And finally, you can view your Pressimus profile by clicking on your profile image, and selecting your profile, and you can customize your Pressimus settings by selecting settings.
Watch quick explainer video
Finish
X

Request Invitation




Submit
Close
Submit
Stream by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
January 23, 2016

Publication: Windows on Eurasia
Readability View
Press View
Show oldest first
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
The Water is Getting Warmer for the Frog
Staunton, VA, January 23, 2016 - Many are expecting that the conclusion of the British judicial investigation into the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko that Vladimir Putin was behind that crime will lead to a sea change in the reaction of the West to Putin and his regime. As much as one would like to believe that, the prospects do not appear to be good.

The reason is simple: Western leaders and indeed Western publics are like the proverbial frog who might have jumped out of a kettle of boiling water but quietly accepts their position if the water is simply warmed up, ultimately to boiling. Each rise in temperature is accepted as the new normal, and the overall trend toward the boiling point is ignored or at least discounted.

Putin began his rise by killing 300 of his own citizens to restart a vicious war in Chechnya, but most in the West refused to accept the findings of experts and the evidence from Ryazan on that and continued to look at him as the continuer of the market-oriented policies that the West cared more about than democracy and freedom.

Putin arrested and in some cases had his opponents killed, and again Western leaders said just as they had in the 1930s about Hitler that the stories were overblown and that the Kremlin leader was someone the West had a compelling interest to cooperate with rather than contain and work to remove.

Putin laid out his plans for a revanchist policy in Munich, and these were dismissed in Washington and other capitals as playing to his domestic audience. Then he invaded Georgia and more recently he has invaded Ukraine. But instead of supporting those victims of Russian aggression, the West chose to negotiate with Putin about them without them.

In every case, the logic has been the same: First, some constantly try to blame the victims, suggesting that Putin had to act the way he did. Then, they insist that he couldn’t be as bad as his critics say. And then, such people argue that even if he is, he is still someone they have to talk to because of Russia’s power.

Because of such attitudes, there has always been a market for those who argue that they can establish rapport with Putin and his regime and achieve a breakthrough. Those who suggest they are deceiving themselves on that point and even being played are dismissed now just as consistently as were “the wild Churchill men” who opposed Hitler.

What is perhaps the most appalling and hypocritical aspect of this situation is that many Western governments do in fact take small steps indicating they understand the situation but do not refrain from saying how sorry they are to have to do even that or from dispatching their diplomats to Moscow to negotiate with Putin about his agenda.

The time has come to recognize that Putin, like Hitler and Stalin before him, will keep moving in increasingly horrific directions both at home and abroad unless the rest of the world clearly recognizes his evil and takes steps to block him for its sake and for the sake of Russians as well because despite Putin’s megalomania, Putin is not Russia and Russia is not Putin.

But as of yet and despite the Litvinenko case findings, there tragically does not seem to be much of a willingness to recognize the reality we find ourselves in: the water that the frog finds itself in is getting hotter and hotter and unless something is done, the water will boil – and the frog as a result will die.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Revival of ‘Enemy of the People’ and Other Odious Soviet Terms Threatens Russia, Nazaccent Warns
Staunton, VA, January 23, 2016 -- The revival of odious Soviet terms like “enemy of the people” and the legitimation of them because of their use by Ramzan Kadyrov and others represents a threat to Russia because it promotes the kind of stereotypical thinking that will divide Russia and threaten its future, according to the Guild of Inter-Ethnic Journalism.

“The reincarnation of [such] forgotten terms,” the editors of its media project Nazaccent.ru say, only encourages people to identify entire peoples as “’wild’” or “’venal,’” a trend that does nothing to promote “the consolidation of society.” Indeed, they say, “everyone loses."

The harshness of such expressions “is a sign of the building up of dissatisfaction, the inability to negotiate or to find a compromise. This is a dangerous place in which we in our history more than once have entered and … it undermined the entire world,” the specialists on ethnic issues continue.

