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This is one possible interpretation of a recent report in Vedomosti, which analyzed a Russian Ministry of Defense tender for military insurance for the years 2018-2019.

Included within was detailed Russian military mortality statistics for the 2012-2016 period, lifting the lid on a veil of secrecy on such matters since 2010.

2005 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Deaths 1,170 630 596 790 626 393
Serious Injuries 2,876 2,525 2,895 1,926 1,736
Light Injuries 4,937 4,272 4,409 4,406 2,664

The 1,170 figure from 2005 is also taken from the Vedomosti report. At that time, the Russian military numbered around 1.2 million; Chechnya by then only accounted for 100 of them. As of 2016, the Russian military numbers one million. Consequently, non-combat mortality in the Russian military has approximately halved in the past decade.

The most notable immediate observation is that military deaths leaped up from an average of around 600 in 2012, 2013, and 2015 to around 800 in 2014, before falling to 393 in 2016. There was also an uptick in cases of serious injuries; perhaps 600 more than there “should have been,” assuming a steady downwards trend from 2012 to 2015.

The Conflict Intelligence Team deduced analogous figures from a more complicated analysis based on death to injury ratios.

This, of course, coincided with the one time in which the Russian Army got directly involved at the Battle of Ilovaysk in late August, which foiled the Ukrainian offensive to retake the fledgling LDNR.

As is often the case reality is somewhere in between official Kremlin propaganda (which denies the Russian military was involved at all), Western MSM propaganda (2,000 deaths), and Ukrainian propaganda (several divisions’ worth of Buryats and Pskov paratroopers).

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Military, Russia, War in Donbass 
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My article on the history and present reality of Russian IQ has just been published at Sputnik i Pogrom, with its trademark beautiful graphics:

The pièce de résistance:

map-russia-iq

Without undue exaggeration, I believe this is the most comprehensive popular article on this topic in the Russian language.

I will write a summary of it for The Unz Review in due course.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Human Biodiversity, IQ, Russia 
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poll-fom-russia-elections-2018

Yesterday there was another poll on the Russian Presidential elections in 2018, this time from FOM (although state-owned, my impression is that they aren’t any less accurate than the independent – and somewhat oppositionist – Levada).

Adjusting for undecideds/no shows, the results if elections were to be held tomorrow are as follows: Putin – 84%, Zhirinovsky – 9%, Zyuganov – 5%, Sobchak – 3%.

First, I am pretty pleased with these results, since they tally with my 80/7/7/7 prediction (Putin will lose a few percentage points due to lower turnout, but make it up with a little padding of the results; relative to Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky traditionally does better in polls than in real life; and Sobchak will eke out quite a lot more thanks to (a) liberals usually being underweighed by polls, and (b) many of the Yavlinsky (1%) and “other candidate” (1%; I assume these are mostly hardcore Navalny fans) supporters voting for her.

But the second, and more interesting, point is how Zhirinovsky, permanent Fuhrer of the nationalist LDPR, has suddenly become the primary recipient of Russia’s protest vote, a role that was previously the preserve of the Communists. Whereas Zhirinovsky gets 13% to Zyuganov’s 11% and the liberals’ (Sobchak, Yavlinsky, other candidate = Navalny) combined ~9% amongst people with a mixed view of Putin, and 17% to Zyuganov’s 10% and the liberals’ ~8% amongst people who are apathetic towards Putin, Zhirinovsky now commands the support of 40% of Russian voters with a negative view of Putin, versus Zyuganov’s 7%, the liberals’ 18%, and 35% who would not vote or would spoil their ballots (many of these are probably liberals).

Several years ago, it was popular to talk of Hungary’s “Putinization” in neoliberal circles. But I submit that we might now get to see Russia’s “Orbanization,” as the great mass of the opposition to a dominant conservative regime shifts from tired old Communists, and liberals whose popularity is confined to yuppies and the intelligentsia in the big cities, to more overt and hardline nationalists.

zhirinovsky-rifle

Bearing this in mind, it is worthwhile to take a closer look at Zhirinovsky’s 2018 program:

The first thing one notices is that it is something of a mess; an idiosyncratic collection of populist, authoritarian, populist, statist, democratic, and even genuinely liberal proposals. It’s like they locked a cryptoanarchist, an Alt Rightist, and a /pol/tard in a room and forced them to come up with something without bothering to even edit the final product. Said room being Zhirinovsky’s beautiful brain. As such, there is something to be found for almost every exotic species of Russian nationalist – though fully satisfying far fewer of them.

The famous Russian far right blogger/troll Vladimir Frolov (“yarowrath“) once argued that the “basedness” level of a Russian politician could be accurately proxied by the ratio of “russkie” (ethnic Russians) vs. “rossiyane” (anodyne PC term for denizens of Russia) in his vocabulary. Perhaps one of the most distinguishing features of Russian nationalists is that they are unafraid to speak of the interests of russkie, whereas kremlins and liberals alike opt for the term rossiyane (PM Dmitry Medvedev prefers the even less offensive “inhabitants of Russia”).

Consequently, the second thing one notices is that Zhirinovsky’s 1,200 word program is full of “russkie” – twelve instances, to be precise. In contrast, the similarly short program of Alexey Navalny, whom some believe to be a nationalist, mentions the word a grand total of once – in the context of the “russkie” (Russian) language.

Here is what Zhirinovsky is promising to do for russkie, in the sense of ethnic Russians:

  • Give passports to all Russians. Defend Russians abroad, do not allow foreigners to take children from Russian families.
  • Russia, its environment and its democracy – for everyone: For Russians, and the other peoples of the country.
  • 23. Add the following preamble to the Constitution: “We, Russians and the other peoples of Russia…”
  • 24. Create an Institute of the Russian Holocaust of the 20th Century
  • 66. Rely on Russians, not foreigners, in the Academy of Sciences and the universities.
  • We will not allow [foreigners] to shoot down russkie planes, or to laugh at, criticize, lie about, and smear Russia.

The mention of an institute dedicated to the persecution of Russians in the 20th century is particularly fascinating, since this is one of the ideas that we (Kirill Nesterov, @pigdog, myself) have been promoting at our ROGPR podcast for the past year. There are few better ways to generate national solidarity than to promote the idea of some great shared tragedy, and it’s not like Russians would even have to invent anything. Meanwhile, it will accelerate the further discreditation of Communism, liberalism, and the cult of West Worship.

In Russian Nationalism 101, I mentioned three things that virtually all Russian nationalists agree on: An end to mass immigration from Central Asia; no more prosecutions for “hate speech”; and the liquidation of regional autonomies. Zhirinovsky’s program is a “tick, tick, tick” so far as all of these are concerned.

  • 8. Do not allow people from the south to commit crimes in central Russia.
  • 22. Remove the political Article 282 from the criminal code.
  • 26. The country should be divided into 30-40 guberniyas.
  • 27. Cancel the Federation Council.
  • 34. Limit immigration to Russia.
  • 57. Teach local languages only if locals want to.

Note that the “nationalist” Navalny only ever mentions the cancelation of Article 282 when he is specifically asked about it. It is not in his program, and while he doesn’t shy away from using his social media reach to promote various petitions and causes, including some rather inconsequential ones, for some reason he has never tried to collect signatures for the cancelation of Article 282.

Ideologically, Zhirinovsky’s program can perhaps best be described as populist-reactionary:

  • 12. Reconcile Tsarist, Soviet, and modern Russia.
  • 13. All revolutions are evil.
  • 15. Return Imperial symbols: The black-gold-white flag, “God Save the Tsar” as the national anthem, replace the Kremlin’s red stars with the original imperial eagles.
  • 20. Return the old names of Russia’s cities and streets.
  • 82. Redominate the ruble: Remove two zeros, one dollar is worth 60 kopeks.

Almost all non-Leftist Russian nationalists support some form of de-Communization program. It is, of course, rather strange that Russia has a 700,000 population city named after an Italian Communist leader who didn’t even succeed in taking power, a 250,000 population city named after a Polish red terrorist, and a 200,000 population city named after a German Russophobe.

The program has a strong patriarchic slant, and is strongly targeted towards siloviks:

  • 6. Further strengthen the Army and security services.
  • 7. Hit criminality. Create a system of military field trials.
  • 9. Cancel the moratorium on the death penalty.
  • 21. Do not allow more than 10% negative information on TV and radio.
  • 65. Encourage men to go into the education sector.

This would meet support with mainstream conservative nationalists, though many of its points would not go over well with the more liberal Sputnik i Pogrom. While they support an increase in the size of the military, especially of the Ground Forces – the Ukraine and Belorussia aren’t going to regather back into Russia by themselves – they want to do it at the expense of the National Guard and other bloated police and paramilitary agencies.

However, there are otherwise few specifics on foreign policy, apart from the general policy of defending Russians abroad:

  • We need to finish things up in the Middle East. Reorient foreign policy to the South. Alliance with Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria. This is 400 million people, technologies, resources, armies.

This is probably Zhirinovsky’s background as a Turcologist speaking, but the general point or for that matter even the feasibility of this proposal is a very open question.

There is a strong pro-natality element.

  • 50. Pay women to avoid abortion, the child will be raised by the state.
  • 51. Create a Ministry of Demographics and offer free fertility treatments.
  • 53. Promote a cult of the family.
  • 54. Pay 20,000 rubles per month to people who adopt orphans.
  • 55. Stimulate fertility in regions where deaths exceed births.

It’s worth noting that #55 is basically codeword for ethnic Russian regions.

That said, this is far from a grim document propounding unremitting authoritarianism, militarism, xenophobia, and ultranationalism.

In some respects, it would also increase the civil liberties of ordinary people.

  • 1. Build a country without Communism, Nazism, racism, or authoritarianism.
  • 12. A one party regime doomed the Empire, and the USSR.
  • 17. Name the mistakes of the Soviet leadership, publish the archives, condemn perestroika.
  • 22. Remove the political Article 282 from the criminal code.
  • 29. Replace all the judges.
  • 30. Conduct free and fair elections.
  • 31. Develop local self-government.
  • 42. Political and criminal amnesty. Humanize the Criminal Code.
  • 73. Easen the processs of getting European visas, remove all sanctions.
  • 74. Make life easier for disabled people: Accessible accomodations, more ramps, freedom from having to pay utilities fees.
  • 91. In Russia, the economy, and democracy, was always offered “from above.” Everything was decided by bureaucrats. The people weren’t allowed to decide anything.

Admittedly, there’s a substantial element of schizophrenia here. For instance, given the rest of the program, it’s rather hard to see the Europeans agreeing to expedite #73.

As regards basic governance and economic policy, the proposals fall into two big, somewhat contradictory categories.

On the one hand, there are the “developmental” policies, e.g. high infrastructure spending, the repatriation of offshore capital, and a reduction of regulations on business along lines that one can imagine even institutions like the IMF approving of.

  • 4. Intense development of road networks, trains with speeds of 400km/h.
  • 10. Attention to the fight against corruption. Bribe-taking bureaucrats should be fired and have their assets confiscated. A businessman should compensate anything stolen by a multiple of three.
  • 19. State commission to investigate the looting of the country after 1991.
  • 28. Reduce the numbers of Duma deputies to 200.
  • 35. Forbid banks from offering credit with property as collateral.
  • 42. Political and criminal amnesty. Humanize the Criminal Code.
  • 48. Develop tourism in Russia.
  • 78. Review the results of privatization, without violence and persecution, through persuasion.
  • 81. Organize a mass free distribution of shares in the state companies to Russian citizens.
  • 83. Large-scale economic amnesty, introduce secret accounts in at least one Russian state bank, and return to Russia all capital illegally taken offshore.
  • 87. Companies working in Russia should have their accounts in Russian banks.
  • 92. Motivate rich citizens to return their money to Russia, only here can they be safe, because abroad they are under the threat of sanctions, freezes, and confiscations.
  • 93. No inspections of businesses, apart from restaurants/catering and medicine. Don’t bother hard-working people!
  • 94. Small businesses involved in science and production – freedom from taxes.
  • 96. Reduce amount of compulsory contributions from entrepreneurs.

Orban pushed through the equivalent of #28 in Hungary. A definite answer to the 1990s privatization question needs to be furnished sooner or later to secure property rights in Russia (for comparison, Navalny proposes a windfall tax, as in Britain). #81 is perhaps a good idea to make ordinary Russians feel more invested in any future privatizations, which are otherwise bound to be unpopular. Economic amnesty is an idea often promoted by liberal economists. Since business inspections are too often just a source of rent for bureaucrats in Russia, cutting them down even further is also often proposed.

However, many of Zhirinovsky’s policies are to various extents statist, populist, or just plainly badly thought out; are of dubious efficacy; and would have the general effect of raising spending on social welfare, restricting individual autonomy, increasing state control of the economy, and increasing general inefficiency.

  • 2. Not a single person unemployed, homeless, or hungry.
  • 33. Import substitution, sell finished products, not raw materials, abroad.
  • 37. Cancel the principle of equity construction. The state must build and sell housing.
  • 38. Cancel mortgages. Only building cooperatives and social housing.
  • 39. Forbid debt collectors.
  • 41. Remove all debt-related restrictions on travel abroad.
  • 43. War against unhealthy additives to food. Forbid imports of GMO food.
  • 44. There is an obesity problem. Time to restrict advertising of unhealthy food.
  • 45. No to black market vodka. Create state stores selling cheap but high quality vodka; elsewhere, at market prices.
  • 46. Forbid sects, trainings, centers, etc. whose activities are harmful to citizens.
  • 49. Return completely free healthcare.
  • 59. Cancel the Unified State Exam. Accept students to universities without exams and return 5 year education.
  • 68. Minimum wage of no less than 20,000 rubles.
  • 85. A tax on superincomes.
  • 86. Remove Russia’s foreign currency reserves from US Treasuries.
  • 88. Nationalize trading centers, free up space for domestic producers.
  • 89. Debt forgiveness of at least 50% for all agrobusinesses and farmers.
  • 100. Special attention has to be given to Siberia and the Far East: No tax economy, salary bonuses, housing subsidies, road construction.

