The collapse of the Soviet Union was good news for almost everybody—Russia's citizens, its captured "republics," nations targeted by Soviet missiles, and neighboring states such as Finland, just to get the list rolling.
The only losers were fans of Soviet propaganda who found entertainment in the classic Soviet posters urging comrades to "Learn the great path of Lenin's and Stalin's Party!," the glorious propaganda films denouncing the rotten bourgeois ideology of the warmongering capitalist jackals, and even the propaganda lite of Soviet Life magazine, which extolled the superiority of communism to American readers.
Soviet propaganda hit the skids during the Gorbachev era, and as the empire broke up, its propaganda essentially vanished. But the heavy-handed purveyors of party-line orthodoxy and nationalist cant have returned with the rise of President Vladimir Putin, and a demonstration of this lost art's resurgence can be found in a 10-page advertising supplement to today's (Aug. 30) Washington Post, titled "Russia: Beyond the Headlines." (It can also be viewed on the newspaper's Web site.)
Produced by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official Russian government newspaper, the section mimics the look and feel of a hometown paper, with news, an op-ed section, a sports feature (Maria Sharapova), two business pages, an entertainment page, and even a recipe for "Salad Oliver." But beneath the shattered syntax of these laughable pieces beats the bloody red heart of the tone-deaf Soviet propagandist.
No, Papa Putin doesn't appear in the supplement with two adoring Young Pioneers on his lap. The section never denounces the imperialist running dogs or praises the peace-loving workers of the world. Nor do the writers invoke Marxist-Leninist philosophy to break through the West's shortsightedness in order to understand present-day objective conditions from a class perspective. There's no need for such antiquated language when pieces like "The Opposition's Disarray Is Lucky for Some" exist to carry the new Kremlin's freight.
A USA Today-style infographic at the bottom of "Opposition's Disarray" reports the results of a poll titled, "Have You Heard of the Other Russia Movement?" The results:
I haven't heard of it: 61 percent
Not sure: 15 percent
It is a political opposition movement essential for the proper functioning of society: 13 percent
It is a collection of marginal figures who should be kept out of power: 11 percent.
Talk about loaded questions!
On the opinion page, we learn in "Dog-Walking—a Gateway to Wisdom" that Vladimir Putin likes Labradors and takes Connie, his Lab, with him to televised events. "Russia's citizens like Putin, and that's probably why there are a fair number of Labradors on my neighborhood streets," the writer states. All glory to Labrador-loving Comrade Putin and his patriotic walking-dog, Connie!
Elsewhere on the page, the editors establish editorial guidelines as they solicit questions and views from American readers: