Almost half of Russians think election will be fixed

Almost half of Russian voters think that this year’s parliamentary elections will be marred by fraud, and will not reflect the will of the people, is the key finding of a suvey by the Levada Centre.

Some key stats:

  • 45% think that the election result will not reflect the will of the people
  • 39% think local officials will fix election results
  • 25% think opposition candidates may be excluded from the election
  • 8% think the election will be fair
  • 33% will consider the new parliament illegitimate
  • 65% want an “against all candidates” option on ballot papers

Interesting results, although one should be careful not to read too much into them.  I suspect that, if you asked a random sample of British voters whether they thought Parliamentary elections in the UK reflected the will of the people, you’d receive a somewhat similar answer.

And electoral fraud isn’t just a problem confined to Russia – take a look at this roundup of electoral fraud (and other problems) from last week’s local elections in the UK.

You may also like...

170 Responses

  1. James says:

    The most painful irony of the upcoming rigged election is that United Russia would likely win in a landslide even in a free and fair process. It’s the control over broadcast media that is the principle hindrance to political competition in my opinion.

    I suspect you’re right about the UK, however the problems there are relatively insignificant. If you’re looking for REAL electoral fraud, you have to hand it to the Nigerians – they really take the cake:

    http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=9070922

    Although it would be premature to say that Russia is on par with Nigeria in terms of electoral fraud, each year they seem to get closer and closer on most watchdogs’ lists (Transparency ranked Russia 121 and Nigeria 142 for the 2006 corruption index).

  2. Too bad these same questions were not asked just before the last few elections for comparison. I think that you would have seen similar results under Yeltsin because Russians are very skeptical of politics and consider politics to be inherently dirty.

    Also, it is a shame that for further comparison that these questions were not asked of US and UK residents. In the US, some (not many) have concerns over the voting machines, but many people (although most Republicans would never admit it) wonder if the two results from Florida are truly accurate which decided both elections. Even worse, in the last election the majority of the US voted for Kerry, but the oddity of the electoral college system put Bush in office. So there will be a good chance the next US president will also not represent the will of the people. Also, the US has very little opposition outside the two major parties because of the money required to run a campaign.

  3. Tim Newman says:

    Even worse, in the last election the majority of the US voted for Kerry, but the oddity of the electoral college system put Bush in office.

    This is not true. Bush won both the popular vote and the electoral college vote against Kerry.

    Bush lost the popular vote against Gore but won the electoral college vote, handing him the presidency.

    As for “even worse” I don’t know why so many people have a problem with this; the US presidential elections have never been a straight popular vote, and Bush should not be condemned for winning under the rules which were in place at the time.

    An explanation of the electoral college vote and its origins can be found here.

  4. Tim Newman says:

    On the subject at hand, I’m not surprised almost half of Russian voters think that this year’s parliamentary elections will be marred by fraud.

    Russians have got to be the most politically cynical people on the planet. You mention politics and politicians to most Russians and they roll their eyes, point to the suspiciously large houses in which their representatives live, and complain that nothing will ever change before dismissing the subject completely.

  5. Thanks for correcting which election Bush did not win the popular vote. “Even worse” meaning “even worse for American public opinion if a similar poll were to be taken in America” because the electoral college makes the average person skeptical that their vote counts. Many Americans do not understand or trust their own election system. I understand the electoral college system and did not intend to make it sound like I thought Bush stole the election in any way. Obviously the rules that gave him the win over Gore are not his fault.

    The overall point about the comparisons is that the article makes it sound like these opinions by Russians are because of Putin. These poll figures standing alone should not allow the author to draw the conclusions that he does. I doubt that Putin has done much to shift Russian public opinion on the fairness of elections because it was low to begin with.

  6. Michael Averko says:

    “The most painful irony of the upcoming rigged election is that United Russia would likely win in a landslide even in a free and fair process. It’s the control over broadcast media that is the principle hindrance to political competition in my opinion.”

    ****

    As has been noted by others, there’s sound reasoning why Vladimir Putin is popular and why anyone significantly going agaiunst his policies would lose the upcoming presidential election.

    In the last Russian presidential election, nothing was preventing Gary Kasparov and Grigori Yavlinsky from running. As was the instance in that process, there were other candidates who had a very fair share of media and travel time throughout Russia.

    University of Rhode Island Russian Studies Professor Nick Petro follows Russian mass media. He recently busted some fraud Western mass media commentary on the actual media reality in Russia.

    http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=CDI+Russia+Profile+List&articleid=a1178033222

    As per the above linked piece, there’re numerous other instances of inaccurate reporting on FSU matters, which don’t get picked up by Russia Profile and Johnson’s Russia List. Sometimes those venues post blatantly one sided commentary, which go unchallenged. This, despite the submission of perfectly valid rebuttals.

  7. Andy says:

    In the last Russian presidential election, nothing was preventing Gary Kasparov and Grigori Yavlinsky from running.

    Mike – I suspect that the primary reason they decided against running in 2004 was that they (rightly) didn’t feel they would make much of an impact on Russian politics. Partly because of the general advantage any incumbent President holds, partly because of the way in which the media is skewed against non-approved (for want of a better word) candidates, and partly because Putin generally was popular.

    This time around though, the incumbent advantage is gone, and a lot of candidates will feel that they are in with a shout of making an impact on this election – be that by winning (unlikely, but a freak event could change the mood of the electorate), by using the campaign to get their ‘message’ across (to both Russian and international audiences), or by giving them the opportunity to gain a leading position within Russian opposition politics (perhaps positioning themselves to take advantage of any later upheavals).

  8. Michael Averko says:

    I agree with you Andy.

    A loss as such can often serve as a building block for the reasons you so spot on describe.

    The incumbent factor is kind of still around in that whoever has Putin’s blessing will have a great advantage. Much like after Reagan’s second term as US prez.

  9. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike/Andy,

    I’ve no doubt that Putin’s posing and his policies are genuinely popular which, combined with the Russian inability to understand that politicians are in fact responsible for the state of the country, makes whoever he chooses a shoe-in even in a totally free and fair election. But the fact is the Kremlin have total control over television and to say otherwise is simply to lie. A constant barrage of photo-ops and meetings where Putin is seeing giving orders is the diet on Russian tv. There are no debates on tv either, like Sarkozy vs Royal recently in France, no opportunities for other parties to say their piece and worse other parties or candidates are shown only in the most unflattering light. If anyone gets within an inch of making an impression suddenly a skeleton appears from their closet, for example Kasyanov’s allegedly ill-gotten house on posh Rublyovskoe.

    Television is used by the Kremlin to almost brainwash levels, so much so in fact that one is left with the impression that in fact there really is no-one else to even consider voting for. Ivanov, Medvedev and co. have now completely seeped into the minds of the electorate and there’s only going to be one result. As for newspapers, Russians have little interest in them – just sit on the metro and watch – ten people are reading, nine of those are reading books and just one a newspaper. Russians consider them mouthpieces for business interests.

  10. Michael Averko says:

    In addition to Petro – there’re others who would very much differ with that view.

    In an earlier article of his – Petro noted how the other Russian TV networks offer more hard hitting political insight. The top three Russian TV networks vary as well.

    Of related note is this excerpt from http://www.siberianlight.net/2007/03/01/interview-mike-averko/:

    “14. You regularly offer criticisms of Western media where you feel it’s deserved. What criticisms would you make of Russian media?

    Similar to the criticisms of Western media. I recall former American Ambassador Alexander Vershbow acknowledging diversity among the top three Russian TV news networks. He added that the diversity isn’t as great as it could be. On a number of issues, the same can be said of the top three American TV news networks (ABC, CBS and NBC). The follow-up to that would be that Americans have other TV channels with news, as well as other news gathering sources (print and electronic). The same applies to Russia.

    Another criticism contradicts what Andrew Kuchins said about Russian media. Concerning the last Valdai Discussion Group, a Moscow Times article by Andrei Zolotov uncritically cited Kuchins’ statement about Russian State Television being (as per Kuchins) one sided. The state owned giant Gazprom owns Ekho Moskvy, which is often biased against Putin and Russia. In comparison, the Moscow based non-Russian owned Moscow Times isn’t so forthcoming towards Russocentric views going against that outlet’s bias.

    This leads to another observation about Russian media faults. Anglo-American mass media at large has done a great job at promoting Russian journalists/analysts who subscribe to the former’s views. In comparison, I don’t see Russian media outlets doing much for Western based Russocentric journalists/analysts.”

    *****

    As a follow-up the above excerpted, I’ve heard of several credible instances where “name” individuals opposed to key Russian government policies turn down guest appearances. You can’t make people come on.

    The definition of a “free press” is relative to what exists elsewhere in the world. I know of a Western reporter for a major Russian news outlet whose views aren’t as pro-Russian/pro-Putin as my own. He/she said that in his/her native country, the media elites would consider him as too “extreme”.

  11. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    you havent substantiated your remark about press freedom in Russia with any hard facts. I’m speaking from a point of view of someone who actually watches Russian tv regularily. And relative to Irish and British tv – who do have a high standard of freedom -Russia is censored. No doubt about it. I can make no comment about US tv, I just dont know. To put it in perspective, tv at home wouldnt show clips of politicians doing their jobs in the exhalted manner that Putin is shown. The viewing public would first laugh and then go mad. Its a fundamentally different belief system -our politicians are there to do a job, are servants of the electorate and are on thin ice even if they succeed. Putin on the other hand is the Tsar. And he is portrayed as such. You can quote whatever Kremlin-friendly acadamic you want. I have my own eyes and brought up on proper tv at home, I can see a mile away that Russians are being force fed crap.
    What about televised debates? Question Time? None of these things happen in Russia. And another thing – elderly academics waffling in monotone like on Russian tv is not free media. Its simply elderly academics waffling in monotone. It catches no-ones attention and once again there are no politicians being questioned.

  12. Michael Averko says:

    Oh yes I did substantiate.

    Not all of the Russian channels do as you claim.

    In addition to which, I’ve seen my share of BBC hack jobs.

  13. GER O'BRIEN says:

    You didnt substantiate at all.

    You quoted Alexander Vershbow, who called the media ‘diverse’. And thats all. Its not free. There is a difference. Propoganda wrapped in different packages by different producers remains propaganda.

    Second, you mention Ekho Moskvuy, which again is very marginal indeed and not respected anymore. And, again, its not tv – I was talking about tv. Television is far and away the biggest influencer now in Russia. The only Russian channel that makes any sort of attempt to toe a slightly -and I mean slightly- different line is REN-TV. And its marginal enough. What I’m talking about are major tv stations actually criticising and questioning the Russian leadership, much like what happens in Britain and Ireland. This simply doesnt happen in Russia.

    Also, you didnt address my points at all about what is shown on tv – partially explained by the fact that perhaps you may have never actually seen Russian tv programmes. There’s a lot to be said for witnessing something you know.

    By the way this has nothing to do with english-language coverage at all. This is about Russia on the ground, not the second hand info of western pundits.

  14. Michael Averko says:

    It’s about other media as a measurement to this applied word “free”.

    The BBC’s periodic utilization of sources like Andrei Nekrasov and Taras Kuzio with no opposition to them is no less propagandistic than what you accuse Russian TV media of.

    With translation, I’ve had the opportunity on a number of occasions to sample Russian TV news, besides the three main networks. After them, other channels do some really cutting edge stuff. Petro’s other article (not linked) on Russian TV media is a very good overview. It was linked at the now downed http://english.intelligent.ru web site. Besides Petro – I know others familiar with that scene, who share his view. Once again, I also know about the frequent crappy coverage evident in Anglo-American mass media.

    Like I said earlier: Vershbow’s point about the three top Russian TV networks applies to NBC, CBS and ABC.

    When analyzing Russia, the standards are often doubled.

  15. Michael Averko says:

    If not more than doubled.

  16. Kolya says:

    We should simply compare how British TV covers Blair or American TV covers Bush with how Russian TV covers Putin.

  17. Andy says:

    I’m not sure about the US media’s relationship with George Bush, but in Britain, the media is reasonably balanced in the way it reports news about Tony Blair (although it leans more towards the hostile side of ‘balanced’ than to the sycophantic).