Unfortunately the good or at least perspective ideas are more than counterbalanced by alternatingly questionable and outright catastrophic ones which will, in all likelihood, make Russia into Venezuela.

In particular, the assumptions in #45 are simply wrong, and will collapse Russian life expectancy back down by 5 years or so.

As for ending university exams, that’s not just a return to the USSR, but to the 1920s USSR; without even the Unified State Exam to go on, how are universities supposed to select for talent?

However, in all fairness, many of these proposals will play well to the LDPR’s low-information voters.

This hints at the biggest and most irreconcilable problem of nationalism not just in Russia but throughout Europe and the US generally – the human capital is very low.

Nonetheless, there is precisely zero chance of Zhirinovsky winning and consequently trying to push through his more maladaptive ideas (even assuming that they are earnestly meant). As such, a case can be made that Russian nationalists would be well-advised to vote for him to move those issues which the LDPR really is good on – immigration policy, free speech, a vision of a future where ethnic Russians can advocate for their own ethnic interests without being accused of insulting minorities – further within the Overton Window.

 
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Assuming that it will be just between these four, I think it’s going to go something like this:

russia-elections-2018-twitter-prediction

Note that Sobchak and any [liberal candidate] can be substituted for Navalny. (Also TBH, I think Navalny has a chance of getting 10% – see below).

If other candidates (but not Navalny) run, for instance, Grigory Yavlinsky (Yabloko) and Boris Titov (recently nominated by the Party of Growth), then they will split that 7% between each other.

Here’s my logic.

Putin’s result in Presidential elections is usually the same as his approval rating in the Levada polls, which are currently at 80%.

Incidentally, in the very unlikely but not impossible event that Putin doesn’t run after all, but appoints someone like Alexey Dyumin, the successor will get around 60%-70% (Explanation: Medvedev’s result in 2008 was Putin’s approval rating minus 10% points, but he had been built up by Kremlin propaganda beforehand for several years; Putin’s own result in 2000 was approval rating minus 30% points, in the context of only a few months’ worth of “prep,” adversarial TV journalism, and no largescale electoral fraud. Logically, someone like Dyumin should perform somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios).

Zyuganov traditionally polls much better than Zhirinovsky. But that era has now come to an end.

russia-elections-2016-party-support-age-group

Support for the Communists is in long-term secular decline, while the nationalists are on the ascent. Whereas 60+ year old Communist voters hugely outnumbered 18-24 year old LDPR voters in the 2016 Duma elections, by 22% to 10%, amongst LDPR voters the relationship is the complete inverse, with 60+ year old LDPR voters being outnumbered by 18-24 year old LDPR voters by 19% to 8%. Overall results for the two parties were within a hairsbreadth of each other.

russia-elections-2018-voting-intentions

One problem is that Zhirinovsky has a high anti-rating, and tends to underperform his party’s results relative to the Communists (this was especially notable in 2012, when he got almost thrice less than Zyuganov). On the other hand, back in September 2012, the percentage of voters willing to vote for Zhironovsky was 3% versus 6% for Zyuganov, whereas today it is the same 3% to Zyuganov’s much diminished 2%.

I am not going to belabor this point or do any deep analysis at the current stage. There’s still some months left to go and things can still change drastically.

Finally, the liberal candidate.

I have argued that Navalny could get as much as 10%, to the chagrin of hardcore Putinists.

Now Sobchak has a much higher antirating than Navalny, but as a household name, also more name recognizability, so I do not subscribe to the idea that she is totally hopeless and will get something like 1% or 2%. She has said some things that are very unpopular with ordinary people (Crimea is Ukrainian under international law; Russia is a nation of genetic refuse). But this is par for the course for Russian liberals, who do constitute a distinct voting bloc – after all, around 10% of Russians genuinely didn’t support the Crimean takeover – so this is hardly going to dent her numbers. There is even a small chance that making Sobchak say such stereotypically self-hating kreakl things was part of the Kremlin’s condition for allowing her to run (I don’t buy this conspiracy theory; I think she is just an idiot who is being incompetently advised by a britbong PR firm; but it doesn’t really matter).

Now according to the Levada poll (see above), only around 1% are willing to vote for Sobchak (subtracting unknowns/undecideds/etc). A FOM poll suggests that 5% might vote for her, but 87% will not.

The problem is that liberals are less likely to respond to polls, so pollsters tend to systemically underweigh them.

Example.

In the Moscow elections, the Levada poll was giving Navalny 8% to Sobyanin’s 78% amongst those who had “made their choice.”

The median prediction at my blog for Navalny was in the low 10%’s, with some of the most enthusiastic Putinists giving him just 5%-8%.

I predicted 20%.

End result: Navalny – 27%.

However, this was very much in line with immediate pre-election secret polls that showed Navalny was at 23%.

moscow-elections-2013-insider-polling-navalny

Much the same logic should be applied to the [liberal candidate] (with downwards adjustment for Sobchak based on her lack of popularity!; so, instead of ~10% for Navalny, perhaps 5%-7%).

I acknowledge that these arguments will be controversial.

But here is a recent Telegram post by chief editor of Echo of Moscow Alexey Venediktov:

aavst-secret-polling-sobchak

Translation:

Yes, Boris Titov is seriously being considered by the Presidential Administration as a “liberal candidate for President.” Especially considering that their polls show that she has already caught up with Zhirinovsky (7.5% are ready to vote for her, of those who already made up their minds). …

And wouldn’t you guess it, the next day Boris Titov indeed announced that he was running.

Boris Titov is an economically right-wing politician, businessman (he owns the famous Abrau-Durso champagne brand), and activist for entrepreneur rights. He is also not really an oppositionist, being on good terms with Putin and having once even served as a high functionary in United Russia. This would basically be a rerun of 2012, when Mikhail Prokhorov opposed Putin, except that Titov has even fewer oppositionist credentials.

Anyhow, the final decision is up to Putin. Having Titov run would make the election even more of a formality/farce (cross out as per your political sympathies) than it already is, though perhaps marginally safer than having Sobchak run – though the fact that some kremlins actually fear Sobchak of all people makes the whole affair even more surreal.

I think we can pretty much exclude Navalny being allowed to with at least 95% confidence.

On the other hand, with the reality of an 80% approval rating and total control of the administrative resource behind him, it’s not like allowing Sobchak, Titov, or both to run would make any substantive difference to Putin’s almost certainly overwhelming victory in the 2018 Presidential elections.

 
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guangzhou-china

Guangzhou, China (/r/Cyberpunk)

Some time ago a commenter asked me about the state of China Studies in Russia, an issue that is pretty germane as they increasingly align with each other.

TL;DR – Catastrophic. Simply put, Russia does not have the cognitive tools to understand the country that Kremlin talking points describe as Russia’s “strategic partner.”

Longer answer: Alexander Gabuev, who has a BA/MA in Chinese History from Moscow State University, wrote a couple of comprehensive articles on the state of Sinology in Russia when he was deputy foreign editor of Kommersant:

This post is heavily based on Gabuev’s material.

History of Russian Sinology 101

The first Russian mission to China was in 1714, with contacts for the next 150 years dominated by religious figures (Illarion Rassokhin, Alexey Leontyev, Osip Kovalevsky, Nikita Bichurin). There was a faculty of Eastern languages at Kazan University from 1807-1855 (Nikita Bichurin, Palladiy Kafarov, Vasily Vasiliev), which relocated to Saint-Petersburg State University (SPBU) around 1854. The Eastern Institute was set up in Vladivostok in 1899.

The Oriental faculty at SPBU was disbanded in 1919 and was spread out across other faculties, but Eastern Studies continued flourishing during the 1920s. However, the Soviet Oriental Studies community was devastated by the late 1930s purges, with several prominent Sinologists such as Nikolay Konrad and Julian Shutsky being sent to the Gulag or shot on charges of being Japanese spies.

In the next 50 years, Sinology would recover and develop further, but strongly tied to the perceived needs of the state and, like all social sciences, under tight Marxist-Leninist ideological strictures. The collapse of the USSR brought ideological freedom, but also a collapse of funding (salaries for top Sinologists plummeted from a comfortable level of 400-500 rubles during the 1980s to $30-$50 by the mid-1990s) and spiraling corruption that preempted any flowering of Russian Sinology to this day.

“Sinology is dead”

In June 2011, President Medvedev was presiding over a state prize awarding ceremony. The only Russian social scientists to be recognized were a group of Sinologists, including Artem Kobzev and Mikhail Titarenko, for their work on compiling and editing a six tome Encyclopedia of Chinese Spiritual Culture: “Their work helps us better understand the traditions and spiritual culture of China, they deepen and enrich modern Sinology. Their work is read all over the world…” proclaimed Medvedev. Kobzev followed it up with a short history of Russian Sinology: The first Chinese-Russian dictionary was compiled under a 140,000 ruble grant from Alexander I, and the USSR also financed a Big Chinese-Russian Dictionary. This was a pointed comment; as he soon clarified in a smaller discussion with the President, the Encyclopedia had actually been financed by the Chinese Development Bank at the personal direction of its CEO Chen Yuan, in honor of his late father, who had warm feelings towards the USSR. According to Kobzev’s account, Medvedev was rather distraught by what he had heard, and the Sinologist soon got a letter from the Kremlin telling him that his suggestions were considered important. Soon after, the Russian Fund for the Humanitarian Sciences allocated a total of 6 million rubles [$200,000] in the form of five grants for the study of China. It’s unclear if anything useful was done with them; one of the five grants went to the Philosophy faculty of Saratov State University, which didn’t have a single Sinologist.

This anecdote appears to be pretty representative of the sorry state of China Studies and social science in general in Russia.

There are fewer than 200 academic Sinologists, of whom only about 50 can be considered active (he compares this with 15,000 in the United States, but apparently, this was a big overestimate; Gabuev says: “this figure appears to be wrong, my mistake. picked it up from an American colleague back in 2012 without critically assessing it”). The average age of these researchers is rising inexorably; the director of the Institute of the Far East RAS is 78 year old Mikhail Titarenko [he died in 2016]. Whereas there were 500 experts at that institution in the 1980s, there are now just 147 of them, according to Sergey Luzyanin, the Institute’s deputy director. There isn’t a single academic expert in Russia on the finances, law, or military of China.

This is linked to low academic salaries, even at Russia’s top institutions for Sinology. Here are some of the figures when Gabuev wrote his article:

  • 16,000 rubles ($500 at 2012/13 exchange rates) for a Research Fellow, 27,000 rubles ($900) for a senior researcher at the Institute of the Far East RAS.
  • 30,000 rubles [$1,000] for an Assistant Professor, 45,000 rubles [$1,500] for a full Professor at Moscow State University’s (MSU) Institute of Asian and African Countries.
  • Salaries are 20% higher at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs-affiliated Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) than at the MSU.
  • Literally the only institution where Russian Sinologists get an internationally respectable salary is at the Higher School of Economics – salaries of 150,000-200,000 rubles ($5,000-$6,500) are not atypical.

Things are even worse outside the capital. Saint-Petersburg State University, the second most prominent China Studies center in Russia outside Moscow, had to close down a program on the Chinese economy around 2011 due to lack of financing, and the third center of Russian Sinology, the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, closed down its Eastern Institute, an organziation that traced back its lineage to Tsarist times, at around the same time.

Only a few dozen scientific articles on China are produced per year, and their quality lags English language output, even though the latter produces orders of magnitude more material. Many of their articles aren’t even open access; a significant percentage are merely reference works for the country’s leaderships, prepared whenever there are big summits or other major state events in China. Furthermore, many articles aren’t indexed by international databases. “We do not subscribe to the Journal of Contemporary China, it’s too expensive. From 1991 the state doesn’t finance any international scientific partnerships. Not a ruble on literature, on travel, only just the occasional grant for a conference or a book…” says Vladimir Portnyakov, another deputy director of the Institute. New literature is acquired by renting out the Institute’s properties, which have emptied out as a result of so many people leaving after 1991.

Consequently, there is large-scale brain drain amongst young researchers to the private sector, or abroad (it is noted that Israel has seen large improvements in its Sinology in recent years, in no small part thanks to immigrants from Russia – even though, I would add, other business sectors have to the contrary seen a “backflow” from Israel back to Moscow in the past decade). Even those those specialists who stay on have to spread themselves out across multiple institutes to make a halfway decent living, leaving no time for research.

This has also resulted in a generational chasm within the Sinologist community; there are hardly any serious middle-aged researchers. Although there are several respectable Sinologists over the age of fifty who were produced in the USSR: Alexander Lomanov, Sergey Luzyanin, Andrey Ostrovsky, Vladimir Portyakov, Viktor Larin, Alexey Voskresensky, Vladimir Korsun, Andrey Karneev, Alexander Lukin, Mikhail Karpov, Nikolay Samoylov, Alexey Maslov – the author could name only one significantly younger figure, Vasily Kashin, at the CAST thinktank.

The state of affairs is no better at the state level

The main source of China talent in Russia is in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Gabuev’s sources mention several particularly competent people: Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, Thailand ambassador Kirill Barsky, China ambassador Andrey Denisov, and a few other members of the Russian diplomatic staff in China. (This makes sense; in one of my Twitter conversations with Chinese Russianist Xin Zhang, he pointed out that “one related problem is agenda for bilateral communication between specialists are still highly state-sactioned”). However, according to a business source, this doesn’t apply to people in the lower rungs: “The people at the top level can be okay. But the people on the ground are not the best, in the sense of helping out businesses or even as a source of expertise, they are quite useless.” This reflects the narrow focus of China experts in the Russian state structures, who focus on highly specific areas such as classic “high diplomacy,” nuclear non-proliferation, and the banalities of arranging Putin’s meetings with Chinese leaders. And this is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In contrast, there is almost a singular lack of Sinologists within Russia’s economics-related Ministries.

