My name is Rupen Savoulian and I am an Australian citizen of Armenian origin. I wanted to express my admiration for the Soviet army's heroism, given that the 57th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany occurred only recently. Please find a statement below including some comments about the direction of the present Russian regime. I wish to convey my sincere congratulations on the 57th anniversary of the Soviet army's triumph over Nazism. The soldiers of the heroic soviet army gave their lives fighting the forces of fascist savagery. I also wish to relate condolences to the victims of the terrorist outrage in Kaspiisk, Dagestan. It is not just the fact that innocent lives were lost; this homicide occurred on a very special occasion for the peoples of the former Soviet Union. This crime is not only a blow to the victims and their families, it is a blow to all those who gave their lives for the defeat of Nazism. The current regime in Russia wishes to identify with the achievements of the former Soviet government. The Putin government celebrates the heroic accomplishments of the impressive Soviet space program for instance. April 12 was a day of celebration throughout the former USSR. Gagarin was rightly honoured as a hero in the Russian media and in official commemorations. However the ideology which underpinned and sustained these remarkable accomplishments in science and technology, Marxism-Leninism and its philosophical base, dialectical materialism, are widely attacked and discarded throughout the former USSR. The promise of the Russian politicians in 1991 was that "we will be like them" - the former socialist countries will become just like the 'prosperous', successful countries of the capitalist First World. The destiny of prosperity awaits those who apply the capitalist model of economic development, we were told when turning away from socialism. As a youth in Australia in the 1980s, Marxism-Leninist publications from the former Soviet Union were a necessary counterweight, a corrective balance to the crude propaganda emanating from the mainstream media outlets. These media outlets are of course multinational corporations, highly integrated into the imperialist system and they reflected the institutional bias and interests of the transnational corporations. Do you remember the publishing house called Progress Publishers? The books from this publishing outlet countered the pro-imperialist rhetoric of the major electronic media. But it was not just a counterpoint - it offered something constructive and fruitful, the political analysis and philosophy of dialectical and historical materialism. It proffered a holistic, integrated world outlook, a tool of analysis that I believe is unsurpassed in its effectiveness for understanding history and current socioeconomic international relations. The ideological Cold War As a university student in the 1980s, I was rapidly exposed to the 'Cold War' going on in educational institutions. Universities in capitalist countries are portrayed as citadels of intellectual free thought. Australia, an imperialist country, is no exception. I did not initially realise that educational institutions reflect the wider society. Most universities are ideological factories rather than academic fountains. Criticisms and discussion of imperialism is quite rare. While there are some intellectuals who bravely speak out against the depredations of imperialism, most academics willingly participate in reproducing the ideological conventions of the society around them. Cold War films may be viewed as independent works of art and entertainment, but they can also be interpreted historically. The films of the Cold War are particularly interesting because they represent how the tensions of the "great powers" struggle between the American and Soviet social orders were interpreted and lived. Interpreted historically, they give us knowledge of the beliefs and values that characterised the very culture of the Cold War. In Australia, the Cold War culture resembled the situation obtaining in the United States, given our close diplomatic, military and cultural ties. The Cold War was extended into the cultural and ideological sphere; films, books, newspapers and the like were produced vilifying everything about the 'evil' Soviet Union and its people. This ideological narcotic served to nullify any meaningful discussion about the philosophy and scientific accomplishments of the Soviet scholars. Do you remember the case of Vladimir Feltsman? He received an excellent state-funded musical education in the former Soviet Union. In 1986 he defected to the United States where he was feted as a 'moral hero' and was given an apartment in Manhattan. Appointed to the faculty of the State University in New Paltz, New York, he received twice the salary of a professor, awarded an endowed chair and a distinguished fellowship. New Paltz was badly in need of funds, academics there were paid low salaries and had heavy teaching loads, and there were inadequate supplies for students. Maybe Feltsman was the greatest pianist who ever lived, deserving of the higher standard of living given to him as compared with other members of the faculty. But I would suggest that his meteoric rise had more to do with Cold War ideological priorities. There were no tears shed in the United States over the sad demise of Yevgeny