerMedia stop doing business in Russia this spring to protest Russia’s brutal unprovoked invasion of Ukraine?

Major media companies continue to join the exodus from Russia, with Discovery and WarnerMedia making announcements on Wednesday about halting all programming in the country.

WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company, previously paused the release of “The Batman” in Russia, citing the “humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.”

As of Wednesday the company is now “pausing all new business in Russia,” CEO Jason Kilar said in an internal memo. “This includes ceasing broadcast of our channels, halting all new content licensing with Russian entities, and pausing our planned theatrical and games releases.”

WarnerMedia had been broadcasting CNN and Cartoon Network in the country. CNN said on Tuesday that the network is not shutting down its Moscow bureau, “but we have ceased reporting from there until we have assessed the impact of this new law.” The law makes it a crime to disseminate what Russian authorities consider to be “fake” information about the invasion of Ukraine.

Discovery, which has 15 channels in the country, said Wednesday that the channels are going dark as well. “Discovery has decided to suspend the broadcast of all its channels and services in Russia,” the company said.

Discovery and WarnerMedia are preparing to merge this spring.

The statements are part of a much broader corporate shunning of Russia that has escalated in the two weeks since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

(Source: Brian Stelter, “WarnerMedia and Discovery join the stampede of businesses leaving Russia,” CNN Business, 9 March 2022)

Amediateka is currently offering a 12-month subscription to its streaming service at the bargain basement price of 2,499 rubles — or 41 dollars and some change. That’s for an entire year. In the US, WarnerMedia is currently offering a yearly, prepaid subscription to HBO Max for $69.99 with ads or $104.99 with no ads. ||| TRR

Masyanya: Saint Mariuburg

“Compassion and empathy—the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes—are the most vital human emotions. This cartoon is addressed to those who, through some monstrous error, support Russia’s war on Ukraine.”

Source: Masyanya, “Episode 162: Saint Mariuburg,” YouTube. Over three million people have watched this episode since it was posted several days ago. Press CC for English subtitles.


Masyanya creator Oleg Kuvaev, montaged with a still from the latest episode of his hit cartoon, which imagines what an unprovoked Chinese invasion of Russia would look like in Masyanya’s hometown of Saint Petersburg.

From an interview with Oleg Kuvaev about the latest episode of Masyanya (“Episode 162: Saint Mariuburg”):

“I would argue that Russian society was deliberately depoliticized during the early two thousands. I played along with this process to a certain extent. […] I was categorically against [putting] politics in the series. Masyanya didn’t touch on any controversial topics whatsoever, and I didn’t get involved in anything, but only enjoyed my own jokes. But now is not the time for humor: comedians in Russia have found themselves in a situation where they do not have the tools to do their job. The main tool of humorists—exaggeration—no longer works, because the absurdity is now so off the scales that no humorist can go further.”

Source: Sergei Averkov, Facebook, 12 July 2022. Thanks to Vladimir Volokhonsky for the link. Translated by the Russian Reader

Minions: The Rise of the GRU

This piece of fan mail—disguised as an intemperate reaction to my previous post—just came in. I think it’s actually a camouflaged plug for the latest installment in the Despicable Me series, which, I’m happy to say, is playing at my neighborhood movie theater. ||| TRR


The Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, formerly the Main Intelligence Directorate, and still commonly known by its previous abbreviation GRU, is the foreign military intelligence agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. GRU controls the military intelligence service and maintains its own special forces units.

Unlike Russia’s other security and intelligence agencies—such as the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the Federal Protective Service (FSO), whose heads report directly to the president of Russia—the director of the GRU is subordinate to the Russian military command, reporting to the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the General Staff.

The directorate is reputedly Russia’s largest foreign-intelligence agency, and is distinguished among its counterparts for its willingness to execute riskier “complicated, high stakes operations”. According to unverified statements by Stanislav Lunev, a defector from the GRU, in 1997 the agency deployed six times as many agents in foreign countries as the SVR, and commanded some 25,000 Spetsnaz troops.

