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Bulletin 4:27 (2010)

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  • Andreas Umland
    THE RUSSIAN NATIONALISM BULLETIN A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs Vol. 4, No. 27(108), 2 August 2010 Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland I
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2010
      A Biweekly Newsletter of Current Affairs
      Vol. 4, No. 27(108), 2 August 2010
      Compilers: Scott Littlefield & Andreas Umland

      I NEWS: 1 - 15 July 2010

      [NOTE: When viewing an RNB issue in the Messages archive of the
      homepage and the end of the text is truncated, scroll to the end of
      the message and click "Expand Messages." Only then, the whole text of
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      I NEWS: 1 - 15 July 2010

      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 22, July 2, 2010

      On June 26, about three dozen Russian gay rights activists rallied in the courtyard of St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum for a brief unsanctioned demonstration that ended with a police raid and five detentions, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported. Using tactics similar to those gay rights activists applied in Moscow earlier last month, the St. Petersburg protesters tried to outwit the security forces by not naming the location of the demonstration until the last moment. They said that the subterfuge was needed to avoid a repetition of the violence that had
      marred previous attempts to hold Gay Pride parades, when police, nationalists, and ultra-Orthodox believers beat protesters.
      The St. Petersburg protesters unfurled banners and chanted slogans in front of tourists queuing up for tickets to the world-famous museum, according to Agence France-Presse. One of the banners read "Peter the First was bisexual." Maria Yefremenkovo, the rally's organizer, identified to RFE/RL the slogans: "Same-sex marriages without compromise," "Equality for gays and lesbians," "Homophobia is a national shame," and "Homophobia is a disease." She said that one young bystander
      "treated us as pederasts, others just watched with some dismay and a few smiled."
      The June 26 rally was nonetheless quickly broken up by police and five activists
      were briefly detained, including Yefremenkovo.
      According to polls, more than 80% of Russians regard homosexuality as immoral.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 22, July 2, 2010

      Police in Russia's Republic of Tatarstan detained 13 neo-Nazis who tried to organize a combat training camp, according to a June 25 article in the local supplement to the national daily "Kommersant." The skinheads, between 19 and 26 years of age, came from various cities to train in hand-to-hand combat, the police said, and two were found in possession of neo-Nazi symbols. They were charged with "public demonstration of Nazi symbols"--a rarely used statute.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 22, July 2, 2010

      A court in Izhevsk, Republic of Udmurtiya, handed down a one-year suspended sentence to a man who painted swastikas and antisemitic threats on the walls of the local Jewish community center, according to a June 15 report by Jewish.ru. Andrey Mokrushin and an unidentified youth, both of them members of the neo-Nazi group Russian National Unity, committed the crime on March 12.
      In recent months, one-year suspended sentences are becoming routine for vandals, whether the defaced objects are Jewish or Muslim. Observers note that racists shrug off suspended sentences.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 22, July 2, 2010

      A Karelian man has been charged with extremism for calling for a referendum to return the northern republic some parts of the Murmansk and Leningrad Regions to Finland, prosecutors said, "The Moscow Times" reported on June 30.
      The man, identified as a 47-year-old Petrozavodsk resident, said that the territories near Russia's border with Finland were "groundlessly" annexed by the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1947, prosecutors said. He put leaflets into mailboxes in the Karelian town of Sortavala and
      e-mailed his appeal to Russian and foreign media outlets and nongovernmental organizations.
      The suspect "called for the violent change of Russia's territorial integrity," Marina Kozyreva, a spokeswoman for Karelia's Prosecutor's Office, told "The Times."
      She acknowledged, however, that she could not remember what sort of violence the Karelian man had proposed.
      Nevertheless, the suspect faces up to three years in prison if convicted of making public calls to extremist activity.
      Dmitry Dubrovsky, a senior researcher at the Russian Ethnographic Museum, told "The Moscow Times" that he could find nothing criminal in the leaflets. But, he added, police decided not to use him as an official expert in the case after he told them that the leaflets did not breach anti-extremism laws.
      "The Times" recalled that the Soviet Union annexed the Karelian Isthmus, including the towns of
      Vyborg and Sortavala, and Lake Ladoga after the bloody war with Finland in the winter of 1939-40. Then Finland ceded to the USSR two more northern regions after World War II, losing 10% of its territory as a result.
      In February, Deputy Valentina Pivnenko, who represents Karelia in the State Duma, suggested that the affair aimed to derail the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which is to pass through Finland on its way from Russia to Germany, "Nevskoye Vremya" reported.


      Moscow City Court upholds court ruling against gay pride parade organizers
      Interfax-Religion, July 2, 2010

      Moscow, July 2, Interfax - The Moscow City Court has rejected the lawsuit filed by representatives of the sexual minorities' community against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.
      Representatives of sexual minorities are planning to appeal this judgment with the European Court of Human Rights. "We will study the court ruling and then make the decision to send a complaint to the ECHR," Moscow gay pride parade organizer Nikolay Alexeyev told Interfax.
      Gay activists demanded to compel the Moscow mayor to apologize to the plaintiffs for his offensive statements about gays and to pay one kopeck in damages.
      The lawsuit was prompted by Luzhkov's statements made on television in early June 2009. The Moscow mayor said at the time that there were two reasons why gay pride parades will not be held in Moscow, one of which is "social morality." "Our morally healthy society does not accept all these faggots," the mayor said.
      "The word 'faggot' has a clearly negative connotation and is offensive for homosexual people," Alexeyev said.
      Last October the Tverskoy Court of Moscow rejected the lawsuit filed by gay community representatives against Luzhkov.


      Current Church-state relations in Russia notable for special cordiality - Putin
      Interfax-Religion, July 5, 2010

      Usovo Village (The Moscow Region), June 5, Interfax - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin highly appreciates role of the Church as it backs up the state and each person.
      "Today, the Russian Orthodox Church and the state go through a special period in their relations that are characterized with a special cordiality. We not only return the Church what was illegally expropriated from it after 1917, but we are building new churches," Putin said visiting a new church complex dedicated to the Image of the Savior Not-Made-By-Hands in the village of Usovo in the Rublyovo-Uspenskoye Highway.
      However, it "refers to material sphere," the Prime Minister specified and stressed that "relations in spiritual sphere are much more important."
      "The Russian Orthodox Church and all Russia's traditional confessions together with the state are building new and restoring lost shrines, the same as we are restoring our shared home, our shared Motherland - Russia," the government head said.
      According to him, "importance of the Church in it is great." "It is the Church that supports every person and the state in the minute of hardships. It is the Church that shares our joy and losses," Putin said.
      Local residents initiated the church building that was financed by the Rosneft company.