    Much as it will be to Gordon Brown in a couple of months time, and as it was to John Major and Margaret Thatcher previously. (Sorry – that’s as far as my memory stretches back!)

  18. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    If not more than doubled, doubled, doubled.

    And of our father’s father’s father’s father’s…

    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  19. Lyndon says:

    Michael Averko:

    The BBC’s periodic utilization of sources like Andrei Nekrasov and Taras Kuzio with no opposition to them is no less propagandistic than what you accuse Russian TV media of.

    Mike, you’re comparing the BBC’s coverage of foreign political events to Russian TV’s coverage of domestic political events – apples and oranges. I can tell you that the way Russian TV covers events in the US and surrounding US politicians is not exactly “balanced,” with people like Leont’iev often trotted out on ORT as serious commentators on these issues. Bias or slant of US/UK media in covering Russia et al. is one issue; it stands entirely apart from the issue here, which is the relevance of the Russian government’s near-monopoly on TV coverage to domestic political developments in Russia.

    Comparing the situation in Russia to domestic political coverage on US TV, as things stand currently none of the major Russian networks would ever stick it to an heir-apparent presidential candidate like Dan Rather stuck it to George H.W. Bush in 1988; or try to do an expose on one of Putin’s anointed (much less VVP himself) as Rather did to George W. Bush in ’04. Andy has already stated that UK TV programming is more critical of Blair et al. than not. This is simply not the case in Russia, where the lead story on the ORT or RTR evening news is often a staged five-minute clip of Putin meeting with some Minister in the Kremlin. NTV has gone way downhill (evidenced by Parfyonov’s departure and such anecdotes as this one) and by 2005-06 no longer provided the soft opposition perspective I described a few years ago, and Ren-TV – a station which does not have the national reach of the big three – seemed as of a year ago to be the only station providing any meaningful televised opposition to the party line. Apologies for linking to my own blog posts etc., I know there is a lot of other stuff out there on Russian media, I just don’t have time to go on a big link-search at the moment.

  20. Kolya says:

    Lyndon wrote:

    “Mike, you’re comparing the BBC’s coverage
    of foreign political events to Russian TV’s
    coverage of domestic political events –
    apples and oranges.”

    Exactly. That was my point when I wrote that we should actually compare how British and American TV cover their own respective leaders (Blair and Bush) with how Russian TV covers Putin. The difference is tremenodus.

  21. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    to-reiterare what Lyndon said, I’m talking about Russian domestic tv, not the BBC’s foreign coverage, Again you dont compare like with like at all. Its frankly ridiculous.

    Would you please tell me exactly which shows are cutting edge? I’d really like to know, because I’d actually watch them. To be honest, I know there arent any. And please, dont respond with the same line as above. Actually name the programmes please. If you dont name them I can take it that there are arent any.

    I stated above how tv in Britain and Ireland treat our leaders in comparison to Russia. Ours savage our leaders, which is entirely appropriate, and also how policies and events are dissected and criticised. This does not happen in Russia.

    Again, you go back to Anglo-American media, which is completely off the point.

  22. Tim Newman says:

    Ger:

    I’m speaking from a point of view of someone who actually watches Russian tv regularily. And relative to Irish and British tv – who do have a high standard of freedom -Russia is censored.

    Exactly. It’s amazing how insightful ones opinions on political coverage on Russian TV can be when you have actually seen what you are talking about, as opposed to relying on sombody else’s second-hand accounts.

    This is simply not the case in Russia, where the lead story on the ORT or RTR evening news is often a staged five-minute clip of Putin meeting with some Minister in the Kremlin.

    Yup. Political news related to Russia is simply flattering coverage of Putin’s day.

  23. Michael Averko says:

    “Exactly. It’s amazing how insightful ones opinions on political coverage on Russian TV can be when you have actually seen what you are talking about, as opposed to relying on sombody else’s second-hand accounts.”

    ****

    First hand accounts. As per the references to Bush and Blair – Putin is more popular in his country for reasons not having to do with a censored media. On the supposed lack of coverage of other Russian political figures: considering their lack of popularity, they get plenty of coverage.

    Here’s where the market forces concept (bandied about elsewhere on another issue) has some credibility.

  24. Tim Newman says:

    First hand accounts.

    Unless RTR and ORT has started broadcasting to New York, your commentary on the political content of Russian TV is second hand, unlike that of Ger, Lyndon, and I who have had it beamed into our living rooms on a daily basis.

  25. Michael Averko says:

    Your commentary on political issues are second hand as shown by how you aren’t addressing other points.

    Ever hear of satellite TV and once gain note that Russians typically get between 15-20 other channels which do news features.

  26. Michael Averko says:

    A samizdat message to SG and some others:

    Those who “vote” to block out comments opposed to misinformation are in no credible position to critique Russian TV.

    *****

    As per my last post here: those other TV channels do more critical news coverage. What happened to the market forces concept? I.e. Putin being a gernuinely popular leader.

    We see how non-Democrat/non-Republican politicans are covered in the US. Many see the Republicans/Democrats as a one party system subdivided into two.

  27. Lyndon says:

    Which of the minor channels do news features (other than REN-TV, which I mentioned, and TVC/TVTs, and perhaps other local channels in local markets)? Most of the other channels are strictly entertainment (e.g., STS/CTC, DTV), music videos (MUZ-TV / Russian MTV), sport or culture (RTR Sport and Kul’tura); in Moscow, there’s one channel (can’t remember which) that runs the Euronews headlines dubbed in Russian for part of the day, but these are not generally Russia-focused.

    And I think the only things available in the US via satellite are the big 3 and some internationally oriented services of NTV and RTR Planeta.

  28. Tim Newman says:

    Your commentary on political issues are second hand as shown by how you aren’t addressing other points.

    Is this another Mike Averko redefinition of common words, to the effect that “second hand” is now dependent on whether or not I have addressed points in one of your posts?

    We are talking about the content of Russian TV. Unless you have actually seen this content for yourself, then your opinions on it are second hand. Nobody would take a book reviewe seriously if he had not read the book in question; likewise, few will take your opinions on the content of Russian TV seriously if you have not seen it for yourself.

  29. Tim Newman says:

    Many see the Republicans/Democrats as a one party system subdivided into two.

    One-party systems subdivided into two parties are more commonly known as two-party systems.

  30. Tim Newman says:

    Speaking from my first-hand experience, I’ve yet to see any substantial news on the minor Russian cable channels, let alone substantial political coverage. We get the local news on one of the Sakhalin channels, the typical content of which I described here.

  31. Michael Averko says:

    Not if they think pretty much the same with limited differences of opinion.

    In the comparative sense, my stated views on “free” media are on par with determining how free is Russia’s media.

    After the three top networks, other Russian TV channles do news stories, which are more cutting edge. It’s bogus to pooh pooh the diverse views found in Russian radio, print and electronic media.

  32. Tim Newman says:

    What happened to the market forces concept? I.e. Putin being a gernuinely popular leader.

    It is probably true that there would be very little interest in a TV show which regularly attacked Putin politically. But that is not what is under discussion, at least from me. I am making the point that the domestic political news in Russia is limited to flattering coverage of Putin’s day. I am also saying that there are only about 2 channels on which you can get political coverage.

    There are probably many reasons why this is the case, but the case it is. You seem to be suggesting that the situation is different.

  33. Tim Newman says:

    After the three top networks, other Russian TV channles do news stories, which are more cutting edge.

    They do? Which ones?

  34. Michael Averko says:

    First sentence of my last post was in reply to Tim Newman’s misunderstanding of the valid concept of a one party system subdivided into two.

  35. Michael Averko says:

    Impressions of Russian Television
    http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9107-6.cfm

    Since the above linked article, other accounts have expressed the same view.

    The “market forces” are at work in Russia. Putin is popular without censorship.

  36. Tim Newman says:

    The “market forces” are at work in Russia. Putin is popular without censorship.

    I’ve yet to hear anyone suggest otherwise. But the censorship exists, nonetheless.

  37. Michael Averko says:

    Regarding Tim Newman’s use of “censorship”: it exists in the UK, US and elsewhere on any given number of covered topics.

    Meantime, I’ve no reason to not believe the views of Petro, two Russian TV execs I’ve spoken with and several other viewers of Russian TV media. Once again, I’ve had my share of first hand samplings as well.

  38. Kolya says:

    Michael, it seems to me that you are saying that Russian TV is as free to criticize their own leader as the US and UK TV are. This is simply not true, and it is hard for me to imagine that you actually believe that.

  39. Tim Newman says:

    Regarding Tim Newman’s use of “censorship”: it exists in the UK, US and elsewhere on any given number of covered topics.

    Actually, I think the number of topics which are censored in the press by the US and UK governments is rather low.

    Nobody is saying that the UK and US press is 100% free, we are just pointing out that, from first hand experience, the Russian TV is far less critical of Putin than the UK and US TV is of Blair and Bush respectively.

  40. Lyndon says:

    Mike, the JRL article of Petro’s that you linked to above is more than two years old. Things change fast in the new Russia, and in the area of the media I don’t know of anyone who suggests they are changing in the direction of more criticism of the powers-that-be.

    I also loved this little chestnut from that article:

    The implausibility lies in the fact that, if people were truly dissatisfied with what they were seeing on television, they could very easily subscribe to their favorite national (or international) newspaper. This can be done at your local post office.

    One wonders if Dr. Petro has ever seen the inside of a Russian post office or attempted to get anything done inside one. The one that served our apartment building in downtown Moscow was a complete mess, with undelivered mail scattered all over the place, staffed by two or three elderly postal workers. Apparently there is not much new blood in Pochta Rossii, and mail was delivered to our building about once every week or two. Now, things may be better in the provinces, and of course some of the Russian print media’s diverse offerings are available at newsstands, but that particular argument (admittedly, not the only one in the article) is not very convincing.

    What happened to the market forces concept? I.e. Putin being a gernuinely popular leader.

    So, because he’s popular, he shouldn’t be subjected to critical reporting or scrutiny by the media? Is the function of TV news to simply deliver to the population views that it wants to see? Certainly US news programs make some compromises in that regard in order to sell advertising, but they also try to engage in hard news reporting at times and they do critically cover major political figures.

    We see how non-Democrat/non-Republican politicans are covered in the US.

    I don’t think the comparison to the US is particularly fruitful, but if you insist on making it, at least get it right. The fact is that Ralph Nader got a fairly large amount of coverage in recent election cycles in the US – more than any less-than-5%-vote-getting Russian politician or political bloc (not counting innocuous clowns like Zhirinovsky, who in any event probably still polls more than 5%) that I can think of in recent years. And remember Ross Perot in ’92? He wasn’t exactly marginalized due to a lack of media coverage. If you want to get technical, Joe Lieberman now identifies himself politically as an Independent – did he stop getting media coverage when he made that switch? Not exactly.

  41. Tim Newman says:

    One wonders if Dr. Petro has ever seen the inside of a Russian post office or attempted to get anything done inside one.

    LOL!! So true…

  42. Sergei says:

    My St. Petersburg post office is better than the one in the Boston neighborhood I lived in.

    The non-Russians here emphasize one media point and ignore others raised by Petro and Averko. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

    Lieberman isn’t exactly different from many democrats and Republicans. Why should Kasparov get more air time than his popularity?

  43. claus says:

    So true Sergei. This discussion confirms your observation.

    Note: Interestingly, this comment, and Sergei’s immediately above came from exactly the same IP address. Andy

  44. Tim: Political news related to Russia is simply flattering coverage of Putin’s day.

    On my last visits to Russia, it seems like the flattering clip of local news is usually followed by the international news during which Zhirinovsky is allowed to spend several minutes “analyzing” world events.

  45. Lyndon says:

    The non-Russians here emphasize one media point and ignore others raised by Petro and Averko. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.

    With respect to post offices, I guess it may be all in the eye of the beholder. Whereabouts in Piter do you live, Sergei, that you have such an efficient pochtovoe otdelenie? I agree that post offices in the US are often not models of efficiency and shouldn’t be anyone’s benchmark, but I’ve also never seen a properly functioning Russian post office, and I’ve been in several.

