‘Why Doesn’t Moscow Set Up an Institute for Enslaving Other Countries?’

Why don’t Russia and the other former Soviet republics have an special institute to produce specialists who know how to “enslave other countries,” having organized pro-Moscow revolutions in them, seized power via coups, and exported “pro-Russian ideology” to them?

That outrageous question is posed today by Erlan Esenaliyev and Ermek Taichibekov, two ethnic Kazakh journalists who proudly identify themselves as Russian imperialists and argue that it is high time Russia created just such a training center so that it won’t be at a loss in knowing how to export its revolutions.

What is important about this article is not that it is much of an indication of what Moscow is about to do – although some would say it has already taken many steps in this direction – but rather as an indication of the radical expansion in recent months of what people in that Russian world think it is entirely reasonable to say.

A year or even six months ago, not even the most fevered Russian imperialist would have asked the question that Esenaliyev and Taichibekov do, and consequently, just as the dangerous ideas of Aleksandr Dugin and his ilk have spread into the mainstream so thoughts like those of these two may do as well.

And just as Vladimir Putin has pursued a policy in Ukraine of two steps forward and one back, to suggest to some in the West that he is reasonable, the appearance of such articles may make it possible that many in Russia and then in the West may find other slightly less outrageous ideas more acceptable than they would have had the more outrageous ones not been said.

In their article, Esenaliyev and Taichibekov say that the events in Ukraine over the past year show that [Russians] do not have any well-developed technologies for seizing entire states” and thus have not been as able as they might be to come to the aid of pro-Moscow forces, who thus fell victim to “small numbers of Ukrainian Nazis and Russophobes.”

Thinking that Russia can get by with ideas that worked a century or more ago, like an atamanshchina, is a mistake, the two says. “The 21st century requires completely new approaches, more contemporary ones, more advanced, and more certain to produce the necessary results.”

Russia together with the member states of the Eurasian Union, Esenaliyev and Taichibekov say, need a special institute where they can prepare “systematically and at a high professional level” specialists who will know how to “extend” the borders of Russia, enter “any corner of the world in a short time with minimum costs,” and “replace any political regime” that Moscow doesn’t like.

If such an institute were to be created and if it were to work “on a conveyor system,” then, they say, “ten years from now, the borders of Russia could be extended to an enormous extent. And again people throughout the world would begin to speak about Russians as a great nation, and Russia would become again as before a world super power.”

Basing troops in former Soviet republics simply isn’t enough, they say, because these troops “sit in their barracks and do not have increase pro-Russian attitudes among the populations there.” It would be far more effective to send “a thousand specialists on expanding the borders of Russian influence” there and elsewhere – including into the US and the EU.

According to these two writers, the US and Britain have been doing this for a long time. “We see how they take over markets, lands, trading points, influence for their goods and services. [They] are occupied with this enslavement system for centuries,” with “the result we know.” Russia, the two say, can do no less.

“Many of the recent misfortunes of Russia and the CIS,” they write, reflect not just the actions of foreign enemies and corruption. They are the product, the two insist, “in the first instance of the lack of systemic institutions for enslavement and the broadening of spheres of influence.”

Russia must move in this direction now, Esenaliyev and Taichibekov say, because if it doesn’t, it will find itself feeding others rather than feeding off them.

NHL stars support the war against Ukraine

A number of Russian NHL stars have quickly taken to backing their homeland in the war against Ukraine, with multiple MVP Alexander Ovechkin making the most recent headlines. The negative attention was significant enough that Hall of Famer Slava Fetisov expressed concern over how Ovechkin will continue to be received by fans in North America.

On Instagram, Ovechkin posted a controversial picture of himself holding a card reading “save children from fascism.” Given the context of evoking ‘fascism’ in Russian rhetoric over the past several months, the Washington Capitals winger is effectively saying Russia must save children from Ukraine and Ukrainians, or possibly even Americans, as many Russians blame the U.S. for importing ‘fascism’ into Ukraine.

Affixed to the picture is also the note: “Our grandparents have seen the horrors of fascism. We will not allow it in our time!!” – clearly throwing his weight behind Russia’s military invasion aimed at preventing Ukrainian democracy and independence from taking root.

Acclaimed historian Timothy Snyder best explains the politics of the term:

Thus began the politics of fascism and anti-fascism, where Moscow was the defender of all that was good, and its critics were fascists. This very effective pose, of course, did not preclude an actual Soviet alliance with the actual Nazis in 1939. Given today’s return of Russian propaganda to anti-fascism, this is an important point to remember: The whole grand moral Manichaeism was meant to serve the state, and as such did not limit it in any way. The embrace of anti-fascism as a rhetorical strategy is quite different from opposing actual fascists.

