Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, here is my blog concept and what I do:

I scan online newspapers from Russian-language press, in search of interesting stories and political topics.  These are stories which Russians themselves are reading and commenting upon.

I translate or at least summarize into English the content therein.

My target audience:  Russophiles, or anybody else who is interested.

I pick stories and analysis which interest me, generally from the following categories (this might evolve):

  • Breaking News,
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • True Crime,
  • Cat Fighting,
  • Human Interest Stories,
  • maybe even some Cute Animal Stories too!

Sincerely yours,


Posted in Uncategorized | 36 Comments

Ukrainian Fashion Designer Admits: “I was wrong”

Dear Readers:

I saw this little tidbit in the Navigator this morning.  It’s about a person named Elizaveta Bogutskaya.  She is a fashion designer, here is her Facebook page.

A very shapely Elizaveta Bogutskaya shows off her patriotic designs.

In addition to working in the fashion industry, Liza has been active as a political blogger, pro-Ukrainian activist, and journalist writing for such pro-Westie outlets as Radio Free Europe.  She supported all the “Orange” causes, starting with the Orange Revolution itself, and on to the recent Maidan.  Her heroes were the heroes of the Orange Maidans.  Liza used to live in Simferol, Crimea.  Being a Ukrainian patriot, she was very opposed to the reintegration of the peninsula with the Russian mainland.  As a result, according to pro-Maidan activitists, she suffered from  repressions at the hands of the new authorities:

In September, Elizaveta Bogutskaya, a contributor to Krym.Realii, a Crimean service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, also left after her house was raided. About a dozen masked, armed police agents came to her house in Simferopol, confiscated reporting equipment, and interrogated Bogutskaya over a report on a May 2014 protest rally, according to reports.

Bogutskaya fled to the Ukrainian mainland after these incidents.  By all accounts she is an honorable person with honest opinions, who believes in them, and is not afraid to express them.  Agree or disagree with Liza, but you know where she stands at any given time.

Liza Repents

So now, two years later, we hear from Liza again, and here is the quote in full, from her Facebook page:

“Я всегда думала, что я – аналитик и почти что экстрасенс, ведь я вижу людей насквозь. А получается, что подонков трудно рассмотреть через увеличительное стекло. Скорее, их надо отодвигать от себя, чтобы увидеть лучше, – пишет Богуцкая на своей странице в Facebook. – Как же я психовала, когда мне говорили, что Луцик- мерзавец, что Ющенко – бухгалтер-неудачник с зашкаленными амбициями, что Порошенко – жмот, Скрудж Мак дак. Правда. Я даже отправляла в бан десятки моих читателей за оскорбления уважаемых мною деятелей искусств.

Теперь я каюсь. Мои читатели были правы. А вы говорите, что я не умею признавать поражение. Умею. Причем прилюдно и вслух!”


“I always thought that I was an analytical person and almost having extrasensory perception; that I can see right through people.  And it turns out that it is difficult to discern the dregs of humanity when seen through a magnifying glass.  More likely, it is necessary to view them from a distance, in order to see them better.  I used to get enraged when people told me that Lutsik [Yury Lutsenko] was a villain, that Yushchenko was an failed bookkeeper possessing overwheening ambitions; that Poroshenko is a money-grubber, Scrooge McDuck.  It’s all true.  I even used to ban dozens of my [blog] readers for saying bad things about cultural figures whom I respected.

“And now I repent.  My readers were correct.  And you say that I don’t know how to admit defeat.  I do know how.  Out loud and in front of everyone!”

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Aleppo Ceasefire Breaks Down, But A Few People Saved

This piece in VZGLIAD recounts how 48 people, mainly women and children, were saved from East Aleppo.  It is a very paltry result of the recent ceasefire, but still very important to those particular individuals.

Major-General Igor Konashenkov, as spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, recounted how a handful of civilians were able to use the brief ceasefire in order to escape from the besieged part of the city.  They had been trapped there for many months, used as human shields by the radical Islamist terrorists.

Recall that a brief ceasefire was announced last Thursday.  It was hoped that many many more civilians would be able to escape to the safer government-controlled area of West Aleppo.  Unfortunately, the terrorists were effective in preventing ordinary people from escaping the battlefield.  With threats of sniper attacks and punishments, they kept most civilians obediently holed up in their basements.  And after just a couple of days the humanitarian ceasefire broke down over the weekend, giving very few results.  Among the few fortunate ones, however, were a small group of 48 people who were successfully evacuated to government-controlled areas.

Recall the two main sides in this bloody and unforgiving war:  On one side there is the Syrian government and army; their allies include the Russian Federation and Hezbollah.

On the other side there is the Saudi/NATO coalition, consisting of the U.S. and its NATO allies, and Saudi Arabia, along with ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the “Moderate Terrorists”.

Major-General Igor Konashenkov

Ground Zero of the front line of this war:  The ancient city of Aleppo, the northern capital of Syria, located 360 km from Damascus.  Al Qaeda terrorists control an ever-shrinking eastern half of the city.  They are slowly but surely losing to the Syrian army, which is assisted by Russian air and ground forces.  Several times the terrorists were offered safe passage to leave, even with their weapons in hand.  Every attempt was made to avoid a war of attrition, since both sides are frankly exhausted.

Unfortunately, the terrorists, whose strategic decisions are actually made in Washingon DC, have decided that Aleppo is where they will make their final stand against the Syrian government.  The refused to leave, and are ready to fight to the death.  From the American point of view:  The Obama Administration still grasp onto the tenuous hope that they can win this war in Syria and overthrow Assad.  From the terrorists point of view:  Some of these guys are just mercenaries, but many of them are true fanatics.  Northern Syria is the Biblical Armageddon.  (At least in their crazy minds.)  Jihadists believe that if they are martyred precisely in this place, then they are guaranteed a spot in the highest levels of Paradise.

Hence the bloody war of attrition is fated to continue, until almost no brick is left standing in the city; and with innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

“They Were Afraid Of the Light”

Sergei Kapitsyn, one of the Russians involved in the humanitarian efforts around Aleppo, recounts how a mere 4 dozen civilians were able to get out of this hellhole over the weekend:  “As we drove them away, the children were crying.  They were terrified to be out in the open.  They were afraid of the light.  But eventually they started to smile.  It worked out okay in the end.”

