Category Archives: translations

SPECIAL EXTRA: Personal Corruption of Vladimir Putin Revealed

“Where the President is concerned, criminal cases do not proceed.”

«В отношении президента уголовное дело не ведется.»

ZAKS.ru

September 6, 2011

Translated from the Russian by La Russophobe

This is a rough translation of a shocking interview recently posted by the ZAKS.ru website which details personal corruption by Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.  Some paragraphs have been digested.  We welcome any linguistic commentary or corrections from readers, either in the comments section or by e-mail.

Eleven years ago, Russian prosecutors closed Criminal Case No. 144,128.

Later, it became known as “the Putin Affair.”

Investigators do not doubt that the then-president was implicated in a number of crimes related to embezzlement of budget funds while was serving in the government of the City of St. Petersburg. Lt. Col. Andrei Zykov, a senior investigator for special matters at the Investigation Department of the Interior Ministry, was in charge of the case.

He sat down with ZAKS.ru’s Oleg Mukhin to discuss his experiences.

MUKHIN:  What is “the Putin affair”?

ZYKOV:  From 1993 to 1995, the Russian government was providing substantial financial support to many businesses.  They were losing money, on the verge of collapse, desperately trying to stay afloat to preserve jobs.  They needed infusions of cash to pay salaries.  State funds were distributed from the coffers of state-owned enterprises.

There was a construction company in St. Petersburg called Twentieth Trust which had been privatized in 1991.   In 1993 alone, roughly $4.5 million disappeared from the company’s books, and it was getting 80% of its revenues from the City.  It appeared that it had laundered tens of millions of dollars, and in 1999 a criminal case was opened to investigate.  This became known as the “Putin affair” because, while Anatoly Sobchak was mayor of the City Putin was at that time his second in command.  Every signature in regard to budget transfers would have a passed across Putin’s desk.

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Putin: Say what you Like, the Whores Love Him!

Linguistics expert Michele Berdy, writing in the Moscow Times:

Порву!: I’ll rip it, beat you up, and win

Unless you’ve been out of the country or under a rock, you’ve probably seen the new “Hot Chicks for Putin” video. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. A Hot Chick strolls on 10-centimeter heels down a Moscow River embankment to meet up with her Hot Chick friends. As they chat seductively on their cell phones, you get a chance to finally understand an untranslatable Russian word. The camera lingers on close-ups of pneumatic breasts bursting out of tight tops … with chaste gold crosses dangling above them. That, my friends, is пошлость (vulgarity, falsity, cheapness).

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Мы сегодня в цирк поедем!

Мы сегодня в цирк поедем!
На арене нынче снова
С дрессированным Медведем
Укротитель дядя Вова.
От восторга цирк немеет!
Хохочу, держась за папу,
А Медведь рычать не смеет,
Лишь сосет потешно лапу,
Сам себя берет за шкирки,
Важно кланяется детям.
До чего забавно в цирке
С дядей Вовой и Медведем!

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In Russia, they can’t even Pick a Mascot on the Up and Up

Mascot of the Monarch’s Will
Russia has one voter 
February 28, 2011
Gazeta.ru
Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia

The nationally televised election for mascot of the Winter Olympics in Sochi became a telling model for Russian elections in general and a possible repetition in the upcoming Duma and presidential elections.

The elections aired on Channel One for Russians to choose the mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi bore an entirely predictable result, albeit one that directly contradicted the population’s opinion. The winner was the snow leopard, with 28% of the vote. This only happened because Vladimir Putin, while in Sochi, spoke out in favor of the snow leopard right on the day of voting. It’s true that the Olympics had to be split between three mascots, since not one received more than half of the vote – the polar bear (18%) and bunny (16%) were added to the leopard.

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English in Russian “Translation”

Linguistics expert Michele Berdy, writing in the Moscow Times, exposes the hilarious ignorance of Russians attempting to translate from English.  Russians are often outraged by statements made in English that they don’t begin to understand.

