Daily Archives: March 31, 2007

Annals of Cold War II: Send in the Spies

The Moscow Times reports on yet another convincing demonstration by Russia that it is a friendly, reliable country that means the USA no harm:

A senior U.S. counterintelligence official said Thursday that Russia had fully restored its espionage capabilities against the United States after a period of decline following the Cold War.

Joel Brenner, the head of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, said the United States was concerned that Russia was continuing to ramp up its operations.

“The Russians are now back at Cold War levels in their efforts against the United States,” he said at an event held by the American Bar Association, a lawyers’ group. “They are sending over an increasing and troubling number of intelligence agents.”

The comments come at time of greater tension between the two countries. President Vladimir Putin has sharply criticized the United States in recent months, and he told Arab leaders in a letter Thursday that Washington should set a time limit for its military presence in Iraq. Also Thursday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the United States for conducting naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.

Brenner, whose job is to oversee counterintelligence strategy and policy for U.S. intelligence chief Mike McConnell, did not provide details about suspected Russian intelligence operations in the United States. Sensitive counterintelligence activities are classified.

But he said Moscow appeared less interested in U.S. commercial and military technology than other countries, including China, which U.S. officials including China, which U.S. officials have described as the greatest counterintelligence threat facing the United States.

McConnell also warned the U.S. Senate last month that Russia was taking a step backward in its democratic progress and could be heading for a controlled succession to Putin. Moscow responded by describing his remarks as “outdated assumptions.”

The U.S. government has suffered several embarrassing security breaches at the hands of Russian and Soviet intelligence moles, including former CIA case officer Aldrich Ames and former FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

Brenner said Ames provided the Soviets with enough information about U.S. officials to “decapitate” America’s leadership in the event of war.

But Moscow intelligence does not now appear interested in posing a physical threat to U.S. leaders. “It’s not a strike threat they’re after. I don’t want to give that impression,” Brenner said.

Russian officials have expressed frustration at what they see as U.S. foreign policy unrestrained by consultation with other world powers, including Russia. They have criticized the expansion of NATO into the former Soviet sphere of influence and U.S. plans to install radar and interceptors in Eastern Europe as part of a missile defense program.

In turn, U.S. officials have warned that Russia’s increased assertiveness in challenging U.S. policy is complicating cooperation on important foreign policy goals, including counterterrorism, nonproliferation and the promotion of democracy in the Middle East.

Both sides have denied that the tension means a return to the Cold War.

The Kremlin said Thursday that Putin had sent a letter to a summit of Arab leaders calling for a time limit on the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

Putin said in the letter to the summit, which opened Wednesday in the Saudi capital, that Russia highly valued “the Arab world’s contribution to building a just, multipolar world order and political and diplomatic settlement of crises.”

In what sounded like a veiled criticism of the United States, Putin complained in the letter against a “policy of unilateral use of force and a desire to monopolize conflict settlement.” He also criticized those seeking to “provoke a confrontation between civilizations and faiths.”

Lavrov, meanwhile, criticized the United States for conducting naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf.

Lavrov said: “The Persian Gulf is in such a troubled state today that any actions in the region, especially those with the use of the navy and other military forces, should, of course, take into account the need to prevent the exacerbation of the situation even further. It has already been heightened to the limit.”

The U.S. exercise, which ended Wednesday, was the largest show of force in the Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, with 15 ships, 125 aircraft and 13,000 sailors taking part in maneuvers a few dozen kilometers off Iran’s coast.

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Who’s Afraid of a Big Bad Bolshevik?

Vladimir Putin, that’s who. As well he should be, given the fact that today’s Russia is exactly like Russia of 1917, with a tiny class of super-rich “oligarchs” sucking the blood of a vast ocean of impoverished masses and hence ripe for class warfare and revolution. Kommersant reports:

Rosokhrankultura, the federal mass media and culture oversight agency, has sent Kommersant a warning not to use the word combination “National Bolshevik Party” or the abbreviation NBP, inasmuch as the National Bolshevik Party is not officially registered. The agency cited “the impermissibility of violations of the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation” in a letter signed by deputy chairman of the agency Alexander Romanenko.

