May 31, 2007
Russia really can be a very odd place:
Russia has banned the export of medical specimens after the country's spy agency allegedly uncovered a Western plot to manufacture a biological weapon that would make Russians sterile.
In a decree that appeared to reflect the Russian state's growing suspicion of all things Western, the Federal Customs Service forbade the shipment of all human blood, hair, DNA and bone marrow out of the country.
While officials gave no formal explanation for the ban, Russia's most respected broadsheet suggested that the customs service had been ordered to act after the Federal Security Service, the KGB's successor, handed an alarming report to President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.
Quoting unidentified sources, Kommersant said that foreign health institutions were using human specimens to create a "genetically engineered biological weapon" capable of rendering the Russian population sterile or even of killing it off altogether.
While such a fear would appear entirely nonsensical to us a substantial portion of the Russian population would believe this without qualification.
As I say, just a very odd place.
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Tracked on May 31, 2007 12:39:21 PM
surely they are doing this to themselves through alcohol consumption, radiation poisoning(Chernobyl and Polonium), and the lowered rate of fertility in teh 1990s (due to inherent caution of population in the face of incredible instability).
Posted by: Glenn Athey | May 31, 2007 10:15:57 AM
The psychic damage caused by 70 years of Marx, Lenin and Stalin will not be repaired over night. It's going to take time. The administrative/welfare state example of the west will only make the transition to sanity that much harder. The examples being set by some former soviet vassal states do provide a basis for optimism.
Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct | May 31, 2007 1:45:41 PM
Part of the problem is that Russian paranoia pre-dates the Bolshevik revolution by a margin of centuries.
Posted by: Bob B | May 31, 2007 9:48:44 PM
History is much easier to uinderstand once you accept that some nations are permanently bonkers.
Posted by: dearieme | May 31, 2007 11:19:29 PM
While laughing at our Russian chums' somewhat strange worldview is fun, there is a more serious aspect to this. What about that even more paranoid nation/race, the Arabs?
Given that they already believe assorted crackpot conspiracy theories about "The Evil West" with alarming readiness, how much more gullible will they be when they can turn round and say: "Look, it's not just us. The Russians thinks so too."?
Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jun 1, 2007 8:24:00 AM
Let's have a bit of empathy with Russians - think of the tradition of great literature and music. The pervasive paranoia is virtually the inevitable outcome of the Mongol invasions of the 13th century and the large scale atrocities inflicted in the 16th century by Czar Ivan the Terrible, who was almost certainly a dangerous lunatic in the latter part of his reign.
We can regard it as risible nowadays but the vein of anti-Catholicism running through British history has a rational basis once we recognise the downstream influence of the events that stoked it.
Mary Tudor, the reigning monarch 1553-8, had 280+ protestant heretics burned at the stake to restore to her realm the previous status of the Catholic church. The Spanish Armada of 1588 had a Papal Commission to restore Catholicism to England and then there was the abortive attempt by Guy Fawkes and fellow Catholic conspirators to blow up Parliament in 1605. After all that during the course of some fifty years, a bit of paranoia about the Catholic church becomes very understandable.
Posted by: Bob B | Jun 1, 2007 9:53:23 AM