Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog

Politics, Democracy and Human Rights in Russia

Meeting with President Obama

with 34 comments

I met with President Barack Obama today as a part of the 2010 Washington Human Rights Summit. The meeting was attended by about 20 more human rights activists from different countries as well as by the leadership of the National Security Council (James Jones and senior advisors to the President).

Mr Obama said that he had started his own career as an organizer in poor communities and so he believes that the best change always comes from below. He outlined his view of the US policy in regard of promotion of human rights. He mentioned three points about it:

– US government tries to follow their words and values in their domestic policy including the end of torture, closing Guantanamo base etc.

– US government tries to engage not only with the governments but also with civil societies. When American officials visit other counties, especially the ones with authoritarian governments, they always meet human rights activists, and so do their diplomats;

– they understand human rights more broadly than only freedom of speech, freedom of religious expression, freedom of assembly, free and fair elections, and rule of law. They also include economical rights in their scope because if you are starving, you are unprotected.

What I liked about Obama’s way of speaking is his honesty and absolute lack of demagogy. He bluntly stated that human rights is not the only issue that he has to take into account. Security and trade are also important and he can’t help but try to engage the governments in order to achieve result in these spheres. “We make mistakes and we will never achieve the perfect ideal,” he admitted. But he added that the US government needs criticism from human rights defenders so that they get closer that ideal.

Of course, you shouldn’t expect too much practical result from such meetings. You can’t convey much to the President in 20 to 30 minutes. But the very fact of this meeting bears a message that the US government pays attention to the issues of human rights in the world. How their words correspond to their deeds is something that we still have to see.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

February 19, 2010 at 00:24

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

34 Responses

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  1. Great work updating your blog, Oleg! We your readers are very grateful and excited!

    You are right, it’s impressive that Obama is willing to openly admit he is totally useless as an agent of human rights promotion. We’ve been saying so for many months now. He ought to make this declaration a bit more openly so foreign champions like yourself would not foolishly rely on his assistance and would begin to look elsewhere, including for his replacement in the next election by an American with a stronger commitment to the issue.


    February 19, 2010 at 16:48

  2. La Russophobe, you are a fucking retard. You don’t need to explain Obama is useless to us (everyone knows that already) – you just say:

    Obama WEAK

    And an American with a stronger commitment to the issue would be OUR MILF SARAH PALIN. We love you Sarah! Go Sarah!

    Sarah if you read this please reply. I love your latest photos in jogging outfit on Cosmo (or whatever) cover. Your name should be given as an example for MILF in each and every dictionary.


    February 19, 2010 at 23:34

  3. The MILF was unfortunately instrumental in Obama’s rise to power.

    Leos Tomicek

    February 20, 2010 at 00:03

  4. IAN:

    Ms. Palin has been even more silent on the issue of Russian human rights than Mr. Obama. Your praise of her, if intended to suggest otherwise, is fully demented. Both she and Mr. McCain have been neither seen nor heard where Russia policy is concerned since they were trounced in the election, and that has diminished them both immeasurably in our eyes.


    February 20, 2010 at 02:45

  5. LEOS:

    As usual, you are wrong and indeed rather clueless.

    Obama took power for one simple reason: Hatred of George Bush. And it was Bush who invited Russian war criminal General Shamanov to the White House for a photo op, and who “looked into the eyes of Putin.” When American voters voted for Obama, they voted against that sort of outrageous misconduct by Bush.


    February 20, 2010 at 02:47

  6. I must inform you LaRussophobe that the USA government cares little about human rights and democracy as long as it is geopolitically expedient. Just take a look at Kyrgyzstan. :-)

    Also American voters cannot care less who General Shamanov is or what Bush thinks about Putin’s eyes. They are only reminded about world issues when Johnny comes back from Iraq, a country most of them cannot find on the map, in a bodybag. There had been Johnnies in bodybags lately. The war had another cost, in the range of trillions of green papers printed out like there is no tomorrow. Economy is bust, therein lies the source of hatred for Bush.

    Given that Old-fart and MILF resembled Bush too much, people went for Obama.

