MONDAY SEPTEMBER 22 CONTENTS
(1) Nemtsov on Black Tuesday, via Essel
(2) EDITORIAL: Back to the USSR
(3) The Horror of Russia’s Blogosphere Crackdown
(4) Goble on the Ossetia Quagmire
(5) Russia: Racist, Aggressive, Deluded, Scary
(6) Russia Can’t Afford Putin
NOTE: The second part of Kim Zigfeld’s examination of the malignant activities of “Monterey Institute” professor Gordon Hahn, and his recent duping of Wired magazine’s “military correspondent” David Axe, is up and running on Pajamas Media. Last time, Kim showed how Axe totally failed to warn readers about Hahn’s latant pro-Kremlin biases. Now, she explodes the factual underpinnings of Hahn’s statments themselves.
NOTE: Civil Georgia reports that while Russia killed 168 Georgia soldiers during its barbaric recent assault, it murdered 188 civilians — roughly the same number as Russia claims were killed by Georgian forces in Ossetia, an act Russia calls “genocide.”
Former Russian deputy prime minister Boris Nemstov, in the middle of an argument Putin style with the neo-Soviet Kremlin
Now here is an example of the blogosphere at its best.
- Step #1: We put up a post analyzing the Russian stock market crash.
- Step #2: Posting a link, commenter “Dobo” shows us a report on Kavkaz Centre talking up an interview by former deputy PM Boris Nemstov on the same subject.
- Step #3: We ask for a link to the source interview.
- Step #4: Another commenter (“Felix“) provides it.
- Step #5: Our expert translator Dave Essel offers his brilliant English rendering. Mind you, all this is gratis, work donated to help the people of Russia escape from dictatorship.
- Step #6: We publish it (after the jump). But for this chain of events, Mr. Nemtsov’s brave insights might never have seen the light of day in English. It makes us a very formidable community. Let’s have more of the same, shall we?
Back to the USSR
Last week we reported on a brutal condemnation of neo-Soviet Russia by U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice, who accused Russia of taking a “dark turn” to a “one-way path to isolation and irrelevance.” A few days later, Russian “president” Dima Medvedev responded. He stated: “This is not our path. For us there is no sense going back to the past.” Let’s pass over Medvedev’s just-plain-crazy suggestion that Russia never does anything irrational, like taking off its shoe before the world at the United Nations. Let’s instead just question Dima regarding his statement’s bona fides on its own terms.
If we could interrogate him, we’d start like this: Oh really, Dima? Well, if it’s not your path then how come you have a proud KGB spy remaining in power after eight years in office, and making a total mockery of your presidency? Do you really think that sends the appropriate message of rejecting Russia’s evil past to the Western world? If you really believe that, then why do you stand mute as your own Duma votes to return the statue of dreaded KGB maniac Felix Derzhinsky to Lubianka Square, in front of KGB headquarters, after the Russian people removed it when the USSR collapsed? Why do you say nothing as that same Duma votes to outlaw Western influences like Halloween and Valentine’s Day? Isn’t it because you, in fact, want your nation to follow the dark path — mostly because you are the witless slave of your dark master Vlad Putin?
But more important that what others are doing, Dima, why are you yourself lying so brazenly to the West, just as the dark empire of the USSR always used to do. Even your written promise, it seems, means no more to you than it did to the members of the Politburo. How else can we explain your blatant violation of the cease fire agreement you signed regarding the Georgia conflict, suddenly declaring you will leave thousands of Russian soldiers in the region indefinitely. Why, Dima, are you continuing to carry on the absurd pretense of governing the country when in fact the whole world clearly sees that Vladimir Putin is still in charge? And why did your government decide to go forward with ballistic missile tests while embroiled in an international crisis over Georgia and an economic meltdown? Is that how Russians show the world how reasonable they are? As we’ve recently pointed out, that’s only the latest in a whole host of provocative actions your government has taken unilaterally in recent weeks.
Given his government’s actions, it was hardly surprising to see Dima contradict his own words in the same breath and bare his neo-Soviet fangs. He stated: “We are in effect being pushed down a path that is founded not on fully-fledged, civilised partnership with other countries, but on autonomous development, behind thick walls, behind an Iron Curtain.”
Blogger Dmitri Minaev has horrifying details on the arrest of Oborona activist and blogger Dmitri Solovyov for publishing critical posts about the Kremlin. He points out that back in July Solovyov published a post predicting that Russia would attack Georgia in late August based on a report on Kavkaz Centre. Among other things, KC predicted that Russia would rig a “terrorist event” in Sochi to prestage the attack, and would gradually ratchet up Ossetian military action until Georgia was forced to respond. Minaev notes that in fact there was a bomb explosion in Sochi just before the attack. Then he offers a translation one of the posts for which Solovyov was arrested:
The Men in Gray Won’t Break Oborona
by Dmitri Solovyov
You think that with a stupid “Not allowed!” you can destroy an organization? It won’t work. You have been dragged into a a game you know you cannot win. You’re setting up your brown bear protégé. You’ll keep going until some Merkel or Bush calls on the phone and whispers “Stop it!” into the receiver. And then, although you now stand on every corner spreading the stinky mantra, “Russia will never be brought to its knees. Russia will not permit itself to be ruled from abroad,” you’ll come to attention like good lads, salute, and bellow out, “Yes, sir!” Just like you bellowed last year, when the June March [of the Dissenters] was permitted at the request of the German chancellor. Or like you bellowed a month ago, when you transferred [Vasily] Aleksanyan [a severely ill lawyer and ex-Yukos executive in police custody since 2006] to a clinic at the request of the American president.
The following two-part installment from the always-brilliant Paul Goble offers chilling details on the quagmire Russia has made for itself in Ossetia.
Part I: The Mess in Ossetia
Moscow’s unilateral recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia has shaken Russia’s ties to the United States and other Western countries and raised new questions about its relationship to the non-Russian republics and even some predominantly Russian regions inside the Russian Federation. But the last week has provided evidence that each of these breakaway republics is presenting Moscow with some problems that no one in the Russian government appears to have expected but ones that some Russian commentators are now beginning to discuss more or less openly.
On the one hand, South Ossetia’s Eduard Kokoity can’t seem to remain on message at least from Moscow’s point of view concerning what the final status of his republic should be. And on the other, Abkhazia’s Sergey Bagapsh came to power as head of an “orange” revolution Moscow opposed and is soon likely to behave just as independently as that origin would suggest. And consequently, in the words of one Moscow writer, the “paradise” Russian leaders thought they had achieved by the signing of friendship treaties two days ago is likely to prove “temporary” indeed, with each of these men and their states seeking to advance their interests by playing off one power off against another rather than simply following the dictates of Russia.
Writing on USA Today‘s blog Ralph Peters of the newspaper’s Board of Contributors argues that we should be scared by the racist evil that is Vladimir Putin:
Why Putin should scare us
He’s an ethnic nationalist with a mystical sense of Russian destiny.
Cold and pragmatic, he won’t play by the world’s rules.
Possessing a clear vision of where he wants to go and the ruthlessness to get there, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is the world’s most effective national leader in power. He also might be the most misunderstood.
Grasping what Putin’s about means recognizing what he isn’t about: Despite his KGB past and his remark that the Soviet Union’s dissolution was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, Putin isn’t nostalgic for communism. By the time he joined the KGB in the mid-1970s, the organization was purely about preserving the power structure — not upholding abstract philosophies.
Writing in the Lebanon Daily Star, leading Russia expert Anders Aslund (a former Yeltsin advisor) argues that Vladimir Putin — whom he refers to as a “villain” – has become too costly a burden for Russia to bear much longer:
Today, the whole world is being hit by a tremendous financial crisis, but Russia is facing a perfect storm. The Russian stock market is in free fall, plummeting by 60 percent since May 19, a loss of $900 billion. And the plunge is accelerating. As a result, Russia’s economic growth is likely to fall sharply and suddenly.
One problem is that, after a long period of fiscal prudence, Russia’s government has shown extraordinary ineptitude. Russia has enjoyed average annual economic growth of 7 percent since 1999. With huge current-account and budget surpluses, it had accumulated international reserves of $600 billion by July. Its public debt was almost eliminated. But the open economy that has bred Russia’s economic success requires the maintenance of sensible policies to succeed.