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Thread: Stephen Cohen. Distorting Russia. How the American media misrepresent Putin...

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    Moderator Lampada's Avatar
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    Stephen Cohen. Distorting Russia. How the American media misrepresent Putin...

    Distorting Russia | The Nation

    Stephen F. Cohen
    Stephen F. Cohen is a professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University.

    February 11, 2014 | This article appeared in the March 3, 2014 edition of The Nation.


    "The degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia, a country still vital to US national security, has been under way for many years. If the recent tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles in leading newspapers and magazines — particularly about the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine and, unfailingly, President Vladimir Putin — is an indication, this media malpractice is now pervasive and the new norm.

    There are notable exceptions, but a general pattern has developed. Even in the venerable New York Times and Washington Post, news reports, editorials and commentaries no longer adhere rigorously to traditional journalistic standards, often failing to provide essential facts and context; to make a clear distinction between reporting and analysis; to require at least two different political or “expert” views on major developments; or to publish opposing opinions on their op-ed pages. As a result, American media on Russia today are less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War.

    The history of this degradation is also clear. It began in the early 1990s, following the end of the Soviet Union, when the US media adopted Washington’s narrative that almost everything President Boris Yeltsin did was a “transition from communism to democracy” and thus in America’s best interests. This included his economic “shock therapy” and oligarchic looting of essential state assets, which destroyed tens of millions of Russian lives; armed destruction of a popularly elected Parliament and imposition of a “presidential” Constitution, which dealt a crippling blow to democratization and now empowers Putin; brutal war in tiny Chechnya, which gave rise to terrorists in Russia’s North Caucasus; rigging of his own re-election in 1996; and leaving behind, in 1999, his approval ratings in single digits, a disintegrating country laden with weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, most American journalists still give the impression that Yeltsin was an ideal Russian leader.

    Since the early 2000s, the media have followed a different leader-centric narrative, also consistent with US policy, that devalues multifaceted analysis for a relentless demonization of Putin, with little regard for facts. (Was any Soviet Communist leader after Stalin ever so personally villainized?) If Russia under Yeltsin was presented as having legitimate politics and national interests, we are now made to believe that Putin’s Russia has none at all, at home or abroad — even on its own borders, as in Ukraine.

    Russia today has serious problems and many repugnant Kremlin policies. But anyone relying on mainstream American media will not find there any of their origins or influences in Yeltsin’s Russia or in provocative US policies since the 1990s — only in the “autocrat” Putin who, however authoritarian, in reality lacks such power. Nor is he credited with stabilizing a disintegrating nuclear-armed country, assisting US security pursuits from Afghanistan and Syria to Iran or even with granting amnesty, in December, to more than 1,000 jailed prisoners, including mothers of young children.

    Not surprisingly, in January The Wall Street Journal featured the widely discredited former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, branding Putin’s government as one of “deceit, violence and cynicism,” with the Kremlin a “nerve center of the troubles that bedevil the West.” But wanton Putin-bashing is also the dominant narrative in centrist, liberal and progressive media, from the Post, Times and The New Republic to CNN, MSNBC and HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, where Howard Dean, not previously known for his Russia expertise, recently declared, to the panel’s approval, “Vladimir Putin is a thug.”

    The media therefore eagerly await Putin’s downfall — due to his “failing economy” (some of its indicators are better than US ones), the valor of street protesters and other right-minded oppositionists (whose policies are rarely examined), the defection of his electorate (his approval ratings remain around 65 percent) or some welcomed “cataclysm.” Evidently believing, as does the Times, for example, that democrats and a “much better future” will succeed Putin (not zealous ultranationalists growing in the streets and corridors of power), US commentators remain indifferent to what the hoped-for “destabilization of his regime” might mean in the world’s largest nuclear country.

