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Putin Shifts Focus of Patriotism

Published: May 14, 2014 (Issue # 1810)




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Afew years ago inan interview with Western journalists, President Vladimir Putin made astatementthat was so strange people thought it was ajoke. It is my misfortune...[and] tragedy that I am alone. There just isnt anyone else like me inthe world. After Mahatma Gandhi died, there was nobody left totalk with.

Actually, Putin chats with Syrian President Bashar Assad, theleaders inIran andother people Gandhi would clearly never have spoken with. But there is asmall bit oftruth inwhat Putin said. Theworld really doesnt listen toPutin. People only hear what they want tohear, andthat is whatever doesnt upset them. Back in2005, Putin said that thedissolution ofthe Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe ofthe 20th century. Many people only remembered these words when it became clear that fixing theresults ofthat catastrophe atleast inpart has become Russias top foreign policy strategy.

Buried inthe usual official niceties ofthe two speeches Putin gave tocommemorate Victory Day onMay 9 inMoscowandSevastopolwere several important messages. Addressing theworld, Putin asked everyone torespect our legitimate interests, including therestoration ofhistorical justice andthe right toself-determination.

But self-determination does not apply toethnic groups within Russia, where promoting separatism was recently made afelony. AndRussias legitimate interests include former Soviet republics, where Putin, inviolation ofinternational law, has been restoring historical justice as he sees fit.

It is interesting tocompare Putins speech atthe May 9 parade inMoscow with thespeechhe gave ayear ago. Last year, he ended with acall to overcome all difficulties andobstacles andpass onto our children aprosperous, free andstrong Russia. This year, prosperous andfree were gone. Intheir place were calls toplace service tothe fatherland above all andto defend theinterests ofRussia.

Thedifference between this years defending Russias interests andlast years defending thehomeland is significant. Thedifference can be understood fromthe text ofthe law onveterans. Out ofthe list of49 wars that theSoviet military fought inthe 20th century, only inWorld War II did Soviet soldiers defend their country frominvasion. All therest ofthe wars took place onforeign territory. Thelist includes thesuppression ofthe Hungarian uprising of1956, thewar inKorea, military operations inEgypt during theSix-Day andYom Kippur Wars. It also includes military operations inVietnam beginning inJanuary 1961, when U.S. President John F. Kennedy was still categorically opposed tosending U.S. troops intothe conflict.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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