The situation in the “silovik” agencies is, if anything, even worse. In Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU, there is precisely one (!) analyst working on the Chinese military (before Serdyukov’s reforms, there were two). During the Russian-Chinese military exercises “Maritime Cooperation 2012,” the Chinese had nearly 200 young officers with a solid knowledge of Russian at hand to provide linguistic support; the Russians could only muster three translators. Evidently, the Chinese military has made efforts to build up a large base of Russia expertise, unlike Russia with respect to China. So do bear this in mind whenever you read the next Andrei Martyanov article about Russia’s supposed military dominance over China. Even if that is an accurate assessment – and I have my doubts – do note that there would be almost no-one to translate intercepted Chinese communications within the Russian Army (hopefully the Americans don’t block access to Google Translate).

I would note that many of these observations are backed up by the aforementioned Xin Zhang, who in 2014 corrected me on my prior belief that the state of Sinology and Russianology in Russia and China were similarly dismal: “… likely more Russian experts in China than the other way… In Shanghai, we held conferences & seminars in Russian, although translation is needed for some participants.”

No China expertise in the media

Both RIA and ITER-TASS only had around half a dozen journalists each in their Beijing bureaus as of when Gabuev wrote his articles. None of Russia’s major broadsheets, even the “serious” ones like Kommersant and Vedomosti, have a presence on the ground in China. For comparison, major Western news agencies have bureaus of 15-20 people in Beijing, as well as employees in the provincial centers. It also far less than the attention China devotes to Russia: There are 70 people in the Xinhua bureau in Moscow. Consequently, there is far less news about China in the Russian press relative to the other major countries. I would also add as an observer of both the Western and Russian media that much of it basically consists of reprints of Western coverage of China, as opposed to original journalism.

The business sector isn’t interested either

Despite China being Russia’s largest trading partner – and its main bulwark against more serious Western sanctions – Russia’s state corporations aren’t rushing to avail themselves of China expertise, with predictable consequences – Gabuev cites a $3.5 billion loss in Rosneft from an unsuccessful pipeline to China, and Gazprom’s repeated failed attempts to enter the Chinese gas markets. Neither is the situation in the private sector much better. There only partial exceptions to this dismal picture are nuclear power monopoly Rosatom and development bank Vnesheconombank in the state sector, and Deripaska’s En+ Group in the private sector.

Certainly there is nothing on the scale of Chinese business analysis of Russia, such as that of the Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC. Not only does it maintain a large in-house staff of Russia specialists composed of Chinese Russia experts, Russian China Studies majors, and catches from the Chinese bureaucracy and security services, but it even orders reports from thinktanks on topics such as the “prospects of Russia’s political system to 2024 and its influence on Russia’s oil sector.”

Can one imagine anything like this under Rosneft’s Igor Sechin? To ask the question is to answer it.

There are very few instances of state bureacracies or corporations ordering expert analyses from Russian academia, as is typical in both China and the West. “The state has simply left Sinology. And this is a huge mistake. In China, the opposite is happening – the state is developing Russia Studies,” says Alexey Maslov, dean of Oriental Studies faculty at the Higher School of Economics (and a shaolin master). On the other hand, business and bureaucrats aren’t too satisfied with the academic Sinologist community either. “There is no practical benefit from communicating with them. You ask them a simple question, and they start their answer from the time of the Yellow Emperor, and don’t end up clarifying anything. Typical professors,” says one federal bureaucrat.

The future of Russian Sinology

Alexander Gabuev wrote these articles four years ago. In the meantime, the author himself – who can be considered somewhat of a China expert himself – left Kommersant to work for the US-financed Moscow Carnegie Center thinktank, which also happens to be the most highly rated thinktank in Russia. One can consider this as just one more depressing anecdote in the context of all the dismal things he wrote about Russian Sinology and social science in general.

The following is based largely on my own impressions.

In the years since 2012-13, the situation of Russian academia has improved, especially in the elite universities that are part of Project 5/100 – the state program to get five universities into the world’s top 100 (currently, only Moscow State University qualifies, and that by a hairsbreadth). Salaries there are now quite respectable, and are at least minimally comparable to those at the Higher School of Economics. However, I suspect financing at the Russian Academy of Science, at least if my impressions of the Institute of Psychology are anything to go by, remains catastrophically low.

There has also been a massive increase in the numbers of Russians studying Chinese in the past two decades. Whereas there were just 5,000 Russians studying Chinese in 1997, by 2007 it was 17,000, and by 2017 there were close to 56,000 of them (this is not entirely bad by comparison with the 200,000 Chinese learners in the United States, many of whom I suspect are Chinese-Americans).

On the other hand, the average quality of Chinese instruction in Russia leaves much to be desired, so optimism is premature. As Alexander Gabuev also pointed out in 2013, quoting Alexey Maslov: “Today we have more than 160 universities that offer Chinese… But many of these people are almost impossible to use in real life. This creates the impression that we have a lot of Sinologists. But in reality, they are not Sinologists, their level of Chinese language knowledge is very low.”

Nonetheless, the overall situation does seem to be improving, even if at a slow rate and from a very low base. And there’s no obvious reason for things to get worse.

However, so long as Putin remains more interested in financing the Rotenbergs than RAN – for instance, the planned bridge to Sakhalin might consume about as much money per year as the entire federal budget for science – there can be no serious talk of Russia starting to produce a lot of world-beating research in Sinology or any other brance of science.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Academia, China, Russia 
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In my opinion, almost certainly yes (quantified: 90%. In line with PredictIt). Just to get that clear off the bat.

But neither is it an absolutely foregone conclusion.

For instance, see this recent “scoop” from The Independent’s Oliver Carroll:

Vladimir Putin is, sources say, tired. And he is reluctant to engage in a major national election – again. The campaign will be reduced to a bare minimum; there will be no repeat of the exhausting test of the 2011-2012 elections, when Mr Putin declared his candidacy six months early.

The reason “scoop” is in apostrophes is that Putin’s tiredness is hardly new to the Moscow rumor mill.

For instance, here is my Twitter conversation with RT’s Bryan MacDonald (posted with his permission) on this back in December 2016:

bryan-macdonald-putin-tired

And there’s still hints that Putin hasn’t yet fully made his mind up. For instance, MacDonald also noted that RBC recently reported that Putin is shifting his annual State of the Union address from December to early next year. While cautioning against reading too deeply into Kremlinological tea leaves, this does conceivably open the possibility of a sudden resignation and endorsement of a successor along the lines of what Yeltsin did with respect to Putin himself on December 31, 1999.

When I asked Bryan MacDonald to quantify his predictions a week ago, he replied: “5/1 he doesn’t run. 4/6 he’s not President in 2023.”

I should stress that MacDonald and Carroll are hardly the only people with such ideas. Another name I can cite is Artem Zagorodnov, who used to work for RBTH. Back in December 2016, he gave a speech on Russian politics for the Juneau World Affairs Council in Alaska, during the course of which he was asked a question about whether Putin would run in 2018. At the time, Zagorodnov gave this a 80% chance. More recently, I asked him again, and he has now upped it to 90%, but he thinks that there is only a 50% chance of Putin finishing his second term.

I should also note that MacDonald and Zagorodnov are (were) not familiar with each other and came to these very similar estimates independently.

Apart from his rumored fatigue, why might Putin not want to run in 2018?

1. By not running in 2018, Putin retains the option of running one more time at some later time in the future.

Originally, the Russian Constitution disallowed more than two Presidential terms, but only so long as they were consecutive; otherwise, you could serve as many terms as you wished, so long as they were broken up at least once every two terms/eight years. This enabled Putin’s controversial “castling” maneuver with Medvedev in 2011-12, which was within the letter if not the spirit of the law. But a Constitutional amendment in 2012, which also lengthened Presidential terms to six years, set an explicit maximum of two terms, consecutive or otherwise. Any further castlings have been ruled out.

Therefore, if Putin runs now, he will never be able to run for President again – even should he resign midway through his fourth term. Not unless he pushes through a Constitutional amendment. But that would mean reneging on a public commitment not to do that, which would be politically far riskier than even his old castling, which ended up in 100,o00 strong protests in Moscow during 2011-12.

2. Putin is currently at the peak of his approval.

At least so long as Putin’s personal ratings are concerned, the “Crimean Consensus” shows no signs of wearing out.

poll-putin-approval-1999-2017

Source: Levada.

But discontent is once again beginning to simmer in the margins. Overall satisfaction with domestic, social, economic, and even foreign policy has reached lows last seen in 2011, when mass protests over electoral fraud in the 2011 Duma elections flared up.

poll-russia-policy-approval

Source: VCIOM; FPRI Bear Market Brief‏.

And it is probably only a matter of time before this begins to overspill into Putin’s approval rates.

Putin assured his place in the history textbooks in 2014.

Now might be as good and stable a time to leave as any while his reserves of political capital are still maxed out.

In so doing, he also escapes the Brezhnevite “President for Life” trap, leaves on his own terms, and enjoys the rest of his life in luxury (the friends he enriched during his Presidency owe him at least that much).

3. The next six years are going to be… boring.

The next Presidential term is looking up to be one of technocratic optimization and further reforms, of privatizing an overly state-dominated economy, of trying to restore relations with the West.

Very boring. Bad for approval ratings. Not the ideal job for a “tired” populist.

Besides, any real rapprochement with the “Western partners” is inconceivable with Putin, who has become thoroughly unhandshakeworthy, still at the helm – at least formally.

Now unless a new round of military confrontations are being planned – a rather unlikely prospect, given sharply negative trends in projected military expenditure – there is a good chance that that Russia will have to confront the near total nature of its geopolitical defeat in the Ukraine, as that country economically recuperates, accelerates Ukrainization, and Russophile dreams of a “second Maidan” and Ukraine’s imminent breakup veer further and further into the realm of fantasy.

Also probably best to keep a low profile during that period.

4. It is still not too late to nominate a successor.

As it stands today, Putin will win approximately 80% of the vote (70% + 10% customary fraud), while the rest will be split about equally between Zyaganov, Zhirinovsky, and [liberal candidate].

In an experiment conducted by Levada this September, every fifth Russian said they were willing to vote for Andrey Semenov, a Presidential candidate endorsed by Putin – even though both Semenov and Putin’s endorsement were complete fictions.

This suggests that building up a successor from nothing will be a trivial task for the Kremlin. That worked with for Yeltsin’s “Family” and Putin himself in 1999-2000, and it will be even easier now, since the Kremlin now has uncontested dominance of all the major TV stations.

Finally, the specific steps that the Kremlin has been taking – for instance, changing the date of the Presidential elections to coincide with the anniversary of Crimea joining Russia, and getting Ksenia Sobchak, an airhead celebrity with a massive anti-rating, to play the role of the liberal candidate, instead of its natural leader Navalny – indicate that they were not totally sure that Putin would be running, and as such, wanted to make absolute sure that any anointed successor would get a convincing victory almost as easily as Putin.

This convincing victory is referred to as a 70/70 in Kremlin parlanace (70% turnout, 70% share of the vote).

politics-putin-dyumin

Putin going for a walk with potential successor Alexey Dyumin.

Final question: Who would be the successor?

By far the most commonly named “dark horse” candidate is Alexey Dyumin, the current governor of Tula and Putin’s former bodyguard. He personally participated in the events of 2014, and can thus be credibly portrayed as a hero of the “Crimean Spring” (its original name, the “Russian Spring,” has been airbrushed out of history, due to its nationalist connotations). As a loyal military man, basically competent but without being excessively intelligent – he graduated from a third-rate military academy – Dyumin would make a solid replacement for Putin, who would continue to wield extensive influence as some sort of “elder statesman” or “father of the nation” figure.

Meanwhile, in this scenario, Putin’s people would continue to occupy key power positions: Vyacheslav Volodin would continue looking after the Duma, Sergey Shoigu will stay on as Defense Minister, and another of Putin’s former bodyguards, Viktor Zolotov, will remain head of the 340,000 strong National Guard. This would be an additional guarantee against the successor getting too many ideas of his own.

As it happens, I suspect this basic scenario – the rudiments of which have been sketched out by politologists such as the liberal Valery Solovej and the Communist Nafik Famiev during the summer of 2017 – is ultimately likely to play out.

Probably not now, but quite possibly around 2021, or after the end of Putin’s fourth and last term.

 
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Recent Rasmussen poll:

… 52% of Likely U.S. Voters agree with the president’s statement last Sunday that “… having Russia in a friendly posture, as opposed to always fighting with them, is an asset to the world, and an asset to our country, not a liability.” Just 27% disagree, but another 21% are undecided.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Republicans and 51% of voters not affiliated with either major party agree with the statement. Among Democrats, 29% agree; 41% disagree, and 29% are undecided. …

In a sharp turnaround from the Cold War years, 79% of conservatives agree that it’s better to be friends with Russia, but just 27% of liberals share that view.

I wrote about this as a return to pre-Soviet norms back in February:

For if you take the long historical view it is the Liberals/Left who have historically been far less enamored of Russia.

Who talked of the “gendarme of Europe” and “prison of peoples” in 19th century political discourse? Socialists, not conservatives. Marx had very little good to say about Russia and Eastern Europe in general, the idea being that the advanced Western nations were the only ones of interest from a Communist revolutionary perspective.

No, this doesn’t appear to be on account of Republican/conservative infatuation with Putler, as /r/politics and the Blue Checkmarks would have you believe.

Opinion towards him remains extremely negative across the American political spectrum.

gallup-usa-views-putin

This is perhaps the one somewhat unexpected element in this picture:

Men feel much more strongly than women that it’s better “having Russia in a friendly posture.” Those under 40 are only slightly less likely than their elders to agree.

