Category Archives: Uncategorized

Want to see some real fascism?

The other day, I wrote an article on the question of the “neofascist peril” in Ukraine and in Russia.

Well, here’s an interesting sidebar, or postscript, as it were.

This is a video of a song by Zhanna (Jeanne) Bichevskaya, “Kulikovo Field,” which she performed on Russia’s TV1 (the main, state-run TV channel). I’m not sure about the date of the broadcast (the video was uploaded in 2010). The title refers to the location of a 1380 battle between Russian forces and the armies of the Golden Horde, which began Russia’s liberation from Mongol rule.

The lyrics speak for themselves. Here’s my verse translation, which alters a few words here and there for rhythm and alliterative rhyme but is very close to the original.

By the way, note the bolded stanza.  As one Russian blogger quipped, the Turks and the Israelis should be getting nervous.

Our ancestors remembers, our grandfathers remember,
And our Church remembers, in the Almighty’s name,
Kulikovo Field, the victory of Russia,
Kulikovo Field, forever Russian land!
Kulikovo Field, the victory of Russia,
Kulikovo Field, forever Russian land!

Through the morning mist here come the holy banners,
Soon, the rage of combat will shake the very earth.
The field of Russian Glory, the field of Russian battle,
The field of Russian life that triumphs over death.
The field of Russian Glory, the field of Russian battle,
The field of Russian life that triumphs over death.

But how is it, brothers, that so low we’ve fallen?
Russia’s groaning under black oppressive hordes.
Then it’s time for Russians to take up their weapons,
Then it’s time for Russians again to draw their swords.
Then it’s time for Russians to take up their weapons,
Then it’s time for Russians again to draw their swords.

The anti-world is starting great new conflagrations,
Once again, our Moscow is ravaged by their fires.
And there are new Europes menacing our homeland,
And new Khans who threaten, and the new Khazars.
And there are new Europes menacing our homeland,
And new Khans who threaten, and the new Khazars.

But our Holy Russia will be free and mighty;
Let the Devil tremble at this Russian might!
Once again, the rightful Tsar will lead his army,
Kulikovo Field will be our common fight!
Once again, the rightful Tsar will lead his army,
Kulikovo Field will be our common fight!

Then, the praying voices will arise and triumph,
Russia’s hour of glory will thunder through the world.
In the Savior’s name will stand the Holy Army,
A new Kulikovo for us has been foretold.
In the Savior’s name will stand the Holy Army,
A new Kulikovo for us has been foretold.

In the hour of reckoning, we will frown in anger,
And will sweep the vampires from our country’s path.
There will be no camps then, there will be no prisons—
All of Russia’s enemies will be put to death.
There will be no camps then, there will be no prisons—
All of Russia’s enemies will be put to death!

We will track the enemy and we will destroy him,
Tear them all to pieces, may the Lord be praised.
Kulikovo Field, the victory of Russia,
Kulikovo Field, forever Russian land!
Kulikovo Field, the victory of Russia,
Kulikovo Field, forever Russian land!

Russia will reclaim her Russian Sevastopol,
And Crimea will be Russian once again,
We’ll retake the Bosphorus, our Constantinople,
And the sacred city of Jerusalem,
We’ll retake the Bosphorus, our Constantinople,
And the sacred city of Jerusalem!

And, defying masons and all other villains,
Those who toward the Christians seethe with vicious hate,
We’ll regain the memory of Kulikovo Field–and
We will be united by this holy place.
We’ll regain the memory of Kulikovo Field–and
We will be united by this holy place.

Anywhere I go and anywhere I travel,
In my Christian heart, my country’s fields I bear.
Kulikovo Field, the victory of Russia,
Kulikovo Field, forever Russian land!
Kulikovo Field, the victory of Russia,
Kulikovo Field, forever Russian land!

Kulikovo Field, the victory of Russia,
Kulikovo Field, forever Russian land!
Kulikovo Field, the victory of Russia,
Kulikovo Field, forever Russian land!

(For those unfamiliar with Russian code words: the “new Khazars” are Jews.)