Source: Wikipedia


Set in 1976 California, the film is an origin story depicting how Gru (Steve Carell) became allied with the diminutive yellow creatures (all voiced hilariously by Pierre Coffin, provided, one hopes, with plenty of throat lozenges) and embarked on his career path to villainy. Only 11 years old (11 ¾, to be precise), Gru sees his chance when given the opportunity to apply to become a member of the evil supergroup the Vicious 6 after they violently oust their leader, the elderly Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin, giving the impression that he’s having a lot of fun).

Source: Hollywood Reporter

May the Good Lord Take a Liking to You and Blow You Up Real Soon

This is “social democracy,” Russian fascist style, as exemplified by A Just Russia — For Truth party leader Sergei Mironov, as translated by a mindless unpaid robot:

The leader of the Fair Russia — For Truth party, Sergei Mironov, proposed to take away the property of Russians who decided to emigrate from Russia.

He noted that this can be done within the framework of the presidential decree of March 1, 2022 “On additional temporary economic measures to ensure the financial stability of the Russian Federation.” According to it, Russian citizens who “have left or live in unfriendly countries cannot dispose of their real estate on the territory of Russia.”

At the same time, Mironov proposed not to be limited only to “unfriendly” states and to apply a measure in the event of a person leaving for any country.

The essence of their act does not change from this. I think it makes sense to extend the restrictions to all travelers, regardless of where exactly they have pricked up their skis.

The head of the party added that he considers the current flight of “our homegrown rich people” abroad to be a cleansing of society. In his opinion, only “obvious traitors” or “owners of criminally obtained fortunes” can leave Russia.

“Although one easily combines with the other. So I see only a positive aspect in the fact that these gentlemen are ridding us of their presence. The air will be cleaner,” he concluded.

Russian “social democrat” Sergei Mironov. Photo courtesy of the Moskva Agency and the Moscow Times

Here are the “social democratic” fascist robot’s remarks in the original Russian:

Лидер партии «Справедливая Россия — За правду» Сергей Миронов предложил отбирать собственность россиян, решивших эмигрировать из России.

Он отметил, что это можно делать в рамках указа президента от 1 марта 2022 года «О дополнительных временных мерах экономического характера по обеспечению финансовой стабильности РФ». Согласно нему, российские граждане, которые «уехали или живут в недружественных странах, не могут распоряжаться своей недвижимостью на территории России».

При этом Миронов предложил не ограничиваться только «недружественными» государствами и применять меру в случае отъезда человека в любую страну.

“Суть их поступка от этого не меняется. Полагаю, есть смысл распространить ограничения на всех выезжанцев в независимости от того, куда именно они навострили лыжи.”

Руководитель партии добавил, что считает очищением общества нынешнее бегство «наших доморощенных богатеев» за границу. По его мнению, из России могут уехать лишь «очевидные предатели» или «обладатели состояний, полученных криминальным путем».

«Хотя одно легко сочетается с другим. Так что в том, что эти господа избавляют нас от своего присутствия, я вижу только положительной момент. Воздух будет чище», — заключил он.

Source: Moscow Times, 16 June 2022


John Candy and Joe Flaherty have a finer grasp of Russian social revolutionary traditions than Sergei Mironov does. If Mr. Mironov’s (thoroughly counterrevolutionary and reactionary) compatriots weren’t so similar unmindful of their own history, Mr. Mironov might have thought twice before making the transformation from a mild nuisance to an enthusiastic Putinist henchman.

What Johnny Depp Reads (and Recommends You Read)

“Johnny Depp’s choice. You’re probably curious what kinds of books the Hollywood star reads. We’ll tell you in order, taking Lewis Carroll and Roald Dahl off the table.”

This is a screenshot of an email I received yesterday from LitRes, Russia’s top ebook distributor and seller. Aside from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey (visible here), Johnny Depp’s alleged “choice” of books, available for purchase on LitRes, includes Joanne Harris’s Chocolat, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s The Flanders Panel, and Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

This is the second time since Russia’s brutal, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine began that LitRes has celebrated the alleged literary tastes of a violent Hollywood bully. In April, two weeks after Will Smith’s assault on comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars, LitRes treated its customers (including me: I’ve purchased 109 otherwise inaccessible Russian books from them over the last several years, my account profile tells me) to “Will Smith’s choice.”

It occurred to me at the time, sadly, that if it had not been for the war, Russia’s chattering classes, including many of the currently exiled “anti-war” liberals, would have happily spent the week following Smith’s violent outburst discussing, just as, before the war, they had been keen to discuss almost anything in the world (especially if it concerned the United States and “the West”) except the dismal political and social circumstances at home in the Motherland. In the recent past, for example, the Russian chatterati chewed over the January 6 coup attempt and the reaction to George Floyd’s murder with supreme relish and satisfaction, often coming to conclusions, however, that would make an observer like me wonder how “liberal” the “liberal” opposition to Putin really was. For example, an acquaintance of mine from Petersburg, a well-known grassroots human rights activist, was so convinced that the anti-police demonstrations in the US were, essentially, little better than the anti-semitic pogroms her ancestors had endured in the early twentieth century that she “unfriended” me for arguing that they were nothing of the sort.

Similarly, one of Russia’s leading opposition political scientists and sociologists, Greg Yudin, who has now risen to some prominence for his courageous public anti-war statements and actions, wrote a longish comment on Facebook on January 7, 2020, that includes the following hilarious assessment of the previous day’s events in Washington:

Nothing terrible happened in Washington. Basically, the protest was peaceful and calm – people entered the building of their own parliament, took selfies, sat in chairs, and dispersed. Capitol Hill will not collapse because men with dogs and ladies in down jackets strolled around it. The people who, apparently, broke windows, sprayed pepper spray, and called for storming television stations, should be investigated. Otherwise, the congressmen had a little scare and had to stay in session until four in the morning. It’s okay, they’ll live through it.

Michelle Goldberg argued in the New York Times yesterday that Johnny Depp’s lawsuit against Amber Heard and his legal team’s demolition of her character in the courtroom and online is emblematic of “a #MeToo backlash,” and part of “a broader misogynist frenzy at work, one characteristic of the deeply reactionary moment we’re living through.”


In Russia, the “misogynist frenzy” has deepened with every year that the Putin regime has remained in power (even to the point of decriminalizing domestic violence), and would-be opposition “liberals” have been involved in this backlash as well. You’d never know it nowadays (and, seemingly, there is no one who would dare to remember it anymore) but the Riga-based Russian liberal news website Meduza ended up on the wrong side of decency in 2018 when its editor-in-chief was accused of sexual harassment. What this otherwise comprehensive article on the scandal by BuzzFeed doesn’t tell you, for obvious reasons, is that the Ivan Kolpakov resigned from the top post at Meduza only to be quietly reappointed to it a short time later, after the dust had settled. He’s still in that post today, and is now an internationally celebrated champion of press freedom, whose website is hard up for cash.

(Excuse me my bitterness at Meduza, but they can never been forgive for this crime against basic solidarity and sound journalism, which has demonstrably led to more suffering for young men convicted of a crime that they didn’t commit and which, even more insanely, no one committed.)

I haven’t seen any discussion yet of Depp v. Heard on liberal Russian social media, but it is being covered in a predictably misogynist way by Russia’s online tabloids, as a quick Google search for the words “Johnny Depp trial” suggests:

Two of these “top stories” have salacious headlines claiming that “Johnny Depp’s attorney Camille Vasquez gets Amber Heard to come clean.”

It’s no wonder, then, that LitRes imagines that its customers will be delighted to show their solidarity with an “unjustly” accused, violently misogynistic bully, who also happens to a big Hollywood star whose movies they have enjoyed for years, thus making him “svoi” (“one of their own”), just like, paradoxically (given the prevalence of anti-Black racism in Russia), Will Smith. Nor is it any wonder that this celebration of anti-wokeness happens right as the big bad West (the anti-Johnny Depp and anti-Will Smith West) attempts to “cancel” Russia for its violent, unprovoked attack on its “weaker” neighbor.

As Dmitry Volchek argued yesterday in this feuilleton on Radio Svoboda, the threat of “cancellation” animates Russia’s “anti-war” liberals and lefty creatives much more than the silly war itself, much less the war’s victims in Ukraine. |||| TRR

Convictions

https://vimeo.com/197503611

Convictions, doc, 2016

Password: beliefs

The 15th of May is Conscientious Objectors’ Day.

