SUNDAY AUGUST 2 CONTENTS
(1) Putin and Beslan
NOTE: Grigory Pasko interviews Boris Nemtsov on Robert Amsterdam’s blog.
SUNDAY AUGUST 2 CONTENTS
(1) Putin and Beslan
NOTE: Grigory Pasko interviews Boris Nemtsov on Robert Amsterdam’s blog.
Commenter “Robert” directs our attention to a new report on the Beslan atrocity by John B. Dunlop of Stanford University.
This research is a clarion call to the Western democracies, a warning they must immediately heed, most of all U.S. President Barack Obama. His benighted and misguided attitude towards Russia must be reversed immediately.
Here is the report’s conclusion, namely that Russian “prime minister” Vladmir Putin is a brazen liar and a war criminal:
On 1 September 2004, Putin, who had been vacationing on the Black Sea at the resort town of Sochi, returned by plane to Moscow after learning of the hostage-taking incident. Immediately upon his arrival at the airport in Moscow, he held a meeting with the head of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), Rashid Nurgaliev, with the prosecutor general Vladimir Ustinov, with the director of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, and with the first deputy director of the FSB and commander of the Russian border-guards, Vladimir Pronichev. The presence of General Pronichev at this meeting was particularly significant. It was he who had overseen the storming of a theater building at Dubrovka in Moscow in October 2002 in which 174 hostages had perished from the effects of a special gas employed by the FSB.
Following this meeting with his power ministers, Putin, at about noon on the first, placed a call on a special phone to the president of North Ossetia, Aleksandr Dzasokhov. Putin gave Dzasokhov “an [oral] command to hand over the organization of the counter-terrorist operation to the organs of the FSB.” This account, it should be noted, is in full accord with what Putin told Le Monde in the afore-mentioned interview published in the 1 June 2008 issue of the French newspaper. Putin manifestly had no intention of negotiating with the terrorists and outsourced the decision concerning how and when to storm the school to the FSB and, in particular, to the FSB spetsnaz (special forces) under the command of General Aleksandr Tikhonov. Putin then disappeared from public view until the morning of 4 September when the storming of the school had been completed.
Following the deaths of the 317 hostages (including 186 children), Putin arrived in Beslan at 5:00 a.m. on 4 September. Joined by North Ossetian president Dzasokhov, he went to the district clinical hospital where the two leaders visited all of the rooms containing victims of the assault. Having remained in the hospital for half an hour, Putin then attended a session of the operational headquarters for the liberation of the hostages located in the town administration building.
Looking directly into a camera of state television’s Channel 1, Putin then declared: “We examined all possible variants and did not ourselves plan an action using force. Events developed very quickly and unexpectedly, and the personnel of the special forces manifested particular courage.” This statement was, as we know now, untrue. Then, apparently without visiting the site of the ruined school, Putin returned by plane to Moscow.
Putin the Man, the Myth, the Monster
In February of 2006, Roman Kupchinsky of Radio Free Europe wrote an article about about Vladimir Putin’s involvement with the St. Petersburg Mining Instiute, which Kupchisnky called “one of the most prestigious academic institutions in Russia, which traces its history back to 1773.” He noted that “in 1997 Putin defended his doctoral dissertation examining how natural resources can contribute to regional economies and strategic planning” and then, two years later, wrote an article for the Institute’s Journal in which he continued his dissertation analysis and “posited that hydrocarbons were key to Russia’s development and the restoration of its former power. He argued that the most effective way to exploit this resource was through state regulation of the fuel sector, and by creating large and vertically integrated companies that would work in partnership with the state.”
Oops. One month later, thanks to the efforts of the left-wing think tank Brookings Institution, the world learned that:
Ouch. Given all that, it’s hardly likely that Putin had written the Journal article, either.
Translator’s Note: Neo-Nazi Russia is putting a toe in the water to test the political mood of the country. In a supremely emetic move, it has been announced that . . .
Stalin’s Grandson Sues “Novaya Gazeta”
30 July 2009
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
Ekho Moskvy radio station has just broadcast the news that Stalin’s grandson, Yevgenii Dzhugashvili, has had a writ served on Novaya Gazeta, complaining about an article entitled “Beria Was the Guilty Party” published in that paper on 22 April this year. The writ is against the newspaper itself and the author of the article Anatoli Yablokov. The writ demands that the paper publish a retraction stating that Yablokov’s remarks about Stalin are baseless, untrue, and defamatory of Stalin’s honour and reputation. In particular, the plaintiff is concerned with the words: “Stalin and the Chekists are bound by great bloodshed and the worst of crimes, above all against their own people”. The plaintiff is demanding moral damages of 10 milllion roubles and also that a retraction be published. Yevgenii Dzhugashvili’s case has been accepted and will be heard by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court.
[This of course is the court whose name has become a byword for justice perverted by instructions from on high to its judges (or which simply has the most prejudiced and stupid judges in the world). The world laughs and weeps as Russia degradates.]
Chen Weidong, the Executive VP of COSL, China’s leading oilfield services company, writing on the Energy Tribune:
“The Advantage of Petroleum in Russia” (US edition was published as “From Soviet to Putin and Back: The Dominance of Energy in Today’s Russia,” Energy Tribune Publishers) is another powerful book from my friend Michael Economides. We had discussed the possibility of publishing this book in Chinese last May right before the publication of the book in the U.S. Under the coordination of the Graduate School of China Social Sciences Academy and Huaxia Publishing Co., the Chinese version of this book has finally become reality.
For most of the last 100 years, since the Nobel family created the Russian petroleum industry in 1873, crude oil and natural gas have been Russia’s “pillar of power, the forever foundation of the state, and the lifeline of Russia.” In this book, Professor Economides and his co-author, Russia and former Soviet Union specialist Donna D’Aleo, with their broad knowledge of petroleum and geopolitics, have showed us a panorama of life and death, success and failure of Russian petroleum industry with rich history, clear logic, and abundant events.
Russia and China not only have very deep historical roots, they also have the advantage of being complementary strategic superpowers, especially in the energy and petroleum fields. I have been thoroughly entranced by the stories in the book about the petroleum elites, cruel wars and political struggles made very lively by the authors’ narrative and their humorous and philosophical comments. After finishing the reading, I whispered to myself: “fortunately China is not a Russia.” Herewith, a few more thoughts.
The always brilliant Edward Hugh of Russia Economy Watch reports:
According to the latest report from the World Bank collapsing industrial production, rising unemployment and ongoing capital flight will reduce Russia’s gross domestic product by 7.5 percent this year and restrain “intraregional trade flows and transfers,”. The Bank also highlighted that “Remittances to the broader CIS region are expected to decline for the first time in a decade, by 25 percent”.
Neil Shearing of Capital Economics forecasts a contraction of 10% this year, zero growth in 2010 and fears that Russia may be facing a kind of “lost decade”, since it may well not recover the 2008 level of output till 2014, and there are still clear downside risks attaced even to this estimate.
by Dave Essel
Russia may be trying to ostrich away the crisis and claim that its crisis is just part and parcel of the world economic crisis. But metrics are everywhere and crop up in the oddest of places.
Here is a metric from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry that shows that Russia is suffering worst by far – naturally.
In yet another devastating blow to Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, the pro-Russia government of Moldova has been repudiated in the most recent parliamentary election, with Moldovan voters turning 53-48 to the pro-West democracy parties. The plan of the winning majority is clear: Reject Russia, embrace the EU and democracy. Go Moldova! Go Freedom! We stand in awe.
FRIDAY JULY 31 CONTENTS
NOTE: Is Russia on the verge of collapse (again)? We lay out the compelling evidence in our special issue today. The Caucasus is in flames, and Russians are arming themselves. The Kremlin’s own people are turning against the regime. The nuclear strike force is held together with duct tape. In Georgia, Saaskashvili still roars like a lion. And Russia is exposed as the black sheep of BRIC. How much longer can this version of Russia last?
NOTE: Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her Russia column on Pajamas Media is up and running, exposing the Kremlin’s effort to create a holy Russian empire in collusion with the Orthodox Church. Makes your skin crawl.
Today we offer a wealth of material showing how Russia is coming apart at the seams. To start off, two recent reports from the Russian press, relayed to us by the indispensable Paul Goble, indicate the Russia is cracking and crumbling at its very foundations.
First, Goble reports how the Kremlin’s totally failed policy in the Caucasus is threatening wider social instability; then, as if to emphasize the first point, he reports on how Russians across the country are stocking up on guns.
Russia’s Government is Lying about Unemployment
As Russia’s economic situation deteriorates ever more dramatically, the Kremlin is beginning to lose control over its domain. Vladimir Putin’s latest public tirade, in which he ordered Sberbank to lend more and told them the price the could lend at, ignoring the institution’s desperate financial condition, had to send chills down the spine of any remotely qualified economist anywhere in the country. Sooner of later, men of good conscience are going to speak out. Common sense will compel them to do so. As in the time of Stalin, Putin’s only “response” will be violence.
Blink and you’d have missed it, for example, but a tiny item last week on the Kremlin’s own ITAR-TASS newswire told the tale. We’ll reprint it in full, just in case it disappears:
24 July 2009
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
Why did Yuri Solomonov, the chief design engineer of the Bulava and director of the institute which designed the rocket, resign? Is his departure from the job merited or the just top brass interference? Who is to blame for the failures of Russia latest big missile project after it was so proudly promoted to the public by the government?
Maybe Solomonov was not really up to the task, maybe his institute bit off more than it could chew? Perhaps the designer was hamstrung by having to play two roles – after all, when you are in charge of an enterprise, it cannot be easy also to have to deal with product faults. Or is it maybe that Russia’s military-industrial complex is no longer what it once was?
We here at La Russophobe live for moments like the one last Monday morning, when we clicked open the New York Times website and saw the lead story, complete with massive photograph of the beaming President of Georgia and headlined: “Georgia’s Leader Escapes Damage in Biden Visit.”
Anders Aslund, writing in the Moscow Times:
First-half results are arriving, presenting many countries with shocking declines, but the record is quite varied. Whatever standard we choose, Russia is underperforming.
The country’s natural comparison is with the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China. According to JP Morgan’s current forecast, this year the gross domestic product of China is expected to grow by 8.4 percent, India — 6.2 percent, while that of Brazil is expected to shrink by 1.0 percent, and Russia — 8.5 percent. During the first half of 2009, China and India have been forging ahead, while Russia’s GDP plunged by 10 percent.
First it was Natalia Estemirova.
The came Andrei Kulagin.
And now we can add yet a third vicious assault on human rights activists in Russia in just the past few weeks: Albert Pchelintsev.
Other Russia reports that Pchelintsev is the regional director of the “Against Corruption, Deception and Dishonor” movement and states that according to the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, Pchelintsev was attacked on Saturday evening as he returned home and was shot in the mouth with a stun gun. After undergoing reconstructive surgery, he remains in serious condition and cannot speak. The gang of attackers allegedly shouted at him: “You won’t be able to speak out now for a long time!” Other Russia adds: “The rights leader had taken an active role in recent municipal election in Khimki, and strongly criticized town officials during the campaign. Pchelintsev also wrote a column dedicated to corruption in a local newspaper. In 2008, the activist helped to open a community office where citizens could report and document cases of corruption. He is one of many activists from Khimki to be attacked in recent years.”
Russia’s streets flow red with the blood of its patriots, struck down by their own countrymen and indeed their own government. And perhaps the most apalling of all is the craven silence of the American White House. Shame on you, Mr. Obama! How many heros must perish before Obama will know it is too many are deign to speak up?
WEDNESDAY JULY 29 CONTENTS
NOTE: We are pleased to report on two high-profile personages, Joe Biden and David Satter, speaking in Larussophobic tongues. We might just as well have written their words ourselves, they are that identical to what we’ve been saying here long before. It’s very comforting to see that, at last, at least part of the mainstream world sees Russia clearly and is willing to say so.
In Neo-Soviet Russia, Writers are Criminals
In December 2007 Russian scholar Igor Averkiev wrote an essay called “Putin is Our Good Hitler” (Russian language original) in which he explained his title thusly: “Because the type and style of President Putin’s rule is quite similar to the type and style of Reich Chancellor Hitler’s rule during the early stage of his career. Because the situation in post-Soviet Russia is quite similar to the situation in post-WWI Germany. Because the Russian populace at the turn of the millennia closely resembles the German people during the late 1920s and early 1930s.”
Russian security forces called him in (Russian language link) for questioning and warned him to stop challening the Kremlin’s authoirty, but Averkiev (link to the author’s Russian language website), who serves as public ombudsman in the Siberian city of Perm, would not be intimidated.
What happened next was entirely predictable neo-Soviet outrage.
The Friends of Kadyrov
Once again, Russia has surprised us with a new level of barbarism and stupidity. Given our already rock-bottom opinion of Russian behavior, it’s genuinely amazing that this could occur.
Writing on Live Journal, a Russian blogger named “Kutuzov” claims Ramzan Kadyrov was in no way involved in the murder of Natalia Estemirova. Just like Dmitri Medvedev, he of course has no idea whatsoever who did kill her, but he feels the awesome powers of his Russian “logic” are sufficient to entirely exculpate Kadyrov.
His argument, to say the least, is psychotic.
Biden Gets Russia Right
I think we vastly underestimate the hand that we hold. [The Russians have] a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable.
Those words might just as easily have been written by this blog, but they were said by the Vice President of the United States instead — and that’s encouraging.
IA-Forum: What do you think of Obama’s attempt to collaborate with the Russian leadership on common interests while still criticizing Russia’s problems with human rights, rule of law, etc.? Was Obama effective on both fronts?
David Satter: It was very mild criticism. It was the gentlest of hints, and there is no reason for that. There was no mention of specific cases. If you’re not going to mention specific cases, you create the impression that you’re not mentioning them because you don’t have the will to mention them. If you don’t have the will to mention them, you may not have the will to stand up to them in other respects. Even in his discussions with the opposition, [Obama] was rather measured and didn’t mention specific cases. Once you restrict yourself to generalities, you greatly reduce the impact of what you’re saying. So I think he was too conciliatory. But we’ll see.
International Affairs Forum interviews Russia scholar David Satter of the Hudson Institute, author of Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State, on Obama’s performance in Moscow:
International Affairs Forum: You were in Russia during President Obama’s recent trip to Moscow. What were your impressions of his highly-anticipated visit? How do people in Russia perceive the U.S.-Russian relationship right now?
Mr. Satter: Well, I think that Russians believe—in part because they’ve been told—that the U.S. has ignored Russia’s interests and it is therefore up to the U.S. to do something about it. In fact, all of the talk about resetting relations plays into this because it seems as if we actually agree with this interpretation. After all, why would we need to reset the relationship if we haven’t done anything wrong? So I think that there’s a sense in Moscow and in the rest of Russia that the United States is acknowledging the validity of the Russian interpretation of events.
Otherwise, my general impression was that—and this is based only on what was public, of course I don’t have access to what was private—the U.S. went too far, really, in showing a willingness to compromise. In general, being willing to compromise is probably a good thing, but the demands that the Russians have made and the positions that they are advancing are not reasonable. There’s no reason why we should encourage them to make unreasonable demands, nor is there any reason why we should give the impression that we are ready to think about those demands.
Paul Goble reports:
Even compared to its Soviet predecessor, the federalism of the Russian Federation as Vladimir Putin understands it has little to do with providing autonomy and protection to minorities and more about creating a procedure for absorbing neighboring countries into the Russian state, according to a leading Moscow expert on federal systems.
In an essay in the new issue of Neprikosnovennyy Zapas, Andrey Zakharov, the journal’s editor and author of “Unitary Federation: Five Studies of Russian Federalism” (Moscow, 2008), offers that disturbing conclusion on the basis of a careful examination of the two.
MONDAY JULY 27 CONTENTS
(5) La Tour de Fraud
NOTE: Visit the Russian Tea Room and view Russian art on export to the West.
You can’t take the Russia out of a Russian
You can take the Russian out of Russia but you can’t take the Russia out of a Russian.
Last week the world learned the horrifying news that the Putin regime had assumed yet another godawful dictatorial power. Not content with appointing governors and mayors, the regime now claims the right to open anyone’s mail, whenever it feels like doing so. Security services also now have access to post office databases, which show customer addresses and past use of the postal system. What’s more, the Kremlin is moving to crack down on Internet communciation services like Skype, having already obtained the abilitty to read ordinary e-mails and receive person information from ISPs through the infamous “SORM” regulations.
Internationally known Russian human rights activists Lev Ponomarev told RIA Novosti that the move was “totally unacceptable” and “unconstitutional,” and said that he is . . . .preparing an open letter to Dmitri Medvedev.
An open letter, Mr. Ponomarev? Gosh, are you sure you want to go as far as that? Isn’t it a bit of an overreaction? Perhaps a postcard would be enough?
What the Big Mac says about Russia
One of the stupidest commentaries we’ve seen regarding Russia is the Economist magazine’s “Big Mac Index.” Even while admitting it is “light-hearted” and totally without any real meaning the magazine goes right on publishing it.
This year’s index says that Big Mac sandwich costs $3.57 on average in four large American cities while it costs $2.04 in Russia (based on an unspecified number of cities surveyed). The world’s cheapest Big Mac is in Hong Kong (where it costs $1.72) and the most expensive is in Norway (where it will set you back $6.15). So Russia has a claim to fame! It offers one of the cheapest American hamburgers on the planet (more than enough reason to book a plane ticket, right?). Good job, Russians!
Based on this revelation, namely that the Big Mac is $1.53 or 43% cheaper in Russia than in the USA, the Economist concludes that the Russian currency is 43% undervalued and that the exchange rate should not be 32.8 rubles to the dollar, which it currently is, but rather 18.8 rubles to the dollar, which would make the price of the sandwich the same in both countries.
The implication of this is that Russians are foolishly willing to pay more than fair market value for a dollar, Americans foolishly unwilling to pay more for a ruble. For various reasons, it’s surely one of the stupidest economic suggestions ever made.
Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister of Sweden, writing in the Moscow Times:
Pushing the “reset” button on diplomatic relations is a popular endeavor nowadays. U.S. President Barack Obama just journeyed to Moscow in order to reset strained U.S.-Russian ties. The European Union, though not in need of a reset because of strained ties with its eastern neighbors, is involved in a deep strategic reconstruction of those relations.
When the EU launched its new Eastern Partnership in May, the purpose was to promote further integration with the union’s six immediate eastern neighbors — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The global financial crisis had made an updated and strengthened policy for the EU’s eastern neighborhood an urgent need. Equally important was the fact that all the countries concerned expressed an ambition to move closer to the EU.