    Leos Tomicek

    February 21, 2010 at 01:31

  7. Олег, читал Ваш блог — считаю деятельность интересной и полезной. Но можно узнать о Вашем мнении по поводу Ларуссофоб? То, что ее блог бичует российскую власть, у меня, например, принципиального возражения не вызывает, хотя сравнения Путина, скажем, с Гитлером, а также полное отрицание улучшения уровня жизни (по сравнению с 88-98) и свобод (по сравнению с 18-88) несколько удивляет. Особенно интересно то, что делается это не от безграмотности и не от недостатка информации. Но главное не в этом: хоть я не являюсь приверженцем власти (а если честно, даже не будучи российским патриотом), меня, как русского коробят ее мнения по поводу русской культуры, литературы, кухни и т.д. и т.п. Также, блог, процентов на 70 пишется представителями обиженных Россией — в силу нашего имперского прошлого и настоящего в виде полусохранившейся империи, а на 20 процентов видимо престарелыми холодными воинами. И те и другие имеют длинный список претензий к России как нации, предъявляют длинный список грехов, в которой Россия должна каятся (желательно признавая свою полную тождественность Третьему Рейху или хуже) и вообще ничего России, кроме самороспуска и самоуничтожения не желают.

    Хотя каждый раз, посещая Россию, я говорю себе и другим, что “народ надо менять”, мне кажется, что вопросы как и когда демократизоваться, кому и за что каятся, как вести себя с соседними странами и оставшимися народами должны русские сами и несколько унизительно, странно и неестественно дружить с или пользоваться поддержкой тех, кого я вижу на руссофобском сайте. То же, кстати, относится ко встречам с американскими и другими иностранными НПО — я не против, что Вы используете их для продвижения своих принципов, но наверное нужно помнить, что их интересы не всегда и полностью совпадают с интересами народа.

    Скажем, придет оборона к власти, к чему мнению вы будете прислушиваться по, скажем, таким вопросам как приватизация Газпрома, предоставление независимости — скажем — Удмуртии? Ларуссофобским комментаторам? Американскому Институту Предпринимательства? Или решение будет принято только на основе национальных интересов?

    Я думаю, что эти сомнения лежат в основе тех, кто обвиняет вас в том, что деятельность обороны финансируется Западом. Эти заявления, скорее всего, чушь полнейшая, но не дискредитируете ли вы такими контактами идею. Представте, что — скажем — Мартин Лютер Кинг в своей деятельности пользовался бы поддержкой — скажем — Ирана, ну или Франции хотя бы. Врядли бы он стал героем нации.

    Извиняюсь за длинный коммент– просто выразил мысли, которые долго назревали. Учтите, что в России я не живу (хотя часто бываю), так что могу чего-то не понимать.


    February 21, 2010 at 03:14

  8. @ AT

    I know this comment is addressed to Oleg but it should be in English so LaRussophobe can also enjoy reading it. ;-)


    Kozlovsky getting support from Western interest groups and LaRussophobe is like Martin Luther King being supported by the KKK and South African Apartheid Regime.

    Leos Tomicek

    February 21, 2010 at 09:23

  9. Leos, please don’t put words in my mouth. I do not think the comparison between American think tanks and KKK is appropriate, and the States — the country I genuinely love and which is my home at this time — can no way be compared to South Africa under apartheid. Its quite evident to me that, at the moment, standards of living in the US, as well as the situation with governance here, is far better than in SA in the 80s or in the present-day Russia.

    Further, I would like to point out to you that any arguments would be wasted on LR and the commenters at her blog. These people have made up their mind and/or have their agendas. No matter what arguments you make, they are going to stick to their positions. They come to the LR blog not to argue, but either to spew hatred (see Andrew’s comments for example) or to publicize their cause (Robert). With Oleg, I hope to have a discussion of his positions. I hope, it will help me clarify some things I am not sure about — my opinion of LR’s blog is one of them.

    In any case, I do want to know his opinions about (i) LR, (ii) foreign support to his cause — indeed, imagine MLK attended legitimate, well-intentioned civil rights events in a country with a longer racial equality track record than the States, say the UK, France or the Netherlands — would he become a hero at home??? As much as I appreciate what Oleg does, I think that only fully home-grown activists, heroes — and, if necessary martyrs, like MKL — can really hope to change something in the country. Otherwise, claims that he is an agent of foreign interests, which already appears in this blog, might stick, whether it is justified or not.

    The last point I wanted to clarify with Oleg is how Oborona — should it come to power — would handle issues I mentioned in my post, as in these areas Russia might have conflicts with other countries — no matter if they are “Western”, Eastern, nothern or Southern — whether Russia is a democracy or not. In fact, these issues are most commented on LR’s blog.


    February 21, 2010 at 16:51

  10. oleg’s entry was about his meeting with obama, not palin, obama’s foreign policy, etc.
    oleg busts his ass, risks his life, deals with bullshit most cannot imagine, and is rewarded with a meeting with obama. a meeting, perhaps oleg agrees, increases his profile and therefore provides some measure of extra safety against fsb goon-squads.
    congrats, congrats and congrats again to oleg.


