Chekhov’s Seagull, new film


This video says about itself:

10 May 2018

The Seagull starring Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening and Corey Stoll directed by Michael Mayer is reviewed by What the Flick?!

One summer at a lakeside Russian estate, friends and family gather for a weekend in the countryside. While everyone is caught up in passionately loving someone who loves somebody else, a tragicomedy unfolds about art, fame, human folly, and the eternal desire to live a purposeful life. Adapted by Tony-winning playwright Stephen Karam (“The Humans”) from Anton Chekhov‘s classic play and directed by Tony-winner Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening”), THE SEAGULL explores, with comedy and melancholy, the obsessive nature of love, the tangled relationships between parents and children, and the transcendent value and psychic toll of art.

By David Walsh in the USA:

The Seagull: Is there a “Chekhovian mood” at present?

30 June 2018

Directed by Michael Mayer; screenplay by Stephen Karam, based on the play by Anton Chekhov

Michael Mayer has directed a new film version of Russian writer Anton Chekhov’s play, The Seagull, written in 1895 and first produced in 1896.

Mayer’s film, with a screenplay by Stephen Karam, begins at a Moscow theater in 1904. The actress Irina Arkadina (Annette Bening), after a triumph, is told that her elder brother is dangerously ill. In the middle of the night, she rushes to his estate outside the city, accompanied by the celebrated writer, Boris Trigorin (Corey Stoll).

Irina finds her brother, Sorin (Brian Dennehy), on death’s door. Her son Konstantin (Billie Howle), a would-be playwright, who lives with his uncle, is also present. When Konstantin finds himself alone for a moment, there is a knock at the window. It is Nina (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman with whom Konstantin was much in love and who left to become an actress two years before …

Other than making these brief scenes, which in Chekhov’s play come close to the conclusion, into the opening of their film (and repeating them later), Mayer and Karam remain faithful to the original drama (or comedy, as the playwright termed it).

It is two years earlier. Konstantin is staging his foolish, grandiose Symbolist-Decadent play, set tens of thousands of years in the future (“All is cold, cold. All is void, void, void. All is terrible, terrible”), at dusk on the grounds of his uncle’s estate, with Nina in the lead role as the “soul of the world”. His mother, the author Trigorin—with whom she has begun a relationship—and Sorin are in the audience, along with the local doctor, Dorn (Jon Tenney). Also present are the estate manager, Shamrayev (Glenn Fleshler), his wife Polina (Mare Winningham) and daughter Masha (Elisabeth Moss). The latter is being pursued by the ineffectual, poverty-stricken schoolteacher, Medvedenko (Michael Zegen).

There are numerous undercurrents. Irina Arkadina is bored in the country, jealous of Nina’s appearing in Konstantin’s play and hostile to the latter’s attempts to create “new forms of art”. She ridicules the play and succeeds in ruining her son’s experiment. Konstantin dislikes Trigorin, the short-story writer, whose works he finds insubstantial. Sorin, already ill and musing about death, regrets that he never succeeded in fulfilling his two greatest desires, to become a writer and to marry. Polina and the doctor have had an affair at some point. She is unhappy in her marriage to the boorish Shamrayev. Masha, her daughter, appears destined to follow in her footsteps. In fact, Chekhov’s play begins with Medvedenko asking Masha—who is unrequitedly in love with Konstantin—why she always wears black. “I’m in mourning for my life”, she replies. “I’m unhappy.”

For Konstantin things only get worse in the following days. In a fit of anger, he shoots a gull (not a “seagull”, in fact, the drama takes place on an inland lake) and places it at Nina’s feet. He warns her he will soon end his own life in the same way. Trigorin determines to make Nina, lovely and naïve, his latest conquest. Prophetically, he tells her an idea for a new story: “A young girl grows up on the shores of a lake, as you have. She loves the lake as the gulls do, and is as happy and free as they. But a man sees her who chances to come that way, and he destroys her out of idleness, as this gull here has been destroyed.”

Konstantin does attempt suicide, but fails. Nina falls in love with Trigorin and tells him she has decided to take the plunge—she will leave for Moscow and become an actress. He arranges to meet her in the city.

