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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 1/18/2004

Missiles and eggs not a compatible choice

So the famous Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs are going on sale.

Well, not exactly, seeing as they will probably go for $90 million. So you and I will have to pass on the offer of the family of late media magnate Malcolm Forbes.

But for deep pockets with a taste for Russian art, especially its most historical pieces, the coming Sotheby s auction of the nine eggs is a big attraction. After all, Russia s last czar, Nicholas II, commissioned bejeweled egg-shaped creations and then gave them to his wife and children.

Come April, one would expect the Russian ministry of culture to at least try to acquire the most prominent of the eggs that are to be auctioned.

Well, don t hold your breath.

Russia s minister for culture told reporters that his ministry is interested only in “system-building” art, obviously excluding the eggs from whatever he meant by that term.

He did not specify. So what did he mean?

Let s consider the Putin administration s latest trend toward rewriting history. Proposed textbooks are to highlight only the glorious moments, such as the battle for Stalingrad. Less glowing moments - such as, say, the slaughter of Czar Nicholas, his wife, children, and some household servants by the Bolsheviks - are only to be mentioned in passing, if at all.

The “glorious” example is “system-building;” the latter is not. Do you get the picture?

Only the Kremlin has a larger collection of the diamond-encrusted Easter eggs than does Mr. Forbes. It used to have several times as many as its current 10, but having disposed of the czar s family and millions of Russia s elite work force, the Bolsheviks sold most of the eggs to foreign collectors for hard currency to save their bloody regime.

A lot has changed since then, except for a couple of things.

No. 1, the Kremlin continues to wage a bloody war against its own people - in Chechnya - and needs money to sustain it.

No. 2, the Kremlin refuses to cooperate with the community of civilized nations in joined defense against rogue states.

Instead, it is using the “partnership in the war against terror” smoke screen to develop state-of-the-art nuclear missiles “capable of piercing any missile-defense system,” to quote President Vladimir Putin s notorious statement. The only missile-defense system in the making is in the United States.

Aha, now we know what other “system-building” art the minister for culture might have had in mind - Russia s freshly deployed Topol-M intercontinental missiles.

Throw in the famous picture - Volga Boatmen, which is a perfect allegory of hard-working Russian people forever living in poverty - and you have all the “system-building” art you need to raise a Russian patriot.

Thank you, dear Mr. Russian President, for enlightening us.

I guess we should have seen it coming.

Mr. Putin has done a nice “system-building” job over the four years of presidency.

The system of his autocratic power is almost perfect. He has bent the constitution and done away with Russian federalism; rigged the Duma election and turned the parliament into a gray mass of yes-men, and all but eliminated the independent media.

A handful of your fellow KGB henchmen who stand to benefit from “system-building” must adore you for what you ve done.

Never mind ignoring the opportunity to buy the Forbes collection for all Russia to enjoy. I guess we have to thank the Russian president for not rushing to sell the Faberge eggs from the Kremlin s own collection to commission more “system-building” nukes before Mr. Forbes knocks down the price.



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