“Anti-fascist” slogans (and even organizations) are also typically espoused as a smokescreen by Russia’s far-right, a political sphere that ironically contains a plethora of racist, neo-Nazi and indeed fascist figures. A leading figure of this core, Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin, recently called for the outright genocide of Ukrainians, calling for the country to be “cleansed” of the Ukrainian “race of bastards.”

Thankfully, despite Ovechkin’s concerns, hockey for Donetsk area children in liberated territory couldn’t look brighter at the moment. In Druzhkivka, hundreds of players and their families turned out to start the season in the city’s new arena days after his comments.

Ovechkin’s show of support for Putin’s war wasn’t isolated to just the aforementioned photo, as he posted another photo two days later with fellow Russian NHL star Evgeni Malkin, brandishing a pair of Vladimir Putin iPhone cases, “a souvenir from our president.”

For his part, Malkin makes his position directly known in a number of recent uploads. A month ago, he posted photos of himself posing with both a figure of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and an airbrushed portrait of Putin on the hood of a BMW.

More direct though is this group shot which features Malkin (right) and another NHL player, Sergei Gonchar (left) wearing Putin fan shirts in a group photo.

The shirts aren’t simply innocuous kitsch, but rather an advertisement for Crimea’s occupation. The slogan beneath the venerating screen prints of macho-Putin, which is also coyly repeated by Malkin in the photo description (with a smiley face to boot), says “polite people” – a term popularized among Russian nationalists to describe the military personnel who participated in the annexation of Crimea. To people like Malkin and Gonchar, Crimea was a ‘polite’ annexation.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov has also posted a similar picture on his Instagram account, wearing Putin t-shirt which says “Crimea is Ours,” as reported by Sports Illustrated.

Varlamov later deleted this photo after it caught attention
Varlamov later deleted this photo after it caught attention

All of this should come as no surprise given these players’ track records. Following Russia’s IIHF World Championship win this summer, Putin joined in on the celebrations, partying with the players. The championship, which was hosted in Belarus, was wrought with controversy with many fans speculating that the officiating was fixed and rightfully protesting the overlooked actions of the Russian head coach who used a hidden radio device to circumvent his standing suspension.

Ovechkin and Putin

Days later the stars, Ovechkin and Malkin, were seen again being more than chummy with the Russian leader at a state ceremony held for the roster. While they may have just been overjoyed since Putin had just bought the players brand new Mercedes sports cars to celebrate the win, Ovechkin’s personal relationship with the benevolent dictator goes further back, evening having his personal home phone number (the two call each other frequently).

Detroit star Pavel Datsyuk caused a furor earlier in the year for his comments on Russia’s repressive anti-gay laws. When asked for his position he responded with: “I’m an orthodox and that says it all.” As Sports Illustrated pointed out, the Russian orthodox church’s position on the subject is straightforward: “This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction.” The Russian church’s position on Ukraine is, of course, not the least bit more encouraging.

But just how strong are the convictions of these players in their support for Russia? One thing’s for sure, they very much enjoy their American salaries and won’t be too thrilled if Russia continues to clamp down on American imports.


Russian lawmaker asks to ban 100-ruble bill because of nude statue

In a letter to the Central Bank, Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) lawmaker Roman Khudyakov has called for the removal of the classical Greek statue of Apollo from the Russian 100-ruble bill, saying the statue showed “intimate parts of the body” and that the banknote should come with an “18+” rating, referencing the rating system used for films.

Russia recently enforced a ban on ‘indecent’ language in the arts.

The bill currently depicts the statue of Apollo riding a four-horse chariot from above the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. The statue was altered during restorations in 2011 which included covering Appolo’s penis with a fig leaf.

russia-rouble-naked-apollo.si
The controversial banknote

“You can see clearly that Apollo is naked, you can see his genitalia,” Khudyakov told Reuters Television.

Khudyakov says he was inspired after overhearing a conversation between two children gawking at the image: “The girl screamed at the boy: ‘Can you see that? I told you, there is a penis here!’ I was shocked, you know.” He then justified his request by saying “As bills of that denomination often get into the hands of children as pocket money, I strongly request your help in changing the design of the banknote or otherwise bringing it into accordance with current legislative regulations.”

“I submitted a parliamentary request and forwarded it directly to the head of the central bank asking for the banknote to be brought into line with the law protecting children and to remove this Apollo.”

Officials responsible for enforcing the recently-introduced law on protection of minors from harmful information declined to comment officially on Khudyakov’s grievance, but noted that money printing was outside the powers of the agency. The request to remove the statue from the bill comes admin a significant growth of religious and social conservatism in Russia, especially with regard to the Kremlin’s stance toward sexual relations and perceived