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'Foreign Policy' Asks: Is Russian Literature Covertly Invading Your Mind?

Is the Kremlin using literature to undermine the fact that Putin shot down MH-17? Foreign Policy asks the tough questions, again. 


This post first appeared on Russia Insider


Edward Lucas and other idiots have been waiting for months for Russia to invade the entire world. But the invasion has not come. Instead, it is now evident that Putin will resurrect the Soviet Union by brainwashing the world with so-called Russian "culture". 

The United States knows this trick well and uses it with spectacular success to distract from its drone campaigns and CIA torture facilities. Who can deny the power of SpongeBob Squarepants and his subterranean hijinks? Now try to imagine SpongeBob in Russian, book form, and you will begin to understand why responsible westerners are worried.

<figcaption>Kremlin stooges</figcaption>
Kremlin stooges

Case in point: The Russian government is supporting efforts to make contemporary Russian literature available to western readers. Or as Foreign Policy explains

The Kremlin is backing an ambitious effort to make the B-sides of the Russian literary canon more accessible to a global audience. Is it a boon for cultural understanding -- or propaganda?

Try to imagine the discussion that Foreign Policy's editors had before running with this story. "Has Putin invaded Estonia yet?"; "Not yet, but his government is promoting book reading." ; "Books?!" ; "Yes, books." ; "My God, and they call Russia a Christian nation!" ... And so on. And the horror is shared even within the gilded towers of academia: 

One of the participating scholars, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained, “The problem here is that, despite the very noble nature of the project, which is long overdue and timely and necessary, the Russian authorities are using it to make a good face. And that’s why I am split. I don’t want to add my two pennies to the Kremlin bank.”

Yes. "Loose lips sink ships" will be replaced with "Reading Russian literature kills kittens." 

But the plot thickens. If you're bored enough to continue reading, you eventually learn that: 

In any case, it won’t be Putin’s circle that decides which titles to choose, which translators to employ, and which prefaces to seek. That will be the task of a scholarly panel at Columbia.

Yes, Columbia University. One of Russia's most prestigious institutes of higher learning, located on Red Square. Inside St. Basil's Cathedral, actually. 

We're sorry you had to read this. Foreign Policy strikes again. 


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