In contrast, the February 2017 poll found Republican opinions on Russia uniformly increasing with younger age groups, going from 31% positive/69% negative amongst the 65+ year olds to 73% positive/25% negative amongst the 18-29 year olds.

This implies that opinion towards Russia decreases with age amongst the younger non-Republican population. But that doesn’t seem to tally with other polls I’ve seen. Or common sense. Older Democrats tend to be Clintonistas, and virulently Russophobic – they genuinely believe Putler stole the 2016 elections – while younger ones are lefty Bernie Bros, who don’t exactly admire Russia, but are realistic enough to acknowledge that the KGB wasn’t behind the KKK.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Politics, Republicans, Russia, Russophobes, USA 
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I am pretty bad with these puns. But this one might just be SSC-worthy.

One of my goals for the rest of Anti-Bolshevik Month is to write a comprehensive alternate history in which the Russian Republic survives WW1.

Randall Parker’s question on Twitter: “Imagine a time traveler goes back to 1913 and kill Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky, Gavrilo Princip and a few others. How does 20th century play out?

Gave me a convenient opportunity to sketch out the basics: “If you study the details, success of both October Revolution & Nazi ascent were almost freak occurrences. Moreover, latter depended on the former. Very unlikely to repeat. There might not have been a WW1, and not just Pinkerian reasons, but Realpolitik ones. Russian power was rapidly converging to German, making two front war increasingly untenable; hence, German General Staff urged war sooner, before 1916 at the latest. USA and Russia would dominate mid to late 20th century, and more equally; a China on S. Korea’s development trajectory would be surpassing both ~2000 (instead of Russia in 1990 and the US around ~2030 in our TL). Tech in general might be about a decade further advanced, though rocketry might lag slightly. But global warming also worse, since Communism wouldn’t have retarded many countries’ development.

In other news, Andy Weir, the guy who wrote The Martian, now has a new sci-fi book “Artemis” about a 2,000 population lunar base in the late 21st century.

Anyone read it? Is it any good?

Tolkien’s son resigns as director of the Tolkien estate. Hopefully the days of capricious copyright exploitation are coming to an end. Film adaptation of The Last Ringbearer when?

Main

* Top 500 supercomputer list for November 2017 is out.

Although China first overtook the United States in June 2016 by the smallest of margins, for the first time the gap has become truly significant: China – 202; United States – 143.

As per usual, Russia has a grand total of around 3, because the Putin regime prefers the Rotenbergs to R&D.

poland-death-march

* Inspirational imagery from the Polish nationalist march in Warsaw. Vincent Law attended and has a good writeup.

Much more impressive than the sad affairs that pass for such in the Trumpreich and the Putlerreich. But long-term prospects are mixed, at best.

* Lubos Motls: Bitcoin congestion singularity may be coming. Can’t really serve as a normal means of exchange if a single transaction costs you several cups of coffee.

* spandrell: Biological Leninism.

* Scott Alexander: Book Review: Legal Systems Very Different From Ours

They feared that a written law code generally available would lead to rules lawyering and supported unequal treatement based on the unequal status of those to whom the law applied…Some early writers argued against making the law code publicly available. …

Where the offense did not seem to fit any category in the code, the court felt free to find the defendant guilty of doing what ought not to be done or of violating an Imperial decree — not an actual decree, but one that the Emperor would have made had the matter been brought to his attention.

The sections on China were fascinating – it was the definition of Kafkaevschina. And the same order prevailed at the end of the Qing dynasty.

byzantine-culture-world

* Caitlyn Green with a world map of where Byzantine artifacts have been found.

* Gerald Clare: The Forgotten Dream of a Russian Africa

* Alt Left podcaster Robert Stark has a book out, Journey to Vapor Island. B.W. Rabbit reviews it.

Russia

* Russian rearmaments program from 2018-2027 is, at 19 billion rubles, virtually equal to that for the period 2011-2020.

Adjusting for inflation, this translates into a massive cut to military spending.

* New VCIOM poll: While Putin’s approval remains high, indicators of social dissatisfaction nearing the heights they reached around late 2011, when mass protests kicked off.

* Patrick Armstrong: RUSSIAN FEDERATION SITREP 16 NOVEMBER 2017

So now RT America is a “foreign agent“. (Remember all the faux outrage about Russia’s FARA imitation law? No? But it was only a year ago: “Russia: Four years of Putin’s ‘Foreign Agents’ law to shackle and silence NGOs“. Hard to keep up, isn’t it?) In case you think this reflects poorly on the “champion for free speech and free press”, John McCain, channelling Brezhnev, explains why it doesn’t.

* Bershidsky: Russia’s RT Just Isn’t Worth Attacking. Simpler Explanations Are Usually Correct. Even on Russia.

It looks like Russia’s retaliation will be very mild; so far, we only know that RFERL/Voice of America and their various projects will have to register as foreign agents.

* Alexey Kovalev: Here’s what Russians think: Brexit is your creature – don’t blame it on us

* Kevin Rothrock translates Oleg Kashin’s op-ed for the liberal Republic webzine (formerly Slon): When Russians stopped believing in the Western media:

There’s a thoroughly naive misperception that the people working for propaganda outlets are all hard-nose cynics ready to say that black is white just so they can make their mortgage payments. In fact, anyone who’s talked with just one of these people knows that any cynicism that might guide them is something entirely different: it’s not “I lie because of my mortgage,” but “I say what serves the state’s interests because that’s how it works everywhere — we serve Russia, CNN serves the U.S., and the BBC is itself a state organization.”

Hearing this kind of talk, Russians from the independent media of course always laughed, but time has shown that the ones who said “it’s like this everywhere” were right. At the very least, over the past year and a half, the Western press with its highest standards has gifted us too many outrageous stories to ignore.

Kashin is a Russian liberal, yet even so, he is of the firm opinion that the Western media has gone way overboard in their Russiagate hysteria. In this sense, he parallels Bloomberg’s Leonid Bershidsky and Alexey Kovalev, who sometimes writes for The Guardian – both of them are highly anti-Putin pro-Westerners, yet not completely devoid of critical observation, for which they in turn have been accused of being Kremlin trolls by the ROG truthers.

* Joe Lauria: The Creation of RussiaGate

* Russian freedom fighting anarchist Pyotr Pavlensky flees to the West (after a rape accusation cooked up by the KGB… maybe not). Burns down a French book. Neoliberals who praised him when he was pulling his stunts in Russia now practice punitive psychiatry on him.

* Bryan MacDonald: How George Soros’ people enlisted me as a ‘foot-soldier in the fight against Putin’. There are a lot of these scam NGO’s sucking up State Department and Soros money.

* Muh based Putlerreich introducing gender equality law inc. quotas for female % in politics; will solve “problems of sexism, ageism, harassment.”

* Russia Elections 2018:

Will Putin run? Bryan MacDonald thinks there is still a slight chance that he won’t. Will have a separate post on this.

Ksenia Sobchak got a Vkontakte account just this week. Goes to show why she won’t rise above the single digits: All the Russian liberal kreakl tusovka hangs out on Facebook.

World

* James Thompson: Boost your IQ. Important discussion of two recent papers on effect of more school education on later IQ.

* Gregory Hood: The Lie of Law

* Defrosted: Just noticed that Peter Frost is writing again, though at his own website now.

* New study: Moderate alcohol consumption improves foreign language skills (the paper). Funny and so very true.

india-map-gdp-per-capita

* GDP per capita map of the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan used to be richer than India, really strikes home the fact that this is no longer the case.

* The Atlantic has a very long profile of Andrew Anglin. Skimmed through it. Seems like a stereotypical background for a Neo-Nazi.

* Inventor of Ethereum is much less cool than Pavel Durov.

* Bunch of Alt Right/Alt Right people lost their Blue Checkmarks on Twitter (Richard Spencer, Jason Kessler, Laura Loomer, James Allsup would be recognizable to many); Baked Alaska got suspended entirely.

This is in line with a new Twitter policy to remove verification from users who “promote hate” (except, presumably, against white people).

However, the real fun will begin on Nov 22, when new rules on the display of “hateful imagery and hate symbols” – developed in conjunction with the ADL – will come into effect. Like schools and workplaces, it will now also take into account offline behavior, as well as “monitor for hate speech in usernames, display names, and profile bios.”

Since everyone born in 1988 is, by definition, a Nazi, there’s some chance @akarlin88 will be shut down around that time. Can’t say I’ll miss it.

* Wrath of Gnon digs up a note on medieval German hospitality.

german-hospitality

I have sometimes wondered about practical logistics of long-term travel in the deep past (esp. if you lose your purse). This helps explain things, I suppose.

 
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Just came back from a workshop on “Intelligence and Culture as Factors of National Competitiveness” organized by the Institute of Psychology RAS.

ipras-iq-russia

The most interesting presentation was by Konstantin Sugonyev, which may be published in a forthcoming paper. It concerned the following test:

https://recrut.mil.ru/career/soldiering/test.htm

This is a test on the Russian Defense Ministry’s website, where potential contract soldiers are offered to take an IQ test (30 questions, testing verbal, numerical, logical), and a couple of personality tests, to assess their suitability for military service (unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to give you your score, only a pass or a fail).

Over the years 2012-2017, almost 250,000 Russians have done this test, possibly making this the largest source of regional psychometric data on Russia apart from the Unified State Exams (regional data about them is carefully secreted away).

The results:

Cohorts

While people born between 1973 and 1987 performed at a stable 19.5-20/30, the post-1988 period saw a steady improvement towards an average score of 21/30.

S.D. is around 6 points.

Whether this is due to a Flynn effect or ageing isn’t clear.

ipras-regions-russia

Regions

Only the top/bottom 5 regions were displayed, but they were exactly as expected. The difference between the best performers and worst performers was almost 1 S.D.

Best regions:

  1. Saint-Petersburg
  2. Yaroslavl
  3. Moscow
  4. Kirov oblast
  5. Chuvashia

Worst regions:

  1. Ingushetia
  2. Tyva
  3. Chechnya
  4. Dagestan
  5. Kabardino-Balkaria

So nice when new investigations continue building on stereotypes, especially n=250,000 investigations.

Note that I have long thought Yaroslavl might have a high IQ.

It had the highest literacy rate of any non-capital Russian region in 1897:

Incidentally, I am not surprised to see Yaroslavl being the top non-Baltic/non-capital Russian region by literacy rate in 1897. It struck me as by far the cleanest and most civilized provincial Russian town on the Golden Ring when I visited it in 2002 (a time when Russia was still shaking off the hangover of the Soviet collapse). Curiously enough, it also hosted one of the most vigorous insurrections against the Bolshevik regime in central Russia. Although it was not one of the regions covered by PISA, I would not be surprised if Yaroslavl oblast was to get a 100-102 score on it should it be carried out there (and as would be implied by the correlation curve).

They also had the biggest percentage of Russian peasant families with passbooks (needed for savings accounts) in 1897 and 1913.

“Patriotism”

The major disadvantage of this test that it selects for some degree of Internet proficiency (so also a mild sort of IQ test). No easy way to correct for this.

The major advantage of it is that you can also get a good idea of the “patriotism” of different Russian regions by the percentage of their population who do these tests.

Most patriotic regions:

  1. Sevastopol
  2. Altay
  3. Buryatia
  4. Murmansk
  5. Amur
  6. Zabaykal
  7. Adygea
  8. Kaliningrad
  9. Tyva

Least patriotic regions:

  1. Chechnya
  2. Ingushetia
  3. Tyumen
  4. Sakha (Yakutia)
  5. Tatarstan
  6. Khanty-Mansiysk
  7. Yamalo-Nenets
  8. Dagestan
  9. Karachay-Cherkassia

Note that Sevastopol was first, even though Crimea only joined up with Russia in 2014, i.e. about 40% of the way through this “experiment.”

The patriotism of the Buryats and Tuvans is also noted. This is not all that surprising – recall that Buryats had the highest percentage rate of military deaths in WW2 alongside Russians.

In contrast, DICh – especially Chechnya and Ingushetia – are distinguished by their lack of patriotism.

Saint-Petersburg was more patriotic than Moscow, as well as being more intelligent.

Results were robust according to a variety of statistical checks.

Several other people, including myself, made presentations.

ipras-davydov

One, by Denis Davydov, was about a 19 region (n=4010) survey of 18-50 year old Russians with Raven’s tests carried out in 2005-2007. (For some reason, its detailed results remain unpublished – at the least, they don’t appear in Lynn’s or Becker’s database).

They found no correlation with income, though I suspect the problem there is low sample + no adjustment for oil income.

There was also a negative correlation with homicides, suicides, and alcohol consumption, which is of course unusual. My pet theory is that this is due to the Finno-Ugric admixture in northern Russia making them both more intelligent and more prone to alcohol abuse, with most homicides/suicides in Russia themselves being a function of alcohol abuse.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: IQ, Moscow, Patriotism, Psychometrics, Russia, The AK 
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russia-inflation

Inflation is now at 2.7% as of October 2017, down from double-digit rates three years ago and overshooting the Central Bank of Russia’s 4% target for this year.

This constitutes an all-time post-Soviet low.

This is in large part thanks to the hawkish monetary policy of CBR head Elvira Nabiullina, and indirectly of Putin, who gave her and the economic liberal bloc political cover in the face of populist opposition demanding lower interest rates and greater state invervention in the economy.

Once Soviet-era capacities, at least in those sectors where they were market-competitive, were restored by the mid-2000s, Russia’s high growth rate petered out (though irrational exuberance sustained it for a couple more years until the 2008 crash). The major problem, besides an atrocious business climate, was that high inflationary expectations had become embedded. High inflation discourages savings, which you need for investment. Consequently, banks were only prepared to lend to small and medium sized businesses at rapacious rates of interest.

But it now looks like Russia’s version of the Volcker shock since 2014 has finally succeeded in taming inflation for good.

This is especially significant since it comes on the back of three other major achievements that are of long-term relevance to growth.