“Terms like ‘enemy of the people,’ ‘shame of the country,’ and others like them were in widespread use beginning in the 1920s until the middle of the last century. They accompanied and to a certain extent justified the most horrific events connected with the self-destruction of our Russian nation: a civil war, political repressions and deportations.”

Once people begin to call some of their fellow citizens “enemies” that means that “it isn’t necessary to speak with them but only destroy them.” And to the extent that happens, society very quickly “matures” to the point that it will be ready to view entire peoples as “hostile” and subject them to forced resettlement or make them into second class citizens.

Any Chechen should be aware of this given that his nation was one of the 12 peoples of the USSR which were declared to be “bad,” the editors say. And thus the question arises: Is this the only way to cope with the naturally occurring differences within Russian society? Or would it not be better to “leave these dangerous phrases on the shelf of history?”

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
If Putin Invades the Baltics, Russia Will Share the Fate of the USSR, Shtepa Says

Staunton, VA, January 23, 2016 -- The Soviet Union disintegrated when Moscow attempted to hold the periphery and in the first instance the illegally occupied Baltic countries by force alone, Vadiim Shtepa says. And if the Russian Federation is foolish enough to invade the Baltic countries now, it will share the Soviet Union’s fate.

Indeed, the Russian regionalist who now lives in Tallinn says, “in this way, the Baltic countries which at one time began the disintegration of the USSR will in a paradoxical way play a similar historical role also for its ‘legal successor’."

In an article yesterday entitled “Russia and the Baltics: Who is Scaring Whom?” Shtepa writes that this month is the 25th anniversary of Moscow’s efforts to hold the USSR together by using force in Lithuania and Latvia, actions that had the unintended effect of accelerating the demise of that country because few wanted to live in a state held together by force alone.

As the world knows, “Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia played a leading role in the liquidation of the Soviet empire,” above all by insisting on the denunciation of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by which Stalin and Hitler divided up Eastern Europe, Shtepa says.

“The democratic Russia of 1991 willingly recognized the independence of the Baltic countries,” he continues. “But present-day Putin Russia has rapidly evolved in the direction of the former Soviet imperial worldview. Now the president of the Russian Federation declares that the disintegration of the USSR was ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.’”

Tragically, that has become “mainstream” thinking in Moscow, with Putin and his supporters viewing “all the rest of the post-Soviet countries not as really independent state but as some kind of political misunderstanding which by accident” appeared on the map. “And if they insist on their independence, Russia will begin to treat them in a hostile way up to and including using military force against them” as in Georgia and Ukraine.

The Baltic countries, however, by joining NATO in 2004 “have turned out to be beyond reach” and “possibly therefore they generate particular hostility among the restorers of empire” who know that they cannot act against the three the way they have elsewhere lest Russia find itself in a conflict with “the most important military alliance on the planet.”

But that hasn’t stopped Russian commentators from talking about using force against Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Shtepa says. An MGIMO military expert, for example, has suggested that Moscow should do just that if NATO backs its member Turkey against Russia, something he says it could do easily and quickly.

It hasn’t prevented Vladimir Putin from promulgating a new security doctrine which identifies NATO and of course NATO countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as “potential enemies” of the Russian Federation.

And it has not stopped the Russian defense ministry from announcing the formation of new divisions in the west, divisions that could be deployed at the Baltic countries, an action that Russian commentators have suggested is simply a reasonable Moscow response to NATO’s efforts to support its members.

A few people in the West have been intimidated by Moscow’s statements and actions, but they forget the facts of history, the Russian regionalist says. “The Baltic countries sought to join NATO precisely in order to secure themselves forever from possible repetition of aggression by their eastern neighbor.”

Shtepa adds: “it is instructive that today, 48 percent of the citizens of Ukraine support joining NATO, when only a year ago the figure was 34 percent.” Thus, in Ukraine as in the Baltic countries, Russian aggression has led to a result opposite to what Moscow intends, to growing interest in the Western alliance.

