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#1 Edited by Wolverine (4281 posts) -

There was a thread today that got locked supporting Putin that was frankly flame bait. I'm making this post to create civil discussion.

As an American, the annexation of Crimea is not what concerns me about Putin. Crimea was Russian land until the 60's. Khrushchev added the land to Ukraine without considering that the USSR may one day be dissolved. Majority of the people living there are ethnically Russian.

What concerns me about contemporary Russia is its extreme sense of nationalism. Leaders have always used nationalism to manipulate their people. The country's become extremely conservative and hostile towards minorities, homosexuals, and women.

During the Olympics, Pussy Riot was protesting in public, performing a song called "Putin Will Make You Love The Motherland". A conservative Russian group started whipping the women in the street while the police just stood there and watched.

Voltaire once said "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, westerners and Russians, all deserve to have the right of self expression. It is apparent that Mr. Putin does not believe so.

I hope that thread produces meaningful debate rather than a flame war. Let's be civil.

#2 Posted by leebmx (2236 posts) -

From what I notice, the level of Nationalism in Russia is not that different from that expressed by the USA. Obviously the Russians have a far larger inferiority complex and general insecurity which makes this nationalism far more dangerous.

I would agree that the levels of free speech, personal freedom and expression in Russia are dangerously low and it must be a scary place to live if you are anything other than white and straight and Putin-supporting.

Regarding the whole Ukraine thing however, I do think that the West could be a little more sensitive and try to see things more from the Russians point of view. As they see it, a country with a democratically elected (no matter how courrpt) leader has been overthrown by and group with some very unsavoury right wing elements and the country split in two in a dangerous and unstable way with encouragement and overtures from the EU/NATO. I think the Russians have the right to be alarmed, although they are abusing the situation in just as self-interested a way as the west.

Imagine for a moment that Ukraine was Mexico or Canada and the government had just been brought down by a violent group who wanted to fall in with a new Russian/Eastern aligned bloc, or were just planning being a bit Socialist. Sometimes I think the Russians have some legitimacy in their claims of always being prodded and humiliated by the west. Again, I don't think they are victims by any means, but the West doesn't always act in an appropriate fashion either.

#3 Posted by forkboy (1200 posts) -

The rampant nationalism in countries like Russia and America is absolutely a serious concern.

#4 Edited by freakin9 (1173 posts) -

Racism and homophobia is a pretty big problem around the world, singling out Russia isn't really fair.

I have to say though, I'm a bit surprised this Russia Ukraine thing seems to escalate to new levels each week. While I'd like to believe the pro-Russian supporters in Ukraine aren't backed by Putin, I have no doubt that they are. I do think that is a much larger issue than something like Pussy Riot. Until Obama, the US leaders seemed rather homophobic themselves.

#5 Posted by TheHBK (5587 posts) -

This is how the Terminator started. Aslo, Russia sucks. Lets face it. They are like a bigger version of North Korea. So full of WTF moments and are responsible for many a "you serious bro?" faces.

#7 Edited by Mcfart (1744 posts) -

@forkboy said:

The rampant nationalism in countries like Russia and America is absolutely a serious concern.

At least Americans are full of war weariness and their nationalism won't matter unless someone attacks the USA - which won't happen.

I doubt Russians want to see imperialism again either. I think Moscow saw lots of protests against the occupation of Crimea

#8 Edited by TruthTellah (9531 posts) -

@wolverine: To be quite honest, I don't quite know what you hope to discuss. I was in that thread last night, and as you said, it was a real crapshoot. It's so tiring to hear and try to reasonably discuss the many ways in which people try to justify the actions of men like Putin.

What is there to discuss? How much we dislike or like Putin? Whether we think bad things are bad?

#9 Edited by MB (13272 posts) -

I'm really not sure what the point of this topic is either. The original post seems more like a collection of bullet points from presentation or a wikipedia article than anything else.

@wolverine I'll leave this open for now I guess, but if you want to start "civil discussion" then you need to do more than just list a few generalities without taking a position or asking any clearly defined questions. Especially in topics such as this.

#10 Posted by adoggz (2046 posts) -

why do we need to discuss russia at all? This is a game site we should be talking about how to ask out girls or the new animes that are out and how much they suck and aren't the golden days of dbz and shit like that.

#11 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1693 posts) -

Having studied Russian history from the mid-1800's to now, pretty heavily. I can say with confidence that Russia is going to become a major concern to the world within the next 10 years. If something isn't done soon. History is repeating itself with this hyper-nationalistic, hyper-imperialistic nation. The idea that they are invading different areas "to protect ethnic Russians" is a really horrible argument. Though, the world isn't dumb enough to think that this is the truth Plus, (obviously) the uprisings in the Ukraine are the work of the GRU. (Russian Foreign Intelligence, like the CIA)

#14 Posted by Sooty (8082 posts) -

Don't hate the Russia. Hate da Putin.

