Comprehending Today’s Russia

The U.S. government and mainstream media present Russia as a dangerous aggressor that must be resisted and punished, but American citizens who toured Russia in May found a very different reality, reports Rick Sterling.

By Rick Sterling

For over two weeks this May, a delegation of 30 Americans visited seven regions and ten cities across Russia. Organized by Sharon Tennison of the Center for Citizen Initiatives. The participants began in Moscow with several days of meetings and visits, then broke into smaller groups going to cities including Volgograd, Kazan (Tatarstan), Krasnodar (near the Black Sea), Novosibirsk (Siberia), Yekaterinburg and the Crimean cities Simferopol, Yalta and Sevastopol.

Red Square in Moscow with a winter festival to the left and the Kremlin to the right. (Photo by Robert Parry)

After these regional visits, delegates regrouped in St Petersburg to share their experiences. Following is an informal review with conclusions based on my observations in Kazan and what I heard from others.

–Western sanctions have hurt sectors of Russia’s economy but encouraged agricultural production.

Exports and imports have been impacted by Western sanctions imposed in 2014. The tourist sector has been hard hit and education exchanges between Russia and the U.S. have been interrupted or ended. But the sanctions have spurred investments and expansion in agricultural production. We were told that farmers are saying “Don’t lift the sanctions!”

Some Russian oligarchs are making major infrastructure investments.

For example, billionaire Sergei Galitsky has developed Russia’s largest retail outlet, the Magnit supermarket chain. Galitsky has invested heavily in state-of-the-art drip irrigation green houses producing massive quantities of high quality cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables, which are distributed via the supermarkets throughout Russia.

–There has been a resurgence of religion in Russia.

Russian Orthodox Churches have been revitalized and gold leaf glistens on the church domes. Muslim mosques have also been refurbished and rebuilt. A brilliant new mosque is a prominent part of the Kremlin in Kazan, Tatarstan. There are many Muslim in Russia. This research puts the number at ten million though we heard estimates much higher. We saw numerous examples of interfaith unity and cooperation, with Muslim Imams working side by side with young Russian Orthodox priests. We also heard stories of how churches had been used as prisons or food warehouses during the Stalin era.

Russia increasingly looks east.

The Russian emblem of a double-headed eagle looks both east and west; it is a Eur-Asian country. While Europe is still important politically and economically, Russia is increasingly looking to the east. Russia’s “strategic partner” is China – economically, politically and militarily. There are increasing numbers of Chinese tourists and education exchanges with Russia. In the United Nations Security Council the two countries tend to vote together. Huge investments are planned for the transportation network dubbed the “Belt and Road Initiative” connecting Asia with Europe.

–Russia is a capitalist country with a strong state sector.

Government is influential or controls sectors of the economy such as public transportation, military/defense industry, resource extraction, education and health care. State-owned enterprises account for nearly 40 percent of overall employment. They have universal health care in parallel with private education and health care facilities. Banking is a problem area with high interest rates and the failure/bankruptcy of numerous banks in the past decade. We heard complaints that foreign multinational companies can enter and control sectors of the economy, drive out Russian competitors and take the profits home.

The luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow

–There is some nostalgia for the former Soviet Union with its communist ideals.

We met numerous people who speak fondly of the days when nobody was super-rich or horribly poor and when they believed there was a higher goal for society. We heard this from people ranging from a successful entrepreneur to an aging Soviet-era rock musician. That does not mean that these people want to return to Soviet days, but that they recognize the changes in Russia have both pluses and negatives. There is widespread disapproval of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the economic chaos of the 1990s.

–There is a range of media supporting both government and opposition parties.

There are three major TV stations controlled by and supporting the government. Along with these, there are numerous private stations criticizing the government and supporting various opposition parties. In print media, the majority of newspapers and magazines are critical of the government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin answering questions from Russian citizens at his annual Q&A event on April 14, 2016. (Russian government photo)

–Public transportation is impressive.

The streets of Moscow are jam packed with new cars. Meanwhile, underground there is a fast, economical and efficient subway system. which is the most heavily used in Europe. The Moscow metro carries 40 percent more passengers than the New York subway system. On major routes the trains arrive every 60 seconds. Some of the stations are over 240 feet underground with the longest escalator in Europe. Inter-city trains such as the Sapsan (Falcon) take passengers between St. Petersburg and Moscow at 200 kilometers per hour. Despite the speed, the train is smooth and quiet. It’s an interesting way to view rural Russia as one passes ramshackle dachas, cute villages and abandoned Soviet-era factories. A major new transportation project is the bridge between Krasnodar and the Crimean peninsula. This short video portrays the design.

–Putin is popular.

Depending on who you ask, Putin’s popularity seems to range between 60 and 80 percent. There are two reasons: First, since he became leader the economy has stabilized, corrupt oligarchs were brought into check, and the standard of living dramatically improved. Second, Putin is credited with restoring international respect for Russia and national pride for Russian citizens. Some say, “During the 1990s we were a beggar nation.” Russians have a strong sense of national pride and Putin’s administration has restored that.

Some people think Putin deserves a break from the intense pressure and workload. That does not mean everyone likes him or is afraid to say that. Our official Moscow guide took delight in showing us the exact spot on the bridge outside the Kremlin where she believes Putin had one of his enemies assassinated. Other Russians we spoke with mock these accusations, which are widely believed in the West. As to the accusations that Putin is a “dictator,” about 75 students in Crimea openly laughed when they were asked about this Western belief.

Current Political Tension

–Russians are highly skeptical of accusations about Russian “meddling” in the U.S. election.

One foreign policy expert, Vladimir Kozin, said “It’s a fairy tale that Russia influenced the U.S. election.” They contrast the unverified accusations with clear evidence of U.S. interference in past Russian elections, especially in the 1990s when the economy was privatized and crime, unemployment and chaos overwhelmed the country. The role of the U.S. in “managing” the election of Boris Yeltsin in 1995 is widely known in Russia, as is the U.S. funding of hundreds of “non-governmental organizations” in Ukraine prior to the 2013-2014 violence and coup.

Time magazine cover recounting how the U.S. enabled Boris Yeltsin’s reelection as Russian president in 1996.

–There is a strong desire to improve relations with the U.S..

We met numerous Russians who had participated in citizen exchanges with the U.S. in the 1990s. Almost universally these Russians had fond memories of their visits and hosts in the U.S. In other places we met people who had never met an American or English-speaking person before. Typically they were cautious but very pleased to hear from American citizens who also wish to improve relations and reduce tensions.

–Western media reports about Crimea are hugely distorted.

CCI delegates who visited Crimea met with a broad range of citizens and elected leaders. The geography is “stunningly beautiful” with mountains dropping to beaches on the Black Sea. Not reported in the West, Crimea was part of Russia since 1783. When Crimea was administratively transferred to Ukraine in 1954, it was all part of the Soviet Union. Crimeans told the CCI delegates they were repelled by the violence and fascist elements involved in the Kiev coup. Bus convoys from Crimea were attacked with injuries and deaths following the Kiev coup.

The new coup government said Russian was no longer an official language. Crimeans quickly organized and held a referendum to secede from Ukraine and “re-unify” with Russia. With 80 percent of registered voters participating, 96 percent voted to join Russia. One Crimean stated to the CCI delegates, “We would have gone to war to separate from Ukraine.” Others noted the hypocrisy of the West which allows secession votes in Scotland and Catalonia, and which encouraged the secession of Croatia, but then rejects the overwhelming vote and choice of the Crimean people.

A map showing Crimea (in beige) and its proximity to both the Ukrainian mainland and Russia.

Sanctions against tourism are hurting the economy of Crimea yet the public is confident in its decision. The Americans who visited Crimea were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and friendliness they received. Because of the sanctions, few Americans visit Crimea and they also received substantial media coverage. In reaction, political officials in Ukraine accused the delegates of being “enemies of the Ukrainian state” and put their names on a blacklist.

–Russians know and fear war.

Twenty-seven million Russians died in World War II and that experience is seared into the Russian memory. The Nazi siege of Leningrad (now called St. Petersburg) reduced the population from 3 million to 500,000. Walking through the cemetery of mass graves brings home the depth of suffering and resilience of Russians who somehow survived a 872-day siege on the city. Memory of the war is kept alive through commemorations with huge public participation. Citizens carry poster-size photographs of their relatives who fought or died in World War II, known as the “Immortal Regiment.” In Kazan, the march involved 120,000 persons – 10 percent of the entire city population – beginning at 10 a.m. and concluding at 9 p.m.. Across Russia, millions of citizens actively participate. The marches and parades marking “Victory Day” are more solemn than celebratory.

–Russians see themselves being threatened.

While Western media portrays Russia as “aggressive,” most Russians perceive the reverse. They see the U.S. and NATO increasing military budgets, steadily expanding, moving up to the Russian border, withdrawing from or violating past treaties and conducting provocative military exercises. This map shows the situation.

Some of the estimated 12 million Russians who took part in Immortal Regiment parades across the country over three days in May 2016. (RT photo)

–Russians want to de-escalate international tensions.

Former President Mikhail Gorbachev said to our group, “Does America want Russia to just submit? This is a country that can never submit.” These words carry extra significance because it was Gorbachev who initiated the foreign policy of Perestroika which led to his own sidelining and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev has written about Perestroika as follows: “Its main outcome was the end of the Cold War. A long and potentially deadly period in world history, when the whole humankind lived under the constant threat of a nuclear disaster, came to an end.” Yet we are clearly in a new Cold War and the threat has re-emerged.

Despite three years of economic sanctions, low oil prices and an intense information war in the West, Russian society appears to be doing reasonably well. Russians across the spectrum express a strong desire to build friendship and partnership with the U.S. At the same time, it seems Russians will not be intimidated. They don’t want war and won’t initiate it, but if attacked they will defend themselves as they have in the past.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be contacted at [email protected]

76 comments for “Comprehending Today’s Russia

  1. June 8, 2017 at 05:43

    Excellent article, simply excellent. Thank you, Mr. Rick Sterling

  2. DL
    June 5, 2017 at 03:12

    Russia didn’t steal anybody’s election. But the 2016 US Presidential Election
    was indeed stolen.

    Here’s who did it and how it happened:

  3. Patriotned
    June 4, 2017 at 22:40

    The U.S. has the highest GDP of any nation by far. Russia’s GDP is on a par with Australia and Spain, about one tenth of the U.S. The primary driver of the Russian economy is energy, unlike China.
    Asking Russians if they like their country! Most likely you would find primarily positive responses from citizens of most countries about their own country, including the U.S. And I think the citizens of every nation would fight back if invaded.
    Thinking Americans in general like war is a sophomoric comment. Although they have initially supported the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghan Wars, eventually they grow weary after many American deaths. But our government seems to be in a neverending war posture for many reasons with which I disagree.
    It seems to me that anyone who is in power as long as Putin becomes like a dictator, full of himself and thinking no one could replace him. Similar to many American politicians. If the Russian people like that, so be it.
    Generally a large part of our population is low information and often ignorant about the world for sure. But are the citizens of other nations much different?
    Of course, just my opinion.

  4. Steve
    June 2, 2017 at 15:27

    How interesting there is growing awareness in Russia that Gorbachev gave away the store when he didn’t have to do so and it let to economic and social chaos. Gorbachev’s haste cost lives and wrecked economic growth for several decades and now it is starting to pick up once again where it left off. It remians to be seen whther the oligarch can be reined in and their power blunted, As for the future Russia has 1/6 th of the landmass of the world and over half the arctic basin. It is much better positioned for future prosperity than the US or EU and with China forms a migthty entity that the west cannot overcome. US belligerence and hegemony are going to be stifled by he rise of the east and both Russia and China are essential components of that east.

  5. Sam Glasser
    June 2, 2017 at 14:14

    Remember Putin’s family history during the Siege of Leningrad (See: ‘Leningrad, State of Siege’ by Michael Jones). His infant brother was to be taken to safety with other children. Many did not survive the trip, his brother included. His father was a soldier sent to the disastrous Neva bridgehead. He barely escaped back across the river, even though wounded.

    My personal experience in Russia (OAT Trip) was very similar to the American delegation as reported by Rick Sterling.

  6. Mark Thomason
    June 2, 2017 at 11:41

    The US needs Russia as an enemy, to “justify” its defense buildup against China without admitting what it is doing there nor fueling hostility with the real competitor the US fears. Therefore, the US manufactures what it needs. That is also serves the domestic politics of those who ran Hillary is an added bonus.

  7. Ronda Evans
    June 2, 2017 at 11:23

    Excellent Article but doesn’t include inequality and if we did maybe the people of both countries could work together to over through the Oligarchs.

    Trump is emulating Putin turning over control and ownership of America to the Oligarchs, just like Putin did in 2005. The Russian people and the American People must work together to save the world from the Oligarchs.

    But like Russia’s oligarchs, the path to great wealth comes via grabbing public resources—a robber baron narrative that Trump’s orders and his first proposed federal budget would like to repeat.

    UNEQUAL RUSSIA: Russia is anger stirring in the global capital of inequality? With the richest 10% owning 87% of all the country’s wealth, Russia is rated the most unequal of the world’s major economies. Amid falling oil prices and a wave of protests, Shaun Walker asks how Russians really feel about life’s inequalities. Unequal Russia: is anger stirring in the global capital of inequality?

    UNEQUAL U.S: Inequality keeps getting uglier Wages aren’t going up for bottom 50%. The Great Recession hit everyone hard. While job losses hit the bottom half, the tanking of the stock market and the sharp drop-off in home and property values caused the wealth of the top 1% to also fall dramatically.

    • Rob Roy
      June 2, 2017 at 14:20

      You’ve been misinformed. Putin brought the oligarchs to trial, jailing them when they were found guilty. Has the US EVER done that…jailing corrupt oligarchs here? No. I do remember the 70s and the savings and loan where Shilling (?) went to jail (Nixon). None since to my knowledge. What happens here? The whistleblowers go to jail and the rich get promoted and more money. Snowden can’t come back and Julian Assange may never get out of London safely. There’s more equality in Russia than America.
      Here’s something interesting:
      “RT network has been nominated in 18 categories of the New York Festival’s awards for the world’s best TV and film work, beating out the BBC and CNN.” “There are three major TV stations controlled by and supporting the government. Along with these, there are numerous private stations criticizing the government and supporting various opposition parties. In print media, the majority of newspapers and magazines are critical of the government.”

      • Virginia
        June 7, 2017 at 12:49

        Rob, I don’t know why I came back to this article, but it was on my mind to try to learn how Putin dealt with the oligarchs. You mentioned it above. I read an interesting book called RED NOTICE where this is touched upon — Putin trying to make up for the losses Russia suffered in the 90s. Oh well…I hope to learn more.

        Good article by Stirling. He has another good one on Syria at rt today, op-edge.

  8. delia ruhe
    June 2, 2017 at 01:27

    “As to the accusations that Putin is a ‘dictator,’ about 75 students in Crimea openly laughed when they were asked about this Western belief,” writes Sterling.

    Hey, guess what: US anti-Chavez propaganda made the Venezuelan a dictator too, and the MSM — especially WaPo — delighted in parroting it for Washington. In reality, Chavez won 5 consecutive elections, and according to the Carter Institute, the Venezuelan election machinery (hardware and practices) ensures the freest, fairest, most accurate elections in the Americas — maybe in the entire democratic world. And the country regularly got 80 percent of the electorate to the polls. Like Putin, Chavez was popular — and that is what frightens Washington.

