This past year was a watershed both for Russia and for Russia's detractors alike. As they used to say after 9/11, "everything's changed." Although not exactly how the West imagined it.
For the first time since Mikhail Gorbachev launched his doomed Perestroika reforms, Russia returned to its rightful place as the White World's Bogeyman, annoying the living shit out of every self-righteous, sexually-frustrated Western missionary with its mixture of menace and mo'. Playing up its new role as something like a cross between Bugs Bunny, the Tasmanian Devil, and P Diddy, Russia is now officially "confident," the biggest sin a country could possibly commit if said country attained its confidence while mooning the West.
In this end-of-the-year issue of The eXile, we look back at 2006: The Year Russia Schooled The West. And looking back at each major event as if it was a university course, we issue Russia its bestest, and most-annoyingest, report card ever.
Below is Russia's report card in each subject in which it competed with The West. We at the eXile hope that by reprinting this report card in an open and transparent manner, that the lessons learned will assist all of us in the New Year.
SUBJECT: Fingerpainting 121
Course Description: Remember all those so-called "Color Revolutions" which were sweeping the former East Bloc and Soviet countries, turning them from supposedly backwards, Russia-dominated failed states into happy, pro-Western "orange" or "yellow" or "rose"-colored nations? Welp, 2006 was the year that Russia decided to "Paint It Black." That's right, in 2006, Russia's Near Abroad overthrew all those bright, ditzy pro-Western colors to return to its natural, serious, Russia-friendly gray. Here is a sample of the color mixing chart:
*Ukrainian Orange. In the 2006 elections, "yesterday's" candidate Viktor Yanukovich ate the pro-Western faction for lunch, winning the largest bloc in the Rada, and eventually taking over the government, revealing every neo-liberal's pock-marked hero Viktor Yuschenko for the spineless, corrupt fool that he is;
*Kyrgyzstan Yellow. Last year's "Tulip Revolution" started looking bad from the moment the savages from Osh overpowered Western-backed NGO-er types. But this is the year that the yellow faded to gray. President Bakayev's tilt towards Russia has turned into a stampede, with demands that the US pay increasingly more for its Manas Airfield base, and now, demands that the US hand over the jughead who smoked a Kyrgyz truck driver. Bakayev is also moving Kyrgyzstan enthusiastically into the anti-Western Shanghai Cooperation Agreement alliance, joining up with...
*Uzbekistan. This hearty li'l Central Asian country's near-revolution never even had time to acquire a color before Uzbek President Karimov colored everything first a very deep crimson red (with chunks of pink), and then, after the bloodbath, a very pro-Russian gray. Indeed, Karimov, who until last year was America's bestest buddy in the whole authoritarian world, has since closed down America's base, thrown out all the special forces and spies and NGO's, and joined up with the Shanghai Five. What's funny about this artistic switcheroo is that even after last year's massacre in Andizhan, the Bush Administration tried to sweep it under the carpet and make it seem as if nothing all that bad really happened. But Karimov sniffed a hint of color, and that was it: later, West!
*Georgia. This country ain't smelling like roses anymore, ever since Russia shipped back all of the Georgian gasterbeiters, banned its wines and mineral water, and shored up the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, ensuring that those conflicts remain frozen 'n gray for a long time to come. The result? No NATO, no EU, and in fact, no nuthin'.
Schooling Grade: A-. Russia swiped three countries in its Near Abroad from the West, and bitch-slapped a fourth.
SUBJECT: Geology 2a
Course Description: 'Twas a time when the West thought it could sucker Russia into handing over its rich natural resources on-the-cheap in the name of (take your pick): "free markets"; "breaking up monopolies"; "Western know-how"; "free trade"; "increasing efficiency"; "transparency"; "NAME-OF-CURRENTLY-FASHIONABLE-SCAM HERE." Somehow, the Russians got wise and decided not only to keep as much of their shit as possible, but this year, they even did the once-unthinkable: they started booting Western oil companies out of choice deals like Sakhalin-2, turning Russia into Suckalin-Infinity for notorious blood-stained oil exploiters like Shell (which pays death squads to protect its fields in Nigeria), British Petroleum (which is destroying Alaska), Total (which is French), Exxon (which already destroyed Alaska) and others. Mwah-hah-hah.