#15 Edited by afrofools (1335 posts) -

Whenever I saw the current situation on TV, regarding the Ukrainian protests, the anti-Russia side appears to be very similar to a Nazi group. Ironically, Russia's attitudes to minorities is similar to the Nazis, however I don't think they are going to gas their people (or maybe they will). So basically what I am saying is both sides seem quite hateful and present themselves in a tough-convervative manner.

Admittedly I stopped following this spectacle and forgot some details, but that is due to realising their were no 'good' sides. But I see Russia as the better of the two. If I were to explore this event further I may change my mind though as I really don't know what's best for Ukraine. What's worrying is the people that should know may not.

#16 Edited by EXTomar (4987 posts) -

Russia is a big place. "Hating Russia" is kind of nonsense.

With that said, Eastern Europe for better or worse has been shaped by Imperial Russia and then by the Soviet Union. Poland has done a good job getting out of under the shadow and thumb of Russia but doing so has made conservatives and hardliners in Russia uneasy. Having Ukraine do the same thing would probably freak even more of them out. This would be like if Canada wanted to have nothing to do with the US and actively sought alliances with China and succeed then Mexico starts making rumblings about getting becoming very friendly with China.

I think it is inevitable that Russia's influence wanes because the only real influence they have is energy which is a fickle way to build relationships (hint: Look at how the US treats Mid-East Asia). It isn't that far fetch to see that these actions by Putin are a way to distract from internal problems. So far taking over Crimea is popular in Russia because it literally cost the Russian people nothing. It might not be so popular if people start dying or people start boycotting Russian energy or they gain a lot of debt or baggage. Also Putin should be wary if even China, which has classically taken a non-interventionist stance, is suspicious about how interventionist Russia policy has suddenly become.

#19 Posted by dudeglove (8488 posts) -

@truthtellah: Did we read the same first post? He starts off meaningfully in the first sentence, and then proceeds to spout "facts" skimmed from whatever listicle garbage clickbait site. I don't especially go out of my way to be "that guy", especially seeing as there are plenty of other morons on the internet better at it than myself, but seeing sweeping generalizations like

Leaders have always used nationalism to manipulate their people.


It is apparent that Mr. Putin does not believe so

is really tiresome, especially when the OP can't be bothered to go to the trouble of backing up any of his claims that are either misleading or outright false, and as a result this thread only serves to feed into this idiotic and ultimately dangerous cycle of bad information and stereotyping. I don't blame him for writing idiotic posts, I've done it myself, but ignorance isn't an excuse.

To the OP I suggest the following thought exercises, not just for anything Russia-related but for, well, anything:

- Consider for a moment your source of information. Who produced it? Why did they produce it? Take a few moments to look into their back catalogue of work. Is this author deliberately inflammatory?

- What are your immediate thoughts upon seeing a news piece? Is there any discernible or overt bias or "tone"? After you read, listened to or watched it, how did you feel? Disgust? Outrage? Indifference? Informed?

- If you felt informed, question whether or not the piece conveys every side of the issue or argument accurately enough? If every side of the issue was not conveyed accurately, consider why this is not the case.

If you then decide you want to take such things on the Internet, I highly suggest you frame your questions more specifically, much like MB suggested. As it currently stands your post just paints an extremely narrow image of Russia with very broad strokes.

#21 Posted by TruthTellah (9531 posts) -

@dudeglove: I think that's decent advice. I wish you could have offered that initially instead(when you aren't being abusive toward people, you're pretty cool! heh), but yeah, we're still on the same page regarding questioning the purpose and quality of this thread. As MB said, maybe something can still come out of it. We'll see.

#23 Edited by ZolRoyce (886 posts) -

@sooty said:

Don't hate the Russia. Hate da Putin.

Agreed, and can pretty much be used to describe the majority of countries leaders/governments, Putin and his government seem to be a bunch of assholes, but I'm sure there are plenty of nice Russian citizens.
Rinse and repeat for the rest of the world.

#25 Edited by W1ck3d (28 posts) -

Remember when this was a video game website?

#27 Posted by TruthTellah (9531 posts) -

@w1ck3d said:

Remember when this was a video game website?

A Russian war in Crimea is the setting of Lock On: Modern Air Combat. Is that videogame enough?

(also, having one small, currently unpopular thread about something going on in the world today isn't preventing a dozen other Dark Souls II threads from getting replies)

#31 Edited by AdequatelyPrepared (692 posts) -
You know you're going to need one in this thread eventually

#32 Posted by forkboy (1200 posts) -

@mcfart said:

@forkboy said:

The rampant nationalism in countries like Russia and America is absolutely a serious concern.

