Category Archives: iron curtain

EDITORIAL: The Evil Empire shows its Russian Face in Syria

EDITORIAL

The Evil Empire shows its Russian Face in Syria

We’ve previously reported on the appalling lack of openness to charity displayed by Russian citizens, especially in comparison with the much more generous Americans. The data clearly shows that Russians simply don’t care what happens to their fellow man. Two other items in today’s issue, an essay by Russian film director Andrei Konchalovsky and an editorial about personal corruption by Vladimir Putin, confirm emphatically that Russians simply don’t give a damn at best, at worst they wish their fellow citizens harm.

And that’s just other Russian citizens. When it comes to people from other countries, you may as well consider Russians to be sadists.  Take Syria, for example.

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EDITORIAL: The New Warsaw Pact

EDITORIAL

The New Warsaw Pact

It’s not clear whether Barack Obama doesn’t know who Nikolai Bordyuzha is or doesn’t care and that’s disturbing, because Bordyuzha is the proud KGB spy who is the spokesman for the new Warsaw Pact.

The constituents of this terrifying group (here is a photo of their assembled foreign ministers, a true rogue’s gallery), known as the Collective Security Treaty Organization, are Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Armenia. There used to be nine members, but Georgia and Azerbaijan both bailed out in 1999, leaving seven.  Bordyuzha, a Russian KGB officer, is the General Secretary.

The ragtag assembly of nations that comprise the CSTO include the worst dictatorships of post-Soviet space, and the organization’s charter is essentially the same as that of the Warsaw Pact:  mutual defense from the horrific dangers posed by the forces of democracy.

And just as was the case with the Warsaw Pact, the CSTO is rapidly turning into a mutual aid society for the repression of domestic dissent.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Nation of Sociopaths

EDITORIAL

Russia, Nation of Sociopaths

The news out of Russia on August 20, 2011, was truly nauseating.

Russia stood alone to support mass-murdering Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad while the rest of the world condemned his latest blood orgy.  Russia even went so far as to seek to fan the flames of Arab nationalism across the region.

It invited mass-murdering North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il Kim Jong Il for a friendly visit.

It loaned billions to mass-murdering Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez so he could buy even more weapons.

And it ratcheted up its foreign policy initiatives to assist the mass-murdering dictator of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

And remember: That’s just one day in the life of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, an nation of sociopaths that takes pride and pleasure in joining forces with the world’s worst maniacs and which has chosen to be ruled by a proud KGB spy, a representative of the worst mass-murdering group of psychopaths ever to tread the earth.

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EDITORIAL: Mickey Mouse, Banned in Russia

EDITORIAL

Mickey Mouse, Banned in Russia

In 1995 the Russian artist Alexander Savko painted a series of images interposing the face of Mickey Mouse onto famous historical scenes, like the one above.

Last week, a Russian court determined that Savko’s image of the Sermon on the Mount with Mickey Mouse (shown after the jump) was “extremist” and illegal and banned it from public display.

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Young Entrepreneurs Flee Russia

Time magazine reports (for those who read Russian, a new ZheZhe blog has been created for expatriate Russians to lay out their reasons for fleeing the nightmare that is Putin’s Russia):

When he was 17 years old, Alexei Terentev, then a bookish high school student in Moscow, created what the Russian government has been desperately trying to engineer — a start-up with some of that Silicon Valley–style magic. It was innovative, cleverly marketed and could be run out of his parents’ apartment. By June of last year, when Terentev got his diploma from one of Moscow’s elite universities, his company was on its way to making him a millionaire. But it was also getting big enough, he says, “to get the wrong kind of attention from officials.” So Terentev, now 22, took no chances. One day after graduation, he packed up his laptop and emigrated to the Czech Republic, taking his company with him. He doubts he will ever return.

The reasons for his move, as well as his haste, are the typical worries of the young entrepreneurs Russia is currently hemorrhaging: corruption and bureaucracy, the forces that are driving the biggest exodus since the fall of the Soviet Union.

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EDITORIAL: Bulgaria Educates Russia

EDITORIAL

Bulgaria Educates Russia

We could hardly help squealing with delight late last month when Bulgaria gave Russia a lesson by painting a Soviet war statue, shown above, so that the Soviet soldiers looked like American superheros (Wolverine, Superman and Captain America, for instance), as shown below.

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EDITORIAL: Pig Russia, Wallowing in Mire

EDITORIAL

Pig Russia, Wallowing in Mire

The diary of Russian foreign policy events over the past few weeks has been truly horrifying, even by the loathsome standards of Vladimir Putin’s KGB state.

