Streetwise Professor

October 21, 2010

Ripped From the Pixels of SWP

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:08 pm

Headline in Vedomosti (h/t JRL):


Freedom of expression: Russia is the 140th on the list of 178 countries

As I’ve often noted when the whataboutism is going around, the ne plus ultra line of defenders of Russia is: “Not the worst!”  But it’s not every day you read it as a headline.

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  1. They raise a good point. You should definitely focus your efforts on admonishing the lesser 38 countries.

    Comment by Andrew #2 — October 21, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

  2. “But it’s not every day you read it as a headline.”

    Nonsense. Russian media are full of attacks on the Russian government for the total lack of the freedom of speech. For example, the most powerful medium in Russia – Echo of Moscow – devotes 90% of its air time to vicious attacks on Medvedev and Putin, and the complaints about the lack of the freedom of speech are a major part of these attacks. So do RenTV, Kommersant and most other top media.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 21, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Craig pirrong, Craig pirrong. Craig pirrong said: Updated my SWP blog post: Ripped From the Pixels of SWP ( ) […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Streetwise Professor » Ripped From the Pixels of SWP -- — October 21, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

  4. Except that, objectively speaking, it’s likelier at around the 50th-100th range.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — October 22, 2010 @ 12:18 am

  5. Now you are stretching Ostap “For example, the most powerful medium in Russia – Echo of Moscow”.

    Ekho Moskvy continues to operate much as before. Despite being partially owned by the state gas giant Gazprom, the station — like the “Novaya gazeta” newspaper, as well as the vast, as-yet uncontrolled Internet arena — forms the last bastion of independent information in Russia.

    Such outlets, as a whole, are estimated to reach just 5-6 percent of the population in Russia, with the vast majority of people receiving information via state-controlled newspapers, radio, or television — the Kremlin’s sleek and almost entirely pliant medium of choice.

    Really Ostap, can you stop lying now?

    Comment by Andrew — October 22, 2010 @ 1:03 am


    What that quote (wherever you lifted it from) is referring to is no doubt just the % of Russians who bother themselves with reading the liberast degeneracy that is EG / Echo of Moscow.

    As for most people getting their information from TV, it’s the same in the US, with all the main media channels following the bipartisan party line anyway.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — October 22, 2010 @ 1:58 am

  7. Better than reading the pederast degeneracy that is your weblog SO

    Comment by Andrew — October 22, 2010 @ 2:18 am

  8. BTW SO, Ekho Moscovy is primarily a radio station.

    Comment by Andrew — October 22, 2010 @ 2:24 am

  9. Coincidentally, hearty congratulations to our fearless russophobe LR’s blog for tripling her Website Outlook’s ranking! In just 3 months her blog went from being ranked 669589 to being 2439105th. That’s more than 2 million:

    No doubt that her ranking will soon zoom to 5 million and then to 10 million in no time. The reach per million went from 2.2 down to 0.6. That is a record speed of degradation! It takes real talent to sink so fast.

    It was about 3 months ago that I got so frustrated with the editors of her blog deleting most of my comments that I virtually gave up on reading it. Evidently, most other readers gave up too.

    But the LR blog already has the honor of being the only blog in the world where several people work full time and still cannot make it even into the top 2 million blogs. This is an amazing incompetence. My grandmother-in-law, who spends 5 hours per week on her blog on cooking borscht, is ranked higher than LR and her voluminous team of losers. My grandmother-in-law lives off of her pension. What do LR and her stable of “editors” and “translators” live on? I hope it’s not US taxpayers’ money.

    Incidentally, Streetwise Professor, who devotes just a few hours per week to his blog, is now ranked much higher than LR and her crowd of full-time losers: Streetwise Professor blog is in 1384036th place. Twice as high:

    LR brags that she doesn’t accept advertising. Big deal! According to Website Outlook, her ad revenues are worth $6.64 per day. That’s less than 7 dollars. That and an extra dollar will buy her a coffee and a cupcake at Starbuck’s.

    Hey, LR, maybe when your ranking sinks below 5 million, you and your team of losers should consider getting a REAL job, instead of leeching off of the US taxpayers?

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 22, 2010 @ 4:54 am


    ???????? «??????????» ??????? ??????? ???????????? ????????????? ????? 500 ?????????? ????-????? ? 2007. ??????? ?????????? ??????? ??????? ??? ?? ?????????? ?????????????? ???????????? ? ????? ? ??????-????????? ? ?????????.

