Daily Archives: February 3, 2007

New Yorker Responds to LR and Readers

La Russophobe is delighted to announce that the New Yorker has responded favorably to her request, bolstered by that of several readers, and placed Michael Specter’s brilliant exposé “Kremlin Inc.” up on the world wide web for all to see. Click through to read the important piece, and if you get a chance drop a note to the New Yorker to praise both the quality of Michael’s reporting and their editioral decision to release the piece: themail@newyorker.com.

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A message from LR’s Translator

In response to a reader who commented on our response to the eXile by making disparaging comments about other people’s command of Russian, LR’s translator posted a couple of observations about mistakes the commenter had made in his own Russian. Now he offers readers a few general observations about this kind of discourse:

My last two notes bring me to a larger point, something I’ve noticed over the years, and this seems like as good a place as any to mention it. The people who are most prone to basing ad hominem arguments on other people’s proficiency in Russian almost always fall into one (or more) of three categories:

1) Those who don’t speak it very well themselves, but have always dreamed of being able to scold their fellow countrymen for being narrow-minded and provincial, especially about foreign languages (these are mostly Russophile expats);

2) Those for whom it is their sole qualification for speaking on Russian affairs (these are often Russian-Americans, who forget that foreign affairs, human rights, jurisprudence, etc. are all legitimate fields of inquiry in themselves);

3) Russians who are trying to get critics to shut up so they can hear the gentle music of their own propaganda machines. (Problem is, more and more of their critics are Russians themselves… that’s where I come in.)

All (ALL) of the really competent Russian specialists I’ve known (and I’ve known a lot), regardless of whether they tended toward the Russophile orRussophobe side of the house, have religiously avoided making any mention of their or anyone else’s proficiency in the language. I’ve been delighted sometimes to discover some of them had extremely high levels of fluency in the language, because they never mentioned it to me themselves, and their friends don’t usually make a big deal out of it either. By contrast, almost every rabid Russophile I have ever met (with the exception of ethnic Russians, and I’m not sure they can be called “Russophiles” anyway) who claimed to speak Russian has disappointed me, usually very badly, when I’ve had the chance to hear them trying to do it. There’s probably a deep psychological explanation for this phenomenon — something that speaks to the origins of self-loathing and other inferiority complexes — but I’ll leave that to the specialists and those who like to speculate on such things.

LR would like to add: The very last (LAST) thing in the whole wide world that anybody who hopes for a better future for Russia should be doing is dissuading people from using the Russian language by attacking them for it when they do or by lording over them the fact that they don’t. LR reported not long ago on the possible demise of the Russian language as it goes the way of the population, which is going the way of the dodo. Once again, we see a so-called Russophile doing far more harm to Russia than the country’s worst enemies.

A message from LR’s Translator

In response to a reader who commented on our response to the eXile by making disparaging comments about other people’s command of Russian, LR’s translator posted a couple of observations about mistakes the commenter had made in his own Russian. Now he offers readers a few general observations about this kind of discourse:

My last two notes bring me to a larger point, something I’ve noticed over the years, and this seems like as good a place as any to mention it. The people who are most prone to basing ad hominem arguments on other people’s proficiency in Russian almost always fall into one (or more) of three categories:

1) Those who don’t speak it very well themselves, but have always dreamed of being able to scold their fellow countrymen for being narrow-minded and provincial, especially about foreign languages (these are mostly Russophile expats);

2) Those for whom it is their sole qualification for speaking on Russian affairs (these are often Russian-Americans, who forget that foreign affairs, human rights, jurisprudence, etc. are all legitimate fields of inquiry in themselves);

3) Russians who are trying to get critics to shut up so they can hear the gentle music of their own propaganda machines. (Problem is, more and more of their critics are Russians themselves… that’s where I come in.)

All (ALL) of the really competent Russian specialists I’ve known (and I’ve known a lot), regardless of whether they tended toward the Russophile orRussophobe side of the house, have religiously avoided making any mention of their or anyone else’s proficiency in the language. I’ve been delighted sometimes to discover some of them had extremely high levels of fluency in the language, because they never mentioned it to me themselves, and their friends don’t usually make a big deal out of it either. By contrast, almost every rabid Russophile I have ever met (with the exception of ethnic Russians, and I’m not sure they can be called “Russophiles” anyway) who claimed to speak Russian has disappointed me, usually very badly, when I’ve had the chance to hear them trying to do it. There’s probably a deep psychological explanation for this phenomenon — something that speaks to the origins of self-loathing and other inferiority complexes — but I’ll leave that to the specialists and those who like to speculate on such things.