      More than half of Russians support right to criticize religion - poll
      Interfax, July 7, 2010

      Moscow, 7 July: People should enjoy freedom of speech, which means that they have the right to publicly criticize religion, 58 per cent of the Russians believe. They were polled by Levada Centre sociologists on 2-5 July.
      At the same time, 21 per cent believe that "the authorities should have the right to fine or imprison people who publicly criticize religion because such criticism could undermine the reputation of the church".
      The survey was conducted in the run-up to the trial of ex-director of the Sakharov museum and public centre Yuriy Samodurov and former head of the contemporary art department at the Tretyakov Gallery Andrey Yerofeyev. They had organized the exhibition Forbidden Art-2006, after which they were charged with degrading and insulting the Christian religion and believers.
      According to the poll, 40 per cent of Russians are against the publication of works or art and organization of exhibitions which cause controversy and protests by some members of the public. Twenty-four per cent could not answer the question.
      The Russians were split on whether the authors of controversial works of art and exhibitions should be prosecuted: 37 per cent said no, 28 per cent said yes and 34 per cent could not say.
      The trial of Samodurov and Yerofeyev will be held on July. (passage omitted)

      Hate crime rates down in Moscow, St. Petersburg ¬ rights activists
      Interfax, July 7, 2010

      MOSCOW. July 7 (Interfax) - The number of hate crimes committed by ultra-right skinhead groups in Moscow and St. Petersburg continues declining, but the situation in other Russian regions remains generally the same, the Sova human rights center said in a report on Wednesday.
      "The number of victims of Russian violence has declined for a second consecutive year, primarily thanks to Moscow. Positive changes have also been reported in St. Petersburg," the center said.
      "The ultra-right movements' tendency towards anti-state terrorism has strengthened particularly due to growing frustration with the country's police," it said.
      "Domestic xenophobia-based violence is on the rise. It is provoked both by anti-Caucasus and anti-Muslim stereotypes, the roots of which run deep in Russian society, as well as by state policies," the Sova center said.
      The public activities of ultra-right groups are at their all-time low today, it said.
      "Since the start of the year, 19 people have been killed and nearly 167 more have been injured as a result of hate crimes committed by neo-Nazi groups. (A total of 52 people were killed and 242 were injured over the same period last year). The scope of violence in Russia has steadily been declining, primarily thanks to a drop in the number of attacks in the capital," the center said.
      Since the start of the year, nine people have been killed and 53 more have been injured in hate crimes in Moscow and the Moscow region, one has been killed and 26 more have been injured in St. Petersburg, and two have been killed and 12 more have been injured in Nizhny Novgorod.
      "Racist incidents" have been registered in 32 Russian regions. In several cities, including Irkutsk, Tver, Tomsk and Ivanovo, the last such incidents were reported one or two years ago.
      People from Central Asia are the most frequent target of hate crimes, human rights activists said.
      Nine citizens of Central Asian states have been killed and 28 more have been injured as a result of hate crimes in Russia in 2010, they said.
      Other victims of hate crimes include people from the Caucasus (two killed and 11 injured), members of anti-fascist youth organizations (three killed and 33 injured), as well as dark skinned people (one killed and 15 injured), the Sova center said.

      Vremya Novostei, July 8, 2010
      REBRANDING: Bigotry in Russia: statistics compiled by the Sova Center for Information and Analysis
      By: Mikhail Moshkin

      The Sova Center for Information and Analysis is an organization monitoring the state of affairs with extremism and xenophobia in Russia. Its experts say that frequency of ethnic clashes in Russia in the first six months of 2010 dropped 50% from what it had been a year ago. "This decline is in its second year already. It is attributed first and foremost to the decline in Moscow," stated the report the Sova Center published.
      According to Sova Director Alexander Verkhovsky, at least 167 people fell victim of racist- and fascist-motivated violence throughout the country in the first half of 2010. Nineteen victims
      died. A year ago, the corresponding figures were 242 and 52. "It is necessary to add, however, that information on these episodes is frequently withheld from general public, and that's an alarming tendency. General public learns of these crimes only when the criminals face trial and not as soon as the crime was committed," said Verkhovsky.
      Moscow remains the leader in bigotry. Ten were killed and 53 injured in outbreaks of ethnic hatred in Moscow and the Moscow region. Moscow is trailed by St.Petersburg and the Leningrad
      region (1 and 26) and Nizhny Novgorod (2 and 12). All in all, episodes of violence fuelled by ethnic hatred were logged in 32 Russian regions.
      Authors of the report point out that extremists and chauvinists appear to be shifting focus of their hatred. Sova specialists comment on the ultra-rights' rapidly developing penchant for terror against the state and particularly the police.

      Husband and wife should share religious beliefs, the half of Russians believe while one third is against interethnic marriages
      Interfax-Religion, July 8, 2010

      Moscow, July 8, Interfax - Russians are very loyal about marriages of their relatives with residents of other cities and towns, representatives of other social groups, but they disapprove of marriages with people of different religious beliefs, sociological polls say.
      Thus, 66 percent of Russians will take it in their stride if their close relatives decide to marry a person from another town, while 23 percent will approve of it, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) reported on Thursday representing results of a national poll on the Day of Family, Love and Devotion.
      According to it, our compatriots don't pay much attention to different income level of the couple (64 percent against 15 percent correspondingly) and social and professional status (63 percent and 13 percent).
      Respondents are neutral about different educational and cultural level husband and wife (57 percent), however they tend to be negative rather than positive about it (19 percent against 14 percent).
      Russians disapprove of marriages between people of different religious beliefs as 48 percent of respondents are negative about them. 42 percent of participants also stand against marriages between people of different generations, however almost the same percent of respondents (40 percent) are neutral about such a union.


