Tag Archives: Moscow

EDITORIAL: Politkovskaya’s Killers

EDITORIAL

Politkovskaya’s Killers

Anna Politkovskaya

Last week Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was arrested in Moscow and charged with masterminding the murder of hero journalist Anna Politkovskaya.  At the time he did so, Pavlyuchenkov was head of surveillance at Moscow’s Main Internal Affairs Directorate, the city’s main police force.  At long last, in other words, the world has learned that it was not some rogue elements from Chechnya, acting on the orders of Ramzan Kadyrov, who liquidated Politkovskaya.

It was the Moscow Kremlin.

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EDITORIAL: The Catastrophic Failure of Russian Aerospace

EDITORIAL

The Catastrophic Failure of Russian Aerospace

Russia’s aerospace program appears to be collapsing.

The latest series of horrifying incidents began in June with the crash of a TU-134 airliner while attempting to land near Petrozavodsk, killing all of its nearly four dozen passengers.  The government was forced to order the entire model out of service.

Days later, a MiG-29 fighter jet crashed inexplicably, and the government was left with no choice but to order that model out of service too, even though Russia had just inked a larger sale of the model to India.

Then, in an epic humiliation, when Russia rolled out its version of the F-22 Stealth Raptor during its annual international air show an engine collapsed during takeoff and the plane could not get airborn.

Next, a swarm of bees attacked a Moscow-bound Boeing 757, from the inside.

And most recently, an entire Russian ice hockey team was wiped out in a horrific crash  near the city of Yaroslavl on the Volga.

Meanwhile, objects even higher up began dropping out of the sky.

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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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Remembering the Last Iron Curtain as the New One Descends

Vladimir Kara-Murza, writing on his blog Spotlight on Russia, remembers the end of the old Iron Curtain as the new one descends across the continent:

Just the same, no simpler
Are the tests of our times:
Can you come to the square?
Dare you come to the square?
Can you come to the square?
Dare you come to the square?
When that hour strikes?

— Alexander Galich, St. Petersburg Romance (1968)

On August 19, 1991, Muscovites awakened to the sound of tanks. In a fitting conclusion to the decades of Soviet tyranny, the tanks that once rolled on the streets of Budapest, Prague, and Vilnius, came to the heart of Russia. By mid-morning, Moscow was occupied by troops. Television channels were broadcasting Swan Lake, interrupted only by pale-faced news anchors who read out decrees by self-proclaimed “acting president” Gennady Yanayev declaring a state of emergency, suspending most constitutional rights, shutting down newspapers and radio stations, and announcing the formation of a new governing body—the “State Committee on the State of Emergency” (known by its Russian acronym, GKChP), composed of the top Communist leadership, including the vice president, the prime minister, the minister of defense, and the chairman of the KGB. Their objective: to save the rapidly crumbling Soviet dictatorship

If history was any indicator, the coup was bound to succeed.

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Moscow’s Hell on Earth for Shoppers, Tourists, Everyone

Briton in Russia Clare Taylor, blogging at the Moscow Times, explains what it’s like to face the Russian retail establishment, which is in no significant way different from what it was in Soviet times. It sees customers as an annoying problem and it is not equipped or interested enough to deal with them properly.  This is why Russian can’t compete in international markets and can’t attract a large number of tourists.  (FYI, children don’t have the experience to know when shoes fit properly, and therefore can’t help parents when seeking to determine if they do. That’s why careful parents want their kids’ feet measured when buying new shoes.)

Back in May, my sons were in need of new shoes, and, I must admit, I had been putting it off. I was hoping against hope that the canvas sneakers I picked up for them in London on a solo trip over there in April would stay the course until our summer break when we would be back in the land of less expensive and — crucially — expertly fitted footwear. What’s that you say? Muscovite children wear shoes, too, and amazingly, they even fit? That fact is obviously true, but based on our experiences shoe shopping in Moscow, for the life of me I can’t work out how.

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EDITORIAL: Russia hates the World, Feeling very much Mutual

EDITORIAL

Russia hates the World, Feeling very much Mutual

The latest figures on international travel and tourism are in from the World Economic Forum, and they are truly devastating for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  The words of Laura, a student from France, tell the tale:

I decided to come to Russia because I love the culture, the history, and I was curious to meet Russians. I wanted to form my own ideas about the country, different from the western view.  It was surprising to see that Russians don’t speak English and in Moscow, I think they are sick of tourists and just don’t make any effort. So to find your way, to eat in a restaurant, was quite a challenge. I was really surprised to see that Moscow is even more expensive than Paris.

Ouch.

Russia ranks a stunning #59 out of 139 nations surveyed for travel competitiveness, and that’s hardly surprising when you learn it ranks #91 for spending on tourism, laying out less than one-tenth of the world average per tourist on welcome measures.

Look at the facts, and you clearly understand Russia’s stark, unwelcoming hatred for foreigners:

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Livin’ La Vida Rooskie Loca

The Moscow Times reports:

Real estate in Dubai and Montenegro. Regular first-class travel. Millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts. Russia’s second-best country house.

And all made possible with an annual household salary of less than $40,000.

Those are the findings of a private investigation into the assets of Olga Stepanova — the former Moscow tax official who authorized a $230 million payment that no one disputes was embezzled.

The investigation is the latest conducted by supporters of Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail after accusing senior Interior Ministry officials of masterminding the $230 million fraud.

The Interior Ministry, in turn, accuses Magnitsky and Hermitage in the fraud.

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