We started to make this film in 2014 during the annexation of Crimea by Russia. it seemed that by 2022 only the epigraph would remain relevant.

“You’ll pretend you were men instead of babies, and you’ll be played in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those other glamorous, war-loving, dirty old men.”

Watching the first war crimes trial in Ukraine over Vadim Shishimarin, it becomes quite obvious that this war is also being waged by children under the control of vile old men.

I understand how and why Russian guys from the provinces ended up in Ukraine.

Source: Tatiana Chistova, Facebook, 15 May 2022. Thanks to Jenya Kulakova for the heads-up and so much more. NB. This film is freely viewable on Vimeo only today, 15 May, apparently. Since it is a “private” video, I was unable to embed it here. UPDATE (17 MAY 2022) The film seems to be indefinitely viewable, so please take the opportunity to watch it using the URL and password listed, above. An acquaintance described it as “deadly serious and very funny too.” ||| TRR

Krovfeta

“It’s a Soviet-era candy bar made with cow’s blood.”
Still from “Enervo,” Season 4, Episode 20 of The Rookie (ABC)

‘Following a drive during which we learned that Agent Fox is gay and Simone herself is bi, Fox tasked Clark with rifling through screens and screens of tipline calls possibly about the Russian, but “people person” Simone instead sneaked off to talk to locked-up Zeke, her former student, asking if he remembered anything else about the bomber. This led to Zeke sketching a Russian candy bar that the guy munched on, and that in turn — thanks to some Russian musicians that Simone’s dad Cutty sometimes jams with — led Simone to a store. Not waiting for Nolan to catch up, Simone approached and tried to chat up Gurin by herself, but that led to a brief brawl, where the Russian walloped the unarmed trainee hard, and then ran off.’

Source: Matt Webb Mitovich, “The Rookie: Grade Part 2 of the Spinoff Pilot, Tell Us If You’d Watch It,” TVLine, 1 May 2022. In Russian, konfeta means “candy,” and is derived from the Italian confetto. The Russian word for “blood” is krov’ (with a so-called soft v), not krov (as here, with a so-called hard v), which, on the contrary, means “roof” and, by extension, “shelter, a place to stay” (“a roof over one’s head”). So, in their misguided effort to confect “blood candy,” the writers of The Rookie actually conjured up a “roofy.” And the Russian word for “chocolate” is shokolad, not shokold, as here. But that mistake can be put down to Zeke’s “poor” memory. UPDATE (2 May 2022). My boon companion, who was born and raised in the Soviet Union, told me earlier today that she and other children were given sweet “Hematogen” nutrition bars to raise their hemoglobin levels, as she put it. These bars were sold in pharmacies and labeled as such, not as chocolate, candy or “krovfeta.” Adults did not eat Hematogen bars, she said, adding that she stopped eating them when she realized what was in them. In 2019, Vice published a provocatively titled article about Hematogen bars that might have inspired the writers at The Rookie. I’m happy to admit that, despite having lived in Russian twenty-plus years, I’d never heard of them until today. ||| TRR

Will Smith’s Choice

Will Smith’s Choice

The idol of millions! He went from being an insecure guy who had had a difficult childhood to being one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. This year it was he who won the Oscar for his role in the biopic King Richard. His unique autobiography will tell you about his road to becoming a superstar, and our selection will give you a chance to look at Will Smith’s bookshelf!

Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist

It is this bestseller by Paulo Coelho that the actor often calls his favorite book. This philosophical novel about dreams that defy fate can change the life of any reader.

Source: screenshot of “What Will Smith reads (and recommends you read),” an email newsletter from LitRes, a popular Russian ebook service, 12 April 2022. Will Smith’s other alleged recommendations are Richard Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad, Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Translated by the Russian Reader, who has purchased and downloaded a good number of ebooks from LitRes over the last several years.


Putin’s is a regional politics: it is aimed at defending a particular region and its alleged ethno-cultural identity. Iran and the Islamist movements in general have served as the model for those seeking to banish all things Western in the hope that when you remove them, your true cultural identity (for example, an Islamic identify) will shine forth with its natural light. The same thing is gradually happening now in China and India. Cultural identity is discovered by purging the “Western abominations” that have accumulated like a dense layer on its surface. Russia has repeatedly evinced the desire to purge itself of the West—of Facebook, McDonald’s, modern art, rock music, of everything that the Russian does not need and can do perfectly well without. The belief is that if this stuff is removed, the divine wisdom of the Russian spirit will shine with its own light.

The only problem is (and it is an old problem that has been around since the nineteenth century) that this process of stripping and purging Russia of everything Western can never end. There is a non-European cultural substrate in Iran, India, and China. So, when you purge everything European, something homegrown, something originally non-European, does emerge. I am not saying whether this exists in Russia or not. I can only say that all attempts to find it have proved futile and suicidal. That is, the movement back to origins and the Russian World have proved completely suicidal.

In this sense, Russia has reproduced a well-known trope of German culture. In the nineteenth century, Germans also argued that German culture was inherently different from Western civilization, that German culture should be purged of Western civilization to be manifested in all its might. Upon closer examination, however, it transpired that this power was purely negative. German thinkers reflected on this, even glorifying these suicidal, self-destructive tendencies to some extent. Russian culture did this to some extent, too. We can read about the suicidal search for one’s foundations in Dostoevsky’s works, for example. From a cultural perspective, the new paroxysm to purge things Western and get back to Russianness, which we are now witnessing, is a purely suicidal operation.

Source: Boris Groys (in conversation with Liza Lazerson), “Putin: Restoration of Destruction,” E-Flux Journal, no. 126 (April 2022). Translated by Thomas H. Campbell

Ballad of a Soldier

Igor Ivkin, 19, was killed in heavy fighting outside Kharkiv. Family photo, courtesy of the Moscow Times

IT JUST BREAKS YOUR HEART… This is hard to read. And it should be.

“Born Under Putin, Dead Under Putin: Russia’s Teenage Soldiers Dying in Ukraine”

Different people will react in different ways, of course, but for me two things stand out in the story of 19 year old Igor Ivkin of Pskov. First, I could’ve taught this kid. Others actually *did* teach him, but he reminded me of more than a few Russian students I taught English and History to over the years: good kids, salt of the earth, with their whole lives ahead of them. Now, just like that — and for no good reason — he’s gone.

Secondly, the beginning of Igor’s exchange with wife Yulia, as recorded here — when he says “I promise to come back” — cannot help but remind people of my generation (and older) of another Russian 19 year old soldier who doesn’t come home alive: Alyosha Skvortsov, the hero of Grigorii Chukrai’s classic film “Ballad of a Soldier” (1959), who tells his mother near the movie’s end “Mama, I’ll come back.”

The movie is set up as a retro-narrative, so the audience already *knows* he doesn’t make it back home; and that is part of what makes it an enormously effective cinematic moment in a film that is manipulative in both good and bad senses. The short version of a viewer’s reaction, in any case, is as predictable as it is earned: if you are unmoved when Alyosha makes his promise to his mother, you need to check your wrist for a pulse.

Finally, and hardest of all to take, is a third thought born of the first two: Alyosha Skvortsov died for a good cause, one that everyone remembers; Igor Ivkin did not have that honor, dying for a cynical parody-version of Alyosha’s cause that his country’s leaders keep advancing but can never justify.

These evil people somehow succeeded in making a fine young man, Igor Ivkin, husband and father, one of the Bad Guys in Europe’s first new-millennium war-as-morality story. He didn’t deserve that.

It is important to hold the people responsible for this accountable — and even more important to do whatever we can to end the Russian leadership’s war against Ukraine, a tragedy beyond any telling of it, as soon as humanly possible.

Source: Mark H. Teeter, Facebook, 8 April 2022. Thanks for his kind permission to reprint his remarks here.


Yulia Ivkina would have preferred her husband to become a carpenter, not a soldier. 

But as the coronavirus pandemic dented the Russian labor market and the newlyweds from the western city of Pskov tried for a baby, 18-year-old Igor Ivkin reasoned a short-term contract in the army was the best option to safeguard his family’s future. 