    ?? ??????????? ????? ???????????? ????? «??? ??????» ????? ? ????? ???? ? ?????? ??? ??? «???????????», «?????? ?????», «?????????», ???????? «?????????? ??????», «????????», ????????? «??????» ? ???. ? ????? ???????????? «???» ?????? ???????? ?????? ?????, ????????? ?? ???????? ??????? ??????????????? ??????????????????? ??????? ?????????? ????? ????????? ??????-??????????? ????? ? ??? ????.

    Company Medialogia conducted a survey of more than 500 influential Russian mass media in 2007. Rating indicates the degree of influence on the Russian news media space in general and business audience in particular.

    According to the results of this study, radio Ekho Moskvy is in line with such media as the “Kommersant”, “First Channel” TV network, and “Vedomosti”; and ahead of “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”, “Izvestia “, “Rossia” TV network and “NTV” TV network.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 22, 2010 @ 5:11 am

  11. Yeah, it is not easy to be an expert in Russia without speaking Russian. The headline actually sounds sad — nothing like “the last line of defense”. In fact, it looks more like an attack on Putin and Co.

    Comment by boba — October 22, 2010 @ 9:12 am

  12. […] Perceptions Index road show. I’ll bet if you looked around a little; say, like at the Streetwise Professor, you could find an article that chuckles indulgently at the practice of blunting ugly statistics by […]

    Pingback by Reality: What a Concept! | The Kremlin Stooge — October 22, 2010 @ 11:30 pm

  13. I disagree, Boba.

    The fact that LR and Streetwise Professor know nothing about the Russian language and culture is a plus, not a minus: this way, their blogs reflect what average hillbilly Americans in Houston, Texas and Montgomery, Alabama think about Russia.

    Plus they are people with great imaginations and should consider devoting full time to fiction writing. For example, the first thing that I ever read from Streetwise Professor is his story how Moscow is the most dangerous place in the Word to go outside and how he and his colleagues were severely beaten up by the gangs, roaming Moscow, in front of a fancy restaurant.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 23, 2010 @ 1:02 am

  14. > how Moscow is the most dangerous place in the Word to go outside

    You are right, Ostap: Moscow is better than the worst. Oh, wait: this is what SWP wrote about.

    Comment by Ivan — October 23, 2010 @ 1:22 am

  15. Although this might change soon, Russia has been better than Zimbabwe on political freedom:

    Comment by Ivan — October 23, 2010 @ 1:32 am

  16. Uhm, there aren’t any hills in Houston, fool, so no hillbillies. Rednecks, maybe.

    Though I do come from hillbilly stock. Hatfields. Maybe you’ve heard of them. Which means that maybe you should be a little more circumspect in the insults 🙂

    But in all due modesty, I hardly think that what I know and what I write reflects “average hillbilly” or “average redneck” or average whatever American opinion.

    And, by the way, to say “know nothing” is a matter of opinion, and your remark suggest that you are the Know Nothing.

    What’s more, I never said Moscow was the most dangerous city in the world; I never said that I was chased and beaten by gangs. The restaurant was a Georgian one, BTW. (Funny, that. Maybe you could blame it on Georgian gangs, rather than Russian ones. That would suit your ideological prejudices.)

    I did say that I declined the dinner invitation, and that the colleagues that did go were in fact chased–not beaten–by gangs. I heard the story, told by them, immediately after it occurred. If you are calling them liars, well then man up and do it. And I’ll call you a tool.

    Oh wait. I’ll do that anyways.

    If you’re going to talk trash, at least get your facts right. Tool.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 23, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  17. Ivan wrote: “You are right, Ostap: Moscow is better than the worst.”

    Ivan, why don’t we make a mutual bet: I will spend 300 nights walking Moscow streets chosen at random, and you will spend 300 minutes at night walking Washington, DC or New York, NY streets chosen at random. I bet that you will be beaten and mugged at least 10 times more in those 300 minutes than I in 300 days. If you win – I will pay you $1000. If I win – your widow will pay me $10.

    Is it a deal, or do you realize that you and your future widow have no chance of winning it?

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 25, 2010 @ 8:15 am

  18. SWP,

    What is the probability that somebody would try to rob your professor friends on one particular night in Moscow? Maybe 1 in 10,000. What is the probability that a a whole gang (!) would waste their time and efforts to chase your professor friends on one particular night in Moscow just to steal their wallets and watches? I have never heard of gangs wasting their time on that, but this probability is non-zero. Say, 1 in a 100 million. Not impossible, but highly improbable.

