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Grigory Pasko: Re-Mapping the World, Russian Style

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The empire’s gone, but the ambitions remain

Grigory Pasko, journalist

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In the nearest future, a new geographic map will be published in Russia in which Abkhazia and South Ossetia are designated in different colors from the colors of Georgia. The capitals of these states, which almost nobody in the world recognizes, will be designated on the map as Sukhum and Tskhinval (until then they had for centuries been called Sukhumi and Tskhinvali).

In the words of deputy head of the Federal Agency for Geodesy and Cartography Radmil Shayapov, the changes in the maps have been introduced in accordance with the recommendations of the MFA of Russia. [It should be noted that this name change is most unusual. Russian maps have traditionally continued to use old place names despite the preferences of the locals. The capital of China is still Peking, Myanmar is still Burma, the capital of Turkmenistan is still Ashkhabad, Russia’s neighbors to the west are still Byelorussia and Moldavia, and the RF’s own Republic of Bashkortostan is still Bashkiria, just to give a few examples.–Trans.]

That same MFA which recently declared that «the declarations resonating fromthe side of highly-placed representatives of individual countries andorganizations about the supposedly political character of the murder ofthe journalist Anastasia Baburovacan not but amaze the Russian side». In the opinion of the MFA RF ,«the tragic events associated with the death of the journalist arebeginning to get artificially politicized and used with unseemlyobjectives for the discreditation of Russia, to be drawn under alreadyelaborated conceptions of the absence of freedom of the press in theRF, the persecution of journalists». (ITAR-TASS)

In short, in Russia there is freedom of speech, journalists are freeand can peacefully criticize the power and the nazis, write about thehorrors of the Chechen wars and the lawless mayhem of thelaw-enforcement organs, not worrying about getting killed in theentrance of their house.

…Recently I researched the blogosphere of the Russian Internet. Iwas amazed by the copiousness of the hysterical cries by anonymousauthors about how «Russia – is the greatest country», that «we will ripapart these pindosy» (that’s how they call the USA and Americans in theRussian net) [Stick a “pid-” or “ped-” or something similar beforeanything in Russian and you get an instant allusion to a veryderogatory word for “homosexual”, which itself is a deep insult, ofcourse. Apparently, the second half of today’s word is evocative of”amerikosy”, an offensive distortion(again, because it sounds like thesecond half of another nasty word for “homosexual”) of “amerikantsy”. Apossible rendering that might convey the correct feel of this wordwould be “Americunts”–Trans.], about all non-Russians… So much rage,aggression, as if though it were being cultivated by someone (but who?)from outside and generously nourished (how?).

«Novaya gazeta»provided even a survey of the nazi sites and provided examples of their«creativity». Here are but a few examples: «May God grant that everyday, they would kill at least 10 leading Russophobes, so behold and thehour of the time of Russia is approaching»; «The year started out notbad, not bad at all! …assaults on the basis of nationality hatrednearly every day! And they snuffed such real scumbags yesterday, too,that the soul sings!»; «Kill all hireling curs and biotrash! Thetraitor — the main enemy!»

I think that in the MFA they have nothing against such utterances. Ordo they? If so, then why don’t they express their position relative tothe presence in the country of fascistizing organizations?

…And also taking place in the country are outbursts of hurrah-patriotic hysteria.
At school №5 of the town of Lobnya, a mandatory ritual has beenintroduced by the directorate of the school of performing the hymn ofRussia [the national anthem–Trans.] in the morning. Every Monday, theyforce the children to come to school 15 minutes before the start ofclass. The teachers lead them out into the corridor, line them upacross from the classes, and turn on a recording of the hymn. And thechildren, standing, meekly sing the hymn together with the teachers.Whoever is late for the performance of the hymn has to wait out on thestreet as punishment. Besides this, they write an admonition in theunpatriotic child’s journal.

In my opinion this – is also the phantom pains of empire. The empire’s gone, but the ambitions remain.