Chances are, if a story about Russia appears on the cover of a major Western magazine, it’s not good news. Most likely, there’s been an international scandal, a breakout of geopolitical tensions, the resumption of Cold War hostilities, or some nefarious Russian plot to bring the entire free world to its knees.
Russophobia — or the unnatural fear of Russia — generally leads magazine editors to choose the most over-the-top images to convey Russia as a backwards, clumsy, non-Western and aggressively malevolent power. Unfortunately, that’s led to a few rules of thumb for anyone trying to create a magazine cover featuring Russia. You can think of these rules as the dark art of making an anti-Russian magazine cover:
Given the latest round of U.S.-Russian tensions over the Ukraine crisis, the key is to make the Russian bear look as scary as possible. Take the May/June 2016 cover from Foreign Affairs, for example:
The cover title seems relatively harmless — “Putin’s Russia: Down But Not Out.” But check out the image of the bear — it’s bloodied and still relatively menacing, despite being bruised and battered — check out the red, bloodshot eyes and the sharp claws. Definitely not someone you’d want to mess with, even after a few shots of vodka.
And Foreign Affairs is not the only magazine to go the full bear with the cover. Ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Bloomberg BusinessWeek went with what has to be the scariest, most menacing Russia bear that’s ever appeared on the cover of a magazine. The magazine shows a malevolent bear on a pair of skis wearing a Russian hockey jersey, armed to the teeth (literally), with the headline: “Is Russia Ready?”
This Olympic cover immediately calls to mind a cover story TIME ran on Russia (then the Soviet Union) ahead of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics — “Olympic Turmoil: Why the Soviets Said Nyet.” Here you have a menacing (and slightly psychotic-looking) Russian bear chewing on the Olympic rings:
There are other options, of course, if you don’t want to go with the anthropomorphic bear. In late 2014, The Economist pulled off a story about “Russia’s Wounded Economy” after Western sanctions and falling oil prices — it showed a bear stalking through the wintry, Siberian snow with bloody footprints:
But you probably want to emphasize either the claws or teeth of the Russian bear, right? So here’s a terrifying image of a Russian bear “welcoming” U.S. President Barack Obama to Moscow:
OPTION 2: Go with Vladimir Putin
The next best choice after using the Russian bear is the image of Vladimir Putin. After all, in the minds of most Western readers, Putin is Russia and Russia is Putin.
If you’re ready to head down this road, then an image of an evil James Bond villain, hatching a diabolical plot to take over the world, might work. This 2014 Newsweek cover of Putin, showing him and the menacing sunglasses, is a classic:
To play up the Soviet spy background of Putin, you could try using an image of him wearing sunglasses in a grim-looking Red Square (Gray Square!):
A variant of the James Bond villain look is the classic “moody Putin” look that’s been around for almost a decade. This image somehow captures the Western perception of Russia as a vast, unsmiling wasteland full of snow, ice and a vast moral void. Who better to run that country than an unsmiling dictator? What started it all was this TIME magazine cover naming Putin as “Person of the Year”:
From there, the moody, unsmiling Putin image took off. Pull your camera angle back from the close-up of Putin’s face and you get this — “the unsmiling tsar”:
Which, of course, led to the cover of this 2015 book by Steven Lee Myers of the New York Times:
Of course, the moody, unsmiling, sour-looking Putin can be updated to make him look like a gangster:
Or a Mario Puzo-style mafia don:
If you really want to grab the reader’s attention, though, go for the shirtless Putin. The shirtless Vladimir Putin is a classic Internet meme, of course. (Google: Shirtless Putin hummingbird hamster) The meme of a shirtless Putin doing manly things is so popular that “The Simpsons” even used the image of a completely naked Putin on horseback (bareback?) around the time of the Crimea crisis:
Look long enough, and you start to see images of shirtless Vladimir Putins Photoshopped on top of everything. So it’s perhaps no big surprise that the shirtless Vladimir Putin has ended up on the cover of a few major magazines, including this classic Economist cover where he’s shirtless on top of a Russian tank:
And shirtless while playing poker:
But, if you want an image of Putin, and you also want to keep things classy, how about a mashup of Putin and a classic symbol of Russian culture, like ballet or ice skating? In 2014, The New Yorker pulled off a cover of Putin, pirouetting through the air during the Sochi Winter Olympics, while a bunch of Putin yes-man clones give him top marks for his performance:
And, here’s another cover featuring Putin as an ice skater, this time from The Economist:
But here’s the twist — note the fallen Russian figure skater on the ice and the suggestion that the Sochi Olympics were basically a giant personal ego project for Putin. (Also note the subtext of the imagery — whereas Putin usually opts for “macho” sports like hunting, swimming and hockey, this cover shows him as a slightly effeminate ice skater. Look at the hands!!!)
OPTION 3: Go with a classic image of Russia, slightly twisted
If you’re tired of using the Russian bear image and you’re concerned that putting Vladimir Putin on the cover of your magazine might create a few unsavory possibilities for your editorial team (Russian spies! Russian mafia! Russian hooligans!), there’s the old standby — the matryoshka image. This, of course, conveys the enigmatic nature of Russia — the old “riddle inside an enigma wrapped in a mystery” of Winston Churchill:
But why stop there? To convey the threatening nature of all things Russia, maybe it’s just easier just to come out and show the Russian missiles, tanks, weapons and troops directly:
What all these magazine covers have in common, of course, is their Russophobia. These magazine covers are not so much different from the images that appeared a hundred years ago, when Russia really was an enigma unknown to the West. In fact, the image of Russia as a big, clumsy and aggressive state dates all the way back to the 16th century, and not much seems to have changed since then.
There’s always been a sense in Western media circles that a giant power in the middle of the Eurasian landmass posed a threat to someone — and maybe to everyone:
Although, in all fairness, the image of the Russian bear is probably preferable to the image of the Russian octopus:
Which leads to the obvious question — Are these images of Russia from 100 years ago really so much different from the images appearing today in Western mass media?
At a time when the Kremlin has called on the Culture Ministry to investigate anti-Russian propaganda and Russophobia in the West, this question isn’t very hard to answer.
The United States government is guilty of war crimes. This is the stark conclusion reached by the independent international commission of inquiry established by the United Nations in 2011 to investigate human rights violations stemming from the protracted US-backed war for regime change in Syria.
The Pentagon’s relentless bombing campaign in and around the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called “capital” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has inflicted a “staggering loss of civilian life,” while forcing over 160,000 civilians to flee their homes, Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN’s commission of inquiry, said on Wednesday.
US warplanes ...
On Tuesday, March 7th, Russia’s top parliamentarian dealing with the Ukrainian refugee influx into Russia — dealing, that is, with the people who have fled Ukraine as a result of U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2014 coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych — presented the first-ever comprehensive number of asylum-applicants from Ukraine who have received asylum there after that February 2014 coup. The Russian government had never before publicly provided a number, but does have an established system of processing refugees, including assignment of official refugee status, which «allows the recipient various social benefits, including unemployment compensation» and so each Ukrainian refugee has ...
The world is lectured frequently by the United States of America — the One Indispensable Nation — about how to behave, on the grounds that, as President Obama declared, «from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta... there is a new confidence in our leadership».
He didn’t mention Amman, Baghdad, Beijing, Beirut, Caracas or the capitals of so many other countries in which the majority of citizens, according to the Pew Research Centre and other pollsters such as Marketwatch, regard the United States as an aggressive and malign manipulator of world affairs.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton went further than President Obama in glorifying ...
Adolf Hitler and Ante Pavelić. Not many people know about the Ustaše and its leader, Ante Pavelić. Before 1941, the organization was a radical fascist terrorist group. But when Axis powers invaded, it was given control of Croatia by the Nazis. They shared Hitler’s goal of ethnic cleansing
During the Second World War in Yugoslavia, Catholic priests and Muslim clerics were willing accomplices in the genocide of the nation’s Serbian, Jewish and Roma population. From 1941 until 1945, the Nazi-installed regime of Ante Pavelic in Croatia carried out some of the most horrific crimes of the Holocaust (known as the Porajmos ...