Unfortunately, Moscow does not appear to have learned this lesson or to be constrained from doing the unthinkable. Two years ago, a Russian war against Ukraine “seemed improbably absurd but then it became a tragic reality.” Consequently, one should not dismiss Russia rhetoric as “a simple bluff” or as playing to a domestic audience.”

Moreover, Shtepa writes, “Russia in the course of the [Ukrainian] war has used a plethora of technologies which it is now customary to call ‘hybrid.’” And it is quite likely that any Russian aggression against the Baltics would not at least at the beginning have the form of “a direct military invasion.”

“For a Kremlin filled with nostalgia for the USSR,” he concludes, “opposition to ‘the hostile West’ has been transformed already into an end in itself,” and “in this artificially pumped up atmosphere, it is impossible to exclude that some kind of tragic accident could trigger” a real military clash between Russia and NATO in the Baltic countries.

But given what such an action would lead to for Russia itself in the first instance, it is thus worth asking who should be more afraid of such a move, those in Moscow possibly considering it or those Moscow thinks would be its only victims? 

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
An Insidious Way Moscow has Employed to Subvert Non-Russian Languages
Staunton, VA, January 23, 2016 -- Most of those who track the ways that Moscow has sought to limit the use of non-Russian languages focus on such things as the closure of non-Russian schools and media outlets or other restrictions on the use of non-Russian languages relative to Russian.

But a Catalonian scholar who has been teaching in Chuvashia for more than 20 years has pointed out an even more insidious way that the Russian authorities are not only subverting non-Russian languages but forcing non-Russians who want to speak or even read their own language correctly to learn Russian first.

In an article in a new collection of studies on Chuvash orthography, Hector Alos-i-Font points out that there are two systems regarding the borrowing of words in non-Russian languages, one that governs borrowings from Russian and a second that governs borrowings from other languages.

With regard to borrowings by non-Russians from languages other than Russian, he writes, the non-Russians can impose their own orthographic rules on spelling and usage; but with regard to borrowings by non-Russians from Russian, they must follow Russian rules. That means that to speak or even read a non-Russian language correctly requires a knowledge of Russian.

His article, “The Orthography of Russian Borrowings as a Codification of the Subordinate Status of the Chuvash Language and the Problem of Pronunciation Norms” [in Russian], appeared in the book Chuvashskaya orfografiya vchera, segodnya, zavtra(Cheboksary, 2015), pp. 113-127. It is available online here).

The situation in this regard in Chuvash is particularly dire, Alos-i-Font says. One cannot even correctly read a Chuvash dictionary without a knowledge of Russian because there are so many Russian words included and because they are written in a form and with a stress that is alien to Chuvash.

This is a product of a Stalin-era policy that has been largely maintained, he writes. Prior to the 1930s, Chuvash added a large number of words to its lexicon from Russian and other languages, but as is true in most such cases, it reformatted them to correspond with Chuvash orthodoxy and stress. After the early 1930s, this changed.

While borrowings from other languages continued to be “Chuvashized,” Alos-i-Font continues, borrowings from Russian were maintained in the Russian format and with Russian stress as a means of promoting Russian language knowledge and of signifying the subordinate status of Chuvash in the USSR.

This rule has infected Chuvash in a variety of ways. It has had the effect of changing the phonemic structure of the language, of changing spellings, and even affected word order and other critical parts of the use of the language by writers and other educated people in ways that have harmed apparently completely intentionally Chuvash as a independent language.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Kadyrov Feels He has Carte Blanche and That Makes Him Dangerous, Analyst Says
Staunton, VA, January 23, 2016 - Ramzan Kadyrov forced the Kremlin to choose between himself and the Russian opposition, Abbas Gallyamov says. The Kremlin chose the Chechen leader, and now he feels that he has carte blanche to do whatever he wants. Given that he doesn’t feel constrained by law, Kadyrov may very well follow through on his threats.

