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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Kremlin's Ministry of Love Speaks

It seems that we have a little zone of tension down in the Caucasus. There are no land operations there, just "special operations of the units and sub-units of the armed forces," and these involve airstrikes aimed at "the annihilation of the infrastructure and manpower of international terrorists."

Wow. Sounds ... tense.

The first Chechen war saw President Boris Yeltsin sacking the head of ORT television for daring to cover it. As Yeltsin explained then, "I already told [ORT's Oleg Poptsov] that lying will not do and that everything has to be done properly. But now there are corpses here, corpses there. This is wrong."

Well, we can't have "lying," can we? So let's have "the truth," which is that there certainly are not around 160,000 refugees fleeing special operations in the zone of tension. And so on.

Every bureaucracy on the planet flirts with trying to control information. There's nothing unusual or surprising to see Yeltsin's regime again doing so. And The Moscow Times would like to help, with some suggestions for how coverage of Russian political and economic life might be improved.

"Price inflation" - When the cost of living rises, and the State Statistics Committee offers new figures for a subsistence basket of food, let newspaper articles around the world speak of "robust" prices, or "strong" prices. Or, best of all, of "bigger-than-ever!" prices. Let's not call it "the cost of living" either, but "the price of a wonderful little thing called life." As to that hoary Goskomstat phrase "the subsistence basket of food," ditch it. From now on, it is "the bucket of good eating."

"Working on documents" - No matter how ill Yeltsin is, the Kremlin always says he is "working on documents." Surely - as long as we are fibbing for public relations purposes - the Kremlin could have Yeltsin doing something a bit less half-dead, a little bit more muzhik-like. How about simply saying: "We don't know where Yeltsin is. He could be anywhere! He wonders off sometimes for fun, you know."

"Wage arrears" - In light of violence at the Vyborg Pulp and Paper Mill, isn't it time for the Russian government to do away with wage arrears, just as it has with refugees? There are no wage arrears; each employee is simply reinvesting his profits for the overall good of the company.

For that matter, isn't it time we recognized the paper mill village of Sovietsky as a "zone of tension"? How much longer are we going to let these Islamic militant pulp mill workers with their extremist Pakistani backers challenge the state power of Russia?