1. A rise from ~120th (i.e. Nigeria) to 35th (i.e. Japan) position on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business since the start of Putin’s third term. Russia is still far from the best place to do business in, but it is vastly better than it was a decade ago.

2. A near halving in the numbers of Russian “pocket banks,” to the benefit of established and more transparent lenders (a consolidation that Nabiullina has spearheaded).

3. The beginning of semi-serious efforts to resurrect Russia’s moribund R&D capacities. (More on this later).

Finally, Russia has managed to do all this without the big budget deficits, yawning debt increases, and the unusual monetary experiments that have characterized Western policies since 2000.

Despite the political and foreign policy failures of Putin’s third term in office, and its more “embedded” problems such as elite rent-seeking and excessive state ownership, economic policy during this period is praiseworthy and, barring major geopolitical crises, stands Russia in good stead for a decade of solid growth.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Inflation, Russia 
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Westerners have semi-legitimate reasons to like Lenin. Hard-headed proponents of Realpolitik and plain old vanilla Russophobes might appreciate his role in crippling Russia relative to what it could have been in the 20th century (i.e. a full-spectrum challenger to the American order, instead of Upper Volta with missiles). The increasing popular strains of SJW leftism would logically subscribe to the belief that Lenin’s program of national deconstruction (decolonization), struggle against Great Russian chauvinism (white supremacy), and bourgeois parasitism (white privilege) were actually good things in and of themselves.

This shouldn’t be a problem in Russia. The first category of self-haters does exist – somebody like Garry Kasparov comes to mind – but it is electorally negligible. The second category is hardly any more relevant, at least for now. Marginal Trotskyist figures, such as Sergey Biets of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party, and various anarchist collectives, such as Pussy Riot, come to mind. There is an incipient SJW trend emerging amongst the students of the elite Moscow and SPB universities, but based on the American experience, it will be a couple of decades before it leaps into the general population. The KPRF is stronger on immigration than the ruling United Russia pattern, and the Russian Left has been no less firm in its support of the Donbass than mainstream nationalists.

And yet, Russians remain considerably more positive towards Lenin than most Westerners. An April 2017 Levada poll showed 56% positive towards Lenin, versus 22% negative. He incites positive emotions in 44% of Russians, and negative emotions in only 9% of them. Only 14% of Russians support removing Lenin statues, versus 79% opposed – even though 99% of those statues, being mass produced, have no inherent artistic or historical value. Most of the “powerful takes” against my (negative) article on Lenin came from Russians.

Egor Kholmogorov explains the apparent paradox brilliantly in his latest essay (currently in the process of being translates for this website). He points out that modern apologists for Bolshevism hardly ever cite their actual values, slogans, and programs (e.g. world communism, the unchaining of the working class, the triumph of atheism), but instead appeal to “patriotic, nationalist, conspirological, populist, and even Orthodox” frameworks, all of which were mostly or entirely antithetical to the Communist value system itself. He points out that this has a long history, stretching back to the National Bolsheviks of the 1920s, such as Ustryalov and Kluyev – who, incidentally, were both shot in the late 1930s. (I would point out that this is, of course, hardly the only example. Tens of thousands of Orthodox priests were murdered under both Lenin and Stalin. But that’s all fine, because Stalin allowed them to help crowdfund tanks in 1941. And yet this “reconciliation” between Stalinism and Christianity was the main academic focus of Russia’s current Minister of Education.)

No, there is a more basic reason why Russian patriots/vatniks are driven to engage in Red apologism.

As Kholmogorov points out, in the 1990s, it was a clique of thieves and their professional apologists – many of whom were themselves the literal descendants of nomenklatura bigwigs and NKVD executioners – who took the lead in claiming they had “freed” Russians from Lenin, Communists, and the revolutionary heritage. But since those very same people had also “freed” Russians from their economic and territorial birthrights through criminal privatizations and the Belavezha Accords, all cynically done under the banner of “anticommunism,” a redstalgic counter-reaction was inevitable.

This counter-reaction was merely most visible in the case of Stalin, the best about whom can be said is that he stopped the hysteria around Great Russian chauvinism, while stamping down hard on those non-Russian nationalisms that had gotten too carried with the leeway afforded them in the 1920s (while ironically also moving away from progressive economics: Wage inequality in the USSR peaked under the late Stalin, and fees for the last two years of school were reintroduced in 1940).

Consequently, Stalin was far more palatable as a figurehead of the “resistance” – the name of one of the biggest “patriotic” publishers of authors like Maxim Kalashnikov and Andrey Parshev is literally “The Russian Resistance” (Russkoe Soprotivlenie) – than the internationalist and overtly Russophobic Lenin. Consequently, while the share of Russians claiming Lenin was one of the “greatest persons of all times and places” plummeted from 72% in 1989 to a still cringeworthy 32% by 2017, Stalin’s rating rose from 12% in 1989 to 35% by 1999 – that is, before Putin even came to power – and has stayed at around that level ever since. This was also enabled by the liberal elites directing their most concentrated venom against Stalin, up to and including making up new crimes, as if Stalin’s real record wasn’t sordid enough.

Politically, the liberal-oligarchic faction (The Family/Putin) basically co-opted the redstalgic one (“patriots”/Primakov and the KPRF) in 1999-2000, and the two have been living in an uneasy but surprisingly stable union ever since.

Socially, this resulted in the coalescence of two tribes in Russia, which – borrowing from Scott Alexander – I will call the Blue Tribe and the Red Tribe.

(Reminder that Communism ≈ conservatism in Russia, so the analogy is even more relevant that it might appear at first glance).

The Blue Tribe are the 105 IQ residents of Moscow, the hipsters, the neoliberal reformers, the Echo of Moscow faction that ruled Russia in the 1990s.

The Red Tribe are the 95 IQ residents of Mukhosransk, the vatniks who work in Uralvagonzavod, the budzhetniki, the people who voted for the Communists in the 1990s and now vote for Putin.

Now here’s the thing. Russian liberals – the Blue Tribe – have succeeded in setting the terms of the debate and adoration of Lenin, Communism, the USSR, and especially Stalin is now for all intents and purposes a tribal identifier for the “patriotic” camp, the Red Tribe. In the same way that, say, subscribing to a spectrum of retarded positions (sexual hystrionics, conspicuous religiosity, flag worship, denial of global warming, Israel Firstism, and moar tax cuts for the 1%) has become a tribal identifier for the Red Tribe (or at least its boomer subfaction) in the United States.

The Blue Tribe essentially poisoned the well of the patriotic reaction. This is a very bad, very sad, state of affairs – and it’s not obvious how to get out of here.

Even though sovok worship might be good for triggering Blue Tribe snowflakes – the Russian equivalent of LIBERAL TEARS – it is bad for Russia’s image abroad (excepting, perhaps, in Venezuela and North Korea), it repels intelligent Russians and inducts them into the ranks of the Blue Tribe, so long as it is the only alternative on offer. As Kholmogorov points out, the “canonization of Bolshevism, Leninism, and Stalinism” is not a friend, but an enemy, of Russia’s own future.

The good thing is that the foundations of this narrative are creaky, and can only be sustained by yawning logical fallacies. Here are some typical ones:

russia-empire-stuck-in-time

If not for Lenin/Stalin, time would have literally frozen still and Russia would have remained a Third World cesspool for the rest of the century (variation: Stalin took us from the plow to the atomic bomb). An argument which only someone devoid of any knowledge of economic history or even elementary logic can take seriously. Or a rabid Russophobe who believes that the only way Russians can achieve anything is if they’re prodded to it by a mustachiod Georgian BDSM master.

The Western club only lets its own become wealthy. Japan, South Korea, The Republic of China, the People’s Republic of China (once it started taking the “people’s” part less seriously, that is), Singapore, must all be figments of our collective imagination.

Russia would not have won WW2 against Nazi Germany. Of course it wouldn’t have won (or lost) a war that would have no longer existed.

lenin-was-right

The Tsar/bourgeoisie/aristocracy was oppressing the peasants/serfs (though the serfs were reactionary scum who deserved it anyway). So… the Tsar was good, then? Or bad? I don’t even know.

Lenin offered the people land, bread, peace. I suppose he did, by the standards of the Ministry of Truth:

Civil War is Peace
Prodrazvyorstka is Bread
Collectivization is Land

Okay, here’s another one: “What he’s effectively saying is “for 70 years multiple generations of Soviet people have followed the legacy a traitor, parasite, failure”. All those generations of people were that stupid, apparently. And probably still are. Only A.Karlin is smart. Yeah, right.

Yes, that sort of does hit closer to the truth.

Which is why letting go is hard, and provokes anger…

… as the first stage on the road to acceptance.

In the long-run, the de-sovokization of Russia is inevitable, on the basis that in a free market of ideas, the good arguments eventually tend to win out over bad ones.

This is already happening; as in the United States, where the GOP is known as the stupid party, so in Russia “based” sovoks can’t cognitively compete with the brain fund at the Blue Tribe’s disposal. Once the latter win out, and there is no good reason to think they won’t, there’ll be no more Stalin, but he’ll just be replaced by Soros, and that’s hardly an improvement.

Opinion polls indicate that it is the younger, more educated, wealthier people who are much more skeptical about Lenin. For instance, according to a FOM poll from April 2014, 52% of Russians thought Lenin was a good person, versus only 10% who thought he was bad. However, the percentage thinking he was good falls from 68% amongst the over 60s to 39% amongst the 18-30 age group; from 59% amongst non-college education to 41% amongst the college-educated (36% amongst college-educated youth); 67% amongst the pool to 43% amongst the wealth; and from 64% amongst rural dwellers 39% amongst Muscovites.

But not all hope is lost. One can posit the existence of a third tribe in Russia – let’s call it the Black Tribe – that rejects the truthisms of both the sovok Reds and the pozzed Blues and offers an alternative vision of Russia’s future.

na-korable-polden

And it is up to us, the Black Tribe, to continue patiently, systemically, humorously dismantling the myths and narratives of sovok and liberalism.txt alike before the Poz swallows us all.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Lenin, Russia, Society 
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So the leader of Russia’s Communist Party (KPRF) Zyuganov and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov have gotten into a bit of a spat over whether or not Lenin should be buried.

Zyuganov thinks calls to bury Lenin are “idle chatter,” and apparently believes that the Great Revolution “ended in a practically bloodless manner.”

Kadyrov begged to differ on his Telegram, citing opinion polls from Levada and Superjob that showed 60% and 80%, respectively, of Russians supporting such a step.

He also further pointed out: “So the murder of the Tsar’s family, the Civil War, repressions, hunger – this was all nothing according to the “historian” Zyuganov? The leader of the KPRF lives in hiw own imagined world. How many more generations must Lenin’s body lie on Red Square for Zyuganov to calm down?

At the end, he suggested Zyuganov apologize to the people whose opinions he had dismissed as “idle chatter,” as well as to the victims of the Revolution and of the ensuing Soviet period.

Normally, I’d consider a spat between commies and Kadyrov to be a viper vs. toad contest (i.e. would hope they swallow each other). Nor do I care much for this retarded culture war, which pops up with depressing regularity every year.

Still, in this particular case, most normal, non-Communist (but I repeat myself) people would sympathize with Kadyrov, who made his argument civilly, and cited statistics in support of it. This is coming from a man who otherwise spends his time running a parallel Islamist foreign policy and calling for a Homocaust (and implementing one, if rumors are to be believed).

There must be some kind of achievement trophy for this.

But things get even better.

Earlier today, the KPRF official account posted this message on Twitter, implicitly attacking Kadyrov (a no-no in Russian politics):

enemies-of-russia

In light of the many provocations, it worth noting: An attack on Lenin and Zyuganov is either a sign of mental retardation, or of diversionary work against Russia.

Impressive. Have the commies finally grown a spine?

Six hours later:

unpersoned-tweet

Guess not – they unpersonned their own Tweet. Though I suppose this is oddly appropriate for the 100th anniversary of Red October.

So, not just stupid, morally degraded liars… but cowards to boot. In other words – sovoks.

EDIT: Hard to imagine how this could get even better, but it just did.

kprf-cowards

There are more and more provocations against Lenin and Zyuganov. Many experts believe this to be either a sign of mental retardation, or of diversionary work against Russia.

I must have missed it when Kadyrov became a liberal in the past 24 hours.

Alternatively, being too cowardly to insult Kadyrov, commie “experts” blame it on teh liberals instead.

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Chechnya, Communism, Russia 
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wb-doing-business-2018

The World Bank has just released its Ease of Doing Business data for 2018 (report PDF; rankings; historical data in Excel)

I wrote about why good scores on this indicator are pretty useful two years ago:

First, elites pay a lot of attention to it. Several countries – including Russia, Kazakhstan, and India – have made climbing up the Doing Business rankings a matter of national economic planning.

Second, all else equal, more economic freedom really is “better” than less economic freedom. You do not need to be some kind of neoliberal hypercapitalist to appreciate that having more layers of bureaucracy, more hops you need to jump through to start a business or enforce a contract, as benefitting anyone other than the bureaucrats who create these rules in the first place. Indeed, when adjusted for differing GDP per capita levels, there is a strong correlation between a country’s place on the Doing Business rankings and its reported incidences of bribery/corruption, presumably because the more regulations you have the more opportunities bureaucrats have to shake businesses down.

It is also highly objective. You look at the legal documents, count the number of steps and/or days required to set up a business or enforce a contract, and tally the whole thing. Necessarily more subjective assessments of the degree of corruption or the prevalence of the rule of law – important, but prone to bias – don’t enter the equation.

Well, the good news is that Russia has continued its strong trend of improvement since the start of Putin’s third term, and is now in the uppermost quintile of all the world’s economies in terms of ease of doing business.

wb-doing-business-2018-russia

This is especially impressive since the entire world has been getting far more business friendly in the past decade, as institutions such as this very index spur on even the more recalcitrant nations to adopt First World best practices (fewer pointless regulations).

