Thursday, 2 April 2009

Russia a Renaissance country

Whilst the media in the West likes to portray Russia as a land of gangsters, thugs, spies and villains. The truth of the matter is quite different Russia is the unsung hero of culture. Russia is a Renaissance country. Russia has been a major contributor to world culture and intellectual thought. Here are eight examples of Russia's contribution to the world of culture

(1) Artists such as Vrubel, Repin, Kramskoy and Malevich - challenged the way we think about art and introduced new ways of viewing art forms
(2) Writers such as Solzhenitisyn, Dostovevsky and Tolstoy - challenged the West's rational approach to life and showed that the heart is more powerful than the head.
(3) Thinkers such as Ivan Ilyin challenged the 'western mind-set', a mind-set that believes that the western form of government is always right?
(4) Artists such as Diaghilev re-branded and democratised ballet, whilst at the same time making it appealing to the West.
(5) Composers such as Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff challenged the way we think about music
(6) Russia kept Orthodoxy alive by fulfilling it's role as protector e.g. the 'Third Rome'
(7) Russian philanthropists such as Sava Mamontov funded art with their own money. Why? Because they loved art. This tradition is still being followed by 21ST centary Russian philanthropists who are helping to keep art alive in these 'dark days' of the credit crunch.
(8) Russia helped introduce the Matryoshka dolls to the world - which ever since have put smiles on the faces of young children..

So rather than always painting Russian guys as leather clad gangsters and the women as red lip sticked prostitutes, perhaps we in the West should take our hat off to Russians for helping to re-frame the way we think about culture.

Who controls the media in the UK?

It is often claimed that the media in Russia is not free unlike that of the West. The West is the model to follow. But in practise some of the most important media in this country is not free - it is under the control of oligarches, the West's equivalent of Berezovsky. Oligarches such as Murdoch - does Murdoch influence the editorial direction of his media outlets? He most certainly does, as Andrew Neil, most certainly not a left-winger, and a former Murdoch editor says.

"Rupert Murdoch was an enormous presence in my life. He leaves you in no doubt that if he's not there in person he's there in spirit and you've got to stick to the parameters. "

Essentially if you don't you are in trouble and you will loss your job.

But this comes from secondary sources, what about the primary sources? Well Murdoch himself admitted to a Parliamentary committee that he exerts control over issues such as what party to back in elections and what views to express about Europe.

So is the media in the UK free? The answer is no. When you read the papers or watch certain TV stations you are in fact being feed the party line according to Murdoch.

Too many David Irvings in the world!

David Irving is an English historian who lies. He lies by denying that the Holocaust happened. He is a revisionist that twists and turns history to suit his twisted fantasises. He reinvents stories in order to make 'bad people' such as Hitler look good.

It is bad enough having one David Irving in the world. But suddenly Eastern Europe seems to be full of them. There is a sinister trend in trying to make fascists and Nazis look good. Yes. the same fascists who clamped down on democracy, imprisoned minority rights, killed nuns such as Sister Maria(In France), burnt books, had labour camps full of Slavs and gassed millions of people.

Unfortunately during the war some Latvians, Estonians and Ukrainians joined forces with these fascists to the extent that they even joined the dreaded SS. The same SS who burnt villages, burnt villagers alive, shot people, tortured them and gassed them.

Now believe it or not, these traitors to their country have become national heroes. History is being re-written as we speak. The revisionists are showing that 'the pen is mightier than the sword'. As the following examples illustrate

A calender featuring SS Estonian recruits has become a best seller in Estonia
A portrait of Roman Shukhevych a former commander of the Nightingale SS battalion, was recently placed in Ukraine's national gallery
A Latvian History textbook for secondary school children states proudly that "The soldiers of the Latvian SS legion defended the Imperial Chancery (the building of the German government) until the end and they also defended the Directorate of Imperial Security. " This is nothing to be proud of the Imperial Chancery was the last refuge of Hitler and the Directorate was the base camp of Nazi torture.

In the case of David Irving he was eventually locked up for his revisionist views. So should the producer of the calender, the members of the Ukrainian Government who authorised the portrait, or the historian be locked up - my view is no. Why? Because I am a believer in free speech. However, they should face condemnation from their prospective governments and from the EU for being shape changers of history.

The Indian community sufferes in racist Britain

The UK has a very tolerant attitude towards people from other nationalities. The UK prides itself on not being xenophobic. This attitude towards race has helped build the UK into a great place to live. Ethnic minorities have contributed greatly to UK history and culture. Cities such as London are full of different foods, languages and cultures . This has led a rich tapestry with many different people contributing to the UK economy.

But imagine, that a particular race: say 'Indians' are singled out and persecuted, that the UK was no longer such a tolerant and welcoming nation.
Imagine that:
- Indians are discriminated against for speaking their native language
- That a restaurant owner tells his staff not to serve any one who spoke Hindu
- That in the work-place Indians are discriminated against because of their race
- That Indians who have a poor grasp of English can't get British nationality
- That the police informally tell your employees to dismisses you because you have been on an anti racism demonstration
- That your neighbours tell you to "go back home" and call you "a pig"
- That your neighbours rip out some flowers that you have planted and place them at your door step with a note that says "Indian flowers not wanted here"
- That people in your housing association tell you to "Go back home to India and speak Indian there"
- That the Ministry of Justice puts a book on the curriculum, aimed at seven year old's, that contains jokes and comments that are offensive to the Indian Race: such as "what animals are most widely available in England?" Answer "Indians"
- That the Ministry of Education closes down an after school club because a member of staff had been arrested during an anti-racist demonstration that unfortunately turned into a riot
- An Indian went to Hospital Emergency complaining about headaches after she fell down and hit her head. The woman started talking to the doctor in English, however her English was not that good and she was in shock so she started to talk in Hindu. As a result of this the doctor became angry, refused to treat her and told her "because you live in England you must speak English"

Thank God! That the above is just an imagination and does not really happen in England. But the above are true examples of the type of racism that happens in the EU state of Estonia. Instead of Indians it is happening to Russians (If you supplement Indian for Russian and English/England for Estonian/Estonians you get some true case studies). I find it appalling that such racism exists in an EU country and hope that the Estonian Government can learn something from the British about racial tolerance and the benefit that ethnic minorities can bring to a country.

'Radio Cold War'

I recently went to a talk by Dr Jeffrey Godmin. Dr Jeffrey Godmin is the president of Radio Liberty. Radio Liberty was set up in the 1950's, during the Cold war. The original purpose of the organisation was to preach Democracy to the citizens of the Soviet Union.

Originally it's aims were quite noble, despite the fact that it was originally backed by the CIA. For a long time they did indeed do some good broadcasts and some Russians would listen to it their point of view.

However, after the end of the Cold War, it should have 'shut up shop', or focused it's attention on the democratic abuses by American client states such as Pakistan or Iraq. Instead it has continued with it's 'Cold War' mentality, positioning Russia as the great enemy and destroyer of freedom.

The lecture and questions focussed mainly on the lack of freedom in Russia. References were made about how the situation in Russia becoming really bad.

It seems to me that people like Dr Jeffey Godmin would like to go back to the 1990's, when the media was not free but was a puppet of oligarchs such as Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky. Oligarchs who used the media for their own personal aims, for destroying their enemies and making themselves rich at the expense of the Russian people.

The whole talk made me feel as if I had been transported back to the Cold War: Radio Liberty's PR spin: is that Russia was bad, America was great!?

However, the truth of the matter is that Radio Liberty has not only lost it's relevance, it has lost it's audience, the public ex Soviet Union are no longer interested in their broadcasts. Why are they not interested?
(1) Firstly they have the liberty to freely put forward their point of view.
(2) The systems that Radio Liberty preached created chaos in Russia, with 'robber barons' robbing the country, American bankers becoming rich on Russian assets and the mafia ruling the streets.

So these days Radio Liberty has no purpose. Perhaps it should re-branded itself as 'Radio Cold War' and try and get itself a home in a dusty old museum, one where it could share it's home with red flags and other out-of-date Cold War objects.

America encircled by Russia

When an animal is trapped it defends itself.
So imagine a world where:

- Russian troops are based in Canada!?
- Russian troops are conducting military exercises in Canada!?
- Russia is building missile defence systems in Canada!?
- Russia has Mexico as a client state which it is providing money and arms to!?
- Russia supports 'an anti American revolution in Cuba!?
- Russia is creating a 'fifth column' within America itself under the guise of NGOs!?
- Russia is trying to control the American financial markets!?
- Russia is supported and funded political parties in America!?

The reaction from the USA would be explosive, they would be up in arms, they would feel threatened, they would go on the counter attack. We know this from history: look at their reaction to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Yet remarkably America have, over the past few years, been doing the above to Russia. America has a policy of encircling Russia. By

- Basing American troops in Georgia
- Conducting training exercises with the Georgian military
- Making plans to build military defence systems within Eastern Europe
- Backing revolutions, under the guise of democracy in Ukraine and Georgia
- Propping up the Georgian president and using the country as a client state
- Using SOROS and NGOs as a 'fifth column' within Russia

So is it surprising, that like an animal that is trapped, Russia is trying to defend itself from a country that is still adopting a 'Cold War rhetoric and mentality?