Streetwise Professor reports:
It’s amazing the things Russophobes will say. Like this:
“Right now [Russia's] investment climate is so bad that it won’t be affected” [by the imminent failure of the BP-Rosneft deal].
What slander. Must be some retrograde, Cold War fossil.
Check that. It was Arkady Dvorkovich, Medvedev’s top economic aide.
Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
Some of Russia’s largest and fattest rats are starting to flee the country’s sinking ship. Take, for example, Rosneft, which signed an agreement in January to exchange shares with BP, or Novatek, which sold 12 percent of its shares to the French company Total in February.
Given the individuals involved in these transactions and the fact that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was directly involved in both, the agreements look like an attempt by Russia’s ruling elite to create a financial cushion in the event that the Libyan or Egyptian scenario plays out in Russia.
Hypocrisy, thy Name is Russia
Cynics on Russia though we may be, we were absolutely floored by the shocking, nauseating hypocrisy flowing out of Russia last week. First, the Putin regime accused Egypt of mistreating journalists and demanded that it stop. Then, it accused the Chechen separatists of acting with “senseless cruelty” at the Domodedovo airport.
We don’t think any rational person can deny it: Russia is one of the world’s worst abusers of journalists, and the senseless cruelty Russia has applied against Chechnya is unprecedented in modern world history.
In fact, Russia has been formally convicted of senseless cruelty over and over and over again by the European Court for Human Rights, and its brutal murder of journalists requires an entire online database just to keep up with.
And in fact, days after making this breathtaking announcement, as we report in our lead editorial, the Kremlin banned one of the world’s leading Russia correspondents, , Luke Harding from even entering the country to stop him from reporting on corruption in the Kremlin.
How dare the Russians? How dare they even consider opening their mouths to criticize anyone on this planet where cruelty and mistreatment of journalists are concerned? Are they really so totally oblivious of reality that they cannot understand the world will simply burst into hysterical laughter and hearing such pronouncements from Russia, just as it always did when they came from the USSR, as if from a lunatic asylum?
And that’s not the end of Russia’s breathtaking hypocrisy.
Serpent Russians and their Forked Tongue
The world saw yet another horrifying example of the amazing duplicity, dishonesty and hypocrisy of which Russians are capable last week when the Kremlin’s Gestapo turned a blind eye to an unsanctioned protest by over 1,000 chanting nationalist goons.
Schwarzenegger and Chapman Party on in Moscow
Party on Arnold! Party on Anna! Excellent!
Russia achieved an impressive new low last week in national humiliation. We can hardly keep the tears of laughter out of our eyes long enough to publish today’s issue.
First, The Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in Moscow and declared: “President Medvedev is a great visionary. He had this vision to create a Silicon Valley in Skolkovo. I love places where there is an extraordinary potential. It’s almost like looking at a gold or diamond mine and saying, ‘All you got to do is go in there and get it.’”
Simultaneously the New York Times was writing of the Governator’s home state of California: ”California can’t afford new water projects, but state cops often receive 90 percent of their salaries when they retire at 50. The average corrections officer there makes $70,000 a year in base salary and $100,000 with overtime (California spends more on its prison system than on its schools).” But by Russian standards, of course, California is a majestic success and the Governator is a leading economic genius!
Then, as if to show Russia has never sunk as low as it can get, it was announced that the ludicrously failed Russian spy Anna Chapman had been appointed an advisor to a leading Russian financial institution.
Putin steps in, Russophiles Exposed
We must say that our greatest pleasure here on this blog comes in watching the malignant lies of the braying Russophiles and slobbering Russian nationalists exposed and decimated for all to see.
This happened with particular deliciousness last week in regard to one of their central mendacious narratives, namely that Vladimir Putin cannot be blamed for the actions of local government wiping out civil liberties because he is incapable of addressing such concerns.
Oh really? Well what happened last week when, in yet another display of typically farcical Russian incompetence, a bridge was shut down in Moscow that prevented residents from reaching the international airport, causing hundreds to miss their flights? What happened was that suddenly Mr. Putin was in the local bridge business. “If passengers can’t fly out of Sheremetyevo, then this is a problem,” Putin said at a meeting of the presidium. Then he set about making policy concerning the bridge.
Fewer and Fewer Russians
“Every year there are fewer and fewer Russians, alcoholism, smoking, traffic accidents, the lack of availability of many medical technologies, and environmental problems take millions of lives. And the emerging rise in births has not compensated for our declining population.”
That’s one of our favorite Russophobes, raging. Anyone can see from his remarks his unbridled contempt for Russia and the people of Russia, and most of all for Russian ruler Vladimir Putin, who after more than a decade in unrestricted power has left his nation on the verge of extinction. He’s a real Russia-hating bastard for sure, this animal. He ought to be jailed in Siberia right next to Khodorkovsky. You know the one we’re talking about, right?
Sure. Dima Medvedev.
Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:
Russians hold no illusions about the ability or the willingness of the authorities to “modernize” — the government’s latest catchword — and view such proclamations in the opposite light of that intended. President Dmitry Medvedev and his administration view modernization as the exclusively technological renewal of the country. The president identified five areas in which new technologies should be developed. New legislation is being drafted to stimulate development of the technologies. The decision has been made to build an innovation city in Skolkovo in the Moscow region that will enjoy legal and tax incentives, and the project has already earned the nickname of Vekselburg, in honor of its director, billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.
Chaos in Kyrgyzstan
It seems like only yesterday that a Russia-supported coup d’etat swept aside the pro-U.S. government of Kyrgyzstan in favor of one sympathetic to Russia. And now, the world already sees the results of that action: brutal, bloody ethnic violence, a massive refugee crisis, and Russian military forces moving to seize yet another former Soviet slave state once again by the throat (the Russian Scoop blog has photos from the scene and more details). There are already 400,000 refugees and the situation looks increasingly hopeless. Indeed, the only thing that may save Kyrgyzstan from this fate is Russian cowardice in the face of the Frankenstein monster it has created.
The notion that a Russia-sponsored putsch could possibly result in better living conditions for the people of Kyrgyzstan was ridiculous from the beginning.
Volodya “Girly Boy” Putin
Mickey Roarke as a Russian baddie in Ironman II
Vladimir Putin likes to hold himself out to the world as being a tough guy, a macho stud, but in fact he’s not just a girly man, he’s more like a girly little boy.
Case in point: When Iron Man II opened in China — it’s yet another film, like The Bourne Supremacy or Eastern Promises or Indiana Jones or RocknRolla, that features a Russian villain as Russia descends once again into neo-Soviet darkness — the Chinese censored all the references to Russia.
What’s the longest river in neo-Soviet Russia? Denial! Streetwise Professor reports:
Russian central bank head Sergei Ignatiev claims that the European crisis poses no threat to Russia:
“I don’t think all these events will have a strongly negative effect on the Russian economy,” Ignatiev said at a conference in St. Petersburg today. “The Russian banking system is better prepared for external shocks than it was in 2008.”
The economy is protected by sufficient liquidity, a “much more flexible ruble,” and large international reserves, the world’s third biggest after China and Japan, according to Ignatiev. While the Russian currency reflects external volatility, it can better withstand external shocks than it did before the global financial crisis, he said.
Of course, that’s what Putin, Medvedev, and even my boy Kudrin said said in 2008, when the storm clouds were breaking in the United States and Europe. And we know how that worked out: rather than being a safe harbor from the storms buffeting other economies, as Putin and Kudrin had claimed, Russia was hit harder than virtually any economy. Indeed, only months after boasting about his country’s immunity from the world crisis, in a speech at Davos Putin raged at the West for creating a “perfect storm” that had swept over Russia.
On December 2, 2009, in the seaside Indian state of Goa, speedboat manufacturer and failed candidate for the Indian parliament John Fernandes (pictured above right) allegedly offered a ride to a Russian woman (above left, face concealed) and her friend, both of whom he had been acquainted with for more than a year. At some point after that, after first dropping off the friend at home, Fernandes then allegedly attacked and raped the Russian woman. He’s now in prison awaiting trial. The Russian woman, whose identity is being withheld, worked as a tour operator for a major hotel; apparently Russians are flocking to Goa these days.
A few days later the ruling Congress Party’s Shantaram Naik, Goa’s representative in the upper house of India’s parliament, stated: “An alleged rape of a lady who moves with strangers for days together even beyond middle of the night is to be treated on different footing.” Fernandes’s supporters began claiming the charges could be politically motivated retaliation following his unsuccessful bid for office, which he only narrowly lost.
The Russian consulate in Goa reacted rather strangely — or it would seem so, if you were not well acquainted with the Russian mindset on rape. Study the matter a bit, and you see the true horror of Russia’s blind hypocrisy fully revealed.
Nikolai Zlobin, director of Russian and Asian programs at the Institute for World Security in Washington, writing in the Moscow Times:
During his perfunctory election campaign, President Dmitry Medvedev made no mention of the need to modernize Russia, nor did he promise to become a popular video blogger or to set any world records for compassion by providing apartments to World War II veterans. No, Medvedev called for a battle against corruption and promised to do so much in establishing law and order that everyone would understand that he was not just keeping the presidential seat warm until Prime Minister Vladimir Putin returned to it in 2012.
Russians — tired of small-scale corruption that has become a way of life and daily injustice on the part of government officials — were ready to believe the anti-corruption pluck of the young leader who promised to “finally put an end” to the problem.
Paul Goble reports:
The denunciation of criminality in the militia by Kuban MVD Major Dymovsky on YouTube and the appearance of clips by two other former interior ministry officers threatens to “awaken” Russian society more than any other development since the recovery of stability earlier in this decade, according to numerous Moscow commentators. And while the suggestion of some that the MVD may be the unexpected source of “an orange revolution” in Russia are an overstated reaction to regime propagandists who have suggested that the West is behind the major, there can be no doubt of the attention these YouTube appearances are gaining.
One commentator, Dmitry Bykov, argued that “the popularity of the Kuban major is comparable to the mechanism of the glory of Maxim Gorky” a century ago. At that time, he says, “everyone knew that the people were becoming impoverished and suffering but for the first time, someone from that milieu was telling them about it.” Dymovsky has not appeared at a time when he can lead a struggle with “the system,” Bykov continues, but “like Solzhenitsyn who wrote down the testimony of the zeks, [the YouTube celebrity] is collecting “testimony’ of the ‘ments,’ who have suffered from the actions of the bosses” and his story is a compelling one.
Streetwise Professor tips us to a recent report from Reuters which concludes that the Kremlin’s neo-Soviet nationalization of resources has made the country “uninsurable.” The reports states:
Madagascar, Ecuador, Kyrgystan and others have also seen examples of expropriation or effectively forced renegotiation that have worried insurers. However, in some other countries — such as Brazil or South Africa — a slight rise in leftist rhetoric has had less impact on premiums. The industry is particularly concerned over risks in Russia, where extractive projects have become almost uninsurable.
This is what Vladimir Putin has done to his country. It is uninsurable (which means that normal business can’t be done there) and it is mentioned over and over again in the same breath as Ecuador. And in fact, it makes Ecuador look good by comparison. Putin’s Russia is degenerating by the minute into a banana republic, except that instead of fruit Russia has natural gas.
Mr. Medvedev and his Shoe
Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev found one uniquely Russian use for a shoe, and now it seems Russian “president” Dima Medvedev has found another.
To commemorate Russia’s national holiday to remember victims of Soviet repression, Medvedev wrote on his blog:
Even now we can hear voices saying that these numerous deaths were justified by some supreme goals of the state. Nothing can be valued above human life, and there is no excuse for repressions. It is important to prevent the justification, under the pretext of putting historical records straight, of those who killed their own people.
In other words, he planted his shoe firmly in his own mouth.
Lies, Lies and More Russian Lies
Perhaps Russia is slowly coming to its senses. It really does begin to seem that Vladimir Putin’s neo-Soviet dictatorship is, under the pressure of his absolute economic failure, beginning to tremble at its foundations, ready to fall apart.
First we had the amazing admission of the leader of Russia’s upper house of parliament that the country’s Internet is an utter sham, just what we’ve been saying it was for years now.
Next, the Kremlin’s human rights ombudsman witheringly condemned the neo-Soviet tactics of Putin’s Hitler youth cult NASHI. Ella Pamfilova stated: “You must not divide the young into ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’ … and allow some to do practically everything while hampering the development of others.” The nationalists in the Duma promptly called for her ouster.
And then, even more amazingly, we had Vladimir Sokolin, the head of the State Statistics Service, openly accusing the Economic Development Ministry of cooking its books to make the Russian economy look far better than it actually is. Yet another confirmation from a high-ranking official Russian source that we’ve been right all along in loudly proclaiming that the Kremlin’s data is simply not reliable. As a reasult of his open criticism of the Kremlin’s efforts to lie about his data and to tell him what data he can and can’t collect, as well as it’s political decision to cancel the census, Sokolin being transferred to a new position.
He minced no words.
Annals of the Russian Mental Case
It’s ironic, to say the least, that Russia’s neo-Soviet overlords so often attempt to put their political rivals into psychiatric hospitals (we have a whole category in our sidebar devoted to documenting these efforts). Ironic, since it’s the overlords themselves who are so much more in need of such treatment. Our lead editorial today about the literally crazed remarks of Putin’s puppet in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is all the evidence any reasonable person needs on this point. But there’s lots more.
Gontmakher Strikes Back
In November of last year, Russian economist Yevgeny Gontmakher published an op-ed item in the Russian newspaper Vedemosti in which he warned of, as the Carnegie Center’s Nikolai Petrov wrote recently in the Moscow Times ”unrest if factories in one-industry towns shut down as a result of the crisis.” Petrov remembers: “At the time, the government accused both Gontmakher and Vedomosti of inciting social unrest. But government leaders did nothing to prevent such a scenario from playing out or to at least develop an effective contingency plan in case it did.”
In fact, the Putin regime did more than just “accuse” Gontmakher, it tried to silence him, threatening the paper with closure and Gontmakher with prosecution.
Now, Gontmakher has been utterly vindicated. The recent protest action in the town of Pikalyovo proves that was exactly right while the Kremlin was absolutely wrong. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the Kremlin to apologize and make amends.
The New Adventures of Bradski Pitski
It seems that Russia has a speeding problem in Siberia. Entertainment Weekly asks the appropriate question: “What are they in such a rush for — you know, besides leaving?”
And it seems the only way Russians can think of to deal with the problem is to put up cardboard cutouts along the roadways of a famous actor dressed like a cop, telling folks to slow down.
It’s all quite insane, of course, but at least they’d surely choose a Russian actor, right?
Nope, Brad Pitt. Think they got copyright authorization? Think again.
The Soviet Legacy of Lies
To round out our trilogy today on lies and the lying Russian liars who tell them, which began by exposing the lies told by Putin’s sycophants and will conclude by documenting the lies he himself spews out on a daily basis, it’s fitting to turn to the topic of history. Putin himself is firmly anchored, of course, in Russia’s Soviet past. He’s a proud KGB spy who spent most of his life working to advance the goals of the USSR.
Which included, of course, relentlessly lying about anything and everything, all the time. Take for instance the USSR’s recently exposed jaw-dropping duplicity on the subject of commercial whaling.
Anyone who has spent any appreciable time living in Russia knows only too well the haughty contempt Russians express for American convenience foods, especially soups. Taking (for God knows what reason) great pride in their (often repugnant) home-brewed borschts and shchis, Russians look with condescension upon “poor Americans” who are forced to consume soups out of cans.
Of course, it was easy for them to say when it was impossible to buy canned soup of any quality in Russia. So it will be quite interesting to see what happens as the Campbell’s Soup Company opens a full-bore marketing offensive in concert with Coca-Cola to find out whether Russians were serious or not about making their own soup (Coke, by the way, another American convenience product supposedly disdained by Russians, has become the largest beverage distrubutor in the entire country, it’s products — and others like Lay’s potoato chips — available on every streetcorner in Russia). It will give its new product an in-your-face name: Domashnaya Classica (Classic Homemade).
From the way Russians have lapped up American cheeseburgers from Mickey D’s for more than a decade now, Campbell’s prospects have to be pretty good. That’s to say nothing of American movies, pop music, blue jeans, chewing gum and every other aspect of American culture that Russians so self-righteously condemn even with their mouths full of Twix candy bars.
Russia is a Deeply Psychotic Country
In a recent public opinion survey, only43% of Russian respondents said they thought the country was moving in the right direction, down from 59% a year ago. That’s not surprising, of course, given that the ruble has lost one-third of its value, foreign exchange reserves are down by half the and stock market by three-quarters.
But what is surprising is that even though a clear majority of Russians believe the country is on the wrong path, 76% of them say “prime minister” Vladimir Putin is doing a good job, while 68% say “president” Dmitri Medvedev is doing fine.
There’s only one word for that contradiction, and that word is: Psychotic.
Susanne Scholl, Moscow Bureau Chief for Austrian Public Television, writing in the Moscow Times:
Colonel Yury Budanov is a convicted rapist and murderer. After serving half of his 10-year prison sentence for the rape and murder of an 18-year-old Chechen, Elza Kungayeva, he was released in January on parole for good behavior.
Svetlana Bakhmina worked as a lawyer for former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In 2004, she was arrested and sentenced in 2006 to 6 1/2 years on embezzlement and tax fraud charges. Like Budanov, she applied for early release from prison in 2008. Her request was refused, as was her earlier plea in 2006 to suspend her sentence until her two small sons reached the age of 14 – a request she was entitled to make under Russian law.
Merrill Lynch is at it Again
Most Americans probably know how the once-mighty Merrill Lynch brokerage house failed spectacularly, one of the greediest and stupidest hogs scarfing at the subprime mortgage trough, and had to be sold (virtually at govermental gunpoint) to Bank of America in order to stave off a national financial disaster.
One might think, after something like that happening, that the idiots at Merrill would want to keep their heads down for a while, that at least they’d think twice before doing anything so harmful to the nation and its values.
No such luck.