Igor enlisted in February 2021, shortly before Yulia realized she was pregnant. A little over a year later, he was killed in heavy fighting outside Kharkiv amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He was seven months short of his 20th birthday.  

“People from the draft board told me about his death, they came to me with a death notice on March 25. He was buried on March 30 in the village of Vorontsovo where he was born,” Ivkina, 24, told The Moscow Times. 

Igor Ivkin is one of at least 25 teenage Russian soldiers to have died fighting in Ukraine, according to a review of official statements and social media posts by The Moscow Times.

Source: James Beardsworth, Yanina Sorokina, and Irina Shcherbakova, “Born Under Putin, Dead Under Putin: Russia’s Teenage Soldiers Dying in Ukraine,” Moscow Times, 8 April 2022. Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link.


Grigorii Chukrai’s “Ballada” is the movie that probably best represents how Russia’s Greatest Generation saw World War II — or wanted to see it, rather, at a decade’s remove. The film is an undisputed classic of postwar Soviet cinema, combining a multi-dimensional, wide-angle depiction of Soviet soldiers & civilians during the war w/ the extraordinarily successful close-up manipulation (largely in a positive sense) of its sympathetic young hero (wonderfully played by Vl. Ivashov) and his 2 nearest and dearest (Zhanna Prokhorenko, Antonina Maksimova).

How was “Ballada” perceived outside the USSR? In an era when Soviet propaganda, actual and historical, was routinely dismissed in the West, Chukrai’s film was a revelation to American critics and audiences, producing an emotional reaction many art-house and festival viewers found overwhelming: as Time magazine’s awed critic put it, the movie “brings back the kind of catch in the throat that Hollywood movies used to achieve on occasion.” And indeed, if you find yourself unmoved as the teenage Private Alyosha Skvortsov tells his mother at the end of his odyssey through war-torn Russia, “Mama, I’ll come back” (“Mама, я вернусь”), you need to check your wrist for a pulse.

Some of the crew who made “Ballada” were unhappy w/ parts of the film during production, apparently, and some day an enterprising dissertation writer will tell us why. What emerged on the screen, in any case, became the most decorated Soviet-produced World War II film ever made, taking home something over a hundred international and domestic awards altogether (including an Oscar nomination).

Tune in and see what so impressed the world in the early 1960s about this groundbreaking Mosfilm effort — and then decide for yourself just how true its message rings two decades into the new millennium, when Moscow gears up to commemorate the next anniversary of what official Russia will always call the “Great Patriotic War.”

Source: Mark H. Teeter, Facebook, 8 April 2022. Thanks to him for his kind permission to reprint his review here.

The Theory of Small Deeds: The Case of Chulpan Khamatova

Yigal Levin
Facebook
March 21, 2022

Mitya is infinitely right. All these years I have been constantly saying that all people of good will should leave the Russian Federation. How can one imagine a “theory of small deeds,” say, in the Third Reich? All conscientious Germans left Germany in the 30s, and to one degree or another joined various resistance forces. Such regimes are not destroyed from the inside, but only by blows from outside —military, economic, political and cultural.

Russia delenda est

Mitya Raevsky
Facebook
March 21, 2022

Until recently, a segment of the Russian intelligentsia and the upper middle class had a favorite toy — the “theory of small deeds.” In practice, it meant that they said: yes, we cannot defeat the dictatorship, which means we need to do something useful in spite of that — save sick children, create foundations, hold cultural events, publish literature, defend human rights wherever possible. They had the hope that everyone would be able to influence the state and society as a whole doing what they do best, and these little drops would come together to make a sea, so to speak. Well, in the process, of course, they would have to cooperate with the state.

It all turned out to be baloney. Here is another historical lesson — do not collaborate with tyrants. Never. Under any circumstances. Don’t lend them legitimacy. Even for the sake of sick children.

Because you will never turn that debit into a debit. You will save 10 thousand children who have cancer only for the dictatorship to kill 100 thousand children sooner or later. It’s already killing them, and not only Ukrainian children. It’s killing Russian children, too, whom it will now be impossible to save without western drugs and equipment.

