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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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