    Anyway, with respect to the discussion of Russian TV coverage of Putin, I think it’s much less in the eye of the beholder – it is generally agreed that TV – and especially the three nationwide networks – are the single greatest media force in Russian domestic politics, which is why the discussion has focused on TV as opposed to the relative diversity of print and internet media (the latter of which is only available to roughly 20% of the population in any event).

    Also, without wanting to open a whole can of worms, what exactly does being “Russian” or “non-Russian” have to do with anything, if I may ask?

  46. Lyndon says:

    I’ve also never seen a properly functioning Russian post office, and I’ve been in several.

    I take that back – the place we used to go by Palace Square in SPB when I spent the summer there in ’96 was fairly efficient about letting us send emails and receive printouts of emails sent to us using some kind of generic address. A very interesting cross between the telegraph and modern email connectivity.

    But as far as sending and receiving actual mail, Russia’s postal service is horrible, even in comparison with other post-Soviet countries (it takes much longer for a letter sent from the US to be delivered to a Moscow address than to an address in Chisinau, for example), which is what my point was with respect to subscribing to (and actually receiving) newspapers and magazines by mail.

  47. Michael Averko says:

    Anglo-American mass media coverage of former Yugoslavia and many FSU issues is often horribly one sided. That’s of little or no concern to many Westerners. The neocons and Soros funded neolibs don’t disagree with that bias because it suits them.

    Someone I went to high school and college with is an administrator at a Prague based academic institute. His biases are more in line with those opposing me here. He nevertheless acknowledged (privately) my points in this note. At Soros funded orgs., the thinking is very one sided on a number of issues.

    Soros and the BBC aren’t ideal role models for Russian media. Russian media needs people who fully know the faults of Western media and have Russia’s best interests at heart.

    I’m all for different views clashing and not phony debates between people whose views aren’t so far apart.

    In Anglo-American mass media, Putin critics tend to be of the Gessen/Latynina type. How about those critics of Putin arguing for a more assertive policy on any number of issues like:
    – being tougher on the oligarchs
    – Russia’s stance on disputed former Communist bloc territories (I.e. utilizing the reverse Holbrooke)

    On the post office matter: it was brought up regarding the purchasing of foreign publications. These can be bought and-or read elsewhere in Russia. The Russian net is free flow unlike China’s. Russian radio is pretty open as well.

  48. Lyndon says:

    Anglo-American mass media coverage of former Yugoslavia and many FSU issues is often horribly one sided. That’s of little or no concern to many Westerners. The neocons and Soros funded neolibs don’t disagree with that bias because it suits them. […]

    Soros and the BBC aren’t ideal role models for Russian media. Russian media needs people who fully know the faults of Western media and have Russia’s best interests at heart.

    What does this (or much of the rest of your comment) have to do with Russian domestic media coverage of Russian domestic politics, and the influence of that coverage on Russian voters?

    On the post office matter: it was brought up regarding the purchasing of foreign publications. These can be bought and-or read elsewhere in Russia.

    Incorrect. This is the passage I quoted from Petro’s article:

    The implausibility lies in the fact that, if people were truly dissatisfied with what they were seeing on television, they could very easily subscribe to their favorite national (or international) newspaper. This can be done at your local post office.

    Subscription to publications in Russia traditionally takes place through the post office. My point was that it’s notoriously inefficient and unreliable, therefore it’s hardly something to be touting as an example of how various media are available to Russians.

    And where exactly can one get foreign analytical periodicals in Russia outside of Moscow & SPB (even there, the selection is often limited and includes outdated issues)? I’m talking about print publications, not online ones.

    I know Russia is better than China (or Uzbekistan, for that matter) when it comes to freedom of the internet – are you sure you want to go down the road of using China as a benchmark on civil liberties issues?

  49. Michael Averko says:

    Not “incorrect”. Russians can pick these other outlets up elsewhere as noted in the rest of your note. Many of them can be accessed on line.

    As per the net, how much more unfree is Russia than America?

    We’re discussing media issues at large and comparing them.

    As for domestic political issues, a panel of Republicans and Democrats determine which presidential candidates appear on presidential TV debates. In one instance, this group decided to keep Nader off. How “free” is that process?

    Does China get critiqued on HR as much as Russia?

  50. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    once again you go off into tangents like the Former Yugoslavia and Anglo-American media which have nothing to do with the issue at hand. I can take it from your failure to mention any of those ”cutting edge” Russian political programmes that they in fact do not exist.
    Firing shots at the BBC because the have given Putin a hard time does not make them censored or in any way comparable to the situation in Russia. British and Irish tv are I daresay almost 100% uncensored. In the last few weeks our Prime Minister is Ireland is being savaged by the media because of his ‘financial affairs’, with just 2 weeks left to election. There isnt a hope you’d see that happen with Putin or his cabinet or indeed any Russian politician unless they’d fallen foul of the Kremlin. In Britain and Ireland the media take absolute pleasure in catching out politicians and thats how it should be.

    You seem to have a bit of confusion as to the function of media and you seem to think Russia is entitled to some sort of special case status. The job of the media is to report and analyse news. It shouldnt have anyones best interest at heart, except to give unbiased information to the public. You are excusing an appalling situation Russia using that most ridiculous and tired of arguments – that Russia is ‘different’. Its not different at all Mike. Its a country same as any other and the people are entitled to proper reporting and news and not a load of old claptrap about Putin’s jaunts in MiG fighters or slapping Ivanov on the back. From your tone I get the feeling you think that having some Russian-ness in you gives you an ‘insight’ into Russia and allows you to excuse its ills. It doesnt, no more than JFK hadnt an insight into Ireland. You claim to speak for Russians as well which you dont. A lot of Russians are deeply offended by the rubbish put in front of them on tv every night and would rather watch people getting laid in Dom-2 than the news. And I agree. I’d rather watch Buzova in her thong than listen to more Kremlin rubbish anyday. They are resigned to this situation, but that doesnt mean they like it and it doesnt make it right.

    I think that the basis of most of your arguments are very simple – back up the Kremlin, irresprective, and damn the consequences, because the most important thing for you is to be seen as ‘Russocentric’. Its an extraordinarily childish and narrow minded view and baffles me. I’m married to a Russian and have heavy involvment with the country – but there’s no way I’ll support Russia willy-nilly nor attempt to mask its obvious faults with factually incorrect nonsense.

  51. Michael Averko says:

    Not at all Ger.

    You aren’t acknowledging all of the other complexities.

    This no doubt has to do with your upbringing. I on the other hand am better schooled in seeing what is and isn’t emphasized.

    The BBC has at times been very censored.

    The culture in Russia is different. Some would say that Putin is easily Russia’s best leader since…..

    BTW, I don’t rubber stamp everything going on in official Russia and I never claimed to represent all Russians.

    Many Americans are sick of the media situation in their country. This is why media is viewed so negatively by many of them.

  52. Lyndon says:

    Mike, please read carefully. Here is an excerpt from my last comment:

    [Averko:] On the post office matter: it was brought up regarding the purchasing of foreign publications. These can be bought and-or read elsewhere in Russia.

    [Me:] Incorrect. This is the passage I quoted from Petro’s article:

    [Petro’s article] The implausibility lies in the fact that, if people were truly dissatisfied with what they were seeing on television, they could very easily subscribe to their favorite national (or international) newspaper. This can be done at your local post office.

    What was incorrect was your suggestion that the post office topic was raised “regarding the purchasing of foreign publications.” Sorry if the way I edited the quote didn’t make that crystal clear. It was raised regarding the supposed opportunities to subscribe to domestic (and foreign, according to Petro, although I don’t think the list of foreign publications available for subscription at a Russian post office is that long) publications. Anyway, “availability of foreign publications” in their printed versions (which is spotty in any event) is only a big plus if we’re comparing Russia to the Soviet Union.

    If you want to talk about online access, as I mentioned it is available to only 15-20% of Russians (these are actually official statistics, if I’m not mistaken; probably more people have occasional access), but for those people there is certainly lots of online access to foreign media, including excellent websites like inosmi that translate foreign newspaper articles into Russian.

    We’re discussing media issues at large and comparing them.

    No, that’s what you’re doing, and I’m unfortunately allowing myself to respond. Other people here seemed to be discussing something somewhat relevant to the original post, namely, the impact of the Russian media in forming public opinion.

    As for domestic political issues, a panel of Republicans and Democrats determine which presidential candidates appear on presidential TV debates. In one instance, this group decided to keep Nader off. How “free” is that process?

    Since you seem to want to compare the political process in the US with the one in Russia, I’ll answer that the process in the US is obviously much more “free” than the process in Russia. Don’t even get me started on politics at the regional level (which do not exist in a democratic fashion in Russia anymore). When was the last time you saw a “presidential TV debate” of any kind in Russia? I applaud Putin for going on TV once in awhile and answering (mostly prescreened) questions; but that is not a debate. And can you name a single TV debate show (I’m talking about programs in the genre of K Bar’eru) on the air in Russia today that is broadcast live, as opposed to being taped? This was not the case 7-8 years ago.

    Does China get critiqued on HR as much as Russia?

    What does that have to do with this discussion? China does not pretend to be a democracy, as far as I know, and it’s not in the G8. So maybe we should have slightly higher standards for Russia.

  53. Lyndon says:

    Ger:

    I’d rather watch Buzova in her thong than listen to more Kremlin rubbish anyday.

    LOL.

    Mike:

    This no doubt has to do with your upbringing.

    Here we go with the ad hominems again…

  54. Andy says:

    Yes. Gentlemen, keep it polite please.

    Otherwise I’ll have to go and look up “ad hominems” in the dictionary…

  55. Lyndon says:

    Sorry. Better you should spend your internet time looking up images of Buzova (NSFW).

  56. Tim Newman says:

    Does China get critiqued on HR as much as Russia?

    Almost certainly. I’ve seen far more articles criticising the human rights situation in China than I have criticising the same in Russia.

  57. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    there is nothing complex at all about censorship of television. It means you cannot criticise or show the government in an unflattering light nor question the authorities. There is nothing to it. Saying Russia is more complex is total and utter crap and a poor excuse indeed. You addressed none of my points, which I can take as meaning you have no substantial answer to them.

    ”The BBC has at times been (sic) very censored”

    please give examples.

    ”This no doubt has to do with your upbringing”.
    Fair enough I guess. I was brought up in a country where politicians are slaughtered regularly on tv and their every move scrutinised. I was brought up in a country where gagging orders brought by the state against the media are extremely rare and almost always defeated in the courts. I was brought up in a country where satire is the number one zero-cost pastime. Also, its a country where Prime Ministers have to resign when they fuck up. Even small mistakes. And I’ve been fortunate enough to watch Channel 4 News and Newsnight from the UK. So I know what uncensored television is.

    Lyndon -would you blame me?))

  58. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Lyndon,

    my thanks for that link!!)) Beats ORT news any day. I know she’s as thick as two short planks, but who cares?)

  59. Lyndon says:

    Eye candy! Although Katya Andreeva (the ORT news-reader, at least I assume she still is) is easy on the eyes as well. Not likely to see her in a thong, though…

    IMO, part of the Russian gov’t’s media strategy of the past several years has been to produce and air more and better domestic shows (including really good miniseries, which are of course cultural development, but also including reality TV!) so that the people can have circuses to go with their bread (oil money).

  60. GER O'BRIEN says:

    She’s one of those delicate babes and as far as I know shes still on the tv. There was blonde news presenter on ORT too but I cant think of her name.

    There’s no doubt its been bread and circuses all the way in recent years. Some of the stuff has been good, especially the cinema films(I loved 72 metres) and even the reality shows like Bolshoi Brat and Golod which had some hilarious moments and also Dom-2, which is like I said more useful to watch than most of the news clips. I didnt like the recent(ish) dramatisation of Master and Margarita though – they didnt spend enough money and it looked low-rent in comparison to western dramatisations. Everyone is certainly entertained right now in Russia, its just a shame they’re not properly informed.

  61. Andy says:

    Sorry. Better you should spend your internet time looking up images of Buzova (NSFW).