Romanenkov’s letter makes reference to the March 12, 2007, article “They Voted with Their Hands and Feet at the Polls” describing actions staged by the National Bolsheviks at polling places during the regional parliamentary elections. “In the Russian federation, there is no political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’” Romanenkov writes. Therefore, “the information published by the editorial staff of Kommersant newspaper about the existence and activity of a political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’ as well as about specific persons who are allegedly members and activists in the NBP, can be construed as falsification of socially significant information, the circulation of rumors in the guise of reliable reports and as information that does not correspond with reality.” Rosokhrankultura posted a letter to the media on its website in July 2006 forbidding them to use that word combination and threatening them with the cancellation of their licenses.

“I know that all publications try to avoid that word combination so as not to receive a warning,” commented Igor Yakovenko, general secretary of the Journalists’ Union. “I can say with complete certainty that Rosokhrankultura’s claims are groundless and are politically motivated.” Kommersant was unable to find other publications that had received warnings. “I wrote, write and will continue to write NBP,’” said Newsweek reporter Aidar Buribaev, “because it is now a real political force and interesting events happen around it.” Gazeta newspaper political reviewer said, “I write both the full name and the abbreviation, but there has been no scolding from the authorities.”

Head of the Kommersant legal department Georgy Ivanov noted that “the warning has no legal consequences.” National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov advised the newspaper to refer to those who share his views by their Russian nicknames of limonovtsy or natsboly.

Who’s Afraid of a Big Bad Bolshevik?

Vladimir Putin, that’s who. As well he should be, given the fact that today’s Russia is exactly like Russia of 1917, with a tiny class of super-rich “oligarchs” sucking the blood of a vast ocean of impoverished masses and hence ripe for class warfare and revolution. Kommersant reports:

Rosokhrankultura, the federal mass media and culture oversight agency, has sent Kommersant a warning not to use the word combination “National Bolshevik Party” or the abbreviation NBP, inasmuch as the National Bolshevik Party is not officially registered. The agency cited “the impermissibility of violations of the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation” in a letter signed by deputy chairman of the agency Alexander Romanenko.

Romanenkov’s letter makes reference to the March 12, 2007, article “They Voted with Their Hands and Feet at the Polls” describing actions staged by the National Bolsheviks at polling places during the regional parliamentary elections. “In the Russian federation, there is no political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’” Romanenkov writes. Therefore, “the information published by the editorial staff of Kommersant newspaper about the existence and activity of a political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’ as well as about specific persons who are allegedly members and activists in the NBP, can be construed as falsification of socially significant information, the circulation of rumors in the guise of reliable reports and as information that does not correspond with reality.” Rosokhrankultura posted a letter to the media on its website in July 2006 forbidding them to use that word combination and threatening them with the cancellation of their licenses.

“I know that all publications try to avoid that word combination so as not to receive a warning,” commented Igor Yakovenko, general secretary of the Journalists’ Union. “I can say with complete certainty that Rosokhrankultura’s claims are groundless and are politically motivated.” Kommersant was unable to find other publications that had received warnings. “I wrote, write and will continue to write NBP,’” said Newsweek reporter Aidar Buribaev, “because it is now a real political force and interesting events happen around it.” Gazeta newspaper political reviewer said, “I write both the full name and the abbreviation, but there has been no scolding from the authorities.”

Head of the Kommersant legal department Georgy Ivanov noted that “the warning has no legal consequences.” National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov advised the newspaper to refer to those who share his views by their Russian nicknames of limonovtsy or natsboly.

Who’s Afraid of a Big Bad Bolshevik?

Vladimir Putin, that’s who. As well he should be, given the fact that today’s Russia is exactly like Russia of 1917, with a tiny class of super-rich “oligarchs” sucking the blood of a vast ocean of impoverished masses and hence ripe for class warfare and revolution. Kommersant reports:

Rosokhrankultura, the federal mass media and culture oversight agency, has sent Kommersant a warning not to use the word combination “National Bolshevik Party” or the abbreviation NBP, inasmuch as the National Bolshevik Party is not officially registered. The agency cited “the impermissibility of violations of the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation” in a letter signed by deputy chairman of the agency Alexander Romanenko.

Romanenkov’s letter makes reference to the March 12, 2007, article “They Voted with Their Hands and Feet at the Polls” describing actions staged by the National Bolsheviks at polling places during the regional parliamentary elections. “In the Russian federation, there is no political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’” Romanenkov writes. Therefore, “the information published by the editorial staff of Kommersant newspaper about the existence and activity of a political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’ as well as about specific persons who are allegedly members and activists in the NBP, can be construed as falsification of socially significant information, the circulation of rumors in the guise of reliable reports and as information that does not correspond with reality.” Rosokhrankultura posted a letter to the media on its website in July 2006 forbidding them to use that word combination and threatening them with the cancellation of their licenses.

“I know that all publications try to avoid that word combination so as not to receive a warning,” commented Igor Yakovenko, general secretary of the Journalists’ Union. “I can say with complete certainty that Rosokhrankultura’s claims are groundless and are politically motivated.” Kommersant was unable to find other publications that had received warnings. “I wrote, write and will continue to write NBP,’” said Newsweek reporter Aidar Buribaev, “because it is now a real political force and interesting events happen around it.” Gazeta newspaper political reviewer said, “I write both the full name and the abbreviation, but there has been no scolding from the authorities.”

Head of the Kommersant legal department Georgy Ivanov noted that “the warning has no legal consequences.” National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov advised the newspaper to refer to those who share his views by their Russian nicknames of limonovtsy or natsboly.

Who’s Afraid of a Big Bad Bolshevik?

Vladimir Putin, that’s who. As well he should be, given the fact that today’s Russia is exactly like Russia of 1917, with a tiny class of super-rich “oligarchs” sucking the blood of a vast ocean of impoverished masses and hence ripe for class warfare and revolution. Kommersant reports:

Rosokhrankultura, the federal mass media and culture oversight agency, has sent Kommersant a warning not to use the word combination “National Bolshevik Party” or the abbreviation NBP, inasmuch as the National Bolshevik Party is not officially registered. The agency cited “the impermissibility of violations of the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation” in a letter signed by deputy chairman of the agency Alexander Romanenko.

Romanenkov’s letter makes reference to the March 12, 2007, article “They Voted with Their Hands and Feet at the Polls” describing actions staged by the National Bolsheviks at polling places during the regional parliamentary elections. “In the Russian federation, there is no political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’” Romanenkov writes. Therefore, “the information published by the editorial staff of Kommersant newspaper about the existence and activity of a political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’ as well as about specific persons who are allegedly members and activists in the NBP, can be construed as falsification of socially significant information, the circulation of rumors in the guise of reliable reports and as information that does not correspond with reality.” Rosokhrankultura posted a letter to the media on its website in July 2006 forbidding them to use that word combination and threatening them with the cancellation of their licenses.

“I know that all publications try to avoid that word combination so as not to receive a warning,” commented Igor Yakovenko, general secretary of the Journalists’ Union. “I can say with complete certainty that Rosokhrankultura’s claims are groundless and are politically motivated.” Kommersant was unable to find other publications that had received warnings. “I wrote, write and will continue to write NBP,’” said Newsweek reporter Aidar Buribaev, “because it is now a real political force and interesting events happen around it.” Gazeta newspaper political reviewer said, “I write both the full name and the abbreviation, but there has been no scolding from the authorities.”

Head of the Kommersant legal department Georgy Ivanov noted that “the warning has no legal consequences.” National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov advised the newspaper to refer to those who share his views by their Russian nicknames of limonovtsy or natsboly.

Who’s Afraid of a Big Bad Bolshevik?

Vladimir Putin, that’s who. As well he should be, given the fact that today’s Russia is exactly like Russia of 1917, with a tiny class of super-rich “oligarchs” sucking the blood of a vast ocean of impoverished masses and hence ripe for class warfare and revolution. Kommersant reports:

Rosokhrankultura, the federal mass media and culture oversight agency, has sent Kommersant a warning not to use the word combination “National Bolshevik Party” or the abbreviation NBP, inasmuch as the National Bolshevik Party is not officially registered. The agency cited “the impermissibility of violations of the requirements of the legislation of the Russian Federation” in a letter signed by deputy chairman of the agency Alexander Romanenko.

Romanenkov’s letter makes reference to the March 12, 2007, article “They Voted with Their Hands and Feet at the Polls” describing actions staged by the National Bolsheviks at polling places during the regional parliamentary elections. “In the Russian federation, there is no political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’” Romanenkov writes. Therefore, “the information published by the editorial staff of Kommersant newspaper about the existence and activity of a political party with the name National Bolshevik Party,’ as well as about specific persons who are allegedly members and activists in the NBP, can be construed as falsification of socially significant information, the circulation of rumors in the guise of reliable reports and as information that does not correspond with reality.” Rosokhrankultura posted a letter to the media on its website in July 2006 forbidding them to use that word combination and threatening them with the cancellation of their licenses.

“I know that all publications try to avoid that word combination so as not to receive a warning,” commented Igor Yakovenko, general secretary of the Journalists’ Union. “I can say with complete certainty that Rosokhrankultura’s claims are groundless and are politically motivated.” Kommersant was unable to find other publications that had received warnings. “I wrote, write and will continue to write NBP,’” said Newsweek reporter Aidar Buribaev, “because it is now a real political force and interesting events happen around it.” Gazeta newspaper political reviewer said, “I write both the full name and the abbreviation, but there has been no scolding from the authorities.”

Head of the Kommersant legal department Georgy Ivanov noted that “the warning has no legal consequences.” National Bolshevik leader Eduard Limonov advised the newspaper to refer to those who share his views by their Russian nicknames of limonovtsy or natsboly.

You’re Only Stealing from Yourselves, Russians

The Moscow Times reports that the chickens of Russian contempt for legality in general and copyright law in particular are coming home to roost:

The low level of intellectual and other property rights protection in information and communication technologies is holding Russia back compared with many ex-communist countries, Global Information Technology said in a new report.

The report, covering 122 countries, ranks Russia 70th in its assessment of “the impact of information and communication technology, or ICT, on the development process and the competitiveness of nations for the year 2006-2007.”

Russia rose two places from last year, when it placed 72nd, partly due to its high capacity for innovation and more widespread Internet use by business.

The authors of the report, which was released Wednesday, define the rating criteria as the degree to which a country is prepared to participate in and benefit from information and communication technology.

Despite a series of official pronouncements about Russia’s quantum leap in the IT industry, the country fared relatively poorly next to some other former Soviet countries, especially the Baltic states. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland and Romania all placed ahead of Russia.

Estonia, which ranked 20th, stands out for the impressive progress realized in the space of a decade in networked readiness as well as general competitiveness, driven by an efficient government ICT vision and strategy, the report said.

For the first time, Denmark topped the rankings, followed by Sweden and Singapore.

The report’s authors ranked countries based on 67 criteria, which were divided into three components — environment, readiness and usage.

Russia placed 82nd in terms of its market and political, regulatory and infrastructure landscape; 75th in openness toward new technologies; and 73rd in usage rates. The report shows that Russia’s IT industry suffers from a high level of government regulation and limits on press freedom, and that it spends little on staff training.

Russia scores relatively well in the quality of its math and science education and the amounts businesses are prepared to spend on research and development. It also performs well in the time that it takes to enforce a business contract, clinching a surprising fifth place in a country known for bureaucratic delays.

Recent government efforts to boost and diversify the economy are reflected in the report, with the country ranking 50th and 60th in an e-government readiness index and e-participation respectively. The report went on to chide the government for assigning ICT a back seat in its vision of the future, however.

Physical infrastructure also registers some improvement, with both telephone lines and electricity production receiving a boost. The country still lags behind in the availability of telephone lines, where it is ranked 90th, while its high-speed and public Internet access leaves much to be desired, the report said.

One conspicuous drawback of the latest report, however, is the absence of up-to-date data on Russia’s ICT infrastructure. The data on phone lines, electricity production and the tertiary environment are two to three years old, making the overall assessment incomplete.