Daily Archives: January 5, 2007

Annals of Cold War II: Merkel and Lukashenko Blast Putin

The International Herald Tribune reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has lashed out at the Kremlin’s classic neo-Soviet hypocrisy in closing the Shtokman gas fields to European investors while at the same time expecting full access to European markets. Dream on Russia, a combative Chancellor says:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview published Wednesday that Europe would be entitled to keep out Russian business expansion if Moscow blocks European investors. “I think it’s perfectly legitimate for Russia to seek greater access to western European markets,” Merkel was quoted as saying by the Financial Times newspaper. “Having said that, we must have reciprocity. If obstacles are being erected to protect Russian companies from European investors, nobody should resent it if the Europeans take reciprocal action,” she said.

Merkel did not elaborate in an edited transcript of the interview posted on the newspaper’s Web site. During a visit to Germany in September, Russian President Vladimir Putin lobbied German business leaders to accept more investment from Russian companies. Merkel’s remarks follow differing statements by Russian authorities about to what extent they might include foreign investors in developing the Shtokman gas field. State-controlled Russian gas company Gazprom also has wrested a controlling stake in the Sakhalin-2 gas development from Royal Dutch Shell, Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. after bureaucratic pressure from Russian officials over purported environmental issues. In October, Russia locked out major international energy companies who had been angling for access to Shtokman — including U.S. giants Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips, as well as Norway’s Statoil ASA and Norsk Hydro ASA, and France’s Total SA. Recently officials have said they might permit foreign involvement under certain conditions.

Merkel also expressed concern about the amount of press freedom in Russia and about increased legal burdens placed on nongovernmental organizations. “We have seen some incidents that we ought to be concerned about,” Merkel said, without elaborating. “We always mention such observations (to the Russians).”

Meanwhile, UPI reports that Belarussian “President” Alexander Lukashenko has imposed a duty on all Russian oil crossing the territory of Belarus following the Kremlin’s extortionate price gouging on supplies to Belarus in order to bludgeon that country to hand over control of its energy infrastructure to Russia, a nakedly imperialist gambit:

Belarus said it was imposing a duty on Russian oil crossing its territory in retaliation for Russia’s more than doubling its natural gas price. The $45-per-metric-ton transit duty, imposed Thursday by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, is retroactive to Monday, the day the gas hike to Belarus went into effect, the Russian Information Agency Novosti reported.

The Kremlin said the duty will not threaten oil deliveries. Some analysts said it could cause short-term disruption to German and Polish refiners, the BBC reported. The refiners might also look for cheaper supplies elsewhere. Russia transports 20 percent, or 1 million barrels, of its oil exports through Belarus, largely to Germany and Poland. Belarus agreed to pay $100 per cubic metric ton, up from $46.7, and sold half its Beltransgaz gas pipeline operator for $2.5 billion, half the $5 billion Belarus originally demanded. Moscow says it wants all former Soviet republics pay market prices for energy supplies.

Russia’s Report Card for 2006

La Russophobe has prepared Russia’s report card for the preceding year based on its many evaluations by qualified international organizations and agencies across a broad range of national challenges.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Russia, the little dunce, has failed every subject which might lead to success and passed every subject which might lead to failure with flying colors.

All these studies have been subjects of posts on La Russophobe in the past nine months, and they only scratch the surface of the deep-seated failures that pervade Russian society (such vital topics as population growth, AIDS infection and crime are left unaddressed as we focus on fundamental issues involving the basic operation of the political and social structure of the nation).

These results can hardly be surprising when the nation chooses as its president not only a proud KGB spy with no significant education or experience in democratic politics but one nominated to his position by a figure they purported to despise.

RUSSIA’S REPORT CARD FOR 2006

Subject……………..GradeClass Rank…………..Instructor

Counterfeiting………A……………2……………….European Union

Bribery……………….A…………..2……………….Transparency International

Sexism………………..B………..13/75(83%)………United Nations

Competitiveness…….F………62/125 (50%)………. World Economic Forum

Humanity…………….F……….65/173 (38%)………United Nations

Stability……………..F…………bottom 30%……..Foreign Policy

Jurisprudence………F………151/208 (28%)………World Bank

Honesty…………….F………. 129/159 (19%)……Transparency International

Press Freedom……..F……….147/168 (12%)……..Reporters Without Borders

Environment………..F……….172/178 (4%)………New Economics Foundation

Development………..O………….off scale…………Center for Development

Teacher Comments: This student lacks a work ethic (indeed, ethics of any kind) and is prone to cheating. Spends most of the time doing drugs and staring blankly out the window. Responds to criticism defensively, resorts easily to violence and receives no correction or support in the home environment. Parents likely to blame the teacher for the student’s poor performance. Child is unlikely to graduate, may well face incarceration before attaining the age of majority.

Russia’s Report Card for 2006

La Russophobe has prepared Russia’s report card for the preceding year based on its many evaluations by qualified international organizations and agencies across a broad range of national challenges.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Russia, the little dunce, has failed every subject which might lead to success and passed every subject which might lead to failure with flying colors.

All these studies have been subjects of posts on La Russophobe in the past nine months, and they only scratch the surface of the deep-seated failures that pervade Russian society (such vital topics as population growth, AIDS infection and crime are left unaddressed as we focus on fundamental issues involving the basic operation of the political and social structure of the nation).

These results can hardly be surprising when the nation chooses as its president not only a proud KGB spy with no significant education or experience in democratic politics but one nominated to his position by a figure they purported to despise.

RUSSIA’S REPORT CARD FOR 2006

Subject……………..GradeClass Rank…………..Instructor

Counterfeiting………A……………2……………….European Union

Bribery……………….A…………..2……………….Transparency International

Sexism………………..B………..13/75(83%)………United Nations

Competitiveness…….F………62/125 (50%)………. World Economic Forum

Humanity…………….F……….65/173 (38%)………United Nations

Stability……………..F…………bottom 30%……..Foreign Policy

Jurisprudence………F………151/208 (28%)………World Bank

Honesty…………….F………. 129/159 (19%)……Transparency International

Press Freedom……..F……….147/168 (12%)……..Reporters Without Borders

Environment………..F……….172/178 (4%)………New Economics Foundation

Development………..O………….off scale…………Center for Development

Teacher Comments: This student lacks a work ethic (indeed, ethics of any kind) and is prone to cheating. Spends most of the time doing drugs and staring blankly out the window. Responds to criticism defensively, resorts easily to violence and receives no correction or support in the home environment. Parents likely to blame the teacher for the student’s poor performance. Child is unlikely to graduate, may well face incarceration before attaining the age of majority.

Russia’s Report Card for 2006

La Russophobe has prepared Russia’s report card for the preceding year based on its many evaluations by qualified international organizations and agencies across a broad range of national challenges.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Russia, the little dunce, has failed every subject which might lead to success and passed every subject which might lead to failure with flying colors.

All these studies have been subjects of posts on La Russophobe in the past nine months, and they only scratch the surface of the deep-seated failures that pervade Russian society (such vital topics as population growth, AIDS infection and crime are left unaddressed as we focus on fundamental issues involving the basic operation of the political and social structure of the nation).

These results can hardly be surprising when the nation chooses as its president not only a proud KGB spy with no significant education or experience in democratic politics but one nominated to his position by a figure they purported to despise.