    “[Some Crimeans] noted the hypocrisy of the West which allows secession votes in Scotland and Catalonia, and which encouraged the secession of Croatia, but then rejects the overwhelming vote and choice of the Crimean people,” notes Sterling.

    So don’t even ask why the seizure and annexation of Palestine by the Israelis is not only tolerated by Washington but actually bankrolled to the tune of close to $5 billion a year when you add up well over $3 billion in what goes by the euphemism “foreign aid,” together with millions in loan guarantees, and a gift of billions of dollars in war toys and munitions — every year. All that, while Russia gets punishing sanctions slappt on it for restoring Crimea to Russia with the support of 96 percent of the four-fifths of the Crimean electorate that got to the polls.

  9. Garrett Connelly
    June 1, 2017 at 16:30

    John Steinbeck’s “A Russian Journal” was published in 1948 at a time when the us press was also hating Russia. I studied a little about Russia as a grad student at the University of California at Santa Barbara and recommend John Steinbeck’s 1948 book as a very interesting study of the continuing idiocy of the Democratic party and its war mongering destruction of weak democracies and blind hatred of Russia.

    Note, I am non partisan and definitely not a republican. Democrats are pushing for war with Russia. Today is just as weird as what was happening during the era of Truman. John Steinbeck went to Russia because the news was pumping daily hatred of Russia. He couldn’t fathom the conflicting stories so he went to see for himself. He liked Russians and said their secret weapon was food. Great book. The damage of war was everywhere, women danced with each other because so many men were dead; as far as the us hating Russia, it reads as if 1948 is 2017.

    • backwardsevolution
      June 2, 2017 at 05:14

      Garrett – very interesting. They just pull this hatred of Russia out of the woodwork whenever it’s needed.

  10. turk151
    June 1, 2017 at 14:02

    The entire world must fear Russia to the point that we risk our own annihilation, so a few criminal aristocratic families can make vast sums of money selling weapons.

  11. Stiv
    June 1, 2017 at 14:00

    Yup. I can see how these observational points could be valid. The scary thing is the rise in ultra orthodox churches, but even those might be less of a problem that the nut case “christians” we have here. Encouraging to hear of some interfaith cooperation.

    As for the Parry bugaboo about “no evidence” of Russian forces in attempting to influence the US elections…this is what I was saying a long time ago

    Oh, but it’s the NY Times…must be “fake news”, right?

    The issue is any possible collusion between Trump/ surrogates and Russian forces…not necessarily governmental…in coordinating, “hacking” and releasing information gained through illegal methods to affect the US elections. It looks to me Putin might have discovered some evidence and knows US investigators are on the trail.

    But we won’t know until the investigations get further down the line.

    Not in favor of increased ( or even existing) “sanctions” of Russia until evidence shows. It is of utmost importance that the investigations accelerate and continue.

    • G W Hawkins
      June 1, 2017 at 14:53

      ‘Ultra-orthodox’ churches? As an Orthodox Christian I am not sure of what you mean – there is only the one Orthodox Church established at Pentecost in 33 AD. Orthodoxy is the same whether it be in Jerusalem, Antioch, Syria, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Russia or Japan.

  12. Matt Krist Germany
    June 1, 2017 at 12:56

    Excellent article,Rick,thank you for that.In Europe it is hard to find anything objective about Russia.Hate-speech whereever you look.So i travelled to Russia to St Petersburg,looking for the childreneating Russians.I`ve never been there before.The town was beautiful with many cultural Highlights.Everywhere nice People,fiendly People.They drive very fast in town,especially in big cars.There must be some Special rules for that,my taxidriver laughed and said”that is normal”.People i learned to know better are often well educated,better than Europeans.Some asked me why european and american media always report negative about Russia and Russians,and so many lies.I felt very uncomfortable ,and tried to explain that many People in the West think different and like Russia and Russians as well as other People.I cannot write all the things i have seen there,but i felt surprised and very comfortable.Can`t say that about Berlin,Paris etc. .I would like to see more places in this big Country.Learning Russian language now!(very difficult for me…) And yes: if you have once the possibility to visit a russian church when the are praying ,go inside and look! and hear!And feel! you will feel tears in your eyes and never forget!

  13. willem
    June 1, 2017 at 12:45

    Interesting article. I personally was looking forward to at least an attempt post-election to patch things up with Russia, and so far things have been pretty disappointing on that front.

    Not to be a party pooper, and I’d like to believe all this, but one does have to at least consider possible bias on the part of these visitors. Their willingness to make this trek to Russia in the first place suggests that they may have been predisposed (or hoped) to hear positive things about Russia.

    • Rob Roy
      June 2, 2017 at 12:00

      ? Your comment leaves no place for intelligent observation, of which, obviously, Rick Sterling is more than capable.

  14. Fabrizio
    June 1, 2017 at 11:24

    very informative, I had read similar opinions on other reports. Unfortunately, MSNBC and CNN are more popular and therefore the average US citizen will continue to believe Russia is just a new name for USSR. And that Putin is Stalin.

  15. backwardsevolution
    June 1, 2017 at 11:04

    Rick Sterling – such a great piece! Thank you for that.

  16. mike k
    June 1, 2017 at 07:34

    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
    Remember us-if at all-not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.

    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

    T.S. Elliot

  17. J. D.
    June 1, 2017 at 07:15

    President Trump wisely chose to send a top personal adviser, Matt Pottinger, as his representative to the Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing on May 14-16. The returning delegation announced the establishment of a permanent “working group” to collaborate with the Belt and Road Initiative, It is this potential for future cooperation on economic development and with Russia against terrorism, signaling a “breakout” against the policy of “East v. West,” not the absurd and unproven charges of “collusion,” which has the Establishment in a such a tizzy.

  18. June 1, 2017 at 06:03

    More power to the Russians and Putin, I can hardly understand why they want to get along with Americans given their nasty treatment by the US, but shows they’re more open-minded than Americans. Kalen’s remark that Americans have no soul, I believe it was, really hit me, some truth to that. Americans just don’t get how propagandised they are, those comfy consumers who think this is the best country in the world although they have spent very little or no time in any other. And many have no desire to be informed, to realize they’ve got all this “stuff” on the backs of others. Russians know what war does, and they also know what America has done to the world. Russia has brought to the world some of the greatest music, writers, and scientists. It’s sad that America has become such a bigoted, tabloid nation.

    • Bill Bodden
      June 1, 2017 at 11:37

      Kalen’s remark that Americans have no soul,…

      The popular mantra of too much never being enough seems to support that judgment.

  19. Kalen
    June 1, 2017 at 04:00

    Thanks for that, a decent reporting but as Americans have no national soul, will never be able to understand Russian soul and what more important they will not understand continuing political system dominating Russia for over 1000 years now, the same system that had its Tsarist as well as Soviet reincarnation and actually is coming directly from Byzantine culture that was a foundation of Russian Orthodox Church.

    After a Trump like like Yeltsin puppetry, Putin restored this historical balance of imperial control, or at least in some part and hence is widely accepted, except for those Russian intelligentsia infected by alien to Russian culture corrupted western liberalism which is nothing but an excuse, a veneer of the same Machiavellian rule of imperial realm. Russian soul reject such a lie, accepts strong imperial ruler openly, under specific minimal social bond or contract that makes Russia an imperial home of nation of the nations.

    Since there is no American nation, there can be no promise to Americans worth making or keeping, short of political expediency and commercial advantage, abandoned as soon as political or finacial profit motive disappears, a process similar to instant expiration of the commercial warranty on all broken promises from a manufacturer of consent, to the customers of American folly I.e. We the people.

  20. Joe Tedesky
    May 31, 2017 at 22:49

    Anton Chaitkin gives us a history lesson which spans the time of FDR-Churchill to our curtain time as of now. Plenty of JFK, Dulles, Lemnitzer, to Chuck Schummer warning Donald Trump to what the CIA can do to you if you don’t play along. Lots of City of London intrigue to go along with a pretty cool history lesson…..

    It’s long, but you will enjoy reading it.

    • Brad Owen
      June 1, 2017 at 12:30

      Thanks Joe T. Great article by a great historian. He’s a regular on EIR website. Type his name in their search box. You’ll pull up many articles penned by him for EIR, including “Synarchy against America” and “Why the British kill American Presidents”

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 1, 2017 at 12:39

        Your welcome, and I will do that.

    • turk151
      June 1, 2017 at 13:09

      One of the commentators on the saker’s post, has a link to the following documentary which further elaborates on the article. I found it to to be mindblowing.

  21. Realist
    May 31, 2017 at 21:59

    Funny how all the liberal Dems claim that they want all the stuff like low cost public education, cheap efficient public transportation and affordable effective healthcare but also want to sabotage a country that provides such things to its citizens because… ??? Because why? That is the confounding question!

    • Joe Tedesky
      May 31, 2017 at 23:27

      We Americans are being kept in the dark to what is really happening on our globe. Most countries which America is unhappy with for one reason or the other, are portrayed as being slum like and dictator driven. Americans see their European allies struggling with a new terror attack from month to month, because the Europeans are too kind and stupid by allowing the Muslim to migrate into their countries. South America doesn’t count, and the Castro Brothers were bad, or in Raul’s case he is still an authoritarian monster, but at least he’s old. Russia is mean to gays, and Putin is a mafia thug. China took the American jobs, and Mexico isn’t much better for doing the same, plus Mexico sends their criminals across the border to kill American teenagers. Name a country, and any American you ask, or at least most Americans, will tell you there’s no place like the mighty U.S. of A.. Hoorah for capitalist, and someday soon the manufacturing plant we once worked at will reopen, but while we’re at it let’s bomb the entire planet back into the Stone Age for we have arrived as we have in the past to spread our exceptional and indispensable brand of democracy.

      With a mindset like that average Americans go about their day hoping that tomorrow will be exactly like yesterday, and the day before that. We Americans are grateful to have such a place as we have, because watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or continuing to follow what made for TV movie series like ‘House of Cards’ is what life is all about. God it’s good to be alive in America. In America we have the coolest of everything, and with that the rest of the world stays stupid, and low grade to the perception of many Americans who are to graduate too being completely ignorant of world events and cultures, under the influence of the Deep State media apparatus, and it’s propaganda it produces on an hourly basis.

      That Realist at least deserves to be part of the American odyssey analogy, of how we got to where we are at.

      Possibly on another comment I could help figure out what happened to the American Liberal Left, but that maybe harder to do than it sounds, because America has no Left. It’s all Right!

      • Realist
        May 31, 2017 at 23:50

        Do you think they are so dishonest or demented that they can fool themselves so easily? We’d be the laughing stock of the world if we didn’t scare every other country half to death.

        • Joe Tedesky
          June 1, 2017 at 01:48

          Who would be dishonest and demented? Are you also saying that because we are a scare, the world isn’t laughing with us?

          I’m not sure I understand your comments here, sorry Joe

          • Realist
            June 1, 2017 at 02:39

            I refer to the “average Americans” whom you referenced being influenced by the “Deep State media apparatus.” I am accusing both the Pied Piper and his followers of being either dishonest about their reasons for hating Russia or just plain dumb for adopting the narrative that they do. The narrative is such an exaggeration as to be laughable, except that we attach deadly threats to it.

            Maybe I have not been too lucid today, as I spent all day yesterday constructing a massive document on my computer only to have it completely destroyed and lost when attempting to transmit it which forced me to spend all night–till noon–first trying to retrieve it, then to reconstruct it, hence getting no sleep at all yesterday. Any comment over a sentence in length takes too much concentration right now. Sorry.

          • Joe Tedesky
            June 1, 2017 at 09:44

            I feel bad that you had those problems with your massive document.

            Here is something you may read when you feel up to it. This link speaks pretty much to what you and I are talking about.


          • Bindar Dundat
            June 1, 2017 at 12:07

            To: Realist (I hope you’ll take this in the spirit of commiseration with which it’s offered)
            Re: the sad tale in your following post: OT: on Saving

            Wow, Realist. That’s painful. I’ve done that too. We’ve all done that, but I haven’t done it for years now. Reason? Well there are timed backups you can use, but better still is to replace bad working habits with good ones. The following tip pasted from the WordPerfect Help section on Timed Backups makes the point. (MS Word has a similar feature):

            Tip: When you are working on important documents, get into the habit of saving the document whenever you stop typing. Press Ctrl+S or Alt+F, S , whichever you prefer, to quickly save your changes to disk. It only takes a second and it provides an extra measure of security.

            But what’s not mentioned in the Tip but only implied is that to make that “good habit” work, you must first have saved the document, by specifying a folder location for it, and giving it a name. In other words: saving your work is the first thing you do, not the last. Until you make that first save, the document exists only in RAM memory. It’s not on your disk at all, so in the event of any mishap, such as a power failure, or a computer hang-up or crash there’s nothing there to recover. It’s gone because it never even existed as anything but a pattern of charged particles on a RAM memory chip. And, further, NEVER attempt to create a “massive document” in a mere comment window on a website (if that’s what happened). Use a word processor and paste the result into the medium you’re using.

            Once you’ve given your project a name, and a location (a “home” on your hard disk) however, it can subsequently be saved with a single keystroke or click of your mouse. I’ve learned to associate the process of saving with positive emotion instead of the fear of loss. Whenever I stop to re-read a section I particularly like for some reason, the feeling of satisfaction is immediately followed by the inner dialog: “so, you like that, do you? Then you better SAVE IT!”

            Believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way like everyone else! It’s worth developing this habit so you’ll never have to face your recent torture ever again. It works!

          • Realist
            June 1, 2017 at 17:19

            @Bindar Dundat

            At first I thought I had lucked out and the document (with dozens of photos) was retained in a draft folder by the email program even as the program lost what was sent in transmission. What I retrieved from the draft folder looked perfect. But alas, the code for the doc must have somehow been corrupted because every time I tried to transmit even a small fragment of it to myself the photos were always lost. All the text was there, but just the little boxes with X’s in them where every photo over its corresponding caption was to go. At least the text skeleton, including all the attached links, could be retained, but I had to go back through many hundreds of photos to find the right ones again. I have composed and transmitted documents even more enormous than this one in the past without a hitch, though I did fiddle around with the enlargement on each photo this time. Maybe that added too much info. The diagnostic upon the initial transmission failure specified insufficient memory to complete the process, though the program did seemingly grind through all the data… several times… and none seemed to be lost in the draft. It simply became un-transmittable. As you can tell, I’m no computer geek. One thing we know, the NSA has a complete copy of my entire initial draft in their files. One has to eventually laugh, as we’ve all lost documents by accidentally hitting delete rather than save. Long ago I had to retype an entire 100-item final exam because of that cool move on the Apple //e I was using.

      • Libby
        June 1, 2017 at 13:22

        Joe -Thank you! Oh my. Perfect.

  22. Realist
    May 31, 2017 at 21:55

    So, Russia basically exists in Opposite World. You know, the one consistent with reality.

    • tina
      May 31, 2017 at 22:35

      And we here, in the Make America Great Again Country where everything is Terrific, the best, the more best, and the convfiferst, are living in the real world. God, I miss Karl Rove and his definition of reality.

      • Realist
        May 31, 2017 at 23:28

        Based on your usually bizarre posts, I can see the attraction to Rove and his hallucinations.

        • June 1, 2017 at 14:11


          here is the link to the map also has a very good interview with Putin…he goes into more detail than usual…



        • tina
          June 1, 2017 at 23:58

          it was a joke

        • tina
          June 2, 2017 at 00:20

          a joke, have you ever heard of humor? Andy Kauffman, ever heard of him? I cannot make too much sense of things going on right now, But I do know this, I do not wish anyone harm, and I do know a lot of history, having lived it. I very much appreciate this website, yet, sometimes , I wonder if this is really what Robert Parry had in mind. I am educated by the diverse opinions, and as a trained reporter, if your mother says she loves you, you better check that fact, and recheck it and check it the third time to get your story right before you put it in print. Please, I am no troll, cheeky, yes, punky, maybe,
          definitely not bold enough to be mean. I respect Isadore F Stone, And I hope we all keep the dialog alive.

          • Anon
            June 2, 2017 at 21:32

            I strongly suggest at least one strong early clue that you are joking, and enough contradiction to make it humorous. Otherwise others will reasonably conclude that you are an extremist or a disruptive troll. Too dry and it is not humor to anyone else.

          • John
            June 4, 2017 at 22:34


            I’m sure this website is exactly what Robert had in mind. He and John Pilger are both top tier journalists attempting to educate people with their websites, and both are doing an excellent job.

    • venice12
      June 1, 2017 at 07:31

      Being European I know American as well as Russian culture quite well and noticed two distinguishing features .

      1. Russians say what they mean and do as they say and more often than not are naive enough to believe others do too.
      2. Russians are more interested in human relationships than in self-marketing and making money

      • Libby
        June 1, 2017 at 13:19

        I would say point two applies as well to Europeans, and most of the rest of the world. I lived abroad for over twenty years and know the difference between your description of Americans and living in a world where relationships, culture, and self-criticism, as well as a search for meaning and a higher vision make up the fabric of daily life.

  23. Paul G.
    May 31, 2017 at 21:26


  24. Erik G
    May 31, 2017 at 20:34

    Thanks to Mr. Sterling for a sympathetic and fearless look at Russia. The US needs as much public awareness of such issues via the independent media as can be managed.

    Those who would like to petition the NYT to make CN editor Robert Parry their senior editor may do so here:
    While Mr. Parry may prefer independence, and we all know the NYT ownership makes it unlikely, and the NYT may try to ignore it, it is instructive to them that intelligent readers know better journalism when they see it. A petition demonstrates the concerns of a far larger number of potential or lost subscribers.

  25. Taiga
    May 31, 2017 at 20:15

    I agree with every word in the article.
    Thank you for an unbiased view of Russian culture.

  26. Bill Bodden
    May 31, 2017 at 20:14

    Russians know and fear war.

    Americans also know war from watching lots of movies and television and think war might be fun. Our secretary for war has said shooting people can fun.

    The Russians may fear war, but our war department would very likely be mistaken if they believed today’s Russians would be any less patriotic than their grandfathers and their grandfathers.

  27. mike k
    May 31, 2017 at 19:39

    The number of real people is less and less in America. And of course most have no idea what real people are, and don’t have a clue that they themselves are not real people. “We are the hollow men, headpiece stuffed with straw….”

    • Libby
      June 1, 2017 at 13:07

      Overall, Americans hold an extremely limited and superficial understanding about the world, history and reality, upholding their views with self-righteousness and allowing a takeover of democracy by corporations and their dictates. Neither do ‘they’ see that voting for the ‘lesser of two evils’ must approve of evil while effectively eliminating any opposition.

  28. Pft
    May 31, 2017 at 18:46

    Universal health care and agriculture free of GMO , spending on infrastructure and dont need to buy oil with our dollars. They are indeed a threat.

    • Drew Hunkins
      May 31, 2017 at 20:51

      Recently while at a party I was engaged in a banal conversation with a couple of highly educated liberal women about Russian Washington relations. I briefly mentioned to them that Putin presides over a state that provides national healthcare coverage for all its citizens. I was immediately scoffed at and mocked and derisively assured in condescending tones that thousands and thousands and thousands of Russian citizens go without any healthcare coverage for years on end.

      • tina
        May 31, 2017 at 22:26

        You are not hanging out with the right liberal women, pun intended, find some other highly educated liberal women, and I bet you will hear a different voice/opinion.

      • Rob Roy
        June 2, 2017 at 00:11

        You need new friends. Did you let them get away with their scoffing? I run into people like that every day. Have to get some new friends myself.

    • Typingperson
      June 1, 2017 at 00:46

      They don’t have a deficit either. Putin balanced the budget. Despite US sanctions that severely impacted the economy. He also got the military back up to speed, even while spending just $60B per year on it–about one tenth of what US spends. F-35, anyone?

      Putin is a highly competent leader, who loves his country and its far-flung and very diverse people. Compare that to our current US leader–or Obama and Hillary and Bush… and Clinton and Reagan. A lackluster bunch of bought puppets. Sad!

      • Typingperson
        June 1, 2017 at 00:51

        Our deficit is $20 trillion, btw. Obama doubled it, if I’ve read correctly, without appreciably expanding support / benefits / “handouts” to the American people, Obamacare to the contrary. Ahem. All Obama’s handouts went to the banksters and the war contractors. He’s profiting very nicely from his compliance and obedience now…

      • venice12
        June 1, 2017 at 07:14

        And being highly competent he knows

        “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword, the other by debt.”

        Adam Smith

  29. Drew Hunkins
    May 31, 2017 at 18:27

    “there are numerous private stations criticizing the government and supporting various opposition parties. In print media, the majority of newspapers and magazines are critical of the government.”

    Yet Putin STILL maintains a 70% approval rating.

    And it’s crucial to note that the vast majority of the 30% who ‘disapprove’ do so b/c they’re critical of Putin in that he doesn’t take enough of a hawkish hard line stance toward Western encirclement, encroachment and destabilization.

    Ergo, one could ostensibly argue that Putin’s actual approval rating is at approximately 90%. This despite much of the Russian mass media pumping out daily drivel meant to appease Gershman, Soros and the Western affiliated NGOers.

    • Wake Thehellup
      May 31, 2017 at 19:18

      Dang, you get it!!! We can only hope that enough western citizens demand a change in our governments’ agendas eastward because to me, Putin is like the characters Bruce Lee played in his movies. Willing to ignore slights of rhetoric and even more reserve when it comes to actually breaking out the Nunchakus But once he takes them out, craniums are gonna get cracked.

      • Drew Hunkins
        May 31, 2017 at 20:37

        Love the Bruce Lee analogy.

        If you get time, over on Amazon I just recently posted a customer review for the excellent brand new book, “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia” by Kovalik.

        • Gregory Herr
          June 1, 2017 at 17:20

          Thanks for the heads up on “a provocative, stunningly vital and wildly insightful book that in a better world would be immediately devoured and discussed by thousands of readers, activists, intellectuals, independent media sources (not “fake news!”), and peace loving folks who could make a difference.”

          Your review and endorsement is enough for me to add this book to my reading list.

          • Drew Hunkins
            June 1, 2017 at 18:36

            Thank you for the kind words. They truly mean a lot. And thank you for taking the time to read my customer book review.

    • Bankrupt Greek
      May 31, 2017 at 20:55

      I have still not met a Russian who is highly critical of Putin. Even some left leaning Russian friends i have who have disapproval for authoritarians, absolutely adore Vladimir.

      The vast majority of Greece also adores Putin, the armed Forces especially.

    • Rob Roy
      June 2, 2017 at 00:08

      “RT network has been nominated in 18 categories of the New York Festivals awards for the world’s best TV and film work, beating out the BBC and CNN.”
      “There are three major TV stations controlled by and supporting the government. Along with these, there are numerous private stations criticizing the government and supporting various opposition parties. In print media, the majority of newspapers and magazines are critical of the government.”

  30. Max
    May 31, 2017 at 18:21

    “it’s enough to make a man want to sell his soul to the devil!” Stone

    Snowden would of got a better deal with the devil than Russia. Good girls go places, bad girls go everywhere. The bad times stay bad and the good times never change. The new Russia is like the new Coke. Put enough rum in it and who cares? Have a vodka and Coke.

    • Anon
      May 31, 2017 at 20:41

      Incoherent scammers are happiest in dark corners where their lack of intelligence is less visible.

    • tina
      May 31, 2017 at 22:18

      Hey, how did you know that is my dad’s cocktail of choice? My pops is 77 and he loves his vodka and Coke. And he has Miller High Life beer as a chaser. Wow, you must know a lot.

      • Anon
        June 1, 2017 at 07:33

        Tina the troll adds incoherence and irrelevancy.

        • June 1, 2017 at 14:18

          here is the link to the map also has a very good interview with Putin…he goes into more detail than usual…



          • Gregory Herr
            June 1, 2017 at 17:14

            Thank you derek, a very worthwhile interview. Mr. Putin time and again demonstrates admirable sensibilities and cogent understandings.

          • Taras77
            June 2, 2017 at 01:01

            Just to follow on with this thread, I post a link to the opening day of St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2017.

            Putin does well, without filter or spin, in discussing major issues in response to questions from the news agencies.


            (warning, it is a tad long)

    • Rob Roy
      June 2, 2017 at 00:05

      Did you read the article? It was well written, clear, informative, and truthful. Its insight reinforces what I’ve come to know about Russia.
      I cannot fathom your comment. Putin is a better president than anyone we’ve had in decades. It never fails to amaze me how gullible Americans are and how quickly they absorb propaganda and reiterate it endlessly, as if repeating facts when they are repeating lies. Mr. Sterling gave a good example. The media calls Russia aggressive (not so), when the US is the most aggressive, hegemonic country in the world and the people repeat the lie about Russia. The media says Assad sarin gassed Syrians (he didn’t) but Americans see something written more than once, take it as gospel and repeat it. Calling Russia a “known adversary” and a “known enemy” in every main stream article, makes dumb people repeat it as truth, when it’s propaganda….stumping for Hillary’s war, don’t you know.

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