No, Bichevskaya does not speak for the Russian government, but it’s noteworthy that she is the recipient of several awards from the Russian Orthodox Church. She was a guest on Soyuz, the Church’s TV channel, last December.

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March 25, 2014 · 7:55 pm

Was I unfair to Gloria Steinem?

Dusting off my blogging hat, at least for now.

The occasion:

Last weekend, RealClearPolitics.com ran my column on Gloria Steinem, her Presidential Medal of Freedom, and her role in twentieth and twenty-first century  feminism.  It is, shall we say, not complimentary.  Barry Deutsch of Alas, a Blog, with whom I’ve crossed reasonably friendly swords before, comments and raises some points that require a response.  Sorry it’s taken me a week to put this up; it’s been a bit crazy lately, time-wise.  (And will continue to be, so I warn in advance that I probably won’t have time for a lot of back-and-forth.)

Barry thinks my column on Steinem is an unfair, one-sided hit piece (though I’m glad to see he agrees with some of my criticisms, particularly on Steinem’s deplorable role in the child sex abuse mania of the 1980s and early 1990s and its particularly grotesque offshoot, the satanic ritual abuse panic).  You know what? I’ll concede that this is not the most, ahem, fair and balanced article I’ve ever written.  It was not a complete overview of Steinem’s career; it was a critique, based on my belief that Steinem bears a lot of responsibility for the woeful misdirection of feminism—from a philosophy of gender equity, individual rights, and gender-role flexibility to what Betty Friedan called “sex/class warfare” and, in particular, a focus on various male horrors visited upon women.  Obviously, Steinem did not single-handedly steer the women’s moment in that direction, but her influence was huge.

And now, I’m going to address what Barry believes are unfair or petty criticisms.

1.  I wrote that, as evidenced by her appearance on John Stossel’s 1997 ABC News special, “Boys and Girls Are Different: Men, Women, and the Sex Difference,” Steinem verges on what Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge termed “biodenial” in her insistence that innate psychological/intellectual differences between the sexes are nonexistent and physical ones are almost entirely irrelevant.  Barry suggests that Steinem’s line which I quoted, referring to scientific research on brain differences between men and women as “anti-American crazy thinking,” may have been taken out of context. The full Steinem quote, on this page linked by Barry from Stossel’s book (where it’s misattributed, presumably due to a typo, to Heritage Foundation analyst Kate O’Beirne, Steinem’s conservative adversary on his program) is, “It’s really the remnant of anti-American, crazy thinking to do this kind of research. It’s what’s keeping us down, not what’s helping us.”

Is it possible, as Barry suggests, that Steinem was referring to some specific research project that was genuinely outrageous (for instance, one that set out to prove that women shouldn’t be able to vote or attend college because of differences in the “wiring” of their brains), and not to any of the studies reported in the special?  Perhaps, but it is worth noting that Steinem was surely aware of the program and has never claimed to have been quoted out of context.

Barry also chides me for ridiculing Steinem’s assertion that strength tests requiring prospective firefighters to carry a dummy—challenged and discarded in many urban fire departments as discriminatory toward women—are unnecessary and that, when rescuing someone from a burning building, it makes more sense to drag them along the floor than to carry them, since “there’s less smoke down there.”

Here, I have to give a point to Barry and concede that Steinem’s statement, which has earned her a lot of conservative derision, is not quite as risible as it first appears.  Barry cites evidence that dragging rather than carrying has actually been the preferred rescue method in firefighting for a while, in part because there are fewer noxious/toxic fumes at the lower level.  I did not know this, and I will readily admit that I should have done better research rather than rely on a recycled criticism.  So, to quote a famous Dead White Male: A hit, a very palpable hit!

I will add that even without this information, when I first saw Stossel’s program, I was put off by O’Beirne’s gibe about being “dragged by my ankles as my head hits every single stair going down three stories.” It sounded like she was deliberately reducing the opposing view to caricature; there was no reason the rescuer couldn’t grab the person under the arms, which is indeed the standard technique (this article on fire engineering, which describes the drag as the preferred method, specifically states that dragging by the feet is a no-no).

But here’s why I still think Steinem is not only wrong but dangerously wrong.  As the article linked above points out, dragging is not always possible; for instance, if the stairs are inaccessible and you must get an unconscious person down a fire ladder, there is no option other than to carry them.

While doing my own actual research, I came across this very interesting 1984 article from The Pittsburgh Press, discussing objections to a revised physical test for firefighters that eliminated the requirement of lifting a 125-pound sandbag and carrying it on one’s shoulders while going up and down a staircase. (It was replaced with dragging a 145-pound dummy around an obstacle course.)  Interestingly, one person objecting to the change—made with the express purpose of allowing more women to qualify—was the city’s lone female firefighter, Toni McIntosh, who was concerned that lowering the standards could endanger everyone.

One of McIntosh’s male co-workers pointed out that there were many situations in which dragging was highly inadvisable: “There may be broken glass or other debris on the ground … or your partner may have fallen through a week floorboard and you’ll need to lift him out.”  Fire Chief Charles Lewis, who supported the new exam as a way to meet federal non-discrimination guidelines, was quoted as saying that “a drag would not work in all rescues, but neither would a lift” and that both techniques were included in the training. But why not in the test? Because, said Lewis, “Women’s groups are likely to challenge an exam when there are things in it they can’t do.”

As far as I know, no fire department has ever dropped the lift-and-carry test for any other reason than concerns about sex discrimination—either to comply with a court order or to avoid lawsuits.  And that, I think, is a problem as far as giving feminism a bad name.  The perception is that feminists like Steinem are willing to dilute the standards for physically demanding jobs to accommodate women even if it endangers public safety.  Is this perception is based on right-wing misinformation, as I’m sure Barry would say?  I think it would have been fair for Stossel to acknowledge that the drag method of rescue is a widely accepted firefighting practice, not some weird figment of feminist fantasy.  But, for the reasons explained above, I think the point still stands.  For Steinem to suggest that the lift-and-carry test is based on nothing more than some silly idea of “macho” is glib and unfair, and a cheap shot at male firefighters.

2.  Barry defends Steinem’s advocacy of the American Association of University Women study on the “crisis” in girls’ self-esteem as well as the study itself, and specifically notes that the article I linked for reference, by Amy Saltzman in U.S. News & World Report, does not describe the AAUW study as “shoddy” (as I do). Yes, I am aware of that, and I actually hesitated for that very reason about using that reference. I ended up using it because (1) the article is a pretty thorough overview of the debate and (2) it does state that the bulk of research does not support the claim that adolescent girls suffer a drop in self-esteem compared to boys (except for body dissatisfaction).

For the record, I did review the AAUW dataset back in 1994 when Christina Hoff Sommers challenged the study in Who Stole Feminism?, and I think her critique is entirely on target.  I also think Saltzman is flat-out wrong in her assertion that using only “always true” responses to “I’m happy the way I am” as a measure of self-esteem (as the AAUW did) was “standard practice” and that including “sort of true” and “sometimes true/sometimes false” responses would have been “bad science.”  The Pew Research Center, for instance, routinely combines the “extreme” responses—“very,” “always,” “completely” etc.—with “somewhat” and “mostly” ones as an overall measure of agreement; see here, for example. (Also for the record, I would not be inclined to think well of anyone over the age of twelve who was always happy with him- or herself.)

3.  Barry takes issue with my assertion that Steinem has a tendency to vilify men. Specifically, he says that the quotation I use from her 1992 book, Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem—“The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man in the street, or even the enemy in wartime, but a husband or lover in the isolation of their own home”—is taken out of context and refers only to the statistical probability that a woman is more likely to be murdered by an intimate partner than a stranger.   He also accuses Sommers of using the same quotation in a downright “dishonest” manner.

Sommers writes:

Gloria Steinem’s portrait of male-female intimacy under patriarchy is typical: “Patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself…. The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man in the street, or even the enemy in wartime, but a husband or lover in the isolation of their own home.”

According to Barry, “Sommers took a partial sentence from page 259 of Steinem’s book, put it next to a sentence about crime statistics from page 261, and then pretended the two separate passages formed a single thought,” supposedly altering the meaning of the passage.