BALTOPS 16 is a military exercise now taking place between June 3 and June 18 in the Baltic Sea region which is in close proximity to Russia. The U.S. Naval Institute (www.usni.org) released an article titled ‘Analysis: Larger NATO Baltic Sea Exercise Sends Important Message to Russia’ stated what BALTOPS 16 will consist of:
Over the next three weeks BALTOPS 16 will draw together some 6,000 personnel, 45 warships, and 60 aircraft from 17 nations, including the United States, Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, along with the littoral states of the Baltic States who are NATO members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, ...
The recent declassification of over 3800 documents by the Central Intelligence Agency provides detailed proof that since 1953 the CIA operated two major programs intent on not only destabilizing Ukraine but Nazifying it with followers of the World War II Ukrainian Nazi leader Stepan Bandera.
The CIA programs spanned some four decades. Starting as a paramilitary operation that provided funding and equipment for such anti-Soviet Ukrainian resistance groups as the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR); its affiliates, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), all Nazi Banderists. The CIA also provided support to a relatively anti-Bandera faction ...
The massacre of 22 people—12 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, along with 10 patients, three of them children—in Saturday’s airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical center in Kunduz, Afghanistan is an appalling war crime for which the US military and Obama administration are responsible.
On Monday, the top US commander in Afghanistan admitted that a US warplane carried out the deadly attack, while seeking to shift the blame onto Afghan puppet troops for calling it in.
“An air strike was then called to eliminate the Taliban and several civilians were accidentally struck,” Gen. John Campbell told a ...
In April-May of 1944, the Crimean Tatar battalions took part in battles against the Red Army in the Crimea. The units that were evacuated from the Crimea in June 1944, were compiled into the Tatar mountain-Jaeger three-battalion SS Regiment. A month later, the group became the first Tatar-mountain-Jaeger SS Brigade (2,500 troops) under the command of SS Standartenführer Fortenbah. On 31 December 1944, the unit was disbanded to become a part of the East Turkic branch of SS as the Crimea battle group: two infantry battalions and one hundred horses.
German Field Marshal Erich von Manstein testified: "Most of the ...
This article was published on Global Research April 29, 2013.
Global Research Editor’s Note:
The following document pertaining to the formation of “Greater Israel” constitutes the cornerstone of powerful Zionist factions within the current Netanyahu government (which has recently been re-elected), the Likud party, as well as within the Israeli military and intelligence establishment. The election was fought by Netanyahu on a political platform which denies Palestinian statehood.
According to the founding father of Zionism Theodore Herzl, “the area of the Jewish State stretches: “From the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates.” According to Rabbi Fischmann, “The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt ...
Fourteen years ago the U.S. Government de-classified the now famous “La Vista Report” of May 15, 1947, a top-secret U.S. Army Intelligence report documenting the Vatican’s role in aiding the escape of numerous high-ranking Nazi war criminals, among them Ante Pavelic, fascist leader of wartime Croatia; Franz Stangel, Commander of Treblinka; Eduard Roschmann, “the Butcher of Riga”; Klaus Barbie, “the Butcher of Lyon”; SS General Walter Rauff, inventor of the mobile gas truck; Adolf Eichmann, “architect of the Holocaust”; and tens of thousands of others. Writing about the document prior to its release, internationally renowned Nazi hunter Charles R. Allen ...
For some time the criminal activities of the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (ISIS) seemed to have faded into the shadows. It seemed that this organization in the near future will be broken tie with due to the “heroic” American bombing. However, the ISIS like a fabulous hydra, who immediately has a new head grown in place of a severed one, revived and made further impressive gains.
The capture of ancient Palmyra in Syria and the important city Ramadi, the main city of the Sunni province Anbar, located by the way just 100 kilometres far from Baghdad, made the world’s media and ...
