Выступление Путина в ООН / Putin’s Speech at the UN

Visual content: Putin speaking to the UN General Assembly in New York
Audio content: Excerpts from Putin’s speech that illustrate some typical motifs of his foreign policy perspective

Video from Первый канал
28 сентября 2015

In late September 2015 Putin addressed the General Assembly of the UN at its 70th session–which coincides with the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, a milestone that has been extensively marked in Russia. Putin’s speech was timed to occur during evening prime time in Moscow. This speech is a great illustration of Putin’s international relations outlook on so many levels. As usual, Putin exhibits finely honed rhetorical skills. He has an excellent knack for placing himself on the moral high ground (in words at least) while taking advantage of every chance to criticize the Western powers, and particularly the US, for any failings or self-centered evils of their own foreign policy (and, in other contexts, of their domestic policy, political system etc.). No matter what policies Russia is pursuing, Putin makes his approach sound humane, reasonable and high-minded. Throughout his speech, Putin never mentions the United States explicitly, but he is very clearly refering to the United States at many points during his speech. Also note that Russia began bombing Syria shortly after this speech was given, so one role of the speech is to explain and justify Russia’s upcoming actions.

In the first segment excerpted below, Putin stands up for the important role of the UN as international mediator and criticizes those entities who act without prior UN approval (as the US sometimes does–but of course Russia also ignores international consensus in its actions in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria).

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Светлана Алексиевич, Нобелевская премия / Svetlana Alexievich, Nobel Prize

Visual content: Svetlana Alexievich meeting reporters shortly after learning she has received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Audio content: Alexievich sharing her views on nationality and Russia

Link to video on Радио Свобода’s YouTube channel
8 октября 2015

The Belarussian journalist and non-fiction writer Svetlana Alexievich received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was born in Ukraine to a Ukrainian mother and a Belarussian father, grew up in Belarus and currently lives in the Belarussian capital Minsk. Her writings address painful and tragic subjects relevant to the entire former Soviet region. The current leaders of that region, including Belarussian president Lukashenko, do not view her very favorably. Her work is banned in Belarus. All of these factors play into the comments she makes regarding national identity in this video.

– Какие у вас чувства?  – Вот плачу!

Я, по-моему, могу сказать, что я себя чувствую человеком в общем-то белорусского мира, белорусские ощущения, белорусский мир, человек[ом] русской культуры, у которой очень мощная прививка русской культуры, и человек[ом], который долго жил в мире, и конечно, космополит[ом].

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Болотное дело / The Bolotnaya Square Case

Russian language practice from the contemporary Russian media. Father of arrested protester.

Visual content: Simply a man standing in front of the Басманный суд / Basmannyi Court in Moscow
Audio content: A father speaking about his son who has been arrested in connection with an opposition demonstration

Video from Дождь
26 февраля 2015

On May 6, 2012, a major political protest march took place. Just as the marchers were approaching the intended endpoint of the march, Болотная площадь / Marsh Square, they encountered a large police force. In the aftermath of the incident, dozens of participants were arrested and accused of crimes along the lines of resisting arrest, disturbing the peace and attacking police officers. Many civil rights leaders viewed the arrested as political prisoners. This became one of the major political cases of recent years. Although many of the imprisoned activists were freed in the mass amnesty of late 2013 and early 2014, investigation of the incident continued. In early 2015, a young man named Иван Непомнящих / Ivan Nepomniashchikh was accused of having interfered with police actions during the Болотное incident and was placed under house arrest.

Update (12/2015):  Ivan Nepomniashchikh was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. He was convicted of hitting a police officer.

Update (August 2017): Nepomniashchikh was released from prison. He is not allowed to participate in large-group events but apparently intends to engage in single-person demonstrations.

Here Ivan’s father speaks with a journalist. The most interesting section starts at 1:45.

Отец: Во-первых, еще неизвестно, привезут ли его сегодня сюда [or с суда?]. Может быть, до завтра отложат. А насчет меры [пресечения], вот этот государственный адвокат, который вчера расследовать назначил, ну он намекнул, намекнул о двух месяцах. Я, собственно, привез сюда сумку с вещами, зубные щетки и всякую такую..

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День победы / Victory Day

Russian language practice from the contemporary Russian media. Aerial view of the parade in central Moscow.

Visual content: Great images of the celebration of День победы.
Audio content: Numerous interviews with participants in the popular march, discussing their ancestors’ contributions to the war effort.

Video from Первый канал
9 мая 2015

This year’s celebration, on May 9th, of Russia’s  victory in the Великая Отечественная Война / Great Fatherland War (World War II) took place on a particularly grand scale with lots of patriotic emotion and extensive popular participation. Besides the usual parade on Red Square, cities around the country organized marches under the name “Бессмертный полк” / “The Immortal Regiment.” This event was first conceived by an independent television channel in Tomsk in 2012 and was then embraced and promoted at the federal level. The essence of the event is that people march while holding photographs of family members who served and perhaps perished in the war.


This clip is from Первый канал / Channel One. The first three minutes show shots of the day’s events mixed with archival footage, with the song “От героев былых времён” playing in the background. Note that many participants in the event, as well as the news anchor, are wearing black-and-gold striped ribbons. This is the Георгиевская лента / St. George’s Ribbon, originally a component of some military decorations and now widely distributed as a symbolic commemoration of the country’s sacrifices in World War II.

The rest of the video includes numerous interviews with participants in the Moscow march.

4:10 Boy in uniform:
“Мой дедушка снова в строю, от моего имени. Я этим очень горжусь. Я хочу, чтобы вы все, кто сейчас меня видит, слышит и понимает, помнили тех, кто подарил нам мирную жизнь.”
“My grandfather is once again in the ranks, on my behalf. I am very proud of that. I want everyone who sees, hears and understands me now to remember those who gave us the gift of a peaceful life.”
Girl in uniform: “Мой прапрадедушка, его очень сильно люблю, горжусь им, он работает пока, он умер в войне.”
“My great-great grandfather, I love him very much, I am proud of him, he works for now [?]… he died in the war.

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