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Feature Story November 18, 2005
 
GO!-ing, Go!ne: Freedom of Speech is Finished
by Kim Murphy
 
 

MOSCOW -- At a popular pizza joint/night club called "Papa John's," located just down the street from the headquarters of the former KGB, the delivery man places the new issue of the Moscow Times into its usual rack. Only now, there is something missing: Go!, the restaurant and club guide which many people, including this reporter, found indispensable.

Without Go!, many foreigners are essentially reduced to the rank of second-class citizens, stripped of their rights, humiliated, and forced to communicate directly with a culture which is, at its very essence, not American. The canceling of Go! is brutal and counter to Western ideals, but it is not surprising.

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times

This, after all, is Putin's Russia.

Until two weeks go, the newsstand here at Papa John's was guaranteed to have a Go! insert in the Moscow Times every other Thursday. Not that the guide was popular with the powers-that-be. According to sources, for several months President Vladimir V. Putin managed to resist calls by the KGB-backed "siloviki" faction in the Kremlin to have Go! shut down after it had given a poor review to the Mexican restaurant Coyote, which was slammed for not having spicy food, criticism which sent tremors down Red Square and infuriated none other than deputy administration chief Igor Sechin.

Then, without fanfare, the Go! insert suddenly was canceled last week. The disappearance of the nightlife guide comes on the heels of its controversial critical review of the French-Russian restaurant Brasserie Pourboire. And, significantly, the Brasserie Pourboire is located just six kilometers away from the memorial on Red Square commemorating the battle of Stalingrad which names the word "Stalingrad" on its plaque. Proof that something dark and evil is afoot.

"Clearly, we are in a situation today that is at least as bad as the height of Stalin's Terror in 1937," commented Yulia Latynina, a completely objective journalist who just happens to promote everything Mikhail Khodorkovsky stands for through no financial incentive whatsoever. "Only there is one difference: When Stalin's terror happened, people then didn't have the luxury to compare it to Putin's reign of terror. I envy those people."

Some observers see an even darker, more ominous sign. "Even Stalin wouldn't have closed down Go!" commented liberal politician Irina Khakamada.

Indeed, as winter sets in, there is a palpable terror spreading throughout the capital. People can be seen suppressing their screams of total fear as they drive their cars or walk the streets. Indeed they are so terrified that they completely mask their fear by not even showing fear, but rather, by pretending, as best as they can, to lead normal lives. But not everyone is buying that.

As one pro-Western politician who asked to remain anonymous in order to give this story an increasing sense of urgency commented, "It is no exaggeration to say that what is going on today makes Stalin's time look like Disneyland." He pointed to the fact that already, at least 40 million Russians have been shot or worked to death in Gulags just in the past three weeks alone.

"If this keeps up, every single Russian will have been shot and killed four times over in the same period it took Stalin to kill one thirtieth of the population over a much longer period of time," he said. "And remember, they just shut down Go! Even Stalin wouldn't have done that."

While it is true that these mass shootings haven't started yet, it doesn't mean that they won't start, and once they do, that the mass killings will happen at a much more terrible rate than during Stalin's time. "What is incredible is that bodies will have to be dug up, tried, and shot again, several times over," said the pro-Western liberal. "Now I ask you, did Stalin execute bullet-riddled corpses? Of course not! And neither did he shut down Go!"

Skeptics can no longer ignore this harsh truth. And nowhere is this brought home more clearly than at the magazine rack at Papa John's, which is located down the street from the Lubyanka headquarters of the former KGB. Literally a five minute walk. The link is too powerful to miss.

"People understand what's going on here," said Khakamada. "They see LifeStyle gone after a bad review. They see Go! disappear. And now, we hear that the American Cinema is closing down. The message is clear: 'Foreigners, get out of Russia now. And if you don't, we will shoot and kill every single one of you, and then we will burn your corpses in a large pagan orgy of death and celebration, with vodka, bears, and balalaikas. We will then launch our nuclear missiles against the West, and we will set our timers to keep firing every missile long after we ourselves have died, with the aim of wiping out all carbon-based life forms on this planet.' Today, Go! is canceled. Tomorrow, the world will be canceled."

Kim "Bigfoot" Murphy contributed this harrowing article to the eXile. She is currently at work on a book investigating the whereabouts of the Yeti, which she believes is located in a Beslan widow's house.

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