    Certainly, The New Republic’s lead writer on Russia, Julia Ioffe, does not explore the question, or much else of real consequence, in her nearly 10,000-word February 17 cover story. Ioffe’s bannered theme is devoutly Putin-phobic: “He Crushed His Opposition and Has Nothing to Show for It But a Country That Is Falling Apart.” Neither sweeping assertion is spelled out or documented. A compilation of chats with Russian-born Ioffe’s disaffected (but seemingly not “crushed”) Moscow acquaintances and titillating personal gossip long circulating on the Internet, the article seems better suited (apart from some factual errors) for the Russian tabloids, as does Ioffe’s disdain for objectivity. Protest shouts of “Russia without Putin!” and “Putin is a thief!” were “one of the most exhilarating moments I’d ever experienced.” So was tweeting “Putin’s fucked, y’all.” Nor does she forget the hopeful mantra “cataclysm seems closer than ever now.”

    * * *

    For weeks, this toxic coverage has focused on the Sochi Olympics and the deepening crisis in Ukraine. Even before the Games began, the Times declared the newly built complex a “Soviet-style dystopia” and warned in a headline, Terrorism and Tension, Not Sports and Joy. On opening day, the paper found space for three anti-Putin articles and a lead editorial, a feat rivaled by thePost. Facts hardly mattered. Virtually every US report insisted that a record $51 billion “squandered” by Putin on the Sochi Games proved they were “corrupt.” But as Ben Aris ofBusiness New Europe pointed out, as much as $44 billion may have been spent “to develop the infrastructure of the entire region,” investment “the entire country needs.”

    Overall pre-Sochi coverage was even worse, exploiting the threat of terrorism so licentiously it seemed pornographic. The Post, long known among critical-minded Russia-watchers as Pravda on the Potomac, exemplified the media ethos. A sports columnist and an editorial page editor turned the Olympics into “a contest of wills” between the despised Putin’s “thugocracy” and terrorist “insurgents.” The “two warring parties” were so equated that readers might have wondered which to cheer for. If nothing else, American journalists gave terrorists an early victory, tainting “Putin’s Games” and frightening away many foreign spectators, including some relatives of the athletes.

    The Sochi Games will soon pass, triumphantly or tragically, but the potentially fateful Ukrainian crisis will not. A new Cold War divide between West and East may now be unfolding, not in Berlin but in the heart of Russia’s historical civilization. The result could be a permanent confrontation fraught with instability and the threat of a hot war far worse than the one in Georgia in 2008. These dangers have been all but ignored in highly selective, partisan and inflammatory US media accounts, which portray the European Union’s “Partnership” proposal benignly as Ukraine’s chance for democracy, prosperity and escape from Russia, thwarted only by a “bullying” Putin and his “cronies” in Kiev.

    Not long ago, committed readers could count on The New York Review of Books for factually trustworthy alternative perspectives on important historical and contemporary subjects. But when it comes to Russia and Ukraine, the NYRB has succumbed to the general media mania. In a January 21 blog post, Amy Knight, a regular contributor and inveterate Putin-basher, warned the US government against cooperating with the Kremlin on Sochi security, even suggesting that Putin’s secret services “might have had an interest in allowing or even facilitating such attacks” as killed or wounded dozens of Russians in Volgograd in December.

    Knight’s innuendo prefigured a purported report on Ukraine by Yale professor Timothy Snyder in the February 20 issue. Omissions of facts, by journalists or scholars, are no less an untruth than misstatements of fact. Snyder’s article was full of both, which are widespread in the popular media, but these are in the esteemed NYRB and by an acclaimed academic. Consider a few of Snyder’s assertions:

    § ”On paper, Ukraine is now a dictatorship.” In fact, the “paper” legislation he’s referring to hardly constituted dictatorship, and in any event was soon repealed. Ukraine is in a state nearly the opposite of dictatorship — political chaos uncontrolled by President Viktor Yanukovych, the Parliament, the police or any other government institution.

    § ”The [parliamentary] deputies…have all but voted themselves out of existence.” Again, Snyder is alluding to the nullified “paper.” Moreover, serious discussions have been under way in Kiev about reverting to provisions in the 2004 Constitution that would return substantial presidential powers to the legislature, hardly “the end of parliamentary checks on presidential power,” as Snyder claims. (Does he dislike the prospect of a compromise outcome?)

    § ”Through remarkably large and peaceful public protests…Ukrainians have set a positive example for Europeans.” This astonishing statement may have been true in November, but it now raises questions about the “example” Snyder is advocating. The occupation of government buildings in Kiev and in Western Ukraine, the hurling of firebombs at police and other violent assaults on law enforcement officers and the proliferation of anti-Semitic slogans by a significant number of anti-Yanukovych protesters, all documented and even televised, are not an “example” most readers would recommend to Europeans or Americans. Nor are they tolerated, even if accompanied by episodes of police brutality, in any Western democracy.

    § ”Representatives of a minor group of the Ukrainian extreme right have taken credit for the violence.” This obfuscation implies that apart perhaps from a “minor group,” the “Ukrainian extreme right” is part of the positive “example” being set. (Many of its representatives have expressed hatred for Europe’s “anti-traditional” values, such as gay rights.) Still more, Snyder continues, “something is fishy,” strongly implying that the mob violence is actually being “done by russo-phone provocateurs” on behalf of “Yanukovych (or Putin).” As evidence, Snyder alludes to “reports” that the instigators “spoke Russian.” But millions of Ukrainians on both sides of their incipient civil war speak Russian.

    § Snyder reproduces yet another widespread media malpractice regarding Russia, the decline of editorial fact-checking. In a recent article in the International New York Times, he both inflates his assertions and tries to delete neofascist elements from his innocuous “Ukrainian extreme right.” Again without any verified evidence, he warns of a Putin-backed “armed intervention” in Ukraine after the Olympics and characterizes reliable reports of “Nazis and anti-Semites” among street protesters as “Russian propaganda.”

    § Perhaps the largest untruth promoted by Snyder and most US media is the claim that “Ukraine’s future integration into Europe” is “yearned for throughout the country.” But every informed observer knows — from Ukraine’s history, geography, languages, religions, culture, recent politics and opinion surveys — that the country is deeply divided as to whether it should join Europe or remain close politically and economically to Russia. There is not one Ukraine or one “Ukrainian people” but at least two, generally situated in its Western and Eastern regions.

    Such factual distortions point to two flagrant omissions by Snyder and other US media accounts. The now exceedingly dangerous confrontation between the two Ukraines was not “ignited,” as the Times claims, by Yanukovych’s duplicitous negotiating — or by Putin — but by the EU’s reckless ultimatum, in November, that the democratically elected president of a profoundly divided country choose between Europe and Russia. Putin’s proposal for a tripartite arrangement, rarely if ever reported, was flatly rejected by US and EU officials.

    But the most crucial media omission is Moscow’s reasonable conviction that the struggle for Ukraine is yet another chapter in the West’s ongoing, US-led march toward post-Soviet Russia, which began in the 1990s with NATO’s eastward expansion and continued with US-funded NGO political activities inside Russia, a US-NATO military outpost in Georgia and missile-defense installations near Russia. Whether this longstanding Washington-Brussels policy is wise or reckless, it — not Putin’s December financial offer to save Ukraine’s collapsing economy — is deceitful. The EU’s “civilizational” proposal, for example, includes “security policy” provisions, almost never reported, that would apparently subordinate Ukraine to NATO.

    Any doubts about the Obama administration’s real intentions in Ukraine should have been dispelled by the recently revealed taped conversation between a top State Department official, Victoria Nuland, and the US ambassador in Kiev. The media predictably focused on the source of the “leak” and on Nuland’s verbal “gaffe” — “Fuck the EU.” But the essential revelation was that high-level US officials were plotting to “midwife” a new, anti-Russian Ukrainian government by ousting or neutralizing its democratically elected president — that is, a coup.

    Americans are left with a new edition of an old question. Has Washington’s twenty-year winner-take-all approach to post-Soviet Russia shaped this degraded news coverage, or is official policy shaped by the coverage? Did Senator John McCain stand in Kiev alongside the well-known leader of an extreme nationalist party because he was ill informed by the media, or have the media deleted this part of the story because of McCain’s folly?

    And what of Barack Obama’s decision to send only a low-level delegation, including retired gay athletes, to Sochi? In August, Putin virtually saved Obama’s presidency by persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to eliminate his chemical weapons. Putin then helped to facilitate Obama’s heralded opening to Iran. Should not Obama himself have gone to Sochi — either out of gratitude to Putin, or to stand with Russia’s leader against international terrorists who have struck both of our countries? Did he not go because he was ensnared by his unwise Russia policies, or because the US media misrepresented the varying reasons cited: the granting of asylum to Edward Snowden, differences on the Middle East, infringements on gay rights in Russia, and now Ukraine? Whatever the explanation, as Russian intellectuals say when faced with two bad alternatives, “Both are worst.” "



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  2. #2
    Hanna
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    Nice article to quote, Lampada.

    As you know, I am very interested in how media reflects various things.

    Unless you are there yourself, or know somebody who is - you have to rely on media.
    And it has to be in a language that you can actually read in...

    So it means that if all mainstream English speaking media gives incorrect or angled information, that will be what native English speakers will believe. Since they don't have easy access to any other info.

    And we see so many example of people who are misinformed.

    I think that Russia was a bit naughty and did something that they wanted to do for a long time. Take Crimea back, essentially - although I guess we'll see how it pans out after the referendum. Independency, increased autonomy or revert to Russia.....

    And it's understandable that Russia wanted Crimea back, and we know what the majority there think about it.

    Plus, this "golden opportunity" / "perfect excuse" for Russia would not have happened if there hadn't been problems with Yanukovich' leadership, and EU/USA hadn't conspired to stir people up and bring about a revolution.

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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    How many people read such long articles these days? I may be wrong but in an average American's mind Russia stands somewhere between thermal death of the Universe and prognosis for crops in Zimbabwe this year. They've heard in some announce on TV in between a baseball translation that Putin is a monster. Period. No further explanations necessary. There is a Russian idiom 'метать бисер перед свиньями' (to cast pearl before pigs). That's what I think the author's doing in this article.
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    Завсегдатай Crocodile's Avatar
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    A collegue of mine of Chinese origin asked me a moment ago only one question: is there going to be a war between Russia and Ukraine. I said no, and he seemed to be content with the answer. I think if I said yes, he would be just as equally content.

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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    He's a professor! He knows the difference between Russia and Ukraine.
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    Завсегдатай Crocodile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramil View Post
    He's a professor! He knows the difference between Russia and Ukraine.
    I'm pretty sure he only knows that because of the potential of war between the two. Honestly, I could not tell a difference between Taiwan and the mainland China or any of its provinces..

  7. #7
    Hanna
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    I dare to guess that most people in the USA could not find Ukraine on a map, and don't know anything about it. Lampada probably knows about that. It doesn't help that Ukraine only became independant less than 20 years ago.

    I had the wrong view of Ukraine too and I was so certain I knew about it that I didn't even bother to read up properly before I went there. For example about the language. My incorrect view was that Ukrainians were just a different flavour of Russians
    . I did not know how passionate Ukrainians are about their language and unique culture.

    A lot of people in the UK know NOTHING about Ukraine either.

    I called my bank in the UK from Belarus, and person I spoke with had never heard of Belarus in her life and assumed it was a non-European country.

    BUT, they have all seen lots of films where Russians are bad guys, and played many games about wars with Russia or the USSR. It's practically a mantra.

    English speaking news don't have to say much at all. Just mumble a bit about "aggressiveness", lack of "human rights", dictatorship and Soviet union legacy.

    And thanks to all the conditioning from films, TV and games the person will think "damned Russian", "F-ing commies" or "we should just nuke them and be done with it" or something like that.

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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Yes, here's a pic from Mordor:


    (actually it's Moscow, but who cares?)
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    Властелин Valda's Avatar
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    Yet так похожий на Мордор...
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    "Особенно упорно надо заниматься тем, кто ничего не знает." - Като Ломб

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  10. #10
    Hanna
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    What are those two black towers in the middle? They look very sinister.

    I strongly recommend all Americans and other English speakers to watch the "Breaking the Set" program on RT with the host Abby Martin.
    It's good, impartial and informative.
    No hugging Russia or making excuses, but some tough questions and answers.
    Abby read up us much as she could have and got a good professor from the University of Wisconsin on to lay out the situation as it is.

    I can't find any fault with what they were saying. They want to give everyone an honest chance and understand where they are coming from, and let people make their own minds up, based on unbiased info.

    I learnt one thing I didn't know: Ukraine was massively expanded in georgraphical scope by the USSR at various points. I knew some of it, but not all.

    Also: This show makes it clear that RT is no clearcut puppet of the Russian state (or Abby Martin will shortly get the sack!) She ends her comments by saying that she is super disappointed at Russia for using actual force, and that she's equally disgusted by real and undisputable Nazism breaking out in Ukraine.

    Highly recommended. Watch this.

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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    What are those two black towers in the middle? They look very sinister.
    That's where Sauron lives.



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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I learnt one thing I didn't know: Ukraine was massively expanded in georgraphical scope by the USSR at various points. I knew some of it, but not all.

    Also: This show makes it clear that RT is no clearcut puppet of the Russian state (or Abby Martin will shortly get the sack!) She ends her comments by saying that she is super disappointed at Russia for using actual force, and that she's equally disgusted by real and undisputable Nazism breaking out in Ukraine.

    Highly recommended. Watch this.
    Yes, Ukraine is a card house. So let us pull off some cards and enjoy the show of destruction while it is not solid yet! Right? Are you really ready to support such kind of logic?

    This show makes it clear that RT screenwriters are smart. "I am super disappointed that Mr. X cut off some fingers and one eye from Mr. Y, and I am really disgusted by real and undisputable being f%%%ng bastard and scum of Mr. Y." What exactly is "Nazism"? Who knows? It is an abusive word with a sense lost in time. Yes, the chaos is dangerous for Jews (as well as for others). Let us invade Crimea to protect them. Nothing can be better protection for the Jews in Kiev than Russian forces in Crimea. And Russian tourists storming local Ukrainian administrations while Russian Militaries are ready to protect them.

    P.S. In his blog that Moscow guy writes that he is not really a Nazy, he just roleplayed Nazy in historical play. I believe him - he is not a Nazy. He is just a patriotic Russian guy who enjoys storming Ukrainian administrative buildings and putting Russian flags over them. Maybe even for free - for transport only. Nice vacations. Russian army is strong and nobody dares to stop him. He is proud of what he did and is not going to deny anything.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

  13. #13
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramil View Post
    That's where Sauron lives.
    OMG!! Moscow looks like New York, Dubai or Hong Kong..... Yeah those buildings look rather evil.
    I saw that on TV actually and forgot it. I don't like that kind of architecture and the less we see of it in Europe the better, as far as I am concerned.
    It's a kind of symbolism for aggressive capitalism and multinational corporations, isn't it it.
    I guess it shows that Moscow has really "arrived" as a financial capital.

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    Почтенный гражданин Suobig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    OMG!! Moscow looks like New York, Dubai or Hong Kong..... Yeah those buildings look rather evil.
    I saw that on TV actually and forgot it. I don't like that kind of architecture and the less we see of it in Europe the better, as far as I am concerned.
    It's a kind of symbolism for aggressive capitalism and multinational corporations, isn't it it.
    I guess it shows that Moscow has really "arrived" as a financial capital.
    Agree. I like these ones much more:
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    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    It was difficult at first, but after some time I actually liked the look of the 'city' at night.

    Send me a PM if you need me.

  16. #16
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by it-ogo View Post
    Yes, Ukraine is a card house. So let us pull off some cards and enjoy the show of destruction while it is not solid yet! Right? Are you really ready to support such kind of logic?

    This show makes it clear that RT screenwriters are smart. "I am super disappointed that Mr. X cut off some fingers and one eye from Mr. Y, and I am really disgusted by real and undisputable being f%%%ng bastard and scum of Mr. Y." What exactly is "Nazism"? Who knows? It is an abusive word with a sense lost in time. Yes, the chaos is dangerous for Jews (as well as for others). Let us invade Crimea to protect them. Nothing can be better protection for the Jews in Kiev than Russian forces in Crimea. And Russian tourists storming local Ukrainian administrations while Russian Militaries are ready to protect them.

    P.S. In his blog that Moscow guy writes that he is not really a Nazy, he just roleplayed Nazy in historical play. I believe him - he is not a Nazy. He is just a patriotic Russian guy who enjoys storming Ukrainian administrative buildings and putting Russian flags over them. Maybe even for free - for transport only. Nice vacations. Russian army is strong and nobody dares to stop him. He is proud of what he did and is not going to deny anything.