Russia’s immediate neighbors now – France, The Netherlands, Japan, Czechia – are no longer cause to be ashamed, as was the case around 2010, when it instead neighbored models of bureaucratic efficiency such as India and Nigeria.

As we can see, Russia is now fully within the “range” of First World – not as business-friendly as the United States, with its age-old reputation for free-wheeling commerce, but more so than Italy, with its reputation for bureaucratic tyranny.

wb-doing-business-2018-brics

Since the mid-2010s, Russia has been doing far better better than its fellow BRICS members.

wb-doing-business-2018-eastern-europe

Russia is now also doing about as well as the average for Eastern Europe’s successful reformers – worse than free trade entrepot Estonia and libertarian nirvana Georgia, but at about the same level as Poland, Czechia, Kazakhstan, Belarus; somewhat better than Hungary, which has lagged on reform; and far better than in the Ukraine or in Uzbekistan.

Analyzing by subcomponents, only two sectors where Russia still does quite badly – worse than the global median – are in “Dealing with Construction Permits” and “Trading Across Borders,” both notoriously corrupt sectors of the Russian economy. They urgently need attention.

But otherwise, this is the sort of quiet but very real “reform” that Russia needs at the micro level, but that remarkably few of Putin’s liberal critics seem to notice.

Although Putin has formally failed to fulfill his ambitious 2012 election promise of climbing into 20th position on this ranking by 2018, an improvement from around 120th position to 35th position is still more than respectable.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Business, Russia 
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On October 26, Almazbek Atambaev, the outgoing President of Kyrgyzstan, signed a decree replacing the November 7 celebrations of the October revolution with a “Day of History and Remembrance.”

The “history” and “remembrance” in question refers to the Urkun, the Kyrgyz name for their 1916 revolt against Tsarist Russia.

Here is an extract from the decree:

The development of history in the past few years and its de-ideologization has allowed researchers to work out new approaches to studying Kyrgyz history… Our people, with their 3,000 year history, having created the Kyrgyz Khanate in the 9th century, has maintained the idea of statehood for many centuries… Generation to generation, the dream of independence moved on. …

The will of the people towards freedom and independence was the main driving force of the events of 1916. The harsh suppression of the uprising by Tsarist punitive batallions, multiple incidences of bloodthirsty reprisals against civilizations, and their forced exile into foreign lands put the Kyrgyz people on the brink of extinction. According to the archives, the most dramatic events and the highest numbers of human casualties during the Urkun took place in autumn 1916.

So what’s left unmentioned in this story?

turkestan-map

Source: Sputnik i Pogrom. Map of Turkestan – epicenter of the rebellion is in the red square.

First, and most important, it was a bit more than just an ordinary uprising. What began as a campaign of assassination against local officials soon escalated to full-scale ethnic cleansing, with thousand-strong bands of Kyrgyz horsemen despoiling defenseless Russian villages which had been largely stripped of their fighting age men by conscription for World War I. All told, around 3,000 Russians were murdered, the vast majority of them women and children, as well as the monks of Przhevalsk Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Monastery of Issyk-Kul.

Writes Father Evstafi Malakhovsky, the abbot of Pokrovsky Church, located 35 versts from Przhevalsk (now Karakol):

On August 11, [the Kyrgyz] attacked the settlements, started to beat the residents and burn houses… No mercy was shown to the Russians: They were cut up and beaten, sparing neither women nor children. There were beheadings, impalements, noses and ears were cut off, children were cut in half, women were raped, maidens and young girls were taken prisoner.

There are many even grislier accounts compiled by the local clergy.

As the ethnic cleansing wore on, Russians started to congregate in larger villages, such as Preobrazhensky. There, a 200-strong militia with rifles, shotguns, and a jerry-rigged cannon held off a 10,000-strong Kyrgyz horde for a month before Army reinforcements arrived and drove them away. Observing the scenes of devastation, the local militias and soldiers were not particularly inclined to show mercy as they pursued the bands into the mountains.

The Kyrgyz historian Shairgul Batyrbaev in a 2013 interview:

The suppression was indeed brutal. But one has to keep the context in mind. When the punitive batallions arrived to pacify the rebellion, they saw the heads of Russian women and children mounted on pikes, and their reaction was understandable.

Officially, 347 people in Semirechie were executed in summary military trials. The direct victims of the pacification campaign numbered 4,000 according to Batyrbaev’s calculations.

The official Kyrgyz narrative, as affirmed by a 2016 commision, is that the Tsarist suppression of the revolt was genocide. RFERL helpfully notes that it is “believed that between 100,000 and 270,000 ethnic Kyrgyz were killed by Tsarist Russia’s punitive battalions.” However, these estimates seem most unlikely, considering that the Kyrgyz population in the territories affected by the rebellion increased from 278,900 in 1897 to 324,000 by 1917. Based on natality and mortality trends, Batyrbaev estinmates there “should have been” 357,600 Kyrgyz by that time, implying total demographic losses of around 35,000.

That includes emigration. For the Kyrgyz, the most tragic episode of the Urkun was the flight of 30,000 Kyrgyz into China. Many thousands died in the high passes, and many of the rest were enslaved by the Uyghurs in China – a traditional practice in Central Asia, before the Russian Empire illegalized it in Russian Turkestan in 1861 and stamped it out over the next few decades.

Now this is not to unequivocally condemn the Kyrgyz, or justify the policies of the Russian Empire.

prokudin-gorsky-russian-settlers-kyrgyzstan

Source: Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1911). Photograph of Russian settlers on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul.

The Kyrgyz had real grievances. The influx of landless Russian settlers (one such family is shown in the photograph above) in the wake of Stolypin’s agrarian reforms impinged on the traditional land use patterns of the nomadic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, who needed vast tracts of land for grazing their cattle. The Russian colonists formed growing islands of European civilization that didn’t mix with the locals, stoking resentment amongsts the natives (this is, of course, a familiar pattern the world over). The influence of the mullahs, who occupied a privileged position in Kyrgyz society, was reduced – they lost administrative power to state bureaucrats, and the traditional madrassas had to compete with growing numbers of secular schools. Finally, the local bureaucrats that staffed the lower administrative rungs were fantastically corrupt – there are accounts of them continuing to sell exemptions from mobilization to young Kyrgyz men even as more and more of their fellows were lynched by the enraged mobs of the metastasizing rebellion.

This brings us to the fuse that set off the entire thing – an edict from Interior Minister Boris Stürmer calling for the mobilization of 80,000 men from the steppe region of Turkestan. This was a drop in the bucket relative to the more than 12 million men mobilized by the Russian Empire during World War I, and in any case, the Central Asians were only going to be used for non-military duties. (In the end, only slightly more than 100,000 Central Asians ended up being mobilized during the war). But the scope of these plans grew rapidly in the telling, in what was still a predominantly illiterate society; the call for 80,000 labor conscripts soon turned into an evil Russian plot to kill off the entire Kyrgyz male population in the fields and trenches in a place far away and in a war that few of them understood. This was helped along not just by the usual suspects – German and Turkish intelligence helped fan the rumors – but also by venal Kyrgyz bureaucrats, who saw the horror stories as a good way to increase their earnings from selling exemptions. Finally, the linguistic and cultural gap between the lower Kyrgyz and upper Russian administrative rungs hampered attempts to stiffle the rebellion in its cradle, and delayed a serious response from the central authorities.

But the language of the recent Kyrgyz decree – with its language of “Russian colonizers,” “Russia’s orbit,” “uprising of national liberation,” “cruel suppression by Tsarist punitive batallions,” the “millennial history” through which the Kyrgyz people carried its “idea of “statehood” – has nothing to do with history and everything to do with politics.

And there’s nothing better than genocide myths for nation-building, historical details and nuance be damned.
There are a couple of further factors that underline the significance of this event.

First, Almazbek Atambaev belongs to the ruling Social Democrats, whose candidate won the recent Presidential elections. This is a moderate, comparatively pro-Russian party that supports keeping Russian as an official language. Deputies from the main opposition party, Respublika-Ata Zhurt (an alliance of pro-Western liberals and nationalists; not an uncommon combination in the post-Soviet space), have taken a much harder line; in 2012, they called for financial documentation, technical documents, and parliamentary debates to all happen in Kyrgyz. Further to the right, Nurlan Motuev, leader of the People’s Patriotic Movement of Kyrgyzstan and of the True Muslims of Kyrgyzstan, demanded that Russia recognize the Urkun as a genocide and pay them $100 billion in compensation. To be fair, Motuev is a marginal figure whose projects only ever got tiny single digit shares of the vote, and the man himself has since been sentenced to 7 years in jail for praising Islamic State in the media.

However, less hardcore versions of these anti-Russian sentiments are increasingly prevalent amongst Kyrgyz youth and the Kyrgyz intelligentsia.

(All too predictably, the US is also involved. The National Democratic Institute, amongst its other projects in Kyrgyzstan, financed the TV show “New Trends” (Zhana Bashat), which regularly features all sorts of eccentric guests, such as Dastan Sapygulov, a Tengriist and a supporter of Kyrgyz as the dominant language. The Turks are also busy projecting their pan-Turkic vision, financing the University of Manas, where education is exclusively in the Turkish and Kyrgyz languages.)

Not only are the Social Democrats the main pro-Russian party in Kyrgyzstan, but the country itself is probably Russia’s closest “friend” in Central Asia. They are members of both the CSTO security alliance and the Eurasian Economic Community. Consequently, there are fewer barriers for a Kyrgyz seeking work in Russia than for a humanitarian refugee from the Donbass. Kyrgyz driving licenses are recognized in Russia, and Russia recently forgave a $240 million debt to the impoverished Central Asian nation. Remittances from Kyrgyz Gasterbeiters – most of them of them in Russia – constitute 30.4% of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP, which is the second highest indicator in the world after Nepal.

And yet despite all that, its authorities feel entitled to spit in Russia’s face.

All in all, it is hard to think of a single development that best represents the retreat of Russian influence from Central Asia.

This is, of course, hardly a singular affair. Kazakhstan is moving to the Latin alphabet by 2025. Tajikistan banned this year’s Immortal Regiments march on the grounds that it is non-Islamic (though it was not enforced). Uzbekistan has been particularly hostile, removing Europeans from important state positions, dismantling World War II monuments, and leaving both the CSTO and Eurasian Economic Community around 2010. Russia’s response? Mayor Sergey Sobyanin is going to use city funds to install a monument to the late Uzbek President for Life Islam Karimov in the center of Moscow.

And there are no signs that this is going to come to a stop anytime soon. As a rule, the Central Asians are ruled by Soviet relicts with strong cultural ties to (if not exactly sympathy for) Eurasia’s other post-Soviet elites. These are people whom the likes of Putin understand and are comfortable with. But as they age and die off, these countries are going to drift farther and farther away from Russia as the ethnic draw of Turkey, the religious draw of the Islamic ummah, the economic preponderance of China, and the cultural preponderance of America make themselves fully felt on the youngest generations and on the intelligentsia. This is already happening and there is no absolutely no reason to expect that Russia’s alternative, the Great Patriotic War victory cult – in which Central Asians played a marginal role anyway – is going to be a competitive one.

The future of Central Asia is nationalist and Islamic – probably, more of the former in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and more of the latter in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

This shouldn’t translate into any feelings of blame or bitterness. For all the Eurasianists’ efforts to argue otherwise, Russia and Turkestan are separate civilizations that don’t have much more in common than France and its African colonies. As such, it is pointless for Russians to begrudge them their efforts to establish their own “identity”; that it comes at Russia’s expense is only to be expected. It does, however, means that a rational and hard-headed Russian government should start dealing with them as the truly independent, nezalezhnye entities that they so earnestly appear to want to be.

At a minimum, this would mean an immediate end to Central Asian autocrats offloading their surplus labor and drugs onto Russia via open borders, an end to Russian taxpayer-subsidized loans and their inevitable write-offs, and certainly an end to even any discussions about statues to their Great Leaders in the Russian capital.

But it is hard to imagine Putin ceasing to support and subsidize the Soviet fossils with whom he so strongly identifies with. Besides, the cheap labor is good for business, the bodies are good for bolstering attendance at pro-regime demonstrations, and the drugs help keep masses of venal siloviks employed. And so in all likelihood this will continue until the next round of color revolutions drives what remains of Russia’s influence out of Central Asia.

 
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An anti-Putin journalist gets her throat slashed by an intruder forcing his way into one of the last bastions of “free, independent journalism” in Russia.

As if that wasn’t enough, it came on the background of a recent Russian TV geopolitical drama series called “The Sleepers” – sort of a Russian analogue of “The Americans” – about CIA attempts to foment a color revolution in Russia, which was prominently featured on leading TV station Channel 1 and evidently enjoyed official support thanks to its “patriotic” themes. In particular, one scene featured the murder of a female liberal journalist by getting her throat cut, as part of a terrorist campaign against the pro-Western opposition that is orchestrated by the CIA as a false flag to discredit the Kremlin.

So not only was this a picture seemingly perfectly made for Western cameras, but it was also one further accentuated by the paranoia fuel provided by this dark example of fiction seeping into reality.

Predictably, the Russian liberal crowd wasted no time in rushing off to blame the Kremlin, Putinists, Channel 1, and Russians in general.

navalny-on-stabbing

Alexey Navalny: Nothing is clear yet. But they have already concluded: No politics, nothing to do with journalism. How interesting. First thing RIA and Interfax rush to tell us is that this is hooliganism, personal motives, and has no relation to journalism.

orlova-on-stabbing

Karina Orlova (Russia correspondent for The National Interest; also affiliated with Echo of Moscow): Everyone who doesn’t consider himself to be the lowest worm must name Minaev (the author of the scenario) a bastard, must name Ernst a bastard, must name the director Bykov a bastard, must name every actor in this series a bastard, and must stop communicating with them, greeting them, being friends with them, doing selfies with them. Any of my friends who are also friends with Minaev or any of the others, go fuck yourselves, you bitches, unFriend me immediately. And those of you who complained about the [liberal campaign of] smears against Bykov, please get the fuck out of here too.

dzyadko-on-stabbing

Tikhon Dzyadko (a well-known name in the narrow circles of the Russian liberal opposition): There are many psychos amongst Echo of Moscow’s listeners. If they learn from TV that Echo is an enemy, then they will draw their knives. You shitheads from Channel 1 – you are responsible for this.