    February 21, 2010 at 21:52

  11. @ AT

    I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth. So let me clarify that what I wrote is purely my opinion. ;-)

    Leos Tomicek

    February 21, 2010 at 22:16

  12. @john

    Your post is absolutely true if foreign visibility and safety against whatever opponents he has in Russia is most important for Oleg. I, however, was under the impression that his reputation, as well as the reputation of his cause IN RUSSIA, was more important for Oleg. The route Illarionov, Kasparov and Nemtsov have taken is a tempting one. They have the benefits of being popular in DC and NY. They, however, have lost much of their credibility/relevance at home. It would be a pity if Oleg is labeled or become another US/UK-sponsored democrat. Its not what quite Russia needs. If Russia becomes more democratic,it will be thanks to the country’s own MLKs, Ghandis or Jeffersons, not ones bred by Jamestown Foundation and Cato Institute.


    February 21, 2010 at 22:36

  13. @Leos

    No hay problema! I just have a jerk knee reaction to any comparisons to Hitler, Stalin, KKK, KGB, GULAG etc. — that’s what LR’s visitors do.


    February 21, 2010 at 22:45

  14. LEOS:

    Not only do we read Russian, we translated it. For instance:


    Oleg’s readers already know that LR is the only source in the entire world translating from Russian sources like Memorial, Yezhedevny Zhurnal and Grani.ru for a wide audience.

    It’s a pity you are so ignorant that you don’t.


    February 22, 2010 at 04:11

  15. AT:

    It’s pretty hilarious that while complaining we have made up our minds about Russia you have just as hopelessly made up your mind about us? Have you really be in Russia so long that you can’t see your own hypocrisy?

    Where were YOU when, before Oleg’s international profile was raised by Kim Zigfeld on Pajamas Media, he was getting arrested and persecuted? Did you reach our your hand to him then? If not, your statements ring as hollow as the neo-Soviet national anthem playing (oh so rarely) in Vancouver.


    February 22, 2010 at 04:14

  16. Kim:

    I have not been speaking with you. Who are you to demand a response — my employer???


    Looking forward to a discussion with you.


    February 22, 2010 at 04:35

  17. @ La Russophobe

    Who is We? I thought that LaRussophobe was Kim Zigfeld only, are you getting help from someone? Who is that, would you introduce that obscure individual to the world? As far as I am concerned I noticed that you are not always confident with Russian on your blog. Other people had also indicated that you lack knowledge of the language.


    The Russian liberals are getting support from a person who regularly spits racist venom and denigrates the culture of the people they are trying to win over.

    This is so surreal, I can hardly find words to express my feelings about it.

    Leos Tomicek

    February 22, 2010 at 13:19

  18. LEOS:

    It would be nice if you actually read our blog before forming impressions about it.

    We clearly state that we are a team blog in the “About LR” section of our header:


    We are well known for our translations, which are also lighted in our header:


    The header is AT THE TOP OF THE HOME PAGE. The fact that you didn’t even familiarize yourself with it only goes to show how totally ludicrous your comments about us truly are.

    You obviously are also unaware that our translations have been cited by, among others, THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, one of the most serious and prestigious publications on the planet.

    All you are doing is repeating smears about us written by pro-Putin nationalists. Those same people also call Oleg a “criminal.” It’s rather ironic that you have no problem smearing us even as you complain that we are too harsh on Russians. You’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.


    February 22, 2010 at 14:26

  19. @AT

    There’s no doubt that democracy may only come from within the Russian society, not from abroad or from above. And this is exactly what Oborona and myself are trying to do–wake Russian people for a non-violent democratic change in our country.

    At the same time, issues like human rights, responsible government and democratic institutions are universal, they are not merely an internal affair of one country. Sometimes foreign pressure can be the only constraint to dictators who are deaf to their own people. In many cases they helped prevent violence or free political prisoners.

    MLK was great but he lived in a more or less democratic country. Nelson Mandela, on the other hand, was released from the prison not least thanks to the foreign pressure (and he was even formally accused by the apartheid regime of being a foreign agent). Gandhi even spent his whole youth outside India, which didn’t prevent him from being the biggest patriot of Indian people. There’s nothing bad about getting help for your cause as long as your cause is right.

    As for LR, they are quite odd, of course. Their comments on Russian sports, culture etc. are laughable; their opinions on Russian politics are sometimes exaggerated. But they really are one of the few English-language sources of alternative information from Russia. They have a lot of exclusive translations and they also collect other Russia-related stuff, all in one place. So I find them a useful site, of course if you read it along with the others and can critically assess the information. I don’t know who is behind this project although I have some guesses.