Governor Diab (center) meets with the wounded.

It is a well-known phenomenon that people who are trapped and/or held hostage, usually fall into passivity.  Like a bunny hypnotized by a snake, they become averse to taking even the slightest risk.  So too with the civilians trapped in East Aleppo.  Most are hiding in their basements like frightened animals, probably praying for a miracle, and too terrified to take any positive action to better their own situation.

Only the gutsiest people took advantage of the ceasefire and actually made the resolve to flee.  The terrorists had been warning the people constantly that anybody who attempted to leave would be shot by snipers or blown up with grenades.  But somehow a secret messaging system was worked out, a type of “underground railroad”.  There was a very brief window of opportunity.  And 48 people were able to take advantage of this.  “These are our people,” said Hussein Ahmad Diab, the Governor of Aleppo.  “We have prepared everything that they need in the humanitarian centers.  And we hope that others will be able to follow their example.”

One of the refugees recounted the horror:  “We were able to escape from this blockade.  Just look and see how frightened the children are.  They were very afraid of the militants, who went around cutting off hands and heads, for the slightest infraction.  The children witnessed these bestial crimes with their own eyes.  They are very stressed out, they need psychological therapy.”

One of the children, young Bashar, recounted how the terrorists had once beaten him:  Bashar had been carrying home a loaf of bread for his family.  A terrorist accosted him and demanded the bread.  When he refused and called the man a thief, the terrorist smashed open a nearby window, grabbed a shard of glass, and attacked the child with it, cutting open his hand.  Fortunately, Bashar was able to get away, and a local doctor treated his wound.

Bashar and his family decided to leave, but were thwarted in their first attempt.  The terrorists chased after people, caught them, beat them and shot them.  The terrorists even rounded up several children and threw them in jail.

East Aleppo: No place for young children

As the noose tightens around the city, residents were left without food or medicines.  Everything went to the terrorists.  The terrorists took all the food, leaving only stale crusts for the ordinary people.  When somebody got sick, instead of medicine the terrorists would tell them to “pray” to get better.

Now that Bashar and this small group were finally able to escape, they will be offered assistance, as well as can be.  Some lucky ones have relatives with whom they can stay.  Others will have to go to relocation centers.

Somewhere around 3,000 civilians are left behind in the part of the city controlled by an estimated 7,000 terrorists belonging to various jihadi sects and criminal bands.

All part of Barack Obama’s glorious plan to bring “democracy” to the Middle East.

Posted in Breaking News, Human Dignity, Military and War | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Don Giovanni Burns At The Met

Greetings Opera Fans!

Here is my latest review in the Metropolitan Live in HD Saturday matinee series.  Yesterday I saw a bang-up production of this season’s Don Giovanni, starring Simon Keenlyside as the rebellious rake in Mozart’s famous Italian opera.  I would have called this review “Don Giovanni Sets The Met On Fire“, had I not already used up that headline in my last review of “Tristan und Isolde“.  Because in the “Giovanni” production, there is literally a big fire on stage at the end, lots of smoke and flames as the miscreant is dragged off to hell!  But more on that later…

Mozart wrote some ripping good stuff.

Prior to seeing this production, I had read some pannatory reviews, calling it “mediocre”, “so-so”.  I don’t know why.  You can call me a philistine, but I thought it was good and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Maybe because this is what they call a “traditional production”, with period costumes and traditional staging.  Maybe the art critics would have been happier if this “Don Giovanni” was set on a spaceship and Leporello turned out to be an android?  I jest but, sadly, not all that egregiously.

But seriously, the Met put together a traditional “Don” with production numbers, lavish costumes, ballet dancers, traditional staging, special effects, great theater, and seven lead singers, each of whom totally nailed their virtuosic solos.  Frankly, I didn’t see much to criticize here.  Well, only one tiny thing, and I’ll get to that later…

The Ideology Behind Womanizing

As the opera begins, an acrobatic (“likes to scale tall balconies”) Don Giovanni is being chased out of the bedroom of the noblewoman Donna Anna, here sung by Hibla Gerzmava.  Hibla was my favorite soloist in this production; among a very strong cast she stood out in particular, and I’m not just saying that because she’s Russian.  (Well, part Russian, part Abkhazian, whatever…)  In a couple of her solos Hibla just blew me away with her powerful coloratura pipes.

Soprano Hibla Gerzmava

Apparently the Don was also taken with this beautiful, powerful and classy lady.  Since he sneaked into her bedroom and tried to rape her in the middle of the night.  In a later scene, Anna is re-telling the traumatic story to her fiance Don Ottavio (sung by the talented young tenor Paul Appleby):  “When a man crept into my bedroom wearing a mask,” she recalls with a shudder, “I assumed it was you.”

Sitting in the audience, I erupted with laughter, almost choking on my popcorn.  And I wasn’t the only one.  I don’t know if Mozart or his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, intended this line to be funny; or were subversively implying some kind of “50 shades of cordovan” type relationship between Anna and the seemingly straight-arrow Ottavio.  Knowing Mozart, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Anyhow, I know there is a whole subculture of Mozart geeks out there, and they spend decades debating such issues as:  “Did Don Giovanni succeed in raping Donna Anna?”  She says not.  She says she was able to “twist” out from under him just in the nick of time and then, with the adrenaline of rage endowing her with super-human strength, was able to counter-attack him and drive him away.  When it comes to this sort of debate, I personally prefer to take the libretto at face value and stipulate that, yes, it happened just the way that Anna said.  It was attempted rape.  She was able to fend him off.  After which, in the course of his escape, Giovanni fairly casually murders Anna’s father, the Commendatore.

Rape or no rape, one cannot discuss Mozart’s operas without touching on the issue of the famous Amadeus misogyny.  In “Don Giovanni” Mozart gives us this one strong female character (=Donna Anna) who is a straight arrow, full of constancy and resolve.  But he gives us two other female leads who more illustrate his well-known opinion that women are fickle and inconstant.