    But that’s not the only improbable even that befell you and your friends. Hardly. You were also attacked by a pack of wild dogs. That very night!

    I have lived in Moscow for a total of 17 years, including 2 years in 2002-2004 and I have never seen a pack of wild dogs, never heard of anybody I know seeing such a pack, and I don’t even recall ever reading or seeing news of such “pack of wild dogs” in Moscow in any sensationalist newspaper or on any sensationalist TV program. (However, I recall the common Russian joke about the Western ignoramuses thinking that there are wild bears roaming Red Square.) And given that the Red Square area is patrolled by lots of policemen, it would be the last place for a pack of dogs to materialize. But heck, what is the probability of a German amateur flying his plane from Germany through the Soviet Union unmolested and landing it in that very same Red Square? Also miniscule. But it happened once, didn’t it?

    So, it is not impossible but highly improbable. One in 100 million maybe. But BOTH those events happening on the SAME night? Again, improbable but not impossible. One in 10 000 000 000 000 000. Not impossible, I guess. About as likely as the chance of me witnessing 7 separate and unrelated murders on the corner of Broadway and 135th St in Manhattan in one day, or a monkey typing up a long sentence in good English.

    However, any honest person with an IQ above 80 would realize that that was a total fluke and would not use such improbable events as an argument that Moscow is a bad place. But you are not such. You gave this fluke a meaning:

    I have a friend who went to a Georgian restaurant in Moscow in 2005 when we were there for a conference. I begged off going, which was a good thing, because he and his dinner companions were chased down the street by a gang that wanted to rob them.

    That same night, when I was on my way back to my hotel, the execrable Hotel Rossia (which I stayed at as a lark, just to say I’d been in such a Soviet landmark), I was confronted by a pack of wild dogs. In Red Square.

    Ain’t Moscow great!

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 25, 2010 @ 9:26 am

  19. “I have lived in Moscow for a total of 17 years, including 2 years in 2002-2004 and I have never seen a pack of wild dogs, never heard of anybody I know seeing such a pack, and I don’t even recall ever reading or seeing news of such “pack of wild dogs” in Moscow ” Senor Equis thought wild dogs riding the Moscow Metro was an urban legend, too. But then he saw one! And there are indeed packs of wild dogs near major Moscow construction sites. But I guess that’s better than seeing packs of Americans rendered homeless by their glorious Fed exporting jobs with all those cheap dollars.

    Still, I do enjoy Ostap’s mockery, since the Professor in his normal frame of mind mock socialistic, state-funded, unproductive institutions, and NGOs whose job it is to promote separatism and client state relationships in other countries. Unless they’re job is to crank out Russophobic propaganda (RFE/RL, cough cough).
    Jamestown Foundation – Kimmy Ziggy’s likely paymasters
    American Committee for Peace in the Caucases – straight out of ZBig’s Promethean Grand Chessboard playbook


    It has been alleged that the Jamestown Foundation is a neoconservative agenda driven think-tank with ties to the CIA and United States government. However, the organization has had strong ties to critics of neoconservatism like Zbigniew Brzezinski. Someone writing under the pen names Kim Philby & Guy Burgess (UK intelligence agents who defected to the USSR) writing for The eXile commented: “Most of the bitterly anti-Russian journalists who publish with these rightwing lobbies are from the small countries surrounding Russia, and they are animated by a deep hatred of their former conqueror.”[3]

    In 2007 Moscow accused the think tank of spreading anti-Russian propaganda by hosting a debate on violence in the Russia’s turbulent Ingushetia region. According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry of Russia: “Organisers again and again resorted to deliberately spreading slander about the situation in Chechnya and other republics of the Russian North Caucasus using the services of supporters of terrorists and pseudo-experts. Speakers were given carte blanche to spread extremist propaganda, incite ethnic and inter-religious discord.”[4] The Jamestown Foundation responded by saying that Russia felt threatened by it and was trying to intimidate it. Foundation president Glen Howard claimed that “they’re intimidated by the power of the free word and this goes against the state manipulation of the media in Russia.”

    Hey Professor, do you think the Chinese version of Igor Panarin starring in this ad is a member of the Eurasian Committee NGO advocating for a Free Texas and Republic of Alaska?

    Just curious.