Well, the least you could say was that he got the “many psychos amongst Echo of Moscow’s listeners” part right.

boris-grits

The man who stabbed Tatyana Felgenhayer, a liberal journalist at Echo of Moscow, was literally a mentally ill Jew, Israeli resident, and anti-Putin Ukraine supporter who believes she was telepathically hacking his brainwaves. Or, in other words, as many Russians joked, your representative Echo of Moscow listener (just substitute Putin for Tatyana Felgenhauer).

No, seriously, the perpetrator, Boris Grits, has been posting all about it on his blog since 2015. Here is his last post on the matter: https://bgrits68.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/diary/

Today I was finally convinced that hackers are working for this Felgengauer bitch.

For the last couple of days she started to look for a way to control my heart. She was trying to find a way to control and stop my breathing for a long time now. However, yesterday morning I woke up with a feeling of a steel ring around my heart. And this morning I had a feeling of heavy cold in my heart.

Due to this situation, now that she has transitioned from using me to satisfy her sexual desires to threatening my life, I have turned to a famous Moscow psychic, Mikhail Perepelitsin; I have known him for over 30 years, from my childhood days, when he treated me for nephritis.

I’ve asked him to have a look at this person, the person who follows me with such ruthless persistence and cruelty. Mikhail Lvovich asked me to send a photo of the person. And guess what happened at the exact moment I’ve tried to download her photo of the Internet? It broke. It worked fine before that, but I had to restart my mobile phone (I only have Internet access through my phone) several times to make it work again.

Now I’m not surprised that she instantly knows what I say and write, she watches me constantly.

Apart from giving us his Very Valuable Thoughts on how to contain Russia in Syria and the Ukraine, most of Grits’ blog is him whining about his failure to get an academic position at an Israeli university, despite having completed a postdoc at U.C. Davis and the University of Tel Aviv. This may have been the cause of his mental health problems.

Or Mossad (j/k).

boris-grits-jews-literally-did-this

What’s even funnier is that not only was Grits literally a “psycho Echo of Moscow listener,” he even had direct contacts with that clique.

Earlier this year, Grits had written to one Natalia Barschevskaya, asking her to provide him with legal advice (presumably to do with his failure to find academic employment). Accorging to her Twitter, Barschevskaya is a liberal socialite residing in “Moscow, London, and the entire world,” most of whose posts seem to be devoted to pouring dirt on Russia. Grits mentioned to her that he bathed her when she was 5-6 years old at a beach on the Black Sea. Back in 2014, Barschevskaya had written of a “romantic meeting” with Alexey Venediktov, the scandalous Jewish chief editor of Echo of Moscow, which suggests she revolves in that world.

The victim, Tatyana Felgenhauer, is herself an ethnic Russian, being the adoptive daughter of Pavel Felgenhauer, the military analyst who has predicted twelve of Russia’s past zero military defeats.

tl;dr version: It’s like a Jewish anecdote.

What happened: Schizo Jew suffering from paranoid delusions about Jews tries to murder the Russian adoptive daughter of a Jew at an anti-Putin media outlet headed by a Jew and financed by Gazprom.

Whom Russian liberals believe to be responsible: Putler, Channel 1, and Russian fascist scum in general.

 
• Category: Humor • Tags: Jews, Russia, Russian Media 
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The Russian bureaucracy is, admittedly, a lot better than it used to be. In comparison to the state of affairs even just a decade ago, there are fewer papers to fill out, staff are more courteous, and many more tasks can be done online.

The contrast relative to the 1990s is even starker, when outright bribes were not infrequently required to carry out routine services. This is now most definitely a thing of the past.

A large number of “My Documents” centers have been built across the country under the philosopher of making a large variety of different services available under the same roof. They are located in large, modern buildings, tend to employ younger people, and advertise hotlines for reporting unprofessional or corrupt conduct.

These improvements are reflected in Russia moving from around 120th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings a decade ago, to 40th as of 2016.

Which still makes it a horrendous nightmare by American/British standards.

Say what you will about the Eternal Anglo, but they have really figured out this bureaucracy thing. Even the Germans that I have met in the UK consider their bureaucracy slow and capricious by comparison, to say nothing of Mediterraneans or East Europeans.

All bureaucracies make mistakes, lose papers, muck up appointment dates, etc. But this is where the similarities end. In Anglo world, staff apologize for any mishaps and devote extra attention to making things right, possibly because they actually feel guilty before the client (the very possibility of “bureaucrat guilt” is difficult to even process for those born behind the Hajnal Line). In Russia, they don’t give a fuck about your travails – at best. At worst, you will meet rudeness (hamstvo) the likes of which someone who has only dealt with Anglo bureaucracies can barely imagine, as the bureaucrats try to unload the blame on you for their own incompetence.

Personal anecdote from the past year. When I was returning to Russia in December 2016, I had a minor problem; my foreign passport (zagranpasport) had expired. No worries, in such cases you can get a Return Certificate (svidetelstvo na vozvrashenie) that confirms you as a Russian citizen; after that, you need to go back within a certain number of days, after which you will have another few days to apply for a new passport. I managed to do this through the Russian Consulate in London, though it took a few more days that it should have thanks to an appointment scheduling mess-up on their part, which they naturally blamed on me (I was somehow responsible for them associating a wrong day to a date).

This is where I encountered my first serious issue. I had already booked my flight back with a Spanish airline with a stop-over in Barcelona, but then the Russian Consulate in London informed me that it needed to be a direct flight. When I asked them why they hadn’t informed me of that earlier, before my booking, they falsely insisted that they had. After a lengthy argument, I got them to submit – I had no intentions of wasting ~$500 booking another flight – but they warned me that I would not be allowed to fly onto Russia in Spain and that all consequent problems would be my problem, and got me to sign a declaration to that effect (!).

As it happened, the Spaniards themselves were entirely cool with my Return Certificate, and gave it no more than a glance when I was boarding; this was evidently a routine process for them. More curiously, at the time I also discovered that this seemed to be a “hard rule” only at the Russian Consulate in London; the one in Marseilles listed a direct flight as only a recommedation. Clearly the guys in London were (rudely) incompetent at best, or perhaps had an “arrangement” with some booking agent or the airline itself. Who knows.

But my problems hadn’t ended there – now that I was back in Russia, I needed to get my domestic passport, also expired, replaced. And I needed to do it pretty fast, since the passport is central to Russian life – you can’t get a cell phone number or even visit some museums without one. (I suppose that the lower trust societies are, the more they make up for it with papers).

chinovnik-racial-phenotype So I went down to the local documents center. Since my case – both foreign and domestic passports expired – wasn’t the most routine one, I was called into the office of the head honcho there, a corpulent, middle-aged, heavy-browed man with that distinct chinovnik racial phenotype who proceeded to give me a crash course in Russian Bureaucracy 101.

Instead of getting to work on my problem, he decided to give me a lengthy interrogation.

Why didn’t you renew your passport?” he barked.

“You can only renew it in Russia, I wasn’t in Russia.”

Why didn’t you return to Russia?”

“Because I was busy. Could you please tell me how is this relevant?”

Why did you return to Russia?”

“Why not, LOL. Also, may I inquire what business is this of yours?”

The hell it’s my business! Why didn’t you renew your passport in time?

It went on around in circles like this for several minutes, but the best was yet to come.

If you didn’t renew your passport you obviously didn’t care about it, so why don’t you fuck off back to America?” (sic)

Sensing that things were rapidly heading to an ignominious conclusion, and by this point thoroughly pissed off, I grabbed my documents, told him he was a fat, useless cockroach who had wasted enough of my time, and wheeled out of the room before he could sputter out a reply.

The next place where I tried to get my passport issues sorted processed my problem quickly and professionally, which I suppose goes to show that the quality of bureaucratic service remains… quite uneven.

Rules of thumb for dealing with Russian bureaucrats:

1. Don’t. Do as many things online as possible.

2. Never take the information that they put on the Internet at face value. It varies department from department, Consulate from Consulate. They don’t always even get their opening times right.

3. The starting assumption should be that they have zero interest in helping your resolve your issue. Base your actions on this assumption.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Russia, The AK 
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moscow-2049

Eurasian Federation, 2049.

Half a year ago I wrote about the absurd legal case against Dmitry Bobrov, a Russian nationalist who was sentenced for using extremist terminology such as “the great Russian people.”

No, I am not even exaggerating, here is the formal conclusion of the court’s “linguistics expert,” Galina Melnik (who is also a professor at Saint Petersburg State University and a published author in American scientific journals):

Linguistic terms are used that constitute evidence of propaganda of the exclusivity of the white race and ethnic Russians. For instance, there are epithets that positively characterize ethnic Russians – “The great Russian people,” “Russians are the most prospective white people,” “planetary significance,” as well as phrases, that negatively characterize other races – “Non-white peoples,” “races of a second order”; various exaggerations; writing words with capital letters so as to give a specific meaning to concepts – White people, Russians, Russian Popular Socialists, Russian Socialism [AK: The names of ethnicities are uncapitalized according to standard Russian grammar]; phrases such as that some peoples “have a phase of obscuration, degradation, and disorientation,” while others are experiencing a “steady growth in the national consciousness.”

I assure you that this sounds as deranged in Russian as it does in English. Apparently, the phrase “great Russian people” is propaganda of exclusivity, the phrase “white people” demeans non-whites, and violating the standard grammatical rules of capitalization in the Russian languages constitutes the most outrageous sort of extremism. American SJWs are nervously smoking in the corner.

The only possibly questionable phrase in the quoted paragraph is “races of a second order.” However, in the article that got Dmitry Bobrov into trouble, “Racial Doctrine of the National Social Initiative” (which is blocked in Russia), it is explicitly stated that the phrase refers to subraces, as opposed to implying a racial hierarchy.

The combination of evolutionary and historical processes led to the fact that now a large White race consists of several subraces, or races of the second order.

Evidently, Galina Melnik did not feel the need to give this vital piece of context in her summary.

This Orwellianism echoes the arguments of another contributing “linguistics expert,” Rezeda Salahutdinova (who has a degree in the joke subject of “Scientific Communism” from Kazan University):

In particular, she declared that the phrase “white race” just by itself fans the flames of hatred, because “they don’t talk like that in modern science” and that the expression “non-white people” is extremist, since it attacks the national dignity of other peoples.

It is heard to describe this theater of the absurd under the guise of a law court. When she was asked, “What specific racial, national, ethnic, social, or other groups were insulted?”, she replied: “All those groups, that are not identified with whites.”

Even though Dmitry Bobrov, representing himself, absolutely destroyed the arguments of the prosecutors’ pocket linguistic experts – court transcripts show even the judge becoming annoyed with their incompetence – he still ended up getting sentenced to 2 years in a penal colony.

In the event, Bobrov went missing on the day the verdict was set to be announced and is now considered to be on the run. Hopefully he is safe in a foreign country.

And to top it all off, citizens of Country 282 have to listen to lectures from Hillary Clinton about how Putler heads the global white supremacist movement and read Washington Post op-eds by affirmative action Kremlinologists on how Russia “disparages black people” and “centers the Russian slav.”

Anyhow.

This Kafkaevschina finally motivated me to run a guide on avoiding Russia’s hate speech laws at my Russian language blog: Руководство по Избежанию 282

Here is a summary in English.

1. Strictly avoid any Nazi symbology.

That includes “ironic Nazism” of the sort that the Alt Right likes to play around with.

But all rules have exceptions.

If you are sufficiently close to the Kremlin you may well write articles along the lines of “Hitler did nothing wrong” (at least up until 1939). You can also organize conferences for foreign Neo-Nazis freaks, such as the International Russian Conservative Forum in 2015; some Galactic Brain in the Kremlin even came up with the idea of inviting German Neo-Nazi Udo Voigt, with his entirely non-ironic demands to return Kaliningrad to Germany.

2. Don’t insult Caucasians.

All countries have differential racial hierarchies for the permissibility of insulting different racial and ethnic groups.

handshakeworthy-russophobia

Handshakeworthy anti-Russian racism from /r/politics.

For instance, ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper thought nothing of saying that Russians are “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique” in a meeting with NBC journalists – one wonders how long somebody who said anything remotely similar about Jews would last in his job (actually we don’t have to wonder at all). Clearly, Jews, Blacks, the gay race, and the fat race are at the top, while white rednecks and Russians are at the bottom.

In Russia, there is a similar Great Chain of Racial Privilege.

One Russian nationalist, Konstantin Krylov, got convicted under Article 282 for his considered and entirely mild-mannered position on the issue of federal transfers to the Caucasus: “It it time to do away with this strange economic system.” In contrast, Holocaust denial only became illegal in 2014, and authors such as Israel Shamir with a reputation for anti-Semitism haven’t encountered significant problems (unlike his French language publisher, who was faced with a ban of the book he had translated and the prospect of three months in jail). On the other hand, you can’t relax too much: The Stalinist singer Alexander Kharchikov had one of his songs, consisting entirely of folk sayings about Jews, banned for extremism in 2012.

In fairness, Russia does also jail the most cartoonishly extreme Russophobes, such as Boris Stomakhin, who called for terrorist actions against Russian civilians to fight against “Chechen genocide.” In the West and amongst Russian liberals, Stomakhin is considered a prisoner of consciousness, because in their world, supporting terrorism against Russians is far more handshakeworthy than waxing lyrical about “the great Russian people.”