LR would like to add: The very last (LAST) thing in the whole wide world that anybody who hopes for a better future for Russia should be doing is dissuading people from using the Russian language by attacking them for it when they do or by lording over them the fact that they don’t. LR reported not long ago on the possible demise of the Russian language as it goes the way of the population, which is going the way of the dodo. Once again, we see a so-called Russophile doing far more harm to Russia than the country’s worst enemies.

A message from LR’s Translator

In response to a reader who commented on our response to the eXile by making disparaging comments about other people’s command of Russian, LR’s translator posted a couple of observations about mistakes the commenter had made in his own Russian. Now he offers readers a few general observations about this kind of discourse:

My last two notes bring me to a larger point, something I’ve noticed over the years, and this seems like as good a place as any to mention it. The people who are most prone to basing ad hominem arguments on other people’s proficiency in Russian almost always fall into one (or more) of three categories:

1) Those who don’t speak it very well themselves, but have always dreamed of being able to scold their fellow countrymen for being narrow-minded and provincial, especially about foreign languages (these are mostly Russophile expats);

2) Those for whom it is their sole qualification for speaking on Russian affairs (these are often Russian-Americans, who forget that foreign affairs, human rights, jurisprudence, etc. are all legitimate fields of inquiry in themselves);

3) Russians who are trying to get critics to shut up so they can hear the gentle music of their own propaganda machines. (Problem is, more and more of their critics are Russians themselves… that’s where I come in.)

All (ALL) of the really competent Russian specialists I’ve known (and I’ve known a lot), regardless of whether they tended toward the Russophile orRussophobe side of the house, have religiously avoided making any mention of their or anyone else’s proficiency in the language. I’ve been delighted sometimes to discover some of them had extremely high levels of fluency in the language, because they never mentioned it to me themselves, and their friends don’t usually make a big deal out of it either. By contrast, almost every rabid Russophile I have ever met (with the exception of ethnic Russians, and I’m not sure they can be called “Russophiles” anyway) who claimed to speak Russian has disappointed me, usually very badly, when I’ve had the chance to hear them trying to do it. There’s probably a deep psychological explanation for this phenomenon — something that speaks to the origins of self-loathing and other inferiority complexes — but I’ll leave that to the specialists and those who like to speculate on such things.

LR would like to add: The very last (LAST) thing in the whole wide world that anybody who hopes for a better future for Russia should be doing is dissuading people from using the Russian language by attacking them for it when they do or by lording over them the fact that they don’t. LR reported not long ago on the possible demise of the Russian language as it goes the way of the population, which is going the way of the dodo. Once again, we see a so-called Russophile doing far more harm to Russia than the country’s worst enemies.

A message from LR’s Translator

In response to a reader who commented on our response to the eXile by making disparaging comments about other people’s command of Russian, LR’s translator posted a couple of observations about mistakes the commenter had made in his own Russian. Now he offers readers a few general observations about this kind of discourse:

My last two notes bring me to a larger point, something I’ve noticed over the years, and this seems like as good a place as any to mention it. The people who are most prone to basing ad hominem arguments on other people’s proficiency in Russian almost always fall into one (or more) of three categories:

1) Those who don’t speak it very well themselves, but have always dreamed of being able to scold their fellow countrymen for being narrow-minded and provincial, especially about foreign languages (these are mostly Russophile expats);

2) Those for whom it is their sole qualification for speaking on Russian affairs (these are often Russian-Americans, who forget that foreign affairs, human rights, jurisprudence, etc. are all legitimate fields of inquiry in themselves);

3) Russians who are trying to get critics to shut up so they can hear the gentle music of their own propaganda machines. (Problem is, more and more of their critics are Russians themselves… that’s where I come in.)

All (ALL) of the really competent Russian specialists I’ve known (and I’ve known a lot), regardless of whether they tended toward the Russophile orRussophobe side of the house, have religiously avoided making any mention of their or anyone else’s proficiency in the language. I’ve been delighted sometimes to discover some of them had extremely high levels of fluency in the language, because they never mentioned it to me themselves, and their friends don’t usually make a big deal out of it either. By contrast, almost every rabid Russophile I have ever met (with the exception of ethnic Russians, and I’m not sure they can be called “Russophiles” anyway) who claimed to speak Russian has disappointed me, usually very badly, when I’ve had the chance to hear them trying to do it. There’s probably a deep psychological explanation for this phenomenon — something that speaks to the origins of self-loathing and other inferiority complexes — but I’ll leave that to the specialists and those who like to speculate on such things.

LR would like to add: The very last (LAST) thing in the whole wide world that anybody who hopes for a better future for Russia should be doing is dissuading people from using the Russian language by attacking them for it when they do or by lording over them the fact that they don’t. LR reported not long ago on the possible demise of the Russian language as it goes the way of the population, which is going the way of the dodo. Once again, we see a so-called Russophile doing far more harm to Russia than the country’s worst enemies.