Two years later. Masha and Medvedenko are married, miserably. Sorin is fatally ill. We learn that Nina and Trigorin lived together and had a child, who died. Nina has not proven to be an especially brilliant actress, although she has something of a career. Trigorin has returned to Irina Arkadina. Nina, as before, knocks on Konstantin’s window. They talk, she begins to compare herself to the gull. She is still hopelessly in love with Trigorin. She has a second-rate acting engagement for the winter, in the provinces. She leaves …

Anton Chekhov

Chekhov’s plays, wrote the famed Russian-Soviet theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold years later, “corresponded to the general mood of the Russian intelligentsia at that time.” Meyerhold, who became a friend of Chekhov’s, played a leading role in the legendarily successful 1898 Moscow Art Theatre production of The Seagull (the original production, two years previously at a different theater, was an abject failure). Konstantin Stanislavsky directed—and performed in—the 1898 production, which also featured Olga Knipper, Chekhov’s future wife.

Nina’s tragedy, wrote Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, Stanislavsky’s colleague and co-founder of the Moscow Art Theatre, specifically spoke to the situation of many girls “from the provinces at the time—girls whose ambition it was to escape from the dullness of their environment … to find something to which they might ‘give themselves’, all of themselves; flamingly and tenderly to sacrifice themselves to Him, the gifted man who had stimulated their dreams. As long as women’s rights were rudely limited, theatrical schools were full of girls like these.”

The “general mood of the Russian intelligentsia” in question, if one accepts Chekhov’s drama-comedy as a guide, contained discouragement, disillusionment and the sense of one’s personal insignificance and the pettiness and egoism of one’s concerns and ambitions. Add to that the dullness and stagnation of life in the country, where the only interruption of the boredom apparently extending to the end of time takes the form of desperate intrigues and pointless, doomed (and sometimes destructive, as in the case of Trigorin-Nina) love affairs, and the picture of life for this layer of society that emerges in The Seagull, and in Chekhov’s stories and plays generally, is not an attractive one.

As Elisaveta Fen wrote, in a 1959 introduction to a volume of Chekhov’s plays, “the characters … behave and talk as if they have lost their way, lost faith in themselves and in their own future.” Of course, other social forces and “moods” would shortly exert themselves explosively and eloquently in the 1905 Revolution.

American director Michael Mayer (born 1960) has done a competent job with The Seagull. This is an effort at a straightforward presentation of Chekhov’s play. The basic themes and ideas come through. The actors are generally fine. There are moving and even insightful moments. Saoirse Ronan, who seems a little over her head at certain points, makes an emotional and troubling final appearance as the now experienced and wounded Nina. Elizabeth Moss is also moving as Masha, who “voluntarily” enters into a marriage she knows will make her life nearly unbearable.

But this Seagull never rises to any great height. It is largely uninspired. There is no particular indication that Mayer, who describes himself as a man of the theater, has any strong film sense. The many close-ups and quiet conversations, if the truth be told, become a bit tedious. It is a film made without strong purpose.

How much of this is Mayer’s fault and how much of it is the fault of the conditions under which this interpretation of Chekhov’s work takes place?

Meyerhold repeatedly refers to Chekhov’s theater as a “theatre of mood” rather than Realism or Naturalism.

There is something to this. One indelibly associates Chekhov (1860-1904), for better or worse, with the quiet desperation and feelings of impotence and ineffectiveness of his leading characters. Chekhov brought tremendous honesty and sincerity to his stories and plays (“Life unfolded in such frank simplicity that the auditors seemed almost embarrassed to be present”, Nemirovich-Danchenko said of the opening night of The Seagull in 1898), but not the widest range of situations and emotions.

The Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, who liked Chekhov personally, once complained to him, “A playwright should take the theater-goer by the hand, and lead him in the direction he wants him to go. And where can I follow your character? To the couch in the living-room and back—because your character has no other place to go.”

Elisaveta Fen, in her introduction to Chekhov’s letters, wondered how it was possible for “so profoundly Russian … moods, characters and dramatic technique” to have been so well received, for example, in England between the world wars. She suggested the answer might lie “in the social temper of the periods concerned.” Fen argued that for the typical, educated middle class Englishman, “few would deny that the intellectual and emotional climate of the years 1919-39 was one of disappointment and depression … The two periods [in Russia and England] … are stamped with spiritual discouragement.”

This strong association with definite moods, of course, works both ways. Because of his specific characteristics as a writer, Chekhov inevitably seems somewhat out of place under certain social circumstances, circumstances of rapid social upheaval and transformation, for example.

