Cherry Picking

The BBC reports on Russian president Dmitri Medvedev speaking about Yuri Gagarin:

Space exploration remains a priority for Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev has said, as the country marks the 50th anniversary of the first human space flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

“We were first into space, we have a huge number of achievements, we don’t want to lose our advantage,” he said.

“Humanity will continue to invest in space. I want to say, in the name of Russia, that we will of course do this as space is a priority for us,” he added.

Later, at an award ceremony in the Kremlin, President Medvedev told former cosmonauts and Gagarin’s widow Valentina that Gagarin’s flight was “the greatest triumph of our country” at the time.

So Russia wants to take credit for the space programme which launched Yuri Gagarin into space?  Fair enough.  But if they’re going to take credit for the successes of the USSR, are they also going to take responsibility for its failures?  Such as the Holodomor?  Probably not.  Then again, Russia has inherited the Soviet Union’s seat on the UNSC and all its embassies, so there must be some continuation and assumption of past deeds, yes?  Yes, indeed.  Russia defeated Hitler, you know.  But it was the Soviets who supplied the landmines which litter half of Africa.  Nothing to do with Russia, though.  Sputnik?  Oh, that was Russian.  The Gulags?  Soviet.  The naval base in Sebastopal?  Russian.  Chernobyl?  Soviet.  The Mig-29?  Russian.  Aral Sea?  Soviet.  Nuclear weapons capability?  Russian.  Katyn?  We’re working on that one…

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13 Responses to Cherry Picking

  1. Touche, Tim. All so true. I’m going to do a post in a bit on a part of the space program the Russians, Soviets, whomever, aren’t boasting about. But it’s very telling all the same.

  2. Tatyana says:

    spammers are getting creative!

    leave the suckers their consolation prize, Tim. let them brag about their Gagarin and their ballet.

    you still in Paris? hope you liked it more this time

  3. So? says:

    The seat, the embassies and the huge Soviet foreign debt.

  4. To repeat the criticism your position got on Facebook, nobody is denying the right of Ukrainians, Tajiks or Georgians to celebrate achievements such as Victory or space exploration in common with Russians. It’s not as if Russia will bomb Kiev’s May 9th Victory parade or object if it embarks on its own independent space program.

  5. Tim Newman says:

    Sublime Oblivion,

    You’ve missed the point. The issue is not Russia claiming all Soviet achievements as their own to the exclusion of everyone else, it is their laying claim to Soviet achievements whilst pretending the less savoury aspects of the USSR were nothing to do with them.

  6. I don’t see the Baltics rushing to organize marches in honor of the Latvian Riflemen, or Georgia raising statues of Beria (though admittedly, they do like their Stalin).

  7. Tim Newman says:

    Which is consistent with their not organising marches and raising statues to any event, figure, or aspect of the Soviet Union. Man, you could miss the point on a javelin.

  8. Mark says:

    I’m afraid everyone does that – if you want to call it “cherry-picking”, that’s as good a label as any.

    Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that would become “The Star-Spangled Banner”, containing the words, “..the land of the free, and the home of the brave” – which became synonymous with America – in 1814. But Lincoln didn’t sign the Emancipation Proclamation until 1863. Therefore, for at least 49 years a substantial number of Americans who listened to those proud words were not free at all, but possessions. When the USA is taking credit for the admittedly great accomplishments of Americans, the speaker rarely says, “oh, except for that slavery thing…”

    Around the same time (1845), a quarter of Ireland’s population starved to death. Queen Victoria donated £2000 to famine relief, which equated to less than onepence per dead Irishman, woman or child. In 1849 (while the famine was still taking its toll, it didn’t end until 1852) she made a PR visit to Ireland under tight security, and a single banquet laid on by Dublin Castle for the occasion cost £5000, more than twice the funds donated to famine relief of a population who were recognized as British subjects. U.S. Professor of Law Francis Boyle, and historians after him, labeled the Potato Famine a genocide. Yet when the 150th anniversary of the famine was commemorated last year, and 14 nations sent diplomatic representatives, Britain was not among them.

    When the famous stiff upper lip is extolled, the potato famine is seldom mentioned. Cherry-picking? That’s not for me to say.

  9. Tim Newman says:

    When the USA is taking credit for the admittedly great accomplishments of Americans, the speaker rarely says, “oh, except for that slavery thing…”

    Yes, but they tend not to go “Oh, that was nothing to do with us!”.

  10. Khabarovsk says:

    Guys, take away that Cromwell monument in London, he killed so many people!

  11. Igor says:

    Whats wrong with being proud of what your fathers done? As for failures… It’s not like we are not acknowledge them. But what do you expect? Landmines? oh well… then why dont blame US for supporting opposite side? Like, Afghanistan. Leading to widespread of terrorism at present time, muslim radicals ruling the countries instead of being socialistic but secular state…
    As for Holodomor – most Russians just do not believe it was genocide as in fact it was a part of much larger famine:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_famine_of_1932–1933
    wich is pretty much acknowledged, described in school books and so on. But put youself in the shoes of someone who’s relative died in this famine at, say Volga region, who was told “your kind deliberately killed Ukrainians!”…

  12. Tim Newman says:

    As for Holodomor – most Russians just do not believe it was genocide as in fact it was a part of much larger famine…wich is pretty much acknowledged, described in school books and so on.

    Thanks for demonstrating my point so effectively. You should come here more often!

  13. Igor says:

    Well:) My point is – are you expect we will run around and yell “WE KILL PEOPLE HELL YEAH!”?
    I was born in USSR but most of my life i live in Russia. I kind of don’t see “soviets” and “russia” as two different countries – just a different leadership over the same nation. May be from the side it looks like funny but then i dont see any differences between our ways of expressing patriotism and ways of any other major nation.

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