    Oborona is never going to come to power. We don’t have any plans like this. Our goal is to ensure that the Russian government is elected by and responsible to the Russian people. Of course, it doesn’t only include the election procedure, but also civil rights: freedom of speech, assembly and association, rule of law etc. Once we have, it will be up to the Russian citizens to decide who to elect and who to listen to.

    Oleg Kozlovsky

    February 23, 2010 at 01:19

  20. On the last point: how disappointing for you to say that! I thought the whole point of a political movement is to attain power in some shape and form (preferably through a legitimate election) and use it to reform society. Reform needs leadership. If it does not come from politically active (relatively) young people, where will it come from? If you have no plans to provide leadership, why don’t you do what I did — leave, find a great job in a nice place and develop a taste for discussing politics on blogs while chugging down wine and cheese???

    On MLK — I find his position quite close to yours, however. His followers were totally deprived of the benefits of democracy. They lived in quite a violent environment as you. Remember what happened to him in the end.

    On Ghandi — yes, he sort of lived abroad — in one of the realms of the British Empire an in a place that is very Indian. He became famous in foreign press. But has he ever given an interview or wrote an article for a, say, French newspaper? Or met the French president to receive recognition for what he was doing? Was he posting in any media outlet called Indiaphobe?

    Did Mandela seek foreign leaders’ for support? I have no idea. In any case, South Africa is different — it does not have the ambition to show it is a superpower, so for a politician seeking foreign help there may not be as “incriminating” as it is in Russia.

    Again, I am not against READING ABOUT you in the Washington Post, I am upset about YOU WRITING there something about Putin’s Bloody GULAGs. I know you were in jail and everything, but seriously, only LR can claim there are Putin’s GULAGs — if Russia was any close to being Neo-Soviet, Neo-Stalinist, Empire of Evil, neither you nor I would blog here. Such hyperbolas and other figures of speech might look impressive for DC Metro riders, and most of your fellow St. Pete metro riders won’t appreciate them. And these are people you claim you care most about.

    In any case, I mentioned Kasparov in a conversation with my parents in the middle of Russia and with my in-laws in Moscow. They know nothing about his political views. But they — 70 year olds! — know he writes for the NY Times and generally is a sell-out. It would be a pity this label sticks to you as well.

    On LR — yes, her blog publicizes certain causes. But it discredits them for any Russian reader who comes to the blog — even if the reader is critical of how Russia is governed now. Everything she writes is so negative, insulting for anyone who cares about Russia, twisted and often factually wrong that even a fierce critic of the tandemocracy will turn into a Rogozin while he is on that site (that is, unless she is a Novodvorskaya already).

    And imagine how vulnerable you become not standing up to her and accepting her support! You thank her, you (quite frankly) appear to be flattered you are one of few people she does not insult, you leave your name on a blogroll composed by (i) rabid advocates of Prometheism (which is off-limits for anyone who wants to have a political career in Russia); (ii) a bunch of disgruntled victims of our imperialism (which is a part of our national character, whether you like it or not); (iii) people trying to justify to themselves they made the right choice when they left Russia (as if this is hard to justify) and (iv) half brain-dead cold warriors … add (v) a bunch of justifiably enraged, stupidly-behaving Russians on the receiving end.

    …you tell me if I’ve missed any category of her blog visitors…

    …so you leave your name there; she leaves her name here, and, after a while, it becomes awfully easy to say what Leos said in his previous posts. And an average Russian dude like I am can see his point, actually.

    And who are, for gods-sakes all these people who have so much time commenting on blogs. Look how much she, “Robert”, “Andrew” and other “RV”s are wriing. And doing research. And posting tons of materials, which they presumably have read. I would be fired already, if it was not my day’s job (the only time I post on blogs is when I am sick in bed). I thoroughly try not to indulge into conspiracy theories, but who are all these people?? Having said that, I must admit I’ve developed an addiction to LR and come there for a daily portion of hatred — I guess, Andrew and Robert do the same, but where on earth do they get time???

    In any case, hope this is interesting for you as well as it is for me — I really hope to get better soon, however, and stop spamming your blog.


    February 23, 2010 at 04:41

  21. …and there definitely should be the Russian version of LR, more “fair and balanced”, I guess. On the other hand, who needs a fair and balanced site if there is a place where two lines into your post you can mention Stalin, Hitler, Putin, as well as your opponent’s sexual preferences and mental capacity, all in one sentence!