Schooling Grade: A. Russia took back billions of dollars worth of oil assets from the greediest, nastiest companies in the world, simply by being nastier and greedier...and armed-ier.
SUBJECT: Legal Studies 201
Course Description: When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, one of the main goals of the crusading Western missionaries was to introduce something like "ethics" into Russia's savage culture. After all, the West was transparent, legalistic, and essentially free of corruption, whereas Russia was barbarically corrupt in ways we poor Westerners could never understand...or become. That fiction is now officially over. Won't you please give a big "Willkommen!" to Herr Gerhardt Schroeder, the former German Prime Minister who this year (well, it was announced last year, but for the purposes of this class, we'll say it happened this year) officially got himself bought. What happened was when Schroeder was PM, he approved building a $5 billion gas pipeline bypassing pesky Poland; then when Schroeder was booted out of office, he accepted a high-paying position to head the pipeline consortium. Proving that in fact, it was Russia which would teach the West how to be corrupt in an unhypocritical way, which is very difficult for us.
Schooling Grade: A-. If Schroeder could sum up this lesson using only German pornstar words, he would bellow, "Das ist fantastische, ja!"
SUBJECT: Finance 10
Course Description: In the 1990s, the West tried training Russia on the rules of capital markets. Then Russia collapsed in 1998, and the West said the consequences would be dire and they'd never get their money again. A couple of years later, Western funds were pouring into oil juggernaut Yukos...only to have the entire company destroyed and its assets stolen by the state. The West said that the consequences would be dire. So then Russia took the assets that they stole from the West, repackaged those stolen assets as Rosneft, and...ta-da! Rosneft turned out to be the largest IPOs ever for an energy major, raising over $10 billion in its listing on the London Stock Exchange, giving the company an $80 billion value.
Schooling Grade: A+. The lesson learned is that the West will buy literally anything from Russia, including their own stolen bicycles.
SUBJECT: Physics 30A
Course Description: For the last 20 years, Russian arms have suffered the twin indignity of being considered a). a joke, and b). pushed out of its natural markets by a selectively-moralizing West which doesn't like competition, and so imposes sanctions on countries whose arms markets are closed off, naming them "rogue nations." Over the past few years, Russia stopped caring about which countries the West didn't want it to send arms to. Russian arms exports soared to $6 billion this past year, while at least another $18 billion in future contracts have been signed, including with such rogue states as Venezuela and, reportedly, Iran. Moreover, in the proxy war between Hezbollah and Israel, Russian RPG-29 anti-tank grenades and other anti-tank weapons schooled American-backed Israel all the way to the surrender-yard.
Schooling Grade: A+. The lesson learned is that if Russia doesn't listen to the West and sells its arms to whomever, its arms will get sold, and the West will do nothing about it.
SUBJECT: Civics 55
Course Description: Remember all those Western-backed NGOs that popped up in this part of the world as soon as the Soviet Union fell? You know, because they were designed to give Russia "non-biased" and "non-profit" advice to gently guide it along a path to a democratic society by providing a non-partisan counterbalance to red-Soviet/Stalinist inbred ways? The same NGOs which formed the backbone of every "Color Revolution" (see "Fingerpainting 121" above) are now consigned to the bone yard. Russia is and has always been the undefeated intelligence-gathering/disinformation champion of the world. Do they think that disguising Western spy nests with harmless sounding names and giving them democratic-sounding missions, like Amnesty International or the British Council, can fool the ever-vigilant Russian intelligence services? Unfazed at being labeled "increasingly authoritarian," Russia enacted legislation giving it the power to shut down foreign-funded NGOs at will. And shut 'em down they will! Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev said it straight: "Foreign NGO's are being used to spy on Russia." And just to rub it in, Russia humiliated the MI6 by publicly broadcasting surveillance footage of a British diplomat kicking an electronic "rock." What were you guys thinking?
Schooling Grade: A+. Russia wasn't fooled by the West's trickery. You done been schooled, beeyatches!
SUBJECT: Physical Ed 233
Course Description: Back in the glory days of the Soviet Union, Russians who emigrated abroad knew that they still had to show respect for their country, or else... Defectors knew that no matter where they go or what they do, if they fucked with Mother Russia, she would fuck them back a thousand fold. But ever since Gorbachev turned Russia into a giant frozen pussy, Russian defectors seeking refuge seemed to forget about those times... This year, Russia reversed a 16-year-old trend. Just to make sure everyone noticed, they done went 'n whacked a former KGB officer, Putin critic and recent British citizen Litvinenko. They didn't have to do it. It wasn't like Litvinenko was a threat. But they did it anyway, just because they could. What's really cool is that it wasn't just a boring bullet-in -- the -- head whack-job, but what everyone is fearfully calling the first instance of "nuclear terrorism." How fucking bad-ass is that?! And just so no one gets any ideas, Russia pimp-slapped US authorities into briefly detaining Leonid Nevzlin, the former CEO of Yukos, on an Interpol warrant.
Schooling Grade: A. Russia rediscovered that fear equals respect.
SUBJECT: Military History 1
Course Description: Let's take two examples. Example #1: After four wretched, failed years of war, America, bleeding its strength to the breaking point, is considering adding yet another 20,000 troops into the Iraq quagmire, with no hope of success. Meanwhile, 2006 is the year NATO lost Afghanistan to the Taliban. Now take Example #2: After successfully pacifying a region once considered the most dangerous, unpacifiable region in the world, Chechnya in 2006 announced that it's getting ready for...get this!... tourist season! Yeah, that's right. Chechnya's Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov is laying out plans to build hotels and campgrounds linked by bus route countries such as Germany and Belgium.
Schooling Grade: A+. Putin showed the world that a few years of focused genocide combined with a ruthless semi-puppet strongman equals stability, peace, and calm. For now, at least. How long will it take the West to learn this bitter, unpleasant lesson? As long as it takes the West to get over its denial about itself as an imperial power.
SUBJECT: Political Science 301 (Seminar)
Course Description: As Chirac, Blair and Bush see the lowest ratings of their long political careers and face the harshest criticism ever in the twilight years of their political service, President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin stands in stark contrast, with over a 70% approval rating. Yes, Pootie-Poot is still the undisputed political hero of Russia. Bush should stop looking into his soul, and instead look into his political playbook. You know what he'd find? That he doesn't understand a single fucking word. Indeed, Putin's high ratings seem to rise with the level of criticism he gets from the West for being undemocratic.
Schooling Grade: A+. This is one lesson the West can't possibly learn. It's called "giving the people what they want. No matter how savage."
SUBJECT: Urban Studies 32A
Course Description: In the West, illegal immigration and the changing face of white countries has caused all sorts of backlash, including "English-only" hot dog stands and city council ordinances, racist "Minutemen" militia units fake-patrolling the Arizona border, and a few Congressmen losing their seats. Or in Europe, it's taken the form of the odd sexually-ambiguous "far-right" party taking another seat or two in a local city council election. So how does Russia deal with illegal immigrants? Easy: it deported the entire Georgian population in a week and shut down all their markets. And once in awhile, it had a pogrom. That's how you take care of illegal immigrants. If you're not a bitch-nation, that is.
Schooling Grade: A-. Um...is this particular joke even funny? Oh, right, yeah. Of course it is. Heh-heh.
SUBJECT: Economics 101
Course Description: For decades, every Russian longed for "valyuti," hard currency. They wiped their ass with the ruble, which constantly sank in value compared to the dollar. And then 2006 came around. That's George W. Bush's sixth year in office. Which meant, of course, that the dollar has replaced the ruble as the sick currency of the world. This year, the ruble rose to its highest level in seven years. Meanwhile, the Russian economy is posting yet another banner year of growth compared to America and the EU, and its stock market continues to soar.
Schooling Grade: A. Are we ready yet to admit that we Western expats are economic refugees living in an increasingly-wealthy Russia?
Note: The report card above was entirely the work of The Exile Foundation, a non-profit think-tank which only takes funds from private Moscow strip clubs, as well as any of Doug's great restaurants. However, that's not to say that we aren't willing to take Kremlin money in return for promoting Russia. We are. So if anyone from the Kremlin is reading this article, and they would like us to re-print this "report card" sans the mordant irony, then please wire the appropriate "gift" to our off-shore bank accounts in Jersey, and believe us you, there won't be a shred of irony in the entire newspaper. We're sure you already know our offshore bank account numbers. So come on, just do it. We await your recovery from the January zapoi...na zdarove!