Tag Archives: Russia

Suffering and Literature

“In Molotov’s Magic Lantern: A Journey into Russian History (Faber), which is history-cum-travelogue, Rachel Polonsky, a Cambridge academician, asks whether “there is a set of secret maps to be found among a person’s books, a way through the fortifications of the self” that would explain why a person’s deep love and apparent appreciation of literature (and culture in the larger sense) can be responsible for the execution of so many writers during the purges. Is this because, as the Russian scholar Dmitri Likhachev said, “the Russian people perish from an excess of space” that makes its literature “the most significant, the most tragic, the most philosophical”? These are the underlying questions, often asked about the relationship between suffering and literature, that Polonsky pursues in her book as she travels around the former Soviet empire to revisit the ghosts of great Russian writers of the past.”

From: business-standard.com/india/news/v-vjourney-into-russian-history/418671/

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Abandon Politics to Release Your Inner Artist

“There is a serious academic contention that one of the reasons that Russia produced so many brilliant writers during the nineteenth century was that the structure of government (under a centralising Tsar, with an oppressive and tight circle of advisors) denied most young men, even the well-connected like (Count) Tolstoy, any hope of a career in politics. Thus the creativity that might have gone in to policy-making and progressive political change instead went into literature, as a (relatively safe) space where political and social ideas could be explored, without too much interference from the censors. If nothing else, a return to the text might provide better outcomes than a resort to war. Defend the study of arts and humanities – it is the ‘finding place’ for the complicated, messy and dangerous world that we all have to inhabit together.”

From: http://shiftinggrounds.org/2014/03/a-message-from-sebastapol/

Read Classics to be a Better Investor

Russia’s Greatest Novelists and their masterpieces may be used to guide investors:

“War and Peace, Tolstoy
Just like in Leo Tolstoy’s work, in which the war caused great economic and social destruction but eventually Russia prevailed, the investment backdrop for next year is seen as a “very volatile first half” followed by “a more peaceful second half.”

The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov
the novel’s heroine, is tempted by the promise of an eternal good life just as much as Russia was tempted by “seemingly never-ending oil revenue growth” before 2009.

Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky
the preference is to avoid taking any action that may be politically or socially unpalatable,” said Weafer, adding that “eventually they must be confronted,” but this will not necessarily happen next year.

The Queen of Spades, Pushkin,
“The warning is that without reforms, growth may not last,” he added.

Dead Souls, Gogol
the “dead souls” metaphor is “close enough” to the Russian state’s ownership of strategic industries, particularly in oil and gas.

The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov
“Change is inevitable – it is how you handle it that matters,”

A Hero of Our Time, Lermontov
“It will be tough to satisfy the state’s wish to control strategic industries and also to bring in investors,”

Home of the Gentry, Turgenev
there a chance of a return to “a less optimistic and less happy existence full of regret and longing for what might have been?””

MORE: http://www.emergingmarkets.org/Article/3120819/War-and-Peace-Russian-literature-and-investing.html

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The subtle difference between a “spy” and an “intelligence agent”

Q: “What exactly were you doing in the U.S.? What is it called? Spying?”

A: “It’s the same thing the American special services are doing in Russia. The English word “spy” may refer to what the Russians call “spy” or “intelligence agent.” It depends on how you look at it. It’s no accident that, in the Soviet Union, the good guys were called “intelligence agents” and the enemies were called “spies.” …

“intelligence does not work against specific people. It’s not permanent and assignments can change. As a secret agent, you work for the good of your country. Crimes may be committed against specific people, but intelligence is a patriotic business.”

More: http://indrus.in/articles/2012/10/19/russian_spy_reveals_his_secrets_18485.html

Amir, the legendary Soviet spy

“One of the legendary Soviet agents of World War II who infiltrated a British spy school and assisted in the Tehran conference has died aged 87 …

Gevork Vartanyan, working under the codename Amir, famously in 1942 managed to attend an entire course at a British training course for spies in Tehran who Britain then wanted to send all over the Soviet Union.

According to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) – the successor to the Soviet KGB – his work helped expose the British network which existed despite London’s wartime alliance with Moscow.”

More: http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/World/Legendary-Soviet-WWII-spy-dies-at-87-Official/Article1-795558.aspx

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Cold War Foe Rebranded

“Back in the Cold War days, the US propaganda ignited fears of Soviet expansionism and espionage in Latin America to frighten the continent’s governments into cooperating with Washington in the fight against the fictitious threat posed by the USSR and the Eastern bloc. Under the resulting arrangement, the CIA, FBI, and the US Defense Intelligence Agency used to impose their own long-term agendas on the police and counterespionage agencies of Latin American countries (with the obvious exception of Cuba) and generally kept them on a short leash, while the Soviet missions the countries hosted and individuals deemed to be suspicious faced constant close surveillance.

Washington continues to sell Cold War-era stereotypes – the images of Russia as an evil country and a nuclear-armed monster – to Latin American countries. US-made computer games and movies supplied in quantities to Latin America employ the story line by which the Russian mafia grabs Russia’s nuclear arsenal and puts it to work for global blackmail. The message the Empire thus sends to the continent reads that Russians are disreputable and treacherous partners to be be avoided at all costs.”

Source and more: http://www.tiwy.com/news.phtml?id=199

Why the Soviets Built the Berlin Wall

Here’s a take on the reasons behind the erection of the Berlin Wall, a Cold War symbol:

“during the 1950s, American  cold warriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. […]

The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions”…

Source and more: Consortiumnews.com, July 28, 2011