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 23, July 9, 2010

      The number of hate crimes committed by ultra-right skinhead groups in Moscow and St. Petersburg continues to decline, but the situation elsewhere in Russia remains about the same, and some hate groups are responding to police crackdowns by targeting the police, the Sova Center for Information and Analysis said in a report released on July 7.
      "The number of victims of Russian violence has declined for a second consecutive year, primarily thanks to [statistics from] Moscow," the human rights monitor disclosed. "Positive changes have also been reported in St. Petersburg." The public activities of ultra-right groups are at their all-time low today, the report said.
      "The ultra-right movements' tendency towards anti-state terrorism has strengthened particularly due to growing frustration with the country's police," the report found. "Domestic xenophobia-based violence is on the rise. It is provoked both by anti-Caucasus and anti-Muslim stereotypes, the roots of which run deep in Russian society, as well as by state policies."
      "Since the start of the year, 19 people have been killed and nearly 167 more have been injured as a result of hate crimes committed by neo-Nazi groups. (A total of 52 people were killed and 242 were injured over the same period last year). The scope of violence in Russia has steadily been declining, primarily thanks to a drop in the number of attacks in the capital," the center said.
      Since the start of the year, nine people have been killed and 53 have been injured in hate crimes in Moscow and the Moscow Region, and one person has been killed and 26 injured in St. Petersburg, while two have been killed and 12 injured in Nizhny Novgorod.
      "Racist incidents" have been registered in 32 Russian regions, and people from Central Asia are the most frequent target of hate crimes. Nine citizens of Central Asian states have been killed and 28 others injured as a result of hate crimes.
      Other victims of hate crimes include people from the Caucasus (two killed and 11 injured), members of anti-fascist youth organizations (three killed and 33 injured), as well as dark-skinned people (one killed and 15 injured), the report said.
      Nickolai Butkevich, research director of UCSJ, found the Sova figures credible. He added that the nature of hate crimes over the past five years has become more violent, and that much of the neo-Nazi movement has become increasingly radicalized. "There may be fewer of them willing to risk crossing the government's stepped-up law enforcement tactics, but those who do are more violent than their predecessors."


      Bigotry Monitor-UCSJ's weekly newsletter, Volume 10, Number 23, July 9, 2010

      Ilham Islamli, a reader of the works of the late Turkish Muslim theologian Said Nursi, has been held since June 18 on charges of inciting religious hatred for posting Nursi's works on a web site, Forum 18 News Service reported on July 7. It is not known when the case might reach court. "It will happen this year," is all that Investigator Vladimir Chernobrovin would tell Forum 18. Asked who might have suffered from Islamli's posting of some works by Nursi, Chernobrovin responded: "Asking who suffered or not is not relevant. The investigation is based on the court decisions banning Nursi's works."
      Meanwhile, two Jehovah's Witness women, Anna Melkonyan and Mariya Zubko, were freed on July 1 after 56 days' pre-trial detention. But they are still facing prosecution on accusations of theft. The two women, their lawyers and Russia's Jehovah's Witness community insist, were not involved in burglaries which took place in the town of Lobnya in Moscow Region. Melkonyan's lawyer, Natalya Medved, told Forum 18 that it is not clear whether the two women's faith led the police to accuse them of the burglaries. "It could be that it's not just because they are Jehovah's Witnesses. The police can't find the real criminals, so they believe that as foreign citizens the two women won't have anyone to defend them."


      Hate Speech Conviction for Anti-Russian Article
      UCSJ, July 12, 2010

      A journalist in Ulyanovsk, Russia was convicted of inciting ethnic hatred against Russians and religious hatred against Russian Orthodoxy and fined 100,000 rubles, according to a July 7, 2010 report by the Sova Information-Analytical Center. Sergey Kryukov, age 46, wrote a series of articles for the Chechen rebel web site Ichkeria-info. An expert study found that the articles incited hatred towards Russians, the Russian state, and Russian Orthodoxy, but neither Sova nor UCSJ has copies of the originals.


      Andrei Yerofeyev will continue organizing exhibitions despite censorship
      Interfax, July 13, 2010

      MOSCOW. July 13 (Interfax) - One of the curators of the Forbidden Art exhibition, Andrei Yerofeyev, who was fined by a court a day earlier, is already planning to organize a new exposition, this time involving caricatures.
      "This year I want to hold an exhibition of contemporary Russian caricatures," he told Interfax on Tuesday.
      Today, "caricature is simply dying right under our eyes, and this is a very important genre for maintaining tone and an ironic, parodistic attitude toward oneself," he said.
      Asked whether he will be more careful in choosing items for the new exhibition to avoid a repeat of the situation that occurred with the Forbidden Art exhibition, Yerofeyev said: "I am doing exhibitions not to hurt or impress someone. I simply note some important things in the art world. In this particular case there was a censorship problem, I noted it, and, as you see, it turned out to be really serious."
      Any concessions to opponents and compromises with them only boosts their position, he said. "This legal process shows the progressive roles of these ultra-right extremists. They will grab whatever they want, like kids and dogs, so long as they can bite," Yerofeyev said.
      This phenomenon, "the ultra-right reaction" to art, has established itself in society for a long time, the art critic said. "This component is now hanging like a bur not only on me, but on our entire artistic and social life," Yerofeyev said.
      Had I had connections, like some gallery directors who organize exhibitions that are no less audacious, I would not have found myself on the dock, adding, "freedom is the prerogative of people with connections."
      Over the next few days my lawyers, and the defense of Yury Samodurov, who co-organized the Forbidden Art exhibit will appeal yesterday's court ruling, he said.
      On Monday, the court issued a guilty verdict against Samodurov, former director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center, and Yerofeyev, former head of the Tretyakov Gallery's department of contemporary trends, who organized the Forbidden Art-2006 exhibition, for inciting hatred and animosity on religious grounds.
      The verdict calls the idea of organizing the exhibition "a criminal intent," which was fulfilled by the defendants who used their professional expertise in the field of art. Prosecutors asked for a three-year prison sentence for the defendants, but the court imposed a 200,000 ruble fine on Samodurov and a 150,000 ruble fine on Yerofeyev.

      Orthodox Church denies seeking to prosecute Russians for heresy
      RIA Novosti, July 14, 2010

      MOSCOW, July 14 (RIA Novosti, by Tsvetelina Miteva)-The Russian Orthodox Church has never pushed to make heresy a criminal offense and described media reports about this as a part of "smear campaign" against the Church, a source from the Church's press department said on Wednesday.
      On Tuesday, several online editions reported that the Russian Criminal Code would soon be amended. They quoted Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's press office, as saying the new article would punish heresy with imprisonment of up to six years.
      The influence of the Russian Orthodox Church has risen dramatically over the last decade. Opposition journalists and non-Orthodox religious groups criticize the Church for actively implanting its ideology in schools and universities as well as for lobbying government business interests.
      "Even when the power of the Orthodox Church was at its peak and the Church persecuted dissidents, even in those medieval times, introducing criminal prosecution for heresy was impossible," the source told RIA Novosti on condition of anonymity.
      "This report is absolutely untrue, Mr. Chaplin could have never said such things," the source said, calling the report "part of a smear campaign aimed at tarnishing the image of the Russian Orthodox Church."
      The source suggested Chaplin's words might have been seriously distorted in order to misrepresent the Orthodox Church amid heated debates over the controversial Forbidden Art-2006 exhibition scandal, the source said.
      Religious groups accused the show's curators of defacing religious symbols and fueling national hatred. Many of the exhibits featured blasphemous images of Jesus Christ. In one, he had a Mickey Mouse head and in another his head had been replaced by an Order of Lenin medal.
      The exhibit organizers were fined a total of $11,000.

