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Alexander Mercouris has a typically excellent writeup at Russia have to say that it is quite a masterpiece of redpill trolling. Here are some of my own highlights of the speech and brief commentary: Good start. In fact, at that time, Crimea was literally part of the RSFSR. Always good to work in a reminder... Read More
In a recent interview with the opposition Dozhd TV channel - which is, incidentally, available for public viewing in Russia as part of the NTV Plus satellite TV package - for the first time openly declared he wants to be President. He also speculated about the motivations behind the Kirovles fraud case being brought against... Read More
Anti-corruption efforts have been significantly stepped up in recent months, both in terms of headline making events (e.g. the dismissal of Serdyukov) and the less heralded progress in the introduction of new laws to combat the source. One of these is a ban on Russian bureaucrats holding foreign bank accounts (this represents a watering down... Read More
"I will either return to the Kremlin on a white horse, or in a black limousine to the Mausoleum." It is customary to say something nice about the recently deceased, so here goes... *ahem.* If not for Berezovsky, Putin probably wouldn't be President. UPDATE: As expected, the conspiracy theories have inevitably began to crawl out... Read More
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
The latest US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel focused on an assessment of Putin's historical legacy, on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Here I try to answer whether history will see Putin as the "founder of a modern and successful Russia", or as a tragic figure who threw away his chance of greatness to the "delusion... 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
I can't be bothered deconstructing it as I did with the demographic section of Boris Nemtsov's last (seventh) white paper. But there are some things to be said about its claims as regards Putin's lifestyle and its coverage in the Western media. (1) The definitions of what constitutes one of Putin's "residences" is very loose.... Read More
There's tons of criticism that Russia no longer has a "national idea." The sentiment comes from almost everyone: Nationalists, liberasts, Communists, foreign critics, Russian "experts" with far too much time on their hands, and even some otherwise astute observers. I don't disagree with the thesis, but do ask: Why is that such a bad thing?... 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
One of the things that most annoys me about Western coverage of St.-Petersburg's law against homosexual propaganda to minors, the case against Pussy Riot, etc., is how it is almost always presented as a show-down between "liberated" and "creative" Russians and the macho dictator Putin. In reality, of course, it's a culture war - and... Read More
From their latest Editorial / anti-Putin rant, via Mercouris. It is not with the ideological rhetoric that I have an issue with; it's The Guardian, after all. Nor am I especially interested in defending Pussy Riot's prosecution (my own views on the matter jive with Kononenko's). I do however have an issue with the The... Read More
I'm not a big fan of analyzing Russian politics via "Kremlin clans". Estimating their relative power seems to involve mostly tea leaf reading, and in any case the entire exercise is of dubious predictive value. Even the exact compositions and identities of the various clans differ from analyst to analyst! Besides, clans are hardly unique... Read More
Yet another oft-repeated Western trope about Russian politics is that Putin has "lost the middle classes" (Brian Whitmore, paging Kudrin), that it is liberals who speak for the middle class (Fred Weir), or even that it is not just the middle class who are against Putin but the masses too (Masha Gessen). Let's look at... Read More
Le Nouvel Observateur recently compiled opinions on Russian democracy from each of the ten French Presidential candidates. While the Left is highly critical of the authoritarian Putin regime, the Right is more favorably disposed to the Russian President-elect. On the eve of the first round of the French Presidential elections, I provide a translation of... Read More
It's all so predictable. In its main piece on the elections, The Economist wrote: Note that the "at least" (my emphasis) part is supposed to give the impression that Putin's result may well have been less than the 50% needed to avoid a second round, thus making him illegitimate. They totally glide over the inconvenient... Read More
Once again, a picture that's worth a thousand words, courtesy of Alex Kireev: A map of how Russians abroad voted in the 2012 elections (see below). Quantitatively, they split into three main groupings, each accounting for about a third of the votes from abroad: (1) Residents of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Pridnestrovie; (2) Other republics... Read More
Since yesterday, the following image from an article by liberal journalist Evgenya Albats has been making the rounds on the Internet. It shows that whereas Putin's official tally was 65%, independent observers put it close to or below the 50% marker that would necessitate a second round, such as Golos' 51% and Citizen Observer's 45%.... Read More
Analysis of the election data is now trickling in, so I feel I can now make some real preliminary estimates of the degree of fraud (eventually, I will compile a list of estimates as I did for the 2011 elections). My assessment is that in these elections it was on the order of 3%-4%, which... Read More
Before the 2012 Russian Presidential elections, 23 particularly courageous (or foolhardy?) netizens and Russia watchers participated in a contest on this blog to predict its results for the chance of eternal glory and a free S/O T-Shirt. The winner is the person with the least aggregate error, i.e. the sum of the absolute discrepancies between... Read More
Latest results are getting in that Putin got 63.8%. That a second round would be avoided was never really in serious doubt for the past month, nonetheless the election would still be important from several other perspectives, such as the level of falsifications (in particular, in comparison with 2011), and the relative performance of Zhirinovsky,... Read More
Here it is: Reading the Russian election. Please comment at their site, rather than here, if possible.