RUSSIA’S REPORT CARD FOR 2006

Subject……………..GradeClass Rank…………..Instructor

Counterfeiting………A……………2……………….European Union

Bribery……………….A…………..2……………….Transparency International

Sexism………………..B………..13/75(83%)………United Nations

Competitiveness…….F………62/125 (50%)………. World Economic Forum

Humanity…………….F……….65/173 (38%)………United Nations

Stability……………..F…………bottom 30%……..Foreign Policy

Jurisprudence………F………151/208 (28%)………World Bank

Honesty…………….F………. 129/159 (19%)……Transparency International

Press Freedom……..F……….147/168 (12%)……..Reporters Without Borders

Environment………..F……….172/178 (4%)………New Economics Foundation

Development………..O………….off scale…………Center for Development

Teacher Comments: This student lacks a work ethic (indeed, ethics of any kind) and is prone to cheating. Spends most of the time doing drugs and staring blankly out the window. Responds to criticism defensively, resorts easily to violence and receives no correction or support in the home environment. Parents likely to blame the teacher for the student’s poor performance. Child is unlikely to graduate, may well face incarceration before attaining the age of majority.

Russia’s Report Card for 2006

La Russophobe has prepared Russia’s report card for the preceding year based on its many evaluations by qualified international organizations and agencies across a broad range of national challenges.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Russia, the little dunce, has failed every subject which might lead to success and passed every subject which might lead to failure with flying colors.

All these studies have been subjects of posts on La Russophobe in the past nine months, and they only scratch the surface of the deep-seated failures that pervade Russian society (such vital topics as population growth, AIDS infection and crime are left unaddressed as we focus on fundamental issues involving the basic operation of the political and social structure of the nation).

These results can hardly be surprising when the nation chooses as its president not only a proud KGB spy with no significant education or experience in democratic politics but one nominated to his position by a figure they purported to despise.

RUSSIA’S REPORT CARD FOR 2006

Subject……………..GradeClass Rank…………..Instructor

Counterfeiting………A……………2……………….European Union

Bribery……………….A…………..2……………….Transparency International

Sexism………………..B………..13/75(83%)………United Nations

Competitiveness…….F………62/125 (50%)………. World Economic Forum

Humanity…………….F……….65/173 (38%)………United Nations

Stability……………..F…………bottom 30%……..Foreign Policy

Jurisprudence………F………151/208 (28%)………World Bank

Honesty…………….F………. 129/159 (19%)……Transparency International

Press Freedom……..F……….147/168 (12%)……..Reporters Without Borders

Environment………..F……….172/178 (4%)………New Economics Foundation

Development………..O………….off scale…………Center for Development

Teacher Comments: This student lacks a work ethic (indeed, ethics of any kind) and is prone to cheating. Spends most of the time doing drugs and staring blankly out the window. Responds to criticism defensively, resorts easily to violence and receives no correction or support in the home environment. Parents likely to blame the teacher for the student’s poor performance. Child is unlikely to graduate, may well face incarceration before attaining the age of majority.

Russia’s Report Card for 2006

La Russophobe has prepared Russia’s report card for the preceding year based on its many evaluations by qualified international organizations and agencies across a broad range of national challenges.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Russia, the little dunce, has failed every subject which might lead to success and passed every subject which might lead to failure with flying colors.

All these studies have been subjects of posts on La Russophobe in the past nine months, and they only scratch the surface of the deep-seated failures that pervade Russian society (such vital topics as population growth, AIDS infection and crime are left unaddressed as we focus on fundamental issues involving the basic operation of the political and social structure of the nation).

These results can hardly be surprising when the nation chooses as its president not only a proud KGB spy with no significant education or experience in democratic politics but one nominated to his position by a figure they purported to despise.

RUSSIA’S REPORT CARD FOR 2006

Subject……………..GradeClass Rank…………..Instructor

Counterfeiting………A……………2……………….European Union

Bribery……………….A…………..2……………….Transparency International

Sexism………………..B………..13/75(83%)………United Nations

Competitiveness…….F………62/125 (50%)………. World Economic Forum

Humanity…………….F……….65/173 (38%)………United Nations

Stability……………..F…………bottom 30%……..Foreign Policy

Jurisprudence………F………151/208 (28%)………World Bank

Honesty…………….F………. 129/159 (19%)……Transparency International

Press Freedom……..F……….147/168 (12%)……..Reporters Without Borders

Environment………..F……….172/178 (4%)………New Economics Foundation

Development………..O………….off scale…………Center for Development

Teacher Comments: This student lacks a work ethic (indeed, ethics of any kind) and is prone to cheating. Spends most of the time doing drugs and staring blankly out the window. Responds to criticism defensively, resorts easily to violence and receives no correction or support in the home environment. Parents likely to blame the teacher for the student’s poor performance. Child is unlikely to graduate, may well face incarceration before attaining the age of majority.

Putin as Despised in West as Bush, maybe More So

Kommersant reports that Vladimir Putin finds himself in the same category of loathing as does U.S. President George W. Bush (no wonder they are so chummy) in the view of European and American voters. Along with the crazed “president” of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the three are the most despised political leaders. In still worse news for Putin, his firebrand critic the newly elected Chancellor of Germany Angel Merkel won the poll. Kommersant states: “In all of the countries in the poll except the U.S., many more respondents dislike Putin than Ahmadinejad. In France, 73% of respondents dislike Putin (as compared to 60% who dislike Ahmadinejad), in Britain 60% (with 53% against Ahmadinejad) and in Spain 80% (with 70% against Ahmadinejad). While Putin has more supporters in the West than Bush, he trails behind such leaders as Hugo Chavez (except among the Spanish) and Fidel Castro (except among the Spanish and Americans).” So much for the bizarre idea that Russia and Putin somehow stand with a coalition in Europe against the “evil” United States. Remember those images from Slate and the Economist? Here’s more evidence that it’s also a ridiculous lie to suggest that Vladimir Putin is some sort of genius of public relations, winning friends and influencing people in the West. Nice try though, little Volodya. Better luck next time.

Bukovsky the Lion, Roaring

On Tuesday La Russophobe reported on the recent protests lodged against the BBC by, among others, the famous Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky (pictured, above left, in his dissident days, he’s now following years of Soviet-era hardship a dead ringer for Marlon Brando, see above right). Commenting in the Economist, La Russophobe‘s admired friend Edward Lucas has now suggested that Bukovsky’s call for confrontation of the neo-Soviet regime is unrealistic. LR is not sure of the precise source of the remarks made by Mr. Bukovsky and has asked Edward for additional details. According to Edward, Bukovsky’s view is that “the West should demand the repeal of a law enacted in Russia this year authorising the elimination of ‘extremists’ anywhere in the world. ‘Extremism’, notes Mr Bukovsky, has been redefined to include any ‘libellous’ statements about the Russian authorities. In principle, death-squads might be used against critics.”

Edward asks what the West would do if, having made such a demand, Russia failed to comply. He writes: Diplomatic frosts (expulsions, recalling ambassadors) have little bite and don’t last. Mr Bukovsky also suggests that NATO invokes Article V (which guarantees the collective security of all members) on the grounds that the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a British citizen, on British soil, by agents of foreign power, constitutes an act of aggression. Hmm. Hard to see the French, Greeks and other NATO Russia-lovers going along with that.” Hard because of the insane French policy that we should swallow hard and smother the Kremlin with kisses, in the hope that the frog will turn into a prince. Just show enough understanding and patience, and Russia will wobble its way to towards European normality.”

Edward writes that Bukovsky has also advocated expelling Russia “from international organisations including the G8 and the Council of Europe. The Kremlin will huff and puff, he says, and perhaps flex its energy muscles a bit, but in the end it will back down.” He claims this also won’t work becauseit is hard to see Western governments doing that in a hurry. First there is no conclusive proof that the Kremlin was responsible for the murder of Mr Litvinenko. Second, if you believe, as Mr Bukovsky does, that the Kremlin is as capable now of cold-blooded murder as it was when it pursued Trotsky, Bandera, Khokhlov and Markov, a law here or there is not going to make that much difference.”