It’s late Saturday afternoon, and having finally accepted that spring has been canceled this year, the downcast expat trudges to the local shopping mall. Loaded down with booze and bags of high-calorie food (why not, if you’re never going to take off your parka?), you (downcast expat) trudge to the video store. You stand in front of racks of DVDs, conveniently — for the non-native speaker of Russian — divided into genres like комедия (comedy), мелодрама (melodrama) and триллер (thriller).

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Kashin Speaks

About Gagarin and About Myself
By Oleg Kashin
November 29, 2010
Kommersant/Vlast
Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia

An unfamiliar man in a white coat took an instinctive step to the side, and my hand, stretching towards his chest pocket, grasping only air, falls back again to the mattress.

“What does he want?” asks the man, feeling his pocket.

“The pen, probably,” posed a woman’s voice; and that woman, who I didn’t see, was right: the pen, of course, I needed the pen. The blue gel pen from the chest pocket of the white coat of that man.

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Shenderovich on Putin-King

A Few Words About Methods
By Viktor Shenderovich
December 7, 2010
Yezhednevny Zhurnal
Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia

I intentionally waited a few days – would anybody speak out?

Nope. All is quiet…

Impudence is bliss.

“The methods of our security services differ in a good way from the methods used by United States security services,” Putin told Larry King. “Thank God… the officers of our intelligence services and other security services are not noted as having been involved in the organization of secret prisons, kidnappings, or the use of torture.”

They were noticed, naturally, and more than once.

The difference between Russia and the US is that the people who used torture in Guantanamo are in prison, having been convicted by American courts, and the Russian citizens, kidnapped and tortured by FSB officers, won’t get justice from anywhere closer than Strasbourg.

The second difference is that the American journalists who investigated Guantanamo won the Pulitzer Prize and are all alive, and Politkovskaya and Estemirova, who investigated the filtration camp in Chernokozovo, have been murdered, and their murderers have not been found, and Putin still managed to publicly spit on Politkovskaya’s grave.

So that’s it about the methods. And not those of the security service, but of Putin and his propaganda. They are simple, like a stick: lie through the teeth, nobody will notice!

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The Contours of Russian Paranoia

Patriots’ Fears — West Not At All Interested in Weakening Russia

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

August 4, 2010

by Georgiy Mirskiy

From Johnson’s Russia List (Hat Tip:  Scraps of Moscow)

“People want to weaken Russia … what do you mean weaken it – they want to crush, dismember, subordinate it…” Who among us has not heard such cries? Journalists, TV and radio commentators, parliamentarians, generals, and professors compete with one another in their attempts to convince the Russian people that the West – and especially America – dreams only of causing catastrophic damage to our country, destroying it, taking things away from it. What is particularly interesting is the more our relationship with Western countries improves, the more vigorous and vociferous the counterattack becomes of those who implore: “Do not believe this! It is all lies! They are undermining our vigilance, they want to trap us!” And this mass brainwashing that has lasted for many years must inevitably produce results. In one opinion poll, almost a third of those who answered thought it possible that AIDS had been deliberately brought into Russia by the Americans.

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ESSEL: See Russian Train Run. Run, train, run!

See Russian Train Run. Run, train, run!

Dave Essel

Grani.ru is currently carrying a short article about the start of a new high-speed train service between St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. This made me curious as I didn’t think Russia had any fast trains. (Not that it is that fast: it covers the 1100 kilometres in 8 hours 25 minutes, which is 129 kph or 80 mph. European high speed trains do 300 kph.)

Grani goes on to say that the train, called the Sapsan, is a joint venture between Russian Railways and Siemens under which Russia is buying 8 trains for 276 million Euro. As this sounded more like a purchase contract than a joint venture, my curiosity was sparked and I followed up on Russian Wikipedia.

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ESSEL: Russia is Disgraceful, Disgusting and Dishonest

Russia: Disgraceful, Disgusting and Dishonest

by Dave Essel

In Russia, deeds hardly ever match words. Below you will find a particularly revolting case in point – small time on the scale of Russia, just one instance of the ubiquitous inhumanity to be found there. But this is how Russia really is: disgraceful, disgusting, and dishonest from top to bottom and through and through.

