Russia Has No Senate or Senators

800px-Maccari-CiceroCesare Maccari, Cicero Denounces Catiline, 1889. Fresco. Palazzo Madama, Rome. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Russia’s Senate wants a visit from Mark Zuckerberg.”
The Real Russia. Today email newsletter, May 30, 2018

I am not a huge fan of Mark Zuckerberg, but he can easily turn down this invitation, if only because Russia does not have a senate.

It does have something called the Federation Council, which is supposedly the upper house of the Russian parliament, a mostly fictitious organization itself, considering how its MPs are essentially appointed to their seats, not elected by popular vote.

The members of the Federation Council are a group of Putinist lackeys. They are handpicked by the Kremlin to represent Russia’s ninety-some regions. In most cases, however, they have nothing whatsoever to do with those regions, unlike during the rough-and-tumble Yeltsin administration, when each region’s two-person Federation Council consisted of its elected head and an elected representative of its own parliament. As I recall, this was the set-up not because Yeltsin decreed it, but because the regions themselves decided to run their own house of parliament this way, meaning the Federation Council was often a rowdy bunch, opposed to Yeltsin’s proposals and policies, just like the parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, which was so notoriously rowdy it often made the news in other countries. That does not happen anymore.

Nowadays, however, most Federation Council members are either natives or longtime residents of Moscow and Petersburg, both called “capitals” for similarly pompous reason. Like their fellows MPs in the State Duma, Federation Councillors engage in neither vigorous debate nor rebellion, but in rubber-stamping the increasingly odious law bills drafted for them by the Kremlin and various government ministries. They do their jobs as executioners of the remnants of Russian democracy and civil liberty so uncomplainingly and speedily that opposition-minded Russians have taken to calling the parliament the “mad printer.”

Naturally, given their real condition as contemptible yes-men, the Federation Councillors decided it would be more dignified if they fancied themselves “senators” and dubbed their rinky-dink collective sinecure a “senate.”

The funny thing is the non-senators have succeeded in hoodwinking nearly all reporters, even foreign reporters, into adopting this utterly groundless, self-aggrandizing, hokey moniker.

This is hardly surprising, since, in my experience, reporters are gullible creatures. I once persuaded a Russian reporter I was an unemployed Finnish shipbuilding engineer from Turku who had turned his life around by making fresh mango and salt lasses from a cart in downtown Helsinki. She duly reported this non-fact about my fictional alter-ego in her article about the latest edition of International Restaurant Day. The article was duly published in a well-known Petersburg daily, which has since gone defunct. I had just been joking to pass the time of day while making lasses outside in less than clement late-spring weather, but the reporter took me seriously. She even snapped my picture or, rather, the picture of the Finnish ex-shipbuilder from Turku, and it, too, was printed, properly captioned, in her overview of Restaurant Day in Petersburg.

The resident of New Haven, Conn., who edits the daily English newsletter for the online Russian-language news website-in-exile Meduza has bought into the “Russia Senate” con hook, line, and sinker, too. Seemingly indifferent to what really happens in our rapidly re-totalitarianizing country, he has endowed us with a senate on several occasions, in fact. You see, it is the done thing nowadays, whether it is actually true or not.

But I don’t have to buy it, nor does Mark Zuckerberg. And neither should you.

Russia has no senate and, hence, no senators. Anyone who says or writes otherwise is indulging in glibness for reasons that should make you question everything else they write or say. Good reporters write something because it it true or reported to be true. They don’t involve themselves in collective hoaxes, especially, as in this case, in an easily disproved imposture that has gone on for years. // TRR

Garbage In, Garbage Out

“As reports claim that Russia’s new daily five-hour truce has failed to allow medical evacuations in Syria, a poll by state-run VTSiOM found that almost 75% of those surveyed believe the Russian military’s Syria operation has achieved its goals.” (RA’s Daily Russia News Blast, 28 February 2018)

It seems Robert Amsterdam’s amanuensis Citizen M has not read my latest salvo against the Russian pollocracy.

What is the point of surveying people who either know nothing about the “Russian military’s Syria operation” or have been deliberately and woefully misinformed about said operation whether they think it has “achieved its goals”?

Finally, if you know a poll like this is horribly, irreparably skewed by abject igorance and a severe case of state-induced delusion, why quote its results as if they were newsworthy?

Except for the occasional municipal district council election, whose elected members have almost no power and even less money to exercise their almost total lack of power, all elections in Russia are rigged from top to bottom and beginning to end to ensure the “right” candidates are elected. Since this is the case, why do our media show an almost childish trust in the reliability of Russian “public opinion” polls? It never occurs to all our overeducated, usually incredibly cynical journalists that Russian “public opinion” polls might be just as faulty and fixed as Russian “elections”?

Good journalistic practice should exclude generating false impressions about an entire country and its people by citing demonstrably unreliable polls. TRR

Photo by the Russian Reader

“The Australian Prime Minister Has Done It Again!”

