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Mark Ames

I just flew back to the U.S., just in time to watch the Democratic Convention’s opening night. I’m amazed by how Soviet my country has become, or always was. We love these hokey big ceremonies just as much as any totalitarian country. I flipped the channel away from the Convention coverage and wound up on the opening day of the US Open, and there it was again—more ceremony, with all the hokey Soviet nostalgia that comes with it. Jesus, even the US Open has succumbed, (more…)

Posted: August 25th, 2008

Five days after Georgia invaded and seized the breakaway separatist region of South Ossetia, sparking a larger-scale Russian invasion to drive Georgian forces back and punish their leaders, Russia surprised its Western detractors by calling a halt to the country’s offensive. After all, the mainstream media, egged on by hawkish neocon pundits and their candidate John McCain, had everyone believing that Russia was hellbent on the full-scale annihilation and annexation of democratic Georgia.

But then came Tuesday’s cease-fire announcement–and we’re now forced to ask ourselves serious questions about the recent conflict: what really started it, how dangerous was it and what, with serious careful consideration, could be done to prevent it from turning into a worst-case scenario? (more…)

Posted: August 15th, 2008

The outbreak of war in Georgia on Friday offers a disturbing and somewhat surreal taste of what to expect from John McCain should he become our nation’s Commander in Chief. As the centuries-old ethnic animosities between Georgia and Ossetia boiled over into another armed conflict, drawing in neighboring Russia, McCain issued a stark-raving statement from Des Moines (more…)

Posted: August 9th, 2008

The eXiled Coat of Arms Is Back With A Vengeance

One month ago, our newspaper The eXile got stomped into extinction by some ham-fisted Russian government officials, who decided that since there’s a new president in the Kremlin who’s talking up some nonsense about a new “liberal era,” what better way to show your boss that you understand what he means by “liberal”—with a big wink-wink—than to shut down the only good thing that Russia (more…)

Posted: July 14th, 2008

This article was first published in The eXile, April 2008

Last summer, The eXile took a safari journey in search of the legendary Gopniki, Russia’s underworld answer to the OGs of South Central, Long Beach, and the Bronx. Those notorious shaven-headed toughs in their kepki-tabletki and track suits, with their bad-assed “cho blya!” faces and their greasy-haired sluts, were our heroes. In our journey through the podmoskovie ghetto of Lubertsy, we discovered tragedy rather than adventure: the Gopniki, those proletarian toughs and kings of the petty crime margins, had all but gone extinct in the Putin Era. They’d survived Stalin’s Terror and flourished under Brezhnev’s Stagnation, but in the end, they were no match against the soul-sucking effects of capitalism and bourgeois Evroremont. Today, the nearly-extinct Gopniki are little more than irony fodder for urban Russian hipsters in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Word has it that this summer, the “Gop-Stop” look is the Cool New Thing. (more…)

Posted: April 11th, 2008


This was first published in The eXile in March 2008

On Friday, a group of Russian performance artists stripped off their clothes and started fucking in the middle of Moscow’s Biology Museum in an act they called “Fuck For Medvedev!” (Actually they used the word “cub” as a play on Medvedev’s name, which means “bear” in Russian.) The Russian-language version can be seen here.

The performance artists are from a group called “Voina.” They managed to gather a few photographers and a banner, popped a bunch of Viagra, and fucked on the floor for about 10 minutes before getting thrown out. As you’ll see in the photos, one of the chicks was pregnant, making this an “extreme hardcore” show. The dudes are hilarious looking, real porn star types, especially this one hairy little bald dude who looks like Isaac Babel, and the flabby dude with the ponytail. There must be some skank requirement for the International Performance Artists’ Guild…

Their slogan “Fuck For Medvedev” was first unveiled at a “Young Guards” pro-Kremlin protest rally on February 23. They held their banner up in the background until a grumpy cop took it away and threw it in his car. (more…)

Posted: March 3rd, 2008

This article was originally published in The eXile on November 13, 2002.

No, we’ve been censored, by, of all people, David Johnson, a squeamish Quaker who runs the once-highly-influential Johnson’s Russia List… acting on the orders of his sponsor, a Democrat Party wonk and Stanford professor whose dedication to promoting democracy in the former Soviet Union is matched only by his relentless four-year campaign to censor and marginalize the eXile.

Johnson hadn’t posted an eXile article in months. I didn’t pay attention because his list isn’t important to us the way it used to be. The JRL has fallen into relative obscurity (it seems he begins at least one mailing a month with a pleading note like “Is this too much?” or “Any comments?” or “Would appreciate some feedback from JRL recipients”) and our newspaper is less focused on Russia than a few years ago. But recently I noticed that even our Russia pieces weren’t making it onto the list. That seemed wrong. I wanted to find out. (more…)

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Posted: November 13th, 2002