Looking for the plain truth in Russia and America

Opinion: Columns

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By Lisa Biehle Files

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A book published in 2014 becomes more relevant day by day. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, the Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter Pomerantsev is a window into the post-Communist regime.

The son of Russian emigres to Great Britain, Pomerantsev is well-suited to fluidly cross both cultures with compassion and objectivity.

Early in the book he writes, "Moscow can feel like an oligarchy in the morning and a democracy in the afternoon, a monarchy for dinner and a totalitarian state by bedtime."

Pomerantsev lived and worked in Russia for almost 10 years as a reality television producer for channel TNT. In Nothing is True, he writes about the stories he pursued there: suicidal elite models, gangster actors, and the bourgeoisie. His program ideas are scrutinized under the watchful eyes of those who control reality's narrative.

Officially, those eyes belong to Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin's media master. Formerly deputy prime minister of Russia, Surkov is now a personal advisor to President Vladimir Putin.

Explains Pomerantsev: "Surkov's genius has been to marry authoritarianism and modern art, to use the language of rights and representation to validate tyranny, to recut and paste democratic capitalism until it means the reverse of its original purpose."

In the end, Pomerantsev declines an offer for a post at the top of the media food chain, working for Ostankino TV. Instead, he opts to move back to London.

But not before detailing the bitter story of Sergey Magnitsky, the lawyer and auditor who dared to unveil a tax rebate scheme known as the "black till of the Kremlin." Stealing from the state was so sacrosanct that Magnitsky was arrested, tortured and physically assaulted before dying at age 37.

Near the end of the book, Pomerantsev comes across street protestors carrying signs that say, "Don't lie, don't steal." He credits them with "capturing in four words the connection between financial and intellectual corruption, where words never mean what they say they mean, and figures on budgets are never what they are."

We, as Americans, would do well to learn from Russia's corrupt example, lest we sink to a similar mafia state. Free press and speech enable truth-tellers to protect our fragile democracy. At the local level, Wednesday Journal's pages are a fine example of this. By allowing all voices to be heard, we steer more closely to the truth. Thank you for your noble work, Wednesday Journal.

Lisa Biehle Files helps with media for Green Community Connections, Grimard Wilson Consulting, and WebTraxStudio.

Reader Comments

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Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 19th, 2017 8:40 AM

LOL. You misspelled schneeflocke.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 9:49 PM

Well, Ray Ray, we'll see what Mueller does with the dossier. If, when he gets done investigating all the leads, I'm proven wrong, unlike you, I'll admit it. But I think I'll be too busy recovering from my raging schaudenfraude. Tick... tick... tick.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 9:44 PM

@ Dwyer could that tick-tick-tick be left over from that phony dossier you assured us was going to end the Trump presidency within 90 days? Just wondering! When you are cock sure of things you seem to end up dead wrong!

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 7:24 PM

Uh huh. Just remember, he who laughs last laughs best. And when this is all over, I'll have to be hospitalized for acute schaudenfraude. Tick... tick... tick...

Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 7:12 PM

That's some tick you've got there. I'll bet it's caused by your Trump Derangement Syndrome. Get help. But Trump! But Trump! LOL!

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 6:04 PM

But, but, but... Paul Manafort wire taped and physically surveilled by FBI for months before and after 2016 election. Tick, tick, tick...

Ken Stucken  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 4:47 PM

But Trump! But Trump! OMG! But, but, but... Trump!

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 4:18 PM

This book offers excellent insight into Trump's Russian base - the criminal autocracy that really made his presidency happen, and with whom many who call themselves Americans seem only too happy to make common cause.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 2:37 PM

Sorry Ray, but I disagree. The unexpected foe frought with woe, with nothing to loose is like wounded animal, a real danger. With nothing to loose, they might gamble on a very long shot. I dont fear a North Korean missle launch. I fear the nuclear warhead hidden in a 26 foot long shipping container, shipped to Portland Oregon, to be met by a down and outer, Dim Chi, wanting to go in history as a mass murder by throwing a switch after making a long distance phone call to the Washington Post, telling them what intends to do in fifteen minutes.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: September 18th, 2017 11:03 AM

I had hoped we would hear some common sense discussion of why we need not fear Russia - Oh WELL! The massive Russian military is a maintenance disaster. They have 6 aircraft carriers only one of which can stay afloat. Their economy is based upon oil and needs $100 per barrel to break even. Oil is currently $50 a barrel. No kid EVER saves his paper route money to buy a Russian car. Beside Vodka , what does Russia export to the US? Are they a threat? You bet! Need we cower in fear? No! Russia's economy is their worst enemy and they are afraid someone will point it out.

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