    Sadly I’ve just arrived at work, so the Buzova pictures will have to wait for a while, and I’ll have to settle for this debate instead…

  62. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Andy you’d be far better off with the Buzova pics! She’s not outstanding looking, but she’s a real ditzy blonde and quite likeable (and drives women mad for the same reason)

  63. Michael Averko says:

    Just prepped a QT for release, which has fortunately (sorry) been a nice relief from this.

    I miss Ms. Andreeva. Back in ’04, a local NY public TV station picked up a half hour feed of her network news on a 5 day a week basis.

    Lyndon – it was wrong to suggest that Russians only had the post office as a buying or viewing option for such matter. Petro suggested that. This was then ridiculed by others here. I noted the other options. I wasn’t incorrect.

    The BBC heavily censors matter on former Yugoslavia. At that outlet, it’s rare to get mainstream Serb views heard or in full. Instead, one is more likely to see a Holbrooke or some politically correct Soros funded Serb. The soon to be released QT has a Serbia segment which touches on this (a 5/11 BBC article).

    As per the FSU coverage, I noted the times when the BBC has given carte blanche to people like Kuzio and Nekrasov.

    I believe this to be a very fair observation: what annoys my three or more critics here (or however one wants to term them), isn’t as much a concern to most Russians. My own sense is that many Russinas would agree more with me. This is what a good number of Anglo-Amercians (Russians as well) based in Russia have communicated back to me; when it comes to my overall take on things.

  64. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    the BBC censors according to what goes against your views on the Former Yugoslavia, which, to say the least, are ‘controversial’. Being different does not necessarily mean right. And to be honest, I would find it suprising if the BBC were indeed showing only one side of the Kosovo story. They have no material interest in doing that from what I can see.

    But again, as is so oft the case, this is neither here nor there. We were talking about media freedon in Russia and in particular tv. It suits your spin on things, that Russia is great, Putin is great, blah blah blah, to say that your ‘feeling’ is that Russians are happy with their tv coverage. I’m sorry but your feeling is incorrect. Russians know they are being duped, but, as Lyndon put it so well above, the bread and circus effect is in full swing and Russians are more interested in dvd players, widescreen tvs and designer knickers than press freedom. This is compounded by the fact that the average Russian simply doesnt care about politics anymore. That still doesnt make it right Mike – if proper conditions prevailed in Russia, other candidates might at least have a chance to air their views and policies and show up weaknesses and poor management in the current government. People at least would be given the courtesy of making up their own minds instead of having them made up for them. That’s not a luxury; thats a basic part of human dignity. I have no doubt even under free conditions that Putin would still win anyway; but this policy of snuffing out any dissent and making 100% sure of winning is frankly revolting. If the price of oil drops and the cash stops flowing, you can be sure the Russians will then be looking at other candidates.

    ”…some politically correct Soros funded Serb.”
    I take it that means a Serb opposed to ethnic cleansing, da? Not exactly someone you look up to I’d say.

  65. Michael Averko says:

    Just so happens that my core views on former Yugo (shared by others) happens to be right, wit the BBC having been shown wrong.

    The BBC has its definite prejudices. It’s in part due to ignorance and in other instances it appears rather calculated.

    I don’t suppport ethnic cleansing. Serbs are the most ethnically cleansed of all former Yugo peoples.

    I forgot to answer on HR in China versus Russia. I think that China gets more of a pass than Russia on that issue.

    Supporting examples to this post will be given upon request.

  66. Andy says:

    For those who are interested, here’s a link to recent BBC News stories about Kosovo.

    Seems relatively ok to me, with coverage of all sides views.

  67. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    evidence is always welcome, if you have do post links. Dont bury the whole post in copy and pastes.

    That does of course exclude Serbianna, which is entirely biased towards, well…Serbs, funnily enough.

  68. Michael Averko says:

    Serbianna is fact based opinion and news gathering; the latter of which includes anti-Serb commentary. The opinions at Serbianna directly address the many false perceptions that people like yourself have Ger.

    See:

    http://www.serbianna.com

    The BBC only recently started to give a more correct death toll figure of the Bosnian Civil War. This despite the evidence having been available for quite some time. The accurate range being 75000-125,000 with 100.. the mean, versus the bloated 200,000 to 350,000, put out by anti-Serb propagandists, for the purpose of whipping up anti-Serb hysteria.

    Another horrid BBC bit was when it showed Serbs protesting the celebration of a mosque opening in Republika Srpska. The feature didn’t explain what really perturbed those Serbs. The fact that Western orgs., spend a good deal of time and effort building Muslim shrines, while not doing likewise for the many destroyed Serb ones.

    Some might recall the not too distant Putin TV nationwide Q & A with the Russian people. The BBC showed a crazed woman being hauled off, after refusing to accept that she wasn’t selected to be one of the participants. The BBC proceeded to interview the woman at her home. She stated a number of hysterical Kasparov like comments. She was in no threat and the Beeb hasn’t done a followup to check on her safety. In America, crazed people are hauled away from celebrity events on a regular basis.

    I’ve cited others. This is a quick QT recollection.

  69. Lyndon says:

    As per the FSU coverage, I noted the times when the BBC has given carte blanche to people like Kuzio and Nekrasov.

    I believe this to be a very fair observation: what annoys my three or more critics here (or however one wants to term them), isn’t as much a concern to most Russians. My own sense is that many Russinas would agree more with me. This is what a good number of Anglo-Amercians (Russians as well) based in Russia have communicated back to me; when it comes to my overall take on things.

    So, is your point – on which you “sense” that “many Russinas” agree with you – the one about “biased” western media coverage of Russia and Serbia? I doubt most Russians care about this issue one bit, and it’s of limited relevance to the discussion here in any event, regardless of whether it’s a “very fair observation” or not.

    As Ger rightly notes, among Russians, there is not a high level of criticism of the situation we’re describing – i.e., the limited presentation of critical views of or opposition to the Russian government on TV. But that doesn’t make it a desirable situation – governments get sloppy when they do not benefit from the scrutiny and criticism of the press.

    Mike, this is not about people being “critics” of you or any such thing, although you seem to revel in your status as a self-appointed dissident. People are trying to have a discussion in which legitimate criticisms of the Russian media’s coverage of domestic politics have been raised. Your bogeyman Soros, and Taras Kuzio’s appearances on the BBC, are of limited relevance to the discussion. But speaking of Soros, remember how he wanted to use his money to influence the last US presidential election so that Bush would not be re-elected? He was allowed to contribute lots of money (presumably within the confines of the law), but ultimately it didn’t change the outcome of the election. See, as much as I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome of the 2004 election, you pretty much have to admit that there are choices in US politics, and the voters make them.

  70. Tim Newman says:

    My own sense is that many Russinas would agree more with me.

    My own sense – from the point of view of living in Russia, speaking the language, and being married to a Russian – is that most Russians would be not in the least bit interested in what you say.

  71. Michael Averko says:

    Without too much foreign influence Lyndon. Russia should be the same.

    People address points and questions to what I say. Have a problem with that?

    Most Russians with an interest in foreian affairs tend to agree with me more than yourself. Are you doubting that? This relates to the media.

    Art this thread, I’ve discussed Russian domestic matters by contrasting them with what has gone on in the US. Comparative politics in a way different from Michael McFaul.

  72. Michael Averko says:

    My last post was addressed to Lyndon.

    As for Tim’s last retort:

    [Sadly, the blog’s administrator removed Mike’s delightful response and had to call, for the umpteenth time, for people to play nicely.]

  73. Lyndon says:

    Without too much foreign influence Lyndon. Russia should be the same.

    Are you now trying to make the topic “foreign influence in Russian politics”? Because that’s a rather different topic. And I don’t think there’s much foreign influence in the Russian media (please don’t mention the Moscow Times, because it’s not exactly an opinion-maker among Russian voters) – the only Russian TV stations I know of with foreign ownership are pure entertainment channels like STS (which may be the only one, actually).

    People address points and questions to what I say. Have a problem with that?

    Is there a need for such hostile rhetoric? I think not. You post controversial statements which beg for rebuttal on off-topic issues, so yes, people do respond. Sometimes that’s called hijacking a thread.

    Most Russians with an interest in foreian affairs tend to agree with me more than yourself. Are you doubting that?

    Mike, you can believe whatever you like about who agrees with whom, although that’s a fairly sweeping statement you’ve made, given how little you actually know about my views on Russian domestic politics. Anyway, how exactly do you define “with an interest in foreian affairs”? This is a fairly small percentage of the population in Russia, as it is in the US. And since the original topic was Russian media coverage of domestic politics, I’m not sure of the relevance of the views of this vaguely defined subset of “Russians with an interest in foreian affairs.”

    This relates to the media.

    To what media? The western media’s coverage of Russia, or the Russian media’s coverage of domestic policy?

    I trust Andy will delete your last comment, as it’s clearly beyond the pale.

  74. Michael Averko says:

    You show your hypocrisy once again Lyndon.

    Tim Newman initiated such manner. [Deleted by the blog’s administrator]

    I apologize to you Andy. Tim Newman initiated the rudeness and I gave it right back to him.

    I addressed all of those points Lyndon.

  75. Andy says:

    Mike – simply avoid insulting people and using derogatory language, then the need to apologise doesn’t arise.

  76. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    first of all the above remark is tasteless and unecessary. You may recall a few weeks ago I got into an unseemly row with Heribert because he was lambasting you. You ran for cover the minute I dived in, but thats neither here nor there -you shouldnt use such phrases. If you cant handle being questioned, then surrender the point, otherwise, reply with a point and not this filth above.

    Putin’s question and answer session is a sham and any objective observer can see that. It is remarkable only for the fact that he manages to endure it for two odd hours, which is a long time to be on the podium for a world leader. When I said ‘Question Time’ above I meant the grilling that Blair gets in Parliament, which is a spectacle in itself and sadly I daresay not copied in too many other countries, and most certainly not in Russia.

    I do concede that western governments are often quick to pander to Muslim demands for Mosques and such like, when they are in no great hurry to do the same for other religions. However your overall point that the BBC is biased against Serbia does not hold any water. Looking at Andy’s link above, its quite obvious that the Beeb are not biased and present both sides of the story. The problem that you have is that you take Serbia’s side far too often and fail to see that they have been the worst behaved in the region. The fact that you are a Slavophile, of Slavic extraction yourself and actually write for a Serb propoganda mouthpiece may explain this. Serbia has long reknowned as a troublemaker in the area with ideas far above their station for such a small insignificant country (e.g. Milosevic’s favourite saying, ”No one should dare to beat you”!). Most of the people cant all be wrong all of the time and I am far more inclined to believe them than Serbianna.

  77. Lyndon says:

    You show your hypocrisy once again Lyndon.

    You show once again that you’re unclear on the proper use of that word. In any event, reading the thread, Tim has clearly stayed on the issues and avoided personal attacks verging on the vulgar, such as the one of yours that Andy has just deleted.

    I addressed all of those points Lyndon.

    I guess you mean you’d like to end this discussion now, which is fine by me.

  78. Kolya says:

    Michael,

    Once again a straightforward question: do you believe that Russian TV is as free to criticize Putin as US TV is free to criticize Bush and UK TV is free to criticize Blair? A simple yes or no will suffice.

  79. Michael Averko says:

    Andy:

    The troll patrol is out in full force. Talk about “hijacking” a thread.

    Newman’s insulting remark initiated my reply.

    You still have his insulting remark up.

    I’ve stayed on topic. Some don’t like what has been said because it doesn’t conform with their views.

  80. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Speaking of how nice the Serbs can be, a friend of mine from Cork was at the World Cup in Germany and was fortunate enough to get tickets for some matches including Serbia vs Ivory Coast. First half, the Serbs went 2-0 up and were making as much monkey noises as possible to the Ivory Coast players and generally being unpleasant. Lovely stuff. Most of the Serb fans were not the kind of people you’d want to share a pint with(reminds me of Dynamo fans actually).

