By Paul Goble
Like people in many countries, Russians keep track of how many Nobel Prizes their country wins or, in their case, doesn’t win. (It hasn’t won many in recent years and didn’t win any this year either.) But the enterprising Telegram channel SerpomPo argues that the Nobel committee is clearly overlooking Russia’s special achievements.
That Russia didn’t win some this year, the channel says, is “undeserved and unjust. The Nobel Committee is [obviously] inclined against Russia” because if one takes a larger view of just what constitutes an achievement or an innovation, Russia has some “good prospects” (t.me/SerpomPo/1629, reposted at kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5BBB856B1B528).
“For example,” the channel says, surely the inventors of the Novichok poison are worthy competitors for the chemistry prize as are those who were behind the doping at Sochi. Moreover, Putin should get the peace prize for using bombs to solve the Syrian conflict. Russian ministers who’re talking about extending life to 120 to 150 years surely should get the prize in medicine. And the Russian journalists at REN-TV should have a good chance to win the prize in physics for their “daily discoveries” like the earth being flat and humanoids living on Mars.
But, the Nobel committees ignored all these Russian achievements, SerpomPo says.
The Nobel committees did not award the literature prize this year; but if they do next, Russia has a strong candidate there, if one applies the same principles that the Telegram channel does. It should go to Samira Khan, a Russia Today journalist in Washington, D.C., for her remarkable writings about Stalin’s GULAG.
On her Twitter account, the journalist said that “Capitalists have fooled you” about the GULAG. In her telling, GULAG prisoners got two-week vacations each year, were allowed to marry, families could stay with prisoners, there were no uniforms or handcuffs, and there was free movement on the GULAG territory (medialeaks.ru/0910amv-rt-gulag/ and znak.com/2018-10-09/zhurnalistka_rt_opravdala_gulag_iz_za_volny_gneva_twitter_ey_prishlos_udalit).
In her second post, she declared that “80 percent of the cases [of prisoners] had been decided by civil courts,” that there were no bars on the windows, that it wasn’t a prison at all but a labor colony far from population points, that the maximum sense was ten years and most received five or less, and for good behavior prisoners were released early.
Screenshots of her posts featured the reference “Stalin haters don’t believe any sources;” but no one has been able to find sources even those who defend the Soviet dictator which make the claims she does, at least none published since his death in 1953. Not surprisingly, she was sharply criticized and had her account closed down.
But because of the scandal, American journalist Ben Collins found that elsewhere in her account, Khan had declared that she “would die for Stalin, the Red Army and the USSR. Without any questions being asked … Without a second thought, I would give my life for the return of Stalin.”
In response, Khan apologized; but that was hardly enough – although writing like hers, if Nobel committees used the principles SerpomPo suggested, should be enough to guarantee her the literature prize next year when presumably she will still be broadcasting for Russia Today in the US.