The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
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Assessing Russia's effective strength has been a problem for observers of the country since its inception. It's a riddle, an enigma and a mystery all wrapped up in one, as Churchill wryly noted long ago, and that's unlikely to change soon. In any case the paradigm has certainly held these past fifteen years since the... Read More
Saakashvili wins Georgian elections in first round (January 6th) This normally wouldn't matter much, but bearing in mind the narrowness of Saakashvili's final score (52.21 as of 8 Jan) this can be significant. The perception of the fairness of the vote was important because the Bush administration has cited Saakashvili's government as an example of... Read More
Rally against Georgia poll result And time and time again, consistently, there surface allegations of fraud. This is not to say Georgia is a failure at democracy, but that there were serious problems in the conduct of these elections is in no doubt. Georgia protesters give poll icy reception Facing the demonstrators across the river... Read More
The Western media has begun to whine about the Russian presidential elections five weeks in advance. Their beef is that Kasyanov was barred from running, ostensibly because above 5% of his required signatures were rigged, but actually to undercut the last independent candidate - Russia's last and only hope of salvation from the 'slippery slope... Read More
Bertelsmann Stiftung has released Who Rules the World?, a very interesting survey where people from different countries are asked: what are the Great Powers today?, what makes a country a Great Power? and which countries will be Great Powers in 2020? Now the title of Great Power is something that is given to a country,... Read More
The most important development has been Medvedev's election to the Presidency with 70.2% of the vote. While it has not been squeaky clean (and as such, no different from any other Russian election under either Yeltsin or Putin), the more hystryonic claims of voter intimidation are to be treated with a pinch of salt -... Read More
This is how the Economist celebrates Russia's presidential election - the Trouble with Russia's Economy, represented by a bear gorging itself on oil (i.e. invoking the Myth of the Russian Oil Curse, which we have debunked far too many times to count on this blog). Guess we'll have to do it again. Never mind that... Read More
The US State Department has released its latest human rights report - as usual, a veritable list of America's bugbears (North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Syria, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Eritrea and Sudan are the 'top ten'). It is true that the majority of the above are pretty odious regimes, with the partial exception of Belarus... Read More
EDIT: Check out the updated Top 50 Russophobe Myths. According to this blog's philosophy, every thesis needs an antithesis. Hence I present the Top 10 Russophobe Myths, in opposition to La Russophobe's Top 10 Russophile Myths. (As well as to celebrate our 2000th visit). 10 MYTH: The barbarous state of Muscovy arose in the sixteenth... Read More
Medvedev gives his first foreign media interview (to the Financial Times), in which he charts the bedrock of his presidency. Will continue to pursue primarily Russia's, not the West's, interests. Will work in tandem with Putin, to whom he is neither puppet nor rebel. Will strive to root out "legal nihilism" / proizvol in Russia... Read More
In this blog, I have documented how a) corruption in Russia is similar to the average for middle-income countries and b) it has improved slightly under Putin. This is backed by data from the World Bank's Governance Indicators, Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer and World Bank statistics on problems with corruption and bureaucracy. Nonetheless, the... Read More
Two weeks ago Illarionov gave an interview on the Echo of Moscow radio station. Covering it in-depth is somewhat of a pointless exercise, what with him comparing 1999-2007 Russia with Nazi Germany in 1932-40 (because of their rapid economic growth and Russia's supposed loss of the rule of law). Now not only is invoking Godwin's... Read More
America's desire to have Ukraine and Georgia accede to MAP foundered on European opposition from Germany, France and (somewhat surprisingly) the UK, despite Saakashvili's implicit comparison of this to Nazi appeasement. Nonetheless, this is good for NATO as an alliance (as we've covered previously, the European desire for a rapprochement is linked to Russian logistical... Read More
Let's start with two excellent new resources I've recently come across. Russia: Other Points of View states its objectives thus: Hmm... Sounds quite similar to Da Russophile, in fact, and makes a substantial part of our News posts redundant. As such I'll be referring to it frequently. The other is the Moscow Defence Brief, an... Read More
It's official. Wiki even has an article on it (2008 War in South Ossetia). It's quite balanced and always updated, so I recommend reading it over any news source. I admit that I was under the impression that this conflict would yet simmer for a few years, as they already have been, a spectacle of... Read More
Russia's representative at the UNSC, Vitaly Churkin, against the dramatic backdrop of Georgia's criminal assault on Ossetia that is implicitly backed by the US and its closest allies, made a great speech lambasting Western hypocrisy, comparable to Putin's bravura performance in Munich. Security Council 5953rd Meeting (AM) - SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS THIRD EMERGENCY MEETING AS... Read More
Patrick Armstron in Russia Today penned a polemic on the Importance of Chronology. The issues he raises are so important that I will quote it in full. ... On Thursday August 7, 2008, President Saakashvili of Georgia went on TV and addressed his country. There had been outbreaks of shooting in South Ossetia for some... Read More
Streetwise Professor wrote On Russophobia, The charge of “Russophobia” is hurled around with some abandon, and I have been the target of such accusations on more than one occasion, especially in the hothouse environment of the ongoing Russo-Georgian War. More often than not, this word is used as an ad hominem substitute for reasoned argument,... Read More
Russia: Other Points of View, predictably enough, has had a plethora of "rich" (in the "yeah, that's rich!" sense of the word) materials to condemn the Western's media's tendency to present opinion and sensationalist rhetoric as fact in the service of one point of view (the West's, or more particularly, America's neocon foreign policy elite).... Read More
