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TOPIC: george orwell

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

What Orwell Could Tell Ukraine About Corruption In Wartime

War can unify a nation, but it can also contribute to the deepening of social tensions — especially when times get tough on the front line. A reflection forward, and back, including the experience of George Orwell calling out the bad Brits during World War II.


KYIVGeorge Orwell left this entry in his diary on September 17, 1940, as London faced Nazi air raids:

“There has of course been a big exodus from the East End, and every night amounts to mass migrations to places where there is sufficient shelter accommodation. The practice of taking a 2d ticket and spending the night in one of the deep Tube stations, e.g. Piccadilly, is growing . . . . . . Everyone I have talked to agrees that the empty furnished houses in the West End should be used for the homeless; but I suppose the rich swine still have enough pull to prevent this from happening.

The other day 50 people from the East End, headed by some of the Borough Councillors, marched into the Savoy and demanded to use the air-raid shelter. The management didn’t succeed in ejecting them till the raid was over, when they went voluntarily. When you see how the wealthy are still behaving, in what is manifestly developing into a revolutionary war, you think of St. Petersburg in 1916.”

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Throughout World War II, the legendary British writer was very much a contrarian : he predicted British defeat in the war, criticized Prime Minister Winston Churchill and was outraged by the behavior of "rich pigs" who did not show enough solidarity with the common people.

Today we know that internal social conflict did not prevent Britain from defeating the attacking enemy. But we also know how much war contributes to the aggravation of social tensions and class hatred. This knowledge comes not only from the past, but also from what we are living through now in Ukraine.

The main Ukrainian anti-heroes of the current summer are the same "rich swine" that Orwell branded back in 1940. In the midst of a bloody war, they spend their downtime in the Maldives and buy villas in Spain ; they import luxury cars into the country and take their well-to-do children abroad; party in elite nightclubs and take major bribes.

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Orwell On Mugabe: A New 'Animal Farm' Translation Resonates In Zimbabwe

Writers and translators in Shona, the most widely spoken language of Zimbabwe, have dedicated the past five years to bringing the George Orwell classic to a country that has known the cruel formula of human despotism first-hand.

Since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has in some ways become like Animal Farm. Like the pigs in the classic 1945 novel by English writer George Orwell, the country’s post-liberation leaders have hijacked a revolution that was once rooted in righteous outrage. In Zimbabwe, the revolution was against colonialism and its practices of extraction and exploitation.

The lead characters in Animal Farm have the propensity for evil and the greed for power found in despots throughout history, including former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe’s leaders have also acted for personal gain. They remain in power with no accountability to the suffering of the people they claim to represent.

Animal Farm’s relevance is echoed in celebrated young Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo’s recent novel Glory. Her satirical take on Zimbabwe’s 2017 coup and the fall of Mugabe is also narrated through animals. And visual artist Admire Kamudzengerere founded Animal Farm Artist Residency in Chitungwiza as a space for creative experimentation.

It’s within this context that a group of Zimbabwean writers, led by novelist and lawyer Petina Gappah and poet Tinashe Muchuri, have translated Animal Farm into Shona, the country’s most widely spoken language. A dozen writers contributed to the translation of Chimurenga Chemhuka (Animal Revolution) over five years.

It’s clear to me, as a scholar of Zimbabwean literature, that too few great books are available in the country’s indigenous languages. This matters particularly because there are few bookshops and libraries where young people can access good writing. But Zimbabwe’s writers are taking matters into their own hands.

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Swan Lake In Kherson? Why Russia’s Future Is Looking So Dark

Ukrainians, Russians and much of the rest of the world are still trying to make sense of Moscow’s decision last week to abandon the southern city of Kherson. Do not, for certain, underestimate the significance.

Through the fog of war, we are beginning to see more clearly the significance of the Russian army’s stunning retreat from Kherson, territory that Vladimir Putin had declared his own with an annexation ceremony just a month before.

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Yes, events are accelerating. The war in Ukraine now appears suddenly to be heading toward its inevitable conclusion, and Putin toward his demise.

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Elena Chernenko, Vladislav Novyii and Ivan Safronov

Why Russia And China See Eye-To-Eye On Cyber Security

Unlike with Washington, Moscow and Beijing agree on how the state can monitor the Internet. Kommersant reports on a new Sino-Russia partnership set to be signed next month.

MOSCOW — During President Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing next month, he is expected to seal a bilateral agreement on cyber-security between Russia and China, according to a source close to the Kremlin and confirmed by two other federal officials. They say presidential advisor Igor Shchyogolev is overseeing the document's final draft, but the final text is not yet available.

Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are also expected to make their first joint announcement about cyber-security, which Kommersant sources say will be substantially broader than last year's agreement between Russia and the United States.

In 2013, Putin and Barack Obama signed the first-ever bilateral agreement on measures of trust in cyberspace, almost like an electronic "non-aggression pact." Included as part of this agreement was the creation of a direct hotline from Washington to Moscow meant to prevent the escalation of cyber incidents, much like the Cold War hotline designed to prevent nuclear war. The agreement also created channels for bilateral exchange of information related to national cyber-security and preparedness. These channels were created during the preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Russia had hoped to reinforce its relationship with the United States in this arena, with a special working group envisioned to continue working on online security. But because of the events in Ukraine, Washington halted its participation in the working group, although the agreement (including the hotline) continues to be in force.

Instead, Russia and China are now busy forging a new partnership on cyber-security. According to Valeria Yashchenko, vice director of the Institute of Cyber Security at Moscow State University, "a bilateral agreement between Russia and China — two major cyber powers — is long overdue."

When asked if the two sides might be trying to protect themselves in case of potential conflict (as was the case in the agreement with the U.S., which was reminiscent of nuclear-arms agreements), Yashchenko says, "Not necessarily. Moscow and Beijing just want to work together."

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