FRIDAY OCTOBER 3 CONTENTS
(5) Condi on Pooty
FRIDAY OCTOBER 3 CONTENTS
(5) Condi on Pooty
The Horror in Ingushetia
On the evening of September 10th, one Bekhan Zyazikov was driving through downtown Nazran, the largest city in the Russian Federation region of Ingushetia, a tumultuous area adjoining the boiling cauldron of Chechnya and full of many people who, like the Chechens, would like to break free of Russian rule. Ironically for Moscow, they see Russia’s endorsement of similar secession action by Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia as precedential fuel powering their desires.
At about 5:30 pm, unknown gunmen opened fire on Zyazikov’s late model Mercedes sedan, killing him instantly.
Annals of Russian Hypocrisy
It’s the kind of thing that can only emerge from Russia.
On the same day, the media reported on Russia complaining that the U.S. was “stonewalling” a nuclear arms reduction negotiation and also that Russia had announced plans to help Venezulea develop nuclear technology, just as it has done for Iran (which, thanks to Russia, experts now report is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons — an event which could cause the tinderbox of the Middle East to go up in flames — and which Russia is aggressively shielding from Western sanctions).
We have a separate category in our sidebar devoted to recording instances of breathtaking Russian hypocrisy, and it’s already loaded with material. But this one is something special, it may just take the cake.
Newsweek interviews the President of Poland:
During the war between Georgia and Russia, no European leader denounced Russia as strongly as Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski. He has also been a fervent backer of U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles on Polish territory. U.S. and Polish officials signed the agreement for the missile shield soon after Russian troops crossed into Georgian territory. While visiting the United Nations last week, he talked with Andrew Nagorski, a former NEWSWEEK senior editor and now director of public policy at the EastWest Institute. Excerpts:
NAGORSKI: What lessons did we learn from the conflict between Russia and Georgia?
KACZYNSKI: First, Russia wanted to carry out an annexation of two provinces. Second, there was an attempt to topple the government. The West was capable of one thing: not allowing this toppling of the government. Third, this has huge strategic importance for Europe. I’ve been pushing for years for building alternative routes for oil and natural gas on a big scale from Azerbaijan—and, maybe in the future, from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan—that would bypass Russia. The attack on Georgia has made this more difficult.
NAGORSKI: You ‘ re convinced the Russians wanted to depose the Georgian government?
KACZYNSKI: Yes. My intervention and that of the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and some engagement of the United States, forcing the engagement of NATO and, the least willingly, the European Union caused the Russians to not go for that. They always act with different options in mind, and that was the optimal one for them. They left the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to occupy part of Georgia. The Russians showed a certain helplessness on the part of the West. That’s terrible because the West is much stronger than they are.
News readers could be forgiven for laboring mightily to understand a recent story about the hijacking of a Ukrainian arms shipment (33 Soviet-era battle tanks) bound for Africa. The pirates were holding 20 Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldovan crew members on board. Upon being seized the ship’s Russian captain Vladimir Kolobkov apparently had a heart attack on the spot and dropped dead.
The ship was taken on Thursday September 25th and the next day there were reports that the Russian navy was charging to the rescue. The next thing you knew, the pirates were demanding $20 million in ransom, and it was already Monday. Now, the United States was taking the lead, surrounding the pirated ship from all sides. The Russian navy was nowhere to be seen, and the Americans were preventing the ship from offloading any cargo, which might then fall into the hands of crazed Somali rebels.
Very impressive technology the Russians seem to have, some sort of advanced cloaking device that makes their ships disappear entirely whenever they might actually have to fight. Same thing appears to have happened in the Black Sea when the U.S. navy made an appearance after Russia’s assault on Georgia began.
One gets the impression that the Russians are hiding behind the American skirts, just in case the pirates might actually start shooting or something.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, writing on the Polish website Gazeta:
For much of the past month, the world’s focus has turned to Russia. We took up the urgent, initial challenge of supporting Georgia after the Russian attack – a challenge that Poland was instrumental in meeting. The main question going forward – which I addressed at length in a speech last Thursday – is, what do the events of the past month mean for Russia’s relationship with the world, especially the United States and Europe?
The circumstances surrounding last month’s conflict are well-known. Mistakes were made on both sides, but the response of Russia’s leaders – invading a sovereign state across an internationally-recognized border, and then seeking to dismember it by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia – was disproportionate. And the responsibility for this behavior lies not with Russia’s neighbors, not with NATO enlargement, and not with the United States, but with Russia’s leaders.
