The persecutors of Chechnya’s gay citizens now feel strong, untouchable, invincible. Their victims, who they arrest, beat and torture, are at their mercy. They are protected by many things: by the tinpot tyrants who rule a republic violently subjugated by Vladimir Putin; by the den of reactionary views that is the Moscow regime; and by the acquiescence – support even – of a society soaked in homophobic hatred.Their consciences will not trouble them. It is always comforting to imagine that those who commit atrocities against fellow human beings are sociopaths or evil. But that does not explain the great horrors of human history, from fascism to colonialism. Inhumanity is only made possible by stripping a group of its humanity. You only feel empathy, after all, for those you feel are human beings like you. That’s how human beings who in other contexts feel compassion and love and warmth can become capable of the most unspeakable horrors.
Tag Archives: Russia
By all accounts, what’s been happening to gay men over the last few weeks in Chechnya is absolutely chilling: reports detail authorities rounding up large numbers of gay men, illegally imprisoning them, and carrying out beatings and murders. Human rights groups, from Human Rights Watch to Outright Action International, are now sounding urgent alarms, with numerous international organizations pressuring Russian officials to act while others are poised to evacuate queer citizens.
Earlier in April, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published a startling report: that police in Chechnya had detained over 100 gay men and killed three in a state-sponsored anti-gay campaign. Now, human rights groups and the U.S. State Department are calling for a full investigation.
Donald Trump feels he had no choice but to launch air strikes on Syria – but the balance of power on the ground has not changed
President Donald Trump had little option but to order a missile strike against a Syrian airbase after holding Syria responsible for that poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed 80 civilians. He had criticised President Obama for being weak, slow and indecisive when facing similar challenges, so he could scarcely do nothing when President Bashar al-Assad appeared to breach the agreement in 2013 to hand over all his chemical weapons to be destroyed.
The Russian government was careful in the hours after the murderous attack on St Petersburg’s underground system. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the “cause was being ascertained” while Andrei Przhezdomsky, the head of the country’s anti-terrorist committee, stated it was an “an unidentified explosive device”. The prosecutor-general added later that it “was a terrorist act”.
Nikita Zimov’s nickname for the vehicle seemed odd at first. It didn’t look like a baby mammoth. It looked like a small tank, with armored wheels and a pit bull’s center of gravity. Only after he smashed us into the first tree did the connection become clear.We were driving through a remote forest in Eastern Siberia, just north of the Arctic Circle, when it happened. The summer thaw was in full swing. The undergrowth glowed green, and the air hung heavy with mosquitoes. We had just splashed through a series of deep ponds when, without a word of warning, Nikita veered off the trail and into the trees, ramming us into the trunk of a young 20-foot larch. The wheels spun for a moment, and then surged us forward. A dry crack rang out from under the fender as the larch snapped cleanly at its base and toppled over, falling in the quiet, dignified way that trees do.
Source: Pleistocene Park – The Atlantic
What’s so terrible about Russia? Serious question.Among the things that unite President Trump and his cabinet picks is their propensity for lying. ProPublica recently offered a list of lies made by Trump nominees in confirmation hearings in Congress, mostly under oath. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt lied when he claimed not to have used a private email account as Oklahoma attorney general (Vice President Mike Pence used one too, as governor of Indiana); Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price lied about a suspect stock purchase; Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin lied about his firm’s history of profiting from the housing crisis; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos lied that she was not involved in her family foundation, which has supported anti-LGBT causes and funded a variety of conservative think tanks and colleges, though tax filings show she has been its vice president for seventeen years. And, as we now know, Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied about contacts with the Russian ambassador.Lying to Congress is a criminal offense. But Pruitt was confirmed in a 52-46 vote, with two Democrats voting in favor; Price got confirmed 52-47; Mnuchin’s tally was 53-47; and even DeVos, whose utter lack of knowledge about public education led two Republicans to vote against her, squeaked through with a 50-50 vote broken by Vice President Pence. These affirming votes took place despite the fact that it was clear before the decision that the candidates had misled Congress—and despite the fact that each of them supports policies that are deeply threatening to large numbers of Americans.
Strength, patriotism, patriarchal values and a macho leadership style characterise Vladimir Putin’s current term as president. Strangely, this traditionalist authoritarian agenda has often been promoted by women.The few Russian women who are represented in the highest federal posts – just 15.8% of the parliamentarians in the Duma, three of its 33 ministers and three of 85 regional governors – are usually responsible for “social policies” – healthcare, education, or social issues. Many female MPs are elected in accordance with common stereotypes of female leaders – celebrities, cosmonauts, Olympic champions and television hosts. All are expected to be cooperative and family oriented: in December, several female MPs protested against long parliamentary sessions, saying they needed to be home in time to feed their husbands.
Much of the current tension between Russia and the west is a consequence of Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops into Ukraine, three years ago this week. In truth, however, that deployment was a reaction to Putin’s own fears of growing western influence in eastern Europe.
Any number of journalists are now scouring the American heartland to find out what they missed in the run-up to the US presidential election. For more than 20 years I’ve done the same in Russia to try to understand the political aftershocks of the Soviet Union’s collapse. I was convinced, as a reporter there on and off from the 1970s, that Moscow was not Russia.