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Not often that you see Russia in some color other than bloody red on a world map of corruption or institutional quality. But according to the Open Budget Index (2012 results), the Russian budget is actually pretty transparent as far as these things go. Of the major countries, only the UK (88), France (83), and... Read More
Here is the article, by Nick Cohen. And below are the two comments (one by myself) that were censored. I have corrected a few grammatical points in this post. They were eventually restored, wonder of wonders, but only after two days - and therefore all interest - had passed, and after I had sent an... Read More
1. For Russian orphans life is much more dangerous in Russia than in America. Let's agree to disregard the hidden subtext which implies that any country ought to give over its orphans to foreign nationals should it be ranked safer for children. Let's first examine if the claim that Russia is 39 times more dangerous... Read More
There is a term on Runet, popularized by the satirical "dissident" Lev Sharansky, called "democratic journalist." Of course, this term is every bit as satirical as its main propagator. In the Russian context, it denotes a journalist who is obsessed with free speech, human rights, democracy, the whole turkey. But they are "obsessed" with them... Read More
Natalia Zubarevich's concept of "The Four Russias" is one of the most reasoned and perceptive political analysis from the liberals, and as such I think it important enough to translate it (mostly I disagree with its core assumptions and conclusions though I do think it is a useful way of envisioning Russian politics). As such... Read More
One of the most common arguments made to explain why Russians don't finally overthrow the evil Putin in a bloody bunt is that they are brainwashed by the regime's TV propaganda stations. This isn't actually very accurate at all. Russian TV isn't any more propagandistic than in the West, and on some issues, less so;... Read More
A PR disaster: Five views on Pussy Riot's war. Go, read. Comment there if possible. Just a couple more notes: Since I submitted the article, commentator peter made one of the most convincing arguments against the validity of the sentence against Pussy Riot. I suppose this will be raised in PR's appeal. Just to clarify,... Read More
Just to hammer down the myth of Russian impoverishment one more time (with the help of graphs from Sergey Zhuravlev's blog)... In the past few years, in terms of basic necessities (food, clothing, housing) Russia has basically (re)converged to where the Soviet Union left off. Here is a graph of food consumption via Zhuravlev. At... Read More
And just as the Guardianistas and K.F. & Co. bury their heads ever deeper in the sand, real world statistics show confirm my thesis from the beginning of this year that Russia's demographic crisis has for all intents and purposes come to an end. As of May there was a y-y increase of 17% (!)... Read More
Via The Economist, I've come across some fascinating research by Orley Ashenfelter and Stepan Jurajda (Comparing Real Wage Rates, 2012) showing how real wages can be meaningfully compared across different regions by taking notes on prices and wages in McDonald's restaurants. The methodology seems solid. Big Macs are a very standardized product, hence they are... Read More
In my nearly 20 years experience as a Russian living in the West, I have found that almost all my fellows can be reduced to five basic types: 1) The White Russian; 2) The Sovok Jew; 3) The Egghead Emigre; 4) Natasha Gold-Digger; 5) Putin's Expat. My background and qualifications to write on this topic?... Read More
Two weeks back, the distinguished Estonian poet and linguist Jaan Kaplinski in a comment on this blog linked to his article in the Russian-Estonian paper День за Днем lamenting the state of Estonian - Russian relations, especially as they were apparently really good back in the Tsarist days. In that article from От противостояния к... Read More
One of the most common tropes against Russia is that critical (independent, democratic, etc) journalists there are dying like flies, presumably because of the "culture of impunity" created by Putin or even on his express orders. It is rarely mentioned that the statistical chances of a Russian journalist dying by homicide is an order of... Read More
One thing that an observer of Russian politics can't help noticing is the sheer impossibility of appeasing the Russian liberals. Here are two recent exhibits from the Moscow Times. First, coming to the end of his Presidency, Medvedev pardoned some people in a list of political prisoners presented by the non-systemic opposition a few months... Read More
It's one thing if Western journalists and Yukos PR henchmen - if there is indeed any difference - shill for all they're worth about the travails of Khodorkovsky, the former oligarch doing time for fleecing the Russian Treasury to the tune of billions of dollars, charges he sooner boasts about than denies when given the... Read More
Despite the unremitting hostility of its Russian neighbor, which crescendoed in a military occupation of a chunk of its territories, plucky Georgia's commitment to reform and democratic values will ensure its rapid development into a "booming Western-style economy." Under its charismatic Western-trained President, Saakashvili, it has rooted out corruption, ushered in untold prosperity and freedoms,... Read More
Apart from direct falsifications, which were extensively discussed here, the other really big criticism of the Russian elections process is that it isn't a level playing field. As said by an OSCE bureaucrat, "The point of elections is that the outcome should be uncertain. This was not the case in Russia." Well wait a second.... Read More
This post is a follow-up to a similar one for the 2011 Duma elections. It contains an extensive list of blogger, pundit and “expert” opinions on the extent of fraud in the 2011 Duma elections. Interspersed among these opinions and analyses are results from federal opinion polls, election monitors, and other evidence. In general, it... Read More
Here it is: Reading the Russian election. Please comment at their site, rather than here, if possible.
