pühapäev, oktoober 07, 2007

Politkovskaja and civilizational cleavage

It's been a year to the day since Anna Politkovskaja was gunned down in a Moscow stairwell, allegedly for her activities as a journalist in Putin's Russia. The authorities have stressed a Chechen connection to the hit, and Politkovskaja was best known for her coverage of that conflict.

But it is perhaps more interesting that Politkovskaja's death has resounded more greatly in Europe and North America than in Russia. Here in the Baltic Sea region, the anniversary did not go unnoticed by Postimees, Helsingin Sanomat, or Aftonbladet.

While the political implications here are heavy and handily used by opponents of Putin's 'sovereign democracy', I would argue that Politkovskaja's death is being used by the West to reinforce an image of an inferior East that is not free, an East where one can be killed even for writing articles.

In the Cold War period, the image of the east became one of lower living standards and overwhelming political interference -- one-party states that were decades behind in development. In the new construct, Putin's Russia is the new east and the Baltic Sea region is part of the West. Whereas in the Baltic Sea region journalists need not fear the state, and media is seen as an integral part of the social contract between citizens and those that govern them, in Russia, the media is seen as less important, especially should it threaten the ultimate value, which is not freedom but stability.

It is this clash between values of stability in Russia and freedom in Estonia that could lead Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to write to his Finnish colleague Ilkka Kanerva in May that Estonian society was disintegrating because youths broke windows and looted stores for two nights. Whereas in the West, such things are known to happen in Paris and Los Angeles and Copenhagen, in the east, such things are a sign of instability and question the legitimacy of the regime. Lavrov foolishly looked at Estonia and thought it was like Russia. It might be worth it for high ranking Russian officials to visit from time to time.

Therefore, Politkovskaja's death is important to us not because who she was or what she wrote, but because the circumstances of her death reinforce our opinions -- in Tallinn, in Helsinki, in London, in Ottawa -- that our way of life is the way of life, and none other. In Moscow though, images of youth clashing with police in Tallinn or Heiligendamm or Paris say the exact same thing, "Who needs the chaos of freedom, when one can breathe in the state-controlled air of stability ?"

24 kommentaari:

margus ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Nothing is Free ütles ...

They hate ur freedoms!

plasma-jack ütles ...

Whereas in the West, such things are known to happen in Paris and Los Angeles and Copenhagen, in the east, such things are a sign of instability and question the legitimacy of the regime.

You should google "Kondopoga" and "Stavropol" and "riots".

NIF, you're wrong again. Russia has never enjoyed more freedom than now.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov reacted to Putin's decision with an enthusiasm that will likely prove infectious. He predicted Unified Russia will now receive 95 percent of the vote in his republic (the party polled 79 percent there in December 2003, the highest in the country). He then immediately amended his prediction to say real support for Putin in the republic is "100 percent." "I am just giving myself 5 percent as insurance," Kadyrov said.

Jim Hass ütles ...

"Questioning the legitimacy of the regime" is a real problem for a regime that feels illegitimate. The Emperor who knows he has real democratic or institutional clothes of legitimacy is not afraid of the little boy who points to the opposit.

If there still existed some independent television, and less evidence of back-tracking on a democratic process, the Politkovskaja and Litvinyenko stories would be less controversial in the "West".

At least the old Monarchs has religious mistification and tradition on their side, while "modern" strong men only have armies and police forces.

At least the communists had a (crack-pot) theory of society to justify their actions. What does an alliyev or Turkmenbashi have to rely on ?

Nothing is Free ütles ...

At least the communists had a (crack-pot) theory of society to justify their actions. What does an alliyev or Turkmenbashi have to rely on ?

Uh... They are Asian? It's in their blood.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

NIF, you're wrong again. Russia has never enjoyed more freedom than now.

As long as they keep pumping gas, who gives a toss?

Mait ütles ...

_NIF, you're wrong again. Russia has never enjoyed more freedom than now._

Feb-Nov 1917

Giustino ütles ...

You should google "Kondopoga" and "Stavropol" and "riots".

The West hasn't covered riots in Karelia and Stavropol as much as it has Politkovskaja's death.

Is it because it means less, or is it because journalists mean more in the West?

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Is it because it means less, or is it because journalists mean more in the West?

Journalists with a Western audience mean more.

Mait ütles ...

Journalists with a Western audience mean more.

You lost it there, that was actually a sensible and on-topic comment;)

Nothing is Free ütles ...

You lost it there, that was actually a sensible and on-topic comment;)

Wisdom is my middle name. Pay attention, you may learn something.

Giustino ütles ...

Journalists with a Western audience mean more.

Politkovskaja has a much larger audience now that she's dead, perhaps among people who never read her articles or books (!)