Imagine that Vladimir Putin were not a murderous autocrat and kleptocrat who has spent his fourteen years in power living up to his KGB past and dragging Russia ever back towards Communist autocracy, illiberalism, and expansionism. Imagine that instead he were one of the greatest leaders that Russia has had, whose policies have helped produce a massive rise in living standards and life expectancy, recuperation of national pride, and enforcement of the rule of law, who has tackled kleptocrats and gangsters wisely and well, whose foreign policy has on balance been realistic, diplomatic, and conducive to peace, who has presided ...
A report on August 15th from Russian Television alleged that the Ukrainian government that the U.S. installed in February of this year was resorting to internationally banned white phosphorous firebombs in order to help destroy the million people who lived in the now Ukrainian separatist capital of Donetsk. It lands super-hot and starts fires and burns to death almost anyone it touches.
The Ukrainian separatists are the residents in Ukraine’s southeast, where Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian President, was elected overwhelmingly by the votes of the people in this region in 2010. They reject the government that Obama installed, and are therefore seeking independence from it. ...
One way to understand the effect of 9/11, in most general terms, is to see that it allowed the agenda developed in the 1990s by neoconservatives—-often called simply “neocons”—to be implemented. There is agreement on this point across the political spectrum. From the right, for example, Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke say that 9/11 allowed the “preexisting ideological agenda” of the neoconservatives to be “taken off the shelf . . . and relabeled as the response to terror.”1 Stephen Sniegoski, writing from the left, says that “it was only the traumatic effects of the 9/11 terrorism that enabled the agenda ...
I won’t ever forget hearing the news – working in Pittsburgh as a marketing analyst, returning from lunch with colleagues when we it was announced.
November 22, 1963 was a Friday. The working day ended once the news broke, everyone in my department stunned, unable to focus on anything else.
It was too early to know what evidence later revealed. Lee Harvey Oswald was a convenient patsy, uninvolved in what happened, a state-sponsored assassination, CIA and secret service dirty hands likely responsible.
Killing him mattered. Things might have been different had he lived, at least for a time. November 22, 1963 remains a ...
James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. Bovard is on the USA Today Board of Contributors
The presidential campaign has mortified millions of Americans in part because the presidency has become far more dangerous in recent times. Since 9/11, we have lived in a perpetual emergency which supposedly justifies trampling the law and Constitution. And the illegalities will not end after Tuesday’s vote count. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have signaled that they will perpetuate power grabs in the next four years.
For generations, politicians have touted voting as a magical process which almost automatically protects the ...
The US military forces committed a classical example of the aggression on one sovereign and independent state on April 6th, 2017 by bombing a territory of Syrian Arab Republic by 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles killing civilians who are proclaimed as usually as “collateral damage”. A formal excuse for the aggression was based as many times before (from Vietnam, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya… cases) on traditional political false flags and mainstream media fake news used by the US propaganda machinery to sanction the Pentagon’s hegemonic policy of the Pax Americana.
The Fundamental Dilemma
The fundamental dilemma is why the US administrations of Obama ...
The extent of the destruction inflicted upon the Kurdish-held Sheikh Maqsoud by the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels” and the scars of the battle for its liberation are highlighted in the state of the neighborhood’s infrastructure. (Photo by Vanessa Beeley)
ALEPPO, Syria — Aleppo has become synonymous with destruction and “Syrian state-generated” violence among those whose perception of the situation in the war-torn nation is contained within the prism of mainstream media narratives.
The NATO-aligned media maintains a tight grip on information coming out of this beleaguered city, ensuring that whatever comes out is tailored to meet State Department requirements and advocacy for regime ...
During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Syrian forces had surprised Israel and were fast approaching the edge of the steep Golan Heights, captured by Israel during the 1967 war. It seemed as if Syrian armor and infantry would retake Golan, then pour down into Israeli Galilee.
Soviet recon satellites observed Israel moving its nuclear-armed, 500km-range Jericho missiles out of protective caves and onto their launch pads. At the same time, Israel was seen loading nuclear bombs on their US-supplied F-4 fighter-bombers at Tel Nof airbase.
Believing Israel was about to use nuclear weapons against Syria and Egypt, Moscow put huge pressure on both ...