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I have recently been cleaning up my old posts.

When I moved from Sublime Oblivion to here, the pictures remained hosted at the old site (there were too many of them to auto-import). So I’ve been going through ancient posts, manually reattaching pictures (so that they are now hosted at wordpress.com) and making the categories and tags system more comprehensive.

This allowed me the opportunity to reread (or rather, skim) many of my older posts. I summarize the experience here.

In short, the original Da Russophile at blogger was… too Russophile. Unreasonably so.

The Sublime Oblivion of 2009-2010 in its Russia coverage was characterized by a “bizarre fusion” of eco-leftism, Stratforian realism, and Spenglerian mysticism. As in 2008 there were many good articles, but overall it was patchy and frequently ideologized… and falling far short of the punchy, trope-breaking spirit that characterizes it today, and which it should have always aspired to.

In 2011 I moderated, the Russian coverage at S/O reached its peak, and I got into journalism. The pharma hack of early 2012 that crippled S/O was, in retrospect, a blessing in disguise: It allowed me to finally partition the Russia stuff and the everything else stuff into different domains.

As of today, I objectively believe my blog has never been better – and there are ambitious plans for a new translation website and ongoing work on the book Dark Lord of the Kremlin.

Since I started in January 9, 2008, Da Russophile (first in blogger; then as part of Sublime Oblivion; and finally, as now, as its own WordPress.com site) has been visited a total of nearly one million times. Thank you all for reading.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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Today I had the pleasure of meeting up with Nick Eberstadt, an analyst at the AEI who specializes in Korea and Russian demography. He was dropping by SF and we had drinks at the excellent Samovar Tea Lounge.

As readers will know, we do obviously have many disagreements on Russia demography, with Eberstadt representing the “pessimistic” side and myself, the more optimistic one; and his assumptions and methods have at times been objects of criticism at this blog. If I may be so bold, recent data – population growth since 2008, and perhaps even a natural increase this year – has, at least thus far, favored the “optimistic” variants more than the “pessimistic” ones (though one can validly argue that the “echo effect” of the 1990′s baby bust has yet to make its play).

Nonetheless, I should emphasize that he is a deeply knowledgeable and conscientious scholar, who is receptive to new data and convincing counter-arguments, and a very interesting and entertaining conversationalist in person. It would be good for Russia watchers in general to meet up more often, as online interaction just isn’t the same thing. If you’re ever passing by the Bay Area, feel free to drop me a line.

(Republished from Da Russophile by permission of author or representative)
 
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Here‘s the video. My section begins at 8:02.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jih6HCC_tww&w=425&h=355]

Why was my speech not exactly on-topic?


I was contacted by al-Jazeera and offered a choice of three questions.

1. What dangers do journalists and activists face in speaking out against the Russian government?

2. What role does the (international) media play in giving Russian regime critics a voice? How free is the Russian media to report on such issues?

3. Is the media attention helping or worsening the situation of activists?

As you can see, I decided to cover Q1. I was not informed that the video would be exclusively about Q2, which I’d have very much appreciated (I, rather foolishly it now seems, assumed it would cover all the above – as it turned out, answering Q2 would have been much more appropriate).

Furthermore, my submission was edited, thus removing context. The full version is outlined below, while the one which was broadcast is in italics.

The issue of personal risk in Russian journalism today only arises when investigating local government and business structures, especially in the ethnic republics like Chechnya. Nonetheless, despite the impression one might get from listening to the Western press, the number of journalists killed under Putin’s administration has actually declined from under Yeltsin’s, from 30 to 17 according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. As such, this has reflected overall crime trends in the country rather than any political dynamic.

So what is your response to the message of the Al-Jazeera video?

For obvious reasons I can’t comment on the specific cases of the anonymous St.-Petersburg student or Maxim Gromov (although interestingly enough, one of NatsBol’s heads, Andrei Dmitriev, fails to mention any ‘singling out’ out of him due to the Putin portrait saga – ‘Maxim Gromov and the other participants in the campaign in Zurabov’s office were sentenced to three years of deprivation of liberty’). I can however comment on the opposition and their relationship to both the Russian and Western media.

The Other Russia “opposition” enjoys very marginal support (c.1-2%) – correlating quite closely with the tiny 3% of Russians who see Putin’s influence on human rights and democracy in Russia as ‘very negative’ (see recent BBC world service poll). The “opposition’s” views can be heard in detail via cable TV and read in newspapers like Novaja Gazeta and sites like inosmi.ru which provide Russian translations from an eclectic mix of Western media outlets (in 2007 Internet penetration in Russia was at 25%). As for the mainstream Russian media, is it democratic to expect in-depth coverage of a fringe group that enjoys negligible popular support?

The reason I put apostrophes around “opposition” is that it’s hard to see how intentionally holding unsanctioned protests (and complaining in English to Western reporters when arrested for doing so, as Kasparov does), rejecting election results out of hand and being a member of Washington neocon organizations is going to excite ordinary Russians’ support (see Why Russian liberals lose). As such, the real opposition (Communists) shun Western media attention, while those who seek it out are widely (and probably rightly) perceived as a pack of jokers milking western sponsors for funds and disinterested in legally effecting real political change in Russia.

(Republished from Sublime Oblivion by permission of author or representative)
 
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Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.