Inspired by Kireev's similar posts in Russian, I'm asking S/O readers to predict (1) The official results of the elections, and (2) The actual, i.e. non-falsified, results. Please give them to one decimal point, and include all the five candidates as well as the share of invalid votes. They will be displayed in the table... Read More
it being a sad and fearful prospect, in my opinion a totalitarian reversion for a certain period of time is possible. But the danger lies not in the law enforcement agencies, the power organs, and not even the Army, but in our own mentalities - our people's, our population's, in ourselves. It all seems to... Read More
A few weeks back Navalny brought my attention to this lovely song extolling Putin's achievements by Tolibjon Kurbankhanov, a Tajik singer from exhorts his minions to spread this clip far and wide. The writing between the lines is obvious. His reasons aren't nice and altruistic, but utterly insidious, playing on xenophobia towards Central Asians. The... Read More
The above photo, part of a photo report by Ridus, shows the Anti-Orange protest at Poklonnaya Gora in Moscow on February 4th. Does that look like 35,000 people to you, let alone 20,000 or 15,000? Because those were the most commonly cited figures in the Western media, apart from those cases where they ignored them... Read More
[AK: All old polls are gone - reason, but I recall Putin winning with a good 70% or so.]
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
Citing evidence revolving around pre-elections opinion polls and exit polls, in my Al Jazeera article on the Russian Duma elections I made the argument that "the aggregate level of falsifications is probably at around five per cent, and almost certainly less than ten per cent" (with the caveat that it was far worse in several... Read More
At least, surely more so than Obama, winner of 2009's Nobel Peace Prize. Let's do it by the numbers. Russia under Putin fought one war, in response to Georgian aggression against Ossetians with Russian citizenship and UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers. In contrast, Obama has participated in two wars of aggression: the Iraq War he inherited from... Read More
Now that my initial triumphalism over Putin's return has faded a bit, it's time for a more analytical look. One of the main reasons I thought Medvedev would be the more likely person to be United Russia's Presidential candidate is that Putin was simply unwilling to return. As Daniel Treisman wrote in his book on... Read More
The King returns. As this is breaking news, please feel free to discuss this breaking news while I write up a more substantive post. In summary: (1) I was 75% wrong. (I gave Putin a 25% of returning to the PM; I thought the likeliest scenario would be for DAM to continue). (2) That said,... Read More
Following on from my last post in which I revealed the neoliberal, anti-Russian inclinations of Dmitry Medvedev (pictured left, sporting his new Hitler mustache), let us know consider another question - what to make of his much vaunted liberalism, his humaneness, his consciousness? The Western media as with their liberal Russian running dogs have traditionally... Read More
Not really arguing anything in this post, just sharing some interesting stats I found about the affluent class in Russia (as compared with BRIC's and others). First, as we know Russia is (in)famous for the opulence of it oligarchy. But according to the research firm Wealth-X, despite a relatively high number of billionaires, its overall... 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
Letters, we get letters, we get lots of cards and letters every day. Even fan mail from La Russophobe! Letter to the Editor: Reply to "Given Free Publicity On NTV, Khodorkovsky Only Incriminates Himself Further" (06/11/2011). In a recent blog post, you touted a report about Mikhail Khodorkovsky on state-owned Russian TV channel NTV. Your... 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
I have gone on record with the following odds on Russia's next President: Medvedev – 70%, Putin – 25%, Other – 5%. The first betting site to offer odds on the Russian Presidential election has other ideas. As of June 2011, the British online gambling site Stan James is offering the following odds: Putin 4/7,... 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
One thing that strikes you, as you wander the shops of any Russian city, is the sheer cheapness of booze and cigs. As little as 3 years ago, one could buy a pint-sized bottle of beer or a pack of cigarettes for just $1, while a 0.5l bottle of vodka cost as little as $3.... Read More
Can you tell your siloviki from your civiliki? MVD, FSB or GRU? The breeds of dog underneath those Churchillian carpets? If not, maybe this will help. In August 2010, I translated the introduction to political pundit Vladimir Pribylovsky's recent book ВЛАСТЬ-2010: 60 биографий (Power in 2010: 60 biographies). The resulting Phantom Tandem, Real Triumvirate and... Read More
A thundering takedown of the Financial Times transparently one-sided coverage of the Khodorkovsky affair -and Khodorkovsky says Putin is ‘pitiable’ can also serve as a palimpsest for Western media coverage of this topic in general - from Eric Kraus at Truth and Beauty. BTW, do feel free to add his blog Truth and Beauty to... 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
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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.