I guess that happens with everybody. Jim Morrison, Vincent Van Gogh, ... Anna Politkovskaja. Yet instead of genius wasted it is what? ... Accountability wasted?

plasma-jack ütles ...

The West hasn't covered riots in Karelia and Stavropol as much as it has Politkovskaja's death.

Yeah, it hasn't, but my point was that Russians themselves are not unfamiliar with the notion of riot. What differs is the methods used for restoring the order - although one might argue that Italian or Spanish cops aren't that much softer than Russian militia (what a great word).

Blogaddict ütles ...

G's gotta good point. If Jim Morrison did not take out his wanker on stage or Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear maybe nobody would have really paid attention to their work. Both men also put out a lot of some real garbage along with the genuine masterpieces.

Sure, the mental image of Politkovskaya's slender body slumped in a tiny blood smeared elevator in a piss smelling russian hruschovka podyezd provides a compelling reason to open her books at Barns and Noble and dig in ... but I find her work boring and hard to read. She must have had longer than average attention span, shall we say.

Giustino ütles ...

What differs is the methods used for restoring the order

Also what differs is how events in Russia and events in the West are emphasized differently in each respective culture.

John ütles ...

I see Russia as clannish and closed and dominated by special interests but not more unfree than elsewhere.

I think it is silly, those articles of the month about how freedom in Russia has taken yet another step backward. If freedom is indeed dying there, it has got to be the most maddeningly slow process there is. There should have been nothing left ages ago.

What there is, is an ugly lack of sense of humour and sophistication about political life that dates from the Soviet period, and so the kneejerk reaction is to bring in OMON or resort to violence whenever something is not "correct".

I received a birthday card the other day with a smiling Bush-head
and the contents read, "what would a birthday party be without a clown?". Such a card with Putin on it would be unthinkable in Russia.

In the US, great abuses of individual liberties and the public's confidence take place, but journalists don't get killed here because, well, how is an article going to hurt Dick Cheney -- the guy has even shot someone, for God's sake.

If someone had security cam video of Dick personally planting the secondary explosive charges that brought down the WTC towers, it would probably ignored or laughed off on late night talk shows.

There should probably be an "allegedly" somewhere in the last paragraph.

nothing is free ütles ...

I plan to be away at remainder of weekend. I have come into some rare pornographic videos in the underground ring to which I belong. Once I have completed my mission I will return to flame you with my agitant nonsense. Stroke on sweet prince!

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Sadly, I'm back. The video was pretty good: retarded russkie soldier getting his head chopped off, lolz! But I alread have that one.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

...but I find her work boring and hard to read. She must have had longer than average attention span, shall we say.

You heartless monster.

nothing is free ütles ...

I'm having such a hard time. I have mental issues and rightwing ideas and I am racist. Lucas exiled me and that hurts. Never trust Russkies because theyll screw you!

Nothing is Free ütles ...

As long as that evil turko-mongoloid byzantine polish-aping russkieland abomination is a blight on the surface of that green-blue globe we call Earth, I shall not rest.

I am tired of all this pseudo-intellectual navel-gazing you Ests indulge in. You hate russkieland. Fine, that is a given. You are not part of the west if you feel otherwise. But effete hand-waving will not solve your problems. Printing of brochures, Estonia-awareness campaigns and other puerile PR may prevent the devil incarnate H****** from stealing the presidency, but it will not stop the muscovy.

It is time for action. It is time to repay your debt to Uncle Sam for liberating you from the russkie horde. With freedom comes great responsibility. And as the newest member of the club, one must prove one's loyalty.

A small border incident to get the ball rolling will do nicely. Then the cavalry arrives and liberates Estonia all the way to the Urals. We shall call it "Operation Snowstorm".

Edward Lucas is working for the russkies, no doubt about it. I doubt he would take their dirty petrodollars (he might, if it was money honestly earned through service, tourism or software, but the russkies do none of that). They must be blackmailing him. I wonder what dark secrets he must have to be so afraid. He looks like such an affable chap. The kind that would give your kid a candy.

plasma-jack ütles ...

You hate russkieland. Fine, that is a given. You are not part of the west if you feel otherwise.

You really meant that part, didn't you. You poor thing.

nothing is free ütles ...

PLEASE STOP LISTENING TO ME.

I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER WHAT I SAY.

MY COMPUTER CACHE IS BRIMMING WITH PORN RESIDUE.

I LIVE ON A HIGH FAT DIET AND IMBIBE OF NEOLIBERAL PROPAGANDA.

MY BRAIN IS SOFT AND I HAVE GONE MAD.

ALLOW MY PEDOPHILE IMAGE ABOUT CANDY AND CHILDREN TO SPEAK VOLUMES.

I AM CORRUPT. I AM A MORON.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

I ALSSO HATE RUSSKIELAND ie. LOVE ESSTONIA.