Five more disturbing revenants from Soviet past in Putin’s Russia

The sign above the fence surrounding Russia says: "The Free Society" (Political cartoon: social media)

The sign above the fence surrounding Russia says: "The Free Society" (Political cartoon: social media) 

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Even as Vladimir Putin claims that Russia is fated to have a great future, the Kremlin leader is doing little to end the impoverishment and repressions of Russians today and ever more to restore many of the worst features of the dark Soviet past. This week has brought five more examples of that retrograde trend.

1. Orwellian “Newspeak” in Russian Legal Practice

Orwellian newspeak is returning to Russian legal practice at alarming rates. Asked by the regional news portal 7×7 to comment on the increasing use by officials of terms like “pseudo-religious,” “destructive organizations,” and “anti-social groups, SOVA Center director Aleksandr Verkhovsky said this is extremely dangerous.

“There is no legal definition” of such terms and consequently they represent an attempt to expand by analogy, a favored tactic of Soviet practice, terms that do exist like “extremist organizations.” And that means, the rights activist says, that “an official can choose” as a target “anyone who doesn’t fit his taste.”

“This is newspeak,” Verkhovsky says, using the term George Orwell introduced in his novel “1984” about totalitarian systems. And while such terms may have utility in pointing to problem areas at the level of informal discussions, their use as legal categories is “bad and often dangerous.”

2. Lines Are Back

Lines, the bane of the existence of Soviet-era Russians, are returning to Putin’s Russia even though no one is supposed to talk about this. Russian blogger Nikolay Yurenev says that “everyone says that under Putin there are no lines in the stores” but everyone knows that isn’t true.

Not only lines have returned but what might be called the political culture of lines has returned as well, with people standing in line for hours cursing their existence but then going home, watching Moscow television, and concluding that as bad as things may be for them, they are far worse in the hated West which they are told to blame for their problems.

Yurenev gives the following example: “In one almost million-peopled city of N, in one meat store, there is a line” every Monday, Wednesday and Friday when meat goes on sale for less than the usual price, and the line, he says, snakes around the block from the time the store opens until it closes.

Even before the store opens, the line begins to form with “unemployed patriots and pensioners who form a good half of the population of the city of N” being the predominant element in it. And the entire line, despite the wait and the cold, “fraternally supports the wise policy of the outstanding political and government leader, the flaming battler for peace in the entire world, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.”

Those standing in line “express their unlimited trust and deep gratitude for his unceasing concern about the well-being of the people and the flourishing of the Great Fatherland,” Yurenev continues. Those who succeed in reaching the head of the line then return home to prepare dinner and watch Moscow television.

It is then that their participation in “big politics” becomes clear, the Russian blogger continues. They learn how Ukraine and the West are to blame for their small pensions and “how in the US, the enemies of Trump are seeking to derail his friendly policy toward Russia and toward Putin personally.”

“How awful to live in this insane, insane, insane foreign world,” they say “in their hearts” and “how beautiful things are in our Fatherland.” In that world, lines for inexpensive meat are no problem at all: they are an indication of just how good Russians have it under the wise leadership of Putin.

3. Fictional Support of Government Actions by Population

Russian officials are justifying what they want to do by saying that the population is demanding such actions whether or not that is true. TASS, as the Russian news agency is again called, just as it was in Soviet times, reports that the culture ministry welcomes the calls by Russian activists to create a Day of Patriotism.

In the USSR, officials often declared they were taking this or that action because “the workers and peasants” were demanding it. Now, Moscow is using the same tactic, saying that the population wants such a holiday and to have it timed to coincide with the imposition of sanctions or perhaps counter-sanctions, even though the latter are preventing food from getting to them.

4. Falsified Signatures on Public Documents

Russian officials are claiming that people who never signed or even saw a document signed it, if it is the kind of document the regime wants. Earlier this week, supporters of handing over St. Isaac’s Cathedral to the Russian Orthodox Church put out what they said was a call by 26 rectors of higher educational institutions backing that step.

Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia, 2017 (Image: Wikimedia)

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia, 2017 (Image: Wikimedia)

But now it turns out that was “fake news” or perhaps “an alternative fact” because two of the rectors whose signatures are listed say they did not sign the document and one declared that he hadn’t even heard about plans for one.

In Soviet times, communist party officials often put down the names of people without asking their permission or agreement in order to boost the official line. The big difference now is that some who are victims of this practice are complaining, although whether that will be career-enhancing remains to be seen.

5. Important Witnesses of Putin’s War Crimes In Ukraine Being Assassinated

And fifth and most ominously, Putin is getting rid of the witnesses of his own crimes in Ukraine. Zoryan Shkiryak, an advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister, says that the murder of pro-Moscow warlord that went under nom de guerre Givi is only the latest example of something Kyiv has been warning about for the last two years.

The explosion that killed Givi completely destroyed the room he was in. (Image: Screenshot from video)

The explosion that killed Givi completely destroyed the room he was in. (Image: screenshot from video)

“Putin,” he points out, “is consistently destroying especially important witnesses of his own military crimes” in Ukraine, a program that he launched after the shooting down of the Malaysian passenger jet MH-17 but that has affected participants in his “terrorist” actions in Mariupol, Volnovakha and Debaltseve as well.

In the case of “the liquidation of Givi,” Shkiryak continues, Moscow clearly controls all of the participants in this action, and thus no one would have acted without the blessing or more likely the direct order of the Russian authorities in the Russian capital.

Such things are no oddities or innovations, he says. They “are in the best traditions of the Russian special services” and are indeed “all links in a single chain.”



Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    Great cartoon.

    Meat in RuSSia? What kind of meat is it? Ground rat? Cat cutlet?