Così fan tutte, or:  How To Marry A Millionaire

We learned from another of Mozart’s best-known operas, Così fan tutte, that girls will promise to marry you and stay faithful forever, until death do us part, or Liebestod, or whichever comes first.  But they all lie.  Lesson #1:  In reality, your girl is just settling for a poor schmuck like you until something better comes along.  Then she’ll run off with the first rich fella who makes her an offer.  In Così it only takes the girls a few hours to decide that these fake fly-by-night Albanian princes are a better prospect than the reliable fiances they had already lined up for themselves.  Lesson #2:  When it turns out that the princes are fakes and the girls were deceived, then they’ll return, chastened, to their original fiances.  After accepting whatever punishment or reprimand is due them, they’ll learn to settle.

Sarastro teaches us: Women are untrustworthy.

In “Don Giovanni”, the peasant girl Zerlina is even more fickle and even more mercenary than the Così girls.  When the aristocrat Don Giovanni woos her (on her wedding day!) with the famous “seduction” duet “Là ci darem la mano“, it takes Zerlina no more than a couple of minutes to toss off her bridal veil, ditch her fiance Masetto, and run off with Giovanni to live happily forever after in his lavish mansion.  “I could be happy there,” she schemes.  “Andiam, andiam!”  (“Let’s go!  Let’s go!”)  Once she is brought back to reality, to the fact that Giovanni has deceived her and just plots to take her virginity without a wedding ring in return; then Zerlina returns to her old boyfriend, Masetto.  And Masetto takes her back, of course.  But not before Zerlina has playfully begged him to “beat me, beat me, punish me”.  Knowing full well that he will do no such thing.  Because he knows, just like the audience can see, that Zerlina, for all her faults and her inconstancy, is absolutely adorable.  And that she will make him a good wife in the end.

During the intermission, when Met HD host Joyce DiDonato was interviewing the cast, baritone Adam Plachetka (Masetto) made a very interesting point:  By the end of the story, he noted, of all the characters, only Masetto ends up with exactly what he wanted.  And what he wanted was Zerlina.  “Let’s go home and have dinner,” is his final word, to his ever-cheerful and now-loving wife.

Mozart fans know, of course, that Mozart’s misogyny was partially driven by political ideology:  Mozart was a Freemason.  The Masons were a secretive, all-male society.  It is known that the Mason leadership distrusted women.  Because women are gossips.  And even if not gossips, they are notoriously inconstant.  You could confide something to your girlfriend, and when she leaves you for another man, she’ll tell him all your secrets.  And even if she ends up marrying you, you can’t trust your wife.  If she learns something about the goings-on or the secret rituals at the Lodge — she won’t be able to resist passing it along — to her sisters, her mother, her mother-in-law, her girlfriends, etc.  So, no pillow talk, guys!

A couple of years ago, while doing some research on Mozart’s kitsch-Masonic masterpiece “The Magic Flute”, I found this piece online, I’m not sure but I believe it is somebody Master’s or PhD thesis for the Women’s Study Department at Brigham Young University (Mormons Beware!)  It’s a treatise on racism and sexism in the “Flute”, and by the way there is even more racism there than sexism, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion!  Opera fans and especially Mozart fans will like this treatise, it’s interesting and also pretty funny.

Be that as it may, despite his notorious distrust of women, it has to be said that Mozart gave his female singers the best arias and solo pieces, providing them with ample opportunities to show off their virtuosity.  If he had truly hated women, he would have given them lame little ditties to sing.

The Ideology Of Free-dumb

And speaking of the music of the Divine Mozart!  In the past critics have noted that the character of Don Giovanni has no “signature tune” or musical personality.  Every other character in this story has a personality:  A standard way of thinking, a standard way of singing, of articulating their words; an internal consistency.  Giovanni, on the other hand, is simply a musical chameleon.  He is an empty shell masquerading as a baritone.  One moment, as in the scene above, Giovanni can sing a melodious “love duet” and then a bit later he is letting loose with the raucous patter song Fin ch’han dal vino as performed here in a very different production and by a very different baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky:


At the drinking party which ensues at Giovanni’s mansion, nobility and peasantry alike mingle, drink, dance, and toast to “Freedom”:  “Viva La Libertà!”

During the intermission which ended this lively (and theatrically well-produced) scene, a visibly adrenalinated star Simon Keenlyside, grabbing the interview mic, explained to Joyce DiDonato his own reading of this scene and of the opera’s subtext:  It’s all about the libertarian fervent which preceded the French Revolution.  Class distinctions are starting to break down.  The aristocrat Giovanni invites peasants into his mansion.  It’s all about Liberty and Equality.  The Don is a nascent Revolutionary.

Personally, I am dubious,  When the Don toasts to “la Libertà” I think he means more, like the “liberty” to rape women, kill whoever gets in his way, and carry on as he pleases, without any social constraints.  And the reason he wants the peasants there is so he can seduce  Zerlina.  This is not exactly the same thing as the “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” proclaimed by the Jacobin politicians of the French Revolution.  I would see Giovanni as more of an anarchist than a social revolutionary.  Nonetheless, it was refreshing that Keenlyside just plowed right in there with a political discussion.  Because grand opera is very political.  It’s just that it’s the politics of a bygone era, which most modern listeners don’t get.  An astonished DiDonato looked like she didn’t know quite what to make of Keenlyside’s rant.  “I have taken too much of your time,” Keenlyside quickly apologized, in his impeccable upper-class British accent, before literally dropping the mic and dashing off to get himself ready for Act II.

Humor and Terror

The opera “Don Giovanni” has some very funny moments.  “Is this a comedy?” Joyce asked the cast, again during those great intermission interviews.  Mezzo-soprano Serena Malfi (Zerlina) pointed out that the tragedy, the supernatural horror, and the comedy are all intermingled in this masterpiece.  Right at the beginning, Giovanni murders Anna’s father, the Commendatore.  This is a scene of death and horror.  Moments later, Leporello is joking with his master:  “Did you die?  Or did he die?”

“Harlequin and Columbine”, by Edgar Degas

Italian opera of the Mozartian era, as everyone knows, was extensively influenced by the popular theatrical art form known as Commedia dell’arte.  Smart people have said that this theatrical form lies at the basis of all Western European culture.  Its stock characters persist in Hollywood movies and American sitcoms:  The wise-cracking servant, the all-knowing wife, the randy old man, the scheming maid.  The opera opens with Giovanni’s servant Leporello, complaining about his master, and about the treatment he receives.  Some might call this “revolutionary class consciousness”, even proto-Marxism.  But the moaning and groaning (“He doesn’t pay me enough.  He beats me.  He doesn’t feed me.”) is all part of the stock dialogue of these characters.  And Zerlina is just another variation on the “Columbine” character, another stock figure in the Commedia repertoire.  Columbine is always scheming to better herself; but bottom line, she is a good girl, and the audience likes her and identifies with her.