In Literature and Revolution, written in the early 1920s, Leon Trotsky referred to Stanislavsky’s Moscow Art Theatre as belonging to the “islanders”, that section of “the intelligentsia who live on an island in the strange and hostile ocean of Soviet reality.” He went on, in more astonishment than anger, “Just imagine: these people are living, to this day, in the mood of the Chekhov Theater. The Three Sisters and Uncle Vanya [two of Chekhov’s other major dramas] today!” In other words, how incongruous this subdued “Chekhovian mood” was in convulsive, ferociously energetic, post-revolutionary Russia, where the masses were still quivering in every fiber.

In a later passage in the same work, Trotsky pointed to “the passive realism of the Chekhov school” and suggested that “the experiences of Uncle Vanya” may well “have lost a little of their freshness.”

But the pendulum didn’t stop there either. The emergence and eventual domination of the Stalinist bureaucracy had created new political and cultural conditions by the late 1920s. In the name of “proletarian culture”, a great deal that was superficial, vulgar and “narrowly rationalistic” came to the fore in Soviet literature and drama.

Konstantin Stanislavsky

Aleksandr Voronsky, the editor and literary critic, Left Oppositionist and Trotsky’s co-thinker, felt it necessary in 1927, in his essay, “Notes on Artistic Creativity”, to come out forcefully in defense of Stanislavsky (whose theater had responded in the meantime to the artistic implications of the Bolshevik-led workers’ revolution), the Moscow Art Theatre and Chekhov. In a comment on Stanislavsky’s My Life in Art, Voronsky argues in favor of the theater director’s painstaking efforts—his book, Voronsky writes, “is permeated with blood and sweat”—and great artistic creativity.

He specifically and pointedly takes note of Stanislavsky’s emphasis on intuition and the need of the artist to “turn away from one’s common, everyday mood and become infected with the creative mood” and to “forget himself and yield to the flow of other feelings.” Again, Voronsky is taking aim here at pragmatic, utilitarian, cheap, purely “external” realism, which the national-minded ruling caste in the Soviet Union was encouraging. Here, under these conditions, Voronsky was promoting psychological insight and “inner realism” too, a secret which, he insists, the great literary artists—including Chekhov—understood.

“It is not hard to strut about”, Voronsky continued, almost provocatively challenging the advocates of so-called proletarian art, “or to write and say with a condescending expression that the Art Theatre represents the past. Perhaps it does represent the past, but this past was wonderful, we haven’t yet grown to its height, and our writers and actors have something to learn from it.”

There are a remarkable 475 films or television programs based on Chekhov’s works or associated with them somehow, many of them in the postwar period, when disappointment and discouragement were widespread sentiments. And other feelings too. It’s not necessary to identify Chekhov simply with a “retrograde” sensibility. But he seems to come to the fore at more socially quiescent times, which also allow perhaps for reflection and regret.

The Soviet film The Lady with the Dog (Iosif Kheifits, 1960), based on one of Chekhov’s most memorable short stories, would likely have been inconceivable in an earlier period of Soviet history. A man and women, both unhappily married, meet at a resort. They have an affair, but return to their old lives. They meet again, and make tentative plans to go on meeting, but the reality that they cannot get out of their marriages oppresses them. In the final scene, the audience is only aware of the Russian winter and the couple’s hopeless situation.

Does Mayer’s new film indicate the presence of a “Chekhovian mood” in the American intelligentsia today? The election of a Trump and the general and unprecedented filthiness of the political and cultural atmosphere have undoubtedly generated disquiet and unease. Feelings of impotence in the face of the growth of the far-right may exist in certain intellectual and artistic quarters.

And from the point of view of the issues raised by Voronsky, Chekhov and his circle as the representatives of a more serious, principled approach to art and to the audience, there may be something there as well. Each time a “classic” is filmed at present, no matter how inadequately, one has the feeling that the actors (and probably others involved) give a sigh of relief, appreciating that they have the opportunity for once to do something other than an empty, stupid superhero movie.

On the whole, however, the upper middle class in the film and entertainment world has done well for itself economically in recent years. Identity politics, among other things, has the function of offering this affluent layer the illusion it is “socially engaged” and “influencing things.”

Complacency and a lack of urgency largely prevail. Mayer’s Seagull reflects this in its own way. It is not done with tremendous passion or commitment. Chekhov’s work, to be effective, must suggest the cruelly, tragically suppressed feelings and drives under the surface. The quietness or even “half-heartedness” of the characters merely expresses the force of that suppression. Here, too often, there is merely passivity. American filmmaking hasn’t yet grown to the height of this “wonderful” past, far from it.

