## Friday, December 27, 2013 ... /////

### Pussy Riot have no credentials to advise anyone

And the boycott of the Olympics is indefensible and mean

Vladimir Putin and friends are working hard on a reconciliation with various foreign political forces ahead of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (Feb 6th-23rd). Mikhail Khodorovsky, a half-Jewish oligarch (who has lost most of his wealth but that hasn't eliminated him from the list of billionaires) and a prisoner of conscience according to Amnesty International, was freed after almost a decade in prison. He was wise enough to keep a low-key profile.

Two Pussy Riot girls were freed after 1.5 years, too. They are primarily famous for having staged an event of the same content in the Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow in 2012. See above. It's not shocking that the security units were activated and the Russian presidential forces had the same opinion as the orthodox church and the majority of the Russian citizens. The performance above wasn't kosher.

Now, when they're freed, they apparently became heroes, human rights activists, and aides who should determine who should be the president of Russia, aside from tons of similar questions. I am stunned by all of this. By adopting this pro-Pussy-Riot position, the Western postmodern journalists really do prove that the East's accusations pointing to the moral collapse of the mainstream Western society have a point, to put it mildly.

The Pussy Riot members are no heroes or warriors or intellectuals. They are immature feminist sluts who have only demonstrated their disrespect for the values held dear by others and who have assaulted the popular president of their country in a very childish and hostile way, without offering anything that could be considered a viable alternative.

I guess that a similar event in the Czech Republic would be a non-event and the culprits wouldn't be punished in any way. After all, artist David Černý has done many similar things in the past. But that reflects the status of my homeland as the most atheist country in the world. Almost no one would be "too offended". We're a nation where almost everyone agrees that Pope Francis is a crank if he really believes that Christmas is not about fairy-tales. Christmas is primarily a holiday of fairy-tales – and the story about Jesus is just one among dozens or hundreds of competing fairy-tales. The average Czech has watched several fairy-tales on TV during the recent days. Some of them attracted over 2 million viewers, beating the new president's "Christmas Address" which replaced the New Year Address in the previous 50 years or so. (It was an address containing no vision, no political ideas, no plans for the future, no evaluation of anything that matters so that the most impressive sentence in this speech was Zeman's claim that he has already participated in 600 meetings since his election – not bad for a guy who is considered mostly immobile. President Václav Klaus will deliver the usual New Year Address and I hope it will be better than Zeman's speech.)

These girls haven't really achieved anything and their courage is largely fictitious as well because they could have expected that they would be protected by tons of NGOs in the whole world. While I am no Orthodox Christian, I can understand that these believers view the cathedral as their asset – well, something more than an asset – and they just feel a moral urge to protect the cathedral from desecration like this one.

While I am not "personally" devastated by their behavior towards the orthodox cathedral, I am actually personally offended by what they present as music. These immature ladies are sometimes presented as a "music band" which is just outrageous. What they have shown cannot be classified as "music". I actually care about music as much as many Russian Orthodox Christians care about their faith and these young ladies are pi*sing if not shi**ing on the concept of music. By their hostile activism in the wake of their freeing, they also p**s on the concept of mercy.

Whether or not we agree with them, the mainstream opinions in Russia look nothing like these ladies' views and sentiments so the political recommendations by these individuals are bound to be unrealistic and unsustainable if imposed from above. I find it crazy for the journalists to present the political recommendations by these ladies who are famous for an obscene performance in a cathedral. Why should it matter? Are there millions of stupid and decadent enough readers of the Western media who care about the political remarks by these ladies? Is it really so bad? Or should these girls be viewed as counterparts of Lech Walesa or Václav Havel just because they stood against a regime? I find any suggestion of this kind incredibly offensive myself.

I count(ed) myself as a fan of Tatu. This is real music and it could get through despite the band's image that they are Lesbian. The music, image, and ideas were organized by other masterminds – the duo is an astroturf creation – and this is what is almost necessary for some quality standards. Girls of this age are almost never capable of creating good enough music, lyrics, or a sophisticated and wise enough political message. You may be more enthusiastic about Pussy Riot than Tatu because they are authentic – but by this preference, you would also expose the disregard for all quality criteria in music.

A related topic is the new anti-gay-promotion bill in Russia. While it's not only legal but really "hip" to promote various sexual deviations and their highly visible manifestations in the U.S. and other Western countries, Russia decided to codify some traditions and outlaw the "propaganda promoting non-traditional sexual relations". It shouldn't be shocking that such laws may pass over there. Between 70 and 75 percent think that homosexuality shouldn't be accepted and the percentage of Russians who think that gay sex should be a criminal offense is close to 50 percent. They're just not a part of the West in this sense and the adoption of laws that outlaw the homosexual propaganda is nothing else than an example of the Russian democracy in action despite the country's non-belonging to the West.

The movement to boycott the 2014 Olympics in Sochi because of this law is a sign of a complete lack of the political realism of the boycott organizers – and of their cultural bigotry. The bill doesn't represent any extreme excess that could be cured. Instead, it is a reflection of the majority population's values that may change but the timescale at which these attitudes will change is comparable to decades if not centuries. And during this timescale, the West's opinions may get profoundly transformed as well. For example, pedophilia currently considered nearly the "ultimate crime" may join homosexuality as one of the hip things – after all, the biological origin of these non-standard desires is qualitatively similar.

Do you want to boycott all future events organized in Russia because similar laws will probably be firmly in place during the 21st century? Do you want to do the same thing to the majority of the world that has the same opinions about gays as Russia, or is it just Russia that deserves the harsh treatment while all the Muslims etc. may get an exemption despite their being much more hostile than anyone in Russia? Can't you please notice that the Cold War is over and Russia is nominally a democratic and capitalist country – just a country that is "elsewhere" than the traditional Western countries?

I was happy to hear that the Czech leaders urged the international community not to boycott the Russian Olympics (the same opinion was voiced by the Swiss president and others). Most countries didn't boycott the 1936 Munich Olympics organized by Adolf Hitler et al., either (so these games became the largest ever as of 1936), and it seems crazy to compare the gravity of the current situation to the year 1936 in Germany or the early 1980s when the Cold War produced two Olympics boycotted by the other bloc (which was somewhat helpful for the 1980 Czechoslovak medal tally!).

Russia is not concerned that a president of a North American country decided not to attend the games. I also think that he is irrelevant. The games are a special event for athletes and people around sports, not just another event for a kitschy politician to be photographed by the media. So Obama has the right to boycott it and Russia is right to treat him as an irrelevant puppet when it comes to the Olympics. By this attitude, Russia is really showing that sports are not or shouldn't be a slave to politics – the same point that the Czech government made when it opposed the boycott – and if Mr Obama or his fans disagrees with this basic thesis, well, then it is just too bad.

Even if the Olympics could be considered as a slave to politics, it is Russia that was allowed to organize these games so it is the Russian attitude that has the right to define what is right and what is wrong about the "gay propaganda" during these Olympics.

If someone thinks it's wrong for the "intolerant" Russians to control the large territory of Russia, he may think about organizing a war. But the Olympic games are supposed to be a holiday of peace – they have played this role in Ancient Greece, too. People from politically different places are unified by their love for sports. If someone finds some ideological assumptions – e.g. that Pussy Riot members have the right to break into a cathedral and organize pussy riots near the sculpture of Christ – as ideas that are more important than the people in motion and fair competitions, then it is right for them not to attend the Olympics because these cultural bigots just don't have a sufficient respect for sports.

If the list of these spiritually poorer people includes Barack Obama, then it is very right that he doesn't (and numerous random rioting pussies don't) contaminate the 2014 Olympics, a holiday of peace and sports.

#### snail feedback (48) :

In the US such a childish performance would be a minor event, just as in Czechia, but there are places on this earth where such blasphemy would result in public execution of the girls. It is a measure of Russia’s relative backwardness that a jail term resulted from such a sophomoric exhibition.

Many people feel good about their release, Lubos, including me, but it does not indicate admiration for them but rather relief in the fact that Russia has taken another small step toward becoming a more tolerant society. The same can be said for the release of Mikhail Kodorkovsky even though there is more to admire about him.

Enormous progress is evident, however, if you compare the physical and mental condition of Kodorkovsky with that of Lev Davidovich Landau when he was released from prison.

Dear Gene, right, they are relatively backward-oriented by our Western standards. Russia is simply not a part of the West with all of the detailed features you might expect. I think it's a wise idea to get used to this fact. Russia is still much more "progressive" in similar respects than the Muslim countries (billion), and I would even say than India and China and a few others, which combine to more than 1/2 of the world population.

So Russia is really above the average even according to this "progressive" criterion. So why should it be singled out for boycotts and attacks? Because they are white? It doesn't matter. They're "white" but being "Western" isn't the same thing as being "white". Nations' being "Western" is a result of long centuries of evolution that resembles the evolution in the West since 1500 or so.

I also find it nice that they're released but there will still exist the underlying fact that Russia's attitude towards similar people and acts will be much less friendly than it would be e.g. at Harvard where an obscene LGBT performance would guarantee the artist to become the new president of Harvard, if I exaggerate just a tiny little bit.

So the freeing *is* an act of mercy by Putin and others that they should be thankful for. I find any arrogance in this context totally out of place.

Homophobia, too, will die out in Russia (and Czechia) just as it is dying in the US. I know many gay people, Lubos, and comparing gays in any way with pedophiles is the number one indicator of homophobia.

Dear Gene, there is virtually no homophobia in the Czech Republic. Whether you like it or not, the Czechs' tendency to be somewhat tolerant even towards some more controversial deviations (if the children are not hurt etc.) only shows that we, the Czechs, are ahead of the Americans according to the very same criteria you use to define the progress!

Thanks Giotis. Let me explain where I am coming from. I have little bit familiarity with usage of local gauge symmetry in SM where entirely new physics came out of local symmetry, such as minimal coupling in QED, Higgs phenomena etc. From my understanding,
global symmetry (just change of constant phase or adding constants to P.E. in QED?) did not give very much. If this is an overstatement, please contradict. Also, if you are aware of any on line article (specially in GR) discussing what you and Lubos are talking about, that will be useful.

The Pussy Riot women are characters straight from Dostoevsky -- crazed, wild-eyed fanatics determined to overthrow the power structure but much more likely to destroy themselves. Humorless, too.

I used to read Khodorkovsky's "letters from prison" with something like grudging admiration -- here was a man who had been sentenced to what amounted to open-ended detention at the whim of the potentate, with no guarantee of breathing the air of freedom again. Yet he did not dwell on his plight but instead he turned his attention to his fellow inmates and wrote with insight and compassion about them and about the unjust system that wanted to break them.

A noble spirit, right? Then I considered that K. surely had enough rubles squirreled away to pay for a team of researchers and ghostwriters to write the letters from prison in the most accurate yet also moving manner. Cynical, yes, but while he was probably the victim of concocted charges and the trial had no other purpose than to wrest control of the Yukos conglomerate from him, the man had no moral right to his possessions in the first place.

He was not even a "robber baron" in the mold of a Carnegie or Morgan. Instead he was a random Russian Jewish small entrepreneur whom powerful state officials during the transition from the Soviet era designated a "cut-out" to take possession of assets while they waited for the dust to settle. That these officials chose Jews almost exclusively to become "oligarkhs" is testament to their casual antisemitism which thoughtlessly assumes that "Jews are good with money". Later, some of the oligarkhs had the good sense to realize their fabulous wealth was not theirs to keep and they got out with a billion or two while the getting was good. Others, like Khodorkovsky, were stupid enough to believe they had earned their position of power and clung to it. But the same state apparatus that giveth also taketh away.

Dear Gene, there are heinous (in our eyes) deviations'' which are the norm in other cultures, while what we consider normal is perhaps an unspeakable deviation there. I remember how shocked I was when I've read that in certain New Guinean tribes married men live with boys and visit their wives very rarely to have sex focused on reproduction. In those tribes homosexual relations are apparently abnormal, heterosexual relations are just a rare practical necessity, while what we call pedophilia is the way of life. I've read about these tribes in a popular book (probably in Guns, Germs, and Steel''). I've just searched and I see that among the tribes who have such a lifestyle are Etoro people, Sambia tribe, etc.

What a very ugly diatribe, using the word slut says a lot about your attitudes.

re" "pissing on the concept of mercy" only totalitarian regimes can pardon people like this, everywhere in the free world, an independant Judiciary decides innocence or guilt

sincere prayer is never desecration of a place of worship, even if we don't understand it

I hate the idea of boycotting the Olympics -- to succeed at this means crushing the dreams of extraordinary athletes who have trained for years to compete in this venue, for many perhaps their only chance of a lifetime. It seems such a selfish political gesture by those advocating it. I would be aurprised if any Olympian athlete supports this approach to conveying their opinions about politics.

Something puzzles me about pedophilia definition; in the U.S. teachers who have had relations with underaged students have been charged with pedophilia. But isn't there a huge difference between attraction to a younger person who has blossomed sexually according to nature (but not societal 'legal age of consent')and really young kids who are not there yet physically? And finally, some gay activists have become no better than bullies who want to destroy the reputations of people who disagree with their own views of homosexuality. I believe in live and let live, but I don't have the right to harass and ruin someone who has opinions about me I find disagreeable. People have a right to think women are made from the rib of Adam and i have no right to silence them and accuse them of 'hate crimes'. America IS is a weird state about what is considered social tolerance and what is not. okay, that is my two cents.

How is a society celebrating unlimited adult sexual amorality short of allowing Mormons to have multiple heterosexual wives superior to a society that demands monogamous heterosexuality? How is monotheism superior to polytheism or atheism? Where is the Church of Rome in this spectrum given its tripartite God, Mother, ignored Father, 1000-plus saints. angels,demons...and crass violation of Yahweh's prohibition of worshipped graven images whose Commandment is not even recognized?

If Putin can host a Winter Olympics where there is no snow, go for it! Who puts Americans into space as you read this? Not the United States.

Don’t get me wrong, Lubos; I am totally against the idea of boycotting the Olympics and I am pretty familiar with pre-communist Russian History. Russia is our friend now, even considering the obvious fact that the US and Russia will continue to pursue our separate national interests.
Yes, both freeings should be looked on as acts of mercy by Putin and I surely don’t know what you are referring to by “arrogance” in this context.
I would note that the things that really count, such as a society’s tolerance of others don’t take centuries to develop. My own grandfather’s family owned slaves in a situation unthinkable today. To go from black slavery to a black President is just stunning. The changes even during my lifetime have been simply enormous.
Of course Russia will never be a “western” country but it will be a free, open and tolerant one. Most of that road has already been travelled. And, as you say, many other societies are vastly more backward than Russia’s.

There is homophobia everywhere, Lubos, but I am happy to learn that it is politically diminished in Czechia, certainly more so than in my own country, where it still plays a pretty big political role. That’s wonderful news and I certainly do like it. Kudos to Czechia!
My views on tolerance are actually identical with yours and I deplore any tendency to condemn a whole people, of course.
I’m sure that Czechia’s society is more open and tolerant than ours as a whole but the US has a very wide range in this regard. Our nearby city, San Francisco, has had its Gay Freedom Day Parade for decades.
I’m sure we also agree that we are obligated to protect our children.

@Giotis. I will add something to the above. I see yours and Lubos' point. I agree that a constant will always commute with any Hamiltonian. So the conservation law will follow. Is this a correct way to look at it?I was trying to relate this to the local gauge symmetry in QFT which I knew about but it seems to be a different matter.

I think the Russian people like it that way, democracy rules.

Its a pity that more crap bands aren't thrown in jail for creating a noise nuisance so its good to see that there still a normal country left in the world thats prepared to do it. On the other hand I think the sentence was a bit harsh. Two years in a Russian jail would not be a nice experience for anybody. A fine would be useless since somebody else would pay it. I would have given 3-6 months for desecrating a religious site.

Although not a fan of Putin, he should be given credit for attempting to hold back the rising tide of poofters in what is actually a fairly humane way. Personally I would just cull them out with a club like diseased chickens.

1) It seems to me that, within the context of a free market/society, individuals and institutions are free to either take or not take the advise of Pussy Riot, regardless of their relative credentials, sluttiness, the quality of their music, etc. Ergo the current attention being paid to them is probably more a function of market decisions being made by Western individuals and media outlet, rather than any sign of left-wing conspiracies, moral degeneracies, spiritual corruptions, etc.

2) You seem to be setting up a straw man argument with regard to the alleged "exemption" you suggest gay lobbyists make with regards to Muslim countries. I'm pretty sure most of them hate Muslim countries even more than Russia, and would love to see similar boycotts being made against them. Russia is being targeted here simply because there is a greater likelihood of an actual impact on the ground being made in Russia than in, say, Saudi Arabia. For example, I'm sure abolitionists in Britain would have loved to ban slavery in Serbia and Sweden and France and the Dutch colonies as well in 1833, but the British Empire was "low-hanging fruit" so to speak in their moral crusade.

3) I'm not sure I understand your reasoning behind the illegitimacy of cultural boycott (e.g., in sports or academia), in particular with respect to such virulent regimes as, say, North Korea, or the former Third Reich. It seems to me that economic boycott (otherwise known as enacting a trade embargo) might be similarly rendered immoral under your line of reasoning.

4) Do you consider the anti-Apartheid movement from the 1980s to be another form of "cultural bigotry"?

Sure, individuals enjoy the freedom to be advised by Pussy Riot - and I have the freedom to point out that those who take advises by Pussy Riot are inferior and degenerated imbeciles.

You may intoxicate yourself into thinking that this disgusting hostile exercise was a "sincere prayer" but those who haven't lost their minds still know that it was an obscene riot by immature sluts.

Exactly, Pavle, many of these feelings people often sold as ultimate permanent universal moral codes are just results of some habits in the surrounding society.

All states connected by a gauge transformation (related to local symmetries) are identical to one another.

There is a huge difference between the different equivalent ways we can describe a physical system (local symmetries) and the actual symmetries of the physical system (global symmetries).

But I’m surprised because you say you are familiar with QED so presumably you know all about the redundant degrees of freedom of the gauge potential and the need to gauge fix (i.e. remove the gauge/local symmetry) by
choosing a gauge which is imposed as a constraint during quantization etc.

But these are all text book material and there are also countless resources in the Web you can look into.

I do agree that that a phenomenon ridiculously misnamed as “homophobia” does exist, just like “racism” does exist, but it does not change the fact that the vast majority of cases in accusation of “homophobia” (or “racism”) is used are attempts to silence dissent, smear opponents as mentally ill (phobia clearly implies that) and both words today occupy prominent places in a demagogue’s and totalitarian’s vocabulary.

I myself have no strong emotions about homosexuality as a phenomenon. I remember when I first discovered the meaning of the word “homosexual”. I must have been about 11 years old and I was reading about the Blomberg-Fritsch affair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blomberg–Fritsch_Affair ). I read that von Fritsch was accused of being a homosexual but there was no explanation or any indication of what it meant. I tried to look it up in a dictionary and an encyclopedia but I could not find anything (this was in communist Poland where homosexuality was illegal), so I asked my father. He told me that a homosexual was someone who was attracted to the same sex. I found it it strange (but at that time I still found heterosexuality strange too) but equally strange I found that it could be regarded as a crime.

Today I view it as a natural phenomenon, which also occurs among other social species, e.g wolves. The phenomenon seems to me to be a biological anomaly, possibly the result of a genetic disorder or even some form of mental illness. I try not to contemplate homosexual sexual intercourse between males, but I certainly find it quite distasteful. In no way, does this affect my view of homosexuals as “moral” beings: I don’t see any reason to expect homosexuals to be less honest, more cruel, less hard working etc, than heterosexuals.

Nevertheless, because I refuse to be bullied into accepting or pretending to accept the official dogma that homosexuality is perfectly natural, and has universal aesthetic appeal, that children should be encouraged to find their homosexual “orientation” early on, and that all talk of curing homosexuality is a “hate crime”, I am also a candidate for the re-education camps that are being set up all over the Western world and not only metaphorically.

Although I am a stauch opponent of the Putin regime, which like most educated Russian I see as a gang of “cheats and thieves” (although this popular description of Putin’s “One Russia” party rather understates the truth, if you can read Russian see http://www.echo.msk.ru/blog/anshakov/1146056-echo/ ) which is doing its best to restore Soviet economic relations by reversing privatisation (except when their own interests are concerned) and rebuilding the Soviet empire even at the expense of Russian citizens (the extreme case of this is the way Kadyrov’s henchmen have been allowed to murder with impunity anyone, including Russians, who stands in their way even in the heart of Russia), the issue discussed here is the only one in which I am not on the side of the Western liberals.

The Putin regime will eventually fall and it will happen sooner than most people outside Russia expect, but what will come after will certainly not be any closer to Western position on these issues than the “cheats and thieves”.

I have already posted this once, but here is again, the immensely popular and topical “Our Madhouse is Voting for Putin”.

OK. Thanks. It seems that you are saying that global symmetries are real symmetries and local symmetries are redundances. I have to think about it some more if this is a matter of symentics or fundamental misunderstanding on my part. I think lot of new physics came out of local symmetries such as minimal coupling in QED and Higgs. But I also knew that energy-momentum, angular momentum conservation and some internaI symmetries like SU(3) came as global symmetries. I will try to read up some more!

> For example, pedophilia currently considered nearly the "ultimate crime" may join homosexuality as one of the hip things – after all, the biological origin of these non-standard desires is qualitatively similar.

That's a pretty weak arument, and you should do some introspection why a rational person would publish such nonsense.

I assume you're aware that there are male pedophiles who prefer little girls over little boys? As in, the biological origin of pedophilia is also closely linked to the biological origin of 'qualitatively similar' 'standard' heterosexual desires.

The arguments against pedophilia are not biological, but ethical in nature and unlikely to change any time soon (the relationship between adult and child is a highly asymmetrical, a child's mind is still under development - both their personaliy and rationality and in particular puberty hasn't happened yet - so it cannot give informed consent, ...).

In contrast, there are no ethical reasons against homosexuality. In fact, the rational thing is to oppose discrimination of homosexuals to prevent teenage suicide and allow homosexuals to contribute to society (Alan Turing, anyone?).

As an aside, let's look at some biological (as in darwinian) reasons for homosexuality, which is after all rather common in nature (it has been observed in hundreds of species):

Some genes that lead to fertility in females apparently contribute to homosexuality in men, and there's also the idea of homosexuality via kin selection (the gay uncle helps keeping your child alive without the resource drain of adding their own offspring).

