A Russian dissident pulls off a virtuoso trolling of the Putin regime

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  • Anne Applebaum

Anyone who wants a glimpse of the information wars that could lie in America’s future should have a look, immediately, at Alexei Navalny’s latest video (it’s got English subtitles). The video so annoyed Oleg Deripaska, the video’s oligarch anti-hero, that he has just persuaded Russia’s media regulator to block it. Navalny, Russia’s best known dissident — he tried to run for president but was blocked — so annoys the Kremlin that Muscovites spray-painted his name on their sidewalks after a recent storm, hoping that would persuade municipal authorities to remove the snow. It worked. Continue reading “A Russian dissident pulls off a virtuoso trolling of the Putin regime”

In Britain, the specter of anti-Semitism returns

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  • Anne Applebaum

Anti-Semitism is back. Not just as a nasty little fringe sentiment, and not just in the Breitbart comment sections. Not just in social media either, although anyone who posts or tweets and has a Jewish-sounding surname (and even many who don’t) has had to get used to the fact that social media is a perfect conduit for language that would once have been too filthy to use. Continue reading “In Britain, the specter of anti-Semitism returns”

The stupidity and unenforceability of Poland’s speech law

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  • Anne Applebaum

The Streisand effect is one of the curious byproducts of the Internet age. Named for the singer — who tried to suppress a photograph of her Malibu mansion, only to have the picture seen far more widely as a result — it occurs when an attempt to hide, remove or censor something from public view backfires badly. Continue reading “The stupidity and unenforceability of Poland’s speech law”

The Czech election says more about the state of Western democracy than we’d like to admit

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

He isn’t the country’s most important politician. In the Czech Republic, as in many European countries, the prime minister is far more powerful than the president. Nevertheless, the Czech president represents his country abroad, speaks on its behalf and generally helps set the tone and tenor of public debate, much like the American president does in the United States. And without question, the reelection of Milos Zeman — who is vulgar and sexist (not to mention aggressively pro-Russian, pro-Chinese, anti-European and anti-NATO) and has been accused of public drunkenness — will set the tone and tenor of public life in the Czech Republic. Continue reading “The Czech election says more about the state of Western democracy than we’d like to admit”

‘Since the violence ended’: Peace, even if imperfect, comes to Colombia

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum
  • Cartagena, Columbia

On the journey up the Sierra Nevada to the San Lorenzo ridge, a very few abandoned military posts — forlorn bits of concrete, now green and crumbling — can be glimpsed along the side of the rutted jungle road. But there are no soldiers visible here, in one of the world’s most important bird sanctuaries. The only “uniforms” on display early in the morning are those of the birdwatchers, dressed in green and beige, wearing sensible shoes, carrying notebooks and binoculars. Continue reading “‘Since the violence ended’: Peace, even if imperfect, comes to Colombia”

Russia finds young men who love guns — and grooms them

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  • Anne Applebaum

By now we are all familiar with the Russian disinformation campaigns, designed to undermine democracy and sow distrust, which are present in many Western countries. The many uses of Russian corruption — the companies deployed for the political ends of the state, the banks and oligarchs who sponsor foreign politicians — are well known, too. But they aren’t the whole story. For an underfunded ex-superpower trying to regain influence on the cheap, money and trolls only go so far. Continue reading “Russia finds young men who love guns — and grooms them”

The America Europe needs right now is missing

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  • Anne Applebaum

No one has yet nailed down who really runs them or funds them, although Czech journalists have spent years trying. That hasn’t stopped the 30-odd “pro-Russian” websites in the Czech Republic from churning out a daily diet of conspiracy theory, slander, invented scandals about nonexistent Muslim migrants and attacks on the United States, NATO and the European Union — as well as praise for Russia and for the pro-Russian Czech president, Milos Zeman. Continue reading “The America Europe needs right now is missing”

The ‘Oprah in 2020’ talk is proof of our democracy’s degradation

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

She’s a self-made billionaire, as opposed to one who inherited much of his money and business. She’s a genuine philanthropist, with a real foundation instead of one under a cloud. She unites people instead of dividing them, promotes positive emotions instead of hatred and fear, seems the perfect antidote to the sour, bigoted occupant of the White House. Nevertheless, the fact that anyone takes “Oprah for president” seriously is yet another illustration of how degraded American democracy has become. Continue reading “The ‘Oprah in 2020’ talk is proof of our democracy’s degradation”