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I think this is a good topic of discussion because I know a lot of people that feel strongly both ways when it comes to Putin and Russia. I personally am undecided. I see two possibilities, which, to me, have yet to be determined:

1.) If Charles is right, western media is straight up printing propaganda filled with lies against Russia and Putin.
2.) If the news stories are 100% accurate, Charles is wrong, and Putin is turning into a "Stalin-style" dictator.

I feel like Charles's words here are going to evoke a strong emotional reaction, particularly from older generations due to Cold War sentiments. And I think what Charles is trying to do here is to get people to parse their emotion from their reason. And in doing so, they open up their mind to new ideas.
As the proud daughter of a WWII vet (5th AAF, 43BG, 65th SQ) -- and I agree with Pat Buchanan re. that war, but still --- it makes me sick to have to say that I believe Coulombe is exactly right. We and Russia seem to have switched hats.

Putin is so demonized in our media that one has to be very naive to not want to look further given how, about every single time, if our media are making a moral judgment about something, taking the opposite position is the way to go.

So, the question is "why?" I think we'd be doubly naive to think it's because of how homosexual acts are dealt with in Russia. Maybe the average American journalist thinks that sort of thing matters more than anything else, but the editors and media owners don't.

I say follow the money. He's ticked off those oligarchs we've all heard about, throwing many of them out of power -- a subset of them having owned the various media over there, one of any country's biggest concerns (we should be more worried about who run our media here).

And follow the bigger picture behind the stuff like homosexuality. Russia now seems to be the last holdout of Christendom.

Money/Power and Christ. Some people love the former and hate the latter. And that's why Putin's being treated like some "Hitler".  Of course, all this allows them to start another world war any time the bankers need more money and power.

As an aside:  Anyone out there watch "House of Cards" and how the Putinesque (why am I thinking about pasta right now?) character was portrayed? Anyone just "love" how Pussy Riot showed up at the White House as well?

Anyway, all of this is very surreal to a person like me, having been born in 1963 (the very year everything went insane, by my reckoning). There was still some sense of sanity during my very young childhood. I grew up listening to my parents' music -- 1940s jazz mostly. My favorite movie scene ever is, as everyone around here knows by now:

(I love Cagney so much.. Nice Catholic boy, too)
(And yes, I know that WWI was a complete disaster.)

The old people in my life were folks who grew up in the naughts, 10s and 20s. My Italian-side Grandpa was born in 1882 (that's my grandfather, not my great-grandfather!). My Pops, being Italian and beautifully emotional, would tear up when the Star-Spangled Banner was played. That's the kind of world I knew first-hand.

But by the time I was a teenager, Altamont had happened. So had the Manson murders, Kent State, and all the other stuff you'd see in any PBS "Look How Great We Were in the 1960s" specials. Then came the quaaludes-everywhere 1970s, my teenage-hood. "Surreal" is the word to describe the radically different "feelings in the air" experienced in just a decade.

And then there's now, with black-on-white hatred/BLM nastiness and the media's encouraging all of it, the almost complete collapse of respect for law and order in the African-American community, men in girls' restrooms, an insane level of anti-Christianism -- Hell, you guys know what's going on. Y'all have eyes. For us to still think of Russia as "the bad guys" is ludicrous, most especially when it's Putin who is the only politician aside from Trump and, formerly Buchanan, who speaks openly about defending Christianity.

A memory, re. the "quaaludes-everywhere 1970s":  I remember going to lots of concerts -- rock concerts, that is --  and back in the day, when the big digital overhead clocks in the huge arenas read "7:14", the entire crowd would cheer. "714" was the number stamped on Rorer 'ludes LOL 

(07-14-2016, 09:48 AM)Vox Clamantis Wrote: [ -> ]A memory, re. the "quaaludes-everywhere 1970s":  I remember going to lots of concerts -- rock concerts, that is --  and back in the day, when the big digital overhead clocks in the huge arenas read "7:14", the entire crowd would cheer. "714" was the number stamped on Rorer 'ludes LOL

Ha! I think one of the dudes in Cheap Trick is wearing badge number 714 on the "Dream Police" album art. Oh, the 70s...
(07-14-2016, 11:01 AM)aquinas138 Wrote: [ -> ]Ha! I think one of the dudes in Cheap Trick is wearing badge number 714 on the "Dream Police" album art. Oh, the 70s...

714 was Joe Friday's badge number, too! Good ole Dragnet. I like listening to the old Dragnet radio shows. You can listen to them here:  I loooove OTR ("Old Time Radio"). That's what I listen to as I'm falling asleep almost every night.

Satan was exorcised from Russia but now has full possession of the United States.
[size=78%]Brother nathanael speaks his mind on Putin, Russia and the lies now coming from the U.S Media:[/size]

Apologizes for seeing this thread 2 weeks later.  And what do you know, I was in Russia!  How could I not reply?  If you don’t know this already, I am a Russian citizen living in Canada.  So I have a bit of a different take than the Mr. Coulombe video and other posters so far.