Homosexuality is natural, there are no ethical reasons against it, and discrimination without reason is harmful to society.

I have no problem whatsoever with 'cultural bigotry' to combat unethical behaviour, be it prosecution of homosexuals or more violent forms like honor killings or rapes of women, female genital mutilation, taboos on condome usage, dismemberment of albinos or other crazy shit that are embraced by various human cultures.

Here is the unedited version of the Pussy Riot "performance" in the Christ the Saviour's Church in Moscow:

And here is the version edited and dubbed by Pussy Riot, the only version Western media will show you, which happens to be the same version posted here on TRF:

Watch and let me know if you find such behavior acceptable.

Abusing places of worship for a "free speech act," especially when that act is subjectively blasphemous to the religion, is an infringement of the right of freedom of religion. In my view, such an infringement, as in this case, cannot be justified by the right of free speech. There are many other places where the free speech can be made. I, therefore, find the sentence against Pussy Riot quite obviously justified. The two years, of which eight month have already been served, may be a bit harsh. But how many years would some punks get who made a free speech point by (symbolically) defecating on the altar of the National Cathedral in Washington DC?

Sorry Eugene, but here is one of our rare disagreements. I don’t think that Berezovsky, Abramovich, Khodorkovsky, and others were “chosen” by anyone because they were Jews, any more than Margulis, Drinfeld, Zelmnov and Perelman were chosen to receive the Fields medal or Kasparov, Smyslov, Tal and Botvinnik were chosen to be world chess champions for the same reason. Jews are indeed are “good with money” for the same reason as they are good at mathematics or good at chess. And Russia being Russia, you will find Jews and half-Jews in the most unlikely places, and this, in particular, includes Vladimir Zhirinovsky and even more remarkably the late general Rokhlin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Rokhlin ), who was at one time the leader of the most powerful and threatening to the authorities, Russian nationalist movement (you can see a very interesting film about Rokhlin here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkpaFs-ERU8 ).

No, nobody chose these people, in fact it was Berezovsky who chose Putin. And they really are “good with money”. I also have quite a lot of genuine “insider information” about the way the “loans for shares” deal in 1995 was done, because I have a close friend who knows most of the “oligarchs” personally very well, and I can assure you that being Jewish did not play any role in this and, of course, by no means all the oligarchs are Jewish (e.g. Vladmir Potanin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Potanin or Oleg Deripaska http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleg_Deripaska ).

Moreover, the relationship between Russia and Jews has changed a great deal from what you remember from the Soviet Days. On the one hand, polls show that the Russian public today is, on the average, one of the most sympathetic to Israel in Europe (perhaps only the Czechs are more so). Putin realises that and knows that photos like the one below longer damaging in Russia.

At the same time, those Russian Jews who chose not to emigrate tend to have a different outlook from the past. I a friend of mine from Russia came for a conference to Poland about a month ago and stayed in my house. He is 3/4 Jewish but his general outlook is Russian-nationalist in a way that would have been very unlikely among the earlier generation (he is in his early 30s). He is far from Western liberalism, he wants Russia to be a strong power (also in the military sense), he despises Obama (and actually prefers Bush) and says things like “so who is now the totalitarian?” in connection with NSA, IRS etc., yet he is also anti-current regime. He also points out that he has as much freedom to speak out against Putin in Russia and an American has to speak against Obama, without fear of any worse consequences - which I think is true and probably a surprise to most Americans. Of course, he is a part of the highly educated elite of new Russia and is not typical of the population at large, but it is people like him who reflect most accurately the future trends.

Anyway, Russia is definitely no longer the Soviet Union, even if the current oligarchy is nostalgic for some of the features of the bygone days.

The hypocrisy displayed by western officialdom in the Pussy Riot case stinks to high heaven. All of those governments who condemned the sentence would themselves argue for harsh sentences if a similar act would happen in one of their countries. They are also not, as the evidence makes clear, staunch supporters of free speech when that free speech is against their ruling interests.

If pro-Palestinian demonstrators re-enacted the Pussy Riot "demonstration" or "performance" in a US synagogue, they would be labeled "anti-Semitic" and arraigned, tried and convicted for "hate crimes."

It's pretty simple to see that free speech is applauded only in certain contexts, when it comes to grotesque statements against establishment, tradition and power.

These obnoxious western funded destabilization campaigners calling themselves a "Punk Rock" group should be sent directly to Siberia. They are Imperialist lackeys bought and paid for by the same forces trying to tear Syria asunder. I have no, zero empathy for them or anyone naive enough to be concerned about them. They are another construct to draw in all the Imperial feminists and Democracy Now! deluded leftists to advocate for more carnage and horror. Plus they have zero talent and are nauseatingly ridiculous.

Dear Lucretius, I will grant that you know some "insiders" with knowledge of Russian privatisation; I don't know any. But you still haven't refuted my point. Tal became world champion in competition that tested him against the world's best players, Perelman earned a Fields medal by the judgment of eminent mathematicians due to his documented achievements which distinguished him from other accomplished mathematicians. Andrew Carnegie raised himself up from nothing to become one of the world's richest men (perhaps even richest at some point, don't know). He built a business, sometimes running roughshod over his competitors and the working man, but he built it in a competitive environment. Much the same can be said about Bill Gates, another builder (who was not always a nice guy in his business dealings).

What did Khodorkovsky build? He was a small businessman selling running shoes. Nothing remarkable about that. Then he is part owner of a regional bank. Then all of a sudden, not even 40 years old, he is majority shareholder of a multi-billion dollar formerly state-owned enterprise. Who gave him the absurdly favorable loans to finance the acquisitions? Why did they pick him? What promises did he make in order to get such a sweetheart deal and when did he break those promises and why?

What did he build? Why should I feel sorry for him?