The Russian authorities are greatly exercised at the moment by Senator Benjamin Cardin’s excellent proposal to the U.S. State Department to deny permanently U.S. visas to over 60 Russian officials and others involved in a $230 million corruption exposed by a Moscow-based lawyer for Hermitage Capital, Sergei Magnitsky, his retaliatory arrest on false charges by the same officials he had accused and his subsequent torture and death in custody. Senator Cardin pointed out that “these officials remain unpunished and in a position of power.”

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The Complete Nemtsov White Paper, Volume III

PUTIN: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought

An independent expert report by
Vladimir Milov and Boris Nemtsov

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Introduction

In February 2008, we published our report “Putin – The Results” [TN: translated by me as "Putin: The Bottom Line"]. It seemed to us back then that it was about time to review what he had brought about now that his presidential term was coming to an end. We assumed that the policies of his successor would differ in at least some ways from those of the previous incumbent. However, Putin continues to play a key role in Russian politics and the course which he followed for 8 years has barely changed.

A great deal has happened since 2008. Russia has plunged into a deep economic crisis. Instead of growing, the economy is contracting. A budget deficit has replaced a former surplus, millions have lost their jobs. Prices, utilities foremost among these, are rocketing. Meanwhile, the number of billionaires has doubled and social and inter-regional inequalities have worsened.

Official propaganda would have it that everything is still fine, the country has weathered the crisis, has conquered terrorism and is beating corruption, that we are proceeding by leaps and bounds along the road of innovation and modernisation, that we are respected around the world, that we are getting wealthier, that there is less poverty, that men and women are bringing forth children, and that “Russia dying out” was a thing of the wild nineties.

The purpose of this report is to tell the truth about what is happening in Russia, to dispel the myths put about by the powers that be, and to relate real information to our fellow-countrymen who for 10 years have not been getting that from the cheerful and frequently false information disseminated by the government-controlled TV and print media.

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TRANSLATION: Nemtsov Volume III, Part 5

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the fifth and final installment of our series from Dave Essel translating the latest issue of the Nemtsov White Paper condemning the Putin years.  The first installment is here, the second is here, the third is here, the fourth is here and the prior issues are here. The full document is now online as a PDF here.  In our next issue we will make the full document available as HTML that can be cut and pasted. Video of Nemtsov and Milov at the press release is here.

PUTIN: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought

An independent expert report by
Vladimir Milov and Boris Nemtsov

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

CHAPTER SEVEN: Pensions Breakdown

One of Putin’s greatest failures was the mess he made of pensions reform. When he came to power, Putin promised that he would give the country a modern pensions system that would provide the elderly with a decent income and at the same time not make for too great a burden on the budget.

This was achievable – if the country had gone over to a funded pensions system under which pensions are paid not from the contributions of the currently employed and the general budget but from accumulated contributions and the income derived from investing them.

The pensions reform has been a catastrophe. Despite the oil price windfall, pensions have stayed under the official subsistence level throughout Putin’s rule.

The distribution pensions system is cracking at the seams. Back when we published our first report on Putin, we predicted that Russia’s pension fund deficit would hit 1 trillion roubles by 2015.

But our gloomy prognosis was not gloomy enough: the deficit reached 1 trillion 166 billion roubles – 3% of GDP – in 2010! Funding pensions is one of the main drains on Russia’s federal budget today.

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TRANSLATION: Essel on HypocRossiya

HypocRossiya

by Dave Essel

Words and phrases such as “dual standards”, “genocide”, “human rights”, “democracy” and so on are so over-abused these days that they have practically lost all meaning when spotted in the MSM.

So I was quite pleased the other day to see an article (translated below) which did not bother to use such terms even though the story begged for it.

