The Polittechnologist: Broken Dishes at Sea

Polittechnologist%20small.gifIn the Russian language, the word “boi” signifies not only a military engagement, but also a large quantity of broken dishes. It is precisely in this latter sense that I have used it in the title of my article [Translator’s explanation: The original title of this article is “Morskoi boi”, which translates literally as “Sea battle” (and also happens to be the Russian name for the popular table game known as “Battleship” in English). The play on words, which does not translate, lies in this illogical double meaning – “Broken dishes at sea”.] After the jump, the Polittechnologist takes a look at the eco-disaster in Russia’s Black Sea.

Just a few days ago, I was working on an article about the fantastic new posters that have recently appeared in St. Petersburg (see photo). But all day on November 11, I found myself watching and reading the news, and by evening I started to laugh. When 1 or 2 ships run aground – that’s a tragedy. When this happens to 3-5 ships – it’s a catastrophe. But when it’s nearly a dozen ships, and they’re sinking or breaking up at the rate of 1 per hour – that’s already a comedy. Because such a thing simply cannot happen. But it did, and it wasn’t a dream.


Green means go (and vote for Putin)! New feel-good «United Russia» party campaign posters have begun to appear in Russia. This one says: “In Putin’s Plan – Me, You, We”.

Russia sure is an entertaining country. And on November 11, everybody was shown once again that nothing here works, that everything is so antiquated (not only the machines, but even the people who continue to drive and go to sea and fly in these machines) it’s literally falling apart before our very eyes.The last person to think of sinking an entire squadron of Russian ships was the last tsar, Nicholas II. He did that just about 100 years ago, by the way, in the Far East.Putin still hasn’t become Emperor of All the Russias, but an event of truly tsarist proportions has happened on his watch – an entire squadron of the Russian merchant fleet has sunk. So now I’m curious – was all this part of “Putin’s Plan”, about which those posters in St. Petersburg speak?Judging from the posters, it would seem that everything is included in the Plan (see photo again). Which would mean that the “broken dishes at sea” in the Kerch Strait must also be a part of this grand design.


Putin loves YOU! This poster reassuringly tells Russians: “You are in Putin’s Plan – Pensions, Wages, Scholarships”.

I’d also like to know where in this Plan is the place for Georgia, for Khodorkovsky, for the people who poisoned Litvinenko, for those who murdered Politkovskaya (I could go on…). “You are in Putin’s Plan” – the three-eyed traffic light on the poster says to me. “Which part of it?”, I want to ask. The part where they “soak you in the toilet” [Translator’s explanation: This phrase came to international prominence in the mouth of Putin several years ago. It is horribly coarse prison slang, referring to sticking the head of a prisoner who is at the bottom of the social totem pole into a filthy toilet (is there any other kind in Russia?) in order to ritually formalize his status as the lowest of the low, fair game for all kinds of unspeakable acts on the part of all other prisoners.], or the part where the imperial legacy of the USSR continues to crumble?If I’d naively thought before that I still had some measure of personal freedom remaining, now it turns out that in fact I’m a part of some other person’s plans (me and every other citizen of Russia). And I’ve got two ways I can go – I can either get “soaked” for being one of “those who disagree” (what kinds of behavioral constraints can there be, if the spetsnaz are killing children in Ingushetia?), or I can get hit by a falling airplane or balcony, or maybe fall into an uncovered hole in the ground at some Olympic building site in Sochi.Alas, the building of a “United Russia” is just the latest bluff for the undereducated. What we have is a dictator of a collapsing empire. Only instead of hearing people speaking out against what’s happening, all we’re hearing, more and more, is “when is this all going to end?” When? I’ll tell you when! When everything falls apart, when the Russian people stop using their brains in order to sail around on ancient ships on a stormy sea, when we forget what the Soviet Union was – that’s when it all will end. But for now, “Putin’s Plan” is in effect. And only afficionados of marijuana (for whom the word “plan” is slang for their drug of choice) think it’s funny. Maybe they’re right…