Of course the answer to your last question is that he built Yukos, the best run, the most efficient, the most profitable and by all accounts the most honest enterprise in the Russian energy sector before its confiscation.

Actually, all these factors contributed to Khodorkovsky’s downfall. Unlike Gusinsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Gusinsky ) and Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky felt secure in spite of knowing that he had made a deadly enemy out of Putin. The reason for this misplaced feeling of security, which many view as hubris, was the conviction that Yukos was so well run, so profitable and, precisely because it paid so much in taxes, so beneficial to the Russian state, that on the principle that you do not kill the goose that lays golden eggs, no rational regime will risk doing just that. But, unlike the above mentioned tycoons, who were very familiar with Putin and his colleagues (perhaps because they employed so many of them in their security entourage) Kohodorkovsky failed to realise that for them he was just another uppity upstart who did not understand that all his billions would be no use to him once he was handcuffed and put behind bars. In other words, that money still plays very much the second fiddle to physical power in Russia. Whether that is a sufficient reason to sympathise with him or not I cannot tell you.

The “loans for shares” deal, which turned Khodorkovsky from a millionaire into a billionaire was the brain child a Anatoly Chubais, the father of Russian privatisation and a genuine liberal reformer. You may not remember what happened, but this deal, that enabled Yeltsin to win the 1996 election was actually the alternative to the coup d’etat that Yeltisin’s security chiefs Alexander Korzhakov and Mikhail Barsukov wanted to stage in order to keep the communists out of power. Chubais persuaded Yeltsin that there was a way to win the election “legitimately” by obtaining sufficient funds so Yeltsin with the help of general ALexander Lebed fired Korzhakov and Barsukov (some of it is mentioned here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Korzhakov).

Chubais’s scheme was simple: a number of Russian businessman were persuaded to loan money to the government (to be secretly spent on Yeltin’s re-election). In return, they were offered as colateral majority stakes in the energy industry with the secret agreement that the government will fail to repay the loans and the loaners will legally keep the collateral. The beneficiaries of this scheme were practically all the major businessmen in Russia who could make such loans and that included Khodorkovsky and a number of others. Whatever you think of Chubais, he certainly was not your typical Russian bureaucrat (He used ot be The Economist’s favourite Russian politician and it’s hope for future President of Russia). It is also pretty certain that his scheme saved Russia from the alternative which was a KGB lead coup, although with hindsight one can now say that probably the outcome would not have been that much different from what there is now. On the other hand, even a pretence of a constitutional solution is better than a naked coup d’etat.

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Khodorkovsky that he was actually the most honest of all the participants in the original deal and yet he was the only one who paid this kind of price. Putin himself knows that and in fact, in his inimitable manner, once indicated so. When once asked why Khodorkovsky was in jail and not, for example, Abramovich, he told a weird but very telling joke. A man comes to the dentist with tooth ache. The dentist pulls out a tooth. It turns out to the the wrong one. The dentist tries again. Again a wrong one. The dentist says to the patient: don’t worry, we are sure to find the true culprit eventually.

O.K., so you admit that Khodorkovsky came by his wealth and power through shady deals. If he increased the value of the enterprise after taking the reins, it surely was not such a signal achievement. An inefficient behemoth can be turned around and improved by most anyone with business sense if allowed to operate free from state interference.

I'm not the only one thinking along these lines. Just now a cursory web search turns up this review of a book by Amy Chua (yes, the famous/infamous "Tiger Mom"). Quote:
According to Chua, free-market reforms result, often quite rapidly, in what she terms market-dominant ethnic minorities. At the same time, democracy empowers poorer majorities, unleashing resentment. [,,,] Alternatively, democratically elected leaders may collude with an affluent minority to establish a system of crony capitalism, enriching the former and protecting the latter. Marcos' Philippines (working with Chinese entrepreneurs) and Moi's Kenya ( in cahoots with ethnic Indian business leaders) are representative examples.

Another example (besides the Chinese in the Philippines and the Indians in Kenya), cited by Chua and mentioned in the review, is the fact that six of the seven original oligarkhs in Russia after the fall of communism were ethnic (if not religious) Jews. They did not select themselves and they did not rise to the top through besting the competition: there was not enough time for that. They were handpicked by Boris Yeltsin and others like him, partly due to prejudice (Jews supposedly good with money) and because in times of upheaval, it may be desired by the leaders (coming from the ethnic majority) to have members of an ethnic minority be the "agents of change", which is a high-risk occupation. I believe this pattern also obtained during the Revolution when Russian Jews were disproportionately represented among the bolsheviks. Once the dust had settled, they had outlived their usefulness and then they were persecuted as much as everyone else if not more so (some say Stalin was planning a genocide of the Jews shortly before he died).

First of all, in order to take part in the "shares for loans" deal one already had to have money to make the required loan. Among those who had money there were many Jews, and the reason for that was nothing of the kind that Chua (who knows less than zero about Russia, in spite of her claims) suggests. The idea that Chubais (it was him and not Yeltsin; the idea that it was the latter proves that Chua is an idiot when it comes to Russia), a highly sophisticated and educated man (very close to my friend whose name I don't want to reveal but which is in fact pretty well known) was motivated by some superstition about the Jews, is just simply false. Full stop.

As for the Jewish role in the Russian revolution - of course it was genuine. Nobody selected Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinovev, or even Lenin (whose mother was Jewish) in order to make a scape-goat of the Jews later on. The reason why there were so many Jews among the Bolshevik leadership was simple: Jews were disproportionately represented among revolutionaries in Russia and their substantially superior average IQ made a disproportionate number of them rise to the top, as they do in all categories where IQ plays a role, and that includes even antisemitic movements.

