Streetwise Professor

February 7, 2010

It’s An Ill Wind That Blows No Good

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 4:41 pm

The massive snowstorm that buried DC had one favorable outcome: it gave me an opportunity for me to meet courageous Russian civil society advocate and opposition figure Oleg Kozlovsky.  Oleg had spoken at Principia College across the Mississippi from St. Louis in its Lectures in Moral Courage series.  He was scheduled to fly back to Moscow via DC, but his flights were cancelled due to the storm.  I found out about this via Facebook, and messaged Oleg that I would be in St. Louis for the weekend, so we were able to get together for breakfast this morning.

Oleg is a very polite, unassuming, and articulate young man.  He has demonstrated his moral courage many times on the streets of his home country, but his is not the courage of bravado or confrontation.  He is dedicated to non-violence; he spent a good deal of his time while waiting out the delay in St. Louis in bookstores looking for books on non-violent protest.

We had a wide-ranging conversation about all sorts of matters, from Putin, to the controversy over his passport, to energy, to Europe and energy, to Kaliningrad, to the effects of the economic crisis, to the militia and OMON, to the military and the effects of the reforms, to Khodorkovsky.  After a while, he smiled and said that he didn’t want to sound so negative, so I suggested that we talk about politics and economics in the US instead–which ended with me apologizing for negativity.

I then took Oleg on a brief tour of some of the sites in St. Louis, notably Forest Park.  Hopefully he’s now boarding his flight back home.

All in all, an enjoyable morning.  One amusing moment came when he asked me about how my blog came to be named “Streetwise Professor.”  I told him that it derived from a combination of (a) the fact that “the Street” refers to the financial markets that I had originally intended to blog about exclusively, (b) the fact that I’m a professor, and (c) my punk rock inclinations.  He smiled and said that he liked the title because it makes him think of street protests.

It was a privilege to meet Oleg, and I wish him Godspeed.  I look forward to seeing him again soon, perhaps in Texas this spring.

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  1. “polite, unassuming, articulate”

    They said the same about Martin Luther King and Gandhi. Oleg is truly a remarkable Russian and it’s heartening that he’s been recognized as such in the USA.

    What is more troubling is that a great difference exists between Oleg and MLK or MKG — they had tens of thousands will to throng the streets behind them, Oleg doesn’t. He has a huge mass of crave, selfish, blind lemmings who will risk nothing to advance their country and give their children a better future. And this is not a new phenomenon. Neither the Tsar nor the Communists were brought down by truly widespread civil action, they collapsed because of their own incompetence. That Russians would choose to ruled by proud KGB spy, an embodiment of the failed past, says all one needs to know about them.

    Yet this only makes it all the more awesome that Oleg is able to shoulder these burdens and carry on. Perhaps, in some ways, his achievements are in that way even more admirable.

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 7, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  2. I wouldn’t dare have guessed that the blog name was (even just in part) a reference to the song. Lars Frederikson and the B’s is pretty good (almost as good as Rancid).

    Comment by Michael Conklin — February 7, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

  3. Michael–yup, you got it. May I compliment you on your excellent taste. Had you made the connection before, but just dismissed it? I was struggling to name the blog. I knew it would have something to do with Exchange or Street, and one day I was listening to the song and did a headslap thing and said–that’s it! why didn’t I think of that before?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 7, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

  4. I read somewhere that these wonderful non-violent protesters are offered a substitute place for their manifestations of frustration but they refuse and proceed with blocking the traffic in central Moscow and we all know what traffic in Moscow is like. They know that such behaviour will summon the OMON and OMON will carry them away.

    The Western journalists will get their story about police brutality (even though Chinese security services can certainly put up a much better show) and these clowns will get their funding from Washington D.C.

    Kozel, Starushka and Political Gigolo (Kozlovsky, Alexeyeva and Nemtsov) are no longer relevant in Russia, the last one named not at all after he was an economic adviser to Yushchenko. So they spend more time with their liberast/neocon allies in the West, it’s the only place they are respected.

    Next time when you see Kozlovsky ask him what he thinks about you linking to LaRussophobe and her and her readers wonderful opinions about Russian culture. I bet with allies like these the Russian will flock to him.

    @ La Russophobe

    The Russians chose a former KGB spy because American imported shock-therapy economic policies cost them too dearly. I don’t know what that tells us about Americans and frankly do not which to establish a blog contemplating that question.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 8, 2010 @ 3:42 am

  5. *…do not wish 🙂

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 8, 2010 @ 3:59 am

  6. @ Leos T
    1. The Moscow authorities allow pro-government demonstrations in the center of the city that block traffic; they allow anti-American demonstrations that block traffic in the center of the city; they have stopped traffic in the center of the city and give the streets to anti-immigrant demonstrations. Not to mention the fact that they stop traffic for hours every day to allow big-wigs and their families to drive down the center of the street. And by law they cannot turn down a request for a demonstration. The request is actually a letter informing the city gov’t of their intention to hold a rally, which the city is supposed to “sanction.” But when human rights activists or other protesters put in their letter, they are always told that “that spot is already taken.”
    2. Where is your proof that these demonstrations get their funding in DC? Don’t you always scream for facts when Russia is criticized?
    3. Why am I even bothering?

    Prof, your passion for punk rock has raised my opinion of you even higher. (Even though I’m a DDT fan.)

    Comment by mossy — February 8, 2010 @ 4:49 am

  7. 1) They are offered a different place, why don’t they take it? I guess that is not so appealing to the cameras.

    2) I see I touched on a nerve here, I was meaning it ironically. Even though I would like to know where they get their money when none of them holds any executive office. Nemtsov actually worked as an economic adviser to Yushchenko or they might always work for NGO’s…

    Or get money from a bold uncle in London.

    3) I don’t know either.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 8, 2010 @ 6:35 am

  8. I made the connection a couple months ago when I started reading this, I was hesitant to mention the band name in class, are those 5 points still on the table (I have the b’S on regular rotation on my phone, good source of getting amped up for tests)? What do you think about the French selling modern naval warships to Russia? Is france that hard up for cash?

    Comment by Jack — February 8, 2010 @ 10:03 am

  9. Kudos Leos.

    True “Russian patriots” aren’t soft on bigoted trash.

    Comment by Slugger — February 8, 2010 @ 10:35 am

  10. Mat Rodina? That’s like citing to the KKK website as authority. The Russophile rodents get sicker and more revolting by the hour as their beloved Putin fails ever more spectacularly and popular resentment begins to show itself.

    It would amusing watching these rats scurry were not for the fact that so many innocent Russian children are being tossed once again into the meat grinder as Putin goes the way of Nikolai II, Kerensky, Stalin and Yeltsin. Failure, everywhere you turn, and the Russophile rabble grow ever more desperate, even to the extent of citing Mat Rodina.

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 8, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

  11. Sometimes you make it hard for me to hate this blog.

    I’m going outside for a smoke.

    Comment by TRex — February 8, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  12. Prof- Oh, I totally dismissed the connection. I’m not sure what I should expect a punk fan to look like, anymore. It’s like we all grew up to look and dress more or less exactly as we swore we wouldn’t. It’s ok, though. I can still be a revolutionary in small ways (like blasting music in the car).

    Maybe we’ll compare music selections, sometime. Hopefully, you won’t be put off by my collection of contemporary punk (e.g., emo, screamo, crabcore, pop-punk, etc.,). Most people I know dislike my taste in music. Haha!

    Comment by Michael Conklin — February 8, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  13. @MC–By appearances, I’m not punk at all. By appearance (except maybe for the beard) and behavior, you’d peg me as the square beyond compare. I’ve never had a mohawk, and I abhor tats. (Note well: I wrote “tats”. With an “a”.) But I like my music loud and fast, came of age right at the time of the Pistols and the Clash, and have very serious issues with authority. So, I have always had a definite affinity for the music and the attitude, and haven’t outgrown it. (The Clash’s “All the Young Punks” just played on my Pandora, btw.) (And speaking of authority issues, the Blue Bloods’ version of “The Authority Song” is outstanding.) (And speaking of hating taste in music, my wife shudders at mine.)

    @TRex. Bang a gong, dude:) Can I use your comment as a motto?: “Hard to hate! Sometimes.” LOL. What do you hate about it all those other times? (Asked only partly in jest; mainly out of genuine curiosity.) Don’t ruin your health, man.

    @Jack–5 points are yours. LF&tB’s SWP is the ringtone on my phone. Re the Mistral, yes, the French (like much of Europe) is keen on propping up its big armaments manufacturers. Moreover, being French they are (a) cynical, and (b) short sighted, and hence believe that they can obtain some economic and geopolitical benefits by providing military hardware to Russia. They are likely to end up turning over a lot of technology and know-how too, which is especially myopic.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 8, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

  14. @ La Russophobe

    Linking your website is not much better and that linked article is stupid. 😉

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 8, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

  15. @SWP- If we’re mentioning what’s in our playlists, I just have to say that all this talk of Lars forced me to dig up Rancid’s “Maxwell Murder” and and listen to that a few times through. Love that bass solo!