At least Americans are full of war weariness and their nationalism won't matter unless someone attacks the USA - which won't happen.

I doubt Russians want to see imperialism again either. I think Moscow saw lots of protests against the occupation of Crimea

The point was more that blind nationalism, unquestioning patriotism is a danger to free people wherever it happens. It's an ideology which focuses on what divides people instead of uniting them, which is fine for shitty governments looking for an existential threat but for the actual interests of ordinary people? It's a distraction at best.

#33 Posted by SingingMenstrual (327 posts) -

I find these Eastern European countries to be scary. That is all.

I work in a museum with guests and groups from all over the world. Groups of Russian teenagers scare me, the other guests don't. They do NOTHING wrong, but they make me afraid inside.

Thank you.

#34 Edited by MrFalcon (45 posts) -

@singingmenstrual: I just hope for that museum's sake that you are nothing more than a janitor.

"They do NOTHING wrong, but they make me afraid inside."

Sounds like you are a pretty pathetic individual. Why would you get a job at a museum if you are so close minded?

#35 Posted by SingingMenstrual (327 posts) -
#36 Posted by DetectiveSpecial (464 posts) -

Why is anyone (by anyone I mean the American press and the majority of UN mouthpieces) surprised that a man who was high ranking KGB during the Cold War is a fan of nationalism and collusion? This should have been expected and frankly it's surprising to me that it took this long for him to annex a sovereign country. Also, you know what Russia is historically terrible at doing? Managing fucking land. Ask anyone in Uzbekistan.

And the term "ethnically Russian" is a designation that was created for this type of situation only. People in Crimea might be culturally Russian - but they are ethnically Slavic, as are both Ukrainians and Russians.

#37 Posted by MrFalcon (45 posts) -

@detectivespecial: I think there also some Tatars in the mix, but no one asked them what they wanted. I don't know, the whole thing is a mess. I've been to Crimea once a long time ago and I can see why the Russians are keen to grab it, the place was quite lovely (at least the part where I was).

#38 Posted by Dars (9 posts) -

I'm Ukrainian myself and I feel I should point out (merely from my experience of being both born and bred there until around 10) that countries like Ukraine and Russia know no other way than the way they have followed for many centuries. What seems cold, corrupt and medieval in other parts of the world is not at all seen that was in these countries. Everything is run by the church, everyone is religious. If you even bring up the concept of disbelief in a God, you are seen as an outcast - a lost person. Maybe even insane, maybe into witchcraft. Now this is obviously completely ridiculous, but a lot of other things therefore stem from this kind of viewpoint. For example the utter disgust and intolerance for homosexuals found in these places (which I am not in agreement with at all, but I know that if it weren't for me spending most of my teen/adult life in the UK, I would still be programmed to hate them). Or the blind following of Putin, who is heavily involved in pretty much any church ceremony taken place around the country.

I agree with the OP about Crimea though, the fact that Russia took it back was pretty much something Ukraine had coming. I'm not sure that any of the stuff that is happening however is seen correctly. Despite all that is happening, Russia and Ukraine are practically the same nation. They are very, very close. So close in fact that the pro-Russian/pro-Ukrainian nationalists that everyone seems to think roam the cities killing are in fact literally seen as another entity altogether - random pro-EU/American fascists. Obviously it's hard to tell what is actually happening there right now, and since I still reside in the UK I have no way of knowing myself, but singling out Russia for being too nationalistic seems slightly unfair - even if correct. America gives off the same vibe, even if promoting 'freedom'.

#39 Posted by DetectiveSpecial (464 posts) -

@mrfalcon: Thanks for that - I didn't know there were Crimean Tartars. Turns out they have a fairly rich history on that land. I had no idea.

#40 Edited by dudeglove (8488 posts) -

Why is anyone (by anyone I mean the American press and the majority of UN mouthpieces) surprised that a man who was high ranking KGB during the Cold War is a fan of nationalism and collusion? This should have been expected and frankly it's surprising to me that it took this long for him to annex a sovereign country. Also, you know what Russia is historically terrible at doing? Managing fucking land. Ask anyone in Uzbekistan.

Part of this has to do with the fact that the US and West kind of ignored or "forgot" about Russia and Eastern Europe for various reasons. Put blunt at the height of the Cold War, universities in the Western hemisphere were pumping out graduates well-versed in Soviet affairs (vice versa in the USSR as well). At the time of my education in the early 2000s in the UK, however, the Slavonic department of my university was right in the midst of being downsized, with about 2/3rds of its staff slashed from the payroll before I even got into my second year.

Yes, they ("they" being Western policy makers) probably "should have seen it coming", but after the Baltic States did their thing with the EU, Yugoslavia split up into a myriad of states in the 90s along with the former Soviet Republics, for whatever idiotic reason that part of world was considered - for lack of a better term - "done". Glorious "democracy" had won through, triumphing over socialist ideals.

