EDITORIAL: Russia’s Lame excuse for an “Internet”

EDITORIAL

Russia’s Lame excuse for an Internet

A recent article on the Lenta.ru website (Russian language link) confirms that two-thirds of Russian households have no access to the Internet (only 0.1% of Russians use Twitter).  That’s not news, of course, we’ve often reported on Russia’s puny level of Internet penetration, and it’s no surprise:  In a country where the average wage is $3/hour, but where Internet access costs the same as it does in the West, paying for Internet access is a luxury few can afford.  And as we’ve said before (click the “Internet” category in our sidebar to read our extensive reporting on this subject), the one-third figure is a gross overstatment of Russia’s true level of Internet access, because it includes as “users” those who may go online as rarely as once a month and then only for a few minutes.

But the Lenta article did report a surprising fact:  It stated that half of all respondents who could access the Internet were doing so by means of their cell phones.  

This means that no more than about 15% of Russians access the Internet by means of a computer, the only way of course to fully make use the resources of political information that the Internet has to offer.    It goes without saying that the abbreviated Internet on offer via cell phones is hardly likely to provide anyone with sufficient information to judge the performance of the Putin regime.  You can hardly, for instance, peruse the New York Times on your Liliputian cell phone screen.

So what’s accurate to say about the Russian Internet is that, if ten years ago only one in ten Russians ever accessed the Internet, now perhaps one in ten regularly does so.  Still, about 90% of the population is unable to consider using the Internet as a political weapon against the KGB regime.

The Lenta article seemed to feel it was a signficant achievement  that Russian Internet penetration has increased by a “factor of 30″ in the past ten years, since in 2000 only one in a hundred Russians had Internet access.  But what that that really means that when Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, nobody could find out a thing about this proud KGB spy by any means on than government-controlled TV.  

Clearly then, any growth in the Internet, the last bastion of real opposition to the Kremlin, is a matter of great concern to the Kremlin.  Little wonder, then, that Putin is now scrambling so furiously to persecute and jail bloggers, control providers and create government-sponsored blogs full of shameless propaganda.  His backup, of course, is simply to shamelessly rig the elections themselves by blocking opposition candidates and stuffing ballot boxes.

It’s not hard, of course, to improve upon a figure that is so woefully small as Russian internet after the fall of the USSR.  The question is whether as much as half the Russian population will ever have routine access to the Internet’s Kremlin-critical Internet by means of a desktop or laptop computer at any time in the near future.

And the answer to that question is a resounding NO!

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81 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russia’s Lame excuse for an “Internet”

  1. This is great artice. Thank you. It’s very important. Russian revolution of 1917 happened after 50% of population became literate. The same happened before in France and Britain.
    Fast internet access is crucial. I agree, that it will not happen in the near future. It means that vast majority of Russians live in a world which we can even hardly imagine.
    Funny, but I think it poses the danger even for the current regime. Because NOBODY knows what the hell those millions Russians think and how the see life.
    When USA started war with Iraq, Saddam thought that all Iraq people will rise to defend him. Boy, how he was wrong! But why he thought so? Because they did not have free press and he started to believe his own propaganda! This is very funny.
    The level of stupidity in Russia is beyond wild imagination…

    • Alex wrote: “It’s very important. Russian revolution of 1917 happened after 50% of population became literate. Fast internet access is crucial.

      Crucial for what? For another Bolshevik Revolution like in 1917? :-)

  2. well, being from Russia, I can say this view is well… naive.

    • AT, being from Russia is nor an argument. You’re not very convincing here. By the way, I also regularly visit Russia and lived there for 20 years. Central Moscow is very different from many other places in Russia and if you want to make a point – go ahead.

      The fact that you’re from Russia, does not make you an expert. I’m afraid quite often it’s the opposite.

      Living in darkness does not improve eyesight dramatically…

      • Well said Alex! I too have visited Moscow and what struck me the most was the drunken people on the streets. Can you imagine women urinating on the footpath, Yuk

        Nyet Kultura! It has a long way to go to catch up to the ‘West’.

        Oh yes, Moscow burns while Putler fiddles (the finance books that is!).

        • Well, I also visited and worked in about 40 counties as well. In my experience, and average Russian from Perm knows about the outside world much more than an average Texan.

          • Oh, but unfortunately, 156 man and women died in Perm most modern and elitist nightclub. In Texas they know just enough to live without such tragedies.
            It would help, if Perm citizens would know about places they visit. It does not happen anywhere else on the planet by the way. Not in 21 century, dude.
            If you are so smart, why do you leave your children orphans?

            • Very logical. I argue that Perm’s denizens know more about the outside world than Texans do. The response is — but you had this fire. Yes, and the plane crashed too. And the roads in Perm were in disrepair last time I visited — happy now?

              Anyway, fires in public places happen everywhere. In less developed and more corrupt places, like Perm, more often. In more developed and less corrupt places, like Texas, rarely (never say never). This does not change the fact that an average Russian from Perm knows about the outside world much more than an average Texan. Have I ever said an average Russian is smarter? All nations are more or less the same as far as the smarts are concerned.

              • It’s impossible to discuss absurdity. If you know every Texas citizen and every Perm citizen, then you would have the ground but it’s impossible. So there is nothing to discuss with you with such weak arguments. I hope you won’t get into trouble in Perm with your fellow well-informed citizens, good luck.

                • Nah, you don’t have to know everyone to draw conclusions. You just have to visit a place every once in a while. I’ve spent much more time than I wanted in Perm and drove through Texas. That was enough.

        • I know many Russians who think they are free.

          There is also great saying – If you are a Fish, you probably have no word “water”. Water just does not exist for the fish. So they don’t know how to define it. They always live in it.

          The same often applies to majority of Russians. All people in Russia a free. Until recent time they were free from capitalism. Now they are free from thinking. Why think, when you can buy youself:
          A) (if you’re very poor) Cell Phone
          B) (if you’re “middle class”) Prado
          C) (if you are “rich”) Mercedes
          After you bought it, you must show it. Then you have sexy time… This is freedom! What happens next week is not anyone concern. The smartest “oligarch” Pert Aven once said that even he can plan life in Russia for the maximum of two years. But he is considered to be the smartest of all Russian billionares. Can you imagine average dude? 1 day ahead is the maximum plan. Oh, sorry, I forgot, in December people like to discuss how they will meet New Year celebration. But it always ends up with drinking a lot of Vodka and eating some extremely fat Olivye salad. But this is the achievement of strategic thinking anyway. This is planning of 1-2 weeks ahead, which is impressive in Russia.

          The same applies to Kremlin.

          • Freedom has many meanings. The freedom to use wireless communications is freedom; the freedom to express your fashion and culinary sense (vodka and olivier) is freedom; the freedom to do business or to make a career is freedom. The Russians enjoy these freedoms now, although 20 years ago they could not do this… not too bad for a nation with no strategic thinking.

            • This is not the nation yet.

              Freedom, what do you know about it? Freedom is when you breath clean air. Freedom is when you see people smile and you want to smile to them. Freedom is the control of you politicians. Freedom is the peace of mind that your children will be safe on the street. Freedom is quality education. Freedom is quality medical care. Freedom is the peace of mind that when you are old or disabled you can still LIVE you life.

              When you buy a car in Russia you stand in traffic jam or die in an accident. When you walk the street, you afraid of everything, including “police”. You are unprotected everywhere. In USSR you still had wooden doors in apartments quite often. Now all of you live behind thick metal. And you hope it will give you some safety. It does not.

              In fact, the only freedom you have is to go and buy something. But you pay for it 4-5 times more than in free world and you get terrible quality. You pay so much because it inludes “otkati” – bribes. Your shops are full of low quality goods because your Customs does not allow majority of goods through.

              This is not freedom. Not for me, AT. Maybe for you and your children.

              • Dude, I have not lived in Russia for the last 10 years, so your patronizing tone sounds quite stupid. I am happy you breeze the fresh air and smile at people. Good for you. So do I.

                I have never claimed Russia at the same level of developement as the US, France or Australia — wherever you are my friend.

                But why do you compare Russia to these countries? You find no fresh air in China, no one smiles at you in Romania, people expect bribes in Bulgaria. Its quite naive to think Russia will become a Switzerland overnight.

                Although if you look for a justification for your decision to leave Russia — as soon as you feel great wherever you are, you’ve done right. Congrats.

                • “as long as”, not “as soon as”

                • China, Romania and Bulgaria have one thing in common – ex-Soviet states. Soviets were born in Russia. My patronising tone is very important here because you say such funny things. So may Russians think the same way as you are, that is is necessary to use it. I don’t find it interesting to continue debates with you, nothing personal, just too boring. Your arguments remind me of something very odd and rustic (in a bad way). This is boring, I said more than enough.

                  • Of course your patronizing tone is important. Very important. Just calm down.

                    Soviets were born in Russia — Oh no! When did you discover this? Maybe you can educate us how bad the Soviet system was? Well, it collapsed, that’s how bad it was.

                    What funny things did I say, and how did I manage to bore you with my funny rustic things?

                    You did say more than enough the first time you posted here.

        • …not much different from Kyiv, though.

          • Not a single terrorist attack in Kiev in the last 20 years. Not a single plane crash. Not a single big fire in nightclub. Such weak arguments… booooring. Bye bye.

            • But I saw urinating ladies in the street. Net Kultury.

              • I am not quite sure what you are debating here Alex — that Russia is less developed than the US — I concur. That its less developed than its peer group of countries with, say the same GDP per capita — I think you are wrong. That its the worst country — this is absurd. That you did good for youself when you left Russia — no doubt.

                • This is exactly the point why I stop – there is nothing to discuss with you anymore. You showed your way of thinking and it’s enough for me and other visitors to draw conclusions.

                  By the way, your comments regarding good step to leave Russia smells of ghetto and slave-like view of the world. Slave like life-coaching probably would be quite popular on Brighton Beach. In other words – when you repeat the same idea – it’s good for you that you left Russia – this is GULAG ideology and Russia is full of it. Especially Perm – full of former prisoners. It does not work in other cultures. Try to really LIVE in Texas or you will always live in your personal grey and boring Brighton Beach.
                  Nothing personal… but you asked for it, my friend. Please stop your enquiries, I am very kind person but quite busy. There are millions like you, I don’t have time to waste in this boring conversations. Just wanted to show other blog visitors you way of thinking, which is very very typical for neo-soviet Russians, unfortunately… (nothing personal, take it easy please)

                  • Oy, you don’t stop. You promise to stop and then you come for more. Whether you will stop or not, your comment invites a response:

                    – Dude, in the main, the post above is incoherent gibberish. If you have to say something, try to do this succinctly and straightforwardly.

                    – You keep saying “nothing personal”? Is there anything, say, “profesional”, “social”? Is there a difference in opinon, and you want to point it out without hurting my feelings. If the latter is the case, using fewer insults and generalizations may help.

                    – @”Just wanted to show other blog visitors you way of thinking” — Dude, this is a discussion forum. I come here to express my way of thinking and opinions, and so do other people. You are being delusional thinking you provoked me into exposing my way of thinking.

                    – @”By the way, your comments regarding good step to leave Russia smells of ghetto and slave-like view of the world.” — Apart from the poor grammar, my comments were in response to your posts. Your posts appeared to indicate you are seeking a justification for having left Russia. Or maybe I am mistaken, and you are driven by the desire to improve the country you left. Then, I guess you need to be a little more explicit in your comments.

                    – @”this is GULAG ideology and Russia is full of it. Especially Perm – full of former prisoners” — I guess you have first-hand experience with that. I lived in Perm for 16 years and never met a former prisoner. Never was exposed to any GULAG ideology.

                    – “Try to really LIVE in Texas or you will always live in your personal grey and boring Brighton Beach” — Never been to Brighton Beach, unless Coney Island is part of Brighton Beach, isn’t it? A horrible place. Full of people who thought they were jewish in the Soviet Union and somehow became Sovet in the US. Texas is quite boring outside major cities. I was accepted to a graduate school there about 10 years ago, but went for a better university in the end.

                    BUT MOST INTRIGUINLY: Care to verbalize what my “way of thinking is”? Although you promised not to discuss anything.

            • it’s pretty clear both your tremendous egos are in the way of any clear argument here. especially alex.
              I am very skeptical of some of the facts in this article. The author likely misread the article.. it also says “89 процентов россиян подключаются к Сети с помощью настольного компьютера.” which to me means that 89 percent are connected via computer.

              • La Russophobe very rarely mistakes. Here is the proof “On a country-wide basis, only one in four adult citizens uses the Internet and 57% of them connect from their homes. ”
                Source: http://www.ceemarket.com/82692/One_in_four_Russians_use_Internet.shtml

                Also, you must remember that the term “uses the Internet” usually means “checking email once a month/a week”.

                From this separate source – simple calculations show 1 in 4 uses internet, among them 57% at home, it means that 14.25% Russians use internet at home! Not daily serfing, not broadband, just have the ability to connect sometimes at all – 14.25% of population!!!
                Date: 2010-02-25

                So, maybe my ego is here. But, unlike your egos, Paul and AT, it is not poisoned by misinformation. Step outside of your cocoons or if you’re paid by KGB, go some other place. This is too tough place for you! LOL.

                • stunning. it’s agreeable that around 35% have internet access. this is a massive number of people. i have quoted directly from the article referenced by la russophobe showing that 89% connect with their computers.
                  i don’t really even give a damn about your various sources. there are many and each will have its own variations which you will twist to the advantage of your inflated sense of righteousness.

  3. Another excellent source, which confirms accuracy of this article:

    http://www.ceemarket.com/82692/One_in_four_Russians_use_Internet.shtml

    • So, the Internet proliferation is between 25 and 30 percent in Russia. Is this a lot or a little? What is it in Ukraine, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria?

  4. Alex I like your factual and spot on accuracy about Russian life. As an example I was in Kiev several times and not once did I see a female urinating on the footpath, but I was in Moscow only the one time where I did see it and on more then one occasion.

    Your summation about AT is spot on . It is a total waste of time to try to talk sensibly to this ruSSian “Stukach”. Personally he gives me the strong suspicion that HE KNOWS that the sun shines out of Putler’s backside.

    • Did the Lenta article LR refers to say that the half who could access the internet did so ONLY by means of their cell phones? That is no unimportant point here as some people may have access to both kinds of useforms. Quite possibly if you have the means to get a cell phone with internet capability you have the resources to get a laptop as well. Any input here welcome!

      • Did the Lenta article LR refers to say that the half who could access the internet did so ONLY by means of their cell phones?
        ***
        No. It did not. Moreover, it does say that people use several ways to go online. More specifically, 46% use cell phones, 46% — laptops, and 89% — desktops.

      • Corey, you are right of course: most Russians use 2 or 3 ways to connect access the internet. Here what this Letna.ru article says:

        “46 процентов опрошенных использовали для доступа в интернет мобильный телефон. Столько же используют ноутбук. 89 процентов россиян подключаются к Сети с помощью настольного компьютера.”

        “46% of respondents use mobile phone to access the Internet. The same percentage – 46% – use of a laptop. 89% of Russians connect to the network using a desktop computer.”

    • And why Stukach. Stukach means a snitch. Whom do I snitch to, Bohdan?

  5. Alex – you have one of the best descriptions of freedom that I have ever seen.

    And it seems to me that freedom includes, or should include, the ability to communicate freely all over the world – via the Internet.

    Now this is quite puzzling to me:

    “Its quite naive to think Russia will become a Switzerland overnight. ”

    Why? Overnight, rooshans learned to steal, to accumulate vast fortunes by abuse of government – Abramovich, Deripaska, etc.

    If Russians put their minds to it, then it seems to me that they could in fact establish a just society.

    “Maybe you can educate us how bad the Soviet system was? Well, it collapsed, that’s how bad it was.”

    Even more puzzling.

    If Russians realize how bad the soviet system was, why would they not realize how bad Putlerism?

    And, once having realized how bad a system it is, are Russians not capable of implementing a new system of government that is better?

    Surely Russian thought does not merely stop at “it is bad” – and instead of making the system better, “let’s just leave.”

    Or “let’s just shrug our shoulders and live in a sewer.”

    Surely Russians are capable of something better than that.

    Yes or no?

    • What is puzzling to you Elmer about the fact that Russia cannot become as developed as Switzerland overnight? Can you give me an example of a country that successfully went through a transition fast without massive foreign aid? Well, its easy to steal, and you can steal pretty much anything overnight, if you are well positioned to do this. Try to build an economy or a civil society overnight.

      What is puzzling about the fact that the Soviet system was bad? The fact that it collapsed by itself sort of proves it was bad, doesn’t it.

      @If Russians realize how bad the soviet system was, why would they not realize how bad Putlerism? — In my opinion, because they are freeer and more prosperous now than they have ever been. Very few Russian people will say their country is as developed as, well Switzerland. Yet, they do not want the return to the 1990s. Moreover, for the last 10 years, most Russian’s livelihoods improved every year. Its difficult to imagine why people would be willing to “rock the boat” in such a situation.

      And, once having realized how bad a system it is, are Russians not capable of implementing a new system of government that is better? — Again, in my view, systems of government are not implemented. They evolve. A broad public support or a broad public discontent of the system are the only two effective engines of development for a system of governance. Frankly, don’t see a system of governance evolving without going through cycles of public approval and public discontent.

      So, what’s puzzling?

      • Actually Russia did get a lot of aid.

        But as usual it was stolen, probably by people like you AT.

        In fact, even to this day Britain gives development aid to Russia, something which David Cameron (God bless him) and other conservatives, such as Andrew Mitchell, will put an end to in short order once elected.

        “Today I can reveal that Labour are giving millions of pounds in aid to a country which has a GDP of over a trillion dollars and is a member of the G8…
        …Russia.
        Giving aid to Russia is simply ridiculous.
        This misuse of our aid budget is an insult to our taxpayers and it must come to an end.
        This is not what the hard-pressed British taxpayer signed up for.
        Today, Labour are giving aid to more than 100 different countries. That is more than half the countries in the world.
        Too many of these are the wrong countries.
        Under a Conservative Government, that will change.
        We will only give aid to the countries that really need it.”

        http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/10/Andrew_Mitchell_Achieving_value_for_money_in_aid.aspx

        • Care to provide examples where this aid goes, including the British aid you quote in your post. You will be surprised if you look this up.

          • And by the way, Georgia gets more foreign aid than any country per capita, Joe Biden pointed this out himself. And what is its GDP per capita — its quite comparable to countries in Sub-Sakharan Africa, isn’t it. Not a single modern retail trade center in Tbilisi. Not a single truly good hotel. Just a shame.

            • BTW, several very good hotels in Tbilisi actually, the Radisson, the Mariott, and then there are all the new projects in Batumi.

              By the way AT, they are recovering from nearly 2 centuries of Russian filth and corruption……

              • Even if the “filth and corruption” statement was right, this sort of proves that a country cannot recover overnight, which was my original point.

                • The Radisson and the Marriott must be good by yours standards, Andrew, no doubt. Sorry, I meant really nice hotels.

                  • Well, I sincerely doubt you have visited any of the three.

                    Having stayed in what are described as “really nice” hotels in Moscow, I am pretty sure you don’t have any in Russia either.

                    • Oh, I did stay at both. All the Marriotts in Moscow are much better, and so are the Ritz and the Kempinski.

          • Well, why don’t you provide evidence that they don’t?

            Embarrassing that “Superpower” Russia has its hands out for aid from the UK, EU, & USA ain’t it.

            • They don’t what? I asked you to look up where this aid goes. And how much of it is for various projects involving “civil society development”. Not that I am against civil society or think that it is developed in Russia, but I am puzzled why UK, EU and USA taxpayers have to pay Russian NGOs to develop civil society in Russia.

              • Actually AT, I have to remember you are an idiot.

                What the Conservative party are opposed to is the aid provided “State to State”, ie for the development of Russian “Institutions”, and also for things like infrastructure development, which Russia is supposed to be able to pay for itself.

                In addition, they are opposed to the provision to Russia of intergovernmental “Poverty relief aid”

                So, nice try AT, but no cigar.

                • Well, before you degrade to your usual level of insults, where does the article say that. Also, if UK sponsors the development of Russian “Institutions”, this is pretty idiotic, isn’t it? Probably more idiotinc than the NGO financing. I fully support the Conservative Party’s stance. And whatever Poverty relief aid was provided, clearly its not working — I have never heard of a single Russian raised from poverty using UK’s aid. Now, how do you expect this aid to turn Russia into Switzerland?

                  • Whats wrong with insults?

                    When dealing with a (all too typical) Russian liar such as yourself, its fairly reasonable one would think.

                    The problem with your nation and your culture is that you continue to behave as if it is the 18th century.

                    • Well, this is not the problem with my nation. But whatever it is your insults only show what you are. I come here to express my opinions and see others’ critique of them. I try to find weak spots in your arguments. I frankly do it with little or no research, as this is entertainment for me during my free time. I don’t know you and see no point in insulting you. You evidently come here to find an outlet for your hatred. You cannot limit youself to criticizing ideas and find it somehow exciting to insult a person you don’t know. How do you expect me to react. I can insult you in response, but what’s the point. I can stop posting here, but I will do it anyway at some point of time when it stops being fun. Be careful of your hatred. Hatred is destructive.

                      In any case, where and when did I lie. I express my opinions only. I never put any words in anyone’s mouth. I acknowledge I could have said something wrong because I have no right information — but that’s what you are for. If you spot a mistake, you will do the research and point it out. I will either acknowledge the mistake or grace you with investing my time in doing research for a rebuttal (I hope not).

                  • And the reason aid was provided was an attempt to assist Russia in it’s transition from the USSR to something it has never been, a civilised state, to clean up the sewer of pollution and corruption that was and is Russia, and to try and stop Russia from being a threat to it’s neighbors.

                    Admittedly given the native barbarism and corruption of Russia it was doomed to fail miserably.

                    Most of the aid disappears into the black hole that is corruption in Russia.

                    Probably stolen by people like you AT

                    • Oh, you cannot have a civilized argument, can you? An obligatory insult at the end — what a brilliant expression of your character!

                      Well, Andrew, if year after year you give out aid that is stolen, then you don’t administer it well, don’t you. Actually, a large part of my job is to ensure that funds provided for various purposes are not stolen, and its a difficult job, but its the only way to provide any financing, especially aid financing.

              • US Assistance to Russia (2007) $913.28 Million
                So with the Russian military making a mess of the country of Georgia, I would like to think that the Governments of Norway, Germany, the UK, Italy, and US (as well as others) are wondering just why they are showering Russia with hundreds of millions in aid money. The amount of US aid alone has been averaging close to $1 billion a year since 2000.

                Here is the history of US aid to Russia:

                U.S. assistance to Russia from 1992-2007:
                In Fiscal Year 1992 total United States Government (USG) assistance was 328.42 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 1993: Total USG: 1,454.75 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 1994: Total USG: 1,915.79 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 1995: Total USG: 570.26 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 1996: Total USG: 492.86 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 1997: Total USG: 545.52 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 1998: Total USG: 599.04 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 1999: Total USG: 2,132.47 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 2000: Total USG: 1,053.99 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 2001: Total USG: 955.52 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 2002: Total USG: 1,014.54 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 2003: Total USG: 912.50 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 2004: Total USG: 944.67 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 2005: Total USG: 1,008.06 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 2006: Total USG: 961.65 Million dollars;
                Fiscal Year 2007: Total USG: 913.28 Million.
                (Source: US State Department)
                And just what has it gotten us? Russia still has not totally committed to cleaning up it’s nuclear mess, instead leaving it to the west to worry about it. Hell, our own assistance money is reaching as far as Iran’s nuclear program:
                In the continuing US Congressional investigation of a post-Soviet programme to employ Russian nuclear weapons scientists to prevent them from selling their expertise, a congressional committee has said US Department of Energy (DOE) funding has assisted in building Iran’s Bushehr reactor. – Bellona
                And, the following confirms a point I have made before, in that giving Russia money frees them up to use their own money to do things that are harmful to the US.
                At the hearing last month on the anti-proliferation program, a State Department official, Richard Stratford, acknowledged that “you could argue if you give Russia a dollar for whatever purpose, it frees up a dollar that can then be spent elsewhere.” But he said the programme would reduce the risk of proliferation. – Bellona
                This is what I said last year. The problem is that Russia is not going to clean up their mess with their own money. As far as I’m concerned, if they want their country littered with nuclear radiation, then so be it. Giving them a free pass may very likely result in a much larger mess later on as there is no incentive to be responsible. That last quote above also puts in question the idea of paying to secure Russia’s nukes. At the very least, we are paying too much.

                Maybe it’s time to suspend these payments. Russia’s is quickly becoming the most imminent threat of using the nukes and no amount of money is going to secure these nukes from their owner

                http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com/2008/08/us-assistance-to-russia-2007-91328.html

    • Elmer, also, what Alex described is not freedom. Its prosperity. Too many people do not differenciate between the two. Everything Alex mentioned as freedom can be found in Dubai, which is built by Indian and Pakistani semi-slave workers. Or in Saudi Arabia. Freedom is self-explanatory — its when you do what you want. And of course there is never full freedom. When maximum reasonably possible freedom comes with a good system of governance, prosperity eventually tends to develop.

  6. @Alex

    “China, Romania and Bulgaria have one thing in common – ex-Soviet states”

    This shows how educated you are.China a “Soviet” state? Lol.Ever heard of Soviet-Sino split?
    And Rom,Bul. weren’t “Soviet” states.Only USSR was.

    • Actually, the USSR was the Soviet Union.

      Soviet means comittee or council.

      All communist states were governed by a “Soviet” of Communist party members.

      Those who suffered from Soviet Occupation often refer to their governments as “Soviet” for both this reason, and to highlight the fact that they were Russian controlled puppet governments.

      • Well, Dino is factually right: technically, neither China, nor Romania, nor Bulgaria had a system of soviets. The point in the original message, however, was not that and was clear despite the author’s lack of elocution/ grammar skills.

        • Now AT, there was no difference in style or format between the Russian installed puppet administrations of Poland, Bulgaria etc, and that of the USSR, except for the fact that the governments of the “Soviet Bloc” were all subject to Moscows dictats.

  7. Well, Andrew, if year after year you give out aid that is stolen, then you don’t administer it well, don’t you. Actually, a large part of my job is to ensure that funds provided for various purposes are not stolen, and its a difficult job, but its the only way to provide any financing, especially aid financing.

  8. Well, AT, let’s do indeed explore the difference between government, freedom, and prosperity.

    Alex did indeed describe freedom – there is no freedom without economic freedom.

    There is no freedom unless the people have control over the politicians, and not vice versa – Alex is absolutely right.

    In other words, the government is composed of, and exists to serve the people, rather than people serving the government.

    There is no freedom unless the rights of the people are paramount – and preserved and protected in an effective way.

    There is no freedom unless one can breathe and speak and talk and walk freely.

    This is the 21st century. The sovok union fell apart. As was stated, it was a bad system.

    And that went both as to government and economics.

    Homo sovieticus turned out to be truly demented, distorted, twisted people – walking zombies, unable to think for themselves.

    The experience of mankind is that democracies are better than totalitarian systems of government.

    So I ask the question again – if Russians did and do indeed realize that the sovok system of government was (and is) bad – why could then not implement a system of government that is better than Putlerism?

    That could indeed be done “overnight”, relatively speaking.

    Especially given the examples of government throughout the world, and the experience of mankind with different systems of government.

    “A smart man learns from his own mistakes;

    A wise man learns from the mistakes of others;

    And a stupid man learns neither from his own mistakes or from the mistakes of others.”

    So as far as a system of government is concerned, which are the Russian people?

    As far as economics is concerned, it is indeed a huge and massive task to convert from a command economy entirely controlled by the state to a market economy.

    But what happened in Russia also happened in the other former sovok republics and satellites – massive ungodly pillaging and robbing by commie-sovok insiders for the massive accumulation of wealth for the benefit of a few people.

    In Russia – people like Putler, Berezovsky, Abramovych, Deripaska and others.

    And garish, foul conspicuous consumption by those few folks.

    That, of course, is not a market economy – it is an oligarchy with none of the safeguards which market economies have developed.

    And perhaps it’s true that economies don’t develop overnight.

    But Russia has had since 1991 to develop.

    So I ask again – are the Russian people simply not capable of taking advantage of demonstrated knowledge and experience, do the not care, or are they simply incapable of developing a decent society?

    And please – a Marriott hotel in Maskva doesn’t demonstrate any broad economic system.

    In fact, I have no doubt that Marriott, along with all of the other corporations in Russia, have to constantly protect themselves from onslaughts by a corrupt government and corrupt officials – as has been documented by LR many times.

    The questions remain, AT.

    Are Russians capable of doing something more than just shrugging their shoulders and accepting Putlerism?

    • Elmer, I pretty much agree with everything you said, with a couple of observations: the Russian economy did develop from 1991 on, and was the most successful among all the post-soviet economies, with the exception of the Baltics that were pretty much bailed out by the West — which was reasonable given the size of these countries and part of the economic problems the Baltics face now. What can I say — 20 years in not enough to make a Soviet economy as strong as the Swiss economy apparently.

      On the system, you say “That could indeed be done “overnight”, relatively speaking”. The only thing I can do is to refer you to my earlier response: “in my view, systems of government are not implemented. They evolve. A broad public support or a broad public discontent of the system are the only two effective engines of development for a system of governance. Frankly, don’t see a system of governance evolving without going through cycles of public approval and public discontent”.

      Until now, for 10 years, every day the Russians became more affluent. Had more and more economic freedom in your words. Some political freedoms were taken away from them, but these were quite irrelevant freedoms for many Russians few of whom have ever aspired to “elect or be elected”, change the society from the “freedom of speech or freedom of assembly”. Other essential freedoms — pretty much to worship what you want, to wear what you want, to travel where you want if you can afford it, to listen to the music you want, to watch the movies you want have not been touched. And the Russians could excersize these freedoms more and more as their economic freedom expanded. A social consesnus has evolved.

      Now, with the impact of the crisis, the social consensus is sort of crumbling a little. People are not getting richer every month. Also, left unchecked and unbalanced, the level of corruption is reaching the point when it becomes noticeable to the populace in their everyday lives, with more police- and army-related tragedies, for example. Thus, the system stopped performing at minimum levels of the people’s expectations. And the freedoms that allowed to control the system have been given away. The question is what happens next.

      Whether the Russians are capable, willing or need to change anything for themselves is not the question I can answer. The best I can say, it depends on how bad the tensions get and how flexible the system is.

      Any more questions?

      • Wow, and you did not use one single insult or an intentional misspeling of the country’s name in your post!!!! For the first time I read what you wrote with some kinda respect sort of a feeling. Somewhat spoiled by “Maskva”. Still a great progress.

  9. Is it just me or does AT sound like a Soviet KGB psychopath?

  10. Can’t agree more. There’s no internet in Russia but a helluva psycopatic KGB internet users like AT. Ask La Russophobe bunch of experts on all things Russian for more information. Opposing KGB internet users of all possible shapes and sizes seems to be their job they do for a living.
    Common knowlidge with the internet-educated people in the US – Russia is but an empty space for 11 time zones. Internet is a real thing!

  11. I have to take issue with AT’s assertion that Russians in Perm may be more ‘worldly’ or aware of the outside world than Americans in Texas. One can argue what an average Russian or American is all day, but in my personal experience Russians have been almost shockingly ignorant of the histories and cultures of the nations bordering them. Now, my experience with Russians is primarily through the aegis of the Soviet Union and that was a particular political animal quite unique in many respects — most of them negative — but the recent stories of the unrest in Kaliningrad seem to show that little has changed. Russians in Kaliningrad are demanding better living conditions *like those in neighboring Poland and Lithuania*, which has apparently generated shock among Russians living in the interior who still believe (almost incredibly, to my mind) that they and Матка Россия are the pinnacle of European civilization. The realization that even paltry former Soviet satellites like Poland and Lithuania enjoy both higher living standards and political freedoms is causing disquiet among Russians who slavishly still believe an education system and shackled press which continues to lie to them, telling them that Russia is an advanced economy and important world power.

    This reminds me of the elaborate lies and explanations Red Army political commissars had to invent, twisting themselves into ideological pretzels in 1944 as Soviet forces crossed the Prut River into backwards, semi-feudal Romania as they explained to stunned Soviet soldiers why Romanian peasants lived far better material lives and seemingly with little fear of their evil, feudal-capitalist overlords (even under the Antonescu regime!) as compared to the average peasants back home. Indeed, fearing another Decembrist Revolt, Stalin — despite all the glory heaped on Great Patriotic War veterans in public — kept a wary eye on all those millions of Soviet soldiers who had fought their way into Central Europe and saw with their own eyes the higher living standards and less repressive political conditions of even those countries just beyond Soviet borders. The historian Richard Bessel quotes a Soviet soldier on occupation duty in Berlin in 1945 who angrily berated Germans with, “You have everything and we have nothing; why did you invade us?”

    If the average Russian living in Perm has a better knowledge of the outside world than the average American in Texas, then that knowledge is at best superficial and highly politically-distorted to suit the needs of the ruling powers sitting in the Kremlin. It might be better, from the practical perspective of the level of real control the average has over their own lives — as compared to, say, the average American — for the residents of Perm to be completely ignorant of anything beyond the nearest burning pub.

    O — and BTW, about the KGB agent hiding under your desk; do you remember the days for instance in university when we all had to figure out which students were snitching to the UB/WRON/authorities, or which of your neighbors was doing so, your colleagues at work, etc.? That ended in Eastern Europe in 1989 — well, outside of Russia and Belarus, anyway.

    • Well, if you live in the world where nothing has changed during the last 20 years, your statements are correct. But just in that world.

      @the last paragraph — no I am too young for that, and I am in my late thirties.

      • And even the old age is a poor excuse — I can discuss with my 75-year old mother in Perm issues ranging from Katyn massacres to Large Hadron Collider – try to have a conversation like this with a 75 year old from Paris, Texas, who, like my mom, has never left the country.

  12. Tomek E. Jankowski :
    — “…Stalin — despite all the glory heaped on Great Patriotic War veterans in public — kept a wary eye on all those millions of Soviet soldiers who had fought their way into Central Europe and saw with their own eyes the higher living standards and less repressive political conditions of even those countries just beyond Soviet borders.”

    “If the average Russian living in Perm has a better knowledge of the outside world than the average American in Texas, then that knowledge is at best superficial and highly politically-distorted to suit the needs of the ruling powers sitting in the Kremlin.”
    ————————————————–

    With Poland in that number, with its “higher living standards and less repressive political conditions” way back in 1944? May I ask you to be more specific next time on which country with “less repressive political conditions” did you mean? Hungary? Romania? Germany? The Checks? Anyway I do agree your arguments may sound solid for 99% Americans west of Pecos since they hardly know the difference between Swaziland and Switzerland in those parts. You went too far in your conclusions Tomek E. Jankowski

    P.S.
    “Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.” – Ol’ Texas saying

  13. It would not hurt if he did.

  14. “Putin must leave”

    http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fputinavotstavku.ru%2F&sl=ru&tl=en

    ————————

    Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen, anyway.

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