ADVERTISING
 
Wednesday, January 23   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Bible literacy
How often do you read the Bible?







SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Gavin Matthews
 

Red tide rising

Gavin Matthews on Arkady Ostrovsky’s The Invention of Russia.

SOLAS MAGAZINE AUTHOR Gavin Matthews 17 FEBRUARY 2017 13:40 h GMT+1

Western observers of Russia today often appear perplexed as to how a nation which emerged so optimistically from under the long shadow of Soviet totalitarianism, seems to be so readily dispensing with liberal freedoms.



Arkady Ostrovsky’s book is a superb explanation of the causes, development and consequences of that retreat, which both informs and alerts the reader to the ongoing difficulties which dealing with Vladimir Putin’s Russia will present for some time to come.The Invention of Russia has just won Ostrovsky the 2016 Orwell Prize for political writing.



Russia is an idea-centric country, and the media play a disproportionately important role in it,” writes Ostrovsky, who is the Russia analyst for The Economist. “Ideologists, journalists, editors and TV executives” have not just been transmitters of the idea of Russia, but its creators, he claims.



In communist days, media and information were a state commodity, “the means of mass communication”, essential to the whole Soviet idea. But, he rather adroitly observes, “the Soviet Union expired, not because it ran out of money, but because it ran out of words”.



Ostrovsky’s account of the turbulent 1990s, of Boris Yeltsin and his tussles with the Russian parliament, is brilliantly told. He charts the way in which the threat of communism led Yeltsin to depend on the emerging Oligarchs, who were allowed to gain inordinate wealth and power in return for their support.



There was a short time in which the media were comparatively free, when it was “too late to rally the masses under the red flag, and too soon to rally them under nationalism”.



Once Yeltsin was gone, however, the Oligarchs “behaved like caricatures of capitalism in old Soviet journals”, helping to destroy the liberal media as they moved power towards Putin, who centralised ownership and control of the press.



It was this media who invented the Russia we have today. As such there is as much about the battles to control Moscow’s TV tower, as there is as much here about struggles to control the Kremlin.



The Russia of Putin is anti-American, patriotic, collectivist, and celebrates derzharnost (geo-political prestige) and gosudarstvennichestvo (the primacy of the state).



Central to Ostrovsky’s thesis is that the free press was able to restrict Yeltsin’s Chechen war; but the compliant press under Putin has been central into whipping the population into a paranoid frenzy to justify the annexation of Crimea. The media was responsible for stirring hatred against anyone who opposed the war, such as Boris Nemstov, who was duly murdered in 2015.



Most alarming is Ostrovsky’s assessment of contemporary Russia, where “The Kremlin is cultivating and rewarding the lowest instincts in people, provoking hatred and fighting”. His view is that Russia is more dangerous than it was during the Cold War - the USSR was victor in WWII, but emerged from the end of communism with a sense of defeat and a volatile “inferiority complex”.



Today, more than “50 per cent of Russians think that it is OK for the media to distort the truth in the interests of the State”; but perhaps more worryingly, “The vast majority of Russians now contemplate the possibility of a nuclear war with America, [which] 40 per cent of the younger ones believe that Russia can win”.



Ostrovsky’s book is a challenge to the increasingly inward-looking West, which is consumed with its own economic and constitutional affairs; as was exposed in the woefully deficient debate on the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.



Both those arguing for renewal, and those for scrapping Trident argued from within a vacuum, with barely a whimper of cogent assessment of the resurgent Russian threat. Both arguments were essentially unilateralist, while the absence of any multilateralist voice arguing for scrapping Trident, in tandem with a wider denuclearisation of Europe, was telling.



The need to understand Putin’s Russia is a matter of growing urgency. Ostrovsky’s The Invention of Russia informs, educates and counsels Europe not to avert its eyes from developments to the East.



Gavin Matthews is a writter, blogger and Bible-teacher.



This article was published with permission of Solas magazine. Solas is published quarterly in the U.K. Click here to learn more or subscribe. 


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Red tide rising
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities

Christians rallied in Sofia on November 18 to defend their rights. It is the second Sunday of peaceful demonstrations against a new religion draft law that could severely restrict religious freedom and rights of minority faith confessions.

 
Photos: #WalkForFreedom Photos: #WalkForFreedom

Abolitionists marched through 400 cities in 51 countries. Pictures from Valencia (Spain), October 20.

 
Photos: Reaching people with disabilities Photos: Reaching people with disabilities

Seminars, an arts exhibition, discussion and testimonies. The European Disability Network met in Tallinn.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Did Hitler base his anti-Semitic views on Christianity? Did Hitler base his anti-Semitic views on Christianity?

An answer by Richard Weikart Professor of Modern European History, California State University Stanislaus.

 
China rises 16 places in Open Doors World Watch List China rises 16 places in Open Doors World Watch List

There has been an serious increase in persecution of Christian communities in China in the last months.

 
The source of longing, according to C.S. Lewis The source of longing, according to C.S. Lewis

Jerry Root compares the search for meaning of C.S. Lewis with Saint Augustine's reflections.

 
Bulgarian evangelicals ask politicians to defend “basic freedoms” Bulgarian evangelicals ask politicians to defend “basic freedoms”

Protests and prayers continue in Bulgaria for the sixth week.

 
That night That night

“No one came ot help that night, no nurse to numb the fright...”

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.