As noted, Chekhov is not for every time and place, or for every taste, but he was a serious artist. He wrote in a letter, “I hate lying and violence in all their forms—the most absolute freedom, freedom from force and fraud in whatever form the two latter may be expressed, that is the programme I would hold to if I were a great artist.” Who do we have like that today?

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United States anti-racist black woman smeared as ‘Russian tool’


This January 2016 video from the USA is called Anoa Changa on Young Women for Bernie Sanders.

In Britain, the Conservative party and the Rupert Murdoch media have seen too many James Bond spy movies, making them unable to distinguish between fiction and reality. So, they are smearing Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a supposedly ‘communist’ spy for the no longer existing Warsaw Pact. This way, they want to distract people from the disasters which Theresa May’s Conservative government is causing in Britain.

Meanwhile, in the USA, the political establishment smears the leader of the Green party, Ms Jill Stein, and the former chairwoman of the Democratic party, Ms Donna Brazile, as supposedly being Russian spies.

And they don’t limit their lying to just these lies. Senator Bernie Sanders, who might now have been a progressive president of the USA, after having beaten Trump, if the Democratic party establishment would not have used dirty tricks against him, is being smeared as a Russian tool as well.

Anyone differing from establishment views seems ‘therefore’ in right-wing eyes supposedly to be a ‘Russian tool’. Like the Black Lives Matter movement is smeared.

From Jewish daily The Forward in the USA, 23 April 2018 , by Anoa Changa:

I Was Smeared By Public Radio For Being A Black Activist Trying To Get My Message Out

In 2018, the most important indicator of power might just be the question of who has a platform. Access to a platform means having your voice heard, something traditionally marginalized people have often struggled with, seeing as those who tend to have access haven’t been too anxious to let us in.

We take it where we can get it. Which is why it’s especially galling when a man with a huge, institutional platform uses his to impugn a woman of color trying to get her message out there.

That’s exactly what happened to me. But what makes it more that just an awful experience is what it tells us about the current political climate.

There’s nothing new about American institutions attacking and delegitimizing the work of Black activists and organizers. What’s new is that in the age of Russian election interference, journalists at establishment media companies are now using the Russia investigation as an excuse to mainstream these smear tactics. And it’s an affront to the activism of people of color that must be identified for what it is.

I am a Black activist. I was raised by politically conscious Black parents who believed in community-centered change. Following in their footsteps, my concerns are issues like racism, police brutality, and raising up marginalized people and those who would represent them.

As you can imagine, there isn’t much appetite for this kind of work in mainstream media. So I have my own podcast, and when I’m invited to speak to larger platforms, I do so, gratefully.

Recently, I took such an invitation and appeared as a guest on “By Any Means Necessary,” a radio show hosted by Eugene Puryear and Sean A. Blackmon on Radio Sputnik. Sputnik is a news agency established by the Russian government-controlled news agency Rossiya Segodnya. And yet Eugene, Sean, and their producer maintain editorial freedom in developing and producing their content.

I certainly maintain my independence when I go on their show, talking about the issues that matter to me. I do not consult with the Russian government before I speak my mind, nor do I care what they think about what I say. There aren’t a lot of mainstream platforms that give voice to left-wing Black activists, and Puryear and Blackmon do. On the most recent interview we discussed the glaring issues with Trump’s Economic Executive Order.

I have also been a guest on another Sputnick show, Loud and Clear, hosted by Brian Becker, about which I make no secret. On that show I debated non-existent voter fraud with a Heritage Foundation staffer.

Of course, it would be wonderful if American Public Media would host people like me at roundtables with robust discussions between people of color about topics like education, political engagement and organizing in a Post-Trump America. But they don’t, so we often find ourselves on other platforms.

So I was pleased when in early March, I was approached by an American Public Media reporter, Johnny Kauffman, after he ran across a piece of mine in The Nation called “Please Stop Calling Black Activism ‘Divisive’.” I was pleased that Atlanta’s public radio would be interested in my work, and happy to reach a wider audience.

In fact, that was how Kauffman sold the piece. I have sometimes felt that my message is being distorted by mainstream press, and after a conversation about that with Kauffman, I agreed to be interviewed.

I gave him hours of my time. My colleagues also gave freely of their time. I allowed him in my home.

What he put out there in the world in a four-minute radio clip was a staggering smear of me, my work, and my integrity.

The main point was summed up early on: “By agreeing to appear on two Sputnik programs, Changa gained something hard to find: a bigger platform to broadcast her political views”, Kauffman said. “But Changa’s association with Sputnik may put her credibility at risk, while furthering Russia’s effort to create chaos in the U.S.”