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Another Original LR Translation: Latynina on Skolkovo, via Essel

Made in Skolkovo*

Yuliya Latynina

Yezhednevny Zhurnal

29 June 2010

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina

President Medvedev was visiting Silicon Valley. Our Comrade President was told of the achievements of our American colleagues and in turn invited them to take part in the modernisation of Russia. President Medvedev’s visit had two components – one of them was political.

President Medvedev does not in fact have any authority. He can’t fire and replace anyone in the “power” ministries [TN: Interior, Defence, Justice etc...], can’t get into moneymaking deals, can’t push his pals into important posts. In short, he can’t do anything of what it means to be in power in Russia today. What he can do, though, is tweet on Twitter and lunch with foreign presidents so that they can believe that there are some liberal trends in the Kremlin. That is the job that he was given to do by Vladimir Putin and Medvedev puts his all into it, hoping against hope that the West will one day back him instead of Putin.

What the White House really thought about Medvedev’s to California is easily deduced from its pre-visit briefing given to journalists and its press release following the visit.

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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov Volume III, Part 4

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the fourth installment of our series from Dave Essel translating the latest issue of the Nemtsov White Paper condemning the Putin years.  The first installment is here, the second is here, the third is here, and the prior issues are here. Video of Nemtsov and Milov at the press release is here.

PUTIN: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought

An independent expert report by
Vladimir Milov and Boris Nemtsov

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

CHAPTER FIVE: Oh Dear, the Roads!

We all know that the bad state of our roads roads is one of Russia’s major headaches.

In our first report on the results of Putin, we described in detail the degradation of the road infrastructure under his presidency. The very fact that the rate of road-building dropped during the “fat” years is a disgrace. China in just 20 years has built itself a modern highway network: in 1989 the Chinese had just 147 kilometres of motorway, today they have 60,000.

Meanwhile, in Russia the road-building industry is going down the drain.

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Another Original LR Translation: Eternal Values in Putin’s Russia

Eternal Values:  A Breakdown in Communiciation

Vedemosti

April 9, 2010

by Maya Kucherskaya

Translated from the Russian by LR Staff

As always, corrections to the English text are Welcome

Maya Kucherskaya

The investigation into the terrorist attacks in the Moscow metro is in full swing. Already well known are the names and ages of the suicide bombers, their resumes, and whose wives they were.

One was a girl 17 years old.  At 16  she’d left home to be with her beloved, a famous  rebel fighter, who she first met on the Internet. Then she married him and shared his life, waiting for him at home after his military operations, greeted and fed him.  That is, she did so until he was killed in battle.  Along with that man, who was her reason for being, all meaning went out of her life.  She had nothing left except her love for him, and en empty soul.  She had no family, no education, no life experience, so what was she to do?  As she saw it, her only alternative was to meet him again in the afterlife.  It was not difficult for her to meet her end with enthusiasm, knowing that she was doing the will of Allah and avenging her beloved. The sooner the better!  The warlords unflinchingly took advantage of the young girl’s desperation.

The second female bomber, 28-year-old Maryam Sharipova, was in no way similar to the first.

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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov Volume III, Part 3

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the third installment of our series from Dave Essel translating the latest issue of the Nemtsov White Paper condemning the Putin years.  The first installment is here, the second is here, and the prior issues are here. Video of Nemtsov and Milov at the press release is here.

PUTIN: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought

An independent expert report by
Vladimir Milov and Boris Nemtsov

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

CHAPTER FOUR:  Dead End in the Caucasus

The Caucasus has played a key part in raising Putin to Olympian political heights. Immediately after he was appointed prime-minister in 1999, Putin initiated military engagements against Chechen separatists and memorably promised to “slaughter them in their outhouses” [TN: the Russian phrase “zamochit v sortire” is intended to sound crude but does not really have much meaning – I would have gone for “drown them in their own sh*t” in a literary translation. This manner of speech is much more “Putin”.] Riding the terrorism wave, Putin got the support of a large number of people and became president in Spring 2000.

