Friday, 5 February 2010

From a 'Dictatorship'

After searching for acclaimed academic and wonderful speaker Anatole Lieven. The first results were from Russia Today. Unsurprisingly, plagiarist Luke Harding has a somewhat negative view of this channel:

'unrepentant about RT's relentlessly pro-Russian coverage of last year's Georgian war – focusing on the suffering of the South Ossetians but completely ignoring the Russian bombing of Georgian civilians.'

Perish the thought of such bias, which can't happen in the West. Furthermore RT:

'gives an unashamedly pro-Vladimir Putin view of the world, and says it seeks to correct the "biased" western view offered by the BBC and CNN.'

Yes, you put 'Biased' in double quotes, in the same sentence as you refer to 'pro-Vladimir Putin' when Putin isn't even running the country.

Compare Luke Harding's hysterical Graun article from the British 'left' to Anatole Lieven's supposedly fanatically pro-Putinist view (yes, I know that Putin wasn't in charge at this time, but they don't). If Harding plagiarised this one, he chose a very bad model. But it seems to me that in terms of intelligence and educatin, Russia Today's boy is way ahead of Te Graun. Still, RT are foreign so full of mindless propaganda like we don't get here.

A beauty of an interview here


  1. Followed the link to the 'exile'.

    "Mouthful of horse sperm" "a chipped infected fang".. Great stuff.

    And Luke Harding really does look like he should be in a Rom-Com, probably as Hugh Grant's sidekick.

  2. Exiled Online is a great publication, full of brilliant articles. Perhaps strangely, given I’m a Christian, I feel a lot more at home reading The Exile than most mainstream left publications, where people are always denouncing each other/ working guilt by association/ using incriminating soundbytes/ extrapolating ridiculous arguments/ being more holier than thou Etc.

    Maybe I have a fairly amoral outlook, but I vastly prefer Exiledonline.

    More in Harding:

  3. Interesting.

    Luke Harding,plagiarist indeed. He is a sub par journalist, he can't even speak Russian properly. He seems just to be an oxbridsge educated 'oh yah' type, and by that merit alone got one of the most important Guardian foreing coverage jobs.

    Did any of you read his article on the Tolstoy centenary year. Could the death of Leo Tolstoy 100 years ago be used to attack modern day Russsia?

    The answer is yes if you are Luke Harding.
    For some reason your text will not let me paste the link in, but browse through Luke Harding's Graun page to the 6th January.

    Or what about the one where a Russian ice skating couple were castigated for dressing up like aborignianl australians. The wheels' of the political correctness industry turned quickly in that case. Agian used to attack Russians for being barbaric and racist.

  4. @NK

    When I see a harding article, I usually search for ‘Putin’ and then ‘Medvedev’. The first usually comes up once or twice, the second never.

    As for his skill in Russian, I think that’s beside the point to Graun editors. His Latin American counterpart, Rory Caroll, pretty much regurgitates right-wing press releases anyway. Any genuine left-wing leaders are ‘populist’. Neil Clark has written well about this.

    I’ll look for Harding’s Tolstoy article.


    It now lets me copy and paste. Strange.

    Also, you should read Medialens' excellent book, 'Newspeak in the 21st century' This focuses a lot on the left/liberal media like the Graun, channel 4, the independant and the BBC.
    There is definitely an inherent bias in the media, even in supposedly 'alternative' media like the Guardian.

  6. @NK
    You have to be signed in to google/blogger to paste.

    What a heap of rubbish the article was:

    'The Kremlin, meanwhile, shows little interest in Russia's most celebrated novelist. Putin has never mentioned Tolstoy in his speeches. And the writer's criticisms of Orthodox religion and authority make him a dangerous figure for those in power – both in Tsarist Russia and also today, Vladimir believes. "Nobody is trying to throw out the idea that he is the author of great novels. But they [official Russia] don't know what to do with his views," he says.'