    February 23, 2010 at 04:49

  22. @ La Russophobe

    OK, my bad you have helpers, unfortunately neither of your helpers have their names revealed. Which frankly is proof enough that you are afraid of something…

    Perhaps the reason is that you give a place to content like this…


    This still is an established fact. :-)

    Leos Tomicek

    February 23, 2010 at 06:55

  23. @AT

    You are right: a political organization or a political party should always aim to come to power to implement certain policy. But Oborona is NOT a political organization. Most of its members don’t want to make political careers; they just want to make the government, any government listen to them and respect them. Oborona is a civil movement that seeks change from below, not from above. In your own example, MLK didn’t try to run for a governor, senator or President. And he was right to do so; otherwise it would be difficult for him to be a moral leader for his followers, as he would be suspected of using them in his own interests.

    By the way, there IS a political organization, Solidarnost, that aims to come to power alone or with other opposition forces. Solidarnost already has its own program with quite detailed recipes of how to deal with Russia’s problem. You may find it here (in Russian): http://www.rusolidarnost.ru/dokumenty/300-shagov-k-svobode

    As for Gandhi, I don’t know if he wrote op-eds for foreign papers, but he did write a lot of letters to foreign leaders including Adolf Hitler (starting them with “My dear friend”). I can only imagine, how you would comment if I wrote something like this to, say, Saakashvili, who is very far from Hitler.

    Oleg Kozlovsky

    February 23, 2010 at 11:16

  24. LEOS:

    You’re right! All the statements in the post you link to are “established facts” properly sourced.

    Most people find it surprising, for instance, to learn that one Russian woman is murdered by her husband every 30 minutes. Unlike you, Oleg is man enough to admit this is a serious problem in Russia, and confident enough in his countrymen to believe they can do better and to want them to be confronted by these facts, knowing they will never do better until they are confronted.

    Scum like you, however, want to hide these facts from Russians and thereby deny them the chance to change, condemning them to continuing failure and national collapse just as in Soviet times.

    The post you link to has generated over 300 comments, proving that it has provoked exactly the debate it was intended to. We’d really like to see you try to create a blog that can generate even one-tenth the interest in Russian issues that we have, but you haven’t got the guts or stamina to try. Instead, you simply hide in dark shadows and bark like a silly little puppy.

    It seems you didn’t even read the post you linked to, because you fell right into the trap it describes. Even as you complain that we criticize Russians too harshly, you adopt EXACTLY the same attitude towards us. It’s sad that you can’t see how foolishly you are behaving, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from the Russophile trash.


    February 23, 2010 at 16:12

  25. Well, Ghandi was quite openly racist when he was young, wasn’t he. I would not approve letters to Hitler for sure, and I don’t think these letters were something Ghandi was proud of later on. I am not sure about Saakashvili, however — depends on what you would write. He is definitely not the wisest politician, and his conflict with Russia was totally unnecessary for Georgia. At some levels, however, he might deserve sympathy, and I can understand people expressing support to him.

    As for Solidarnost and others, do you see any increased people’s interest in opposition?


    February 23, 2010 at 16:18

  26. @ La Russophobe

    I meant, the fact that you are a bunch of racist bastards is an established.

    Unlike your ‘team’, Oleg is a man enough to go by his real name. Scum like you hide behind pen names and nicks.

    Now to your boasting about getting more attention than me. I’m sorry, I am a single individual with a life. I have no time and strength to advertise my site 24/7 in fact I almost don’t do it. Nevertheless you shouldn’t worry about me, I was registering a steady rise in popularity for several months.

    You see, your strategy is that of a forum troll. You are literally starting a flame-war on your blog. If one looks at these 300 comments, one realises that they are practically all insults, most of them your own actually. This is no discussion and nothing to be proud of.

    Yes people did fall into a trap, a trap of a troll.

    You call me a scum and ascribe to me that I suppress the liberating truth. I wonder how you explain this piece of latest mendacity from Radio Liberty.


    You see I can also equate your sorry anonymous ass to the type of individuals that were painting the Soviet Union as a paradise in the West and talked about how bad the West was and how close it was to a genuine Marxist revolution.

    Leos Tomicek

    February 23, 2010 at 17:45

  27. I think that Russia is NO GOOD

    Obama WEAK

    Even excretion from US of Americans smells like flowers. America is the land of opportunities and future.

    Just look at that economy, manners, capital, t-shirts, jeans, goodies. American is the epitome of smart, science – the bbbbest! !!! !! ! !

    I wish Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh to overtake as the US president. Rush is better. I will vote for my fellow RUSH.



    March 3, 2010 at 02:31

  28. AT, I think, there is a rise of protest sentiment and interest to the opposition. It’s not big enough to bring change immediately, but this trend is unlikely to reverse.

    Oleg Kozlovsky

    March 3, 2010 at 03:02

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