    Comment by Mr. X — October 25, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  20. What are the odds of being attacked? Arguably small. What are the odds that the people who told me the story are lying? Zero. If you knew them, you’d arrive at the same conclusion.

    And re the dogs. It happened. Deal with it. I have two witnesses–the two Italians. And I never said the dogs attacked. That was kind of the point. The dogs seemed harmless but the Italian woman freaked and my Italian colleague (whom I was with all yesterday afternoon) hid behind the two of us.

    Your probability calculations don’t mean jack, frankly. I guess you never believe news stories saying that somebody was hit by lightning or bitten by a shark, because those things are soooooo improbable.

    I guess that means that you don’t believe this.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 25, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  21. The dogs seemed harmless but the Italian woman freaked and my Italian colleague (whom I was with all yesterday afternoon) hid behind the two of us.


    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — October 25, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  22. @S/O. It was *very* funny.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 25, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

  23. SWP,

    You don’t get it, do you? As I said, the probability of the most improbable events is still above zero, and thus if you tell me that on your visit to Helsinki, you were attacked by a pack of feral bears, were hit by a lightning and were robbed by a gang of blond Swedish senior citizens – all in one night – I would not say that that was impossible. But if you then exclaimed “Ain’t Helsinki great!”, I would say that you are a moron.

    So, it is your exclamation “Ain’t Moscow great!” that made me conclude that either you know nothing about life in Moscow or you are a cretin or both.

    However, I admire you as a man of real guts. I asked myself: “Would I be able to be a good judge of internal Brazilian politics if I don’t know Portuguese? Would I be able to write an intelligent blog on internal French affairs if my French is rudimentary? Would I be able to withstand the mockery that my ignorant comments on the internal Brazilian and French affairs would encounter from those who DO know French and Portuguese?” And the answer is “No!”

    But you are able to lift yourself above such mockery. You are strong enough to say: “Yes, I know next to nothing about the Russian language and culture. Yes, all my “knowledge” of Russian politics comes in the pre-digested form from sporadic articles appearing in the American mass media. But I will ignore the jeering and mockery coming form those who know Russia, and instead focus on the admiration that my opinions about Russia receive from those who know about Russia even less that I do”

    As Stephen Colbert would say, you have huge steel balls. But not nearly as huge as does LR, because you limit your writings to Russian politics, while she freely writes about Russian language, culture, food, sports; and she knows even less about these subjects than you do. The hearty laughs that she has provided are innumerable. The one that comes to my mind now is an article in which she ranted about a “deranged” Russian hockey player named Vityaz Chekhov, only to be corrected by one of the readers that there is no player named Vityaz Chekhov. “Vityaz Chekhov” is the name of a major league team named “Vityaz” from the city of Chekhov (yes, named after the famous writer whose last name was Chekhov). Or how one of her “professional translators” confided to LR that he hates the Russian language and culture and doesn’t understand half of the Russian magazine articles that he translates, and LR explained his inability by saying that Russian journalists are too stupid to be able to explain themselves properly.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 26, 2010 @ 3:28 am

  24. Mr. X,

    I have looked into the issue of feral dogs further and found out that indeed there exist some wild dogs in Moscow:

    As of March 2010, there was an estimated 35,000 homeless dogs living within Moscow’s city limits,[2] or approximately one stray dog for every 300 people, and about 84 strays per square mile… the quantity of food available to them keeps the total population of homeless dogs steady at about 35,000.

    35 000 seemed like a large number until I found out that it is incredibly low compared to the rest of the World. For example, there are tens of millions of stray (feral) dogs in USA and millions in the cities and countries that are/were occupied and destroyed by USA:

    Iraq: Baghdad To Cull A Million Stray Dogs

    This is actually a good thing. The wild dog population in Iraq is out of control and a huge problem there… More than a million stray dogs roaming Baghdad are facing destruction. The initiative has so far led to 42,000 strays being killed in only two months. Teams of riflemen and vets are trying to thin out a rogue canine population that has reached at least 1,250,000… Culling stray dogs was a nightly routine under Saddam, but the rapid deterioration in security after the U.S. invasion kept the veterinary teams off the streets.

    The US Post Office

    An estimated 70,000 cats and dogs are born each day in the United States. Eight to ten million animals are taken in by shelters, but the free roaming/feral population is estimated to be in the tens of millions.

