Streetwise Professor

July 18, 2013

Pandora’s Box, Without the Hope: Eta Rossiya

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:40 am

Alexi Navalny was convicted of bribery and sentenced to five years imprisonment.

This result was inevitable.  To charge was to convict. And five years is just the appetizer.  The Investigative Committee is already cooking up course after course of new charges that will keep Navalny in jail until, well, until a revolution or his death, most likely.  Knowing that, his decision to stay and fight is extraordinarily brave to the point of foolhardiness.  You need not agree with his agenda or some of his affiliations to respect his courage.

Following events on Twitter this morning did produce one surprise: many Western journalists in Russia seemed surprised.  Well not surprised, perhaps, but disbelieving.  The charges against him were so absurd, the proceedings so Kafkaesque, and the implications so darkly portentous that even those with no illusions about Putin and Putinism or Russia’s current trajectory seemed to want desperately to believe that the inevitable would not occur.  They apparently retained some sliver of hope until the judge droned out his verdict and sentence. Even Pandora’s Box held hope, after all: Russia, and Russian courts, hold none.  That was the message behind the Potemkin legalities in Kirov.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

And not just journalists were surprised.  Markets were too.  Russian stocks dropped about 2 percent on the news-which shouldn’t have been news.  Apparently traders were also in denial until reality became undeniable.

The reaction of governments around the world was primarily to acknowledge meekly the injustice perpetrated in Russia, and then change the subject.  The European responses were especially pusillanimous..  Putin’s obduracy has convinced Western governments that resistance is futile, and that accommodation-appeasement, really-is the only way forward. “Men without chests” is a line that comes to mind.  So Putin will smirk, pocket this victory, and begin planning his next push.

That this is being played out against the backdrop of the Snowden affair, in which said grandiose narcissist hacker (but I repeat myself) extols Russia as a stalwart defender of human rights only accentuates the absurdity and deepens the gloom.*  An individual who would receive a high powered legal defense and extensive procedural protections were he to submit to trial in the US gives “human rights” cover to a regime with a totally instrumental view of the legal system, which it views as a knout to bludgeon its political enemies, with barely a peep of resistance from the outside world.

We live in a new, low, dishonest decade.

* Snowden, by the way, has allegedly revealed to his Kremlin stooge, faux human rights activist “lawyer”, Anatoly Kucherena, that he would not feel safe going to Latin America, and hence is staying in Russia.  (Since Kucherena is the source of this story, take with a grain of salt.)  So he what, figured this out in the last two weeks?  Remember at the beginning of July he said he would not seek asylum in Russia but would go to Venezuela or Bolivia or Ecuador as soon as it was possible.  He just figured out that the US was out to get him?  I thought that was his point all along?  Or maybe, it’s just that Snowden is calling his own shots, but that the FSB is.  I’d make book on that.  All the more reasons to start calling bluffs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Whistle-blowing in America is bad, whistle-blowing in Russia is awesome.


    Now why did you have to write 10 paragraphs on that when 10 words would’ve sufficed?

    Comment by S/O — July 18, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  2. That or a special op to appoint the right guy as opposition leader, should the need arise to replace the tsar in order to preserve the system.

    Comment by Ivan — July 19, 2013 @ 5:01 am

  3. @S/O-As usual, you are confused. Navalny is a whistleblower; Snowden isn’t.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 19, 2013 @ 5:04 am

  4. “Navalny is a whistleblower”

    He clearly is. Where the tune he is whistling is written: that is the question.

    “The court ruled that keeping him in custody would deprive him of his right to stand in the mayoral elections in Moscow in September.”

    If that is not unadulterated rule of law, I don’t know what is. Oh, and did you know that to stand in those elections, Navalny needed the votes of municipal representatives from United Russia party, and he did get those votes. Clearly, the aforementioned party has no less respect for free and fair elections than the aforementioned court has for the rule of law.

    Comment by Ivan — July 19, 2013 @ 5:43 am

  5. The rule of law, when selectively applied, is not the rule of law, but just another tool of oppression in the gangsters’ arsenal. See the Obama Justice Dept.

    Comment by Sotos — July 19, 2013 @ 9:09 am

  6. As usual, you are confused. Navalny is a whistleblower; Snowden isn’t.

    Four legs good, two legs bad!

    Comment by S/O — July 19, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

  7. @S/O. I understand your affinity with Snowden. Grandiose. Narcissistic. Millennial. Anti-US.

    Your mastery of Orwell is . . . deficient. That quote doesn’t fit the situation in the least.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 19, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

  8. Everything you wrote is true, but I’m also wondering whether he really did steal that money. Frankly, I don’t think it’s beyond him. He reminds me of a young Yeltsin.

    Comment by aaa — July 19, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  9. +++1. If that is not unadulterated rule of law, I don’t know what is.

    2. Oh, and did you know that to stand in those elections, Navalny needed the votes of municipal representatives from United Russia party+++

    Emmm… Methinks the first and the second statements are in some contradiction, aren’t they? I mean, one can legislate the most twisted and egregious candidate filtering system, but would that be what most people understand under “rule of law”?

    Comment by LL — July 19, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

  10. Wow. Did not expect to need to explain this. Rule of law in Russia was meant to be a joke. It always is.

    Comment by Ivan — July 21, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

  11. @Ivan. In Russia, the “rule of law” is a sword wielded by the state not a shield defending the citizenry against the state.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 21, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress