Daily Archives: April 16, 2006

Russia Hoist withits own Petardski

As RIA Novosti reports, Russia is now being victimized by the same total disregard for copyright protection that it has used to victimize the rest of the world for decades, laying bare the fact that Russia doesn’t even dominate the world market for its famous AK-47 assault rifle.

MOSCOW, April 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russia accounts for only 10-12% of about 1 million Kalashnikov assault rifles that are sold on the world market every year, the CEO of the Izhmash concern said Saturday.

“The rest are unlicensed copies,” Vladimir Grodetsky said, adding that there was not a single license agreement conforming to the norms of international law, specifically on the protection of Russia’s intellectual property rights in small arms and light weapons production.

“In some instances, the terms of such agreements have expired, while in others different-caliber weapons are being made since all licenses for the production of Kalashnikov automatic rifles were issued decades ago,” he said.

According to Russia’s state-controlled arms exporter Rosoboronexport, the AK is currently in service in the armed forces of more than 50 countries. The Kalashnikov rifle is symbolically reflected in the national coats of arms of six states.

Another Neo-Nazi Racist Attack in Russia

ST. PETERSBURG, April 16 (RIA Novosti) – Two Mongolian students were beaten Saturday in the St. Petersburg subway, the local law-enforcement agencies said Sunday.

Unidentified persons attacked two citizens of Mongolia in a subway train. The students received serious injuries and were hospitalized, the local law-enforcement agencies said.

An investigation into the attack on the Mongolian students has been launched.

The attack is the latest in a string of apparently racially motivated incidents to have hit the city in recent years. A student from Senegal was shot to death in an apparently racially motivated killing earlier this month; a Chinese student was treated after being attacked outside her apartment block Sunday, while a nine-year-old girl of mixed Russian and African origin was hospitalized after being stabbed near her apartment building March 25.

On March 24, a 34-year-old Ghanaian man was beaten up in the Kolpino suburb of St. Petersburg. Two young men have been arrested in connection with the attack, police said.

Other violent attacks on non-white foreigners in St. Petersburg in recent months include an attack on a man from Mali, who was stabbed to death in February, and the murder of a student from Cameroon last December and of a Congolese student in September.

Routine attacks by skinheads and youth gangs on foreigners with non-Slavic features have also been reported in other Russian cities.

The central city of Voronezh alone has seen at least seven apparently racially motivated killings over the past six years, including the murder of a Peruvian student in October last year.

Crime and Punishment in Russia

The Washington Post reports that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who “has been put in solitary confinement twice for alleged infractions of prison regulations, including possessing documents on the rights of prisoners and drinking tea in an unauthorized place,” was recently slashed by a fellow inmate with a knife.

So the punishment for threatening to oppose Putin in an election is getting sent to Siberia and slashed with a knife.

The punishment for having documents concerning your legal rights as a prisoner in Siberia is solitary confinement, and the same for daring to drink tea in the wrong place.

I wonder what happens to you if you actually win the presidency against Putin, or if you have documents concerning your rights before you become a prisoner? Actually, on second thought, I probably don’t want to know. Too scary!

UPDATE! Now the New York Times reports that Khodorkovsky has been sent to solitary because he was cut by a fellow prisoner “for his own protection.” Heaven only knows what would have happened to him if he’d been paralyzed by his attacker — I guess they would have put him up against a wall “for his own protection.”

C’est la vie dans la Russie!

Purchasing Power Paucity: The Powdered Sugar Paradigm

The Russia Blog has an article today about how to bake a Russian Easter cake. It shows a picture of such a cake topped with powdered sugar.

Interesting picture. In my experience in Russia, powdered sugar is almost unheard of and virtually impossible to buy in stores. When you can find it, powdered sugar made from beet sugar turns out to be highly inferior to the cane variant. Eaten raw, it has an unpleasant rough texture, something like powdered glass.In my experience, these Russian cakes are generally topped with some type of fondant rather than powdered sugar as in the photograph when sold in Russia.

Which brings up what is, in my mind, on of the single most important issues about Russia today: the issue of “purchasing power parity.” This idea assumes that a person who buys a pound of powdered sugar in Russia gets the same thing as one who purchases it in the USA, and makes similar assumptions about all other products, including such things as medical care.

Yet, with a few rare exeptions (subways in big cities being the most important), nothing in Russia is of remotely comparable quality to that in the West.

For example, the fats and dairy products used to make Easter cakes are quite likely to be laden with pollution or even atomic radiation, especially if they come, as they often do, from Belarus. This is one of the key reasons why the Russian life span is so much shorter than that in the West, and anyone who has ever visited Russia and got sick knows full well about the relative difference in the standard of medical care Russia can deliver.

Yet, purchasing-power parity (“PPP”) calculations take no consideration of this fact. PPP means that since Russians pay less for a pound of powdered sugar than Americans do, we should artificially raise their incomes to reflect this. In other words, a Russian doesn’t need to earn as much as an American in order to live as well. Neo-Soviet propaganda relies on PPP to keep itself afloat, because the raw figures on income show that Russia is doomed. The raw income earned by a Russian is $300 per month, and average means that at least half the population earns less than that. In Russia, as anyone who has been there knows, far more than half the population is below average, because there are a good number of super-rich billionaires at the top.

When you think about powdered sugar, you realize that PPP is greatly overstated, part of the fraud that keeps the Putin neo-Soviet dictatorship in power and helps it to avoid the Orange Revolution. So far, anyway.