And that possibility, the Bashkir analyst suggests, is especially dangerous because as a result “now, for the first time in a long time, the nationality [ethnicity] question has become part of the order of the day,” with the possibility of clashes not just between Kadyrov and the Russian opposition but between Russians and non-Russians as well.

Gallyamov’s conclusions are cited by Elizaveta Mayetnaya and Andrey Vinokurov as the conclusion of a Gazeta article on the demonstration yesterday in Grozny in support of Kadyrov and what that meeting and the statements made at and around it means for the Russian opposition and for Russia as a whole.

Kadyrov did not attend the meeting in Grozny, but his aides expanded on his earlier threats, naming names of those they consider “traitors” who should be punished and excluded from Russian political life.

In many ways, the most disturbing of these statements came from Adam Delimkhanov, a Duma deputy whom Kadyrov earlier declared would be his eventual successor. He declared that he had “enemies lists” in his possession that that “whoever they are and wherever they are ... they will answer for” their actions and words.

“They will answer according to the law,” the deputy told the crowd; “and not by the law” if necessary. “They can be located as well outside the Russian Federation, but in other countries. We will not apply their laws because to traitors there can be only one approach and that is as traitors.” He ended by shouting “Allahu Akbar!”

Among those attacked and especially viciously was Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group and the grande dame of the Russian human rights community. Not only had Kadyrov’s news agency posted an ugly caricature of her in advance, but some participants in the meeting carried it as a poster.

Alekseyeva “was among the first,” the two Gazeta journalists write, to call for Kadyrov’s ouster after he called opposition figures “enemies of the people” and “traitors.” Consequently, it is perhaps not surprising that she was singled out by Kadyrov and his supporters.

Alekseyeva has been and remains fearless, and like other rights activists and opposition figures was not intimidated by these latest attacks. But some like Gallyamov are saying that this time the threats may be more serious, especially given that Kadyrov raised the ante still further in comments on LifeNews.ru  after the Grozny meeting.

Talking about Putin’s opponents, Kadyrov said that “they are not citizens of Russia; they are shameful. These devils should not be in Russia, and I declare war in every sense of this word.” And he added that no one should be allowed “to try to conduct a policy directed at the collapse of our sovereign state.”

And declaring that he is “a soldier and is prepared to assume all responsibility that there won’t be any such devils among us,” Kadyrov called on “all patriots” of Russia to strike out at such people.

Commenting on these remarks, Moscow political analyst Aleksey Makarkin said that he was concerned that Kadyrov’s words may not have greater consequences than earlier because “after the murder of Nemtsov, everything has acquired a much more serious character.”

Kadyrov has positioned himself as “Putin’s man,” Makarkin continued, but “for the current powers that be, he is at one and the same time a resource and a threat.” He’s needed for fighting in the Donbas or talking to the Jordanian king, but “there is a sense htat with a change in policy the need for him is declining.”

Moreover, there are the problems that will arise when one of Kadyrov’s men, Zaur Dadayev, is brought to trial in the Nemtsov case. For the Chechen leader, his ability or inability to defend his man is “a question of prestige.”

“It is possible,” the Moscow commentator says, “that Kadyrov now wants to be used at the federal level in a new capacity, for example as a defender against all ‘American criminals.” No one in Moscow wants two offend him, but most there would like to “limit or localize” his activities.”

Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin suggested a few days ago that Kadyrov should be more careful in what he says, and no senior Russian official attended the Grozny demonstration despite Kadyrov’s effort to portray it as an “all-Russian” action. But the evening before, the top ranks of United Russia were shown in a picture backing Kadyrov.

It is perhaps the case that most people in Moscow would be happy if the Kadyrov issue would simply go away, but for the time being, he and it aren’t going anywhere, Makarkin said, and thus Kadyrov’s threats of legal and extra-legal action can’t be dismissed out of hand. For better or worse, “Ramzan is something completely serious.”
X

Acknowledgements