3. Don’t be an oppositionist.

This is so obvious that it hardly needs an explication – but that doesn’t make it into a rock-solid defense either.

For instance, just a few weeks ago, the police searched the offices of the Institute of Russian Civilization, a bookshop that focuses on republishing historical works – not Mein Kampf or Last Will of the Russian Fascist, but entirely mainstream texts in the Russian conservative and theological tradition, many of whom Putin has himself cited in his speeches (e.g. Berdyaev, Danilevsky, Ilyin, Karamzin, Pobedonostsev, Soloviev, Trubetzkoy, Khomyakov).

Apart from blocking the oppositionist Sputnik i Pogrom, Russian censorship authority also blocks the website of the Russian Imperial Movement, even though it is Orthodox-monarchic and entirely non-racialist in character, and even went to the trouble of advancing Russia’s geopolitical goals by sending a batallion to the Donbass in 2014.

4. You can’t be pro-Ukrainian.

You can if you’re a liberal – in that case, that’s actually expected of you – but you can’t if you’re a nationalist, especially with respect to the Crimea, for which there is a “separatism” clause on the lawbooks.

5. Don’t appear on law enforcement’s radar.

Possibly what really did Bobrov in is that he has a previous (and justified) conviction from back in the 2000s, when he headed the Schulz-88 Neo-Nazi gang that beat up immigrants. The current conviction is unjust, not only because this time round he literally did nothing wrong, but because the state is essentially sending violent Neo-Nazis a message: Regardless of whether your active is legal or illegal, violence or non-violent, we are still going to lock you up the same.

But let’s assume you’re not already “marked” by dint of previous legal troubles.

Here’s something you should bear in mind: The various Russian silovik agencies are not staffed by especially bright or conscientious people – in the case of Roskomnadzor or “Center E” (police anti-extremism division), their priorities are to fulfill their monthly quotas for finding “extremists” and get their bonuses for doing so. As such, they spend much of their time in the rich and easily accessible hunting grounds of VKontakte, which remains Russia’s most popular social network. As such, it would do well for “politicals” to limit their VKontakte posting to cat memes, while maintaining the bulk of their “meaningful” presence on Facebook and Twitter.

very-extremist-material

NSFR (Not Safe For Russia): What got Andrey Voronin in trouble just a few days ago.

Incidentally, this applies likewise for Westerners. Since nationalism is an almost purely “export” product so far as the Putlerreich is concerned, The Daily Stormer has been able to maintain an uninterrupted presence on VKontakte – even as Russians on the platform get in legal trouble for reposting historical illustrations that happen to feature a swastika.

6. Pay your mite to ZOG.

Liberals have an admirable tendency to stick up for each other, thanks to their higher IQs and levels of trust.

Nationalists are the opposite.

Whereas a liberal in Bobrov’s position would have gotten no end of attention from (predominantly liberal) human rights organizations, hardly any nationalist website anybody apart from Sputnik i Pogrom even bothered to highlight his case.

This problem is a very hard one and frankly the dearth of human capital is the single most crippling problem for conservatives and nationalists well nigh everywhere.

It is ironic that if anybody is going to seriously represent and advocate for you if you get in trouble, it will likely be a liberal with an idealistic commitment to free speech.

Therefore, the least that you can do is to pay at least symbolic fealty to ZOG – for instance, by affirming your commitment to free speech and human rights – so that when you do get sent off to the Gulag, the liberal sphere – which has at least ten times as much media influence as the nationalists – can’t just dismiss you by saying that this sort of world is what you were fighting for anyway.

7. Don’t listen to all this advice.

Doing so will just make you a mindless Kremlin propagandist. They’re a dime dozen anyway, and you probably won’t get rich even if you stand out, since all the most lucrative positions have long been carved up anyway.

Besides, as the host of our ROGPR podcast Kirill Nesterov acerbically noted, at the rate the wheels are coming off the Kremlin’s prosecution machine, it won’t be long before people start going to jail for justifying the return of the Crimea – and we’re not even entirely sure that this will happen after Putin loses power.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Freedom of Speech, Hate Speech, Law, Russia 
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lenta-russian-billionaires-2014

In 2014, Lenta.ru conducted a study into the ethnic composition of Russia’s billionaires. (Steve Sailer picked it up as well). The observation that Jews constituted 21% of the Russian Forbes 200 predictably drove handshakeworthy journalists, Jews, and especially Jewish journalists into a tizzy (as I recall, when I asked him when he was also going to condemn Forbes Israel, which also loves to count Jewish billionaires, that was when anti-Russian hack Ben Judah blocked me).

The hysteria concealed real failings in the article. There was no clear methodology. Furthermore, the numbers of Ukrainians in the ratings seemed vastly inflated. They supposedly constituted 12% of Russian billionaires, even though most of them were nothing of the sort; the analytical team seems to have just consigned everyone with a surname ending in “ko” to the Ukrainian race. This makes about as much sense as counting Donald Drumpf as a German oligarch in America.

Still, some general trends could be clearly discerned. Russians – that is, Russians and Russians misattributed as Ukrainians and Belorussians – consituted about 66% of the list’s members and almost exactly half of the combined capital of $481 billion. Jews and Mountain Jews constituted 24% of the list, and had 28% of the capital. All of the rest belonged to Caucasian and Muslim minorities. Notably, there were no traditionally Buddhist/animist Siberian minorities on the list.

top-10-russia-billionaires-2017

In recent days, the blogger Ivan Vladimirov, who produces excellent data-heavy material on Russian demographics, published a similar census based on the spring 2017 edition of the Forbes 200 for Russia for the nationalist journal Sputnik and Pogrom: Who Owns Russia?

Here are some of the more pertinent take-away points:

1. First, he notes that state ownership is now at 70% of the Russian economy, twice its share 10 years ago, so in actual fact, the real “owners” of Russia are now the curators and appointed directors of its state behemoths, such as Igor Sechin (Rosneft) and Alexey Miller (Gazprom).

2. Unlike Lenta.ru, he goes into some detail into his methodology:

  • No “svidomy zmagars” – all the billionaires with distant Ukrainian or Belorussian ancestors are assumed to be Russians by default.
  • Nationality is passed on down the paternal line, including with the Jews.
  • Unless they have openly declared they identify more with another aspect of their ancestry. For instance, Petr Aven (head of Alpha Bank), despite being a Latvian-Russian métis through his father, identifies more with his Jewish maternal grandmother and belongs to Jewish organizations, so he’s considered to be a Jew.
  • No presumption of Jewishness or non-Jewishness based on just the name since there are too many false positives.

russia-billionaires-2017-ethnicity

3. Now we come to the actual numbers – out of the Forbes 200 and their cumulative $459 billion in assets:

Russians constitute 127 (63.5%) of the people in the list, including 57.4% of the capital.

Jews have 41 (20.5%) people in the list, with 24.8% of the capital.

After those came Armenians (7), Tatars (6), Azeris, Chechens, and Ingush (3 each), and two Uzbeks, though one of the latter, Alisher Usmanov, is the fifth richest billionaire in Russia and has a relatively “interesting” public profile (a spat with Navalny; funding Western race realists).

4. Vladimirov also notes that the Russian billionaires tend to have a very low degree of national consciousness.

For instance, Evgeny Kaspersky’s comments when asked if he had any Jewish ancestry on a visit to Israel:

I searched and searched, alas, I did not find… I got the name from Polish peasants, who during the uprising in the 1860s emigrated somewhere under Nelidovo about 300km from Moscow. There they married into Russians (that is, Slavic, Tatar, Polovtsian and whatever else constitutes “Russian” blood from in me). By mother is from the Tambov peasants. But this is the most interesting thing. Tambov was inhabited by soldiers who served their lives in various places. And soldiers sometimes came with brides from the most different places. And according to indirect data – I have roots from Scandinavia and Persia. But from Israel – alas, no… Although who knows?

This is, of course, nonsense from a population genetics standpoint. But one of the tropes of Soviet/Russian multiculturalism is that Russians are mulattoes up and there is no such thing as a Russian anyway. And the Russian elites respect this legacy, after as they’ve long done away with the economic aspects of Soviet dogma.

In fairness, this multicultural spirit likewise applies to Russia’s Muslim elite. He cites the example of Mikhail Gutsuryev, who sits on the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Museum and Center of Tolerance, while at the same time funding the construction of synagogues, Orthodox churches, and mosques. Or Lukoil head Vagit Alekperov, an Azeri-Russian, who renovated the main Russian Orthodox church of Imperial-era Baku, and prefers to keep his silence on matters of religion: According to a NYT profile of him from 2004, he “prudently keeps leather-bound copies of both the Koran and the Bible at his office, to allay any concerns that he prefers one almighty to another.”

5. I also noticed that Russia’s statistics are rather similar to America’s.

In the US, North-West Europeans make up 51% of the members and own 56% of the cumulative assets in the Forbes 2010 list – this is almost identical to the figures for Russians in Russia, though on the other hand, this demographic group only makes up about 50% of the US population (non-Hispanic Whites minus Greeks, Italians, etc.), whereas Russians constitute 80% of Russia.

Jews own about a quarter of Russia but more than a third of the US – that said, they only make up 0.1% of the Russian population, versus 2% of the US population. That said, as Vladimirov points out, the more relevant indicator would be their 0.5% share of the Soviet population c.1989.

It is also interesting to note that “southern” diasporas, which in Russia’s case are Caucasians (Armenians, Azeris, Ingush, and for that matter, the Jews), are relatively more successful in commerce/becoming billionaires in Russia. This is also true for the US, where Italians, Middle Easterners, and Greeks are overrepresented as a share of the population. This is even though with the exception of the Jews, who are massively overrepresented, their IQs are no higher than those of WASPs or Russians, and possibly noticeably lower. I have speculated at times whether this “commercial trait” of people with Near Eastern/East Med ancestry could have developed as a consequence of their unrivalled length of experience with urban life and the associated haggling, bartering, etc. skills it selected for over the millennia.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Billionaires, Russia 
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While I was writing an article about Russian IQ for Sputnik and Pogrom the past few days, I noticed this amazing statistic from the 2010 Census.

Percentage of the population with a postgrad degree:

1. Ingushetia: 1.59%
2. Moscow: 1.12%

90. Chechnya: 0.32%

Ingushetia is Chechnya’s quieter, lower T, slyer brother. They are part of the same Ichkerian nation. But instead of going head on against a nation that outnumbered them a hundredfold in the 1990s, they manipulated the situation to extract very generous monetary concessions from the federal center while their kinfolk withered under Russian bombs.

Today, they are the region with Russia’s highest rate of unemployment, the lowest Internet penetration, the lowest patents per capita. They are 85% subsidized by other Russian regions, more so than any other region. Back during the Soviet period, there were only 90 scientists for every 100,000 Ingush, versus 573 for the Russians.

Even so, this region somehow manages to have the the highest rate of people with postgrad degrees in Russia.

Say what you will about ol’ Ramzan, but at least he keeps his peeps in check. Based Chechen men need no diploma mill degrees.

 
• Category: Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Academia, Chechnya, Corruption, Russia 
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According to the latest estimates, Russia might harvest as much as 133 million tons of grain this year.

russia-grain-production

This would make 2017 a record harvest not just by post-Soviet standards, which were pretty dismal until the past decade, but relative to the RSFSR’s peak of 127.4mn tons in 1978.

(This is the case even after adjusting for Crimea’s absence from the RSFSR after 1954, since the parched peninsula only produces about a million tons of grain per year).

The US Department of Agriculture predicts that Russia will overtake the US and the EU to become the world’s largest single wheat exporter in 2017, accounting for a sixth of the world’s total and recovering its old Tsarist status as one of the world’s great breadbaskets.

world-grain-exports

Incidentally, if it were to also recover its Tsarist era borders, especially the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, it would account for about a third of world wheat exports.

One of the big proximate reasons for this are recent economic developments. Few sectors of the Russian economy have gained as much from the ruble devaluation and the sanctions as agriculture.

However, there are strong secular trends that Russia’s new breadbasket status is here to stay.

The world population is growing, and the climate is warming. This will raise global demand for calories, channeling investment into Russian agriculture, even as crop yields go up thanks to longer growing seasons and more atmospheric CO2, and previously inhospitable lands are opened up for agricultural exploitation.

burke-temperature-economy Russia is predicted to economically benefit more than any other country from global warming, and relatively speaking, agriculture can be expected to benefit more than any other sector. Meanwhile, conviently, major competitors such as Australia and the US will be wracked by droughts.

Russia is no longer the Soviet Union, where grain imports were running at 30 million tons by the 1980s – that is, about as much as just Russia by itself now exports – and draining the country of foreign currency. There are now many agricultural conglomerates competing in a free global market, responsive to price signals and intolerant of waste (about a quarter of the Soviet potato harvest rotted away in transportation). This is an opportunity that Russia will continue to exploit.

Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev has suggested that in the future, Russian export earnings from grain exports may come to equal or even eclipse those from hydrocarbons, in effect fully returning Russia to its foreign trade position during late Tsarism.

This is unlikely any time soon. Even as late as 2015, Russia exported a total of $7.4 billion of crops, which is not only an order of magnitude lower than its $189 billion worth of hydrocarbons and minerals exports, but is not even sufficient to cover its $9.3 billion worth of crop imports (primarily vegetables and tropical crops like coffee and citrus fruits).

Nonetheless, both the global prices for and Russian production of grains is likely to continue soaring in the decades ahead. Meanwhile, the outlook for oil is far less certain. While the supergiants continue depleting rapidly, new extraction technologies have postponed the oil peak for an indeterminate number of future decades, and electric cars will increasingly bite away on the demand side. So Tkachev’s vision is not altogether fantastical.

 
• Category: Economics • Tags: Agriculture, Russia 
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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.