The reason why Jews were overrepresented in the revolutionary movement in Russia is also completely obvious and was clearly identified by the Russian prime minister, Count Witte, who described to Theodore Herzl a conversation he had with Tsar Alexander III in these words:

“I told the Emperor, ‘Your majesty. If it were possible to drown five million Jews in the Black Sea, I would be in favour but as it clearly is not we must treat them well and help them live in Russia like human beings so they will not feel the need to overthrow the State.’”

I just read some touching articles by pedophiles at

http://www.pedofilie-info.cz/

Sorry, your claims are pure bullshit. The claim that homosexuality is any way "superior" to pedophilia and other paraphilias - in fact, so superior that homosexuals should be nearly celebrated for their being gays while pedophiles should be treated as criminals just because they're aroused by children - are purely political in character. There is no scientific, logical, or otherwise sensible defense of such a double treatment.

The basic reason is, as I said and you didn't present iota of an argument that would weaken my important words in any way, is that both homosexuality and pedophilia are hardwired preferences to some individuals they can't really "cure" or "reeducate" or "relearn"; in both cases, the people may be otherwise completely decent and responsible; and in both cases, the society may choose to try to make the lives of these people happier, or it may choose not to do so (or deliberately make them unhappy). The only difference is that in some countries it became fashionable to love homosexuals while pedophiles are being at most "understood with compassion" at more well-informed places - there is no developed nation that mindlessly celebrates pedophilia in the same way as the U.S. loves to love gays these days (but there are the Jared-Diamond-type tribes that Pavel K. described in another comment that are doing exactly that).

Yes, the pedophiles' relationships are asymmetric. But normal sexual relationships actually should actually be asymmetrical - that's why homosexuality isn't one.

It's considered OK that gays may give "consent" to these acts because many nations decided that they will allow that. There is nothing else about it. Other nations didn't allow it. In the same way, some nations in the future will decide that children may give consent to whatever other things.

According to the Wikipedia Anatoly Chubais (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatoly_Chubais ) who was both the inventor and the executor of the "loans for shares" scheme "has some Jewish roots but is not open about them."

Well, that's enough for quite a bundle of conspiracy theories and about the only one that can be dismissed out of hand is Amy Chua's one.

I should add that I myself have on the whole a rather positive view of Chubais, who is a very practical politician who always chooses the least bad course of action available. He is also a famously good administrator, which is why Putin appointed him to several important administrative posts in spite of the clear public identification of Chubais with the anti-Putin opposition. But you should remember one thing that they say in Russia about Putin. It is said by those who know him that Putin divides all figures in public life in Russia into three categories: friend, enemy and traitor. “Friends” are generally treated as retainers. Enemies are generally treated with public respect and even sometimes given medals or are appointed to some less powerful positions. It is the “traitors” who are assigned for humiliation and/or destruction. For certain reasons by supporting the opposition Khodorkovsky qualified himself into the “traitor” category while Chubais, who did the same (but with much smaller resources) has always been regarded as a (non-dangerous) enemy.

Free speech, Cynthia, is a right that governments must never limit. Private organizations limit free speech all the time and anyone with a job has numerous free speech limits that must be followed. For instance, if you tell your company’s customers that a competitor’s products are superior you will be promptly fired and rightly so. You will likely have great difficulty in finding further employment as well.

When you accept employment with any organization, governmental or not, you agree to work for the betterment of that organization and/or country. If you have access to secret information and disclose that information for your own benefit you are committing the crime of theft and can be prosecuted.

Employees of secret government agencies and their contractors have additional restrictions, naturally, which are clearly spelled out in their employment agreements along with the legal consequences. Snowden violated the terms of his employment, which he signed, and he will be prosecuted under the law if he returns to the US.

I apologize for pontificating, Cynthia, but there is a great deal of confusion regarding the very concept of free speech.

I would add that if your speech results in material harm to someone else you can be sued under civil, not criminal, law. This, too, is a restriction on your freedom of speech.

Dismissed out of hand by you, perhaps, not by me. Far too many parallels between Indian, Chinese, and Jewish mercantile minorities to neglect Chua's argument about them all serving the majority as catalysts for change, lightning rods for popular discontent and scapegoats to be persecuted.

So let me see if I get this straight. Chubais (who was, let's not forget, working for Yeltsin, who retained the ultimate decision authority) cooked up a scheme whereby a number of well-off Russian businesspeople (who just so happened to be mostly Jewish) made a 10,000 percent return on their investment by extending loans that they knew would not be repaid, thus becoming owners of the collateral, namely majority shares in the former Soviet Union's biggest enterprises.

Ostensibly the rationale for this scheme was to drum up cash for Yeltsin's 1996 campaign that he was in danger of losing to the Communists, and to forestall a planned coup by two other advisors of Yeltsin's. Even though Yeltsin was in power and should have had many less insane ways of obtaining money and obstructing his opponents, Yeltsin agreed to the scheme, which gave away the store for a song to a bunch of bizniz types. Do I have that right so far? Oh, and not only were most of the intended recipients of this outlandish largess Jews -- quite possibly meaning nothing more than that "Jew" was stamped as ethnicity in their passport but meant nothing to them otherwise; Berezhovsky supposedly is a convert to Christianity -- but Mr. Chubais himself has "Jewish roots".

You're right, plenty of grist for the conspiracy mill!

As an alternative to this hair-raising tale, I submit the possibility that the deal was not just a quid pro quo, but a quid... for a pro... for a quid again, at least implicitly. To explain, I mean that Yeltsin and his men never intended to transfer the wealth of the Russian people to Abramovitch, Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky et al. permanently... but that the state was always intending to come round to collect, regardless of whether or not this was part of the secret deals. The story you are telling simply beggars belief.

1) Why mention that Khodorkovsky is
half-Jewish? You wouldn’t mention his nationality if he was half-Polish, so
this is sick.

