There are global cultures, there are local cultures… It’s stupid to deny, that some peoples have contributed more, while others have contributed less, while a third group are – forgive me – Ukrainians.
This is what the journalist Oleg Kashin said a few days ago in a discussion at Echo of Moscow, one of Russia’s premier liberal media outlets.
Echo of Moscow journalist Evgenia Albats was not too happy with this:
One of the Russian well-known columnists ( Oleg Kashin) publicly stated: "It is foolish to deny that some (nations) have more contributions, others less, and some even Ukrainians." Am I correct to consider that to be a nazi-type of a statement?
— albats (@albats) November 23, 2018
He is also correct about the Ukrainians, who not only haven’t produced much (Grushevsky, Franko, and Lesya Ukrainka are not exactly household names) but actively parasite on other people’s achievements, claiming for themselves Sacher-Masoch, Korolev, Makarenko, Bulgakov, even Sikorsky.
But truth is no defense against the Albats Archipelago.
Soon after that came out, Albats went to Facebook to demand that the editors of a number of Russian journals cease any cooperation with Kashin. Though as many people, including Kashin, have pointed out, what must have actually set her off was Kashin’s joke about how exactly her newspaper The News Times – which practically no-one reads (it has less than 20% the visitorship of the Unz Review) – had somehow managed to collect 25 million rubles ($400,000) within a day to pay off some legal fees it had incurred. Where were they getting the money from?
Here is some context for the sane people who don’t follow the dreary and backstabbing world of the Russian liberal tusovka.
Albats is widely viewed as one of the key “gatekeepers” in the Russian liberal journalistic clique. Back in 2006, she had tried to torpedo the career of Anna Arutyunyan, a moderately anti-Kremlin journalist, for supposedly not paying sufficient respect to the late Politkovskaya, a reporter who had been murdered. Arutyunyan said that she was more of a human rights activist than a journalist, which was objectively correct – she was closer to someone like Greenwald or John Pilger than someone like Paul Klebnikov. This is the context in which Albats acquired that moniker by way of a classic article at the muckraking magazine The Exile.
Oleg Kashin is not really a Nazi. He is a liberal journalist who dislikes Putin and now lives in London. He once got international attention for getting seriously beaten up in connection with his professional work.
Back in 2013, when I ran the short-lived Russian Spectrum project to translate articles from the Russian media into English, I translated a couple of his articles.
In the first article, he wrote about the murder of a homosexual, and how he hoped it would shock the nation into cultural change towards LGBT acceptance. That didn’t exactly pan out, but it does illustrate his values.
In the second article I translated, he argues that Russian anti-Semitism is, for all intents and purposes, dead. Now I know that Julia Ioffe earnestly disagrees, because Putin has the gall to talk about Russian suffering in World War II (no, really). Still, considering that Trumpgate-consumed Washington Post has recently published articles with headlines such as “In a strange twist of fate, now it’s Russian Jews praying for American Jews,” I think we can definitively say that Kashin was more or less right.
Incidentally, that anti-Semitism article was Kashin’s response to a 2013 article by Alexey Pankin, a pro-Kremlin pundit who works (or used to work) at Komsomolskaya Pravda, in which he had also called him an anti-Semite:
In that piece, Kashin referred to one of the senior editors as “some special Jew whose name I don’t recall.” …
So after reading the anti-Semitic statements by Kashin, who is also a member of the opposition’s Coordinating Council, I awaited a similarly strong reaction from his fellow opposition members. But it never came.
Okay, whatever, LOL.
Anyhow, congrats I suppose to Kashin, who has managed to get called an anti-Semitic Nazi by both Putinist writers and now “Archipelago Albats” at Echo of Moscow.
I wouldn’t worry too much about his career prospects. He’s got massive name recognition and will thrive even on the off chance that anybody actually heeds Albats’ diktats. Fortunately, unlike the actual SPLC, she almost never succeeds at deplatforming people.
That said, this still begs the question of why so many people have a bee up their bonnet about Kashin.
As mentioned above, he is not a Putinist, and does not much like Putinists. They largely return the favor, and in all fairness, he does have a talent for feeding normie outrage by his “powerful takes,” such as making fun of the Saint-Petersburg metro bombing in 2015.
But neither is Kashin a standard “liberal”, at least in the sense of the pejorative connotations that the word carries amongst many Russians (namely, authoritarian vindictiveness married to pathological Russophobia). He thinks it’s ridiculous to call Georgia’s incorporation into the USSR an occupation (even if he’s not “based” enough to extend the same logic to Latvia). Kashin supported the annexation of Crimea (he does consider it an illegal occupation), though he did not extend that support to the Donbass. All this makes him “unhandshakeworthy” so far as the most hardcore “demshiza” liberals are concerned, such as the sorts who make pilgrimages to Washington D.C. with lists of proposed sanctions against Russia.
Rounding out the picture, Kashin also on friendly terms with some Russian nationalists, such as Sputnik & Pogrom’s Egor Prosvirnin, for whom he even did some reporting in Crimea in 2014. Needless to say, this association severely triggers the more handshakeworthy liberals. He also makes semi-regular appearances on Prosvirnin’s livestreams. Speaking of which, here is one from a few days ago (in Russian ofc), in which Kashin turns up during the first 15 minutes to discuss Albats’ hysterics*:
One interesting and very telling thing that gets mentioned is that Navalny – who both Western leftist Russophobes and normie Putinists tend to portray as a nationalist – only ever goes to Albats’ shows on Echo of Moscow.
So there you have it. Navalny – heroic oppositionist to Putin, who will topple him any day now, but who may also be a scary Russian nationalist chauvinist – Western Russia watchers can never quite agree on the details – and his favorite conversation partner on air is… wait for it: A one-woman SPLC with a most… stereotypical family history for her tribe (grandfather was a candidate member of the Communist Party who was arrested and shot in 1937).
The more one learns about the inner realities of Russia’s ideological currents the more hilarious Western perceptions of Russia become.
* I was also on that podcast, and discussed other topics with Prosvirnin and Kirill Nesterov after Kashin left, such as Chinese-Russian relations and CRISPR-transhumanism.