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« Why I *Don't* Support the Russian Greenpeace Action | Main | How to Find Edward Snowden in Moscow »

October 04, 2013


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Alex K.

I would support Bialiatski because (a) he's in prison in Belarus; (b) he's a non-violent opposition figure; (c) he's imprisoned on trumped-up charges.

There's little doubt the tax evasion charge against Bialiatski was concocted to downgrade him to a common criminal. He is in fact a non-violent political prisoner.

Psychologically, (a) is the most important to me: other things equal, I will always support a prisoner over a free person.

Kizone Kaprow

Nice job. I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis. Snowden is no champion of freedom of thought, if words still have meanings. Observe the spectacle of American intellectuals (from both the left and the left's new pals, the libertarians) cheering on Russia's current strongman, Vladimir Putin. Do they really love Putin? Probably not. But libertarians loathe President Obama with an all-consuming, corrosive, blinding hatred, and Putin, in their eyes, made Obama look weak, while aiding and abetting the new libertarian hero, Snowden. So much for libertarians' credibility (such as it is).

Speaking of western intellectuals, I thought I would take this opportunity to place an excerpt from Harrison Salisbury's review of Marchenko's "My Testimony" (New York Times Book Review, March 1, 1970). Salisbury at that time was an assistant managing editor of The New York Times. He could be described as a liberal intellectual.

Marchenko's book (he writes) is "a melodramatic account of his imprisonment. It is badly written, splotched with purple rhetoric, oozes with self-pity and tries quite vainly to equate Marchenko's experiences with the blinding terror of Stalin's days. All Marchenko succeeds in doing is to bore us."

Salisbury, the western intellectual, was "bored" with the bloody crimes of the post-Stalin U.S.S.R., in much the same way that contemporary Americans are bored with events outside their own comfy borders.

Alex K.

I may be wrong but I believe Marchenko was in prison for an umpteenth time when Salisbury committed his boredom to print. Marchenko did not enjoy much freedom in his adult life - it was all jail, prison, labor camp, exile. "...equate Marchenko's experiences with the blinding terror of Stalin's days." The terror machinery had been downsized radically but it has not been fully dismantled to this day. The commandant of the labor camp where Nadezhda T. of Pussy Riot was held until recently told her, "In matters of running the camp, I am a Stalinist."

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