As to the original questions of whether Putin is either the victim of outright Western propaganda or a Stalin-style dictator, I think it is a little of both and a little different at the same time.  Western news media does tell quite a few porky pies or create ominous tensions about Russian news.  Can’t deny it.  Mainstream media outlets like to pick up on events and shape them to seem as though Putin is a warmongering hate-filled little creature set on taking over the world.  Small things like calling snap military exercises somehow means we’re getting ready for war with NATO in any day!  Stationing troops along the Ukrainian border means ‘Breaking News’: Russia is getting ready for a full scale invasion of Ukraine.  Russia barrel bombs civilians in Syria and targets “moderate American trained” fighters but yet American military actions are always well-thought out.  Russia interferes in the politics of its neighbors and now your American Democratic nomination process, but no one follows the money that fund the color revolutions on our borders.  It seems as though Russia’s dirty laundry is always a headline so that American foreign policy dirty laundry gets overlooked.  And don’t get me started on how American and Canadian media are so obsessed about Russian sports doping.  What the heck does that have to do with the daily lives of your citizens?  Obviously, it is politicized.  But that’s a rant for another cup of tea… 

Russia is an easy target in this respect.  It is a weak power and struggling to compete.  Behind all the chest thumping, there are dire problems and deep concerns about the maintenance of the country of the future.  Putin is on the strategy of returning it to a great regional power and using regional geopolitics to extend Russian international influence.  If you consider only Russian international influence, Putin gets a good bang for his buck.  If you consider domestic issues, those are more troublesome.  Most people here on the forum are looking at it from an outside (international relations) mindset than inside looking out.  But, Americans wouldn’t dare focus a lot of distaste for China or India: the economic powers of the future.  Their power is on the rise and need to keep good relations.  Sometimes the USA makes a fuss about Chinese human rights but they don’t do it to the extent of Russia because of Russia’s “real” position in the world.  To make a long ramble short, the narrative about Russia is already formed in the mainstream media and they know which propaganda to follow. 

Now, is Putin a Stalinesque style dictator?  No.  I think Americans like using Stalin because they don’t really know any other Soviet dictator.  Besides, Stalin is a touchy subject in Russia.  He is either a hero (and that storyline is gaining strength) or loathed for his actions.  I think Putin’s ruling style is not of Stalin but it is still has tinges of authoritarianism.  “Managed democracy” means someone obviously has a strong hand calling the shots.  This genius concept is not his own and it must be understood that there are a select few that act as Putin’s advisers.  There is the image of tsar but with a lot of advising from strong interests.  At times I feel as though this kind of governing style is needed in such a large, diverse country like Russia and maybe Western-style liberal democracy wouldn’t be a good idea.  But then, certain thoughts come to my mind.  Could I really be having a discussion of this nature if they lock people up for anti-government social media posts?  (Which they do.) What if I worked for an NGO doing good Christian work and the authorities raided my office because “they” thought I was undermining the government?  (Which they do.)  What if I was a journalist and ended up jailed for my writings? (Which they do.)  Politics is fine in Russia as long as one does not challenge or discuss those in any form of government.  That’s fine and all that if you are not politically minded, but incredibly stifling if you have to confront the system for small things, like rightfully owning land or something.  Overall, strong hands don’t really bother me that much as long as average citizens don't suffer because all these so-called “free and fair” elections haven’t really made the West any more stable.  The government shouldn’t be in people’s business though… and the more concentrated power, it seems to be that way.  You need a permit for that, you can’t do this, pay this person, go to that bureaucrat..  That said, I quite enjoy living with Western standards and wish my fellow citizens could enjoy it as well.

The West likes to believe Russian people are indoctrinated fools that give Putin such high approval ratings.  There’s something to be said here too.  Putin does achieve high approval ratings; some real, some questionable, who really knows.  At least he’s trying, I guess, and when things were good, earnings were better.  He acts well and says things the people want to hear; how could one not support him?  However, these numbers have to be leveled against internal complaints as well.  Citizens in regions far removed from the capital or major cities say, “Putin?  What has he done for us over here lately?  Nothing.  Just another politician unaware of real life struggles.”  There is a lot to complain about in Russia and approval of government “in general” is dire.  Much contempt against politicians and the system that never seems to deliver.  It’s a common complaint across any country but when Western people say it, well, it doesn’t hold the same steam.  Again, it is a question of perspective.  People across the world love to discuss Russia so much but average Russian people just want their everyday lives sorted and their families happy.

Now, as for comments in the video, I have a few too.

The evangelizing outside of churches is part of widespread anti-terror and radicalization legislation.  It was passed without really consideration of how it would be implemented (data considerations, logistics and costs.)  There is a crackdown and I think if this kind of law was applied to Americans (or Westerners) anywhere else, there would be a huge backlash.  In fact, all of us would face charges and fines for doing what we are doing right here on this forum.  People are not allowed to share their faith unless they get a permit, which are often denied anyways, and they can only do so in places of worship.  The restrictions extend to PRIVATE HOMES and online communications.  So, if I was sitting in my apartment with 4 Orthodox, 1 Buddhist, 3 Muslims and a Jew and I said, “Let me teach you all how to pray the Rosary” I would be breaking the law.  How would the authorities know what I do in my own home?  Surveillance?  People ratting each other out all over again? 