    But there is a God. Second half the Ivorians tore into the Serbs, scored three goals and sent the Serbs home with one of the worst first round records in football history:
    P 3 L 3 D 0 F 2 A 10 GD: -8

    Actually, if there’s one word that’ll shut a Serb up, this is it: ARGENTINA.

  81. Lyndon says:

    Mike, while I appreciate your droll “troll patrol” rhyme, I should point out that sock-puppeteering is generally more characteristic of trolls than anything anyone else here has done.

  82. Andy says:

    Mike – I thought carefully about whether to edit Tim’s comment as well. However, on balance, I decided it was best left up, as I felt it reflected his view of your own opinions, rather than being a gratuitous and baseless personal insult.

    Additionally, I would expect everyone who comments on Siberian Light to restrain from themselves from gratuitously insulting each other, regardless of whether they feel provoked.

  83. Andy says:

    Lyndon – just for clarity, as I think I know what you are implying:

    Sergei and Claus’ IP addresses are entirely different to those of anyone else who has commented on this thread.

  84. Michael Averko says:

    Let me say Andy that I’ve good reason to believe that his kind of manner and views are loathed by a good many Russians (non-Russians as well), who very much appreciate someone like myself.

    I talk to them all the time and count some of them as my friends.

    IMHO Lyndon, Ger and Tim are out of sync with reality and the quick reply time from them on this indicates a kind of brigade mentality which I find extremely disingenuous.

    What they don’t want to highlight are other related factors in defining a “free media”. Putin for good reason is very popular in his country when compared to the poopularity other leaders have in their respective countries.

    For the record, the meaning of a hypocrite is applied to double standards.

  85. Michael Averko says:

    I don’t sock puppet Lyndon.

    I’ve support as Andy knows from my open email list.

    I also don’t issue false statements about news organizations.

  86. Michael Averko says:

    Ger:

    Have you ever been around some of the Croat fans? Never mind the rep the you know who have.

  87. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    I am not trying to gang up on you at all and Tim and Lyndon arent either. We are simply questioning your views which we seem to find quite suspect.

    Ask yourself this question: is there any chance the reason Putin is so popular is BECAUSE Russia doesnt have a free media? Did that never cross your mind?

  88. Kolya says:

    I agree with Tim that with respect to human rights abuses the media talks more about China than Russia.

    This is by no means a perfect measure, but I just made a Google comparison with the following search terms:

    “human right abuses” china
    “human right abuses” russia
    “human right abuses” usa

    I searched the web and then I searched only the news. Here are the results:

    China — web 1,110,000 news 801
    Russia– web 951,000 news 226
    USA — web 843,000 news 205

    Michael, perhaps you had no time, but I do hope you answer what I already asked above: Do you believe that Russian TV is as free to criticize Putin as US TV is free to criticize Bush and UK TV is free to criticize Blair? A simple yes or no will suffice.

  89. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Admittedly I’m being unfair having a go at Serb fans only. There are scumbag fans everywhere, its just that Eastern Europe seems to have a large number of them. Dynamo Moscow fans are particularly dreadful though, and I never go there for matches. I’m not allowed by Her Indoors!)

  90. Michael Averko says:

    From one of my many admirers:

    “… The concentration of power amassed by President Vladimir Putin has been
    “troubling,” she told Congress shortly after the Russian leader and US
    President George W. Bush held telephone talks on the state of bilateral
    ties. …

    [ Rice should pay more attention to the ongoing ‘troubling’ aspects of her own
    government’s policies. ]”

    *****

    The above relates to how Putin is portrayed in media. When compared to Bush, he’s the more popular and for good reason.

  91. Lyndon says:

    Let me say Andy that I’ve good reason to believe that his kind of manner and views are loathed by a good many Russians (non-Russians as well)…

    That’s a fairly base remark, Mike, and baseless as well. What kind of “manner” are you referring to? A general tendency to disagree with you? Engaging in a civil debate while rejecting out of hand some of your more extreme statements? Suggesting (based on very reasonable suspicions, shared by others) that you and/or your “supporters” engage in sock-puppeteering? What exactly is so loathsome about that, and what makes you think anyone cares about – much less loathes – such a “manner” other than you?

    I’m not sure why you feel the need to convince yourself that “a good many Russians (non-Russians as well)” loathe my manner and views (which you hardly know well enough to characterize so broadly in any event), but I suppose you’re entitled to your opinions. However, unless you want to document your “good reason to believe” that I’m so loathed (your own irritation with me doesn’t count!), you might want to refrain from such comments in the future.

    Mike, a question for you – since you think of yourself as so pro-Russian and seem to have me pegged as some kind of “enemy of Russia” (a comical idea to anyone who knows me), have you ever considered, you know, actually living in Russia?

    IMHO Lyndon, Ger and Tim are out of sync with reality…

    So, just to clarify – you are somehow in sync with Russian media and political realities, as perceived in translated versions you receive, access or hear about from your vantage point in the New York area, but people who actually live in Russia (or did until recently, in my case) and know the language well enough to watch and read the media in question are “out of sync.” OK, just so we’re clear on that.

    …and the quick reply time from them on this indicates a kind of brigade mentality which I find extremely disingenuous.

    Mike, all it indicates is that coincidentally, there are three people on three different continents (amazing, really, when you think about it) who all seem to disagree with you. It’s a small world after all.

    What they don’t want to highlight are other related factors in defining a “free media”. Putin for good reason is very popular in his country when compared to the poopularity other leaders have in their respective countries.

    This is a non sequitur. Putin is indeed very popular – and there are indeed good (and non-media-related) reasons for his popularity – especially when compared to the “poopularity” of Bush & Blair at the moment. This has little to do with Russian media freedom, other than to suggest that leaders tend to be less popular and more poopular in countries where the media are free to criticize them.

    The bit about Rice is likewise of questionable relevance – it is her job to interact with foreign countries, not to criticize the many political failings of the Bush Administration, which plenty of people in the US media spend a great deal of time doing.

  92. Michael Averko says:

    You three posting here aren’t the world Lyndon. One of you actually complimented me on my most recent QT.

    Your “baseless” remark is baseless. I’m satisfied with the discussion I had with Andy on his remark which initiated my reply. His remark was baseless and your non-criticism of it is hypocritical in lieu of your lecturing me on appropriate manner.

    Besides these venues, there’re others ways of communicating, which is how I know that I’m right.

    As for my living in Russia, the Russian government funds various orgs. employing non-Russians. Some of whom go there not knowing the language or much about the country. Let them make me an offer I can’t refuse. Knowing some of the hiring results, I’m well worth it.

    My being pro-Russian hasn’t stop me from criticizing Russia.

    Rice should pay more attention to the Bush administration’s misguided foreign policy.

  93. Fanya says:

    I’d like to ask the “fray” here to think about the counterfactual on the whole issue of western media coverage of Russia, using America as an example.

    Let’s assume there was “more balanced” or “objective” or even “positive” coverage of Russia — to balance out the allegedly anti-Russian bias in JRL, etc. What would be accomplished (other than “more positive coverage”)? Would Johns and Ivans sit around campfires singing “Cumbaya”? Would relations between the US and Russia markedly improve? Would there be more “mutual understanding” and vzaimoponimanie — a phrase that our diplomats so cherish? More tourism? A new visa/registration regime for Americans? Even more Russian brides on the US market (although Ukraine’s no-visa travel is prob. eating into this)? Most important: Do more than 5-10% (at most) of Americans care about Russia/could find RF on a map? (A different question is if they should).

    The problem is that we Americans are, ultimately, a provincial people. More non-Americans have an opinion about “America” — no matter if they’ve never been there, speak English, read a book on the topic, etc. — than Americans have opinions about other countries (except for the French — you know, the cheese-eating surrender monkeys — sorry for the Simpson’s reference).

    Just throwing this out there…

  94. Lyndon says:

    You three posting here aren’t the world Lyndon.

    I immediately thought of that “We Are the World” song from the ’80’s – anyone remember that? Of course we’re not, and no one is suggesting that we are. You seemed to be suggesting there was some kind of coordinated attack on you, which is not the case.

    His remark was baseless…

    Mike, sorry if I misunderstood the target of your comment – using names instead of pronouns would make things clearer. I thought you were referring to me with your “loathed” remark above. However, I would note that Tim’s comment which appears to have caused you such grief:

    My own sense – from the point of view of living in Russia, speaking the language, and being married to a Russian – is that most Russians would be not in the least bit interested in what you say.

    is not crude (as your initial response was) and is not nearly as harsh as saying someone’s “kind of manner and views” are “loathed”; it’s also likely true. No one’s trying to lecture anyone here.

    Besides these venues, there’re others ways of communicating, which is how I know that I’m right.

    There certainly are other ways of communicating, and as always I am impressed by the remarkable certainty with which you hold your opinions.

  95. Kolya says:

    I’m new to this place and didn’t know that Michael Averko actually lives in the US, which is where I also live. Before I thought his remarks about US, UK and Russian TV was an expression of his naivete. Now, though, knowing that he lives in the US, I finds his remarks simply ludicrous. They are expressions of either wilfull blindness or, to put it kindly, disingenousness.

  96. Tim Newman says:

    Let me say Andy that I’ve good reason to believe that his kind of manner and views are loathed by a good many Russians (non-Russians as well), who very much appreciate someone like myself.

    I’m afraid I must repeat myself here: in Russia, nobody would have any interest in what you say.

    One of the main reasons why I doubt you have really been to Russia in any meaningful sense is because you have gotten yourself the idea that Russians would be willing to sit and listen to your output, and treat you like some kind of Messiah who is delivering a message they have been waiting years to arrive.

    Let me tell you, as somebody who lives in Russia, works with Russians, and is married to a Russian, they would not be in the least bit interested in what you have to say. They simply would not care. They might agree with some of your broader points on Putin, but they would do so without engaging their brain for a second, before going back to whatever they were doing.

    Had you spent any reasonable amount of time in Russia you would know this. I am guessing that you know almost all your Russian contacts online as opposed to in the real world, and herein lies your error. Those Russians who discuss politics online are probably representative of such a miniscule percentage of Russians at large that it would not even be worth mentioning the number: their numbers are negligible.

    When we lived in Dubai, my wife used to go on the Russian forums where there were always political discussion among the Russian diaspora in Dubai. They would all be endorsing opinions similar to yours, and no doubt if you posted there you would be popular, but as my wife quickly pointed out: they were a relatively wealthy diaspora, spouted views on Russia which contradicted their residence outside of Russia, some had not been there in a decade, and were very much not representative of ordinary Russians.

    So whereas your views might find some mileage with a handful of Russians in the online community, I can assure you that were you to got to Russia and start discussing this stuff with ordinary Russians they would more than likely get annoyed pretty quickly, or think you slightly off your rocker.

    If you like, as an experiment, I can walk into my local billiard hall this evening, choose a bloke at random, and start talking to him about “Reverse Holbrookes”, “Kievan-Rus Legacies”, and Transnistrian independence, and let you know his reaction.

  97. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Kolya

    you couldnt have said it more accurately and well. That is what I have been struggling to say all along. Mike’s appalling excusing of the inexcusable is indeed disingenuous.

    Mike,

    Tim is right, like it or not. I’m married to an educated Russian and she would have no interest in what you’re saying. At best its academic and really of no use to modern Russians. Now admittedly her main hobbies are shoes, shopping, reality tv and giving me a hard time when I’m trying to watch football, but that doesnt make her any different from 75 million odd Russian women(or indeed Irish women). And as I said before, your being a foreigner only adds to Russians’ unwillingness to listen to you – they’d wonder where you got your notions from. Whenever I myself have an opinion on something political here, the in-laws are raising their eyes to heaven and wanting to get back to talking about home improvements, or look at me like you’d look at a puppy, as if to say ”ah, the little poor foreigner, he hasnt a clue really, isnt that so cute”. Be under no illusions Mike – Russians do not really care about this kind of stuff. They’ve got clothes, appartments, holidays, tv and sex as their main priorities, not your visionary thinking on FSU matters.

    ” Let them make me an offer I can’t refuse. Knowing some of the hiring results, I’m well worth it.”
    With remarks like that, ist easy to see why you’ve never made it to Russia.