Another favorite comedy device is the “switching identities” trope.  Master and servant switch clothes and pretend to be each other — in this case, so that Giovanni can woo Donna Elvira’s maid while Leporello woos Donna Elvira herself (in this production sung very competently by Swedish soprano Malin Byström.

Still another favorite comedy device is the “eating scene”.  Eating scenes are almost always funny on stage, when done properly.  And this is my only real criticism of this production, as I alluded above.  In Act II there is a very funny eating scene where a harried Leporello serves several courses (all listed in the libretto) of food and wine to a gluttonous Don Giovanni.  “What a voracious eater!” Leporello confides to the audience.  “It makes me sick to watch him.”  I have seen several good productions of this scene, where the two leads are actually eating onstage:  a big bowl of pasta for Don Giovanni; and Leporello stealing and scarfing down that pheasant leg.  To this day, 230 years later, it’s still funny when Giovanni, knowing that Leporello’s mouth is full of swiped meat, orders his servant to whistle to entertain him.  And it’s still funny when Giovanni’s house orchestra accompanies his meal by playing Figaro’s famous  aria Non più andrai from Mozart’s other opera, Le Nozze di Figaro.  “That music sounds familiar,” Giovanni remarks, as the audience chuckles knowingly.

A different production, a different interpretation of the Don’s Last Supper

The Met production ruined this scene (a tad, at least) by having extraneous prostitutes on the stage.  The Mozartian dinner scene is literally Don Giovanni’s “Last Supper”, and the presence of prostitutes just cheapened my experience of it.  [That last bit partially a joke, FYI.]

This is just a personal preference, call me a traditionalist, but in a perfect staging I would like to see Giovanni alone at his banquet table; with a small army of servants bustling about, the private orchestra in the background; Leporello back and forth, sometimes helping to serve, sometimes scrounging scraps like a dog under the table.  All the time Giovanni stuffing his face and Leporello complaining about it.  Just like the libretto says!  Instead, the producers decided to show Giovanni rolling around on the table with prostitutes and eating grapes off their tummies.  Okay, a chordate foetus already got the point that Giovanni is a male nymphomaniac.  And, as an aristocrat with his own mansion, he most likely has access to prostitutes, not to mention all the female domestics.  I am pretty sure he already tapped each and everyone of them.  But really, this is supposed to be an eating scene, not a sex scene!  The sex also detracted from Giovanni’s humorous interactions with Leporello.  Again, that’s just my opinion.

The Don Gets His Just Desserts

Fortunately, the botched eating scene did not spoil the rest of the show, which led up to a big bang-em-up Hellfire scene at the end.  In the midst of the meal, there is that fatal knocking on the door.  It is the Statue of the Commendatore arriving for dinner.  Just as invited.  Don Giovanni, as he was always fated to do, defies the Statue and ignores its warnings.  The Statue seizes the wrongdoer in the grasp of a dead man’s hand.  The stage erupts in flames and smoke.  The trapdoor beneath the stage opens up, and Giovanni is dragged down into Hell, defiant to the very end.

As the opera comes to a close, our six intrepid virtuous heroes (Donna Anna, Don Ottavio, Donna Elvira, Masetto and Zerlina) rush into Don Giovanni’s banquet room.  Their purpose being to make a citizen’s arrest, possibly even to punish the evil-doer.  They are just a few seconds too late:  Giovanni has already left the building, the trapdoor has closed up, the flames mysteriously went out.  Everything is as it was before.  There is no evidence left that anything happened.  They have just Leporello’s word for it, as he spins for them the tall (but true) tale of the Statue and of the Don being dragged down into the flames of hell.  Personally, if I were them, I would just assume that Leporello was lying.  Covering up for his master, like he always does.  It’s not like he didn’t try to divert them in the past.  Giovanni most likely escaped out the back door, vaulted over some bushes, and is well on his way to downtown Seville to cruise for more lady-flesh.

But no, the heroes credulously believe Leporello’s story.  Well, to be sure, there is one small corroborating piece of evidence:  “I am pretty sure I saw a ghost out there, knocking on the door,” Donna Elvira confirms.

Close enough for government work!  It is universally accepted by the Scooby Gang that God himself delivered the vengeance.  It’s all over, and the gang can get back to their lives.

  • “I will find myself a better master,” says Leporello.
  • “I will join a convent,” says Donna Elvira.
  • “Now we can put this behind us and get married,” Don Ottavio urges Donna Anna.
  • “It’s still too soon,” she rebuffs him.  [Ottavio, Dude:  can’t you see that the lady just isn’t into you?]
  • “Let’s go home and have dinner,” Masetto urges Zerlina.

The only truly sensible course of action!

And preferably a rustic but tasty dinner, no pheasants, just the two newlyweds, and no scary Statues knocking on the door.


Posted in Opera | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Anniversary of Gaddafi’s Murder – Part II

Dear Readers:

Today finishing up  this piece by Darya Mitina.  Commemorating the 5-year anniversary of Colonel Gaddafi’s brutal murder at the hands of American-backed violent jihadists affiliated with Al Qaeda.  (Just tellin’ it like it is, bros…)

A Debt Delayed Is Still A Debt To Pay

Russia’s role in the Libyan disaster was totally un-laudable.  Yesterday we discussed how the earlier pro-American Russian government of the 1990’s went along with Western economic sanctions against Libya, even refusing to pony up some cash that was owed to Libya by the former Soviet Union.  Two decades later, and the Russian Federation had partially dug its way out from under American vassalage, and yet still tended to bend to the West in key international issues.  Even after the Iraq War; even after it was crystal clear to a foetus in the womb that America was pursuing a policy of hegemonistic aggression directed at the overthrow of secular Arab governments — even then Russia turned a blind eye to the vicious economic, political, propagandistic, and ultimately military campaign that was being waged against Libya.  In March of 2011 Russia had the opportunity to veto UN Security Council Resolution #1973, which laid the basis for the destruction of this sovereign Arab state.  As with many U.S. crimes against humanity, the resolution was worded using pseudo-humanitarian language, setting up a “no-fly” zone to protect the Al Qaeda militias who had taken over parts of the city of Benghazi.  Recall that Gaddafi called these guys “terrorists” and “rats” and vowed to drive them out of the nest they had set up for themselves in Benghazi.  America and her allies (especially France, playing a leading role here) took umbrage at the words “rats” and rushed to protect their client jihadists.  They instituted a no-fly zone over Benghazi.   This no-fly zone then morphed into an all-out air war against Libya.  In effect, NATO became both the air force and the air cover for Al Qaeda in its Libyan base.

Russia washed its hands of Libya, and now is forced to fight in Syria

The resolution to destroy Libya passed the Security Council by 10 votes, with none against, and 5 abstentions.  The 5 abstainers were:  Brazil, China, Germany, India, and Russia.  By abstaining they allowed the dogs of war to prevail.  As Mitina points out, there are times when abstention is an even greater crime than engaging on the wrong side.

For the next five years the more sentient among the Russian citizenry, those who follow international news, were horrified (in the main) at the ensuing ramifications:  the bombing of Tripoli, the triumphal jeep convoys of the Mad Max jihadists bouncing across the desert, the thousands of innocent victims, the final gruesome denouement.  Russian public opinion was affected, at a gut level.

“Rationalists” claim that the Russian reaction was based on economics:  The fact is that a Russian “colony” used to exist in Libya.  This was a remnant of Soviet times, when the Soviet Union exported to various Third World nations military and civilian specialists, engineers, construction workers, other laborers, doctors, teachers and diplomats.  The Russian enclave in Libya consisted of around 15,000 people.

After a NATO bombing strike in Tripoli

The USSR had constructed a series of infrastructure objects in Libya:  An airbase and railroad in Sabha, a nuclear plant in Tahura, a gas pipeline in Misrata.  Hundreds of Libyan students were sent to study in Russian universities — in Moscow, Petersburg, Rostov and Voronezh.  NATO’s destruction of Libya caused economic damage to Russia as well:  There were contracts in place worth tens of billions of dollars.  But all of this was just in addition to the gut reaction which the Russian public experienced on viewing the destruction of Tripoli and the battle for Sirte.

Sirte fell, and the world witnessed the gruesome martyr’s death of a man who had become a symbol of resistance to the Evil Empire.  Even people who had not cared so much for Gaddafi before (his eccentricities, his blunders) respected how he fought back, and felt human pity for how he died.

A Happy Life

On the whole though Gaddafi enjoyed a happy, blessed and full life.  He was a poet, a philosopher, a revolutionary leader.  He was the classic “modernizing” leader of a bygone era of secular modernizers.  Gaddafi was beloved by many, and hated by some.

Gaddafi wrote the “Green Book” laying out his political philosophy.

Muammar was born in a bedouin tent in the middle of the Sahara desert.  He grew up to be the founder of a wealthy and important nation, the leading nation of the African continent, a country teeming, under his leadership, with gardens, irrigation canals and oil pipes.  Oil aka “black gold” was the foundation of Libya’s wealth.  Being a socialist by ideology, Gaddafi believed that the nation’s wealth belonged to all the people, not just to the 1% or 2%.  He worked out his own unique political philosophy and wrote it down in his famous “Green Book”, which was not just a political party platform, but also the foundation of the Jamahiriya social system.

Libya has an ancient tradition of poetry, starting with Callimachus

The fundamental credo of the Jamahiriya system is the notion of “human dignity”, the idea that every human being possesses inalienable dignity and inalienable rights.  Including the right to employment, health, education, well-being, and a cut of the national wealth.  This is the idea of the “welfare state” in a nutshell.  And a welfare state can work well when the nation possesses actual wealth to share.  Plus the technological know-how to extract that wealth.  Though far from being a perfect human being, Gaddafi was such an astute and talented political leader, that he was able to bring Libya, in the course of just 40 years, from a primitive bedouin society, to a modern industrialized and highly literate nation.  As a socialist and a fervent believer in literacy, Gaddafi gave special perks to poets.  He wrote poetry himself.  If you were a poet in Libya, then you essentially got a free ride.

Gaddafi’s ambitions did not stop at his nation’s borders, and this is one of the factors which did him in.  The Libyan leader had ambitions to unite all of the Arab world, along with sub-Saharan Africa, into a continental force with its own currency, freed from the domination of Western capital and the American petro-dollar.  As a socialist and a revolutionary, Gaddafi assisted other liberation movements throughout the world — again, a factor in his downfall, because the Empire always fights back.  And the Empire seeks to destroy anybody who challenges the supremacy of the U.S. dollar.

Gaddafi enjoyed a happy family life.  His first wife Fatiha Al-Nuri  bore him one son, Muhammad.  That marriage did not last, but Gaddafi and his second wife, Nadia Farkash, were together for almost 40 years.  She bore him seven additional children.  Except for one daughter, Aisha, all the children were sons.  Gaddafi’s children all loved him, and none betrayed him during the final ordeal.  One of his Gaddafi’s sons, Mutassim, died with his father in Sirte.

Mutassim was a Libyan army officer.  Showing an extraordinary level of filial piety, Mutassim fought alongside and protected his father until the very end.  Severely wounded and captured by the terrorists in Sirte, Mutassim’s final minutes were recorded on videotape.  There are various versions out there on the internet, some more gruesome than others.  All show a calm heroic persona who reacts with dignity to the taunts of his captors and dies bravely without begging for mercy.


Along with the Colonel and his sons, the nation of Libya also died an agonizing death.  The same people who firebombed Vietnam back in the day, also bombed Libya.  The weakened corpse was then given over to the jackals.  Tribal animosities take the place of Jamahiriya equality and fair-dealing.  Without realizing it, Gaddafi has become the symbol of a by-gone era.  The man is dead, but his vision of human dignity, of Arab unity and prosperity lives on.

Posted in Human Dignity, Military and War, The Great Game, True Crime | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Anniversary of Gaddafi’s Murder – Part I

This piece from VZGLIAD was written by reporter Darya Mitina.  Tis the five-year anniversary since the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.  At the moment of his death, the West announced the successful end of the Libyan Civil War.  In reality, the war still continues, and took turns which even the gloomiest pessimists could not have predicted.  Even U.S. President Obama “admitted” that this war was a “mistake”.  But it was not actually a mistake, it was a crime.