Except it didn't, and now we're seeing what happens when you ignore or underplay the affairs and effects of the actions of several hundred million people for 20 years, and that's why hard line Cold Warriors like McCain are still about calling Russia "a gas station masquerading as a country" and former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul talking about his trips to "Fuckberg" in bad Russian on twitter barely a year ago (short version of the story is McFaul tried to sound smart by using a contracted form of Ekaterinburg, calling it "Yoburg", which is extremely crude in the Russian language), rather than relative moderates who actually have a clue what the fuck they're talking about and whose whole job is to be able to nip these things in the bud before they ever get loud and nasty. Another principle reason is, regarding Russia at least, that drunken obese oaf Yeltsin who divided up the country's wealth to anyone in a shiny tracksuit was "their guy", whereas Putin was not, although there was ample chance for him to have been. Too bad that they spent about a decade and two presidential administrations trying to figure this out.

Repeating what I've said before, the Brits were undisputed masters of the dark arts of colonial administration for centuries because they somehow figured out how to play ethnic groups off one another while skimming huge profits off the top, and if either the US or Russia had paid any goddamn attention to how that empire did things they'd rule the fucking world at this point, but fortunately they don't.

On a lighter note, one of the absolute funniest and smartest things I've seen lately is the BBC's "Ambassadors", which is a satirical show about a British consulate in the fictional dead-end oil-rich post-Soviet state of "Tazbekistan", and I can't recommend it highly enough.

As an expat myself, it's so hideously on the nose I wouldn't be surprised if former Foreign Commonwealth Office folk are involved in the writing of the show, because the stuff depicted really hits the right nerve in an incredibly disturbing way.

#41 Edited by MrFalcon (45 posts) -

@singingmenstrual: If that's true, then I sincerely apologize. The humor was clearly lost on me.

#42 Posted by ZagZagovich (775 posts) -

As a Russian myself I can say that the main concern for me is how the government is cracking down on independent media. In the last month an alarming amount of resources were shut down as well as some prominent people being forced out from their jobs. Tv at became completely unreliable as a news source and proclaims that Ukraine is essentially taken over by nazis (not that directly but that is the main point). Our respect of war heroes is being used to get some really shaky laws and political moves.

I wouldn't say that people are overwhelmingly nationalistic about it. There is a good number of people against the war with Ukraine and the propaganda in our media. There are still a lot of people who have family members and friends in Ukraine so this message of hate seems really confusing.

It's been a really weird time these couple of months here and I just hope it doesn't get much worse.

#43 Posted by Random45 (1321 posts) -

@w1ck3d said:

Remember when this was a video game website?

No kidding. Giantbomb should make an off topic forum where people can discuss... Oh... Wait a minute.

#44 Edited by EXTomar (4987 posts) -

It is "Off Topic". In theory people can talk about Game of Thrones. Does that make Putin a Lannister? :)

Back to the topic, there is something to the idea that "Ukraine and Russia are practically the same" but this is along the lines of "Canada and US are practically the same". There are a lot of strong ties culturally that have existed for centuries, even before both were countries, but I'm not entirely sure it is proper or even tolerable to suggest either country start annexing parts of the other because of internal political problems. I get the feeling most don't want to make "Putin out to be the bad guy" but want to maintain a status quo even if it is a bit rotten for some parts of some country. It isn't about taking sides as just getting the roller coaster to stop.

Stepping back for a moment I do wonder what changed internally in Russia. It feels like something beyond "losing their man" in Ukraine happened.

#45 Posted by dudeglove (8488 posts) -

@extomar said:

It is "Off Topic". In theory people can talk about Game of Thrones. Does that make Putin a Lannister? :)

That's an interesting way of thinking about. In the 2000s after Yeltsin and his lot finally fucked off, the so-called siloviki came to the Kremlin primarily from St. Petersburg (as well as Putin's buds from his Germany years). Ten years prior to that during Yeltsin you had the "bankers' war" of the 90s (a time of goddamn insanity in Russia), which resulted in the end of the oligarchy of sorts. It's a rather dense topic, but you can read about it here if you so desire, but basically it involves everything from inter-departmental spying on one another, drug trafficking, money laundering, poisonings, corruption charges, tax dodging, Godfather-style hits and, uh, a furniture company. This clan in-fighting got so bad that, in a really weird and totally messed up way, you could argue that the reason Putin has stayed in power for so long was that he would literally be murdered if he didn't (I don't know if this translates to GoT, but my Russian friends enjoy the show).

#49 Edited by ZagZagovich (775 posts) -

@dars: Oh yeah, that's pretty common. I feel it's pretty passive though. Even myself I am wearing a cross even though I am more agnostic than anything. It's kind of a family memento or something.