2) He is not a billionaire anymore

3) They are heroes who fight a sick
fuck in presidency of the country

4) The religion has nothing to do with
their imprisonment. They offended Putin, he is a sick fuck, so they went to
jail. The majority of Russian wouldn’t put them in jail

Russians think. You also make many mistakes. And you do not account for
propaganda (it is very real, btw, tv is fucking sick)

6) It is not “Russia decided”, there is
no democracy in Russia, really.

7) Origin is similar, true, so is the origin
of the will to kill and then rape, what matters is the other side’s position in
the interaction (you sound really stupid here)

As usual, Lubos, I am about 95+% in agreement with you but I would like to point out a couple of differences.
It is simply not true that the US loves to love gays these days. Attitudes regarding homosexuals have been shifting here for many decades with some parts of my country much farther along in this transition than other parts. The general direction is toward simple acceptance of gays and lesbians as people who happen to be attracted to their own sex. It is almost universally recognized now that this is a not matter of choice but a built-in predilection.
This does represent a societal enlightenment of sorts and, as with all such changes, there are individuals who overreact and extol the virtues of gays and lesbians but they are but a small minority. They are mostly on the political left and they may expend lots of energy trying to get society to atone for past injustices. There are, of course, other, mostly racial, groups who “benefit” from their largess.

I also feel that to describe homosexual behavior as “not normal” is, at best, an oversimplification. It surely is normal for gays and lesbians and they are so numerous that I have to question the use of that particular adjective.

What, or whom, do you think will succeed Putin?

The word “homophobia” is not always a misnomer. Many anti-gay men are deeply afraid of their own sexuality.

1) I surely would mention if his nationality were half-Polish, half-Hungarian, or half-Czech. I almost always mention the ethnic origin of folks because in my view, it is the most important part of their collective identity. This half-Jewish case made it even more likely that I would mention it because he looked like some rich Jews from the region and I wanted to save the minute of searching to those who would ask. I also think it's good if people have an idea about the relative distribution of financial and other skills across nations. Jews are surely "overrepresented" in the financial sector.

2) He's still a billionaire according to my nation's terminology, with over 3 billions crowns.

3) They're only heroes for immature caricatures of human beings such as yourself.

4) The nearly whole point of Pussy Riot is that they protest the symbiosis between the Orthodox religion and Putin. You clearly have no clue about your own "heroes" if you say that this case has nothing to do with religion, you are just a stupid obnoxious troll.

5) I speak about the opinions and beliefs of the Russians because I know 100 times more than all the world's brainwashed shitheads like you combined.

6) Russia is democracy these days.

7) This sentence of yours isn't readable. But if I understand the vague point you could have been made, you're wrong again. What matters is the position of all sides.

It's clear to me that many folks with heart - perhaps like yourself - try to defend gays at every step for the best motivations, to compensate their hard life in the recent past and perhaps present. But people who are attracted to children or anyone or anything else don't have an easy life, either. They don't necessarily tear babies' buttocks all the time. They're victims of lots of negative superstitions, too.

It's great to help them but one shouldn't overhelp them. I said that heterosexuality was normal which was meant to be a statement about the driving forces of evolution. Sexes haven't evolved with the purpose of having homosexuals play their games. Two sexes evolved because it turned out to be a clever way for Nature to try new combinations of DNA. The pleasure of sex had to be incorporated for this scheme to work, if I use a slightly "creationist or teleological" description of the natural selection. Sex just for the fun - and especially the homosexual one - is just a side effect of this process.

It is *not* at the same level of naturalness as the normal heterosexual sex. It's lower in a continuum of increasingly purpose-less and unnatural activities.

You seem to be completely unaware that most Russian Jews and half-Jews today, and particularly those in politics, openly and often proudly identify themselves as such. Everybody in Russia is now free to emigrate so the one's who chose to remain are the ones who are willing and ready to cope with this matter. Anyway,such things are impossible to hide, since this information was always written in Soviet passports. Besides, Western Jewish publications always identify Jews in politics as you can see here in the case of Yevgeniy Roizman:

http://www.jta.org/2013/10/22/news-opinion/world/putins-party-loses-key-city-to-tough-jew-with-checkered-past

So what's wrong with that? And if there is no democracy in Russia at all, how is this sort of thing possible?

At least the Pussy Riot were dressed in the cathedral. In France we have the Femen who shout topless like crazy hysterics in cathedrals etc... with no clear message. Our government and media love them. Most French people wait until they have finished; say nothing; and when they are gone, things come back to normal.

Sorry but your point makes no sense. You are saying that homosexuality and pedophilia are similar because they are inherent and not a choice? Yes thats true, but the same applies to heterosexuality, or any other inherent sexual preference, so I dont know what do you want to imply by that.

The societal objections to pedophilia (and your objections to homosexuality) are indeed only political, not scientific. Science cannot dictate morality after all, it deals with what *is*, not what *should be* (science is descriptive, not prescriptive). There is no scientific argument here at all.

In the rest of your post you are presenting a slippery slope logical fallacy. Acceptance of homosexuality does not logically necessitate acceptance of pedophilia. Even if some homosexuals or pedophiles thought so, they are in the wrong, not us.

I think the sentence is inappropiate so I do support the pussy riot activists. They shouldnt have recieved any punishment or maybe a few months in prison at most. But I do recognize there are similar dumb laws in many other countries, including muslim ones and western ones (hate speech etc.). That doesnt mean we must be silent at all, it just means activism should target them, too.

And there certainly are plenty of hypocrites who shout about Pussy Riot but dont mind other restrictions on freedom and expression that dont affect them much.

You're not making sense.

No punishment and "a few months in prison" are categorically different.

A theory of free speech in which there's a right to sabotage church services, meetings, shows, etc. would defeat free speech.