Monday, August 24, 2015

Top Ten Inanities of Russian Officials for the Week

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 24 – August is often the silly season in many countries, but Russian officials seem committed to having the silliest of all.  Vera Yurchenko who compiles a weekly list of the most absurd actions of officials says “the level of official insanity is growing, and compiling a rating is becoming ever more difficult” for her newspaper, “Novaya gazeta.”

            Indeed, she writes in today’s issue, it would be easy now to publish such lists not weekly but “practically in every issue of the paper.” Nonetheless, she has selected ten out of the plethora of cases over the past week for her top ten list. They clearly show what some Russian officials are like and what the Russian people have to put up with (

1.      Cossacks Ever Vigilant about Sanctioned Foodstuffs. Ataman Andrey Polyakov of the Irbis Cossack community of St. Petersburg says that his men will raid smaller stores several times a week to ensure that no sanctioned products are on the shelves. If they find anything, he says, they will call the procuracy or other officials to take action. “It is clear that they lack the forces to take action; we will help them unmask those engaged in scams.”

2.      When Russian Officials Destroy Food, They Have to Do It by the Book. People in the Tatarstan village of Apastovo were presumably upset when officials destroyed three frozen geese on the shelves of a local store. They may have subsequently been amused when the officials who did it were denounced by other officials who said that such foods must be destroyed but only in the prescribed way.

3.      Burning Illegal Animals Alive, However, is OK Because It Protects Russians’ Health. Other officials, however, are quite prepared to engage in animal cruelty by burning ducklings alive if the birds are confiscated by customs agents. They justified what they had done by saying this step was taken “out of concern for the health of Russians.”

4.      Russian TV Says 90 Percent of Ukrainian Soldiers Ready to Desert Kyiv. Despite stiffening Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, Aleksey Piimanov of the Zvezda channel says that “90 percent of the Ukrainian soldiers are ready to betray the Motherland and pass over into the ranks of the militants.”  It is difficult to say which part of this statement is the most absurd.

5.      After We Burn Imported Food, We’ll Burn Imported Clothes.  Shamkhad Ildarov, the head of the Russian Association of Textile Manufacturers, says that any clothes brought into Russia as contraband should be destroyed just the same way officials are now destroying food banned by the Kremlin’s counter-sanctions. His industry would perhaps benefit, but Russians would have to pay more or wear less.

6.      Wikipedia Banned Because Its Articles on Drugs Could Harm Russians. Moscow has been quite selective in what websites it has banned, but now, it appears that it is going in for a more sweeping approach. Officials have decided that because they cannot selectively ban the articles in Wikipedia about drugs, they will ban the entire publication.

7.      Windows 10 said West’s Latest Spy Tool Against Russia.  Because many Russian officials including those with access to classified information use Windows operating systems and because Windows 10 stores information about what they do, some in Moscow want to ban Windows 10 because of the danger that it will be used to spy on Russians. That idea is now being pushed by Communist Duma deputy Vadim Solovyev.

8.      No Consensus is a Consensus Unless Russian Orthodox Church Says It Is. Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s office for church-society relations, says that no consensus is a consensus unless the church is a participant and gives its agreement to that. The church wasn’t a full participant in many things in the 1990s, he says; and consequently, those who invoke decisions then as reflecting a consensus do not have a leg to stand on.

9.      Animals on Private Plots Not Being Taxed So Herds Must be Cut. Stavropol Governor Vladimir Vladimirov wants to reduce the size of herds on private plots because he says people aren’t paying the taxes owed for the animals they possess. He doesn’t say how the herds would be reduced or how the country which relies heavily on the output of private plots would be able to feed itself if they were destroyed.

10.  To Save Money, Ryazan Printing Fewer Ballots than There are Voters.  Officials in the Russian city of Ryazan say they are printing ballots for only 80 percent of the voters there, not the 100 percent the law requires.  This will save money and makes sense, they say, because not everyone is going to cast a ballot.  Some, if this idea spreads, may not even be able to.

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