In a dictatorship, small deeds happen only in the toilet.

________________

 

Chulpan Khamatova. Kirill Zykov/Moskva News Agency. Courtesy of the Moscow Times

Actress and Activist Chulpan Khamatova Has Left Russia
She joins dozens of Russian cultural figures who have left the country.
Moscow Times
March 21, 2022

The Russian stage and screen actress Chulpan Khamatova told Ekaterina Gordeyeva in an interview released on Monday that she would not be going back to Russia.

Khamatova, who heads the Gift of Life charity foundation, was abroad when Russia began its attack on Ukraine. “For the first few days I didn’t know what to do,” she said in the interview. At first I just wanted to stay some place and wait for it to end, but then I was led to believe that it might not be safe for me to return. I’m in Riga for now. I am certainly not a traitor. I love my homeland very much,” she said.

Khamatova is one of Russia’s most celebrated actresses who has acted in dozens of films and television series — most recently playing the lead role in the screen version of Guzel Yakhina’s novel “Zuleikha.” She also plays Raisa Gorbachev in the hit play “Gorbachev” at the Moscow Theater of Nations.

She is just one of dozens of Russian cultural figures who have left the country since the war began.

Earlier this month the music director of the Bolshoi Theater, Turgan Sokhiev, resigned his post in Moscow and in Toulouse, France. He wrote that he felt he was being forced “to choose between my beloved Russian and beloved French musicians” and so “decided to resign from my positions at both the Bolshoi in Moscow and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse.”

At the same time two foreign ballet dancers at the Bolshoi, Jacopo Tissi and David Motta Soares, put in their resignations.

This was followed by the announcement that Bolshoi prima ballerina Olga Smirnova left for the Dutch National ballet.

Russian television has also lost several of its best-known on-screen personalities: Channel One colleague Zhanna Agalakova quit her job as Europe correspondent for Channel One, and both Lilia Gildeyeva and Vadim Glusker quite NTV. Gildeyeva had worked at the channel since 2006, and Glusker had been there almost from the start, for 30 years.

Dmitry Linkin, the head designer for Channel One for 24 years, also quit. “I was taught that human life is invaluable,” he said.

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In an interview with Ksenia Sobchak, broadcast on TV Rain in June 2012, Chulpan Khamatova said that she would rather live in “North Korea” than have her own country go through another revolution.

No Political Harmony Among Cultural Elite
Alexander Bratersky
Moscow Times
February 19, 2012

As Prime Minister Vladimir Putin enters the home stretch of his campaign to return to the Kremlin, he is relying on the support not only of the blue-collar electorate, but also members of the cultural elite, who are helping to market his bid for the presidency.

Putin’s extended campaign team has about 500 participants, including famous musicians, actors and writers who appear in pro-Putin commercials and at rallies. But political analysts and experts said their participation has divided the cultural elite itself.

Several dozen prominent celebrities, among them world-famous piano player Denis Matsuyev, St. Petersburg Mariinsky conductor Valery Gergiev, jazz musician Igor Butman and opera star Anna Netrebko have thrown their lot in with Putin.

When contacted to explain the reasons behind their choice of candidate, most have declined to comment. The situation has even split families: in one case a well-known rock musician sided with Putin, while his brother, also a rock star, is for the opposition.

Supporting Putin, who is seen by his opponents as an authoritarian leader, might damage a performer’s reputation and can become a source of controversy. The liberal media has attacked prominent actress Chulpan Khamatova for appearing in a Putin commercial, in which she thanks the prime minister for supporting her charity that aids children with cancer. Although Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Khamatova appeared in the commercial voluntarily, sources at the charity said she was forced into the recording.

The public response against the video was so negative that even liberal Novaya Gazeta had to defend Khamatova in one of its latest articles. Khamatova has declined to discuss her endorsement for Putin. “Let everyone stick to his own vision,” she said, RIA Novosti reported.

Iosif Prigozhin, a prominent music producer and show business insider has also defended the actress.

“Khamatova is an absolutely sincere person. But imagine that I had helped you. Would you do the same for me?” he told The Moscow Times.

Continue reading “The Theory of Small Deeds: The Case of Chulpan Khamatova”