Russia has a long and proud drinking culture; according to the chronicle of its founding, the main reason it chose Christianity over Islam was the latter’s prohibition of booze. Vodka has been distilled there since at least the 12th century. As of the time of writing, it is the world’s largest spirits market by volume... Read More
Courtesy of Evgeny's comment at Mark Adomanis' blog, I found a very interesting piece by Sergey Lukyanenko - the bestselling Russian sci-fi writer best known for his Night Watch series, which was later converted into Russia's first blockbuster film in 2004 - on the recent turmoil in Russian politics. It is a bit dated, from... Read More
Despite Olga Kryshtanovskaya's disapproval, I thought it would be interesting and useful to compile a comprehensive list of blogger, pundit and "expert" opinions on the extent of fraud in the 2011 Duma elections. Interspersed among these opinions and analyses are results from federal opinion polls and other evidence. In general, it seems we can identify... Read More
In the aftermath of the 2011 Duma elections, the Russian blogosphere was abuzz with allegations of electoral fraud. Many of these were anecdotal or purely rhetorical in nature; some were more concrete, but variegated or ambiguous. A prime example of these were opinion polls and exit polls, which variably supported and contradicted the Kremlin's claims... Read More
The long-promised post is out, but not here but at Al Jazeera: Truth and falsifications in Russia. It has also been translated into Russian at Inosmi.ru (Правда и фальсификации в России). In the spirit of democracy, I am adopting Alexander Kireev's poll (kireev) to ask you guys what YOU think about how falsified these elections... Read More
It is now increasingly evident that Russia's population has settled on a small but decidedly firm upwards growth trend. I have been vindicated. According to the latest data, in the first eight months of the year births fell by 1.4% (12.5/1000 to 12.3/1000) and deaths fell by 6.2% (from 14.6/1000 to 13.7/1000) relative to the... Read More
Do you remember the growing chorus of voices in the Western media speaking of a "growing wave" of emigration from Putin's Russia? Those 1.25 million liberal professionals who have fled that neo-Soviet abyss in the past few years? As it turns out, not only are these stories complete fabrications - in a previous post, I... Read More
Иn the wake of the 2009 recession, declinist rhetoric has come to dominate discussion of Russia's economic prospects. Jim O'Neill, the founder of the BRIC's concept, has his work cut out defending Russia's expulsion from the group in favor of Indonesia, Mexico, or some other random middle-sized country. Journalists in the Western media claim its... Read More
Next in our line of Watching the Russia Watchers interviews is Mark Chapman, the fiery Canadian sailor who's been blazing a path of destruction through the fetid Russophobe ranks since July 2010. That was when he first set up The Kremlin Stooge, after being blocked from La Russophobe, who couldn't withstand his powerful arguments without... Read More
The notion that Russian elections are systemically rigged to keep the "party of power" in, well, power is so prevalent and accepted in journalistic, political, and academic discourse in the West that it has little need of supporting documentation. Taking the 2007 Duma elections as an example, they were described as "not fair" by OSCE,... Read More
Two weeks ago, I received a Facebook message from Kim Zigfeld, she of the infamous La Russophobe, asking me if I was interested in an interview with her. It didn't take long for me to come to the wrong decision! And so commenced our interview. It was a long grind. After ceaseless goings back and... Read More
Every so often there appear claims, not only in the Western press but the Russian one, that (rising but overpopulated) China is destined to fight an (ailing and creaking) Russia for possession of its resources in the Far East*. For reasons that should be obvious, this is almost completely implausible for the next few decades.... Read More
In recent months, there has coalesced yet another, fleeting Russian liberal movement, focused on holding (unsanctioned) protests on the last day of the month to draw attention to the 31st article of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of assembly. As is usually the case with other sagas in the (largely illusory & irrelevant) "Kremlin Regime vs... Read More
This is a reprint of my article for the Sep/Oct 2010 issue of Russian Life magazine. It is a condensed version of Rosstat and Levada are Russophobia’s Bane. Enjoy! There is a Catechism that dominates American discourse on Russia today. Just flip through The Washington Post’s editorials, peruse American political science journals or listen (cringe)... Read More
The next installment of our Watching the Russia Watchers series at S/O features an interview with Peter Lavelle, the main political analyst at the Russia Today TV network, host of its CrossTalk debate show and Untimely Thoughts blogger. (He also has a Wikipedia page!) Peter is opposed to Western media hegemony, considering it neither fair... Read More
In the post with A Good Treaty's interview, the commentator peter recommended this book, ВЛАСТЬ-2010: 60 биографий (Power in 2010: 60 biographies) by Vladimir Pribylovsky, as a "useful primer on who's who in the Kremlin". I happen to agree - with many qualifications, which are discussed below - which is why I translated its introductory... Read More