    The future in ruSSia is looking remarkably like the past. I think RuSSians missed queueing for food. It makes them nostalgic for the good old days of Stalin and Khrushchev. As always, blame the West. Blame Amerika! Blame… Donald Trump!

    1. Avatar туфтуф says:

      I ate a rat in London’s China Town, W1. It cost me quite a few bob. Was worth it, though…

      1. Avatar Brent says:

        I guess that explains your “rabid” stupidity…’s another “rat” for you to munch silly little fool….you can both enjoy some palm oil cheese together

        1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

          Pedo Putolini and his crooked chums don’t eat palm oil cheese- they eat REAL French Camembert, Rocquefort, Brie etc; REAL Dutch Edam, Gouda etc; REAL English Stilton and Cheddar and all other EU cheeses forbidden to the ordinary Dwarfstanian citizens. THEY get the palm oil cheese only- surely you do do not believe that the dwarf and Co actually SHARE their delicacies with mere Savushkina trolls, the likes of туф-туф, the dregs of Dwarfstanian society????

      2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

        One day a rat will eat you. Quid pro quo.

    1. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

      You suck Putin’s a s s.

    2. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      That T-34/76 Model 1943 Hardedge could be anywhere in Dwarfstan, it need not be in occupied Simferopol. I’ve been to the Crimea several times- first time in October 2004, last time in July-Aug. 2013 and I don’t remember a T-34/76 in Simferopol, though I do recall a T-34/85 there.
      Fake photo!

  2. Avatar туфтуф says:

    Comrade Xi’s China in real time. Photo from Alina. Regardless of Chinese gvts “communist leanings”, regardless of its poor human rights record, Alina says life there is beautiful. Her parents work for SVR, her entire family was evacuated from Yemen when the Western-sponsored war started there.

    1. Avatar Alex George says:


      Yet again, a random photograph of an unknown place taken at an unknown time by an unknown person.

      As usual, you are just an old windbag looking for importance.

      1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

        туф-туф admits his photos of supposedly the “Yalta shoreline” and the “Simferopol T-34/76 Model 1943 Hardedge” are not of Yalta and Simferopol at all by upvoting my comments concerning their “authenticity”.
        туф-туф, you’re out! You can choose whether you’re LBW, run out, bowled out or caught out, but caught out is most appropriate.

      2. Avatar туфтуф says:

        Not unknown. Known. To me. Her parents work for SVR in China. Before the Yemen war, Alina lived there.

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          Sure they did, and sure you know someone there.

          Try at least to get your photos right next time .

  3. Avatar туфтуф says:

    Putin’s Russia. Yalta at this very moment. Real time. Photo by Tanyusha.

    1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      This isn’t the Yalta shoreline at all!
      Fake photo!

  4. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

    6. Soon the “Dwarfstanian people will demand” a new Andrei Vyshinskii who demands “the extreme penalty” for “wreckers”, “foreign agents”, “Banderisti” etc etc, the sentence to be carried out by the new Genrikh Yagoda or Nikolai Yezhov in the cellars of the Lyubyanka and the corpses disposed of in secret burial sites.
    7. The “people also demand” that new Gulag camps be opened all over Dwarfstan, where all those who oppose “our Great and Glorious Dwarf” be sent to perform slave labour on useless projects which are only intended to kill as many of the prisoners as possible.
    8. The “people also demand” that Article 58 be resurrected in full as soon as possible.

    “Back in the USSR” indeed.

    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      Right on the money.

      This part was also intereting: “Vladimir Putin claims that Russia is fated to have a great future”

      It could have, just not under Putin’s incompetent leadership. All the shortcomings of the Russian tradition of “oriental despotism” are being exposed.

      1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

        Quite. But a “great future” as WHAT exactly??? Most likely as Peking’s doormat or lapdog, depending on China’s benevolence- of which there won’t be much. Peking has the dwarf’s “delicate parts” in a vice and it depends entirely on its mood whether the dwarf sings tenor, alto, contralto, mezzosoprano or soprano. I hope the Chinese go for soprano.

  5. Avatar туфтуф says:

    Putin’s Russia: Simferopol new airport terminal in real time. Pic from my lovely lovely krimchanka Tanya 5 min. ago.

    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      And once again, a random photograph of an unknown place taken at an unknown time by an unknown person.

      As usual, you are just an old windbag looking for importance.

    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      Sure, just like you are friends with all the separatist leaders and key people in Russia and Ukraine, yet somehow can never provide any proof of anything. Now we get a random photograph of an unknown person taken at an unknown time by an unknown person.

      As usual, you are just an old windbag looking for importance.

      1. Avatar туфтуф says:

        I tot u d like to see Crimea thru my friends photo lenses.

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          Except its not Crimea and you have no friends there.

          1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

            туф-туф is so thick that he doesn’t even know that the Crimea has been Ukrainian since 1954, and is merely temporarily illegally occupied by Dwarfstan.

          2. Avatar Alex George says:

            Indeed. And he is so desperate to be relevant that he pretends to know everyone who is important in every place, but only succeeds in showing himself up as a liar.

          3. Avatar туфтуф says:

            We stoopid? Lolz

          4. Avatar Alex George says:

            Yes, you are. And you know nothing about Crimea and have no friends there.

  6. Avatar Alex George says:

    No surprises here – under Putin, Russia is returning to all the bad points of the old Soviet Union, but without its military strength! And also without the safety nets of subsidised bread, transport, and pensions, which made life in the USSR bearable.

    Point 2 about “lines” above is especially vivid as a reminder for those who remember the old times in USSR. No wonder that so many Russians are fleeing from Russia for life in the west!

    Yes, witnesses in Donbass are very obviously being eliminated by the FSB. Givi is just the latest, and he won’t be the last.