      Sentence to organizers of Prohibited Art splits Russian society
      Itar-Tass, July 14, 2010

      MOSCOW, July 14 (Itar-Tass) - The scandalous avant-garde exhibition Forbidden Art-2006 has reached its goal ¬ to leave no one indifferent. It has triggered vehement protests of Orthodox Christians, who brought action against the organizers and won the action. And no less vehement protests of that part of the secular society that considers such processes manifestation of obscurantism and a throwback to the Middle Ages.
      The row around the exhibition, of which only a narrow circle of avant-garde art lovers would have known otherwise, and the sentence, have practically split the society.
      The accused were tried for organizing and holding the Forbidden Art-2006 exhibition that took place in March 2007 at the Sakharov Public Centre in Moscow. The exhibits it featured were earlier withdrawn from other exhibitions for different reasons. Exhibit items could be seen only through a small eyehole in the false wall. The image of Virgin Mary hewn from black caviar and Jesus Christ with the head of Mickey Mouse were among the most nameable.
      The lawsuit was initiated by the Orthodox movement People's Assembly. The Orthodox Church sharply criticized the exhibition at which religious objects, for example icons, were combined with household items and inscriptions. The former director of the Sakharov Museum, Yuri Samodurov, and the ex-head of the department for latest trends of the Tretyakov Gallery, Andrei Yerofeyev, were accused of instigating hatred and hostility as well as of humiliating human dignity with abuse of power.
      As a result, Moscow's Tagansky Court on Monday found Samodurov and Yerofeyev guilty of spreading religious hatred and ordered to pay fines of 200,000 roubles (6,450 dollars) and 150,000 roubles (4,830 dollars) accordingly.
      The court ruled that "exhibits of the Forbidden Art-2006 exhibition insulted all believers irrespective of whether they have been to the exhibition or not," while the organizers "publicly insulted the Christian faith".
      Analysts note that the organizers of the exhibition have got off cheap, as the article they were tried under envisages imprisonment. Not least because official representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church made it clear before the sentence was passed that the did not want the imprisonment of the organizers, they believe. Thus, the spokesman of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Vladimir Vigilyansky, has urged the court to be indulgent to the accused.
      The defence appealed against the court decision. "We demand to reverse the sentence and discontinue the criminal case," the lawyer of one of the accused, Anna Stavitskaya, said.
      Another lawyer, Kseniya Kostromina, voiced plans of the defence to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, where it would raise the issue of the violation of the right to express opinion.
      Activists of the People's Assembly movement, for their part, are displeased with a too mild sentence and seek additional criminal prosecution of the curators of the exhibition under the article Hooliganism.
      The society judged the exhibition differently. Most opponents of the court trial noted that it was not the quality of exhibits many of which aroused no admiration that mattered, but the attitude of the state to art.
      "I personally don't like the exhibition, but public judgement must be morally-ethical, and not judicial," Russian Minister of Culture Alexander Avdeyev said. "I believe Samodurov and Yerofeyev did not contravene the law. It was an unwise effort to startle people, but in my opinion the Criminal Code cannot be applied. Such attempts have always failed here, leaving an awkward aftertaste," he stressed.
      "The verdict of the judge delivers a heavy blow on Russia's prestige, bringing it down to the level of some obscurantist eastern state," renowned writer Boris Akunin said.
      Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on Monday denounced the guilty verdict to Yerofeyev and Samodurov.
      The Rosbalt news agency quotes the head of the Amnesty International mission in Russia, Sergei Nikitin, as saying the organization believes it was "a disgraceful verdict and a blow on freedom of speech". "It has repeatedly been said that the exhibition took place in a building situated far from any church institution," Nikitin noted.
      "In a different situation the same painters and their friends would have voted with both hands for a court trial. They would have hoped that obscurantists would be disgraced. And that people would stand up for modern art. That the state would emphasize its secular nature," the Novye Izvestiya newspaper writes.
      Meanwhile, people are not that univocal in denouncing the verdict. Thus, an Internet opinion poll by the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper has shown that 44 percent of respondents consider the sentence too mild, 42 percent see is as too hard and 14 percent of polled people say it was fair. Although the newspaper, and accordingly its readers, are considered rather liberal.

      Samodurov admits his intellectual defeat to the Church
      Interfax-Religion, July 14, 2010

      Moscow, July 14, Interfax - A Banned Art organizer Yury Samodurov admitted his intellectual impotence before the Russian Church he has criticized.
      "The cycle of public struggle seems to be over. ROC has won it. Chaplin (head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations - IF) has probably defeated me, moreover he did it with his intellect. His article is much more powerful than that address signed by many, but I believe I haven't sent it to you," Samodurov said in his letter to litterateur and human rights advocate Vadim Belotserkovsky as its copy was conveyed to "Interfax-Religion" on Wednesday.
      Most likely Samodurov mentions his open address to the Patriarchal Council on Culture and Fr. Vsevolod's article published in early June by the NG-Religia paper.
      Samodurov believes that "our state, following the way suggested by Chaplin will become even more hypocritical and disgusting and the ROC will become even more monstrous."
      "How to prove it - I don't know. Though I will think about it," the letter reads.
      The Tagansky Court in Moscow has ordered former Sakharov Center director Yury Samodurov to pay a 200,000 ruble fine this Monday.
      The second defendant in the Banned Art case, former head of the Tretyakov Gallery's division of contemporary movements, Andrey Yerofeyev, has been ordered by the court to pay 150,000 rubles as a fine.
      The indictment says that the exhibit displayed works "carrying humiliating and insulting images hostile to the Christian religion and believers." The criminal case against the organizers was initiated according to Article 282 (inciting hatred or enmity).



