Fish Fingers All in a Line

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To all the Crimea-is-oursians out there and their fellow travelers in the “we won’t give back Crimea even after Putin goes” camp (e.g., Navalny and other members of the opposition) and their apologists in “the West,” just read the article I have linked to, below, as an April Fool’s joke.

It couldn’t be real, could it? I mean, because after the “return to home port” was accomplished, everything in Crimea has been just PEACHY! Hasn’t it?

And entre nous, the “Crimean Tatars,” who are they anyway? They sound like something you would slather on your fish fingers, not a real people with real rights.

Sorry for the interruption: you can go back to feeling smug about being real white people.

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Anton Shekhovtsov
March 29, 2015

Speaking about the motives of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the author [of the article “Why did we ‘surrender’ Crimea?”; here, in Russian] makes a common mistake: she deems the Putin regime ideological, as indicated by the fact she mentions ideas of the “Russian world” as a motivation for annexing Crimea and the subsequent aggression.

In reality, however, the Putin regime is a right-wing authoritarian kleptocracy. By default, its kleptocratic essence already presumes the absence of any underlying ideology. This is not to say that the regime’s elite does not espouse any ideas. It does. These ideas include anti-Americanism, anti-Westernism, and anti-liberalism. However, all these ideas are negative (anti-), and even in their totality they do not produce anything that could be called an ideology, i.e., a positive system of beliefs.

However, the authoritarian nature of the Putin regime already highlights the fact that the regime may utilize discrete ideological elements in those cases when it is necessary to consolidate power. The regime instrumetnalizes elements of conservatism and Russian nationalism (the “Russian world”) and antagonistic imperialisms and plants them in Russian society to mobilize it and consolidate the kleptocracy. But these elements of real ideologies are not directly related to the nature of the regime. In other words, “Russian worlds,” “traditional values,” and “our grandfathers fought fascism” are fairy tales for the poor.

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Vasya Lozhkin, “We’ll Bring It All Back!”

However many Ukrainophobes there are in Russia and among the Putinist elite, the destruction of Ukraine as a state is not an end in itself for the Putin regime. The Russian kleptocracy needs the Russian-Ukrainian war only to maintain its hold on power in Russia.

Source: Facebook. Translated by the Russian Reader. Cartoon courtesy of Vasya Lozhkin’s LiveJournal blog

The Shipping Forecast

While Manifesta 10’s “public” program sets all that is left of progressive humanity (i.e., the contemporary art world) on fire with its overly provocative metallic Xmas tree, actual public and political life stubbornly and unattractively creaks on in the city that progress and progressive humanity have forgotten, Saint Petersburg, former capital of All the Russias.

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This life is of no interest to almost anyone, practically, even in Petersburg itself, so take what follows the way I and many other radio listeners the world over consume the beloved “Shipping Forecast” on BBC Radio 4: as a series of pleasant but ultimately meaningless vocables that have absolutely nothing to do with the way we self-satisfied landlubbers lead our rich, perfectly dry lives.

Gubernatorial and municipal district council elections are scheduled for September 14 in Saint Petersburg. However, even before the pretenders began formally declaring their candidacies this month, many observers, including liberal journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, argued the fix was in, and the Smolny would never allow any serious opposition to the incumbent (the unelected Kremlin appointee Georgy Poltavchenko) or whatever other candidate the Kremlin might suddenly choose to run for the job.

And indeed that is what has happened. Perhaps the only (mildly) oppositional candidate with the popularity and support to make the race real, Oksana Dmitrieva of A Just Russia party, was nixed before she got to the starting blocks. She did not pass the so-called municipal filter: formal approval of her candidacy by a minimum of 156 district council deputies.

I could not find any report about any of this monkey business in English, but hilariously I did find a badly translated statement from the ruling United Russia party angrily denouncing Dmitrieva for having the temerity to suggest there was something fishy about her failing to get through the filter and demanding an apology from her.

Well, sayonara, fair Oksana. We, the enlightened Petersburg “public,” barely knew who you were anyway, so we won’t miss you.

However, really serious candidates, like Takhir Bikbayev of the “Greens Ecological Party,” a man whose name is synonymous in the minds of Petersburg voters with all things environmental and progressive, (that’s a joke: I really have never heard of him before nor, I gather, has anyone else), easily passed through the dreaded filter.

Meanwhile, opposition candidates are being purged right and left from the district council races or otherwise prevented from registering. One such victim of Putinist vigilance is Fyodor Gorozhanko, a well-known local grassroots housing rights advocate, who was dismissed from the elections after United Russia complained he had “misled” voters who signed a petition supporting his candidacy. A court has upheld the complaint.

How exactly did Gorozhanko “mislead” voters? On the standard-issue petition sheets voters sign to get candidates on the ballot, there is a blank where the candidate has to state whether he or she is “employed” and where. Since Gorozhanko works as a volunteer aide to Petersburg Legislative Assembly deputy Maxim Reznik, he crossed out the word “employed” and pencilled in what he does now in lieu of gainful employment. This is how he “misled” voters. Gorozhanko plans to appeal the court’s decision…

Man, this local politics shit is so, so boring. I am going to switch on the “Shipping Forecast” and wait for a contemporary artist to make another provocative statement in public space about public space and history. Now that will be something to talk about.

P.S. While I was gussying up this post, incumbent Georgy Poltavchenko officially declared his candidacy. He will face stiff competition on September 14 from Irina Ivanova (CPRF), Konstantin Sukhenko (LDPR), Takhir Bikbayev (Greens), and Andrei Petrov (Motherland). I think it’s safe to say the vast majority of Petersburg will have never heard of any of these candidates except for Poltavchenko, of course, although Ivanova and Sukhenko are deputies in the city’s legislative assembly.

Oksana Dmitrieva (A Just Russia) and Anatoly Golov (Yabloko) were refused registration. Dmitrieva has claimed that Poltavchenko pressured municipal deputies into not supporting her candidacy and has filed complaints with the prosecutor general’s office and the central electoral commission.