As Barry says, it is true that American women are more likely to be murdered by a current or former male partner than by a stranger—partly because stranger homicide for women is an extremely rare event. (I also suspect that the 2009 Bureau of Justice Statistics report Barry cites, Female Victims of Violence, inflates the percentage of female homicide victims killed by partners and ex-partners, which it places at about 45%.  A footnote in that paper notes that about one in three homicides reported by local law enforcement to the FBI are missing information about the offender—often because the offender is not identified.  The analysis assumes that the distribution of homicides with missing offenders is roughly the same as for ones with known offenders.  But surely stranger homicides would be far more likely to remain unsolved?)

But that quibble aside: is it “dishonest” to accuse Steinem of using homicide statistics to support her view that male brutality toward women is close to a norm “under patriarchy” (which includes modern Western societies)?  Well, let’s look at the actual context of the first part of the quotation used by Sommers:

And, of course, [domestic] violence also has the larger political purpose of turning half the population into a support system for the other half.  It polices and perpetuates gender politics by keeping the female half fearful of the moods and approval of the male half.  In fact, patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself.  Furthermore, the seeming naturalness of gender roles makes male/female violence seem excusable, even inevitable.  As G.H. Hatherill, Police Commander of London, put it: “There are only about twenty murders a year in London and not all are serious—some are just husbands killing wives.”

Oy vey.

So, in the Steinem worldview, American (and, generally, Western) society in the late 20th Century is one in which male batterers act as enforcers for the patriarchy; the female half of the population (I’m hoping that Steinem doesn’t mean the entire female half and is resorting to hyperbole) is cowed and terrorized by the male half; and murders of wives by husbands are dismissed as trivial.  (Steinem’s quote from George Hatherill, Detective Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard in the 1940s and ’50s, is sourced to something called The Lovers’ Quotation Book by Helen Handley, published in 1986; I have not found it anywhere else and have no idea if it’s genuine.)

Is this really the kind of feminism we want to be promoting?

I will concede (having re-read parts of Revolution from Within the other day, for the first time in twenty-plus years) that I was oversimplifying when I said that Steinem’s writings usually depict men “under patriarchy” as dangerous brutes; it’s certainly not true, for instance, of her discussion of Rochester in Jane Eyre.  Except … except that Steinem has made comments that do paint men, collectively, in just such a light.  Here’s one particularly outrageous example. While stumping for Hillary Clinton in Austin, Texas in 2008, Steinem told an interviewer that many Americans want to vote for Obama because they “want redemption for racism, for our terrible destructive racist past”—but not as many “want redemption for the gynocide.”  For instance, she noted, while Americans generally “acknowledge racism—not enough, but somewhat,” they are not as ready to acknowledge that “the most likely way a pregnant woman is to die is murder from her male partner.”

Leaving aside the obscene suggestion that America is guilty of “gynocide,” Steinem’s claim about murderous men as the biggest danger to pregnant women is a blatant falsehood.  According to a 2005 report in The American Journal of Public Health, of some 7,300 deaths of American women during pregnancy or in the postpartum period in 1991-1999, 57 percent were for medical reasons while 27 percent were due to various injuries.  Among the injury deaths, 44 percent were car accidents while 31 percent were homicides—not always by male partners, of course.  (While some researchers believe these statistics undercount homicide of pregnant women, their analysis indicates that all pregnancy-related mortality may be undercounted, since death certificates don’t always mention pregnancy.) To suggest that men are routinely slaughtering their pregnant wives and girlfriends is a pretty grotesque slander.

(Oh, and on that same trip to Austin, while speaking to a Hillary Clinton campaign rally, Steinem made comments ridiculing John McCain’s military service and captivity in Vietnam—and slamming military service in general—that the Clinton campaign was forced to publicly disown.  If Hillary runs in the next election, as I hope she does, could Steinem do her a big favor and stay off the trail?)