Instead of a reflective and nuanced account of who I actually am, the piece argued that I was simply a tool of the Russians. Who I am and what I stand for were simply swept aside because a professor Kauffman interviewed said that the radio shows I appeared on “are set up for the sole purpose of promoting the Kremlin line.”

In four minutes, Kauffman destroyed my credibility and my reputation, for the crime of not having access to the kinds of American state funded media that he, a white man, is freely given access to.

Instead of trying to raise up a Black woman activist, he chose to tear her down, from his perch atop Atlanta Public Media.

Of course, this episode was personally devastating. But it’s about more than just me. The way we frame narratives matters. And it becomes even more important when the person in charge of framing the narrative does not value or respect the individual who is subject to their analysis.

For this was Kauffman’s biggest mistake: a fundamental lack of respect for the struggle of being a person of color trying to get a platform for racial and social justice causes. And it was this fundamental lack of respect that led him to see me as a boob manipulated cynically by the Russian government, rather than a Black woman making a canny choice about growing her audience where she can — which is obviously not at Atlanta Public Radio.

So what if I think the Russia interference gets too much attention, robbing topics like Black Lives Matter and police brutality of airtime? Does this make me a stooge of the Russian government? Or is Sputnik the only place that would let me say something like that?

Independent commentators and journalists exist outside of mainstream spaces for exactly this reason. The innate need to uphold and defend the status quo limits meaningful discourse and dynamic conversations. Merely asking questions and expanding conversations leads to attacks.

At the end of the day, this was a poorly done story in which a white man with a powerful platform sought to smear and tear down a Black woman.

And as such, it’s a familiar one.

Any student of history could tell you how anti-communist scares were used to attack Black writers. There were attempts to undermine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with allegations of communism. History is repeating itself with the rise of Cointelpro 2.0 in the guise of Black Identity Extremists and the use of social media to spy on Black activists.

But today’s model is a little more insidious, implying that Black activists are easily tricked. This is the subtext of the discussion around Russians who tried to trick Black Lives Matter activists during and after the election. But as Florida-based organizer Donna Davis, an organizer with BLM Tampa and the Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, said, “calling unsuspecting Black Americans the culprit in all of this illustrates the emergence of Cointelpro 2.0.” She went on, “When did earned media with an [international] outlet come to indicate espionage or collusion with a foreign power to bring about this country’s downfall? This is ridiculous.”

I’m not going to be silenced because of fear. People need to understand the nature of social media but also how little access Black people have to traditional forms of media before admonishing me for participating in a platform that is respectful of my insight and voice.

Acting as if there is a single bogeyman or that everything is automatically tainted is a real problem. There is nothing wrong with scrutiny and asking questions. There is everything wrong with distorting and misrepresentation Black women particularly when Democrats are content to ride on our backs.

Media outlets covering politics and how members of traditionally marginalized communities are engaging in these spaces should take a step back and do the internal reflection and work necessary for consistency and journalistic integrity.

Yes, we should question and critique platforms and those who engage in them. But to simply dismiss content and attack my work without context, nuance, or respect is unconscionable, and plays into some of America’s worst history.

Anoa Changa is an Attorney, host of The Way with Anoa podcast, and editor of the Peach Perspective blog.

This Pennsylvania golf club called the cops on five black women members — for playing golf.

Gender inequality is ‘drowning out’ the voices of women scientists: here.

Dutch neo-nazis support Russia-bashing, oppose Wilders


This cartoon from Britain jokes about the present British Conservative government blaming Russia for all which they themselves ruin. Leading, eg, to a BBC Photoshop job on British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn‘s hat, adding Kremlin buildings, to make him look ‘Russian’ to help the Conservative government‘s anti-Russia hysteria.

Boris Johnson and Russia, cartoon

This is cartoon by Mike Bryson from Britain about Conservative Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Russia.

European Union joins UK in ratcheting up anti-Russia campaign: here.

Labour is right to focus on dodgy oligarch property rather than bang the war drums: here.

Jeremy Corbyn is hardly the only person smeared as a ‘tool of Russia’. Whether one is Green party leader Jill Stein in the USA; former United States Democratic party chair Donna Brazile; a Black Lives Matter protester against a police killing in Wisconsin, USA; or a Canadian First Nations person and/or Canadian environmentalist; the political establishment claims they don’t have actions and ideas of their own, but only move if Putin in the Kremlin pushes buttons to make them move.