    Comment by Michael Conklin — February 8, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  16. @MC–Yes. Matt Freeman is the best bassist out there.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 8, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

  17. This is another sphere in which I doesn’t see eye to eye with SWP. I usually dislike punk rock, the major exception being when I’m working out at the gym. Otherwise it’s hard on the ears and a social interaction suppressor. I much prefer the Romantic classics, kitschy marches, and Europop (of which I have a decent aggregation here).

    Re-Oleg and the Russian “liberals”. I don’t dislike them and I’m sure there are many fine and idealistic people in their movements, but I do believe they are very misguided in their self-appointed roles as Russia’s saviors / agents of Western cultural imperialism. Anatol Lieven explained why and Tatyana Korchevnaya demonstrated why very effectively.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 8, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

  18. They are offered a different place, why don’t they take it? I guess that is not so appealing to the cameras.

    Well, yeah. If you are protesting the war in Iraq, where do you want to rally — in front of the White House or in a field in Maryland? You want to protest where people can see you, see the numbers, join in. Since virtually none of these demonstrations are shown on TV, how else can they let people know they are going on?

    I repeat: meet your own standards. Prove that they get their money from abroad.

    Comment by mossy — February 9, 2010 @ 12:32 am

  19. […] Here Streetwise Professor recounts his fortunate opportunity to meet up with the Russian youth activist Oleg Kozlovsky during his speaking tour of the United States (Kozlovsky had been stranded in St. Louis by the snowstorms on the East Coast).  Turns out the professor named his blog after a song by this fellow on the right. We had a wide-ranging conversation about all sorts of matters, from Putin, to the controversy over his passport, to energy, to Europe and energy, to Kaliningrad, to the effects of the economic crisis, to the militia and OMON, to the military and the effects of the reforms, to Khodorkovsky.  After a while, he smiled and said that he didn’t want to sound so negative, so I suggested that we talk about politics and economics in the US instead-which ended with me apologizing for negativity. […]

    Pingback by Official Russia | Streetwise Professor Meets Oleg Kozlovsky — February 9, 2010 @ 1:02 am

  20. They are not sent to a field in Maryland if you want to use that comparison.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 9, 2010 @ 2:27 am

  21. @ SWP, thanks! From what I’ve been reading, Russia wants to actually license the Mistral and build the damn things, doesn’t that run counter to propping up the domestic establishments in France?

    Comment by Jack — February 9, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

  22. LEO:

    You are a damned liar. Our blog has been cited by such venerable publications as the New York Review of Books and the Associated Press. Mat Rodina, to put it mildly, hasn’t. It’s run by a racist religious fanatic and the fact that you can’t simply condemn it proves you are of its ilk.

    LR has translated dozens of articles from the Russian press that would never have seen the light of day and our blog is primarily responsible for bringing Oleg Kozlovsky to the attention of the Western press. This is the first mass-audience piece written about him:

    By LR’s founder, of course. From it came Oleg’s WaPo coverage and Op-ed, and from that his human rights award and entry into mainstream Western consciousness.

    Your pathetic, ignorant lies make Russia look like nation of witless apes. Was that your intention?

    Comment by La Russophobe — February 9, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

  23. Russophobe you are such an amusing type.

    You might had been cited by whomever but when it came to you appearing on BBC you refused. 🙂

    Your smearing tactics towards Stas of Mat Rodina are so dull they remind me of an old Czech saying ‘thief shouts catch the thieves’. Accusing him of racism when you are running a website full of hate and allow even more hateful comments on it is not worth commenting on. Stas never resorted to the type of diatribe that is constantly heard from you and your readers.

    I guess if the Russian public knew that Kozlovsky gets support from someone that regularly calls them monkeys, rodents etc. they would all dance with joy because after all they are witless apes aren’t they? I might actually save this discussion and make a few translations. Then I will send over to some bloggers on ZheZhe and I bet they will have a field day.

    Not that the Russian liberals are not political corpses already.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 10, 2010 @ 12:53 am

  24. @Leos,

    LR is already (in)famous on Runet. An amusing anecdote. A few of its posts got translated by, followed by comments on their forums such as “That douche goes off the Glucksmann scale” (whereby “Glucks” refer to a character’s Russophobia, in honor of the French “philosopher” – ). LR however boasted and congratulated itself profusely for “reaching a wider audience” or some such. It might well be one of the rare examples where no publicity is better than bad publicity!