Kicking off the Watching the Russia Watchers interview series at S/O is the promising new blogger A Good Treaty. He is a DC-based foreign policy analyst who prefers a "good treaty with Russia" to only treating with a good Russia: as a foreign policy realist, he is averse to neocon (and neoliberal / liberal interventionist)... Read More
Still no economic collapse. Still no anti-Putin bunt. Still no demographic apocalypse. As the years pass by, Russophobe canard after Russophobe trope is relegated to the dust-heap of history, only to rise back out of its grave, zombie-like, whenever Boris Nemtsov pens a brilliant indictment hysterical screed on the failures of Putinism or when the... Read More
During the past two years, Russian "dissident" liberals Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov have produced a frankly maniacal quantity of so-called "Independent Expert Reports" (there are now seven of them) that purport to debunk the "persistent myths imposed by official [Kremlin] propaganda". The authors say that their latest exegesis, melodramatically entitled "Putin. The Results. 10... Read More
In the wake of the economic crisis in which Russia's GDP fell by a stunning 7.9% in 2009, its status as a BRIC economy - with its connotations of promise and progress - was brought into question. After all, isn't it a dying nation with rapidly degrading infrastructure? Isn't it amazingly corrupt? Wouldn't its contempt... Read More
One of the staples of the neocon-Russophobe narrative is that Russia is alone in the world, utterly bereft of friends, left only with the likes of Nicaragua and Nauru to indulge it in its anachronistic "imperial fantasies". Not really. Conflating the West with the world won't change the fact that amongst the peoples of China,... Read More
За нас за вас и за десант и за спецназ! I would like to start off by expressing my deepest respects to the Red Army veterans who fought and died so that (literally) hundreds of millions of their Slavic brethren could live. Вечная слава героям! Last year I discussed four myths about the Eastern Front,... Read More
I've been accused of being a "Russophile cockroach", an "amoral Putin lackey", and overall bad guy. Guilty as charged! Yes, I do like Russia and don't have much good to say about the Western media's coverage of it. Yes, I don't give much of damn for the moralistic posturing that any vapid idiot Kremlinologist can... Read More
Mark Adomanis, who recently burst into the Russia-watching blogosphere like a fluffy pink grenade, has a series on "Who is the world's worst Russia analyst"? (So far Stephen Blank and Leon Aron are in the running). Personally, I think that Ed Lucas would "win" hands down. However, since he's already been exposed and discredited on... Read More
Please make any comments at Andy's blog Siberian Light. Those of you with long memories will remember the series of interviews I did with top Russia bloggers, back in early 2007. Well, after a very long hiatus, I’ve decided it’s time to resurrect the series again – and who better to start with than Anatoly... Read More
This post tries to debunk some popular, but misguided, views on demographic trends in today's Russia. These consist of the perception that Russia is in a demographic "death spiral" that dooms it to national decline (Biden, Eberstadt, NIC, CIA, Stratfor, etc). Some extreme pessimists even predict that ethnic Russians - ravaged by AIDS, infertility and... Read More
Here I will try to categorize all the major Russia-watching schools along two axes: 1) a Russophobe - Russophile axis and 2) a values spectrum on attitudes towards the West as a universal mental matrix. Along these lines I created the image map below which attempts to graphically deconstruct the belief systems many prominent Russia-watchers... Read More
This is a list of common Russophobe myths about Russia and its people, and the successor to a March 2008 post on a similar theme. Please be sure to check the supporting notes at the bottom before dismissing this as neo-Soviet propaganda. Also partially available en français & на русском thanks to Alexandre Latsa's translation.... Read More
At certain venues, “Russophiles” take a lot of flak for holding the beliefs and worldviews that they do. Many of their “arguments” can be predicted in advance based on prior experience. I’ve compiled a list of quick rebuttals to some common Russophobe accusations and insinuations so that we don’t have to waste our time formulating... Read More
This is a succinct summary of my views on Russian demography, written about 2 months ago. Through the Looking Glass at Russia's Demography By Anatoly Karlin In 1992, for the first time since the Great Patriotic War, deaths exceeded births, forming the so-called “Russian Cross”. Since then the population fell from 149mn to 142mn souls.... Read More
This April, Michael Bohm, editor at the Moscow Times, published the article New Kremlin Dreamers, which questioned Russia's stated intention of becoming an advanced industrial nation by 2020. I wasn't much impressed by its pessimistic assertions - for instance, regarding Russia's hopes of becoming the world's fifth largest economy by 2020, he falls into the... Read More
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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.