Is Murdered Journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s “A Russian Diary” Only Relevant to Russians?

by Mark Chmiel

Anna Politkovskaya, A Russian Diary:
A Journalist’s Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin’s Russia

Random House, 2007

… the Russian people gave its consent. Nobody stood up. There were no demonstrations, mass protests, acts of civil disobedience. The electorate took it lying down and agreed to live, not only without Yavlinsky, but without democracy. 16

Our society is sick. Most people are suffering from the disease of paternalism, which is why Putin gets away with everything, why he is possible in Russia. 71

The Russia tradition is one of an inability to plan and see through the sheer hard work of systematic opposition. If we are going to do anything, it has to be something we can do on the spot, here and now, after which life will be sorted. As that isn’t the way things work, life doesn’t get sorted. 121-122

This whole system of thieving judges, rigged elections, presidents who have only contempt for the needs of their people, can operate only if nobody protests. That is the Kremlin’s secret weapon and the most striking feature of life in Russia today. … We have emerged from socialism, as thoroughly self-centered people. 124-125

Now anybody who doesn’t want to know doesn’t need to know. The majority prefer not to. 129

This is very much our style, closing our eyes to reality until it hits us like a typhoon. 160

One of the reasons for Russia’s social malaise is this diabolical cynicism on the part of the authorities, who peddle a completely fake reality. Russia’s citizens do not rise up against this cynicism. They withdraw into their own shells, becoming defenseless, wordless, and inhibited. Putin knows this and employs brazen cynicism, as the anti-revolutionary technique that works best in Russia. 184

The democrats [shitocrats] had given Russia hyperinflation, made them lose the savings they had carried forward from Soviet times, started the war in Chechnya, and presided over the Russian government’s currency defaults. 212

The corrupting of our people continues, and our people are wholly willing to be corrupted. 239

Bush failed to challenge him. Oil, and friendship for the sake of oil, won out. Those in Russia who hope for help from the West need finally to recognize that winning back our democratic freedoms is up to us. 243

We know what we need but lack the tenacity to fight for it. We give up almost immediately. Life passes by while we wait for our aspirations to be bestowed on us from above… 250

Re-Stalinization is a reality. 265

Our society isn’t a society anymore, it is a collection of windowless, isolated concrete cells…. The authorities do everything they can to make the cells even more impermeable, sowing dissent, inciting some against others, dividing and ruling. And the people fall for it. That is the real problem. That is why revolution in Russia, when it comes, is always so extreme. The barrier between the cells collapses only when the negative emotions within them are ungovernable. 292

Our people seem to wake up only when it hits them where it hurts. Revolutionary passions run high only when money is involved. 294

[T]his is the long-standing tradition of living a lie about which Solzhenitsyn wrote long ago, mixed with a lazy refusal to take your backside off your chair in a warm kitchen until they take the warm kitchen away from you. At that point you might join a revolution, but not before. 297

{I]n the heart of most Russians is an urge to not stand out, and it is particularly in evidence today. 321

If anybody thinks they can take comfort from the “optimistic” forecast, let them do so. It is certainly the easier way, but it is also a death sentence for our grandchildren. 342

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