Category Archives: social services

The Horror of Childbirth in Neo-Soviet Russia

Journalist Natalia Antonova, writing on Foreign Policy’s website:

“Russia needs babies” may as well be the unofficial slogan of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia Party. The country is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world. This year, when I unexpectedly got pregnant soon after receiving my visa to work in Moscow, I became a test case.

Since the Soviet days, having a baby in Russia has been commonly understood as a nightmare of understaffed state hospitals and forbidding bureaucratic mazes. Feminist author MariaArbatova‘s My Name is Woman, an alternatively harrowing and hilarious account of childbirth in the 1970s, was the grim reality for many. Arbatova described being left completely unattended during the final stages of labor, which nearly resulted in her death and the death of her twin sons.

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Stuck in a Russian Elevator

Michele Berdy, writing in the Moscow Times, shows bilingually how little different Russia really is from the USSR:

Ваш лифт не сдан: your elevator hasn’t been certified for service

In an old Soviet joke, a hare runs for his life in the forest. A bear asks him why he’s running, and the hare says that camels are being caught and shoed. Bewildered, the bear points out that the hare isn’t a camel. The hare replies: Поймают, подкуют, а потом доказывай, что ты не верблюд (They’ll catch you and put shoes on you, and then go and try to prove that you’re not a camel).

Today доказывай, что ты не верблюд (prove that you’re not a camel) is used any time you can’t prove something obvious to an obstinate bureaucracy.

For example — that you have an elevator.

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EDITORIAL: Putin the Road Hog

EDITORIAL

Putin the Road Hog

Yet another international survey, yet another laughable, failing, third-world score for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

This time, it was roads.

According to the World Economic Forum, Russia’s rank among world nations for quality of roads is a shocking #124.  The Moscow Times reports that  “data published by the World Bank suggests that Putin did not prioritize road construction during his rule, with spending on roads falling to 1.5 percent in 2009, compared with 3.5 percent spent by China, from 2.8 percent of GDP in 2000.”

This is just one more example of the absolute failure of leadership by the Putin regime.  While Putin has ignored Russia’s roads and spent money on cold-war provocation (and personal graft for his network of palaces), Russians have continued to favor him with sky-high approval ratings in polls.  As such, Russians get exactly the roads they deserve.

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EDITORIAL: Saved from the Russian Meat Grinder

EDITORIAL

Saved from the Russian Meat Grinder

If you stare hard at the twin girls pictured above on the left, you’re immediately struck by now much they resemble their mother and father, at right.  But when you look at the background of the photo and learn more about them, you’re even more struck by the fact that these girls are Russian, their parents are American, and they were adopted at the age of two from one of Russia’s infamous hell-hole orphanages.

A quarter million children live in such awful places in Russia, and over three-quarters of them end up convicts, drug addicts or prostitutes.

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The Wolf Pack runs Wild in Putin’s Russia!

This Youtube Video is amazing for two entirely different reasons.

First, it shows a Russian policeman actually stopping a vehicle on the highway for a violation — in this case, only one working headlight.  The norm in Putin’s Russia, of course, would be for a cop to stop a driver for no reason other than to collect a fat, juicy bribe for continued passage.  That doesn’t mean, of course, that this officer didn’t intend to ignore the violation in exchange for such a bribe, just one one of many reasons that Russia’s roads are among the world’s most dangerous.

But even more shocking is what happens next.

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EDITORIAL: The Shameless Fraud called Putin

EDITORIAL

The Shameless Fraud called Putin

Mr Putin repeatedly praised the quality of the Lada car he was driving, giving valuable free publicity to the car’s struggling Russian manufacturer Avtovaz. However, he admitted he would not be personally driving the vehicle for the entire journey and would sometimes travel in his convoy of expensive foreign-made Jeeps.

Vladimir Putin was off on another one of his utterly absurd publicity stunts last week, this time driving a thousand miles across Russia in a Lada to prove how great the car is and encourage his fellow citizens to purchase one, while at the same time showing his own mettle as a he-man destined to rule Russia for life.

Except that Putin wasn’t driving a Russian Lada most of the time; most of the time, he was riding in an American-made Jeep.

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Now, Putin’s Russia is a Kasha-Free Zone

More spectacular leadership from Vladimir Putin. The Moscow Times reports:

Moscow stores reported a deficit of buckwheat — a regular side dish in Russian cooking — this week as suppliers hiked prices after a two-month drought that ravaged grain crops.

Suppliers of the Sedmoi Kontinent supermarket chain have hiked prices by more than a 100 percent, to 45 rubles per kilogram compared with 22 rubles in early August, the retailer’s spokeswoman Vlada Baranova said Tuesday. She said the company’s stores haven’t run out of buckwheat.

Two customers said they could not find buckwheat at any Auchan supermarkets over the weekend. Auchan declined to comment Tuesday.

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