    By the way it was me who complimented your QT, which has an interesting doping story. I’d love to see the chromatography for that one.

  98. Fanya says:

    An offer I can’t refuse

    Um, have you actually seen the Godfather? You really want to wake up with a horse’s head in your bed?

  99. anonymous says:

    Well, this has happened elsehwhere with the same unimpressive results.

    The same group come on and steer off topic when views they do not like have made more sense.

    Many non-Russians live in Russia, where they maintain the same prejudices. For the instigators of misinformation, this is their shining moment. In Russia, Lyndon’s stated views are less popular than Michael Averko’s. What about the Kievan Rus legacy and Transnistria independence? These views are real. Only an ignorant or not so honest person could claim differently.

    Ger O’Brien makes an ironic point about consumerism in Russia. Living conditions have improved in that country. This is why Putin is popular. Russians are not so interested in the foreign rubbish about media censorship.

  100. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Well, well, well anonymous…funny how your phraseologies like:

    ”stated views are less popular”
    ”Kievan Rus legacy ”
    ”steer off topic ”

    sound exactly like someone else who comments here…..I wonder who??

  101. db (a different one) says:

    Who Ger? That was a great summation of this discussion. Stick with the facts.

  102. Tim Newman says:

    What about the Kievan Rus legacy and Transnistria independence?

    Yes, these are undoubtedly hot topics of conversation amongst ordinary Russians.

  103. Tim Newman says:

    Actually, this phenomenon of judging a people by their online representatives is probably not unusual.

    I used to frequent a British web forum where one or two of the members had stumbled into the raving moonbat fringe in the US, the ones who are always going on about 9/11 conspiracies, the scam of international banking, freemasons, aliens, etc. Of course, the peddlers of these conspiracies were of the opinion their views were being censored and they couldn’t make their voices heard. The Brits, who were not too smart to begin with, agreed with the Americans that their government was evilly plotting to control the world, etc. and found they made a good impression with their American friends. They interpretted this popularity among a few moonbats in the US to mean that their views would be popular amongst all Americans, if only they were able to break down the conspiracy to silence them.

    I don’t think it occurred to these two Brits that most Americans would think them as nutty as the American they’d befriended. I see a similar situation here, with Averko finding some popularity with a handful of Russians online and assuming that this popularity would extend to the whole population if only the conspiracy to censor his opinions could be broken.

    Reality, as always, is harsh.

  104. claus says:

    Newman is not a good judge of normal behavior. The group conspiring to get off topic includes him and not Averko.

    His friend’s views are not more popular than Averko’s in Pridnestrovie and Russia. Unable to win on the facts, this group chooses to get off topic.

    I rest my case.

  105. anonymous says:

    What I last posted remains sadly true. The hysterically groundless comments do not cover this reality.

  106. Roobit says:

    Is Tim Newman also la Russophobe after virtual (and temporary) sex change operation that he undergoes now and then to transform back to la Russophobe whenever is convenient or is it a different personage altogether?

    Now why is this crowd ganging up on Mike Averko?

    I have no idea what sort of “people” Tim Newman hangs out with (if he is Tim Newman and not la Russophobe or the other way around, as I said he smells … Good morning ladies) or why would judgment of Russia or whatever by those apparently strange people from hostile English speaking countries count at all – only because they got some lowlife “Russian” wives through mailorder, but what I see they are apparently ganging up on that Mike fellow for no apparent good cause.

    As of their knowledge of Russia – I am sorry, I live in Russia and speak the language and I am quite sure that Tim Newman character here is just a Russophobe fraud, who knows s!#t about the country and is trying to lecture Mike Averko on things he, Tim Newman that is, knows absolutely nothing about.

    Besides Sakhalin to Russia and Russians is something like Prince Edward island is to the UK and the British (were it still under the same jurisdiction), remote and not really “Russia”. He says that he lives in Russia (besides I think is a total fraud anyway, so his geographic whereabouts are questionable) but then says he is somewhere near Japan for Christ sake living with some imported mailorder whore – yeah that makes this for a very credible (incredible) story.

  107. Michael Averko says:

    I don’t only discuss Trans-Dniester and the Kievan Rus legacy. To suggest otherwise is an outright distortion. My overall take on FSU issues is more in line with how most Russians think when compared to those critics (or however one wants to term them) of me at this discussion.

    Out of a wide range of interesting QT posted FSU related material, Ger was most interested in an article about the Russian athlete charged with doping. This shows where his biases exist.

    Note the negativity of that particular article. Yet, I posted it because it was a relevant FSU sports issue. So, no one can legitimately accuse me of not having a reasonable approach.

    As for another comment of his: many see the continued shortcomings of Russian government funded English language PR/media efforts. I’ve no bearing on those faults.

  108. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    first of all, I dont know what biases you are referring to. Is that the bias that I dont swallow most of your pro-Russian crap? Or pro-Serb rubbish? That being the case, I am biased. The reason I was interested in the doping case is bacause I worked in an anti-doping lab for many years and have actually done a lot of work on anabolic steroids and am familiar with the type of work involved in the case you mentioned. The fact that its a Russian who has been caught is neither here nor there. I get the feeling from your comment above you believe there may be a miscarriage of justice of some sort. No offence Mike, but you are neither a chemist nor doctor nor anything relative to doping, so you havent a clue, not to put too fine a point on it. And considering I havent seen any of the sample integrity documentation or the scientific data from the analyses, neither do I. But I would trust the work and judgement of a WADA accredited laboratory ahead of your groundless opinions anyday. And, as the article notes, the athlete is not contesting the findings.

  109. db says:

    Andy and Ger,

    The comment up this page signed “db” is not mine.

  110. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Nobody I know in Russia cares one bit about Transdniester. Most people (Russians that is) recall having heard about it. It’s occasionally mentioned in the news, but too brief for anybody to give a damn. Talk about Crimea — people do pay attention. Estonia — man, even those who couldn’t be bothered to talk about politics if you offered them a 1000 rubles had an opinion on that one. Abkhazia — vaguely popular, because it’s pretty. South Ossetia… Couldn’t name a person who cares.

    Serbia… some gut reactions as in “they are right, Nato was wrong”, is probably all you can get. Russian’s like Serbs because that’s what you do when you are Russian. In about the same way that American like the Irish… I guess. Only less so.

  111. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Hey, claus… that’s a funny name. Any relations to the man up north?

  112. Michael Averko says:

    Ger

    You’re full of propaganda unlike myself. My views are based on facts and directly reply to what the political opposites are saying. You keep coming up empty in finding anything wrong with my views.

    Unlike yourself, I don’t make pompous comments on topics I know little about. Therefore, I will not reply to your other recently posted comments.

    ———————————————–

    db

    Who cares?

    ———————————————-

    ReluctantMuscovite

    Trans-Dniester is Russocentric. Like I said – I write about a wide range of FSU topics dealing with sports, history and foreign affairs.

    I’m not sure I agree with or get your point about Russians-Serbs vs. Americans-Irish. Generally, I don’t think Russians like Serbs less than Americans like of the Irish.

  113. Michael Averko says:

    ReluctantMuscovite

    It wasn’t that long ago in American history when signs in Boston and elsewhere could be found reading something along the lines of: no Irish please. In America, there were also tensions between some within the Italian and Irish communities. Fortunately, these aspects are no longer so evident (maybe relegated in some very small circles).

    Russians and Serbs never seemed to have these tensions. Serbs and Russians are descended from the same area in Europe. Russia helped liberate Serbia from occupation.

  114. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Russia liberated Serbia? When? Serbians kicked Ottoman, Austrian, Italian, and German butt all by themselves (well, it was a collective effort together with some other Yugos, but that’s almost besides the point). They were about to kick Albanian butt as well, but those fellas called for outside help.

    I don’t remember any time that Russians provided anything but rhetorical assistance to their little Southern brothers. There were some Russian volunteers who went there when the Ottomans were kicked out, but that’s about all.

    When it comes to their Slavic brothers, Russia talks the talk of solidarity, but walks the walk of national interest. Good for Russia, I might say, but still.

  115. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    first of all, I’m not taking the ‘no Irish’ in Boston bait. Frankly I find it hard to believe, considering so many people in that city claim to be Irish. Its a cheap shot, but it didnt hit its target. Try to think of a good one next time.

    The reason you ignore my ‘pompous’ opinions is that you have no answer to them. Put simply, they are:
    Russian does not have anything resembling a free media.
    Serbia are the prime movers and villains in the Balkans and
    You dont know anything about doping.

    The two above are widely accepted facts among both westerners and Russians, the last is an assumption made my me, which I daresay is correct. Please feel free to try debunk the three points above. You have failed miserably so far and I’m not going to be drawn out by your rubbish about ‘no Irish’ above. Unlike you, I have no problem with my country’s history and make no attepmt to lie about it, past or present, and at least it is my country. You’re about as Russian as a pair of fake Gucci sunglasses bought in Nikolskaya*

    *Ahem, seeing as you’ve never been to Moscow, Nilkolskaya is a trendy street adjacent to Red Square, leading from there to Lyubyanka Square.

    RM – my feeling from Russians (I’m married to one) is that Serbia is just a pain in the arse that likes to think Russia will bail it out of any trouble that it shamelessly gets itself into(eg ethnic cleansing). As we have seen in 1999, thats not the case.

  116. Michael Averko says:

    ReluctantMuscovite

    Check your facts. Russia played an instrumental role in liberating Serbia in the late 18 seventies. I gather you aren’t familiar with Tcahikovsky’s Marche Slav?

    You’re right that at times, Russia has fallen short in supporting Serbia. However, the great sympathy for it is there in Russia.

    Ger

    You really are showing your ignorance on this one. What I said about those signs is common knowledge among historians specializing on the Irish in America. You really take the cake with your ongoing arrogance and ignorance.

    Once again, I was in Moscow and I’m looking at the proof as I type this note. I’m not obligated to prove this to you. Being married to a Russian (mail order or otherwise) doesn’t substantively prove anything against me.

  117. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Ger,

    I do think that Serbia got an undeservedly bad rap in the Yugoslav wars.

    You may want to look up this link, produced by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)
    http://lists.econ.utah.edu/pipermail/rad-green/2001-September/000571.html

    Also, do some research on Ruder & Finn Global Affairs – the pr agency hired by Kuwait (Iraq invasion) and Croatia (Yugoslav Civil war).

    The Serbs as villains narrative is convenient, but highly misleading. More than once, Milosevic was a much sought after negotiator and broker in the conflict, even for the Americans.

    The entire Yugoslav conflict is too complex and dirty to be reduced to the simple Serbs vs. humanity tale.

    I have talked to a number of Serbs (starting back in 1992 all the way through to 2003), many of whom were there during the fightings themselves, and very few of them claim to have been victimized, but they can tell you the most absurd stories about the disgusting games played by all sides.

    One of them is the big business of the Sarajevo siege, where Serb and Croat mafias alike made a big business out of providing food to the city. Occasional pot-shots were taken at UN supply planes when prices had dropped too much as a result of UN aid.

    Or those times when Serb artillery was hired by Croats and Bosnians alike to provide fire cover. The Croats would go up the mountain, so to say, give their orders, time, coordinates, and the Serbs would begin to fire on schedule, and stop at the end of the ‘contract’. The next day, the Bosnians would go to the same artillery battery, and ask for fire cover for their counter attack. The Serbs didn’t give a damn whether or not the attacks they were covering needed maybe a bit more fire cover. They had been paid for, say, twenty minutes of shelling, and that’s what the ‘customer’ got.

    Or at other occasions, some Serb military units would sell ammunition to Croats/Bosnians who were fighting against other Serb units.

    There was no real civil war in any meaninful sense much of the time. More often than not, it was simply armed, indepenednt groups of various interests fighting each other for various reasons. Of course, there was the ethnic angle, the Yugo angle, the whatever angle. But, mostly, it was just chaos.

    Milosevic contributed much to bringing sanity to the war, by eliminating and bringing into line the independent operators.

