Streetwise Professor

December 8, 2011

VVP’s Russophobia: An Alternative Translation

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 1:59 pm

Here’s an alternative translation of Putin’s attempt to claim that United Russia aren’t the crooks and thieves:

Speaking to party functionaries, Putin described United Russia’s increasingly popular moniker — “the party of crooks and thieves” — as “a way of referring to government in general,” according to Ria Novosti. People “say the party in power is the party associated with thieving and corruption. But if we recall the Soviet years, who was in power then? Everyone called [people in government] thieving and corrupt. In the 1990s [under President Boris Yeltsin] they did the same thing.”

So, according to Putin in this translation, (a) “government in general” is the target of the crooks and thieves epithet, and (b) Russians have believed without interruption since Soviet times that the government was “thieving and corrupt.”

That makes it so much better.  The “government in general”–which Putin heads–is corrupt, and Russian governments as a rule are corrupt.

Yup.  A Russophobe.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. And clearly he has contempt for Russian citizens. That is exactly what election rigging is about.

    Comment by pahoben — December 8, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  2. I said half-jokingly the other day that it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between Soviet-era Russia and Putin-era Russia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proved me wrong. If you ignore the relatively bountiful supply of toilet paper, it’s impossible to tell the difference. His reaction to the elections on Sunday and his complaints about foreign agitators were straight from Pravda.

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 8, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

  3. If all governments are corrupt, the next one will be too, so why vote me out? I am amazed that Obama hasn’t picked up on this.

    Seriously, my cousin, who is at LSE and an expert on Arab cultures and anthropology, describes almost exactly this phenomenon relative to some of the dictators in the Arab world. As to how they still remain significant support after all there depredations can be summed up by this statement: ” I know he is a monster but he is a sated monster -God alone knows what the new guy will be like.” This seems to be the case in the Yemen where things are completely split regions, tribes and even families are divided.

    Putin’s position and the position of Russian society is very similar to the dictatorships in the Muslim world. In parts of the army (or more accurately the officer class) has taken control of more and more of the productive resources and become a business class and it is fighting to keep its economic and social hegemony in tact, This is the case in Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and Egypt, where the constitutional demands of the army include declaring war, non interference in the military’s industrial and landholdings, etc. The difference between these societies and Russia is that 1. these societies Still have the organs of a civil society in them – clans families, some social institutions, etc. that have not been destroyed by 70+ years of totalitarian slaughter and 2. In Russia the security services. not the army took over. After all the military was subordinated to the political class in the USSR since the purges (or beginning with the suppression of the Kronstadt rising), which was rarely the case in many Muslim societies. Iran is unique in only that the security services are taking over from the Clerics who created them.

    Comment by Sotos — December 8, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

  4. As to how they still remain significant support after all there depredations can be summed up by this statement: ” I know he is a monster but he is a sated monster -God alone knows what the new guy will be like.”

    This is why my mother-in-law, who can’t stand Putin, just voted for United Russia. Her reasoning was that they are all thieving bastards, and the next one will want as much as Putin has stolen. At least with Putin, he has his loot already.

    Like I said on here before, Putin is the best leader Russia has ever had purely because the bar is set so miserably low. It’s like winning a “Safest Driver in Lagos” award.

    Comment by Tim Newman — December 8, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

  5. Repost this number:


    – if you also beleive that the Russian elections were falsified. The search engines will count how many times this number is found on the Web, i.e. how many people share this opinion. Just place it anywhere in your blog, newsstrip, web site, wherever.

    Comment by LL — December 9, 2011 @ 6:37 am


    Comment by La Russophobe — December 9, 2011 @ 7:49 am

  7. I have to admit I did not expect the reaction from the Russian people after the election. I did not think that achieving 50% results would be a signal for discontent to be unleashed. I thought everything would go on as usual. However, I still don’t think it will lead to anything different. None of the other successful parties can be considered to be part of a real opposition, and it seems like the Russians filling the streets are the typical liberals who aren’t representative of the Russian people as a whole. I don’t see the protests expanding much. Nor do I believe any leader of the other parties will risk placing himself in true opposition to Putin. Too much chance of them eventually being arrested or perhaps killed mysteriously.

    I do think it means that things will be hard to continue as before, but this only means the next 4 years may be filled with more discontent about corruption. Not enough to challenge Putin’s rule, but perhaps enough to make 2015 more hazardous. Until I see some kind of split among the ruling elites or see mass popular support for the protests, everything going on in Russia is just ear and eye candy for the television. Maybe I’ll be surprised though.

    Comment by Chris Durnell — December 9, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

  8. @Chris. I think it’s the fact that it was 50 percent + a lot of obvious fraud. The fact that UR can’t even win a majority without substantial fraud gave the lie to Putin’s popularity and omnipotence. I don’t anticipate anything like a popular uprising, but that doesn’t mean that continued displays of discontent, hostility, or especially disdain and derision can be important nonetheless.

    I think the more important dynamic is within the elite. Putin keeps order among deadly rivals, and his ability to do that depends in part on his perceived popularity. He’s now more vulnerable to internal challenge, and potentially less able to keep the intra-elite conflict in check. The more the popular ferment continues, and the more he is ridiculed, the more difficult his task becomes.

    A lot of attention has been paid to the possibility of a violent crackdown against protesters. That may happen. But I think a purge-like attack on the bureaucratic cadres is more likely. His promise to reshuffle the government may be a signal of that. But that also has the potential to destabilize.

    Can’t say with any certainty that things are going to go bust, but the pulling back of the curtain makes the situation much more volatile. Given the serious potential for an external shock (e.g., a European economic crisis) things that were unimaginable weeks ago now become conceivable.

    Sort of off topic, but somewhat related. Whatever happened to the “Popular Front”?

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 9, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

  9. It is expected to be the main vehicle through which Putin contends the March 2012 election.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 10, 2011 @ 1:51 am


    Comment by La Russophobe — December 10, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  11. CHRIS:

    It’s not four years. Putin and the new Duma will have power for five years without another election. Even if there was a real movement to challenge them, and there isn’t, there is no earthly way it could be sustained through half a decade of silent darkness. Russia is doomed.

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 10, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  12. Professor,

    Having just reread Whittaker Chambers’ “Witness”, the use of a popular front was a Leninist tactic to set up an organization that the could control, and then discard when power had been seized. It is unlikely that the Russians with their deep experience with “real” socialism would be fooled under that name. There have been a multitude of political parties that have been formed, and those that are allowed to participate in elections have, with some exceptions, the look of PF organizations. Now that Ozymandias’ feet are beginning to look mushy, it will be interesting to see which worm turns first.

    Comment by Sotos — December 10, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  13. Russia—who cares? With its rampant voter fraud and declining population, the country is careening toward irrelevance.

    Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 10, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

  14. $70+ billion in capital flight for Putin’s Russia this year.

    Nice work, Mr. Putin, Next year, maybe you get to 100!

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 10, 2011 @ 10:09 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress