Updates from the autocracy

What meddlework should we be doing?

Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Phil » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:34 am

Good point. Oskar is the one with his ear to that piece of ground. Since he seems to be going through one of his phases of ignoring the forum, I'll drop him an email.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:07 am

However irate you might be at your own government, you can almost always find something worse elsewhere in the world, usually without looking very hard, or very far away:

One armed man arrested in Belarus for clapping.

Yes, applause is illegal in Belarus; it's a symbolic form of protest, and of course we all understand that dissent cannot be tolerated in civil society. In this case, however, the despicable villain attempted to employ the cowardly and factitious defense that he was physically incapable of committing the crime. No doubt he was in fact guilty of thoughtcrime; but I don't think that's illegal yet, even in Belarus, or else the entire population would be in prison.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Phil » Sun Jan 06, 2013 7:37 pm

Some things just--there are no words.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:45 pm

Mikhail Pakhomov's body found.

Well, I suppose it's a positive that this is at least being covered in the news. Of course Pakhomov was a member of United Russia and so his death will be avenged. But I doubt his murder will reflect very favorably on the party and the government, unless they can somehow spin it that the former construction company boss was crusading against corruption, which doesn't seem very believable based on everyone's experience of the construction industry.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Phil » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:57 am

Actually, yeah. I mean, ten years ago, I'm pretty sure there'd have been no mention of it in Russia, and five years before that, no mention of it anywhere. Could things be looking up, just a little?
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:43 am

Let us say the situation is fluid. I think everyone recognizes that the status quo cannot last forever, and no one is quite sure how it will change; but in the meantime, those with power want to cash in on their opportunities today, because they might not have the chance to do so tomorrow.

As always throughout history, Russia wants to be wealthy and influential and respected by the rest of Europe; but even with all that natural gas in their iron grip (the one factor that is really keeping the EU engaged, I think), in this globalized day and age, local and national wealth require international commerce and more or less open communication via the Internet with consequent access to all kinds of foreign media. The government can't shut that down without killing itself at this point, no matter how much it wishes to control internal media channels, and so there is willy-nilly a certain degree of glasnost, and with glasnost there is always the chance of perestroika....

However, the government is more corrupt today than it was under Gorbachev and under Yeltsin too, who was not exactly a perfect knight sans peur et sans reproche. But on the other hand, I think even Putin has come to realize the value of an ostensible rule of law; and it can't be ostensible without having some actual basis in reality. Hence the recent initiatives to combat corruption (small though they are at present).
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:56 pm

With the recent string of coincidental deaths by misadventure of Putin friends-turned-foes in England -- first Patarkatsishvili, then Perepilichnyy and now Berezovsky, following the more conventional murder of Gorbuntsov and the botched covert assassination of Litvinenko -- it appears the Kremlin may be in danger of running out of exiled bogeymen to mourn.... Lebedev is still around, of course, but I smell some sort of accommodation, since his trial for "hooliganism" appears to have been postponed.

Anyway, if the Kremlin runs out of exiles to punish, what pastime will they turn to next? Will they have to create a new class of foes to chastise to keep their assassins busy? (Believe me, the last thing you want is a group of bored assassins). Unless they are keeping their cards uncharacteristically close to the chest, MI-5 appears to be sadly overmatched, if indeed they are interested in these matters at all.

Oh well, back to my rather less dangerous campaign of trying to adjust the behavior of the local parking monitors. Yes, the fines have recently increased; no that does not mean you have been authorized to extort bribes from hapless motorists in return for tearing the ticket in half.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Phil » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:14 pm

Sometimes this work gets bloody frustrating, and never more so than where you are. How long since you've had a vacation? I mean, a real one?
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:30 pm

You mean, going somewhere far away, just for fun? Taking off from both work and meddlework at the same time? Umm.... Usually I try to fold in one or the other. I suppose my last true vacation spent actually traveling and not just staying close to home was in 2005 and it wasn't even my idea. Paris, New York, Hawaii, Tokyo and Bangkok in rather less than 80 days. Emptied the bank account, and though two of us left home and two of us returned, it wasn't the same two. Memorable, though, I must say....
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Phil » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:49 am

There are some very smart people who believe that a vacation every eight years isn't enough.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:49 am

Phil wrote:There are some very smart people who believe that a vacation every eight years isn't enough.

There may be something in what you say.... It's not the sort of thing I usually contemplate on my own; not that I claim any special work ethic, just force of habit. Of course if my boss told me that 90 years ago, or even 50, I'd assume I was about to be liquidated, or at least was being set up for something nasty. However now that I am a petit-bourgeois entrepreneur in one of Moscow's most thriving growth industries I am my own boss, and so I can freely choose how to fritter away my modest capital. Perhaps a month in Tongatapu?
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Phil » Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:09 pm

If you do, I'll expect pictures.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Ethan » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:40 pm

Don't tell Amrita, she'll insist you learn at least three local languages.

I feel utterly secure in telling this joke because I don't expect to see her back on the forums until summertime.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:55 pm

Just as well I'm on vacation: Alex Navalny is the current railroad traveler. When they choose a victim for a full judicial onslaught, I don't really see any chance for meddlework. Four different fake fraud and embezzlement cases, dozens of investigators, judges, prosecutors all over place, and none of them likely in the mood for career (or real) suicide if they go against their instructions. This guy is a real criminal mastermind, though: timber thief, stealing from his own party, deceiving a cosmetics company (what a crime!) and, worst of all conspiracy to privatize a vodka distillery. What won't this evil genius do? I suppose in his spare time he sells plutonium or, worse, volunteers for a NGO.

Ah well, I suppose it's for the best. Snorkeling, family B&B, friendly locals, and umbrella drinks. What a way to live. Next time find me a recruit who doesn't sunburn.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Phil » Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:09 am

I haven't left the US in a while. Sometime in the last 50 years I've become unforgivably provincial. My first thought was, "What? You have umbrella drinks over there?" I really must get out more.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:26 pm

Image

I imagine they took a while to make here from the Bahamas or Miami or wherever it is they originated, but at around 30 degrees on the beach, anything brightly colored with the word "punch" in it drinks pretty well, no matter how nauseous-making it might be elsewhere. For a nice linen-shirt sit-down dinner, it's g&ts, gimlets, or martinis, though.
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Re: Updates from the autocracy

Postby Alexander » Fri May 03, 2013 9:26 pm

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