Part of the establishment propaganda says that supposedly the whole political extreme right is pro-Russia. That propaganda aims at forcing people who for extremely valid reasons dislike the extreme right to become uncritical of the hysteria about Russia.

However, is the whole political extreme right really pro-Russia?

Let us look for an answer to that question at the Dutch neo-nazi party Nederlandse Volks-Unie (NVU; Dutch Peoples-Union). Founded in 1971, with as key purpose to rehabilitate convicted World War II war criminals, Dutchmen who had joined Adolf Hitler’s SS.

Soon, the then NVU leader, NATO bookkeeper Joop Glimmerveen, emphasized another main NVU point: opposition to immigrant workers. Dutch extreme right parties founded later copied that policy. Most of these other parties have disappeared by now. At the moment, Thierry Baudet’s FvD party and Geert Wilders’ PVV party exist.

What is the relationship between the NVU and the PVV?

The NVU fuehrer Constant Kusters has repeatedly advocated voting PVV in elections without NVU participation.

The NVU agrees with Wilders’ bashing of Polish, Romanian and other East European workers.

When Wilders organises demonstrations against Moroccan Dutch people and other Muslims, whether in Arnhem or in Rotterdam, the Nederlandse Volks-Unie sends friendly delegations to participate.

When Wilders organises a demonstration in The Hague, the NVU neo-nazis with their orange-white-blue flags (which used to be the flags of the Dutch nazis when they collaborated with Hitler’s 1940-1945 occupation of the Netherlands) and their nazi salutes are prominently present.

When the NVU and other far rightists organised a march to a part of The Hague where many immigrants live, hoping to provoke fights, Geert Wilders said he wanted to join that march.

To some extent, this is surprising. When Wilders broke with his old party (the pro-Big Business governing VVD party for which he used to be an MP), and founded the PVV, he claimed that the new party wanted to have nothing to do with racist parties like the Vlaams Belang in Belgium and the National Front in France. As Wilders was supposedly just critical of the Islamic religion.

However, when Wilders needed voters’ signatures to participate in elections, a Wilders aide asked for signatures on an Internet site of Dutch Holocaust deniers.

And a few years later, Wilders invited French National Front fuehrerin Marine Le Pen to The Hague as a political ally (the NVU welcomed that). This year, Wilders invited the Vlaams Belang to participate in his Rotterdam Islamophobic demonstration.

So, is all well between the NVU and the PVV? Not completely. Wilders, like some other European rightists, supports the political right in Israel. While the NVU wants to kill all Jews, outside or inside Israel; right-wing or left-wing. (In this, the NVU also differs from Norwegian neo-fascist mass murderer Breivik. Breivik wrote that Hitler was wrong killing all Jews, as he should supposedly only have killed left-wing Jews). The NVU used to emphasize that this, Israel, was the only point in which they strongly differed from Wilders.

However, then came a 4 March 2018 NVU propaganda video (no, I don’t link to nazi propaganda). NVU fuehrer Constant Kusters said he had found a second disagreement with Wilders. Wilders had gone to Russia to meet local MPs. Kusters reacted that was wrong; and that the NVU supports NATO governments’ sanctions against Russia. He said Wilders was already wrong to obey Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as his master, but that now he wrongly also obeyed a second master, Russian President Putin.

A background to this is the NVU view on the Ukraine war. Like neo-fascists in Sweden, Italy and elsewhere, some of whom joined Ukrainian extreme right paramilitaries to fight in the war in eastern Ukraine, the NVU has links with the Ukrainian anti-Semitic and anti-Russian extreme right. A local NVU leader went to Kyiv to strengthen the friendship of the NVU with Ukrainian neo-nazi paramilitary organisations. Wilders going to Moscow does not square with these NVU policies.

On 27 March 2018, the NVU blasted Thierry Baudet’s FvD party as well for not joining in the Russia-bashing.

Black Lives Matter smeared as ‘tools of Russia’


This video about Wisconsin in the USA says about itself:

16 August 2016

The family of Sylville Smith [killed by police] wanted to set the record straight. They revealed Sylville won a lawsuit against the police. After his courtroom victory the police started to harass him daily. They also revealed he wasn’t a felon and he called his mother during the police chase.

By Will Morrow in the USA:

The Russians are tweeting! The Russians are tweeting!

22 March 2018

Did you recently take part in a demonstration against police violence in the United States? If so, you may be the latest dupe of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his army of tweeters.

This is the implication of a March 15 report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which claims that Russian-linked Twitter accounts were “stoking the flames of racial division” in August 2016 as hundreds of youth in Milwaukee, Wisconsin engaged in angry protests against the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith by a police officer.

The article has been trumpeted by Democratic and Republican politicians alike as the latest evidence that Russian “hacking” was responsible for the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Based on their hysterical statements, all taken from the same CIA talking points, one would think that the otherwise placid state of Wisconsin had fallen under virtual Russian control.

Former US attorney general under the Obama administration, Eric Holder, while on a campaign visit in the state capital Madison on March 16, claimed that the discovery of less than three dozen tweets by accounts linked to Russia posted in August 2016 “really shows the sophistication” of Russian efforts to “influence racial tension in a state in our nation to have an electoral effect.”

Holder ominously suggested “looking into people in the country who might have possibly helped” the Russians, and called for Congressional hearings and an investigation by the FBI.

A spokeswoman for Republican governor Scott Walker stated that it was “outrageous that any foreign interests would try to cause disruption in our communities and [we] hope the federal government will spend time looking into this interference.”

Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin declared that Putin “directed an attack on our democracy” and called for federal legislation to provide states with cybersecurity grants. Democratic State Senator for Milwaukee LaTonya Johnson tweeted that “we were trying to help keep peace in the community…while these fools [Russia] were sowing seeds of racism and hatred.” She claimed that “we’re still vulnerable to these tactics.”

“These are enemies of the United States who are trying to sow dissension in our country and on the streets of Milwaukee”, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett exclaimed.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel utilized a database of thousands of tweets, collected by NBC News, originally published by accounts identified by Twitter in January as being somehow connected to Russia.

The Journal Sentinel report claims that on August 14, 2016, in the midst of three days of protests in Milwaukee, fake Russian Twitter accounts published 32 tweets using the hashtag #Milwaukee. The most prominently cited offender is a fake account intended to impersonate the Republican Party in the state of Tennessee named “Tennessee_GOP.”

The report does not indicate why a supposedly “sophisticated” plot to sow tensions “on the streets of Milwaukee” would use as its vehicle a Twitter account impersonating the branch of a major party in another state, nor provide any proof that anyone in Wisconsin actually read any of the automated tweets. Instead, it simply reports that the tweets were retweeted more than 5,000 times.

According to the report itself, though contradicting its premise that the tweets were intended to promote the election of Donald Trump, the Russian-linked accounts “presented themselves as grassroots opponents or supporters of movements like Black Lives Matter”, both “defending police and criticizing them.”

More than 100 mainly young people took part in spontaneous demonstrations on the evening of August 13 in the neighborhood of Sherman Park, following the killing of Smith by 24-year-old police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown. Both the officer and the victim were African American. While Smith had been carrying a gun, he had already thrown it away when Heaggan-Brown fired a fatal shot through the young man’s heart. In the ensuing unrest triggered by the killing, a handful of businesses were looted and several cop cars were set on fire.

Governor Walker responded by mobilizing the National Guard, a section of the military, and placing them on standby in case the police were unable to put down the protests, which continued for a further two days. Heaggan-Brown was charged but later acquitted in the killing.

The residents of Milwaukee did not need Russian bots to “sow dissension.” The real roots of the eruption of social anger on the streets of Milwaukee are to be found in the catastrophic social crisis which wracks the city and the systematic violence and abuse committed by police against workers and youth.

Milwaukee, once known as the “Machine Shop of the World” because of its high concentration of manufacturing jobs, is today the second poorest big city in America after Detroit, littered with abandoned lots and disused factory buildings. The city’s poverty rate in 2014 was 29 percent, and 42 percent for those aged 18 or under. The neighbourhood of Sherman Park where the killing took place has a poverty rate of 43 percent.

The attempt to present the Milwaukee protests as a product of Russian interference should be taken as a serious political warning about the authoritarian character of the Democrats’ anti-Russia campaign.

The Journal Sentinel report is part of a broader campaign to present every manifestation of social and political opposition in the United States, including mass demonstrations against police violence, as the product of Russian interference, rather than stemming from the untenable levels of social inequality, in which three Americans hold the same amount of wealth as half the American population, more than 25 years of unending war, and the brutality and violence of American society, where more than 1,000 people are killed every year by police.

With this bogus anti-Russia campaign the media, Democratic Party and intelligence agencies are attempting to create the conditions for the censorship of social media and the labelling of all forms of political opposition and dissent as the work of “foreign agents”, thereby justifying their immediate suppression by the state.

PROTESTS OVER STEPHON CLARK’S DEATH SHUT DOWN SACRAMENTO KINGS GAME, FREEWAYS “Black Lives Matter activists linked arms and blocked the Golden 1 Center while chanting: ‘Stephon Clark!'” [HuffPost]

The release of footage showing the brutal police murder of 22-year-old Stephon Clark has sparked two days of protests in Sacramento, the capital of California, once again revealing the immense social tensions latent within American society: here.

THE grandmother of an unarmed black man shot dead by police in Sacramento, California, last week has called for change in the way police confront suspects. Sequita Thompson gave a press conference on Monday night and recounted the events of March 18, when Stephon Clark was shot 20 times in the back garden of her house, where he lived: here.

United States corporate media anti-Bernie Sanders ‘Russian spy’ smears


In Britain, the Conservative party and the Rupert Murdoch media have seen too many James Bond spy movies, making them unable to distinguish between fiction and reality. So, they are smearing Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a supposedly ‘communist’ spy for the no longer existing Warsaw Pact. This way, they want to distract people from the disasters which Theresa May’s Conservative government is causing in Britain.

Meanwhile, in the USA, the political establishment smears the leader of the Green party, Ms Jill Stein, and the former chairwoman of the Democratic party, Ms Donna Brazile, as supposedly being Russian spies.

And they don’t limit their lying to just these lies.

This video from the USA says about itself:

MSNBC Hosts are Now Suggesting Bernie Sanders is a Russian Stooge

23 February 2018

Neoliberal centrists and members of the mainstream media establishment are now not-so-subtly suggesting that Bernie Sanders may also be a Russian puppet seeing that (a) his campaign benefited from Russian trolling, and (b) he didn’t sufficiently condemn Russian “election meddling” in the specific way that would satisfy their McCarthyist requirements. We may very well be seeing a snapshot of the Democratic Party’s new strategy to discredit Bernie Sanders ahead of the 2020 Democratic Party primaries. Buckle up, folks.

Bernie Sanders certainly is not the first United States politician smeared as being a Russian spy. In the 1950s, the extreme right John Birch Society claimed that the Republican president of the USA, General Dwight Eisenhower, was a Russian spy. Apparently, lunacies do not die easily.

Amid the unrelenting campaign by the Democrats and the media—backed by powerful sections of the US military and intelligence apparatus—to whip up hysteria over alleged Russian “meddling” in the 2016 US election, scant attention has been paid to the blatant meddling of US imperialism itself in the electoral processes of the countries south of the Rio Grande: here.

Dutch Foreign Minister resigns in lies about Russia scandal


Dutch ex-Minister Halbe Zijlstra at football match

This photoshopped picture shows Dutch politician Halbe Zijlstra, supposedly present at a match of the Dutch national football team. This picture and many similar ones mock Zijlstra about lying that he supposedly met Russian President Putin.

Today, Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra of the right-wing VVD party has resigned.

He resigned because of a scandal: the lies which he told about supposedly meeting President Putin at Putin’s dacha (second home) in 2006, when Zijlstra was a Shell employee.

Putin supposedly then, according to Zijlstra, said he wanted a ‘Greater Russia’, consisting of ‘Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic States, and Kazakhstan was nice to have’.

Yesterday, Minister Zijlstra admitted he had lied: he had never met Putin. However, he apparently had thought this lie would do well at the congress of his party to incite delegates into demanding spending more taxpayers’ money on defence war, leading to more profits for defence merchants of death corporations.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Rutte, a VVD member like Zijlstra, claimed that Zijlstra lying was not good, but that the could continue as foreign minister. As the lying supposedly was only that Zijlstra himself had heard Putin speak aggressive militarist language. Zijlstra and Rutte yesterday claimed that Zijlstra heard about Putin speaking aggressive militarist language from another person who indeed had met Putin.

Today, it turned out  that Zijlstra had not only lied about meeting Putin, but about what Putin had supposedly said as well. Zijlstra had heard about a talk with Putin from his boss, then Shell oil CEO Jeroen van der Veer. Van der Veer said, however, that Zijlstra had twisted Van der Veer’s words about what Putin had said. Putin had used the phrase ‘Greater Russia’ not in an aggressive military sense, but in saying Russia used to be bigger long ago. Van der Veer had also not mentioned to Zijlstra that Putin supposedly named countries like Kazakhstan, and the expression ‘nice to have’ was not Putin’s or Van der Veer’s, but a product of Zijlstra’s imagination.