For the rest of the decade, the myth has carefully been cultivated that Putin pacified the Caucasus and beat the terrorists. In 2007, Putin declared that “ international terrorists’ aggression has been stopped in its tracks thanks to the courage and unity of the people of Russia.”

Quite the opposite, however, is true. Below you will find a table listing numbers of acts of terrorism over the last decade. This table has been assembled by us from data officially promulgated by spokesmen for law enforcement and the specials services.

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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov Volume III, Part 2

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the second installment of our series from Dave Essel translating the latest issue of the Nemtsov White Paper condemning the Putin years.  The first installment is here, and the prior issues are here.

PUTIN: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought

An independent expert report by
Vladimir Milov and Boris Nemtsov

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

CHAPTER THREE:  Russia as Raw Materials Appendage

When “Putin – The Results”, the first edition of our report, was published back in February 2008, Putin was happily boasting about economic successes. On 8 February 2008, he addressed a sitting of the State Council. Talking about the results of his presidency, he made much of the facts that GDP had risen during it and that in 2008 alone Russia had attracted $83 billion on inward investment.

Even then, however, we warned that the economic model being constructed by Putin was just a speculative bubble that could burst at any moment. And that is precisely what happened six months after our report was published: a massive economic crisis broke in Russia in 2008, a crisis far worse than the 1998 default, one which if it is to be compared with anything, then only with the period of the collapse of the Soviet economy and the economic depression of 1992-1994.

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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov Volume III, Part I

Editor’s Note: We are delighted to welcome back to our pages the irreplaceable Dave Essel, master translator of the Russian media. Today we begin publishing installments of the third white paper on the Putin regime issued by former first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, along with co-author Vladimir Milov. Dave’s prior two translations appear in our header, and have been recognized by such lofty publications as the New York Review of Books.  As we have previously reported, the malignant Putin regime has already moved, in classic neo-Soviet fashion, to confiscate and suppress this manuscript before Nemtsov could try to distribute it, as it did with the others. Following is the introduction and the first two chapters.

PUTIN: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought

An independent expert report by
Vladimir Milov and Boris Nemtsov

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Introduction

In February 2008, we published our report “Putin – The Results” [TN: translated by me as "Putin: The Bottom Line"]. It seemed to us back then that it was about time to review what he had brought about now that his presidential term was coming to an end. We assumed that the policies of his successor would differ in at least some ways from those of the previous incumbent. However, Putin continues to play a key role in Russian politics and the course which he followed for 8 years has barely changed.

A great deal has happened since 2008. Russia has plunged into a deep economic crisis. Instead of growing, the economy is contracting. A budget deficit has replaced a former surplus, millions have lost their jobs. Prices, utilities foremost among these, are rocketing. Meanwhile, the number of billionaires has doubled and social and inter-regional inequalities have worsened.

Official propaganda would have it that everything is still fine, the country has weathered the crisis, has conquered terrorism and is beating corruption, that we are proceeding by leaps and bounds along the road of innovation and modernisation, that we are respected around the world, that we are getting wealthier, that there is less poverty, that men and women are bringing forth children, and that “Russia dying out” was a thing of the wild nineties.

The purpose of this report is to tell the truth about what is happening in Russia, to dispel the myths put about by the powers that be, and to relate real information to our fellow-countrymen who for 10 years have not been getting that from the cheerful and frequently false information disseminated by the government-controlled TV and print media.

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Ilyumzhinov’s Game

Ilyumzhinov’s Game

By Stanislav Belkovsky

May 24, 2010

Grani.ru

Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE:  While not commonly thought of as particularly controversial, the politics of world chess made international headlines late last month when a Kremlin aide hired a private security force to raid the offices of the Russian Chess Federation, evict its chairman, and seal off its accounting books. The move came a week after the Federation nominated chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov, backed by opposition leader and longtime chess rival Garry Kasparov, as a candidate for the presidency of the World Chess Federation. The incumbent, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is the multi-millionaire president of Russia’s autonomous Republic of Kalmykia. Among other things, Ilyumzhinov is famous for declaring an “economic dictatorship” and claiming to have been visited by aliens. What exactly the stakes are in this unlikely scandal is the topic explored in this column written for Grani.ru by Russian political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky.

Another striking move was made the other day in the battle for the presidency of the World Chess Federation [FIDE]. By order of Arkady Dvorkovich, an aide to the president of the Russian Federation and chairman of the Supervisory Council of the Russian Chess Federation (RCF), several men in black seized the legendary Central Chess Club on Gogolevsky Bulvar and sealed off the office of RCF Chairman Alexander Bakh and, of course, the accounting office. Such is the way that all professionals and fans that support the candidacy of 12th World Champion Anatoly Karpov for the post as the head of FIDE were given a clear signal: you can meddle about, bustle around, do whatever you want – but we (that is, Dvorkovich & Co.) will never, under any circumstances, ever give you FIDE.

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Lies and the Lying Russian Employers who Tell Them

Gazeta.ru

May 26, 2010

“Russia’s Lying Employers”

by Igor Bakharev

From Johnson’s Russia List

(Hat Tip: SWP reader “Mossy”)

Eighty-four percent of Russia’s workers have been deceived by their employers during recruitment. For drivers and vendors, this indicator reaches 95%, learned HeadHunter.ru (a recruitment agency). In fact, during job interviews, job seekers often hear something different than what they were told by a recruiter, and perceive possibilities as promises.

Deceit during the hiring process is a norm in Russia, HeadHunter analysts have learned, after surveying more than 4,000 Russians from all of the country’s regions. Two thirds of respondents said that they were misinformed about their pay rate. Most frequently, employers indicated that bonuses will be a part of the pay structure. In reality, however, they are virtually impossible to obtain. Others, after being presented a certain pay range, were compensated on the lowest level or even less than what was indicated. Often, employers conceal the fact that the promised salary is the sum before taxes are reduced.

More than 60% of respondents were misinformed regarding their working conditions or the job-related tasks. Often, the amount of responsibility is much greater than what was initially suggested. Head of the “Rabota@Mail.Ru” project Alla Seregina says that many other “hidden agendas” exist. For example, paycheck deductions are given out for disciplinary violations, such as tardiness and fines for customer complaints. Some companies deduct wages for corporate events (to which attendance is mandatory) and insurance.

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Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Vladimir Putin has got to GO!

Putin Must Go

The Anti-Putin Online Petition

Translated from the Russian by The Power Vertical

Citizens of Russia! The recognition that the ruling elite has led our country into a historical dead end has prompted us to issue this statement.

The transfer of virtually unlimited power by the [Yeltsin-era] Family, which was trying to guarantee its own security, to a man of dubious reputation who was distinguished neither by talent nor by the requisite life or professional experience has resulted predictably in the serious degradation of all institutions of state governance.

Even a significant portion of the ruling “elite” feels that a change is necessary, as attested by the loud reaction to [President Dmitry Medvedev’s] opus “Forward, Russia!” But Medvedev’s modernization project bears a distinctly artificial character and is aimed at a single goal – to redo the decorations while maintaining the nature of an authoritatian-kleptocratic regime.

We state that the sociopolitical construction that is killing Russia and has now bound the citizens of our country has one architect, one custodian, and one guardian. His name is Vladimir Putin.

We declare that no essential reforms can be carried out in Russia today as long as Putin controls real power in the country.

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Annals of Machine Translation

A comparison (click to enlarge or follow link) of various computerized machine translations available on the web, courtesy of the New York Times.

Another Original LR Translation: Lethal Garlic — More “accidental” fatalities in Ingushetia

WARNING: This post, a translation from the website of the Russian human rights organization Memorial, deals with gruesome acts of violence in the war-torn breakaway republic of Chechnya.  Following the text is a series of explicit photographs of civilian casualties resulting from a Russian “anti-terrorist” campaign.  The photos are very disturbing and all readers are advised to exercise caution in deciding the click the jump and view the entire post.  You can read the text without seeing the photographs by scrolling carefully and stopping where the text ends and the photos are marked to begin.

This translation has been prepared by LR staff. As always, corrections are welcome and encouraged.   

Hat tip:  Reader “Robert.” 

Lethal Garlic:  More “accidental” fatalities in Ingushetia 

Memorial.ru 

February 15, 2010 

On February 11-12, 2010, in a forest on the border of Ingushetia and Chechnya, near the Ingush villages of Arshty and Datta, a special military operation was conducted by Russian forces.  The government reported on the destruction of a large detachment of rebel fighters and denied that any civilian casualties had occurred.  However, on February 12th we began receiving reports that there had in fact been civilians killed, and the next day we visited Arshty.  The following day we visited the Achkoi-Martan district in Chechnya.  Working with representatives of Human Rights Watch, we interviewed dozens of witnesses.  As a result, we can confidently assert that in the region where the operation was carried out were a large number of civilian residents and at least four of them were killed. 

The assault carried out by federal forces began with a missile barrage in the early morning hours on February 11th.  It continued throughout the day, ceased with the onset of darkness and then resumed the next day at dawn.  Federal forces initially reported that the cadre of rebel fighters numbered 15-25, and it was reported that from half to nearly all of them had been killed.  The President of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, visited the area on February 12th and claimed that 18 rebels had been killed.  A list of various wanted figures was given by Ingushetia’s Prosecutor Yury Turygin as having been killed in the attack. 

But we learned on February 12th that among those killed were also civilians who had been in the nearby woods gathering wild garlic, and the reports we received were confirmed by the president’s press secretary in an interview with Echo of Moscow radio, where he stated:  “During the course of the special operation about 70 local residents were evacuated from the woods where they had been collecting wild garlic, but unfortunately four of them came under fire and were killed.”  The president did not include these victims with the 18 persons killed in the raid.  [Story reported in English by RIA Novosti on February 13th here.] 

To see for ourselves, Memorial staff left for Arshty on the afternoon of February 13th.  The villagers confirmed that there had been civilian casualties, including children.  On the south-eastern outskirts of Arshty Memorial was shown the bodies of seven adults, six wrapped in sleeping bags, perhaps to identify the remains of militant fighters. 

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Another Original LR Translation: In Putin’s Russia, Journalism is now a Crime

We were so appalled by the following item from the Russian press that we have taken the time to translate it and held our editorials from this issue, allowing this revolting material to speak for itself. No further words from our editorial board are necessary.  This is truly an epic new low in the sordid history of the Russian nation.

500 Ruble’s Worth of Shame

Vremya Novostei

January 21, 2010

by Ekaterina Butorina

Translated from the Russian by LR Staff

RIA Novosti's photojournalist Andrei Stenin

The Municipal Court of the Tver district of Moscow yesterday set a precedent fraught with serious potential for Russian authorities to impose a new wave of crackdowns on civil liberties. According to the decision, journalists who attend  unauthorized opposition political rallies in order to report on what transpires can be treated as if they were participants in the demonstration itself, and therefore as criminals subject to prosecution just like the “perpetrators.”

The first to be accused of such “wrongdoing” RIA Novosti’s photojournalist Andrei Stenin. On January 20th, a magistrate found him guilty under Art. 20.2 of the Municipal Administrative Code of participating in an unsanctioned demonstration, held in mid-December last year in front of the presidential administration building, and fined him 500 rubles.  The Director of RIA Novosti called the incident “a dangerous precedent” and expressed his intention not only to appeal yesterday’s “global solution” but also to bring to the incident to the attention of business leaders and journalistic colleagues.

The head of Department Internal Affairs’ Moscow Division, Vladimir Kolokoltchev, stated that “law abiding citizens have nothing to fear when participating in rallies as police officers act against them in strict accordance with the law.”  Tell that to Stenin, who was acting in accordance with the Constitution and the Law on Mass Media and who as a result was arrested and convicted as a direct result of police action.

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