      Alexander Zinoviev and the Russian Tragedy: The Reality of Post-Communism
      By Philip Hanson
      Baltic Worlds, vol. 3, no. 2, 2010, pp. 18-25

      Twenty years ago I read almost everything Alexander Zinoviev had published. Yawning Heights (Ziyayushchie vysoty) knocked me for six. The rest knocked me for at least five-and-a-half. Those writings altered my way of thinking about Soviet society. I believe they had a similar effect on many people, both in Russia and abroad.
      Zinoviev's ideas fascinated a number of historians and social scientists, while his writing beguiled many readers, including some (not all) specialists on Russian literature. The breadth of his appeal at that time was reflected in the roster of contributors to a book that Michael Kirkwood and I edited: Alexander Zinoviev as Writer and Thinker.1 Those contributors ranged from literary scholars to a member of the German diplomatic service.
      Yawning Heights was by far the best known of the early writings. It is set in Ibansk, which somewhat resembles the Soviet Union. A large part of it consists of philosophical and sociological debate among members of the Ibanskian intelligentsia. They are all either disillusioned or very disillusioned with the Ism, the official ideology of the state, but are more concerned with understanding how Ibansk works. In amongst the conversations are passages of exasperated fantasy. Yawning Heights is not much like any other book. The combination of imaginative and philosophical fireworks at times recalls Swift or Voltaire, but the resemblances are not close.
      Many commentators hailed Zinoviev's earlier writings as anti-Soviet satires. This was not quite right. They were, indeed, full of contempt for the ways in which people operated in the Soviet Union. They were not, however, full of praise for any other social arrangements. True, Zinoviev quite often compared communist society with "civilisation". But this was a rather abstract and possibly hypothetical "civilisation". It was not necessarily located in New York or even Paris. The earlier writings were above all about the Soviet Union. In Yawning Heights, what he had to say about Ibansk was only fleetingly about Ibansk in comparative perspective.
      Among many other things, Zinoviev in those writings developed the observation that the USSR was an example of popular power (narodovlastie), not a regime imposed on the innocent many by the evil few. It may not have had open elections and competitive politics, but it rested on the complicity of the governed. He also argued that the communist social order was robust, and that it was the long-run destination of all of us. Capitalism was, or so Slanderer asserts in Yawning Heights, an aberration. "[Capitalism] is an anti-social eruption, that is, a temporary and partial victory of the creative I over the stagnant We. But that is a deviation from the norm. […] Capitalism as a western type of society came about through an oversight on the part of the bosses." (Ziyayushchie vysoty, p. 414)2
      In the years since Slanderer said those words, the aberration has spread and the communist norm has become the exception. The World Bank, the World Economic Forum, Freedom House, Transparency International and other international organisations measure the "performance" of all or almost all the world's countries on "freedom", "governance", "ease of doing business", "competitiveness" and "transparency". Implicit in these scoring systems is the notion that we are all playing the same game: capitalism-and-democracy. Some play it better than others, and some are really rather disgracefully bad at it, but one measuring-rod fits all.
      What did Zinoviev make of this new order? After a long gap, I have been catching up with his later work: his post-communist opus. In this paper I will argue that Alexander Zinoviev's post-communist writings tell us about more than one thinker's response to a world turned upside down. They also tell us a great deal about present attitudes in Russia. In particular, they illuminate the attitudes of the Putin-era ruling elite. Zinoviev had, of course, no time for his country's post-communist rulers. But that does not prevent him from inadvertently shining a light on their preoccupations and their reflexes. He was thinking what they are thinking, but more clearly.
      What I have to say is based on Zapad (1995), Velikii evolyutsionniy perelom (1999), Russkaya tragediya (2002) and Rasput'e (2005).3 I will begin with a minimally brief summary of Zinoviev's views on the collapse of communism and its aftermath, together with my interpretation of the emotions he reveals about the subject. Then I will look in more detail at what he has to say about the Cold War, the nature of post-sovietism, as he calls it, and why westernisation should be resisted. This leads to some thoughts about arguments of Zinoviev's that chime with those of certain western writers and with anxieties and preoccupations that have been aired by other Russian intellectuals and by the Putin leadership.
      My own preoccupation is with what we can learn from these writings about the present attitudes of Russia's rulers. I am not aiming to engage in a debate with Zinoviev on my own account. I cannot, however, resist a sneaky bit of arguing-back: I will conclude with a review of some considerations which he has, in these writings, omitted.
      The general idea, and Alexander Zinoviev's motivation for expounding it
      The theme that runs through the four books is that the collapse of communism was a tragedy. Russian communism had its defects but it did not collapse for internal reasons. The power of the West and the traitorous collaboration of a fifth column in Russia produced this tragedy. Russia is not suited to westernism and will not be allowed to become an equal participant in the new, globalising social system. Globalisation is a new version of western colonialism. The West itself is evolving away from its standard prescriptions of "democracy" and "capitalism", and the merits of those prescriptions are over-hyped anyway. Russian communism could have led the world in a new direction, but was not allowed to do so. The long-run future, however, remains open. "The greatest social experiment in human history has ended. Russian communism is dead. In this book I want to describe it as it was when it passed through my brain, my soul, and my fate, and I will be guided by the principle, speak nothing but good of the dead." (RT, pp. 296-7)4
      Earlier, while still living in Munich, he said that he was moved to write Zapad when it became clear that his native land (Rodina) had been defeated in the Cold War and had "embarked on the path of shameful capitulation […] and the mindless borrowing of western models" (Z, p. 34).
      The motivation is not quite as simple as patriotism, though that looks to be part of it. Zinoviev also argues that in Soviet society being Russian and being Soviet had, for Russians, become inseparable. "In addition, communism was so organic for Russia and had so powerfully entered the way of life and psychology of Russians that the destruction of communism was equivalent to the destruction of Russia and of the Russian people as a historic people. […] In a word, they [Western cold warriors] aimed at communism but killed Russia." (RT, p. 409)
      Many, perhaps most, people on Earth live in countries whose ups and downs cannot, selfish considerations aside, be taken too much to heart. To confuse the fortunes of Britain or Italy or Denmark with the destiny of the human race would be daft. The fate of Russia, on the other hand, seems to many Russians to be momentous for the world as a whole. That is certainly how Zinoviev sees it.
      The fact that sovietism, equivalent for Zinoviev to communism, has ceased to exist, does not reduce its historical importance. "A murdered giant does not become a dwarf, and the dwarf who takes his place does not become a giant." (R, p. 57) Russia has been diminished, and not only in territorial extent. In Zinoviev's view this matters to Russian or Soviet patriots; but it also matters more widely because sovietism, for reasons to be set out below, represented an evolutionary way forward for human social organisation. That way forward is, for the time being at least, no longer available.