    Tudjman, by the way, has gotten an easy treatment by the Western media, even given the status of a democrat. Start readin up on that angel…

    Milosevic, in my opinion, should have been hung from a bridge in belgrade — by Serbs. But, I seriously object to Nato bringing him to court, and all the other Serbs. Almost no Croats ever saw the court from the inside, not to mention Albanians, who HAVE ethnically cleansend much of Kosovo.

    I think Mike is to obsessed with these issues, and he seriously loses perspective, more often than not. But, when it comes to Yugoland, he’s no more nuts than many of the Western reporters who write about (note i did not say ‘report).

  118. Kolya says:

    Wel, Russia did play a significant role in the liberation of Serbia and Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, Russian public opinion back then was very pro-Serb and pro-Bulgarian–including thousands of volunteers who went to the Balkans. This enthusiasm was not entirely shared by Russian government of the time.

    But the above has nothing to do with Michael’s ludicrous implication that at present Russian TV is as free to report on Putin as the US and the UK are free to report (and criticize and make fun of) on Bush and Blair.

  119. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Deary me, I wake up with a hangover, turn on the pc and there’s a load of abuse waiting for me from Mike. Cheers!)

    RM -I am certainly being anti-Serb when much if it isnt justified maybe and I do know they werent the only brutes in the region and that its easy to paint them as the worst offenders. But there’s no doubt they carried out the worst ethnic cleansing the some of the most heinous crimes eg. Srebrenica and the Siege of Sarajevo. And to be honest I find it hard to take Mike’s word for anything on either Serbia or PMR, as he writes for blatantly biased propoganda mouthpieces for both places. But I take your points RM -its an education for me, I dont know much about either region at all and will read those links, so maybe there is soem right in what Mike says. However I dont buy for a second anyone’s contention that Russians nowadays care deeply about Serbia -thats not my experience from speaking to Russians. They dont seem to care at all and their attitude is if anything a shrug of shoulders, as if to say ”so what”?

    Mike – you havent been to Moscow. I asked you simple questions over on SRB and you couldnt answer them. You’re not obliged to prove anything to anyone, but it would add just a tiny bit of validation to your self-proclaimed ”expertise” on Russia. As it is, you are telling me and Kolya and everyone else that Russian media is free when we know it isnt, cos we live there, whilst you’ve never been there. As for mail-order brides, I met my wife whilst working in Moscow and had to go and try to get her to come out with me the same way as one would with a woman at home. The days of easily impressing Russian women simply cos one is foreign are long gone. Looking at your photo on Serbianna, with that lovely ”open top” of yours, I think you’d struggle to get a mail order bride even to move from provincial Moldova to New York for you)

    Kolya -he’s not answering what you say because he is unable to. It means he’s lost the argument.

  120. Tim Newman says:

    Being married to a Russian (mail order or otherwise) doesn’t substantively prove anything against me.

    Implying Ger’s wife is a mail-order bride?

    Never let it be said that Mike Averko doesn’t have class.

  121. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Lovely stuff eh Tim?

    A decent person would simply have conceded the original point – that Russia has hopelessly censored news media. But Mike couldnt do it. He had to make endless innaccurate comparisons and when they were beaten he turned to cheap insults.

    He’s a fine piece of work as you can see.

  122. Michael Averko says:

    Tim Newman doesn’t know class to be able to competently define it. This is shown by his arrogant and ignorant comments here and abroad.

    Ger had it coming to him. He thinks because he has a Russian wife and lives in Moscow that he knows more than me on any number of FSU related topics. He continues to lie about my not having been to Moscow. I’m not going to take such BS when I don’t have to.

    None of you have commented on Andy’s point above these comments about how the cited poll prablay would show the same result for British attitudes towards their choices.

    I did reply to your point Kolya. From the looks of things, you didn’t provide a counter-reply.

    ReluctantMuscovite

    I’m, not “nuts” at all. Read my commentary in the columnist segment of http//www.serbianna.com and show me where I’m “nuts”.

    Here’s another one for you

    http://www.tiraspoltimes.com/news/when_will_russia_apply_the_reverse_holbrooke.html

  123. Michael Averko says:

    That’s http://www.serbianna.com

  124. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Ura! Now the ranting is underway!

    Mike, I never claimed to have any better knowledge than you on any FSU topics. But unlike you, I actually have seen Russian television, quite often in fact, and there is no doubt in my mind that there is censorship and pro-government bias on a mass scale. For all your huffing and puffing, you are neither man enough, adult enough nor have the basic courtesy to concede the point. It is small wonder no-one publishes you(I mean big-time media, not blogs). You’d want to grow up Mike. You’re 46 years of age and still arent grown up enough to admit when you are wrong, in the face of tons of evidence from people actually based on Russian soil.

  125. Michael Averko says:

    Prove it Ger!

    Another empty rant from you.

    I do quite well given the kind of poltitical censorship which is evident among Western mass media outlets.

  126. Tim Newman says:

    He thinks because he has a Russian wife and lives in Moscow that he knows more than me on any number of FSU related topics.

    And you think that this is sufficient provocation to imply that his wife is a mail-order bride?

    Keep this up Mike, and you’ll not only be unpopular and unpublished, but detested as well.

  127. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Prove what? What proper media outlets have you been published in? Surely the onus is on you, not me, to prove that you’re anything more than someone with a pc barking a load of pro-Kremlin rubbish. Again, for the cheap seats at the back, I repeat, do you not concede that Russian television is heavily censored and pro-government and not independent? Answer the question! Without any smoke, hot air or rubbish!

  128. Michael Averko says:

    There’s already sound reason to detest Tim, Ger and some others.

    I’m reading some very intersting acounts on Alexander Suvorov’s life. For many Western “Russia watchers”, there’s a good deal of ignorance about him. His life and that of others debunks the myth of a set system in plave which rewards solely on merit. There might be more on this in the coming days (wink, wink).

    RelucantMuscovite

    You said my views on formr Yugo are nutty. Please specify. Here’s another article for you to peruse

    http://www.russiablog.org/2006/11/how_kosovo_factors_into_russoa.php

  129. GER O'BRIEN says:

    You didnt answer the question, so we can take it that you are wrong. You are unable to admit that. Its an enormous indictment as to the type of person you are. No wonder no-one publishes your nonsense except blogs.

    Whats this ‘wink wink’ about? Do you think people are waiting with baited breath for your next poorly-written, half arsed and frankly boring propoganda piece? Who exactly are your fans? You? ”Andrew Waller”? ”Alexandra”? By the way I know who Alexandra is.

  130. Tim Newman says:

    No wonder no-one publishes your nonsense except blogs.

    Even they’ve stopped doing that. The only places he can get published now is on a Serbian propaganda website, and an obscure political pamphlet advocating Transnistrian independence.

    It appears that all other avenues – and there were a few – previously open to him have closed, probably for a mixture of reasons to do with the poor quality of his articles in terms of style and content, no self-editing, a refusal to allow even the slightest editing of his work, endless self-aggrandisement, the picking of pointless fights, howls of censorship, and a campaign of lies against JRL.

    If his articles appear on more than two or three websites over the next 12 months I’d be surprised, hence the mass spamming of everyone with his articles. Mark my words.

  131. GER O'BRIEN says:

    I’m not suprised Tim. If you go to the top of this thread, you’ll see he degenerated it into the row it became. He just couldnt accept that he was wrong about media freedom in Russia and still cant. Its amazing for someone his age.

    The self promotion is just hilarious. I wonder sometimes is he just taking the piss – genuinely. He cant be serious really.

  132. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Ger,

    if I came across as saying that Russians care deeply about Serbia, I would like to clarify that: I think that Russians will, as a rule, take the Serbian side in a dispute between the West and the Serbs, but they won’t waste much breath on it. Frankly, I think Russians are a little like Americans in this way; they don’t care much about anything outside Russia. They have some gut reaction to it, but then generally go back to what they like doing best: make money, complain, and plan their next vacation on some boring beach. On the list of priorities, Serbia ranks quite a bit below the question of Alla Pugacheva’s fashion sense is hot or not.

    Ask a Russian: do you think that Serbia was treated unfairly by NATO in 1999, and he’ll proably agree, but if you bother him with more detailed question he’ll quickly become bored or annoyed.

    Transdniester… oh my. Most Russians wouldn’t know where it is, or what the issue is about. It’s a little thing the Russian government plays with when necessary to push another agenda item.

    Nobody in Russia, at least not very many people, loses any sleep over it.

    Regarding freedom of the press: it’s sufficient for those who care and want to inform themselves. But, it takes a bit more effort. The broad-cast media is certainly less agressive towards the government than in western countries. The point is, though, that Russians like it that way.

    Things are going mostly well, and most Russians don’t want to to bother with politics. I know few Russians who watch the Channel One debates on weekends (is it on Channel One? I barely watch TV, so I am not sure). IF you gave them more politics, they’d simply switch to TV1000 or something like that.

    This must be one of the most apolitical people on earth. They’ve had enough of it.

    The liberal whiners have their Echo of Moscow, they can buy Novaya Gazeta and what have you, and inform themselves.

    The vast majority doesn’t care, and won’t care, as long as the Putinists keep their end of the bargain.

    Personally, I think this is probably good, in the short run. In the long run, this has to change — but I also have the feeling that Putin is in the process of sabotaging the possibility of anybody after him to become a second Putin.

    I think the current situation is an abnormality strictly caused by the personality, style, and needs of Putin.

  133. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Ger,

    you may also want to look up an article called “The Banality of Ethnic War”, by JM Mueller. He deals with, among other things, the Yugoslav conflict. You can find a copy at http://psweb.sbs.ohio-state.edu/faculty/jmueller/is2000.pdf

  134. Michael Averko says:

    The Tim & Ger idiothon goes on.

    They’ve yet to prove that Serbianna is a propaganda organ.

    They didn’t address Andy’s points in the post above this discussion.

    On propaganda, just how propagandistic is this piece

    http://tiraspoltimes.com/news/pmr_president_decorated_with_top_order_for_democracy_no_less.html

  135. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Oh, and here’s another one:

    http://psweb.sbs.ohio-state.edu/faculty/jmueller/apsa2000.pdf

    (Andy, sorry for posting so many small ones, but I have a very erratic approach to research and posting arguments…)

  136. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Mike,

    “Moscow decorated Pridnestrovie’s President Igor Smirnov with the Dignity Order of the First Degree, given to him for *strengthening friendship between peoples, developing democracy, consolidating Pridnestrovie’s position on international arena and close relations between the people of the unrecognized country and the people of Russia*”

    Any good journalist would have put a quotation mark around the part I marked with stars, and indicated what the source of that statement is.

    The same goes for:

    Igor Smirnov himself also brushes off criticism with much the same nonchalance, adding that such *unfounded allegations just form part of a barrage of propaganda against the unrecognized country which seeks to isolate and demonize Pridnestrovie in order to prevent it from becoming a member in good standing of the international community*.

    As this is probably something the president said. Journalists, at least good ones, should make damn sure that they do not confuse opinions with reporting.

    The wording “with much the same nonchalance” is maybe good for a feature article, but certainly not for a news item.

    and so on and on.

    Just really bad journalistic style. Of course, quite a number of ‘respected’ Western outlets do the same, but that’s not the argument here.

  137. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Mike:

    “They’ve yet to prove that Serbianna is a propaganda organ.”

    Let’s agree on the terms of this definition first, shall we?

    What would it take to convince that Serbianna is a propaganda outlet?

    Otherwise it’s going to be a pointless discussion.

    Let’s agree on terms and conditions first, and then go on…

  138. Tim Newman says:

    They didn’t address Andy’s points in the post above this discussion.

    Actually, were you to use the simple expedient of reading the thread, you would see that I commented on Andy’s post in the 5th comment down.

    Given that based on past performances reading the thread properly is a tall order for you, I’ll repost my comment here:

    On the subject at hand, I’m not surprised almost half of Russian voters think that this year’s parliamentary elections will be marred by fraud.

    Russians have got to be the most politically cynical people on the planet. You mention politics and politicians to most Russians and they roll their eyes, point to the suspiciously large houses in which their representatives live, and complain that nothing will ever change before dismissing the subject completely.

  139. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Tim:

    tochno.

