'The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.' This is probably my favorite line in the whole damn thing. There's a Russian saying that goes, “the severity of the law is mitigated by the need to get around it.” Russians, from a grocery cashier up to President Putin, know that there's a way around every law should the will to get around it exist. This is probably because in Russia, the law is not a framework to enforce rights and order; the law is seen as a bludgeon which can be used to selectively punish people. This understanding of the law has flowered most fragrantly under Putin.
By Julia Ioffe
This, apparently, is how diplomacy happens these days: Someone makes an off-hand remark at a press conference and triggers an international chain reaction that turns an already chaotic and complex situation completely on its head, and gives everyone a sense that, perhaps, this is the light at the end of the indecision tunnel.
By Julia Ioffe
Last Friday, a 24-year-old mermaid was severely injured when she fell off a boat and hit the propeller, nearly severing her left leg, authorities said. Her two friends in the boat, also mermaids, were unharmed.
By Julia Ioffe and Ben Crair
As disgusting as these views are, as deplorable as the anti-gays laws are, our yelling and screaming about them will not change Russian attitudes, just as Europe or Canada screaming at America to legalize gay marriage or to get rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or to remove homosexuality from the DSM is not what got America to do any of those things.
They stripped him and began shoving beer bottles into his anus. Two bottles fit, whole, and a third made it part of the way in. By this point, he was unconscious, so his friends put some cardboard under him and tried to set it alight.
My main beef with O’Donnell is not that he wouldn’t let me make these 11 points—because, let’s face it, that’s not what the TV is for—but that he did exactly the same shit Russians did to me when I was in Russia. They assumed that the U.S. and its government was one sleek, well-functioning monolith, that Obama was omnipotent, and that everyone in the world, including other important (and nuclear!) world leaders, act and must act as Russia demands it should, using Russian foreign policy calculus, and with only Russian interests in mind.
Aleksey Navalny did something very simple on his blog: He held officials and official companies accountable in a way a destroyed civil society was unable and unwilling to do.
Here’s the thing, America: Russia is not going to give you Snowden just because you asked for him. It’s just not how the Russians do things, especially not after they asked for weapons dealer Viktor Bout and didn’t get him. (Especially not after the Russian propaganda machine has kicked into full gear, hailing Snowden as a whistleblower who would be mistreated and executed in America.) There’s not much the U.S. can offer Russia, and not much it can hold over its head. And the things it can hold over its head, it won’t.
Julia Ioffe examines the black humor of the Pussy Riot trial.
On the morning of February 21, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mria Alyokhina, and Ekaterina Samutsevich walked up the steps leading to the altar of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, shed their winter clothing, pulled colorful winter hats down over their faces, and jumped around punching and kicking for about thirty seconds. By evening, the three young women had turned it into a music video called “Punk Prayer: Holy Mother, Chase Putin Away!” which mocked the patriarch and Putin. (“The head of the KGB is their patron saint,” they sang, by turns shrieking and imitating a church choir.)
The video went viral: it was two weeks before the presidential election and Putin, facing a wave of unprecedented protests, was feeling shaky. Three days later, a warrant was issued for the girls’ arrest. According to their indictment, their trial promised to be a decisive moment in the history of Christianity; officially, they were being tried for hooliganism, but the mumbling prosecutor clarified that they stood accused of “insulting the entire Christian world.”
Julia Ioffe — “Pussy Riot V. Putin: A Front Row Seat at a Russian Dark Comedy”