Svetlanov, a prominent Russian musician who died only recently at the age of 73. Svetlanov never received the 'red carpet' treatment like Feltsman; he never earned the high salary and plush living quarters that Feltsman did. Svetlanov remained loyal to his country and his chosen profession. More importantly he remained true to the musical education that had reared and developed his considerable talents. The retreat of the intellectuals Why was the philosophy of dialectical materialism so quickly abandoned by those in the hierarchy of the previous Communist party of the Soviet Union? Coming from an Armenian background, many Armenians in Australia, while staunchly antisocialist, took great pride in the many achievements of Soviet Armenians. There is still an avenue in Yerevan named after Marshal Bagramyan. Aram Khachadurian still stirs passions whenever his music is played. I remember many 'heated' discussions with fellow Armenians about the merits and demerits of the socialist system in Armenia (at least with what was offered as socialism in the former Soviet Union). In 1988 or 1989, I was part of an Armenian delegation that visited the Soviet consulate in Sydney, interviewing the consul-general of the USSR at the time, Shcherbakov. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the ideology of Marxism-Leninism was swiftly abandoned and CPSU functionaries transformed themselves with dizzying speed into proponents of the capitalist 'free market'. Marxism-Leninism was transformed from state ideology into anathema. Many officials and intellectuals 'apologised' for their communist past. Are we expected to apologize for everything that we believed in? I have the privilege of never having changed my colours. All the officials and intellectuals who publicly renounced Marxism-Leninism resemble hollow, pathetic shadows of their former selves. There is no more miserable sight than a person prostrating themselves before the citadels of power. The Russian reformers, meaning the pro-capitalist camp, were so confident that by implementing the IMF program in Russia and the former Soviet republics, prosperity and peace would be around the corner. Ten years later, all of Russia's infrastructure - scientific, medical, transport, educational, military - is in a state of dilapidation. The 1990s witnessed a massive contraction of the economy, an equally massive collapse in industrial production. The reduction of industrial capacity can be compared - ironically – to the similar breakdown in industrial production that occurred during the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union. Certainly the 1991 reformers inherited a number of problems from the prior Soviet economy, but price liberalisation, privatisation and the minimisation of government intervention in the economy has made things even worse. The widespread privatisation, accompanied by massive gangsterism, has resulted in the worst peacetime economic and social collapse. The technological level of industry has fallen, vaccine-preventable diseases have reappeared, and the buying power of wages has fallen sharply. What modernisation do you call this? The catastrophic reduction in production and consequent decline in living standards is on the same level as the reverses the USSR sustained during the Nazi invasion of the early 1940s. This precipitous decline of economic power and concomitant social catastrophe was implemented by the functionaries of the post 1991 capitalist regime in Russia and former Soviet republics. Putin called the people responsible for the terrorist bombing in Dagestan "scum". Yes, that is the case. But what do you call people that are responsible for an unparalleled economic and social catastrophe that has plummeted the peoples in the former Soviet republics into misery? Russian organised crime has arguably become the largest in the world and is integrated in the new generation of businessmen. Looting of banks; control of businesses, restaurants and hotels by organised criminal networks; theft of raw materials; drugs and arms trafficking: that is the origin of 'free enterprise' and the 'free market.' I am not a Muslim, and I do not believe that Chechnya should be a Islamic state. Perhaps Chechnya should remain part of the Russian federation for its economic and social wellbeing. However, at least the Chechens are defending something; their own homes and land. Whenever Russian troops are killed in Chechnya, I condemn the killings while always remembering that Russian soldiers are losing their lives in a war begun by the ruling elite in Moscow. The capitalist way of life, based on the privilege to exploit and plunder, can only be practiced by the dominant minority elite in the imperialist-dominated countries. Its implementation in the former USSR has meant the impoverishment of the majority of the population, while a tiny minority stockpiles and consumes enormous wealth. Do we really want to be like them?
In recent years, genetics has become a cutting-edge science, not only in the professional field of biology, but also because of the enormous social reach of its discoveries and approaches. Not in vain, practically every day the press offers us the discovery of a new gene, a new hereditary determinant directly involved in the manifestation of diseases or physical characteristics.
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign