Daily Archives: May 17, 2007

Latynina on Friendless, Isolated, Neo-Soviet Vladimir Putin

Noviye Izvestia published a map yesterday that graded relations
between Russia and countries on its borders. The newspaper
concluded that Russia was in conflict with virtually all of its
western neighbours and enjoyed good ties only with Armenia and
former Soviet republics in Central Asia.


Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times, paints the dire picture of how dictator Vladimir Putin has alienated the entire world around him, just as Russia’s leaders did in Soviet times.

When French President Jacques Chirac hands over power to Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin will lose the last European ally with whom he had built a strong personal friendship.

Putin’s foreign policy has been based on the concept of strong personal friendships, which entailed recruiting the leaders of other countries like spies. Having recruited George, Jacques, Silvio and Gerhard, Putin expected them to support him through thick and thin. They were his friends, after all.

The Kremlin’s domestic policies are based on exactly the same principle, by the way. It makes no difference how much money the president’s friends have embezzled, how many Beslans they have bungled or how incompetent and self-interested they are. In the Kremlin people are judged not by their actions, but by how close they are to Putin. His friends are forgiven everything.

There are two big problems with this type of foreign policy. It may have worked fine in the 17th century for establishing friendly relations with Louis XIII of France or Gustav II Adolf of Sweden. In the era of democracy, however, elected leaders serve for a fixed period and then hand over the reins to other politicians who chewed them up and spit them out in a grueling election campaign.

More importantly, in Putin’s inner circle friendship trumps every other consideration. Friends are the people who can always be counted on to support you. And this works up to a point. Friendship exists in the West as well, of course, but it is less unquestioning.

If you’re eating with a friend in a restaurant and he puts his feet on the table, you let it go. If you’re eating out with a friend and he decks the waiter, you might let this go, too. But if you’re eating out with a friend and he whips out a pistol and starts blowing away other diners, the Western leader will scream and high-tail it for the exit. And his friend who’s doing the shooting will, in all sincerity, consider this a betrayal. We’re friends, after all.

After gunning down a few diners — that is, after Beslan, the elimination of gubernatorial elections, the Munich speech and sending riot troops against peaceful demonstrators, among other highlights — Putin has no friends left in the West.

From the Kremlin’s perspective, the West is to blame for this turn of events. After all, these people rig their own elections. Any KGB lieutenant colonel knows that. They’re prepared to befriend any petty tyrant as long as he’ll do what they want him to do. Any KGB major knows that, too.

To the Kremlin’s way of thinking, these are the people who poisoned former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic in his prison cell in The Hague; who had Yasser Arafat killed; and who allowed their crony, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, to poison his prime minister, Zurab Zhvania.

And these back-stabbing Western leaders have the gall to criticize the good people in the Kremlin for doing much the same thing and — unlike their Janus-faced Western colleagues — never firing anyone no matter what they’ve done.

Putin’s foreign policy failed in the West a long time ago, at the moment when his friends began to get up from that restaurant table with a pained smile and sidle toward the exit. Now those friends have stepped down or been voted out of power one after another.

Putin has no chance of getting another group of European leaders to join him at the table. The only thing left is for him to head east and make friends with the guys who will never be voted out of office — the kind who only leave office in a coup.

Poverty in Russia: Once Again, Destroying the Common People — and with them Russia’s future

The United Nations Development Program released a report on Russian poverty earlier this week. In it even Kremlin sycophant Sergei Mironov, Russia’s equivalent to the American U.S. Senate Majority leader, admits: “Objective indicators and scientific studies show worsening of human potential in Russia over the last 15-20 years. The negative trend can be seen across the board, from education levels and qualifications to health and life expectancy. This entails a decline in living standards of our people, and it undermines prospects for economic development, which is the basis for solving social problems.” Yet, the moronic Russian people, who are literally being killed off by the Kremlin, continue to favor it with 70%+ approval in polls and do not demand any credible opposition candidates in elections.

The UNDP report: “Only about a quarter of the country’s population lives in the regions with a Human Development Index score above the national average.” That means that three-quarters of the nation is below average, and that the average can be maintained only by having a tiny group of ultra wealthy people, just as in Tsarist times.

The report states that 60% of Russia’s regions have poverty rates higher than 20%. This polarization of wealth has a huge impact at the most basic level of mere survival. The report states: “Life expectancy in the most developed regions, Moscow (71) and the Tyumen Oblast autonomous districts (68), is much higher than the country’s average (65). In the least developed regions life expectancy indicators remain very low: the Republic of Tyva – 56, Chita, Amur and Pskov oblasts – 59-60 years. An extremely high level of mortality among men – an acute gender issue in Russia – is the major reason for low indicators in this area.”

According to the report, tuberculosis is running rampant in poorer areas, whilst AIDS is ravaging the wealthier ones.

Sexism is going hand-in-hand with wealth disparity:

Gender inequality remains evident in politics and income distribution. Higher income levels in a region tend to entail a larger gap between average wages of men and women and, vice-versa, this differentiation is minor in regions with lower income levels. Another problem is an extremely low representation of women in government: only one region in ten has a level of female representation in the parliament above 20 percent, while in about a quarter of regions this indicator is less than 5 percent or none. As a rule, there are more women in the parliament in bigger and wealthier regions.

Once again, we see Russia plunging down the road to elitism, with a tiny minority in Moscow and St. Petersburg hoarding vast quantities of the nation’s wealth while a huge underclass is oppressed, as if Russia learned nothing at all from the Tsarist period. And even while this happens, Russia is also plunging down the road to dicatorship, empowering a KGB regime in the Kremlin as if it had learned nothing from the Soviet period.

Russia appears to be a doomed nation.

Poverty in Russia: Once Again, Destroying the Common People — and with them Russia’s future

The United Nations Development Program released a report on Russian poverty earlier this week. In it even Kremlin sycophant Sergei Mironov, Russia’s equivalent to the American U.S. Senate Majority leader, admits: “Objective indicators and scientific studies show worsening of human potential in Russia over the last 15-20 years. The negative trend can be seen across the board, from education levels and qualifications to health and life expectancy. This entails a decline in living standards of our people, and it undermines prospects for economic development, which is the basis for solving social problems.” Yet, the moronic Russian people, who are literally being killed off by the Kremlin, continue to favor it with 70%+ approval in polls and do not demand any credible opposition candidates in elections.

The UNDP report: “Only about a quarter of the country’s population lives in the regions with a Human Development Index score above the national average.” That means that three-quarters of the nation is below average, and that the average can be maintained only by having a tiny group of ultra wealthy people, just as in Tsarist times.

The report states that 60% of Russia’s regions have poverty rates higher than 20%. This polarization of wealth has a huge impact at the most basic level of mere survival. The report states: “Life expectancy in the most developed regions, Moscow (71) and the Tyumen Oblast autonomous districts (68), is much higher than the country’s average (65). In the least developed regions life expectancy indicators remain very low: the Republic of Tyva – 56, Chita, Amur and Pskov oblasts – 59-60 years. An extremely high level of mortality among men – an acute gender issue in Russia – is the major reason for low indicators in this area.”

According to the report, tuberculosis is running rampant in poorer areas, whilst AIDS is ravaging the wealthier ones.

Sexism is going hand-in-hand with wealth disparity:

Gender inequality remains evident in politics and income distribution. Higher income levels in a region tend to entail a larger gap between average wages of men and women and, vice-versa, this differentiation is minor in regions with lower income levels. Another problem is an extremely low representation of women in government: only one region in ten has a level of female representation in the parliament above 20 percent, while in about a quarter of regions this indicator is less than 5 percent or none. As a rule, there are more women in the parliament in bigger and wealthier regions.

Once again, we see Russia plunging down the road to elitism, with a tiny minority in Moscow and St. Petersburg hoarding vast quantities of the nation’s wealth while a huge underclass is oppressed, as if Russia learned nothing at all from the Tsarist period. And even while this happens, Russia is also plunging down the road to dicatorship, empowering a KGB regime in the Kremlin as if it had learned nothing from the Soviet period.

Russia appears to be a doomed nation.

Poverty in Russia: Once Again, Destroying the Common People — and with them Russia’s future

The United Nations Development Program released a report on Russian poverty earlier this week. In it even Kremlin sycophant Sergei Mironov, Russia’s equivalent to the American U.S. Senate Majority leader, admits: “Objective indicators and scientific studies show worsening of human potential in Russia over the last 15-20 years. The negative trend can be seen across the board, from education levels and qualifications to health and life expectancy. This entails a decline in living standards of our people, and it undermines prospects for economic development, which is the basis for solving social problems.” Yet, the moronic Russian people, who are literally being killed off by the Kremlin, continue to favor it with 70%+ approval in polls and do not demand any credible opposition candidates in elections.

The UNDP report: “Only about a quarter of the country’s population lives in the regions with a Human Development Index score above the national average.” That means that three-quarters of the nation is below average, and that the average can be maintained only by having a tiny group of ultra wealthy people, just as in Tsarist times.

The report states that 60% of Russia’s regions have poverty rates higher than 20%. This polarization of wealth has a huge impact at the most basic level of mere survival. The report states: “Life expectancy in the most developed regions, Moscow (71) and the Tyumen Oblast autonomous districts (68), is much higher than the country’s average (65). In the least developed regions life expectancy indicators remain very low: the Republic of Tyva – 56, Chita, Amur and Pskov oblasts – 59-60 years. An extremely high level of mortality among men – an acute gender issue in Russia – is the major reason for low indicators in this area.”

According to the report, tuberculosis is running rampant in poorer areas, whilst AIDS is ravaging the wealthier ones.

Sexism is going hand-in-hand with wealth disparity:

Gender inequality remains evident in politics and income distribution. Higher income levels in a region tend to entail a larger gap between average wages of men and women and, vice-versa, this differentiation is minor in regions with lower income levels. Another problem is an extremely low representation of women in government: only one region in ten has a level of female representation in the parliament above 20 percent, while in about a quarter of regions this indicator is less than 5 percent or none. As a rule, there are more women in the parliament in bigger and wealthier regions.

Once again, we see Russia plunging down the road to elitism, with a tiny minority in Moscow and St. Petersburg hoarding vast quantities of the nation’s wealth while a huge underclass is oppressed, as if Russia learned nothing at all from the Tsarist period. And even while this happens, Russia is also plunging down the road to dicatorship, empowering a KGB regime in the Kremlin as if it had learned nothing from the Soviet period.

Russia appears to be a doomed nation.

Poverty in Russia: Once Again, Destroying the Common People — and with them Russia’s future

The United Nations Development Program released a report on Russian poverty earlier this week. In it even Kremlin sycophant Sergei Mironov, Russia’s equivalent to the American U.S. Senate Majority leader, admits: “Objective indicators and scientific studies show worsening of human potential in Russia over the last 15-20 years. The negative trend can be seen across the board, from education levels and qualifications to health and life expectancy. This entails a decline in living standards of our people, and it undermines prospects for economic development, which is the basis for solving social problems.” Yet, the moronic Russian people, who are literally being killed off by the Kremlin, continue to favor it with 70%+ approval in polls and do not demand any credible opposition candidates in elections.

The UNDP report: “Only about a quarter of the country’s population lives in the regions with a Human Development Index score above the national average.” That means that three-quarters of the nation is below average, and that the average can be maintained only by having a tiny group of ultra wealthy people, just as in Tsarist times.

The report states that 60% of Russia’s regions have poverty rates higher than 20%. This polarization of wealth has a huge impact at the most basic level of mere survival. The report states: “Life expectancy in the most developed regions, Moscow (71) and the Tyumen Oblast autonomous districts (68), is much higher than the country’s average (65). In the least developed regions life expectancy indicators remain very low: the Republic of Tyva – 56, Chita, Amur and Pskov oblasts – 59-60 years. An extremely high level of mortality among men – an acute gender issue in Russia – is the major reason for low indicators in this area.”

According to the report, tuberculosis is running rampant in poorer areas, whilst AIDS is ravaging the wealthier ones.

Sexism is going hand-in-hand with wealth disparity:

Gender inequality remains evident in politics and income distribution. Higher income levels in a region tend to entail a larger gap between average wages of men and women and, vice-versa, this differentiation is minor in regions with lower income levels. Another problem is an extremely low representation of women in government: only one region in ten has a level of female representation in the parliament above 20 percent, while in about a quarter of regions this indicator is less than 5 percent or none. As a rule, there are more women in the parliament in bigger and wealthier regions.