  140. GER O'BRIEN says:

    RM -thanks for the info, I’m going to read the stuff now.

    Tim – based on past performances and this one as well, ist not suprising that Dr Averko hasnt read what others have added.

    Mike – so, I reiterate, do you concede the point that Russia does not have a free media? I’m not interested in ‘if’, ‘but’ or ‘maybe’. Answer the question please.

  141. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    the above you linked to is a propoganda piece, pure and simple. I’m sure that had the writer bothered he’d have found plenty of evidence to criticise Smirnov’s democratic record. The piece is hopelessly biased – it reminds me of the type of atrociously unbalanced writing in Sinn Fein pamphlets, but with none of the charm or wit or proper grammar for that matter. And I daresay the ‘Western diplomat’ quoted is about as real as Santa Claus.

  142. Michael Averko says:

    RM

    Not more propagandistic than the BBC uncritically using Kuzio and Nekrasov as analysts with no oppposition to them during Q & A commentary segments. Ditto the BBC for having so long quoted the bogus 200,000 killed during the Bosnian Civil War hoax. Likewise with the other mentioned examples stated at this thread.

    I gather you don’t find fault with my linked former Yugo commentary. Dr. O’Brien sure hasn’t been able to find any fault with it.

    I’m not going to engage in propaganda. I can agree that no media is “free”. Anglo-American mass media is free for those who can afford to influence it. As some others noted here, most Russians aren’t so concerned with Anglo-American Andrew Kuchnis like critiques of Russian TV media. Russians have other media options, while seeing Kuchins’ criticisms to be a bit selective (put mildly).

  143. db says:

    They’ve yet to prove that Serbianna is a propaganda organ.

    Mike,

    Is the M. Bozinovich that owns serbianna.com the same M. Bozinovich that teaches mathematics at Northwestern High School?

  144. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    again, you change the slant and fail miserably to account for your nonsense opinions. ”Russians have other media options”
    As I recall, I was talking about tv being censored and pandering to the state. Not any other type of media, most of which Russians ignore anyway. Most reasonable people would have simply acknowledged this is the case and moved on. Not you. You have to be right, even when you are totally wrong and everyone can see it. One expects this type of behaviour from spotty teenagers, not people in their forties. But then, we’re talking about Mike Averko here.

    I didnt bother reading your piece on russiablog – the writing style was atrocious as usual. I just had a brief scan through and when I saw the picture of the ‘Serb warrior’ I thought thats enough for me, thanks. By the way werent you booted out of Russia blog?
    Sorry, wrong choice of words – it was ‘editorial differences’, right?

  145. Michael Averko says:

    Ger, in comparison, your writing style is even atrocious as usual. Your displayed intellect is even worse, with your stated judgment being frequently warped. Your excuse for not reading the RB article is a copout. In fact, it was very well received unlike the garbage you post here. What about the other linked articles? Keep up the BS. As usual, you’re not making much sense.

    db

    I don’t know. Why should it matter (asked with some trepidation)?

  146. Michael Averko says:

    BTW, I wasn’t “booted” from RB anymore than Peter Lavelle was booted from Russia Profile. Since that last RB article, I was invited back there on two different instances. I’ve other options.

    How about Ann Coulter being booted from National Review or Stephen Schwartz no longer appearing at Front Page Mag? Meantime, all Ger can do is muster petty cheap shots in the Comments section of blogs.

  147. Michael Averko says:

    My displayed grammar in articles is much better than my suddenly posted comments at blogs. This is because my articles are written over a course of days with periodic grammar checks on my end.

    Ger is therefore being a phony with his BS excuse for not reading that article. Once again, he didn’t have anything to say about the other linked articles on the same subject.

    Along with some others, he goes off topic with personal comments having nothing to do with the subject matter. This is a clear example of net trolling.

    db is aonther such example with his ra

  148. Michael Averko says:

    Sorry for the cutoff. Let’s see db relate his last question to the substance of this discussion.

    RM seems willing to have an earnest discussion.

  149. db says:

    Why should it matter (asked with some trepidation)?

    Mike,

    Doesn’t it bother you when a “political analyst” with “advanced degrees in Political Philosophy, Economics, Mathematics and Pedagogy in reality turns out to be a highschool math teacher?

    Makes me wonder again — what do you do for a living?

  150. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    Mike:

    I’m repeating myself:

    “They’ve yet to prove that Serbianna is a propaganda organ.”

    Let’s agree on the terms of this definition first, shall we?

    What would it take to convince that Serbianna is a propaganda outlet?

    Otherwise it’s going to be a pointless discussion.

    Let’s agree on terms and conditions first, and then go on…

    And here is an addition:

    By which criteria do you classify the BBC as propagandistic?

    Clear, objective criteria please. And, you have not yet answered my quick analysis of the Tiraspol Times piece.

  151. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike

    would you blame me for not reading your piece? If you concede that Russia doesnt have free tv reporting, which is what this is all about, then I’ll read your piece.

    Fair enough?

  152. Kolya says:

    Mike, you wrote you already replied to the following question:

    Do you believe that Russian TV is as free to criticize Putin as US TV is free to criticize Bush and UK TV is free to criticize Blair? A simple yes or no will suffice

    I’m sorry, but I didn’t see your reply. Maybe you did and I missed it. It’s a simple question that deserves a simple answer–please repost your reply to my question. Thanks!

  153. anonymous says:

    An amazing conversation. The same points keep getting adressed and answered again. Simple yes and no answers are often for simpletons. Putin is more popular than those others leaders and for good reasons. Russians tend not to be concerned with two faced media comments from abroad.

    Why is not db direct in what he seems to be claiming? Who is db to second guess others? How do db’s points relate to the commentary at Serbianna? This db does not deal with pertinent matters and is not so challenging towards those more suspect.

    Stop feeding the trolls Mike.

  154. db says:

    The last two posts under db weren’t mine.

  155. Michael Averko says:

    There’s a certain exercise of discipline in replying to repeatedly misleading comments. Some (stress some) of which are clearly insulting in manner. When that behavior is returned, the protested hypocrisy of some further reveals their warped side.

    RM – I did in fact address your inquiry on propaganda. On the other hand, you didn’t answer my questiion on what specifics of my lengthy former Yugo. commentary are “nutty”.

  156. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    you’re beaten, pure and simple. Only a fool or someone disingenuous would claim that Russia has an uncensored media free of government interference. For all your bluster and rubbish, you have failed miserably to refute that point. You can crap on all you like; no-one is fooled but you. Then again, thats all that matters to you it seems.

  157. Michael Averko says:

    I rest my case.

    A TKO, with the defeated obviously punch drunk, as per his wildly broad and unsubstantiated comments.

  158. Amruschik says:

    Mike, you wrote you already replied to the following question:
    Do you believe that Russian TV is as free to criticize Putin as US TV is free to criticize Bush and UK TV is free to criticize Blair? A simple yes or no will suffice—Kolya

    Well, I am not Mike but I’ll take a shot at that one. Having never seen UK TV I will exclude them from my answer, but as far as Russian TV being as free as US TV I would say more or less so. US TV is censored- though I suspect that it, as well as Russian TV, is more of a self censorship than a govt imposed one. But it is still censorship no matter how you look at it.
    How do you think US got into Iraq anyway? I was in US at the time and witnessed it with my own amazed eyes, how every channel was to scream in unison WMD! WMD! and Saddam and Osama are plotting together! Do we have to wait until there is a mushroom cloud over an American city!? (That mushroom cloud comment got a mileage for weeks on all stations) But little to none deviation from this script was allowed and certainly no one was allowed to even stop for a moment to question this information- to do so did not necessarily mean some govt officials were going to drag you off to some jail in the middle of the desert and throw away the key, but more like it would lead to the station being branded as ‘unpatriotic’ and to be placed onto the wrong list, meaning shunned by the people and govt insiders and informants and possible loss of access to the more important govt meetings that included press.
    I could only imagine what would have happened at the time if some channel had decided to break ranks and start airing Chirac interviews stating that US was wrong about Saddam and Iraq and it would be better to wait and let inspectors do their job. I have a feeling what would happen is Americans would be marching at the station demanding to send out the cheese eating surrunder monkey traitors and throwing packs of freedom fries at anyone who had the nerve to step out from the building.
    As to the Russians, well the ones I know are really no different. They maybe a little more tolerant than Americans in some ways, but they are not going to stand for long to hear their own stations broadcasting foreigners (or agents of foreigners such as Scott Ritter was accused of amongst other things) opinions that they are a horrible people guilty of decades of brutal sin against the rest of the world, and are living in an evil country ruled by a vicious dictator. They dont want to hear that Estonia was right to desecrate war graves of those that they personally consider heroes. They dont want to hear that Putin was wrong to have troops re-enter Chechnya back then, and that they should have just let the terrorists keep attacking and killing innocents while the govt wastes years persuing impossible liberal fantasy of a happy happy political solution where everybody wins, and they certainly do not want to hear how much more free and democratic and better everything was in general under Eltsin- as they look around at their own personal lives they know better and start to question ‘Better for who?’
    So in the end, do I think US and Russian TV censored? Yes, I believe so but not so much by the govts but rather by the perceived wants and expectations of the people. Somehow I suspect though if the stations had a choice they may instead preferred to be ruled by the govt- I cant help but think it would really be much easier…

  159. ReluctantMuscovite says:

    I withdraw from this conversation.

  160. Michael Averko says:

    Nice set of comments Amruschik.

    Many are unaware of their subjective perceptions, in terms of what they consider as important gauges for judging a free media.

    I would’ve been interested in getting RM’s reasons why he found my former Yugo. commentary to be “nutty”.

    Anglo-American mass media folks have been known to duck the hard critiques levied against them. Instead, choossing to poke at Russian media.

  161. GER O'BRIEN says:

    Mike,

    you had no case to rest. All you had was off the point bullshit about Soros, the BBC and Yugoslavia, all off the point. The usual hopeless rants that have got you banned from most places and unpublished elsewhere.

    Amruschik – I dont dispute for a second that no-one wants to hear bad news or engage in self-flagellation. But reporting bad news, criticism and proper analysis of the affairs of government are fundamentals of any properly functioning democratic society. Maybe that doesnt suit Russians, but at least give them a chance to make up their own minds. If they dont like it, they can always change channel and watch Dom-2 or Golod.

  162. Kolya says:

    My last on this one.

    Michael, I lost respect for you and I no longer consider your commentaries either credible or worth reading. No well informed person (and I assume that you are one) can in good faith claim (or imply) that Russian TV is as free to report on Putin US or UK TV is to report on Bush and Blair.

    And to put up examples of BBC or CBS (or any other US broadcasting company) self-censorship or abuse does not prove that there is the same kind of censorship in the UK and the US as in Russia. This is like saying that Colombia and Venezuela are just as safe as the US and the UK by bringing up examples of violent murders in the US and the UK. Silly stuff.

    To love your country, culture (or even family does not mean to either close your eyes or deny its flaws.

  163. Michael Averko says:

    Kolya, as someone else noted, simple sound bite yes or no answers are often for simpletons. I’ll have no part of that.

    The nerve for you to tell me how to answer a question or point.

    I already answered that point with some others making supporting contributions.

    On your very last point, I don’t rubber stamp everything done by official Russia. This was previously noted with supporting examples.

  164. GER O'BRIEN says:

    ”The nerve for you to tell me how to answer a question or point.”

    You never answer anyones points anyway, and you most certainly didnt here.

  165. Michael Averko says:

    Not at all and your act has long since played out.

  1. May 10, 2007

    […] Public Opinion Poll: The Legacy of Boris Yeltsin Since Siberian Light published an opinion poll on Russians’ beliefs about the upcoming elections in Russia, I decided to see if there are any […]

  2. May 10, 2007

    […] lot of Russians think the election will be fixed, but they continue to support Vladimir Putin. Interesting. I can’t wait for the Victory Day […]

  3. May 10, 2007

    […] lot of Russians think the election will be fixed, but they continue to support Vladimir Putin. Interesting. I can’t wait for the Victory Day […]

  4. May 15, 2007

    […] Full article on the Guardian, hat tip Siberian Light. […]