      One other motivation for Zinoviev deserves a mention. To what extent he was conscious of it, I do not know. That motivation is his lifelong conviction that the received wisdom around him is always wrong. When the conventional wisdom changed, he changed against it. "The fact is that already in my years at school [in 1938] I became a convinced anti-stalinist. In 1939 I was arrested for speaking against the cult of personality. […] After the death of Stalin [in 1953] I finished with my anti-stalinism. […][It] ceased to make sense, and yielded to an objective, scientific understanding of the Stalin epoch as [that epoch] receded into the past." (R, p. 66)
      In much the same way, when the Soviet Union, the Ibansk he had ridiculed, fell to pieces, he finished with his anti-Ibanskism. This did not entail a wholesale reversal of his earlier judgements. He had always declared a sort of attachment to sovietism. In his earlier writings he tore Soviet official claims and Marxism-Leninist ideology to shreds. In his later writings he treats them in just the same way. It is his attitude to soviet reality and its prospects that alters.
      His major revisions were of two kinds. First, he shifted to a somewhat kinder view of Soviet society. Second, he amended his projections of the future. And all prophets, if they live long enough, have to revise those.
      Zinoviev's intellectual struggles resemble those of earlier Russian writers, but not, on the whole, very closely. There is a pattern of criticism of Russia's rulers, followed by exile, followed in turn by criticism of the West. In this sense, Zinoviev follows the paths of Herzen in the 19th century and Solzhenitsyn in the 20th. What is common to all of them, and also to Nicholas Berdyaev earlier in the 20th, is a profound attachment to something Russian.
      For Solzhenitsyn and Berdyaev, however, it is certainly not communism or sovietism. Berdyaev, who considered both democracy and Marxism inimical to personal, spiritual freedom, was concerned with his own version of Orthodox spirituality. It was not a version of Orthodoxy that appealed to the Russian Orthodox church authorities before the Revolution, and his version of personal freedom did not appeal to the Soviet authorities after the Revolution.5 In being out of sympathy with both the old order and the new in his own country and far from enamoured of any other existing order, Zinoviev recalls Berdyaev. But he is completely unlike him in his determined insistence on his own rationality and his preoccupation with society, not persons.
      The Cold War and how Russia lost it
      A large part of each of the four books is devoted to the Cold War and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.6 The account of that collapse shifts a little over time, with foreign influence being accorded a larger role in the later works.
      In Z the argument is that the change from the Soviet Union to the CIS was not a transition to capitalism so much as a process within the framework of communism. Well-placed individuals grabbed the whole economy and left little scope for capitalism (p. 181). Zinoviev's implicit definition of capitalism here is not clear. He argues at times that capitalism in the West is turning into something else (VEP, pp. 444-50; R, p. 143), and at other times that something that he still calls capitalism is part of westernism (Z, p. 135). At all events, if he is saying that previously-hidden, informal control over assets in the late Soviet era was converted into formal ownership, his interpretation would have some impressive supporters.7
      A few years later, in RT, Zinoviev is presenting the change rather differently. The Soviet social order did not die from internal contradictions. It was still relatively young and had performed well, for example in World War II. But the West won the Cold War. Even before that it was western influence that led to a particular interpretation of de-stalinisation: that it had to mean a move away from communism. This was not the case. The crisis that had arisen by 1985 could have been dealt with by Soviet methods (RT, pp. 208-11).
      Between the defeat of the anti-Gorbachev putsch in 1991 and the shelling of the Russian parliament in 1993, Yeltsin presided over the final destruction of the communist order (RT, p. 184). The West had to provoke the 1991 putsch attempt to ensure sovietism was destroyed (RT, p. 212). Later, when disorder threatened the westernisation project in the later 1990s, a change of regime was needed: hence Putin. The individual successor could have been someone else; Putin got the job, perhaps through an oversight on the part of Washington. But he was still implementing the westernisation project (ibid. and p. 215).
      The West forced change on Russia not for the benefit of Russians but to destroy a competitor (RT, p. 200). Behind this assertion is a theme that is less evident in Zinoviev's earlier writings: social change as an evolutionary process. He argues that societies, states and economies have been developing into hyper-societies, hyper-states and hyper-economies (sverkhobshchestva, sverkhgosudarstva, etc). The Soviet system was one such (VEP, pp. 434-6), and was ahead of the West in reaching this development (R, pp. 63-4). The West has destroyed the Soviet way of life and extended its own influence around the globe. By doing this, it closes down the possibility of another, non-western form of civilisation evolving (VEP, p. 433). That notion, that alternative lines of evolution are cut off, presumably rests on an analogy with the evolution of species in nature: that a new species can evolve only under conditions of isolation from what are initially very close relatives.
      Zinoviev's discussions of social evolution into hyper-societies are not systematic. He uses the notion of higher and lower levels of development. Thus, the creation of sovietism entailed the creation of a society on a higher level than any previous society (R, pp. 59-60). But what puts a society on some supposedly higher level? For Zinoviev it appears to be to do with increased complexity, as in the differences between the amoeba and the cod. In the case of the western hyper-society, it looks as though Zinoviev is pointing to globalisation and the concomitant development of companies and other organisations whose reach goes beyond the nation-state (R, pp. 144-7).
      For the Soviet Union, the only attributes he adduces as signs of a "higher" level of development are the presence of a planning system, a party apparatus and an ideology (R, p. 63). Apparently in 2004 he saw merits in these arrangements that had escaped him when he was writing Yawning Heights thirty years before. But who is to say that Gosplan, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Stalin's Short Course — or, for that matter, the complete works of Marx and Lenin — represent a degree of social complexity greater than that of Wall Street, Congress and the Supreme Court? I suspect that the discussion of hyper-society in these later works leads nowhere.
      What Zinoviev is more clearly saying is that it is in the interests of western companies and (in some sense) of western states that the world as a whole be made into an environment that is hospitable to them (RT, p. 461).It is not a case of evil men plotting evil deeds, but is a development governed by social laws (RT, p. 261). Still, internal collaborators played a part (RT, p. 303). From 1985 onwards the Soviet and Russian authorities betrayed their subjects (R, p. 158). Russian history helped. The de-stalinisers had betrayed Stalin and Stalinism, and the roots of betrayal go further back still. "Different nations have different propensities to betrayal. We, Russians, have this tendency to quite a strong degree. (R, p. 157)[…] The population was an accomplice and instrument of betrayal or else remained passive (indifferent) towards it. The majority simply did not understand what was going on. […] [This was assisted by the fact that] the system of power was so organised that the masses of the ruled had lost any social or political initiative." (R, pp. 161-2)
      Zinoviev was a one-man paradox factory. He was not enamoured of the Soviet system of power. Yet in these late writings he mourns its passing and depicts the post-soviet social order as grievously limited and without the evolutionary potential of its predecessor.