Russia defended Iran. Then it protected Libya. Finally, it stood steadfast in the defense of Syria. And for the cherry on this fetid cake, it invited Pakistan to pay the first official state visit on Moscow in three decades just after learning it had been harboring America’s public enemy #1, Bin Laden, right outside its capital.

Civilized people can only ask themselves:  Doesn’t Russia have any shame, or even common sense?

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Pamfilova Speaks

Radio Free Europe has interviewed Ella Pamfilova, who spoke candidly about the shame presidency of Dima Medvedev:

Ella Pamfilova is one of Russia’s most distinguished liberal figures. She is the head of two NGOs — Civil Society For Russia’s Children and Civic Dignity. She is a former Duma deputy and a former social affairs minister. In 2000, she became the first woman to run for the office of president of Russia.

In 2002, then-President Vladimir Putin named her to head the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, which was later transformed into the Presidential Council on Human Rights. In July 2010, she resigned from that post after coming under strong pressure from the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth group. Since then, she has generally shunned the limelight.

RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Maria Morozova caught up with in Moscow and asked her about her tenure on the human rights council and her views on the political environment in Russia now.

RFE/RL: What were your thoughts when in 2002, being a critic of the authorities, you agreed to head the Presidential Council on Human Rights, which under you later grew into the Council on Cooperation With Institutions of Civil Society and Human Rights?

Ella Pamfilova: In 1999, when Vladimir Putin was confirmed as prime minister, I was one of the few Duma deputies who spoke against him and voted no. This annoyed a lot of liberals who back then were already working hard to elevate him to the presidency.

But in 2001, I and a group of rights activists and regional nongovernmental organizations — with the clear support of the presidential administration — organized the first Civic Forum with the participation of Putin. This provoked a certain enthusiasm. It seemed to us that it might be possible to pull the country out of chaos. And I believed that finally a dialogue between the state and civic organizations was being established.

So when I was asked to head the semi-dormant Presidential Council on Human Rights, I already understood exactly what I wanted. As a politician, I believed that in order to turn the heavy Russian political machine in the direction of democracy, it was very important to create a permanent, functioning forum in which the liberal, rights-oriented minority — de facto in opposition to the government — had the opportunity to bring directly to the authorities their views, arguments, information, and proposals.

At that time, I had complete freedom of action, so I invited into the council independent experts and human rights advocates who were not afraid to harshly criticize the government and defend their positions. To a considerable extent, I considered myself an intermediary between rights activists and the Kremlin.

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SPECIAL EXTRA: Bin Laden is Liquidated, Russia takes the Credit

With the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Bin Laden was elevated to the realm of evil in the American imagination once reserved for dictators like Hitler and Stalin. He was a new national enemy, his face on wanted posters, gloating on videotapes, taunting the United States and Western civilization.

– The New  York Times, Front Page, May 2, 2011

In yet another new low in the sordid annals of Russian history, while the world was being reminded on the front page of the American “paper of record” about the evil that was Josef Stalin Russia, which has been busily rehabilitating Stalin, was attempting to claim credit for the liquidation of Osama bin Laden:

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Land of Liars and Morons

EDITORIAL

Russia, Nation of Liars and Morons

In 1803, the United States paid the Emperor of France $15 million and purchased 828,800 square miles of land west of the Mississippi, known as the “Louisiana Territory.”  It was full of viable, fertile farmland and other freely accessible natural resources, directly linked to the existing continental United States, and it cost $0.18 per square mile.

Sixty-four years later, the United States paid the Emperor of Russia $7.2 million and purchased 586,412 square miles of territory in the extreme northwest of the North American continent, which has since become the State of Alaska.  Russia had virtually exhausted the fur trade there and, as far as was then known, the territory was absolutely useless.  The U.S. government was mocked and castigated for the “folly” it had engaged in, which cost $0.12 per square mile to indulge in.  Recently, Americans celebrated the anniversary of this transaction, which turned out OK in the end.

A hoard of idiotic, apelike Russians still complain to this day, though, that they did not get a fair deal in the purchase of Alaska. Pravda for instance recently called the deal “one of the strangest in history.” It was nothing of the kind.

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EDITORIAL: Russia Stands Alone

EDITORIAL

Russia Stands Alone

At a cost of billions of dollars to the Russian weapons industry, one by one Russia’s malignant allies around the world have begun to topple like dominoes.  At horrific cost to its reputation among the civilized nations of the world, Russia has bet its future on a shoddy list of rogue states and dictatorial maniacs who are now being thrust out of power by the people Russia has helped them to mercilessly abuse.

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EDITORIAL: Long Live Luke Harding!

EDITORIAL

Long Live Luke Harding

Luke Harding

On December 1, 2010, Luke Harding, Russia correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, published a story based on leaked confidential government documents which concluded that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin approved the murder of dissident KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko.

Six weeks later, the very next time Harding tried to enter Russia, his visa was revoked and he was sent back home.  More than three dozen foreign journalists have been refused entry to Russia since Vladimir Putin came to power and many others, like Paul Klebnikov of Forbes, have been murdered outright.

But it’s pretty hard to think of a single pro-Kremlin journalist who has been arrested or exiled or murdered by the Putin Kremlin, isn’t it?

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EDITORIAL: What can Russia Do About it?

EDITORIAL

What can Russia Do About it?

Scholar Paul Goble points to an important bit of analysis by Valery Bondarenko on the Imperia website which highlights Russia’s foreign-policy impotence even in its near abroad.  What can Russia really do, Bondarenko asks, to rein in the actions of countries like Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova if they choose to go their own way, independent of Russia?

Next to nothing, he answers.

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EDITORIAL: The Kremlin turns its Eye towards the Aged

EDITORIAL

The Kremlin turns its Eye towards the Aged

“This is a big country – there’s the Far East, and Siberia.”

Yevgeny Savchenko, Putin-appointed governor of Belgorod Oblast, when asked to where Russia’s elderly could be relocated.

Well, that did not take long.

In power for only a brief period, the Kremlin’s hand-picked Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin has already jumped on the bandwagon being driven by Belgorod governor Savchenko and is proposing the resettlement of all of Moscow’s elderly citizens in order to bring down real estate prices for the city’s younger set.

Savchenko is blunt:  “Make it so that there would be five million people living here [in Moscow], and all the issues would be resolved without capital investment.”

But we think he is not bold enough.

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EDITORIAL: Russia Crashes another Party

EDITORIAL

Russia Crashes another Party

In another editorial in today’s issue, we highlight the fact that Russia has just been revealed by Transparency International to be the very most corrupt nation in the G-20 organization.

Now it turns out that both Brazil and India, fellow members of the so-called “BRIC” group that includes Russia as well as the G-20, are already disgusted with the organization and are spurning it. This was, of course, supposed to be Russia’s great coming-out party, a new group of independent countries looking to Russia for leadership and acting as a bulwark against a unipolar world dominated by the United States.  It is turning out to be another classic Russian boondoggle, an illusion rather than a reality.

Once again, in other words, we see Russia being revealed as a totally isolated country, unsuitable and unqualified for membership in any civilized group of countries and unable to establish a leadership role in any organization.  Russia imagines itself a leader, but in fact it is not even a follower.

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Beware of Smiling Russian Bears!

Janusz Onyszkiewicz, a former Polish defense minister and chairman of the Council of Euro-Atlantic Association, writing in the Moscow Times:

Remember the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, aimed at enshrining “commonly shared values” between Russia and the European Community? Signed in 1994, during the hopeful early days of Russia’s first-ever democracy, the agreement was bolstered in 1999 by the creation of the European Union’s Common Security Defense Policy.

Both sides often refer to this desire to forge closer relations as a “strategic partnership.” But as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet President Dmitry Medvedev in Deauville, France, on Tuesday, it would be wise to recognize that the Kremlin seems to be changing the terms of this nascent relationship.

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EDITORIAL: Pain and Humiliation for Russia in Latvia

EDITORIAL

Pain and Humiliation for Russia in Latvia

Last week, the voters of Latvia spit directly in the eye of the Putin Kremlin.

Despite polls and vociferous claims of Russian nationalists, the pro-Russia party known as “Harmony Center” was soundly defeated by anti-Russian forces in national parliamentary elections. The pro-Russian contingent garnered just 29% of the seats in the legislature and its rivals quickly and easily formed a coalition that thrust it out of power.

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Russian Barbarism and Failure in Japan

Once again, Russia has alienated and repulsed a potential friendly nation with its greed, aggression and barbarism. Yuriko Koike, former Japanese defense minister and national security adviser and a member of the opposition in Japan’s Diet, writing in the Moscow Times:

The recent smooth exchange of spies between Russia and the United States appears to demonstrate that the “reset” in relations between the two countries has worked. But Russia has so far done little to reset its relations with Japan. That is a lost opportunity, given Russia’s need to modernize its economy. In addition, it is a grave strategic error in view of the Kremlin’s increasing worries about China’s ambitions in Asia, which includes Russia’s lightly populated Siberian provinces.

In April, China’s navy carried out military exercises near Japan, conducting a live-fire exercise in the East China Sea off the coast of the Zhejiang province, including missile-interception training with new vessels. China’s objectives appear to have been to enhance its navy’s operational capacity, particularly in terms of jamming and electronic warfare, and to test its joint capabilities with the Chinese air force.

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Europe must Look East

Viktor Uspaskich, a Lithuanian member of the European Parliament, writing in the Moscow Times:

The Eastern Partnership, the European Union’s program to improve economic and political integration between Europe and the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, was launched in Prague a little more than a year ago to a drumroll of high expectations and fanfare. Although the partnership has delivered very little in its first year, we have seen promising developments in recent months among some of the European Union’s eastern neighbors. It is vital that the EU seizes the opportunity to improve relations and strengthen cooperation with these countries. This can be done without any revolutionary policy diversions and, more importantly, without sacrificing fundamental political freedoms.

Moscow’s Victory Day parade on May 9 may have been a turning point in Russia’s relations with the West. Polish and U.S. troops marched alongside Russian troops on Red Square. This new face appeared after the tragic plane crash in Smolensk that killed President Lech Kaczynski and many senior Polish officials. Although we are not suddenly dealing with a radically new, “softer” Russia, I believe that some of the developments on the Russian side go beyond rhetoric, and it would be a mistake for the EU not to take advantage of Russia’s new pragmatism. We don’t necessarily need a “reset button” to achieve this, just above all a constructive attitude and the willingness to compromise when necessary. This applies to Russia as it does to Belarus and Ukraine.

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EDITORIAL: Humiliation in Bulgaria

EDITORIAL

Humiliation in Bulgaria

Last week little Bulgaria, whose citizens live far longer than “mighty” Russians on average, poked a finger right in Russia’s eye.  It told the Russians it was no longer interested in hosting a pipeline to Europe, specifically Greece.

There were two truly devastating implications from this action.

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EDITORIAL: Chaos in Kyrgyzstan

EDITORIAL

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.

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Putin is Exterminating Russia’s Mayors

Nikolai Petrov, writing in the Moscow Times:

In its ongoing attempt to transform the political landscape, the government has been stepping up efforts to replace directly elected mayors with nominees from among State Duma deputies — who themselves are put in office not by voters in the districts they represent but as appointees from party lists.

This process has spread to a number of major cities. The direct election of mayors has been canceled in Nizhny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk, Ulyanovsk and Penza. The vote has also been canceled in cities that never even held direct elections, such as Ufa and Saratov as well as in Kazan, where direct elections had been expected to start. Under discussion now is the cancellation of the elections in Yekaterinburg, Perm and Volgograd, among others. According to various estimates, the direct election of mayors has been canceled in a third to half of all municipalities already.

Governors, who are appointed, and United Russia functionaries share a common interest in this change. Incumbent mayors have even given their support in return for assurances that they can remain in office.

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The Kremlin’s Failure in Kaliningrad

Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:

Developments in Kaliningrad clearly demonstrate that the “power vertical” built over the past decade — a system for permitting unchecked bureaucratic abuses — is not only failing to effectively manage the regions but is, to the contrary, itself the cause of serious social and political conflicts that are making the system increasingly unstable. What’s more, the boundless appetite of monolithic state capitalism — the economic foundation of that “vertical” — has already exceeded the limits of what even the most long-suffering Russians can tolerate.

The paralysis of state systems and the limitless greed shown by officials for monopolistic businesses are manifested most severely on the periphery of the country — in Kaliningrad and Vladivostok. There, the population and the business community pay a much higher price than the national average for maintaining parasitic bureaucracy and monopolies. This is a result of their geographic remoteness and, in the case of Kaliningrad, the fact that it is a distant exclave surrounded by foreign countries that are EU member states.

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EDITORIAL: Saakashvili, Supremely Triumphant

EDITORIAL 

Saakashvili, Supremely Triumphant 

Cheers, Mr. President!

In elections across the nation of Georgia last month, President Mikheil Saakashvili swept to blinding, awe-inspiring victory.   

Voters from one corner of the nation to the other spoke with one voice and repudiated Russian aggression and imperialist efforts to bring Georgia back with in Russian domination in a massive landslide

“No,” the people of Georgia boldly declared:  “We will be free!” 

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EDITORIAL: Russia is a Sick, Diseased Country

EDITORIAL

Russia is a Sick, Diseased Country

A few weeks ago we wrote about how the Putin Kremlin (in the person of insider Arkady Dvorkovich) was lobbying to help an insane maniac named Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (who believes he was kidnapped by space aliens) continue to rule the international chess federation.

Now, the Putin regime’s conduct in the matter has gone from the outrageous to the truly nauseating.

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