Edward’s suggestion is to approach the problem “at working levels” — behind the scenes in organizations like the European Bank and the UN Development Program, where Russia is making neo-Soviet moves against Georgia — because “Russia is, as so often, overplaying its hand, alienating its allies and consolidating its critics. International institutions are consensus-loving, conflict-shy outfits, and they can only cope with so much brinksmanship. Opinion within them is going to harden against Russia. Expect the dull landscapes of international bureaucracy to be lit up with some entertaining fireworks in the new year.”

Edward may well be right in saying that the French would obstruct an effort to use the power of NATO to curb Russia’s neo-Soviet advances. But if they would, isn’t that something we should find out now, rather than later? If Germany, Britain and the United States favor taking action against Russia and France obstructs it, doesn’t that make France more our enemy than our friend, and isn’t it better to find out about that now, rather than later? If France is that much of a loose cannon, would it really be swayed by “conclusive evidence” that the Kremlin had ordered Litvinenko’s killing? In fact, would anything other than a Kremlin hit on a French government official changer their attitude? As Cold War II begins, we should be able to tell our enemies from our friends.

What’s more, isn’t there something to be said for standing up for doing the right thing even if our effort fail? What is to prevent us from following the both Edward’s and Bukovsky’s recommendations simultaneously? True, even if we prevail and force Russia to repeal it’s law on foreign attacks, that won’t mean Russian attacks on the West will cease. It’s obvious that Russians couldn’t care less about the rule of law and are prepared to act illegally, or else they wouldn’t have elected a proud KGB spy as their president. But forcing Russia’s hand would have value even if the attacks actually escalated. It would prove that the West is willing to take decisive action to resist Russian neo-Soviet activities, sending a clear message to the Russians of the same kind that was sent in the era of containment and which brought down the USSR. Further, it would galavanize world attention and highlight the urgent nature of the situation we now face.

But more important than that, resolute public action would demostrate that we have learned something from our experience with Stalin and Hitler, when we moved too slowly and ended up dealing with a much larger mess than was necessary.

In the end, Vladimir Bukovsky knows the KGB regime from protracted personal experience. Maybe we should listen closely if he tells us how best to communicate with it in order to restrict its malignant advances.

When Will they Ever Learn?

Once again, a hapless Western rocker has been victimized by Russia.

First, Eric Clapton wasn’t even allowed in the country.

Then Madonna got in, and her concert turned out to be one of the biggest disasters in Rock & Roll history, as a tiny audience of “new Russian” automatons gaped slack-jawed and silent while surrounded by a troop of solidiers larger than the crowd in fear of Chechen attack.

And now, Earth Times reports that George Michael has been victimized by the fact, previously reported on La Russophobe, that a person is twenty times more likely to be harmed by fire in Russia than in the United States:

British pop star George Michael received bad news after playing a $3 million gig in Russia on New Year’s Eve — his equipment had gone up in flames.The musical equipment, which was worth a lot of money, should be covered by his huge paycheck from the show he played for Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin, The Sun newspaper reported Thursday.Michael was already on his way back to London on a private jet when the fire started at the suburban Moscow venue, and what’s worse is that it is thought the fire was started by a crewmember playing with leftover pyrotechnics.Among the gear destroyed in the fire was a 42-inch plasma teleprompter and some of the band’s instruments.Michael played his 13-song gig after a talking parrot act and a Russian dance troupe performed.

When will they ever learn? When will they EVER learn?

Comes a Columnist

Mikhail Gorbachev, syndicated columnist

MOSCOW, Jan. 3 (UPI) — Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev will publish a monthly column in newspapers all over the world beginning in this month.

The column, to be published in dozens of newspapers, is a joint venture with New York Times Syndicate, Interfax news service reported Wednesday. The first newspapers to carry the Gorbachev column will be in the United States, Asia, Europe, and South America.

Gorbachev’s first column will discuss issues from 2006. He plans to answer reader inquiries in subsequent articles, Interfax reported.