Russia, Nation of Morons

In yet another epic humiliation for Putin’s Russia, the country has once again been totally excluded from the list of the top 200 universities in the world.  Anyone even vaguely familiar with Russian universities, where professors are paid slave wages and students cheat and bribe the way normal students in other countries drink bottled water.  Russian higher education is corrupt from top to bottom, and decades out of date, mired in neo-Soviet politics.

Or take a look at the list of Nobel prize winners.  Good luck finding even one Russian, much less a significant contingent there.  Russian universities prize slavish adherence to authority and bureaucracy, not the kind of creative cutting-edge thinking that leads to advances in knowledge.  The result is, just for instance, the totally humiliating revelation that Russia has been reduced to using spies to steal simple microchips available on the U.S. commercial market because it can’t produce such basic technology itself.

We firmly believe that the Putin Kremlin does not want it to be any different. A real university system would mean educated, powerful young people who are difficult to control. Putin wants Russians sick and ignorant, because they are so much easier to dominate and control that way. Why else would Putin take the appalling action of kicking UNICEF out of Russia, denying thousands of Russian children a healthier, better life?  It’s the same attitude the rulers of the USSR had, the same attitude that drove the USSR to collapse onto the ash heap of history.

Revolution in the Russian Classroom

This video is a perfect metaphor for Russia. The teacher treats his student exactly the same way the Kremlin treats the citizens of Russia. If only the citizens could find the courage to react the way the little girl does, Russia could be a changed (and great) nation.

Blowing the Lie about Russian Internet Access Away

Photograph taken by blogger-activist Roman Dobrokhotov showing an area of Astrakhan opposite his hotel in the center of the city.

Washington Post reporter Michael Birnbaum is in Astrakhan this week, and has filed two devastating reports that drive the final nail into the coffin of the lie that Russia has a vibrant Internet.

First, Birnbaum reports on how nobody outside Moscow has the vaguest clue who Alexei Navalny is, then he reports on how nobody in Astrakhan knows that mayoral contender Oleg Shein is on a hunger strike to protest what he believes was a rigged election that caused him to lose.

He notes that people in Astrakhan, a giant city of 500,000, have virtually no viable access to the Internet, hence they know neither Shein nor Navalny — and Astrakhan is of course a typical Russian city, not an aberration, which is why nobody anywhere outside Moscow knows Navalny.

This comes as no surprise to us, of course, since we’ve been reporting on Russia’s Potemkin Internet for years now. And it should surprise nobody else either, not if they are aware of Russia’s puny household incomes and creaking infrastructure.  Most Russians simply can’t afford Internet access, and even if they could their browsing experience would not encourage them to use it and their level of civic activism would make it even less likely that they would use Internet access to defend their citizenship rights.

It is, quite simply, a myth that freedom on the Russian Internet may save Russian democracy. In fact, exactly the opposite is the case. It’s because the Russian Internet is accessed by virtually nobody that there is some freedom there, more at least than in the rest of neo-Soviet Russia. The Kremlin simply doesn’t care much about the Internet because it knows hardly anybody can or will use it. Were it otherwise, the Kremlin would quickly snuff it out.

The Sickening Final Days of Dima Medvedev

Anyone who thought that two recent visits to institutions of higher learning in Russia would result in the education of Russia’s so-called “president” Dima Medvedev was pathetically mistaken.

First Medvedev visited the People’s Friendship University, and then days later he appeared at Moscow State University.  Before he left the latter, students had been arrested for criticizing him; at the former, an authentic neo-Soviet Potemkin Village was created to conceal the life-threatening living conditions faced by the wretched students who call the asylum home.

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