      Post-sovietism and its discontents
      "Post-sovietism", as Zinoviev calls it, is a hybrid of westernism, sovietism and national-Russian fundamentalism (RT, pp. 193-4). The western element is incompatible with the human material, natural conditions and historical traditions of Russia (RT, p. 196). "Russia will never, under any circumstances, turn into a country resembling, and equivalent in value to, western countries, it will not become part of the West." (R, p. 131) "At the same time, they [the liberals who reformed the Soviet Union out of existence] ignored the fact that western models are not a universal blessing for all mankind. These models produced good results only for a small part of humanity, and specifically only for the populations of western countries. For the overwhelming majority of the peoples of the planet they were and remain alien. In this respect the peoples of the Soviet Union were no exception." (RT, p. 411)
      In Z, first published in 1995, Zinoviev describes westernism (zapadnizm) as a civilisation with its origins in Western Europe. It can be traced back to the English and French revolutions (Z, p. 49). The countries that are within this civilisation are in Europe and in Europe's offshoots in North America and Australasia. They are populated by zapadoids, literally "westernoids", for whom the "I" looms larger than the "We" (Z, p.70, repeating Slanderer's thoughts in Yawning Heights, cited above). For a zapadoid, capitalism comes naturally. For others, it does not. Yes, self-interest is natural and universal, but capitalism isn't (Z, p. 68).
      In post-Soviet Russia western democracy is being imitated but not implemented. The executive controls the legislature and the courts are hopeless (RT, pp. 203-4). At this point the zapadoid reader's heart skips a beat: can it be that our man is coming round to a conventional liberal view? Of course he isn't. Adopting these western institutions seriously would not suit Russia. Russia needs a Soviet-style, strong Kremlin and a dominant presidential party (RT, pp. 204-6). This was written in 2001; Putin followed Zinoviev's instructions.
      So is the westernisation of Russia failing? No, because the mission of the westernising fifth column is not to make Russia fully part of the West but to make it West-like and (Zinoviev implies) amenable to western wishes. Putin is using communist methods to destroy communism and put in place something West-like, but there is no prospect of Russia living in developed or full westernism (RT, pp. 215-6).
      Russia's economic reformers and their western mentors reduced the Russian economy to ruins. Privatisation destroyed the Soviet enterprises' labour collectives. These had formed the base of everyday social life and the base of social organisation. Unprofitable enterprises were closed because they were not good for business. Other [by implication] enterprises were destroyed because their functioning did not suit western interests. Unemployment resulted. This was surely not an innocent mistake. Advisers or bosses in the West wanted the collapse of Russia (RT, p. 226). The post-soviet economy is still taking shape but it is already clear that Russia has lost economic sovereignty (RT, p. 227).8
      Post-soviet society lacks any vision of the future. Even the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has dropped part of the communist ideology (RT, p. 229). Appeals to unite against international terrorism are unconvincing; they are temporary, and American. It would be better to launch an appeal to oppose the wholesale theft that is going on (RT, p. 232). Another current ideological line is Russian fundamentalism, including Orthodoxy. Perhaps the next step should be a call to restore the Tsar and the nobility. "The pygmies of the counter-revolution are ready to become princes, counts and barons…" (ibid.). Marxism-Leninism proved inadequate, but that is no reason to abandon all secular ideology (RT, p. 235).
      In short, post-sovietism does not consist of becoming a fully-fledged part of the West. It is and will remain a mixture of westernism, sovietism and Russian fundamentalism, lacking the aspirations and potential which were features of Soviet society.
      So this westernisation is unattractive, to put Zinoviev's view of it mildly. What, if anything, is to be done?
      The quixotic duty to oppose westernisation
      Zinoviev treats westernisation as a powerful trend in global social evolution. In Z he develops the idea that the West itself is evolving in a more "communalist" direction, as it supposedly displays a growing role for communal (kommunal'nye) as against business (delovye) social cells — very roughly, public-sector as against private-sector workplaces (Z, 182-8).
      In subsequent writings he does not pursue this theme. Instead he stresses the defects of a West that is not embarked on some softening evolutionary process. The West is a global aggressor (RT, p. 538). Western civilisation has inflicted more suffering on humanity than communism did (RT, p. 394).9 Islam is resisting westernisation, so it is being attacked (RT, p. 259). Terrorism is a threat that the West itself has provoked (RT, p. 539).
      The United States leads the West so, these days, globalisation, westernisation and Americanisation are interchangeable terms (RT, pp. 248-9). It entails the reconstruction of the very foundations of a country's life: of its social organisation, its system of government and its people's mentality. This is not something that is necessarily forced on the recipients, but force is available if required. One western tactic is to create the illusion that rapid westernisation will lead to western levels of abundance very soon. (R, pp.125-6).
      One reason for regarding this process with dismay is that a unified, westernised planet will be hierarchically organised (implying that Russia and other non-western nations would play only subordinate roles; VEP, p. 462). Another is that, even in its heartland, the western social system is seriously defective. Yes, there is democracy in its public life. However, the social cells, the workplaces,10 are totalitarian (Z, pp. 87-91). Zinoviev does not dispute that the West has had political democracy. He argues, however, that democracy is a temporary and limited phenomenon (RT, p. 481). Now the West is in the ascendant, having used democracy as a weapon (against communism), it no longer needs democracy and is tending towards a post-democratic phase of development (RT, pp. 477-8).
      Does anything in the way of a prescription follow from this? As usual, Zinoviev does not advocate anything; not explicitly, at any rate. He observes that the old Russian notion of Eurasianism is absurd: Russia has no chance whatever of leading Asian countries against the US and NATO (RT, p.237). It is true that communism is not dead: China is still growing. But Russia is too absorbed within the western system to aid Chinese communism against the West (RT, pp. 255, 258).
      Zinoviev's conclusions about the future are modest, subdued and generally out of character. Westernisation should be opposed, but in the name of what cause? The words "communism" and even "socialism" have lost credibility. We will simply have to wait and see what the future will bring (RT, pp. 541-2).
      So Zinoviev is clear enough about westernisation. It is not good news, except perhaps for those who live in the West as he defines it: the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. But he is also lamenting the demise of communism, or at any rate of the S oviet version of it. What is it that has been lost?
      The passing of a way of life
      What was so good about communism? In his earlier writings, Zinoviev developed an analogy with flight: communism was like falling, and "civilisation" was like flying: the latter required more effort. "Opting out of the struggle and […] of moving against the current — falling for a time feels like flight. People in this state do not think of what is to come later, in particular that after the sense of lightness come all the necessary attributes of slave and master…"11
      In his later writings, Zinoviev does not abandon the vision of communism as a system of subordination. "Communism, in short, is the general organisation of a country's population in a system of relations between bosses and underlings — relations of subordination." (RT, p. 342)