A lot of these social and moral laws are prosecuted on a case by case basis.  No doubt that it wouldn’t be applied to Russian Orthodox followers.  However, I strongly disagree that this law won’t apply to Catholics.  It will.  Catholicism is considered an outside religion and too small to be considered major.  Maybe the “warming” of relations signified by the meeting of Pope France and Patriarch Kirill will translate into changes, I don’t know, but those of Catholic belief still are a minority.  Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists etc etc will be punished harshly.  They are considered to be more along the lines of cults than anything else.  This is the narrative out of the Orthodox Church.  Now, we may disagree with these evangelical groups spiritually, but they deserve the right to peacefully pray just as much as we do.  Quite a few of these groups offer support for drug addicts and single mothers in towns that have no Catholic presence.  Though I question the way they do it, they are engaging in good work.  Will these programs come to an end now?

Russia will never be a totally Christian country let alone Catholic.  Are we forgetting the diverse people that make up the Federation?  Are we forgetting that Russia considers only Orthodoxy, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam as the only “traditional” religions?  (See major ecumenical conference in March 2004).  Catholics were not invited as they were not considered to be traditionally Russian.  This variety of religions is not from immigration but rather simply borders that include a vast diversity of ethnicities.  How can Russia be the torchbearer for Christianity of the world when it itself is a mix of so many beliefs? 

Let us not forget that academics have noted that in 30 – 50 years that Islam will be the dominant religion of Russia.  The peoples of the inner abroad are Muslim, their life expectancies are longer and they have bigger families.  These regions have autonomy to make their own laws and are of obviously Muslim character.  As long as they adhere to the power in Moscow, they can govern as they wish.  There’s the famous Putin quote where he said he considered Orthodoxy to have more in common with Islam than Catholicism.  Naturally, that comment didn’t fly over too well but it shows that he’d prefer cordial relations with ‘other religions’ because it is where the power lays.
Are average citizens embracing Orthodoxy?  Yes.  They’re identifying as Orthodox but they are not really practicing or they are not especially observant.  Perhaps the perception of more conservative social values is mixed up with this belief there is a fever for Christianity.  What we need are not a greater number of ‘believers in name only’ but rather actually committed practicing believers to make changes.  Rein in amoral social behaviors such as rampant promiscuity and decrease the numbers of abortions, etc.  As a personal anecdote, I attended two Divine Liturgies in 2 different cities with my boyfriend while away and there were only a handful of older people that also came to worship.  On the other hand, when I was talking with my grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, the kitchen sink, they said quite a few young men were being baptised in the faith so that was a positive.

Now, the final point I will make in this thread because it is long and monotonous is Russia and the gay issue.  First of all, I will say that gay people should never encounter violence or murder.  They should be treated charitably and able to live their lives openly while according to Church teaching.  And I hope that American people know that though the average Russian person doesn’t understand homosexuality, that they wouldn’t go out and attack someone.  It seems to me that during the whole pre-Olympics gay fiasco that Americans thought Russians were rabid dogs seething with hatred for gay people.  I will not deny that some gay people, especially youth, have been treated horrendously. 

I believe that Russia is an easy target for social criticisms from the West.  But, all of that is the West’s doing and the West’s fault.  Europeans and Americans have constructed an idea that Russia is like them: white, European, encountered European nobility and philosophy and therefore must think like the rest of the ‘civilized’ Western world.  This is not so.  Anyone will tell you that Russians think peculiarly and simply think different culturally.  Russians that subscribe to liberalism see themselves as more European while those far removed from major cities turn towards Asia.  Then, there are those that view Russia and Russian ideology as indescribable and befitting only of its own explanation.  (I think I fall into this category.) Call it Eurasianism if you prefer but that is a loaded word. 

So, since we are “viewed” as a European country that engages in many of the same social and technological practices (trends, social media), we’re considered to be on the same wavelength.  As such, we are expected to embrace and submit to liberal values.  Since activists consider Russia to be “just like them”, they feel they can poke holes in the system that worked for their own home countries.  The same cannot be said for places like Saudi Arabia that treats their gay people even worse.  Where is the public outcry and protesting outside that embassy?  No, it is a lost cause, they know they can’t win so they don’t bother.  Part of this goes back to the Russian propaganda and the mainstream media discussed earlier.  There is a longer history to be anti-Russian (Cold War) than other places that have seemingly rehabilitated their public image.

What’s the point of all this?  Be critical of certain arguments that you hear.  Anyone with a certain understanding of Russia will tell you a lot of this “last Christian warrior” rhetoric is hype.  Is there some truth in it?  Probably.  But it is not so straightforward.  But as a Russian, when I think of Russia, I don’t really see us living any more Christian than any other cesspool in the West.  Maybe our laws and ideologies haven’t caught up to the West but our immoral actions give you a run for your money.  But given the chance, you’d see we have a lot in common with anyone else.

My parents like to say that when a Russian starts singing, the song never ends and you can’t shut them up.  Obviously, I inherited that gene.  I apologize for the long post.