Daily Archives: February 1, 2007

Those Who Cannot Remember History are . . . Russians!

Kommersant gives us yet another reminder that life in 2007 Russia is no different from life in 1907 Russia for the vast majority of people. Then as now, a tiny cadre of superelite glide through the major cities in gilded carriages while the vast unwashed population languishes in extreme poverty and quite literally dies off. Russia has learned nothing from the extremes of Tsarist behavior, and moreover has learned nothing from the abuses of the post-Tsarist Soviet era. Now, it is combining both forms of failure into one utter nightmare of a society doomed to become “Zaire with permafrost.”

The gap between Russia’s richest and poorest shows no signs of narrowing, according to a new study. The All-Russian Center of Living Standards has presented a report on incomes in Russia in 2006, outlining the emergence of well-off Russians with incomes over 20,000 per capita.

In a study on the income and living standards in Russia, the Center of Living Standards used data of the Russian Statistics Agency and the Pension Fund. The research says the average nominal wage in Russia in 2006 was 10,684, slightly higher than in official reports of the Statistics Agency. LR: That’s $395 per month. And it’s the average. Average means a huge segment of the population is below that, especially since Russia has a large number of millionaires. For every millionaire Russia has, it has to have roughly 3,500 people learning just $100 per month to keep the national average at $395 per person.

According to the study, the income gap between Russia’s 10 percent of riches and poorest people is not narrowing, contrary to reports of the national statistics agency. The difference is still seven-fold, 0.1 percent up last year, compared to 2005.

The percentage of Russians living below the subsistence level went down in 2006 to 11.9 percent from 13.3 percent in 2006. The Russian Center of Living Standards quotes 3,291 rubles a month as the subsistence level in 2006. LR: That’s $4 per day. The Russian government claims $4 per day is enough to live on in Moscow, the world’s most expensive city.

The report also shows that the number of people with incomes between 6,963 and 20,504 rubles grew from 38.7 to 40.4 percent last year. This is the category that the center’s experts call Russian middle class. In its recent study, the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences estimated the number at 21 percent. LR: In Russia, a monthly income of $750 per month is considered high-end upper middle class. That’s $40 per work day, or roughly $5 per hour for an eight-hour day. An upper middle class Russian doesn’t even earn the American minimum wage. Russia is rolling in oil revenue, and this puny wage group increases by less than 2%? Something is rotten somewhere. Guess where.

The number of “well-off and rich” Russians with incomes higher than 20,500 rubles went up last year from 8.5 to 9.2 percent, according to the Living Standards’ research. LR: That is not a misprint. In Russia, you are “rich” if you earn more than $5 per hour.

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Russia’s Nuclear Nightmare is Spreading

ABC News reports:

An unspecified safety problem prompted an emergency shutdown at a Russian nuclear power plant, but no increase in radiation levels were reported, federal officials said Tuesday. The incident occurred at the first unit of the Balakovo plant around 11:15 p.m. Monday, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. The plant, located near the Volga River city of Saratov, about 450 miles southeast of Moscow, has four 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactors. Nuclear regulators said the problem was located and corrected Tuesday morning and could be restarted later in the day. “Initial reports indicate the cause of the shutdown was a problem with the safety system. The reactor has been taken off-line,” the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement. The Balakovo plant was the site of a false alarm in late 2004, when a turbine malfunction prompted a shutdown and rumors of a major accident sparked panic among nearby residents. Russian lawmakers recently passed legislation to restructure the country’s nuclear power sector, which includes 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for about 17 percent of electricity generation. President Vladimir Putin has pledged to build another 42 atomic reactors by 2030 and increase the proportion of electricity generation produced by nuclear plants to about 25 percent. Environmental groups have criticized government plans to keep older model nuclear plants operational, saying that graphite reactors like the one that exploded in Chernobyl and other types have serious safety flaws. About half of Russia’s nuclear reactors are of the graphite and older models.

Despite these problems, Russia is moving forward to construct nuclear power stations in other countries. It is already deeply enmeshed in Iran, and now it has been announced that it will place numerous reactors in India:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to build four new nuclear reactors for India. India’s prime minister is calling the relationship with Moscow a new “strategic partnership” with energy at the center. The two countries were allies during the Cold War. These days, they’re refreshing their friendship through energy and military cooperation. Putin will be the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations Friday. Russia has been eager to reassert its traditional role as the chief supplier of nuclear know-how to India in the wake of a landmark civilian nuclear deal between New Delhi and Washington. Last year’s US-India pact appeared to give American companies a strong position in India’s nuclear market.

Russia’s Nuclear Nightmare is Spreading

ABC News reports:

An unspecified safety problem prompted an emergency shutdown at a Russian nuclear power plant, but no increase in radiation levels were reported, federal officials said Tuesday. The incident occurred at the first unit of the Balakovo plant around 11:15 p.m. Monday, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. The plant, located near the Volga River city of Saratov, about 450 miles southeast of Moscow, has four 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactors. Nuclear regulators said the problem was located and corrected Tuesday morning and could be restarted later in the day. “Initial reports indicate the cause of the shutdown was a problem with the safety system. The reactor has been taken off-line,” the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement. The Balakovo plant was the site of a false alarm in late 2004, when a turbine malfunction prompted a shutdown and rumors of a major accident sparked panic among nearby residents. Russian lawmakers recently passed legislation to restructure the country’s nuclear power sector, which includes 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for about 17 percent of electricity generation. President Vladimir Putin has pledged to build another 42 atomic reactors by 2030 and increase the proportion of electricity generation produced by nuclear plants to about 25 percent. Environmental groups have criticized government plans to keep older model nuclear plants operational, saying that graphite reactors like the one that exploded in Chernobyl and other types have serious safety flaws. About half of Russia’s nuclear reactors are of the graphite and older models.

Despite these problems, Russia is moving forward to construct nuclear power stations in other countries. It is already deeply enmeshed in Iran, and now it has been announced that it will place numerous reactors in India:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to build four new nuclear reactors for India. India’s prime minister is calling the relationship with Moscow a new “strategic partnership” with energy at the center. The two countries were allies during the Cold War. These days, they’re refreshing their friendship through energy and military cooperation. Putin will be the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations Friday. Russia has been eager to reassert its traditional role as the chief supplier of nuclear know-how to India in the wake of a landmark civilian nuclear deal between New Delhi and Washington. Last year’s US-India pact appeared to give American companies a strong position in India’s nuclear market.

Russia’s Nuclear Nightmare is Spreading

ABC News reports:

An unspecified safety problem prompted an emergency shutdown at a Russian nuclear power plant, but no increase in radiation levels were reported, federal officials said Tuesday. The incident occurred at the first unit of the Balakovo plant around 11:15 p.m. Monday, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. The plant, located near the Volga River city of Saratov, about 450 miles southeast of Moscow, has four 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactors. Nuclear regulators said the problem was located and corrected Tuesday morning and could be restarted later in the day. “Initial reports indicate the cause of the shutdown was a problem with the safety system. The reactor has been taken off-line,” the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement. The Balakovo plant was the site of a false alarm in late 2004, when a turbine malfunction prompted a shutdown and rumors of a major accident sparked panic among nearby residents. Russian lawmakers recently passed legislation to restructure the country’s nuclear power sector, which includes 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for about 17 percent of electricity generation. President Vladimir Putin has pledged to build another 42 atomic reactors by 2030 and increase the proportion of electricity generation produced by nuclear plants to about 25 percent. Environmental groups have criticized government plans to keep older model nuclear plants operational, saying that graphite reactors like the one that exploded in Chernobyl and other types have serious safety flaws. About half of Russia’s nuclear reactors are of the graphite and older models.

Despite these problems, Russia is moving forward to construct nuclear power stations in other countries. It is already deeply enmeshed in Iran, and now it has been announced that it will place numerous reactors in India:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to build four new nuclear reactors for India. India’s prime minister is calling the relationship with Moscow a new “strategic partnership” with energy at the center. The two countries were allies during the Cold War. These days, they’re refreshing their friendship through energy and military cooperation. Putin will be the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations Friday. Russia has been eager to reassert its traditional role as the chief supplier of nuclear know-how to India in the wake of a landmark civilian nuclear deal between New Delhi and Washington. Last year’s US-India pact appeared to give American companies a strong position in India’s nuclear market.