A message from LR’s Translator

In response to a reader who commented on our response to the eXile by making disparaging comments about other people’s command of Russian, LR’s translator posted a couple of observations about mistakes the commenter had made in his own Russian. Now he offers readers a few general observations about this kind of discourse:

My last two notes bring me to a larger point, something I’ve noticed over the years, and this seems like as good a place as any to mention it. The people who are most prone to basing ad hominem arguments on other people’s proficiency in Russian almost always fall into one (or more) of three categories:

1) Those who don’t speak it very well themselves, but have always dreamed of being able to scold their fellow countrymen for being narrow-minded and provincial, especially about foreign languages (these are mostly Russophile expats);

2) Those for whom it is their sole qualification for speaking on Russian affairs (these are often Russian-Americans, who forget that foreign affairs, human rights, jurisprudence, etc. are all legitimate fields of inquiry in themselves);

3) Russians who are trying to get critics to shut up so they can hear the gentle music of their own propaganda machines. (Problem is, more and more of their critics are Russians themselves… that’s where I come in.)

All (ALL) of the really competent Russian specialists I’ve known (and I’ve known a lot), regardless of whether they tended toward the Russophile orRussophobe side of the house, have religiously avoided making any mention of their or anyone else’s proficiency in the language. I’ve been delighted sometimes to discover some of them had extremely high levels of fluency in the language, because they never mentioned it to me themselves, and their friends don’t usually make a big deal out of it either. By contrast, almost every rabid Russophile I have ever met (with the exception of ethnic Russians, and I’m not sure they can be called “Russophiles” anyway) who claimed to speak Russian has disappointed me, usually very badly, when I’ve had the chance to hear them trying to do it. There’s probably a deep psychological explanation for this phenomenon — something that speaks to the origins of self-loathing and other inferiority complexes — but I’ll leave that to the specialists and those who like to speculate on such things.

LR would like to add: The very last (LAST) thing in the whole wide world that anybody who hopes for a better future for Russia should be doing is dissuading people from using the Russian language by attacking them for it when they do or by lording over them the fact that they don’t. LR reported not long ago on the possible demise of the Russian language as it goes the way of the population, which is going the way of the dodo. Once again, we see a so-called Russophile doing far more harm to Russia than the country’s worst enemies.

The Last Nationalization Domino Tumbles

The Moscow Times reports that having nationalized the oil and gas industry, the Kremlin is now moving on the last remaining area of private ownership, minerals.

Vladimir Potanin’s buyout of CEO Mikhail Prokhorov’s blocking stake in Norilsk Nickel and other assets within the Interros holding company could well lead to state control over the company, one of the country’s last few strategic assets in private hands, analysts said Thursday.

The change in ownership appeared largely to be a surprise to the market, but comes just weeks after Prokhorov was detained by French police during an investigation into a prostitution ring and could be linked to it in some way, analysts said. Under the deal, Potanin, one of the country’s most politically savvy oligarchs who has taken care to stay loyal to the Kremlin, will have a stake of about 55 percent in Norilsk. Potanin and Prokhorov will split their shares in other Interros assets, including Polyus Gold, the country’s largest gold miner.

Shares of Norilsk on the RTS rose 5.74 percent to $175 on Thursday.

Where Potanin will get an estimated $7.8 billion to take over Prokhorov’s share of approximately 27 percent in Interros was not immediately clear. Interros gave no financial details of the buyout in its statement on the issue Wednesday. “There is absolutely no funding now,” said Rob Edwards, metals and mining analyst at Renaissance Capital, referring to estimates that Potanin would need to raise extra cash for the deal. While it is unclear exactly where Potanin will get the money to acquire Prokhorov’s share, it should be very straightforward for him to finance the buyout through loans, said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. Servicing the debt could put more pressure on Potanin, however, and may lead to the buyout being a short-term one, with someone else stepping in over the next few months to take over the debts and assets, analysts said. Potanin may also wish to cash in some of his assets, which could lead to higher dividends or share buybacks, Deutsche UFG said in a note to investors Thursday. In any case, Potanin’s move “is not the endgame but one in a chain of events,” Edwards said.

Weafer agreed that the investment was short term rather than long term. The state or a state-controlled buyer, such as diamond monopoly Alrosa, will likely take control — first of a blocking share and later perhaps of a controlling one, he said. Norilsk, the world’s largest nickel producer, is a key strategic asset over which the state would like to have influence, Weafer said. In a note to investors Thursday, Renaissance Capital said it believed control over Norilsk Nickel would never be allowed to shift to a non-Russian or non-favored group.