As if the world needed any more evidence that Vladimir Putin is simply lying whe he claims Russia wants to be a civilized and reliable partner for the supply of energy, the Moscow Times reports:
The Russian government deliberately engineered the recent slowdown in oil production by imposing high taxes on the industry, two eminent U.S. economists contend in a new book. The claim, by Clifford Gaddy and Barry Ickes in a book to be published by the London-based Center for European Reform this week, contradicts statements by the government that it is seeking to increase output. Gaddy, of the Brookings Institution, and Ickes, of Pennsylvania State University, co-authored a chapter for the book, “Pipelines, Politics and Power: The Future of EU-Russia Energy Relations.”
It’s truly amazing how Russia retains its ability to surprise one with unanticipated new levels of barbarism. Even we, cynical as we are on Russia, are not immune.
This morning at 10:30 am Moscow time the Russian government shut down the Russian stock market preemptively for two hours, though the MICEX index was down just 1% in early trading (the RTS hadn’t even opened yet and couldn’t even say when it would be allowed to do so; short-selling had been banned before the MICEX even opened). In a shocking display, it was the second time in as a many weeks that this barbaric tactic had been invoked, and this time the circumstances on the ground weren’t close to justifying it. The Kremlin simply panicked with the index flirting with the critical 1,000 point psychological barrier (it had just slipped below 1,010 when the order came to shut down). It did not trust its own stock market, and it could not preserve its poker face. If the Russian government itself feels that way, how is a mere investor (well, riverboat gambler) supposed to react?
As if by order as we publish the full version of the second part of Boris Nemtov’s brilliant White Paper, which shows the fundamental failure of the Gazprom oil monopoly, the Russian stock market had another horrifyingly bad day on Monday, closing below 1,200 on the RTS index, down over 7%. The oil and gas index was down below the market average, closing off over 7.5%.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 1 CONTENTS
NOTE: Today we publish the second part of the Nemtsov White Paper as a single HTML document from which it can be cut and pasted readily. As indicated on the document, we have also published it in PDF format, as we did for the first part of the paper. We urge readers to circulate this critical document as widely as possible, so that all will know that ther are those who are fighting bravely for truth in Russia. And we express our thanks and admiration to Dave Essel for his yeoman work in bringing this material to the English-speaking audience. Without his efforts it might have languished forever in the dark.
Zero Hour Approaches
Russia has signed treaty by which it has promised unambiguously to remove every last Russian soldier from Georgian territory outside the formal borders of Ossetia and Abkhazia that it has recognized by October 10th, less than two weeks from now.
The United States has threatened Russia in the most blunt manner possible that the NATO allies will not tolerate any deviation by Russia from this promise. The highest-ranking U.S. diplomat on Russia, Daniel Fried, has stated:
If the Russians have not complied by October 10 there would be a very strong reaction. The problem with Russia’s invasion of Georgia is that it is not just a little hiccup or bump in the road. It is a major problem because Russia has tried to change international borders by force and that is quite a sobering thought. Russia is going to have to choose how far outside the international community it wants to place itself. There was a strong sense the Russia challenge had to be met and that no country in Europe should be left alone and isolated in dealing with Russia. Let’s be very careful that we don’t suddenly find ourselves slipping into a position of de facto recognizing what Russia has done.
Zero hour approaches.
“In Russia, whatever be the appearance of things, violence and arbitrary rule is at the bottom of them all. Tyranny rendered calm by the influence of terror is the only kind of happiness which this government is able to afford its people. If they wish to be recognized by the European nations, and treated as equals, they must begin by submitting to hear themselves judged.”
– Marquis De Custine, Empire of the Czar: A Journey Through Eternal Russia, ch. 37 (1843, rev. 1989).
Some idiot named Daria Chernyshova is writing an occasional column for the irrelevant Moscow News called “A Russian Briefer.” Fortunately for those who are inclined to mirth, as the title alone indicates, it does not seem there is anyone with a native command of the English language who is inclined to assist Ms. Chernyshova with her highly stilted prose, which only helps to make her ridiculous drivel that much more stilted and hysterically ludicrous. Any time you’d like a nice roll on the floor convulsed in uncontrollable fits of laughter, just tune in to Channel Chernyshova (you can also catch her on that bastion of accuracy in Russia reporting, Kremlin-controlled Russia Profile).
We’ll sum her up this way: As a journalist, she’s a great little piece of ass.
In her most recent installment, Chernyshova states:
A group of students are standing next to the examination room. The German asks: “Why don’t they let us enter? They are already 3 minutes late.” An American says, “Can you explain to me the meaning of this?” Finally, the Russian asks: “What exam are we to take today? Please! May I have a look at someone’s notes?” What strikes observers about this approach to our work is that the outcome – when it finally comes – is brilliant. No matter how long a task may take to fulfil, a Russian will eventually get the job done. One wonders how Russians succeed with such an attitude. Though we are mostly Northern residents, our inner passion explains everything.
This is truly Russia in a nutshell. And we do mean nut.
The New York Times reports:
During the recent war between Georgia and Russia, Russian soldiers broke into a tower housing Georgia’s largest Internet provider and blew up its transmission equipment with hand grenades, shutting down television, phone and digital access for two million people across the country.
More than a month later, the company, Caucasus Online, is still struggling with the economic fallout. The company’s managing director, Mamia Sanadiradze, said that having restored Internet access to clients at a cost of $50 million, he now risks defaulting on plans to build a giant telecommunications network stretching to Western Europe.
The project was to be completed by October, but has been set back because American engineers hired to install an underwater cable are said to be too worried about the security risk of returning to Georgia and to the field. Mr. Sanadiradze estimated he would lose $1 million for every month the project was delayed.
“The Russians are still stationed on Georgian territory, and at any time they can paralyze our communications network or blow up the railway and nobody can stop them,” he said. “As long as the Russians are here, it will be impossible to restore business confidence in Georgia, that we spent years trying to build up.”
The New York Times reports:
The men who set fire to Valentina Basargina’s house arrived in the stillness of 3 a.m. There were three of them. Each wore a camouflage uniform and carried a rifle. One held a can of gasoline. They wore masks. They led Ms. Basargina and her son outside and splashed gasoline in their two rooms, she and her relatives said. One man produced a T-shirt, knotted onto a stick. It was damp with gas.
“This is for the one who is gone,” he said in thickly accented Russian. Ms. Basargina’s nephew had recently disappeared; the police had said he joined the small but smoldering insurgency fighting for Chechnya’s independence from Russia.
The man lit the torch and tossed it inside. The air whooshed. Flames shot through the house.
Vladmir Putin: The Bottom Line
by Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
(For the PDF version of this document, click here.)
In February 2008, the authors of the report you are now reading published an independent expert report Putin – The Bottom Line in which they presented their views on what the Russian Federation’s second president had done for Russia. In Putin – The Bottom Line we gave an unflattering but in our view fair evaluation, backed up by facts and figures, of the outcome of Vladimir Putin’s activities for the country – an outcome that is hidden from Russian eyes behind a smokescreen of official propaganda – in such fields as the economy, the army, the pension system, health and education, roads and highways, and others.
A good number of readers rightly pointed out that there was one problem which we had only partially covered – Russia’s energy situation in general and the issue of Gazprom, Russia’s main energy company, in particular. This was a deliberate omission on our part. We believe that the situation around Gazprom is worthy of individual attention and not something to be covered in just a few paragraphs.
This, firstly, is because Gazprom and what happens within it are of the utmost importance to our country. A second reason is because we have direct, first-hand knowledge of Gazprom’s problems because we were involved with it in our professional lives as former Russian minister of fuel and and energy and deputy minister of energy. Our last reason is that Gazprom has become a sort of personal special project of Putin’s: from the very beginning of his presidency he has carefully nurtured this corporation, appointed people close to him to key posts within it, and overseen its work in detail. Gazprom is one of only a few projects for which Putin can be considered to be personally responsible from the earliest days he was in power. One can, as a result, use it as a measure of the results of Putin’s doings.
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 29 CONTENTS
NOTE: We have an abundance of riches in terms of original content today. Not one but two original translations from the brilliant pen of Dave Essel, including the final installment in his tranlsation of Part II of the Nemtsov White Paper, and two editorials following that. And it’s all capped off with yet another report in the MSM comaring Russia’ government to a pack of organized criminals.
NOTE: Ace reporter Michael Totten’s latest report from Georgia — called “The Scorching,” is full of photographs and details from his trip to Borjomi.
This is a the final installment in our serialization of the second part of the White Paper by Boris Nemtsov. Part II deals exclusively with the Gazprom fuel monopoly. Section 1 was published last Friday, Section 2 on Sunday. This is Section 3, all new material exclusive to La Russophobe which has never before appeared in English. The full version of Part II is available now as a downloadable PDF, click here to view it. We will shortly publish the entire white paper as single HTML page, which can be cut and pasted. Click “Nemtsov” in our header to read Part I.
Part II, Gazprom
by Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Frolov
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
In recent year Putin and Gazprom’s management have devoted a great deal of time and effort to a number of gas pipeline projects involving a lot of propaganda ballyhoo as well a serious foreign political gameplay. Many Russians have been led to believe that all these ‘Northern’, ‘Southern’, ‘Bluestream’ and other pipelines are the keystone of Russia’s national interests. Many therefore worry about the fate of these projects and accept that countries which are openly against the pipelines should be painted as enemies.
On closer examination, however, none of these ambitious projects for new export pipelines present anything like and open-and-shut case. In fact, these projects are no less machinations than the asset stripping of Gazprom.
An Inhabited Island
by Boris Vishnevsky
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
“I say ‘Well done’ that they gave Saakashvili one in the kisser”, stated my uncle in a satisfied way as he sat opposite me at the dinner table loaded with party fare for his son’s birthday. “That’s propaganda speaking,” responded his wife with a note of scepticism. But it was a minority voice: most of those present held to the view that while Putin and Medvedev are, to put it mildly, not a bed of roses, at least they did right this time. Attempts to explain that the picture of the events in the Caucasus presented to Russia’s television viewers was radically out of line with reality met with little success. For the record, the members of the gathering (your traditional democratic voters), had never voted for the Communists, for United Russia, for the LDPR [Zhirinovsky’s party], or United Russia. But still they had this most peculiar way of looking at things…
Democracy, Russian Style
Lord only knows where the Western world’s understanding of Russia would be without the brilliant reporting of the Jamestown Foundation’s tireless Russia analyst Vladimir Socor. This knight in academic armor labors thanklessly on a daily basis to document the atrocities occurring in neo-Soviet Russia, and we cannot praise him highly enough. History will record his proper place among Russia journalists.
One of his most recent reports dealt with Russia’s truly obscene behavior before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (“PACE”), where “a motion is pending to ‘reconsider the Russian delegation’s credentials, on grounds of serious violations of the basic principles of the Council of Europe.’” In other words, they are thinking of booting Russia out, or sanctioning it in some other manner for its barbaric aggression against tiny Georgia.
Russia’s response? It’s “diplomats” say that if PACE dares to vote any negative measure against Russia regarding Georgia, it will simply withdraw from the organization and take its $30 million per year annual funding with it. It’s also threatening to launch retaliatory attack on Georgia’s credentials and drag the whole council into a bureaucratic standstill.
Economics, Russian Style
You have to hand it to the Russians. No matter how bad things might be today, they can always suprise you — and make tomorrow so much worse you can’t believe you thought yesterday was bad.
The always brilliant Pavel Felgenhauer, writing for the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor, exposes the fundmental fraud that underlies Russia’s foreign military adventurism:
This week the Russian armed forces began month-long strategic military exercises called Stability 2008. According to the Defense Ministry, the scenario suggests “a worsening of the situation and an escalation of crisis situations into military confrontation” (www.mil.ru, September 20). The composition of the forces and ministries that will be involved in the exercise does not leave any doubt—it’s a scenario of a nuclear war in which Russia and its ally Belarus will face the United States. and NATO. The Russian military, intelligence and special services, and other executive government agencies and ministries, including local governments, together with their Belarusian counterparts must jointly “liquidate military conflicts, insuring strategic stability.”
This this is the second in a series of campaign posts supporting the election of John McCain as the next president of the United States.
As John McCain and Barack Obama prepare to square off in their first debate tonight, you probably already know that Obama has deep, longstanding ties to terrorists, and that his support base is full of frothing extreme left-wing weirdos of every description (many of America’s most ardent enemies, like Hamas and Hezbollah, have endorsed Obama). Hopefully, McCain will expose those ties.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 28 CONTENTS
NOTE: Radio Free Europe posts video on Georgians in Stalin’s birthplace questioning the legacy they live with.