Civil War (A quiet)

Thomas Campbell
Novi Sad, January 25th, 2008, 18:00 -18:30

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Over the last fifteen years, many parts of the former Soviet Union have been devastated by civil war and other disruptive armed conflicts. Despite this glaring fact, it has often been stated that the break-up of the Soviet Union was a remarkably "bloodless" affair. In a major Russian city like Saint Petersburg, which has seemingly been far from the frontlines in any of these wars, the economic stagnation and chaotic political scene of the eighties and nineties have given way to what the city's current governor calls "aggressive development" and to an apparently well-fed political apathy amongst the previously engaged populace. Here, then, we see the exact opposite of anything resembling civil war -- a stable (albeit dull) civil peace. But what if this peace is, in fact, founded on a "quiet" civil war that has been going on for the past decade -- a war that in many ways has been just as devastating for the "losing" party as the hot civil wars fought in the former Soviet hinterlands? How can we delineate the frontline in this quiet civil war? How do we identify its victims? Its victors? How is it connected to the "real" wars in the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia? And what does it have to do with an American band called Beirut and an unhappy Russian girl named Masha?