June 22nd, 2007


putin’s list

The manor house at Tsinandali, just outside the city of Telavi in eastern Georgia, is a small masterpiece of local design. Collapse )
    Today, popular images of the Caucasus are not much different from those that were informed by the Tsinandali raid.[…]
    If current trends continue, at some point in the next century Russia will become a Muslim-plurality, perhaps even Muslim-majority, society, a fact that Russian intellectuals, policy-makers, and the Orthodox Church have yet to comprehend. So far, the Russian approach has been to fall back on the policies that defined engagement with its Islamic South in the Imperial period: to keep the Muslim periphery inside Russia but outside Russian consciousness. Today, the peoples of the Caucasus — especially Muslims — are routinely denigrated as thievish and inherently rebellious, blanketed with collective responsibility for everything from organized crime to terrorism, and portrayed as the chief threat to Russia’s internal security and stability. That fear, not just of terrorists but of all Southerners, has played no small role in Putin’s consolidation of power, and the growing chauvinism of Russian society.
    —Charles King, Putin’s list, The Times Literary Supplement, June 20, 2007