Vladimir Lenin: Man of Teflon?

In the West, commentators speak from time to time about certain politicians who seem to possess the characteristics of Teflon. No matter what they say or do, it has no bearing on their status.

Lenin by Isaak brodsky
Portrait of V.I. Lenin by Isaak Brodsky. (Public Domain)

In Russia perhaps no one individual exemplifies the principle so fully as the man who led the Russian Bolshevik revolution. In fact, it is heresy to vilify Vladimir Lenin in any way. The Soviet system so programmed the populace that today the revolution itself, and the period of Soviet rule can be called into question, and even ridiculed, as long as Lenin is set aside from criticism. It is as if he led the revolution, yet had nothing to do with it.

With the exception of Joseph Stalin who is on a stellar rebound to rehabilitation, any other revolutionary or Soviet leader is fair game. It is hard to find a statue to Sergei Kirov, Aleksandr Bogdanov, or even Leon Trotsky, but Lenin busts are everywhere.

So, what is it about Vladimir Lenin (born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) that deserves the Teflon coating? He was not a model of kindness and congeniality by any stretch. Lenin was a crafty and cunning revolutionary with a flair for both oratory and violence. Only his shortened lifespan spared the Russian people from directly experiencing the fullness of his own brand of sadistic cruelty.

In Russia’s “near abroad,” the regions that make up the former Soviet Union outside the present borders of Russia, Lenin has not fared so well, except in enclaves of ethnic Russians.

ILenin Livess education to blame? Unquestionably, Soviet schoolchildren were spoon-fed heavy doses of exaggerations, and often outright lies, to create an image of Lenin as someone on the level with Jesus Christ himself. Given that Christ was banished from the Soviet public square, Vladimir Lenin was enthroned as the saviour of the Soviet Union.

Upon Lenin’s death, the Soviet leadership immediately created the idea, borrowed from the Orthodox Christian teaching of the mystical presence, that Lenin was somehow now spiritually present in the life of the Soviet Union, and in the lives of Soviet citizens. In a phrase borrowed from Christian liturgy, the idea of “Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ shall come again,” the Soviets adopted something eerily similar: “Lenin lived, Lenin lives, and Lenin will always live!”

The cult of Lenin was cultivated before, and later continued alongside the cult of Stalin. Stalin used the cult of Lenin to enshrine the cult of Stalin.

Were it was just a matter of Soviet education, then why have many former Soviet republics rejected the cult of Lenin? In most of those former republics the reminders and ideas of Lenin are disappearing from public view. He is seen as just another dictator who was bent on power.

Perhaps it is safe to point to the Russian state, as official policy, which allows Lenin to remain clothed in his Teflon suit. The Russian state needs heroes, and goodness knows the last generations of the Tsars were not exactly Russia’s most inspiring role models. Besides, to elevate the Tsars would be tantamount to an admission that the Soviet experiment was a mistake. It was another Russian named Vladimir who in more recent times remarked that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.”

So for now in the hearts of many Russians, Lenin lives.

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Nadiya Savchenko Convicted

The Ukrainian military pilot who was captured in Ukrainian rebel-held territory, and then spirited across the border by her captors, has been convicted by a Russian court in the deaths of two Russian journalists.

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Nadiya Savchenko was sentenced to 22 years in a Russian prison after the court proclaimed her to be guilty of “spotting” artillery fire against pro-Russian rebels in June 2014. The court denied her legal team the opportunity to challenge the prosecutors charges, and they were not allowed to cross-examine state witnesses.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed that Ukraine would never recognize the verdict. Poroshenko indicated that he was ready to exchange two Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine for Savchenko’s release.


Nadiya Savchenko Guilty?

Nadiya Savchenko YouTube

The case against 34-year old Ukrainian military pilot Nadiya Savchenko (Надія Савченко in Ukrainian) is one of confusion. Today, a judge in the case began reading the prosecution’s summary, a preliminary step before announcing a verdict. Russian legal experts say that a verdict is imminent.

Savchenko has been charged in the deaths of two Russian reporters with state owned VGTRK television who died while in the south-east of Ukraine where Russian rebels were fighting anti-terror units of the Ukrainian military. Russian prosecutors claim that she gave coordinates for mortar fire that allegedly killed the journalists.

On 17 June 2014 the two Russian journalists, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, were killed while filming a battle in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. At the time of the battle the rebel combatants, and the journalists themselves, reported that there were mines along the road on which their unit was fighting.

Savchenko, a 10 year veteran, had previously served in Iraq and had joined the Aidar Battalion, a volunteer unit of Ukraine’s anti-terror mission. She was captured near the town of Schastya in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, a territory occupied by pro-Russian forces.

Two days after her capture, rebel forces released a video of her interrogation although the location was undisclosed. During that interview she was shown handcuffed to metal pipes. A day later, a member of the pro-Russian rebel government, Vladimir Gromov, assured reporters that Savchenko was being well treated. Several days later, on 22 June, reporters were told that she had been moved to the rebel held territory of Donetsk.

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Ukrainian language poster calls for Savchenko’s freedom.

Negotiations between the Ukrainian Government and rebel forces were unsuccessful and on 8 July there were reports that Savchenko had been moved across the border to a detention facility near Voronezh (Russia). While imprisoned in Voronezh, local authorities charged her with murder of the two Russian journalists, and with entering Russia illegally. The charges came despite Russian television (NTV channel) newscasts reporting that Savchenko had been captured in rebel territory, and was being turned over to prosecutors in Russia.

In spite of multiple reports on Russian television that she had been captured by Russian rebels, and held in occupied Ukraine while negotiations were held for her release, Russian authorities claim that somehow Savchenko slipped across the border and into Russia on her own initiative.

Once charged, she was moved from Voronezh to a prison near Moscow. Savchenko’s trial was much like other politically charged proceedings in Russian courts. Despite RF Constitutional guarantees, her defense lawyers were denied the opportunity to present evidence of her innocence, nor did the court allow her lawyers to question those involved in her capture.

Nadiya Savchenko by Alek Naza
Man in Saint Petersburg holds sign calling for Savchenko to be freed. Photo by Alek Naza.

International representatives from Ukraine, the USA, Canada, the UK, Poland, Austria, Romania, Spain, Latvia, Slovakia, Norway, France, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden were present in the courtroom as a sign of solidarity against her imprisonment.

Crash of Flight 981 at Rostov on the Don

Investigators are still sorting thru the crash site, searching for clues on what caused FlyDubai flight 981 to crash short of the runway yesterday at the Rostov-on-don regional airport.

FlyDubai says that pilots had received permission to land from air traffic control. Airport authorities say that there was no communication of distress from the flight crew. The two pilots were Cypriot and Spanish, and both were apparently experienced pilots.

The alternate airports, Krasnodar (KRR) or Taganrog (TGK), might not have been reachable as early reports indicate that the plane had circled for a long time while waiting for a window in the weather to land. Ten flights on that day were diverted to Krasnodar. But, some are questioning whether airline policy on using alternate airports frowned on such landings because of penalties and gate fees to use an unscheduled facility.

There were several conversations between the tower and the pilots regarding weather conditions:

The Ministry of Emergency Situations says that 55 passengers (8 were Ukrainian) and 7 crew members were killed on Flight 981 from Dubai to Rostov-on-don, a city in southern Russia that lies near the border with Ukraine. No Westerners perished, although the very first passenger listed has a Western sounding family name, Allen.

лариса Аллен
Ганна Андриева
эльвира Белякова
виктор Беспечнов
виктория Бевзюк
марина Бевзюк
юлия Безгласная
сергей Безгласный
галина Болгова
александр Божко
ольга Божко
алина Березина
константин Чеботарев
светлана Чеботарева
дмитрий Чернов
елена Чернова
кирилл Чистяков
олег Чистяков
виктория Чистякова
владимир Федянин
валерий Гамов
людмила Гончарова
елена Калиберда
сергей Калиберда
олеся Караванцева
ирина Карпенко
Катирвели Аяпан
ольга Клименко
павел Копосов
анастасия Копосова
Копосова Дарья
Копосова Людмила
татьяна Кравченко
раиса Лобода
Маяченко Ольга
Сиам Мохан
инна Негодаева
анна Осипова
галина Пакус
игорь Пакус
алексей Шанцин
ирина Шанцина
николай Шлипченко
валентина Сомина
манна Серхиева
наталья Тарасенко
Свитлана Цехельска
Данило Цихельски
павло Цихельски
наталья Веремеевская
александр Веремейвский
виталий Веремеевский
валентина Воронова
лариса Жевед

Hotline for families needing information: +7 (800) 775-17-17. Today (Sunday) has been declared a day of mourning in the Rostov-on-don region.

Where Would Russians Like to Live?

Victory Park 8-24-11 Moscow 717 ed sm
View of Moscow Centre from Victory Park.

Despite an overwhelming daily dose of anti-American pounding in media, where would many Russians want to live if given the opportunity? Answer: the bad ole USA.

The most recent form of anti-American propaganda has to do with international trafficking of women and children. Most organizations fighting this legitimate fight will say that the worst offenders are Middle Eastern Muslim countries and Israel.

The new Russian narrative however is that the USA is the hot spot destination. To a degree, some of those claims are true, but Russian media conveniently overlooks the fact that it is organized crime in Russia that supplies “dancers” and “escorts” to Russian mafia groups in the USA, primarily via New York. Many of these are modern serfdom situations with girls lured by the promise that if they will “work” for a certain period of years, they will be released with proper documents, etc, to stay in America. Rarely are those promises of freedom realized.

All this is very interesting in light of a poll taken by Moscow’s English language radio station, Capital FM (formerly known as Moscow FM). Moscow listeners are asked to answer the question that “if you could live in any city of the world, which city would you prefer?”

Program director Pete Cato says that so far, the overwhelming response has been–you guessed it, New York.

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Russian Strategy on Syria

With the Russian economy in shambles, President Putin needs to achieve these goals:
– Lifting of Western sanctions against Russia.
– Agreement that Russia must be given a sphere of influence in neighboring former republics. Those include Ukraine, Georgia, and eventually the Baltic states.
– Acceptance of his illegal annexation of Crimea.

Putin at Indian Summit

As a member of the international group in the Syrian negotiations, the announcement that Russia is pulling out of Syria gives the appearance to the West that Russia is no longer a part of the problem, but instead can be trusted to be a part of the solution. That, of course, is debatable.

As to any idea that he can afford to continue the fighting in Syria, not really. We can only shake our heads in disbelief when pundits proclaim that Western sanctions have not hurt the Kremlin. Sanctions, including the so-called “reverse sanctions” imposed by the Kremlin on imports, have crippled the economy.

In reality, the Russian budget is in crisis and in the big scheme of things, Putin cannot financially continue to fighting a war indefinitely on two fronts. Make no mistake, Ukraine and Syria are part of the same war in the Kremlin scheme.

Russian fighting in Syria has given Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu the opportunity to more openly train and hone troops and weapons systems for eventual use in the theatre closer to home. Those big new bases being built along the Ukrainian border are there for a reason.

The indiscriminate bombing of Syrian communities and civilians has not only created a very convenient refugee crisis to weaken Europe, but has sent a clear message to Kyiv, and those in the West who support Ukraine, as to the consequences if the Ukrainian desire to be independent of Russia is not nipped in the bud. Putin has played a clear hand to eventually force the West to accept his “final solution” of the Ukrainian question, and unfortunately the West is tired and will eventually be strongly tempted to look the other way.

The slow but clear signs of a growing resurrection to opposition of Putin’s rule will force his hand. He cannot fix the economy without $70 per barrel for oil, so he will use military adventurism close to home as a distraction to quiet any ideas of revolt at home.

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