      He summarises the balance sheet on communism as follows. People earned less than in the West but also worked less. The coefficient of exploitation (effort/income) was higher in the West. In the Soviet Union, most basic demands were met. The system did not bring social justice, but it brought more of it than was provided by the western system. Work was treated as a right and the means of production belonged to nobody; these arrangements led to low productivity and therefore low incomes. Yet "the communist organisation of society suited the great majority of Soviet people, who were inclined by their nature to a collectivist way of life. But they took the good things for granted. They blamed the bad things on communism." (RT, pp. 346-9; quotation from p. 349) Later he argues that, yes, Soviet people were indeed discontented, but this did not extend to supporting the destruction of their social order and the introduction of capitalism (RT, p. 398).
      Production in the Soviet Union was economically less effective than in the West, but socially more effective. Zinoviev explains what he means by "socially more effective": the Soviet system avoided unemployment and "unnecessary production", while central planning kept the system's deficiencies within bounds and was able to concentrate resources on historically important tasks. The Soviet economy functioned less well than the western economy, but it was viable (RT, pp. 350-1).
      The Soviet Union had the most democratic system of education in the world (RT, p. 241). Corruption was limited, partly because so little in the way of material goods was available (RT, pp. 146-7). The Soviet Union of Stalin's time was characterised by the highest degree of striving towards the future. This declined later (RT, p. 281).
      Zinoviev's defence of the old order treats Soviet ideology much as sceptical Roman aristocrats treated the conduct of religious rituals: nonsense, but good for the common people. Marxist ideology's claim to scientific status was unfounded (RT, p. 521). There is no chance of restoring its Soviet-era status. (RT, p. 229). Nonetheless, the Soviet Union was a hyper-society, and in this respect "50 years or more" ahead of the West, because it had a party apparatus, a planning system and an ideology. (R, p. 63) (Here Zinoviev seems to be contrasting 1930s Russia under Stalin with the western beginnings of a "hyper-society" only after World War II. Even so, the "50 years" are more rhetoric than arithmetic.) Sovietism was the peak of Russian history. (R, p, 138)
      The induced westernisation of Russia led to a loss of party control, an economic collapse and the rise of crime. (R, p. 129; R was first published in 2005, but the 2009 edition indicates that the section containing this judgement was written in 1993. By 2005 economic recovery was well-established and United Russia was well-embarked on becoming the party of power; crime had become more discreet.)
      Russia's fate is deplorable even if it is viewed in long-term perspective because, in Zinoviev's view, it is the West, not Russia, that is exceptional. Capitalism and democracy produce positive results only in the West, with its particular human material. For most of the world, they are destructive. (R, p. 131)
      Some parallels in western thinking
      Zinoviev's stance in the 1990s and 2000s was unquestionably that of a Russian nationalist. But his Russian nationalism is not based on any notion of a Russian "ethnos": he says it is social, not ethnic, factors that account for the way people behave (RT, p. 237); and he makes fun of Russian intellectuals' claims to a special Russian spirituality (RT, pp. 241-2). His motivation comes, in my view, from a kind of Soviet patriotism. It does not follow that he is saying things that only a Soviet patriot would say. On the contrary, several of his contentions are also put forward by writers with little or no connection with Russia or the Soviet Union.
      Zinoviev's definition of the West, for example, as Western Europe plus its offshoots in North America and Australasia, may seem quirky. But it corresponds quite closely to that used by the great compiler and analyst of long-term economic growth data, Angus Maddison.12
      The economic growth literature also contains quantitative studies that conclude that, other things equal, a national heritage of Protestantism and a system of common law are both favourable influences on long-run economic growth.13 The strength of these findings is debatable, but prima facie they suggest that private enterprise and free markets do indeed work better for nations with a particular historical heritage than they do for other nations. This is not evidence for Zinoviev's claim that some (many?) nations, if not managed or coerced from outside, would prefer collectivist economic arrangements; but it is compatible with it.
      As for the business of importing — or forcibly exporting — democracy, Zinoviev's scornful disbelief in the whole project has its parallels outside Russia. Consider the following, by Eric Hobsbawm: "Democracy and Western values and human rights are not like some technological importations whose benefits are immediately obvious and will be adopted in the same manner by all who can use them and afford them, like the peaceful bicycle and the murderous AK47, or technical services like airports."14
      Zinoviev contends that globalisation is a US imperial project. This view is often propounded in the West, even if it is not quite the standard way of describing things. For example, both Noam Chomsky and Niall Ferguson treat the contemporary US as an imperial power, though they disagree fundamentally on its effectiveness and the forces propelling it.15
      One does not have to be a Russian nationalist or Soviet patriot to take the view that "the most obvious danger of war today arises from the global ambitions of an uncontrollable and apparently irrational government in Washington."16 Zinoviev's view that "spreading democracy" by armed intervention is a cover for the hegemonic power asserting control for its own purposes is echoed in a more measured and less irritable manner by Hobsbawm: "It [the case for an "imperialism of human rights"] is fundamentally flawed by the fact that great powers in the pursuit of their international policies may do things that suit the champions of human rights, and be aware of the publicity value of doing so, but this is quite incidental to their purposes, which, if they think it necessary, are today pursued with the ruthless barbarism that is the heritage of the twentieth century."17
      Zinoviev takes a bleak view of the prospects of US or western imperialism: it may not live up to its claims about diffusing democracy and effective capitalist economies but in its drive to subjugate the world it is scoring straight A's. Western authors, even those who are highly critical of US policy, are mostly more sceptical about its success. I will return to this point in the final section. Where Zinoviev really runs short of western intellectual allies, however, is on a predictable issue: the centrality in this whole story of Russia.
      On this, however, he has plenty of Russian allies, not just among writers of the past but also among Russian contemporaries.
      Russian elite attitudes and policies in the light of the "Russian tragedy"
      Several of those allies are quite highly placed.
      The echoes of Zinoviev in Vladislav Surkov's stress on "sovereignty" were noted above. But there is no need to quote the monkey when the organ-grinder is available for citation. The speeches of Vladimir Putin sometimes read as though Zinoviev or, latterly, Zinoviev's ghost had drafted them.
      At the Munich Conference on Security Policy in February 2007, having begun by saying that this was an occasion when he could say what he really thought, Putin said: "We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. […] One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations. Well, who likes this? Who is happy about this?"18
      In that speech he also complained about Russia "constantly being lectured about democracy" by people who "for some reason […] do not want to learn themselv<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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