    Tolstoy's criticism of Orthodoxy makes him 'dangerous' for those in power? WHAT?!! Incidentally, doesn't Luke also like to quote people saying that Stalin is being rehabilitated:

    'Tolstoy's lingering feud with Russia's Orthodox church is part of the problem. The church excommunicated him in 1901, unhappy with his novel Resurrection and Tolstoy's espousal of Christian anarchist and pacifist views. In 2001, the church reaffirmed Tolstoy's excommunication, and conservative Russian Orthodox thinkers have even placed Tolstoy's works on a blacklist.'

    Erm, no. Like Kazantzakis, Tolstoy was excommunicated for explicitly denying the divinity of Jesus. I have several of Kazantzakis's books and he was a very good writer. But I entirely support the Churches excommunication. He could have repented if he came to accept the divinity of Jesus and would have been welcomed back into the flock. But he chose not to, and was free to do so.

  7. I have read his novel 'Resurrection'. It is less well read of his books but is still a cracking good read. Basically it is about a Russian prince who as a young dandy slept with a teenage girl, and ten years later he is told to sit on the Jury of the trial of the same woman, who is now a prositute. He feels guilty about it and follows her to Siberia. Tolstoy expresses sympathy for the political prosoners as well.

  8. Cheers for the recommendation. I love all things 19th Century and Russian, but some of Tolstoy's books do seem to go on a bit.

  9. Hi Gregor, Good to see you write about politics again ;-)

    I think that for these types Putin will always be pulling the strings even if he retired and even if he died they would talk senselessly about his legacy as if he was Diana. He is such an ominous figure to them.

    It reminds me of that legend about winking dead Stalin and frightened Berija.

    There are many myths around Putin already. I recently read that the Patriarch was handpicked by Putin. Despite the fact that Putin's favourite came second and that Patriarchs are voted upon by a council of hierarchs a large portion of which come from outside Russia. I guess they connected Putin's KGB past with the obligation of all senior hierarchs to report to the KGB during Communism. Everyone in a position of influence had a visit from the secret service, I bet they believe Kirill was visited by Vlad himself.

    Also another myth is that the Russian state is using Orthodoxy as an instrument of nationalism. It is spread by people from Rue Daru for example. I personally do not see anything bad in it but in the West nationalism has become a dirty word.

  10. Thanks for your comment Leos; hasten the day when politics will be dominated by people far smarter than me (like Lieven).But as long as Luke Harding dominates 'left wing' discourse on Russia, I sadly feel it's necessary to introduce some basic logic and facts.

    I reckon in the West, that humanism and neo-liberalism help pave over the uncomfortable questions that an atheist world view often brings up. Surely, if we are just apes, we are pretty nasty ones and no amount of Rousseau or Marx or Germaine Greer will make any difference?

    Yet they like to believe in a pseudo-Christian narrative of progress. I think this is why Eastern Orthodoxy and nationalism are viewed with dislike in the West.

    The irony is, as I was saying on your blog, I don't regard myself as being 'religious' if that means finger-pointing, self-aggrandising and making political decisions according to the voices in someone's head. Yet, it seems to me that whilst Orthodoxy is possibly the oldest monotheism in Europe, it is far more compatible with a broadly secular outlook than fanatical Protestantism (which originated during the enlightenment).

    Similarly, I think reactionary nationalism does have its merits: it is something that is difficult to impose on others, and not many people would want to.

  11. I have just written a long blog post which discusses Luke Harding and his plagiarism and using Tolstoy to attack modern Russia, among other things, but is more focused on Timothy Garton Ash's article in teh Graun and Russian 'democracy activist' Yulia Latynia who has written an article 'Letting Poor People Vote Is Dangerous'(seriously) in regard to the elections in Ukraine.

  12. @Nk
    It is ironic that we hear of Russia's closed media. Of course, if the Kremlin did have a cunning plan to undermine liberalism by employing grotesque caricatures of Ayn-Rand type scum, I don't think they would be much different from the actual economic-right Russian liberals who get all the media attention.

    (I'd add the caveat that Anna Politkovskaya was a true hero -though, dare I say it, not a very subtle political thinker-, but the best article I've read on her death was by Mark Ames who points out how rich it is that anti-Russian Western journalists adopted her posthumously, pointing out that a 'Western Politkovskaya would be researching atrocities in Iraq).