Exactly five years ago the world witnessed the brutal torture and murder of the Libyan leader.  Thanks to modern technology, a teenager can call his parents on his mobile phone and post to the internet somebody being tortured, in real time.  Technological progress allowed NATO operatives to pick out a column of vehicles near the city of Sirte.  Modern technology allowed French planes to bomb the column.  French Defense Minister Gérard Longuet bragged about this later, like he had done something really cool.   The destruction of Gaddafi’s convoy placed the aging ruler at the mercy of an enraged mob.  The jihadists  tortured and murdered Gaddafi while videotaping the entire ordeal and laying it out on the internet for the world to see.  LIke they had done something really cool.

Libyan schoolchildren demonstrate against U.S. air raids.

It has been five years since the destruction of the Jamahiriya, a socialistic philosophy of government and civil society developed by Gaddafi and his political supporters.  Like the (different flavor of) Soviet  socialism, the Jamahiriya was viciously attacked and defeated by the West.  Westie ideology cannot tolerate any form of socialism.  Only capitalist/authoritarian and class-based forms of government are tolerated.  The Jamahiriya system worked.  Implemented over the course of 40 years, it turned Libya into a modern, industrialized and prosperous nation – converted it from a country of illiterate bedouins and craftsmen into a modern nation populated by doctors and engineers — a nation in which education, even higher education, was free of charge.  This nation, where different ethnic groups and tribes lived together peacefully; a nation with the highest standard of living on the African continent; a nation which lived debt-free possessing billions of dollars of sovereign wealth in oil and gold — is now a ruined and bankrupt hellhole, a place of chaos and inter-tribal bloodletting.  A nation that was raped, looted, and left to die.  By the West.  Thousands of people were killed in the NATO bombings.  Tens of thousands more perished in the ensuing chaos and civil war.  Hundreds of thousands of refugees were forced to scattered across the world.  Hundreds of thousands of Libyan children stopped going to school, and 1400 schools were converted into army barracks or transit points for refugees.

SitRep:  Headchoppers In Charge

The current political situation in Libya is that there are three competing governments:  A so-called “secular” government in Tripoli; a military government in Tobruk; and an Islamist government in Benghazi.  The Benghazi one is affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda.  These were the same jihadi “militants” who were armed and geared up by the Westies, used as mercenary forces to overthrow Gaddafi.  They were the first to fly the black “Al Qaeada” flag over Benghazi.  Gaddafi called them “rats” and “terrorists” and vowed to drive them out of Benghazi.  Instead, the Al Qaeda “rats” defeated and murdered him.  But they could not have achieved this without a lot of help from the West.

By a cruel irony of fate, the capital of the jihadis is the city of Sirte.  This was Gaddafi’s hometown, and the fountain of the Jamahiriya socialist revolution.  Today the central square contains a chopping block, where Islamists chop off hands and heads, and where the black flag of Al Qaeda waves proudly.

Andrei Kozyrev and Bubba meet in the White House

In the early 1990’s Gaddafi, a very perceptive man, could see clearly what was happening with the Soviet Union and Russia.  As the Soviet Union disintegrated, partly as a result of Westie attacks and subversion,  the new American vassal state of Russia joined the West in imposing unfair economic sanctions upon Libya.  I don’t have time to go into that whole backstory here, but long story short, Westies hated Libya for several reasons, including (1) craving their oil, (2) hating socialism, and (3) Goldman Sachs using NATO as its air force to solve private merchant disputes — anyhow,  Colonel Gadaffi complained thusly to the new Russian leaders:  “You have reneged on all your obligations, you have torn up all your agreements, you have destroyed all the traditions of friendship and good neighborliness, by joining in on these anti-Libyan sanctions.  You have bent over completely to the West.”   At the moment the Soviet Union dissolved, it owed $7 billion dollars to Libya.  The Russian Federation inherited this sovereign debt.  Gaddafi decided to call in his marker.  Then-Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Kozyrev, refused to pony up the cash, retorting that Russia must abide by Western sanctions against Libya.  “Otherwise Washington will not approve.”

Kozyrev is a typical product of the Gorbachev “glasnost” era; as wiki points out:  “Seizing the opportunity opened by Gorbachev’s glasnost in summer 1989, Kozyrev wrote an article repudiating the Leninist concept of the “international class struggle,” the very essence of Leninism.  Firstly published in the Soviet press, the article was reproduced in the Washington Post and other major news sources all over the world, making him known as a political figure.”

Well, the international class struggle never actually ended, of course, so what Kozyrev repudiated was not the notion itself, nor the existence of said class struggle, but just which side he wanted to be on.  Nowadays Kozyrev lives in the U.S. and calls upon the American government to attack Russia.

[to be continued]

Posted in Human Dignity, Military and War, The Great Game, True Crime | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Attack of the Giant Beavers North of Moscow!

Dear Readers:

It is time for a more peaceful “good-news” story.  Well, good news if you like beavers.  Bad news if you suffer from “castorphobia”, or fear of beavers.  To be sure, they are ugly critters, with their huge yellow teeth.  But on the other hand, the presence of beavers can often be a sign that there is good fresh water to be had.  And everybody likes fresh water.  Well, unless you suffer from “hydrophobia”, but never mind about that…

“I will chop down your cities!”

This piece in Komsomolka announces that the beaver population north of Moscow has increased in the past 3-4 years.  And this is seen as a good thing.  The Russian word for “beaver” is бобёр (pronounced “ba-BOR”), plural “ba-BRY”.  This word is inherited from the ancient Proto-Indo-European language (PIE).  Linguists reconstruct the original word as something like *bʰébʰrus from the root *bʰreu- (“brown”), so something like “brown animal”.  Cognates in other Indo-European languages include Latvian bebrs, and, obviously, English “beaver” and “brown“, respectively.  These words did not change very much over the millenia.  And nor did beavers themselves.  They are the same ugly but lovable critters which our ancestors encountered as they wended their way into the European rivers and marshes.

Latin, for some reason, chose a completely different word for this animal:  castor, from the Greek kastor.  Originally Latin used the same word as everybody else:  fiber (probably pronounced something like “fibber”), with the PIE *bh sound becoming the f sound in Latin.  According to this online etymology, at some point Latin people stopped saying “fiber” and started saying “castor” which they borrowed from the Greeks, because Greek women associated beaver-musk (used as a medicine) with the divine being Kastor (twin of Pollux) who was sort of a god of medicine.