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 10, 2010 @ 2:04 am

  25. @ Leos
    No, the question you haven’t answered is why pro-government and anti-western demonstrators are given disruptive venues in the city center but oppositional demonstrations are not.

    Mat Rodina is not analysis: it’s a list of US-funded projects with snotty “translations.” Why should we bother with adolescent sniping? If you want to make a case that oppositional groups are funded by the US and that their activities harm Russia, well, do your homework and give it a try. Find out what these groups are doing. Talk to them. Find out why they applied for the funding, what they hope to achieve. Talk to the beneficiaries of the funding.

    In fact, that’s what you ought to do with the oppositional figures. Instead of just calling them names, why don’t you actually analyze their programs and explain why they would be harmful to Russia? And while you’re at it, you might distinguish among them. They aren’t just faceless dupes of DC; they have different opinions, different programs, and different track records.
    Why on earth would anyone take you seriously? You’re like a Birther. No facts, just crackpot opinions along the lines of Nemtsov’s mother wears army boots.

    Comment by mossy — February 10, 2010 @ 3:05 am

  26. First of all Mossy, the opposition (if you can call them that given their lack of support) have the choice to take the venue or behave like punks.

    So you do agree that there are NGO’s getting funded from abroad. Good, I bet I will find more examples of funding if I tried. Given that the Orange farce in Ukraine was funded from abroad I bet the situation in Russia would not be different. I don’t currently have the time to engage in this type of investigation. And if I find out otherwise I will change my preconceptions. Do you want to be instrumental in this change? 😉

    The Birthers are asking a legitimate question. Recently I found this article from 2004 about Kenyan born Obama campaigning for senate. 🙂 To say that Birthers lack evidence or reasons for a doubt is not quite correct.

    I am having legitimate doubts about where a bunch of political corpses with little public support get money to buy luxury garms, cars and how they afford to travel so extensively. And part of my doubts is evidence of US funded projects in Russia and Near Abroad. That’s all I have to say.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 10, 2010 @ 4:20 am

  27. Yes, Russian NGOs get western funding. I know an NGO that gets funding from the Moscow gov’t, the federal gov’t, and USAID — as well as many other sources, including Russian and foreign companies — to work for the integration of people with disabilities into Russian life. Wow. Might just rock the foundations of the state, huh? So I repeat: do some actual research and find out what Russian NGOs are getting foreign funding and for what. Ditto for income of oppositional figures. (While you’re at it, you might look into how, say, the health minister could afford a dwelling in the Fantasy Island Luxury estate.)

    Yeah, those 12,000 people who demonstrated against the prime minister in Kaliningrad were totally unrepresentative of the population.

    But then, why am I bothering? You’re not LIKE a Birther. You ARE a Birther.

    Comment by mossy — February 10, 2010 @ 4:59 am

  28. As opposed to negatively noting intolerant Russians (whether real or exaggerated) while being mute on the negatively misrepresentative anti-Russian imagery.

    Kudos again to Leos.

    Comment by Slugger — February 10, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  29. We all know that many incumbent officials are corrupt. The Solidarity types do not hold any office, that is what puzzles me. I might do some research into where they get their money from.

    Meanwhile I did a research on the Kaliningrad protest and 12 000 is not a certain number of protesters. The police report 6-7000 and others report 10-12 000, so it might be 9000? Or 8000? Who knows? And your claim that 12 000 demonstrated against the prime minister. The slogan calling for resignation of Putin didn’t even meet support among the majority of the crowd, only couple of dozen of them, videos speak for themselves. The only person that was officially named for resignation was governor Boos otherwise their demands were entirely about the economy.

    I am speaking about Nemtsov, Yashin and the Liberast ilk not the genuine opposition who are represented by the Commies, Zhirinovsky and Patriots of Russia. According to Vladimir Abramov people did not come to see Nemtsov in Kaliningrad, and according to an organizer of the protest Solidarity exploited the protest for their own PR. So please, the fact that you are getting your narrative from Khodor’s Media Center does not mean it is true.

    I see that you didn’t even bother to read that article and consider its content. So why should I bother to produce any evidence that the clowns from Solidarity are propped up by western money, you would not consider that either most probably.

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 10, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  30. But since you are not reading my stuff I might post something more anyway… Here comes Oborona, a member of Solidarity…

    I see Oborona is very international movement 🙂

    Comment by Leos Tomicek — February 10, 2010 @ 9:41 am

  31. […] a Houston professor of Economics and the author of a great blog on Russia’s economy. He has already posted an entry about our […]

    Pingback by Speaking & Listening in the US « Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog — February 10, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

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