    Actually I wasn't making an exact quote, just tried to sum it up in a sentence. She didn't mention the word Nazism, just hinted at it.
    And she definitely writes her own script - that's quite a radical person and would not let herself be used as a puppet. She spoke up even more strongly in the past, on human rights stuff in Russia. RT obviously would lose any credibility if it turned out that it never allowed criticism of Russia. But it does.

    But i DO SEE your point, I know that RT is not innocent of whitewashing Russia and pointing the finger at everyone else.
    And I realise you are not in the mood for anything resembling Russian propaganda right now.
    But you already know everything they said there, so it's not aimed at ppl like you.

    I also agree whole heartedly with everything you said about how Nazism is used to blackpaint,.

    The problem is that anyone reading the English speaking press get 100% pure anti-Russia propaganda at an enormous scale, this is front page news everywhere. And since nobody knows anything about Ukraine, they can say whatever they want, and pick the historical facts that support their points.

    So, to find a program in English, geared towards Americans, mainly, but actually presenting the facts accurately is unique.

    I also don't like it when Russia does a big show of various people being Nazis, like I said earlier.
    Baltic people and that. Then in Ukraine.
    I thought - who cares? They probably aren't real Nazis and even if they are, what does it matter?
    Or the old communist habit of calling everyone who doesn't agree a fascist. Yeah, it's a perfect word to throw around to blackpaint others.

    However, if they are involved in a revolution, then it's a different thing, right? Then, if they are nazis or something like that, you want to know.

    But you saw the pictures right? Maybe you saw them face to face..... I wouldn't be fooled by anyone dressed up in a nazi uniform as a show. But I know skinheads very well, and these guys were genuine.
    The the hooligans from the pictures in Kiev looked like 1990s skinheads (extreme nationalists) at their very worst, and had swastika looking emblems on their improvised "uniforms". Ultranationalists living out their dream scenario. If it had happened in Western Europe, they would have kicked in the heads of some black people while they were at it.

    Swedish papers said that 50 known neo nazis went to Kiev to fight. I read a speech that one person made on the Maidan. Even if Sweden supports the revolution, the guy lost his job in the army - because of the nature of his statements. Actually some of it made sense, BUT the point is, the guy is a member of a national socialist party. I.e. he's a Nazi.

    I am not saying they can't scrub up and lead Ukraine. I don't care who runs Ukraine as long as the people there are happy and things get better. But I was genuinely shocked at picture proof that these people were for real.

  17. #17
    Hanna
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramil View Post
    It was difficult at first, but after some time I actually liked the look of the 'city' at night.
    Yeah and in such buildings they always seem to leave the lights on all night and generally waste energy and resources.
    And I don't think Russia needs to imitate the USA.... You have your own style, don't you?
    What was there before? Where those buildings are? If it was anything half decent, you will regret it in 20 years when those buildings don't look cool or modern anymore! At least the Stalin scyscraper is timeless, and the style is definitely unique... Russia has so much cool architecture, really old imperial, Soviet era and what not. I hope they will renovate as much as possible instead of building new, cheap and ugly - generic buildings that you could find anywhere.

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    Почтенный гражданин Suobig's Avatar
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    I think, architecture is a materialized vision of the future. We don't have any vision right now, that's why we're just copying western architecture.
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  19. #19
    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    What was there before? Where those buildings are? If it was anything half decent, you will regret it in 20 years when those buildings don't look cool or modern anymore!
    There was nothing worth mentioning, some old residential houses from Hrushev's era of no architectural value. Nothing I will ever regret of.
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    Почтенный гражданин 14Russian's Avatar
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    Putin is a hero for Russians. There is no dispute. RT tries to tell people.... The Kremlin needs to funnel more money to RT until people start to come around. Maybe 55 billion dollars might do it. Those horrible roads in Russia can wait another 10 - 20 years. Also, the more migrants the better. Russia can forget about helping their people a bit longer. There is always time for manipulating oil prices so oligarchs can maintain profits and buy another yacht. Thanks to those Americans who set the record straight. Maybe they can wine and dine over vodka and shooters.

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