And speaking of beaver-musk, this is another one of the beaver’s amazing properties.  Beavers are basically large, semi-aquatic rodents with humongous front teeth used to chop down trees; and giant flat tails that look like ping-pong paddles.  Let’s face it, nobody really loves rodents, because they are ugly and filthy.  But an exception is made for beavers.  Beavers possess many valuable (for human exploitation) assets:  Their pelts, obviously; also their musk glands, used to make perfumes and medicines.  Not to mention their industriousness — these are the hardest-working animals in the world — and their highly ethical nature.  Beavers, like all rodents, are legendary for being good parents who dote on their families.  In fact, beavers possess all the good qualities which humans claim to have, but often don’t.

Beavers On The Yauza River

Returning to the Russian story, the lede is that inspectors from the Moscow Nature Center as well as residents of the Moscow North-Eastern Administrative Okrug (СВАО) have commented on the increase in beaver population in this area.  Here is some information in English about this administrative unit and the area it covers, for those who are interested in geography.

Russian tourists on the bank of the Yauza

The main river in Moscow, of course, is the Moscow River.  One of its tributaries is the Yauza River, and still another river feeding into the Yauza is called the Chermyanka.  The Yauza is an ancient Russian river, mentioned in Chronicles as early as 1156.  In time it became filthy and polluted with industrial waste.  Despite sporadic attempts at clean-up the river remained a sewer until around 3-4 years ago, when a serious effort was made to cleanse it.  The return of beavers is in fact a bellwether event indicating some ecological success in this arena.  Since beavers are very sensitive to chemical pollutants in the water, and tend to stay away from dirty rivers.

Another view of the Yauza River

The Komsomolka reporter interviewed a specialist named Azamat Kunafin, who heads the Ecology section for the Okrug, within the science center at Sokolniki.  Kunafin described how beavers avoid chemical pollutants, and how their numbers are visibly increasing now, especially in spring.  Kunafin and the other zoologists beg the public to please, not feed the beavers.  Sure, they’re cute.  But it doesn’t do them any good to become accustomed to human food.  People will toss them vegetables and fruits, which really are not good for them.  And young beavers in particular need to learn how to acquire their own food.  Which consists mainly of the bark from trees.  So, unless you’re tossing them some bark — please don’t bother.  And even then — don’t do it.  Let them learn to strip their own bark.

According to other interviewee, Boris Samoilov, who is the editor of a travel book about Moscow, beaver family life goes something like this:

The first one-and-a-half years of their lives, young beavers live with their parents.  After which Mama and Papa Beaver chase the young’uns away from their territory.  Unlike human children, the exiled ones do not complain or try to sneak back into the parental domicile with a bag of dirty laundry:  They cheerfully swim off in search of their own territory.  A place of their very own!  Sometimes they can travel pretty far — according to Samoilov, three years ago his team managed to photograph a beaver who had swimmed all the way up the Moscow River to the “Udarnik” movie theater!

“How can you NOT pet me? I’m so cute!”

Samoilov explains that it is not desirable for beavers to live within the city limits — this is not their territory, this is not the right place for them.  From the human point of view, beavers are destructive:  They subsist mainly on a diet of trees.  Trees are inherently low-calorie, which means the beavers have to chop down quite a lot of them.  They will lay waste an entire area of forest, and then just cavalierly move on, every five years or so.

“Is it safe to pet them?” he is asked.

“Beavers are peace-loving animals.  During the day they hang out in their lodges.  One may approach them.  But I would not recommend trying to pet them.  They have big teeth and sharp claws.  I would recommend just leaving them alone.”

But Doctor Samoilov:  You know us!  We’re people!  We can’t just leave nature alone.  It’s not in our … er… nature!

Posted in Animal Rights | 12 Comments

Motorola’s Assassination: This Means War – Part II

Dear Readers:

Continuing my story on the assassination of Russian soldier and Donbass Volunteer Arsen Pavlov, aka Motorola.  For source material, I have this piece from Komsomolka, as well as several others which cover different angles of the story.

Those Who Mourn, and Those Who Rejoice

Yesterday we touched on Pavlov’s sparse biography.  This piece gives a few additional but still sparse facts:  Pavlov was born on 2 February 1983, in the city of Ukhta, Soviet Union, later Russian Federation.  Service:  77th Guard Brigade of Moscow-Chernigov, Order of Lenin and the Red Star, Order of Suvorov Marines, as a signals specialist.  Participated in counter-terrorism operations in the Second Chechnya War.  Rank:  Deputy Platoon Commander.  Joined Igor Strelkov’s Volunteers in Slavyansk, Donbass in May 2014.  After Strelkov’s retreat to Donetsk, Motorola became Commander of the “Sparta” Brigade of Rebel fighters.  Awards:  Motorola was awarded with the highest medal of the Donetsk Peoples Republic:  the St. George Cross and the “Order of Valor” First Class.

Motorola and his pal Givi became media celebrities.

As a Resistance fighter, Motorola acquired the reputation as a “crazy jackass”.  But in a good way.  His gonzo fighting antics were legendary.  During the defense of Semenovka, Motorola would begin his fighting day by transmitting over loudspeaker the Muslim call to prayer.  The Ukrainian besiegers, clustered not far away, could hear this from the trenches.  They were terrified, as they had previously convinced themselves that they were up against ferocious Chechen mercenaries, led by Ramzan Kadyrov in person.  Such tactics of inseminating fear were almost like something out of Beau Geste.   Similarly, while raining machine-gun fire on the Ukrainian soldiers, Motorola and his Rebels liked to yell out:  “Allahu Akhbar!”  This was all a joke, by the way; there were no Chechens involved.

For such an outgoing and extroverted man, somebody who was savvy with the media and not at all camera-shy, we have seen that Pavlov was guarded and very private about his past.  Personally I doubt if he was hiding some big secret.  Just the guardedness you typically see in people who come from troubled families or less than ideal families.  Orphaned and raised by his grandmother, Pavlov was a typical Russian working stiff.  His enemies in the pro-Ukrainian press and forums make fun of his poverty, his working-class past and the variety of jobs he took to support himself:  gravestone engraver, car washer, miner, security guard in a grocery store, rescue/recovery, a variety of handyman type jobs.  They make fun of this, like it’s a bad thing to be a working man.  Maybe they would respect Motorola more if he had earned his bread through criminality, or enlisting as one of Kolomoisky’s paid goons?

