Friday, August 7, 2015

Ten Classic Examples of Official Stupidity in Russia This Week

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 7 – As longtime readers of Window on Eurasia know, for much of this year, Kyiv’s “Delovaya stolitsa” newspaper featured a weekly roundup of the top five propaganda fakes and absurdities of Russian propaganda. Now, Moscow’s “Novaya gazeta” has topped that by listing the top ten examples of official stupidity in Russia over the last seven days.

            In today’s issue of the paper, Vera Yurchenko provides a list of official statements and actions that one would have thought would have embarrassed both their authors and the Russian people to whom they were addressed. But in most of these, apparently, that has not been the case, at least not yet (

The ten most glaring “inanities” are as follows:

1.      Banning Foreign Condoms will Improve Russians’ Sex Lives. Gennady Onishchenko, a senior advisor to the Russian prime minister, said that a new ban on importing condoms from abroad will not have a negative effect on the health of Russians. More than that, he declared, it may “simply force them to be more disciplined, strict and selective in their choice of partners, and perhaps will make a certain contribution to the resolution of the country’s demographic problems.”  According to Yurchenko, Onishchenko’s argument leaves open the question: will Russia face an epidemic of venereal diseases? Or will the birthrate shoot up?

2.      Destroying Prohibited Food Products Will Help Save the Russian Environment.  The Russian government says it is working hard to ensure that its destruction of food products whose importation Moscow has banned won’t harm the environment, but one Russian official, Aleksey Alekseyenko of Rosselkhoznadzor, says that however that works out, it is better to destroy these foodstuffs than to allow Russians to eat them: “Eating them also would harm the environment,” he says, “because there would be so much fecal material as a result.”

3.      Send Seized Foodstuffs to Africa to Strengthen ‘Friendship of the Peoples. Maksim Suraykin, chairman of the central committee of the Communists of Russia, says the foodstuffs Moscow is now seizing at the border and destroying could be put to better use.  “One should member that these sanctioned products found by customs agents are our trophies in a geopolitical fight with imperialism. And sharing them with starving Africa is an option for the victor and a jest of internationalism.” 

4.      Emoticons with LGBT Symbols Should Be Banned.  Mikhail Marchenko, a Bryansk senator, has asked Roskomnadzor to investigate whether smiley faces which have LGBT features on Facebook violate Russia’s law against propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientations.  The agency is taking his request seriously and will seek ways either to exclude them or to counter them with smileys with a different message.

5.      Without More Subsidies to Rosneft, Russia will Face Gasoline Shortage by 2017.  Rosneft President Igor Sechin says that unless the Russian government comes up with more subsidies for his company, Russia will face a serious shortage of gasoline in two years. 

6.      Making Jam is Harmful.  Kaluga Governor Anatoly Artamonov says there is no reason for Russians to make jam when they have refrigerators. “It is an absolutely useless activity,” he said of one that for many Russians is a longtime and much-loved family tradition.

7.      Russians Urged to Take ‘Selfies with Lenin.’ Komsomol activists in the Komi Republic have called on the KPRF to promote their idea of having Russians take part in a country-wide competition about who can take the best selfie picture with a Lenin statue.  The winners will get an online version of the complete collected works of the founder of the Soviet state.  Party secretary Gennady Zyuganov likes the idea: “I think Vladimir Ilich will be grateful.”

8.      Musicians who Disagree with Kremlin ‘Will Be Written Out of Russian History.’ Duma deputy Aleksey Zhuravlyev says that musicians of any kind who disagree with the Kremlin’s line on Ukraine or probably anything else will find their careers will end “poorly.”  He says that “they will be written out of the history of the Russian Federation.”

9.      Red and White for a Russian Banner is OK if You Don’t Have Blue.  Some people in Orel were upset that oblast leaders decorated their city with red and white banners rather than with the red, white, and blue of the Russian tricolor. They said that red and white were the colors of Austria, which besides everything else was part of Nazi Germany.  Officials said that they couldn’t do anything about the banners because they were suffering from “a lack of flags.”

10.  Sverdlovsk Purges Libraries of British Books for ‘Propagandizing’ Nazism.  The Sverdlovsk oblast education ministry has ordered that local libraries pull from circulation books by Anthony Beevor and John Keagan about World War II because they “propagandize stereotypes formed during the Third Reich.”  The officials apparently ar especially upset by the fact that the two books refer to the mass raping of women in Eastern Europe and Germany by Soviet soldiers at the end of that conflict.

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