Thursday, November 30, 2006

More trouble in Russia

One day after a former spy died from poisoning, a former prime minister is in the hospital with "suspicious symptoms." The former PM has criticized current president Vladimir Putin's policies, but his public influence is currently minor at best. He was a leading in figure in post-Soviet economic reform, lifting price restrictions and privatizing, in other words, making Russia like capitalist America. And now he might have been poisoned. Is Putin murdering his enemies, as many leaders before him have? I'm not familiar with the current Russian political structure, so I'm not sure how much absolute power Puting has, how much he can get away with. But this all looks very suspicious, especially after a journalist who vocally criticized Putin was also murdered a few months ago.
I recently read a quote by a right-wing nut (I don't remember the name) that Hollywood refuses to make movies about Soviet Russia because of the movie industry's deep-seated Communist sympathies. Considering that Hollywood is one of the most capitalistic industries in the US, and a perfect example of financial excess, I doubt very much that this is true. Also, this person clearly hasn't seen Citizen X, an HBO movie from ten years ago. It's about the hunt for Soviet-era Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, and how the search was hampered by Soviet bureaucracy. It was a mandate of communism, and it's quoted in the movie, that serial killers are a product of "decadent" capitalism, and therefore cannot exist in a communist state. But as the mounting body count proves, this assertion is wrong. With the refusal of the government to acknowledge that the killer exists, and the fact that Chikatilo, an initial suspect, is released because he is a high-ranking party member, Chikatilo is allowed to kill more than 50 victims, most of them younger than 17. It's not until the Soviet system is overturned that the police finally get the resources they need to track the killer. In its illustration of how party rhetoric allowed a savage serial killer to go free, and its bleak portrayal of day-to-day Soviet life (including the government's persecution of homosexuals), Citizen X is a perfect argument against Soviet communism. But as displayed in recent murders and suspect events, the fall of communism hasn't made Russia any safer.

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