Putin gave an interview to CNN, logically and comprehensively explaining the Russian view on the South Ossetian War. What did CNN do? They censored most of the interview (in stark contrast, Saakashvili's frequent deranged rantings bouts got prime attention during the conflict), leaving only the stuff that makes Putin look like a loon to the... Read More
Back in August the Streetwise Professor, Timothy Post and yours truly had a trilateral discussion on the meaning of Russophobia. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Professor's August reply, which is reproduced below. I genuinely appreciate the comment, to which I reply as follows: 1. Edward Said? Puh-lease. Tiresome pomo-ism that elevates banalities about the... Read More
I am being a sarcastic, of course. Ukraine has banned broadcasting of Russian TV channels. Georgia cut access to the .ru domain and banned Russian TV channels (and Euronews!), no doubt to silence any questioning voices over their criminal aggression as opposed to the likes of Fox, CNN or the BBC, which swallowed the psychopathic... Read More
The ludicrous claims spouted by Saakashvili continue falling apart as soon as his febrile mind makes them, forcing even the most ardent Cold Warriors to temper their uncompromising narrative of "Russian aggression against the 'fledgling' Georgian democracy". And despite the impressive achievements of Georgian infowar, after many tribulations the truth came out. OCSE monitors confirmed... Read More
In this essay, I analyze three major areas of concern about the current Russian economy - the debt burden, balance of payments and future fiscal sustainability. Although on paper Russia is comfortably solvent, rolling over debt has been problematic for Russia Inc. because of the shutdown of its traditional financing mechanisms, cheap American credit and... Read More
Debunking Russophobic drivel is somewhat akin to grenade fishing - so damn easy that you almost feel a bit guilty for stooping to such a level and wasting your time. But that's what makes it really fun. So although Fedia Kriukov, Eugene Ivanov, Eric Kraus and the folks over at Russia: Other Points of View... Read More
It is a pity that foreigners are not privy to the wild and wacky world of LiveJournal, Russia's premier blogging site - many prominent people have accounts there and traditions of opposition and kompromat makes for a lively stream of scandal. One recent case involved Tatyana Korchevnaya, who used to be a prominent member of... Read More
Though hard to imagine, the Washington Post - or Pravda on the Potomac, as Eugene Ivanov quite rightly labels it - surpassed even its own sordid standards for Russia coverage, in the form of the latest op-ed from George F. Will in Potemkin Country. Time to go grenade fishing again, I guess. I suppose turning... Read More
Ever since the publication of Filippov's (in)famous textbook A History of Russia 1945-2006 in 2007, the state of Russian history teaching drew a fair degree of negative commentary in the West, some of it reasonably lucid, most of it superficial or hysterical. What the latter have in common is that they almost invariably haven't read... 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
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
Stalin was the “most successful Soviet leader”. Thus proclaims Filippov's controversial textbook A New History of Russia 1945-2006 – a symbol of the Putin-inspired drive to rehabilitate Stalinism and steep the next generation of Russian schoolchildren in the glories of sovereign democracy. Right? Unfortunately, there's just a few problems with this kitschy narrative of neo-Soviet... 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 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
One of my readers, Fedia Kriukov, kindly pointed me to a LiveJournal blog post by Ksenia Larina from August 13th, 2009. She's been working with the liberal "Echo of Moscow" radio station since 1991 and her husband, Rinat Valiulin, had accepted a position with Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty in February 2009. In uncompromising... Read More
Three interesting stories, all tied with Russia and water. 1. The explosion at the Sayano-Shushenskaya dam in Siberia. Though the official Russian version is that it was a blown transformer, the Chechen separatists / terrorists are claiming that it's their work: [...talks about their recent militant attacks in Ingushetia & threatens those who cooperate with... Read More
On the 70th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, signed on August 23, 1939 (also my birthday!), historians, ideologues and everyone in between inevitably fall into a game of recriminations, revisionism and relativism. The anti-Soviet side maintains that the Pact gave Germany a free hand in the... 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
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
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
On May 5th, Levada carried out an opinion poll asking Russians what percentage of their family's income is spent on food. No "Putin licking", useful idiocy, or ifs and buts about it. It is a very straightforward question, put to the Russian people, the long-suffering Russian people for whom Russia's liberals and the Western commentariat... Read More
I enjoyed the egg-throwing scenes from Ukraine's Rada on the ratification of the gas-for-fleet deal with Russia as much as anyone. It also reflected the polarized commentary on the interwebs. The Ukrainian patriot-bloggers get their knickers in a sweaty twist. The academic beigeocrat Alexander Motyl (he of "Why Russia is Really Weak" fame some four... 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
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
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
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
The Russian magazine Esquire came up with some pretty shocking figures: It would be cheaper to pave one 48km road for the Sochi Olympics with elite beluga caviar than asphalt. The total cost would come in at a cool 227 billion rubles, or $160 million per kilometer - five times higher than what it costs... 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
This post is a meta-commentary on media coverage of Russia's drought and wildfires. Now make no mistake, I admire the yeoman work of some journalists in covering Russia burning: no doubt a few will even make their way into the classical cannon such as The Saga of the Burned Foot (Miriam Elder) or The Tale... 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
So you know how the Western commentariat carries on about how Russia Today fawns over the Kremlin and propagates anti-Western propaganda, while shamelessly peddling itself as a paragon of universal truth and uncompromising objectivity? Welcome to the next installment in the never-ending annals of Western media hypocrisy, brought to you courtesy of Dorothée Olliéric, hack... Read More
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.