    In other words, there are maybe 10 to 30 times more feral dogs per capita in USA than in Moscow. And yet, I have never seen a pack of wild dogs in my 30 years of living here in USA, be it in Boston or Silicon Valley or Manhattan or Orange County.

    As far as the Wiki article on Jamestown Foundation goes, there are lots of things that I find funny or curious. For example, it says: “The Jamestown Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, founded in 1984 as a platform to support Soviet dissidents….” and yet, there is not a single Soviet dissident left in its leadership, and it would be hard to imagine leading Soviet dissidents like Solzehnitsyn, Sakharov, Korzhavin or Aksyonov having anything but disgust towards the current russophobic hysteria there. V. Bukovsky would be the only exception.

    It also says: “The organization has had strong ties to critics of neoconservatism like Zbigniew Brzezinski…. Currently, its primary focus is on China, Eurasia, Russia and global terrorism.” I suspect that its current focus on “global terrorism” is not that of approval, and yet Zbigniew Brzezinski and other Jamestown Foundation types have in the past bragged about USA’s and their personal role in creating in nurturing this global terrorism back in the 1980s. For example, in the 1980s, V. Bukovsky constantly bragged about his incessant full-time job as a fundraiser for the Islamic mujaheddin in Afghanistan, and Brzezinski thinks that the Islamic terrorism is a small and insignificant price to pay for the fall of the Soviet Union:

    Zbigniew Brzezinski:
    How Jimmy Carter and I Started the Mujahideen

    Interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76*

    Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

    Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

    Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

    Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

    Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

    Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

    Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

    Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

    Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

    Brzezinski: Nonsense!

    Returning back to rabid dogs, let me repeat that I find attacks by them to be improbable but not impossible. For example, one of the Jamestown Foundation’s leaders – Vladimir Socor – has clearly been bitten by one, although I suspect that it happened back in his childhood as a son of the head of disinformation and propaganda in Communist Romainia.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 26, 2010 @ 4:19 am

  25. Yeah the Prof doesn’t touch Jamestown or their spooktastic wannabes with a ten foot pole. But then again, the ‘conservative’ media which bitched and moaned about Soros generosity to the Left in the U.S. never uttered a peep about his huge contributions abroad, particularly in the FSU. I guess they know better than to go there, or they were hunky dorey with Soros pimping the Orange and Rose Revolutions. Go figure!

    “As far as the Wiki article on Jamestown Foundation goes, there are lots of things that I find funny or curious.” If you try to touch their Wiki article, some guy in Estonia will defend it to the death. Along with Paul Goble’s page. Now that’s reputation defendin’ service I wish I could afford! 🙂

    But as always, mentioning that Jamestown is somehow neocon while they are friendly with ZBig is a red herring, and misses the whole point of the criticism, which is that Jamestown is an anti-Russia pro-client state organization with spooky ties in the Caucases. Neocon sheocon, it’s irrelevant.

    “And yet, I have never seen a pack of wild dogs in my 30 years of living here in USA, be it in Boston or Silicon Valley or Manhattan or Orange County.”

    Perhaps the wild dogs in Moscow are just more trained to stay warm in the harsher climate and accustomed to construction workers feeding them as opposed to fearing people?

    Comment by Mr. X — October 26, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  26. Ostap–You are beyond parody. Can you respond to any issue about Russia without resorting to whataboutism? It’s hilarious.

    And speaking of hilarious, somebody told me “Mr Ostap must have been on one hell of a ‘bender’/zapoi to have not seen any homeless dogs in Moscow in 17 years…” That is an exact quote. Too effing funny. Too effing true.

    The real funny part is that the person who told me that is a real Russophile who almost certainly is more in tune with your way of thinking than mine. (Indeed, I have a vague recollection that you might have linked to something he wrote at one time. If I really cared, I’d confirm that. But I don’t, really.)

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 26, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

  27. Craig:

    1. I have no idea what you mean by my “whataboutism”.

    2. If you were capable of some reading comprehension, you would have noticed that I wrote “I have never seen a pack of wild dogs” not “I have never seen any wild dogs”. Learn the difference between “one” and “many”.

    3. I am somewhat honored to find out that I am the topic of your conversations with your friends.

    4. For a man who discusses me with his friends, your protestations that you “don’t care” sound somewhat insincere.

    5. My moral of the story is: your preoccupation with hating Russia is irrational and makes you look like a fool, just as Igor Shafarevich’s preoccupation with hating Jews made him look like a fool.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — October 28, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

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