Ironically, this short in stature, un-military-appearing man found his life’s true calling as a soldier.   Defining himself as a Russian patriot.  Serving in the Russian marines; and then as a volunteer fighter in Donbass.  Which is where we get to the definition of “Volunteer” vs “Mercenary”.  The Ukrainian nationalists call Motorola a “mercenary”.  And yet they were happy to send their UNA-UNSO (Banderite) “volunteers” to fight against the Russian side in Chechnya.  In fact, it was almost exactly the same configuration of forces:  In Chechnya it was Team Russia on the one hand (which included Chechens loyal to Russia) vs. Emirate jihadists, NATO Balts, and Ukrainian Banderites on the other side.  In the Donbass, it is Ukrainian nationalists, jihadist Tatars, and NATO again, on the same team; vs ethnic Russians and pro-Russians on the other side.  You know the old saying:  “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”  Same thing goes for “volunteers”:  One man’s mercenary is another man’s volunteer.  It all depends whose ox is being gored.


While fighting against Ukrainian nationalists at every major battle of this war:  Slavyansk, Ilovaisk, Debaltsevo, the Donetsk Airport — Motorola not only found his true calling; but also something he had missed in his troubled past:  Love and family happiness.  The photo to the left (which I “borrowed” from Komsomolka) was taken just a few months ago, in May 2016.  It shows a happy Motorola (left); his little daughter Miroslava (in the toy car); and  his wife Elena Kolenkina, already pregnant with their second child, a boy, who was born just within days of his papa’s assassination and took the name Makar,  The man in the background marked with a red circle, is Goga, their bodyguard.  Goga was blown up in the elevator shaft, along with Motorola.  Elena and the two children were not harmed.  They were still upstairs, waiting for the next elevator down, because they needed more room, with the baby carriages.  This is what probably saved them.

Not that Elena was initially a complete innocent.  And Motorola’s romance with her was a public media event from the beginning.  Elena was a typical Russian girl, born and raised in Slavyansk.  After Maidan, she joined the Resistance and picked up a gun.  Like many “self-called” Russian patriots, after the violent coup, she saw the new Ukrainian Nazi government as an “Occupier”, just as in the Great Patriotic War.  Elena is the girl partisan who appeared in the famous youtube video warning about the possibility of a passenger jet being shot down inadvertently, given that Ukrainian jets, while bombing civilian targets, were sneakily hiding behind passenger planes.

Elena’s warning so eerily presaged the subsequent MH-17 disaster and its catastrophic consequences, including Westie economic sanctions against Russia, that, according to one of the extant conspiracy theories, the true perpetrators of the MH-17 crime were in fact inspired by watching Elena’s video.  In other words, they got the idea from her and staged the crime exactly as she predicted.  But this is just a theory, obviously.

As is clear from her video and photos, Elena the Rebel fighter was tall, beautiful; way out of the league of an ugly little gnome like Arsen Pavlov.  But they say opposites attract:  Elena fell in love with the Motorola.  Their romance, their wedding, even their honeymoon in Crimea, was covered in the media and on youtube, like some kind of reality show.  After which, they withdrew into privacy and started a family.

“Keep on Working, Brothers!”

Kots writes that Motorola was not ambitious and had no plans to enter politics.  This is why theories that “Zakharchenko dunnit” or “Plotnitsky dunnit” are nonsense.  The Ukrainian nationalist side has painted Motorola as a monster who tortured POW’s.  That is also not true.  According to Kots, Motorola was neither condescending nor cruel.  His main characteristic was loyalty.  His loyalty to other people; and their loyalty back to him.

In addition to his family, Motorola had a very close friend and army buddy named Mikhail Tolstykh, aka “Givi”.  They made an odd couple:  the red-haired gnome and the half-blood Gruzian who chatters in a rapid accented patois barely recognizable as Russian.   Givi became a media star in his own right when journalists caught on tape his absolute fearlessness in the midst of an enemy shelling.

The jokey rapport between Givi and Motorla, which also became a kind of reality show on social media, gave rise to gossip (especially among their enemies) about their relationship.  Banderites on internet forums call them “fuck buddies” and worse.  Well, only soldiers know what goes on in a soldier’s life.  But, bottom line, Givi is extremely angry and upset about his friend’s murder.  Yesterday he gave a series of almost incoherent interviews in which he made some unfortunate threats to “level Ukrainian cities” as retaliation for Motorola’s murder.  This is what Givi had to say:

“They will pay dearly for Motorola’s murder.  I can say with confidence:  Whoever did this, will pay very dearly.  Every city after Donetsk Peoples Republic, which we shall seize, all the way to Kiev, I will personally level to the ground.  To avenge the death of my friend.”

Couging and almost weeping with emotion, Givi goes on to say:  “He had no fear.  I have no fear either, but in my case it’s easier, because I have no family.  Whatever the khokhols [pejorative slang for Ukrainians] say, you can take with a grain of salt.  I don’t even know what else to say.  All of the Banderite parties are claiming credit for this, and you just don’t know who to believe, unfortunately.  But I believe that this was a blow struck against the Donetsk Peoples Republic, and that Ukraine will answer for this completely.”

Closing on a more positive note, I give you this piece from PolitNavigator, along with the accompanying photo.  I don’t know if this is photoshopped or not, but Motorola is shown holding up a sign that reads, in Russian, “Keep on Working, Brothers!”

Readers may recall the context behind this slogan, I covered this story about the heroic Dagestan cop Magomed Nurbagandov, who has become a hero in the pro-Russian world.  Recall that Magomed was captured by a band of Dagestani robbers/possibly jihadists [in Dagestan they are often one and the same, hence the confusion].  Attempting to coerce him to make a video asking other cops to quit their jobs and leave off chasing after the robbers, Magomed instead, just before the robbers shot him dead,  looked into the camera and pronounced:  “Keep on working, brothers!”

And I reckon that is a suitable epitaph for Motorola as well.

Posted in Breaking News, Military and War | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments