Meet the Asiopeans

The chairman of Russia’s Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, made himself the butt of many a joke after intimating that serfdom had a certain value as a “spiritual bond” holding the nation together. He is now on the record supporting an “Asian Court of Human Rights” as a counterbalance to the ECHR. I guess the founding members would include China and Russia with Burma as an honorary associate.

Zorkin may not have noticed but aziatskiy does not only mean “geographically Asian”. It has another meaning, slightly dated, biased and racially charged but not yet extinct: “savage; rough.” Likewise, “European” still has a connotation of “civilized, enlightened, humane” in modern Russian. Prejudice comes in handy sometimes. “An Asiatic court of human rights? What’s that, a new word for death by a thousand cuts?”

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