Russia’s Nuclear Nightmare is Spreading

ABC News reports:

An unspecified safety problem prompted an emergency shutdown at a Russian nuclear power plant, but no increase in radiation levels were reported, federal officials said Tuesday. The incident occurred at the first unit of the Balakovo plant around 11:15 p.m. Monday, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. The plant, located near the Volga River city of Saratov, about 450 miles southeast of Moscow, has four 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactors. Nuclear regulators said the problem was located and corrected Tuesday morning and could be restarted later in the day. “Initial reports indicate the cause of the shutdown was a problem with the safety system. The reactor has been taken off-line,” the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement. The Balakovo plant was the site of a false alarm in late 2004, when a turbine malfunction prompted a shutdown and rumors of a major accident sparked panic among nearby residents. Russian lawmakers recently passed legislation to restructure the country’s nuclear power sector, which includes 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for about 17 percent of electricity generation. President Vladimir Putin has pledged to build another 42 atomic reactors by 2030 and increase the proportion of electricity generation produced by nuclear plants to about 25 percent. Environmental groups have criticized government plans to keep older model nuclear plants operational, saying that graphite reactors like the one that exploded in Chernobyl and other types have serious safety flaws. About half of Russia’s nuclear reactors are of the graphite and older models.

Despite these problems, Russia is moving forward to construct nuclear power stations in other countries. It is already deeply enmeshed in Iran, and now it has been announced that it will place numerous reactors in India:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to build four new nuclear reactors for India. India’s prime minister is calling the relationship with Moscow a new “strategic partnership” with energy at the center. The two countries were allies during the Cold War. These days, they’re refreshing their friendship through energy and military cooperation. Putin will be the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations Friday. Russia has been eager to reassert its traditional role as the chief supplier of nuclear know-how to India in the wake of a landmark civilian nuclear deal between New Delhi and Washington. Last year’s US-India pact appeared to give American companies a strong position in India’s nuclear market.

Russia’s Nuclear Nightmare is Spreading

ABC News reports:

An unspecified safety problem prompted an emergency shutdown at a Russian nuclear power plant, but no increase in radiation levels were reported, federal officials said Tuesday. The incident occurred at the first unit of the Balakovo plant around 11:15 p.m. Monday, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. The plant, located near the Volga River city of Saratov, about 450 miles southeast of Moscow, has four 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactors. Nuclear regulators said the problem was located and corrected Tuesday morning and could be restarted later in the day. “Initial reports indicate the cause of the shutdown was a problem with the safety system. The reactor has been taken off-line,” the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement. The Balakovo plant was the site of a false alarm in late 2004, when a turbine malfunction prompted a shutdown and rumors of a major accident sparked panic among nearby residents. Russian lawmakers recently passed legislation to restructure the country’s nuclear power sector, which includes 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for about 17 percent of electricity generation. President Vladimir Putin has pledged to build another 42 atomic reactors by 2030 and increase the proportion of electricity generation produced by nuclear plants to about 25 percent. Environmental groups have criticized government plans to keep older model nuclear plants operational, saying that graphite reactors like the one that exploded in Chernobyl and other types have serious safety flaws. About half of Russia’s nuclear reactors are of the graphite and older models.

Despite these problems, Russia is moving forward to construct nuclear power stations in other countries. It is already deeply enmeshed in Iran, and now it has been announced that it will place numerous reactors in India:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered to build four new nuclear reactors for India. India’s prime minister is calling the relationship with Moscow a new “strategic partnership” with energy at the center. The two countries were allies during the Cold War. These days, they’re refreshing their friendship through energy and military cooperation. Putin will be the guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations Friday. Russia has been eager to reassert its traditional role as the chief supplier of nuclear know-how to India in the wake of a landmark civilian nuclear deal between New Delhi and Washington. Last year’s US-India pact appeared to give American companies a strong position in India’s nuclear market.

Disease Continues to Ravage Russia

Last week, La Russophobe reported on a severe outbreak of hemhorragic fever in European Russia. This week, there is more bad news to report. Scientific American reports that “Russia has recorded its first cases this year of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu in dead domestic birds, the country’s animal and plant health agency said on Monday. Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement the virus was detected in dead birds found in three domestic yards in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia. ‘Yes, it’s H5N1,’ a spokesman for the agency said, when asked to confirm the strain of the virus. Rosselkhoznadzor said measures were being taken to prevent the spread of infection in the three settlements where cases were found — Labinsk, Upornaya and Borodinskaya.”

As usual, the even worse news was the classic neo-Soviet denial from Russian officals that there was any problem whatsoever.