I hate to get down and dirty with you all, but this is what the current prime minister of Australia actually looks like.

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Malcom Turnbull, the actual prime minister of Australia. Photo courtesy of newskaada.com

 

His name is Malcolm Turnbull, and he is the new leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, which currently governs Australia in coalition with the National Party of Australia.

Mr. Turnbull is new at his job, because he ousted the rather wretched Tony Abbott in what the Australians quaintly call a “leadership spill” less than a week ago.

While I don’t like Mr. Turnbull’s politics for the most part, he will be a real improvement over Mr. Abbott, if only because he is less prone to saying and doing blatantly stupid and awful things. Mr. Turnbull comes across as an intelligent, affable and well-spoken fellow.

But that is beside the point.

I wonder whether events like this ever make the news in Russia, because frighteningly large numbers of Russians think that Kevin Rudd (of the Australian Labor Party) is still the prime minister of Australia.

Or, alternately, they think that John Howard (Liberals) or Julia Gillard (Labor) is the prime minister of Australia.

Basically, for the Russian “grassroots” imaginary, it doesn’t really matter who the prime minister of Austrialia is, because whoever she or he is (or isn’t), the “prime minister of Australia” is a folklore character with a penchant for making outrageously Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, and, now, in a new twist, rabidly pro-Zionist statements such as this:

В отношениях евреев и арабов Израиля, да и всей Палестины в границах мандата Лиги Наций. хозяин страны и земли в этой стране НЕ ТОТ, КТО ПРОЛИЛ БОЛЬШЕ ЧУЖОЙ КРОВИ, А ТОТ, КТО ЕЁ СТРОИЛ, ЗАЩИЩАЛ И ТРУДИЛСЯ ДЛЯ ЕЁ ПРОЦВЕТАНИЯ. Из этого следует что мировой порядок не может определяться голосованием в ООН, созданной коалицией , организовавшей массовое истребление евреев в 1933-1945 годах и пытавшейся завершить это истребление в 1953 году – коалицией из Британии, СССР, США, Германии и Франции Эти государства своими тайными и открытыми действиями на протяжении 1933-1945 годов активно участвовали в истреблении еврейского народа и сумели в лагерях и поездах, в расстрельных рвах сожженных сооружениях методично и организовано уничтожить не менее 12 миллионов беззащитных жертв, избранных по национально-расовому признаку. И они же создали организацию ООН и при ней – UNWRA – НЕ ТОЛЬКО ПРОДОЛЖИТЬ ПОЛИТИКУ ДИСКРИМИНАЦИИ ЕВРЕЙСКОГО НАРОДА, НО И СОЗДАЛИ НОВЫЙ “НАРОД” с единственной задачей – не допустить выполнения решений Лиги Наций о СОЗДАНИИ В ПАЛЕСТИНЕ НАЦИОНАЛЬНОГО ДОМА для еврейского народа,

Историческое тайное решение о ликвидации еврейского народа принимали правительства перечисленных выше государств на конференции в Эвиане и неких тайных совещаниях. . И сегодня, когда над миром, над всей Западной цивилизацией нависла исламская угроза Третьей Мировой войны для Европы и Америки, пора опомниться и присоединиться к Австралии и Японии и остановить самоубийство человечества.

[Source: NewRezume.org]

I won’t even bother to translate this fake crap into English. If you are curious, go to Google Translate and let the smart robots there do the hard work for you.

The forger of the above libel goes on to express his and “the Russian world’s” delight in the “Australian prime minister’s” continuing campaign against Islam:

Премьер-министр Австралии снова сделал это!! Этого человека следует назначить королем мира..[sic] Более правдивых слов никогда не говорили..[sic]

The Australian prime minister has done it again! This man should be appointed king of the world… Truer words were never spoken.

God knows that real Australian prime ministers have done and said a lot of really awful things in their time, although, if actual truth be told, besides being remembered for being a fairly goofy customer himself, Mr. Rudd is also remembered for his apology, in parliament, to Australia’s Indigenous people for the so-called Stolen Generations.

Again, that is not the point. The point is that there are rather vigorous forces in Russian society, both at the top and the grassroots, who are keen on putting the most dire spin on current events while also fostering the illusion that their bleak outlook or their own aggressive, imperialist policy has lots of fans in the outside world.

If you are wondering why Kevin Rudd (or, rather, the “prime minister of Australia”) is such a folk hero on the Russian internets, the simple answer is that not enough Russians speak or read English well enough to be able to sort out hoaxes like this.

In more vegetarian times, this would not have mattered as much, but now the Kremlin has been actively priming the pump with fake news and commentary via its “active operations” on social media.

I hope to be describing another such recent hoax, involving a non-existent Finn named Veikko Kerhonen from Oulu, in the next day or so. Here is a sample of the imperialist Russian screeds this non-existent Finn is into posting, exclusively in Russian!

In the meantime, you can reread my recent, obviously futile attempt to expose the “Australian prime minister” canard.