My objection to Steinem’s the Medal of Freedom is not that she has used some shoddy statistics and made dubious claims. It’s that she often promotes a toxic brand of gender-war feminism that unfortunately tends to cancel out her achievements.  And that’s even aside from her support for the child sex abuse witch-hunts, the recovered memory movement and the Satanism craze—all of which left untold numbers of wrecked lives in their wake. (Like this woman, who was brainwashed into believing that she grew up in a family of baby-murdering, child-raping Satanists; the “therapist” responsible for this atrocity and others like it, Dr. Bennett Braun, is named by Steinem is the acknowledgments for Revolution from Within.)  For that, Steinem has never apologized.

I think I’ll stop before this blogpost balloons to a magazine-length essay.  I’m glad Barry’s article prodded me to do some more research (and, just maybe, to get back to blogging a bit!). I stand by my basic points, but I also agree that I should have done my homework better.  If nothing else, I could have used better quotes.

 

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Looking forward to 2009

2008 has not been the best year of our lives. An election that seemed to have a lot of inspiring potential — a Republican candidate who once had solid bipartisan appeal, the first serious female presidential contender in U.S. history, a visionary candidate who also happens to be black, a female vice presidential candidate — turned into a singularly nasty and divisive campaign. (Or does every presidential campaign these days seem nastier and more divisive than all the previous ones?) In Russia, faint hopes of a “Medvedev thaw” were buried in the wreckage of the August war with Georgia, which also pushed Russia and the U.S. close to a “new Cold War.” Finally, there was the financial crisis that soon became an economic one. We may not be in for a new Great Depression, but no one doubts that tough times are ahead.

And yet, in the midst of all this, there is good news.

For instance:

(1) Back in October, I wrote:

Many people who are tired of the mudslinging can’t wait for the election to be over. But Nov. 4 is unlikely to bring much relief. The dogs of war are loose, and they won’t be easy to leash. If, as seems likely, Obama is elected, a large number of people on the right will see him as a stealth radical who won thanks to media bias and rampant voter fraud. If McCain pulls off a surprise upset, at least as many people on the left will blame racism, Republican dirty tricks or both—and some will regard the results as proof that the right-wing cabal behind Bush will never let go of power. Either way, a substantial minority of Americans will see themselves as living under an illegitimate and evil regime.

And that’s more frightening than the economic crisis.

I’m happy to say that I seem to have been wrong. With some exceptions (Sean Hannity, and Melanie Phillips), conservatives have been remarkably willing to give Obama a chance. Obama’s judiciously centrist picks have had a lot to do with this; but credit also goes to McCain’s and Obama’s post-election graciousness. And that’s a good reason to take pride in the American political system and its ability — sometimes — to bring people together.

(2) While Sarah Palin’s candidacy proved to be mostly a dud, it did accomplish some positive things. It remolded the conservative “base” in a more feminist direction, by giving it a heroine who was a working mother, a self-proclaimed feminist, and an unabashedly ambitious woman. It also highlighted the need for a more ideologically diverse feminism. No less a feminist than Naomi Wolf (in full throes of Palin Derangement Syndrome this past election cycle) wrote, back in 1993 in her book Fire With Fire, that feminism should discard “litmus tests” on everything from gun ownership to abortion which exclude too many women. Wolf wrote that the beliefs of conservative and Republican women who embrace “self-determination, ownership of business, and individualism” should be “respected as a right-wing version of feminism.” Hear, hear.

(3) In Russia, the crisis (accompanied by the steep drop in oil prices) may accomplish what the Medvedev succession did not: weaken the authoritarian state’s grip on power. More on that soon. Of course, if there is a new “Russian revolution,” it may not be bloodless, and it’s far from certain that it will bring the good guys to power.

Stay tuned for 2009. It could turn out to be the best of times and the worst of times. May the “best” part prevail.

Happy New Year to all.

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Happy holidays to all

This is the 300th post on this blog. (About time, too.)

And it’s a fluffy, content-free, positive (even multiculturally positive) one.

A good sign? a bad sign? Not, one hopes, a sign of things to come.

Enjoy the season, everyone.

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Russia/NATO update

Some Russia/NATO contacts, frozen in the wake of the Georgia conflict, are now resuming. Also, much to Russia’s rejoicing, Georgia and Ukraine have not received a NATO Membership Action Plan. Russia sees this as a victory. However:

[Georgian foreign minister Eka] Tkeshelashvili expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting, in which ministers reconfirmed that Georgia and Ukraine would eventually become members of NATO and said NATO would accelerate cooperative reform programs with both countries through existing NATO commissions.
The commissions will work on annual assessments of each country’s security and political needs, and on reforms to help them on the long path of NATO membership.
Ms. Tkeshelashvili said that Georgia welcomed “a commitment to the process by which we can achieve our goal” of membership, “with maximized efforts to assist Georgia.”
The ministers decided to move ahead with that cooperation and leave to the future, “without prejudice,” decisions about whether both countries will also need to go through a formal “membership action plan,” as Germany and France now insist.

Who’s blustering? Russia? Georgia? Both?

Clearly, both Georgia and Ukraine have major domestic problems that would be an obstacle to NATO membership even without concerns about antagonizing Russia. It’s hard to say to what extent opposition within NATO to an immediate MAP for Georgia and Ukraine was driven by such concerns. Sure, NATO wants cooperation with Russia, but the respect Russia so craves seems elusive. I was amused by the comments of NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer:

Mr. de Hoop Scheffer, speaking in an interview after the conclusion of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers, said that Russia’s sense of grievance and encirclement, genuine or not, was difficult for the alliance to assuage.
“It’s not so easy to know how to approach someone, in daily life or in foreign policy, who feels themselves victimized,” he said. “I think there is no reason for Russia to feel victimized, not to be taken seriously, but if that is the perception, we have to discuss it, because I have to try to convince them that democracy and the rule of law coming closer to Russia’s borders – why should that be a problem?”

Do you get the feeling that Russia is being treated like the crazy aunt who needs to be humored because she’s got a large estate and because she just might burn the place down if gets really crazy?

The NATO foreign ministers also brushed asside Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s vague proposals for a new “security architecture” in Europe (overtures which the brilliant Russian humorist Victor Shenderovich, speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio, has likened to the behavior of a problem student who is invited for a conference with faculty and administrators and, instead of being glad that he hasn’t been expelled from college for bad grades and bad conduct, starts sharing his ideas about how to run the college better). And another bit of important news buried inside the Times report:

In a final communiqué, which went through 22 drafts, officials said, the foreign ministers gave their unanimous support to the planned deployment in Europe of an American missile defense system, which Washington says is aimed at Iran, not Russia. The ministers called it “a substantial contribution” to Western defense and encouraged Russia to take up American proposals for greater cooperation on missile defense.

Support from the NATO foreign ministers is important; with that, the missile defense installation can hardly be portrayed as a unilateral push by arrogant America.

Stay tuned!

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Where I have been

Obviously, not blogging, for several reasons.

Due to no longer having a regular slot at The Boston Globe, getting published now takes more time and effort. For financial reasons, I have also taken on some fairly time-consuming translating work. Between that and possibly frivolous but nonetheless satisfying fandom hobbies, I have not had much time or energy available for unpaid commentary. Until recently, I also haven’t been very inspired to blog.

That may change now, with two stories in the news in which I’m keenly interested: the latest events in Russia, and the feminist firestorm around the Sarah Palin nomination for vide president. I will be posting several items this weekend. After that — we’ll see.

My apologies to the readers I’ve left in the lurch, particularly those who were concerned about my well-being.

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The Russian "election": how it really happened

There has been a lot of pundit talk on the Russian election (or, more accurate, “election”), including my own coming up in Reason Online. For now, one of the best commentaries on the subject is this video, called “Dmitry Medvedev: How It All Began,” made by some Russian college students for a comedy festival and posted on YouTube. (It is a testament to the complexity of semi-authoritarian Russia in 2008 that this clip was also hosted on the website of the pro-government Izvestia a few days after election.)

The clip is from the 1971 Soviet comedy Kidnapping, Caucasian Style, in which Shurik, a nerdy Russian college student traveling in the Caucasus and researching folklore and local customs, is tricked into participating in the kidnapping of a young woman by being told that he’ll be taking part in a ritual and consensual bride abduction. In the clip, “Shurik” becomes Medvedev, while the movie’s three buffoonish kidnappers (1970s’ Soviet comedy’s “Three Stooges” Vitsyn, Morgunov and Nikulin) become the three “play candidates”: the fascistic nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the communist Gennady Zyuganov, and the completely unknown “democrat” Andrei Bogdanov, widely viewed as a Kremlin puppet.

Unfortunately, YouTube clips do not easily lend themselves to editing, so my attempts to add English subtitles failed. I’m posting the video with a translation underneath, with some of the lines time-stamped to make the dialog easier to follow.

0:05: Messenger: Mr. Medvedev?
“Medvedev”: Yes, good evening.
0:18: Messenger: I have some great news for you. You said you wanted to see some ancient local rituals?
0:23: “Medvedev”: Of course, of course! It’s my dream.
0:26: Messenger: We’re going to have one in March.
“Medvedev”: Really!
0:28: Messenger: And you’ll have a chance not only to see it, but to participate.
0:31: “Medvedev”: Well, I appreciate that tremendously. What’s it called, this ritual?
Messenger: A presidential election.
0:42: “Medvedev”: Election?
0:43: Messenger: Oh, not to worry. The people want this election. The government approves too. Of course we could do it the way they do in Belarus, but custom demands that the president be elected.
0:52: “Medvedev”: Elected? Wow. That is a beautiful custom all right. Well, what’s my role?
1:00: Messenger: Collect signatures…
“Medvedev”: Signatures.
Messenger: Get nominated as a candidate…
“Medvedev”: Nominated? That’s part of the ritual too? Brilliant! Well, well — go on!
1:10: Messenger: And then the people will elect – whom?
“Medvedev”: Putin, of course. As always.
1:14: Messenger: No, no. They’ll elect YOU. From among the other candidates.
“Medvedev”: Oh, you mean there are other candidates?
1:20: Messenger: Yes, that’s what custom requires. Speaking of which – here they are now. I’ll introduce you.
“Medvedev”: My pleasure.
1:26: Messenger: Left to right: Zhirinovsky, Zyuganov and what’s-his-name, I keep forgetting – aha, got it — Bogdanov. Get acquainted.
1:39: “Medvedev”: Hi! I’m Dmitry. – Dima. – Dima.
“Bogdanov” [squeals]: Ouch! I’m nobody! I’m nothing!
“Medvedev”: Oh, sorry. Take a seat.
1:59: Messenger: They don’t have the slightest chance of winning. But don’t worry, they know what’s going on.
2:07: “Zyuganov”: Democrats! Scum!
“Medvedev”: What did he say?
Messenger: Oh, he says it all the time. Don’t pay any attention.
2:20: “Medvedev”: Oh, I get it – he’s a little nuts. [mumbles] The damn commie.
2:25: “Zhirinovsky”: Let’s blast — America!
“Medvedev”: What did he say?
Messenger: He said that if you don’t run, he’ll become president. It’s a joke.
2:39: “Zhirinovsky”: Joke.
“Medvedev”: Ah – a joke. Very well. I agree.
Messenger: Excellent. The United Russia Party will be pleased.
2:49: “Medvedev”: By the way, who’s going to be Prime Minister?
Messenger: Putin. Vladimir Putin.
2:56: “Medvedev”: But – I thought Putin was leaving?
Messenger: He just loves to be in the driver’s seat.
3:08: “Medvedev”: Oh! I completely forgot. I’m busy in March. I’m sorry, but — I can’t do it. I just can’t.
3:22: Messenger: Mr. Medvedev. Here’s the most important thing. Putin said that he really wants you and no one else to do it.
3:34: “Medvedev”: Putin told you that himself?
Messenger: Yes, he was very insistent.
3:45: “Medvedev”: All right then. Tell Putin I agree. Good-bye.
3:54: Messenger: But keep in mind – custom requires that everything must look real. Supposedly, no one knows it’s a ritual. You rivals are going to fight back. They’ll kick and scream — maybe even bite. They’ll call fo4 monitors, they’ll shout, “I’ll complain to the U.N.!” But pay no attention. it’s all just a beautiful ancient ritual.
4:11: “Medvedev”: I understand. Don’t worry – everything is going to look real. Until the election.
Messenger: Until the election.

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