Once again, we see Russia plunging down the road to elitism, with a tiny minority in Moscow and St. Petersburg hoarding vast quantities of the nation’s wealth while a huge underclass is oppressed, as if Russia learned nothing at all from the Tsarist period. And even while this happens, Russia is also plunging down the road to dicatorship, empowering a KGB regime in the Kremlin as if it had learned nothing from the Soviet period.

Russia appears to be a doomed nation.

Poverty in Russia: Once Again, Destroying the Common People — and with them Russia’s future

The United Nations Development Program released a report on Russian poverty earlier this week. In it even Kremlin sycophant Sergei Mironov, Russia’s equivalent to the American U.S. Senate Majority leader, admits: “Objective indicators and scientific studies show worsening of human potential in Russia over the last 15-20 years. The negative trend can be seen across the board, from education levels and qualifications to health and life expectancy. This entails a decline in living standards of our people, and it undermines prospects for economic development, which is the basis for solving social problems.” Yet, the moronic Russian people, who are literally being killed off by the Kremlin, continue to favor it with 70%+ approval in polls and do not demand any credible opposition candidates in elections.

The UNDP report: “Only about a quarter of the country’s population lives in the regions with a Human Development Index score above the national average.” That means that three-quarters of the nation is below average, and that the average can be maintained only by having a tiny group of ultra wealthy people, just as in Tsarist times.

The report states that 60% of Russia’s regions have poverty rates higher than 20%. This polarization of wealth has a huge impact at the most basic level of mere survival. The report states: “Life expectancy in the most developed regions, Moscow (71) and the Tyumen Oblast autonomous districts (68), is much higher than the country’s average (65). In the least developed regions life expectancy indicators remain very low: the Republic of Tyva – 56, Chita, Amur and Pskov oblasts – 59-60 years. An extremely high level of mortality among men – an acute gender issue in Russia – is the major reason for low indicators in this area.”

According to the report, tuberculosis is running rampant in poorer areas, whilst AIDS is ravaging the wealthier ones.

Sexism is going hand-in-hand with wealth disparity:

Gender inequality remains evident in politics and income distribution. Higher income levels in a region tend to entail a larger gap between average wages of men and women and, vice-versa, this differentiation is minor in regions with lower income levels. Another problem is an extremely low representation of women in government: only one region in ten has a level of female representation in the parliament above 20 percent, while in about a quarter of regions this indicator is less than 5 percent or none. As a rule, there are more women in the parliament in bigger and wealthier regions.

Once again, we see Russia plunging down the road to elitism, with a tiny minority in Moscow and St. Petersburg hoarding vast quantities of the nation’s wealth while a huge underclass is oppressed, as if Russia learned nothing at all from the Tsarist period. And even while this happens, Russia is also plunging down the road to dicatorship, empowering a KGB regime in the Kremlin as if it had learned nothing from the Soviet period.

Russia appears to be a doomed nation.

Annal of Russian Hypocrisy: Trade Sanctions against Estonia

When the issue is Iran or any nation Russia likes, trade sanctions are off the table, as are sanctions of any kind. Oh no, Russia screams, that’s uncivilized. We must discuss and negotiate. But as soon as the topic is any nation Russia doesn’t like those “principles” go right out the window. Then Russia resorts to sanctions at the drop of a hat. EU Business reports:

Although Russia denies it has slapped sanctions on Estonia after last month’s row over a Soviet war memorial, trade between the two neighbours has fallen sharply and the small Baltic EU member is beginning to feel the pinch. Freight shipped by rail from Russia through Estonia dropped by half in the first week of May, just days after a furious row erupted between Moscow and Tallinn over the removal of the Bronze Soldier statue. “On some days, the Port of Muuga near Tallinn did not have a single train from Russia. All the branch tracks were empty,” said Ago Tiiman, director of the Estonian Association of Port Operators. “Our suppliers in Russia, who have not sent shipments recently, cite repairs on the bridge at the border, repairs to the railway line, and umpteen other reasons,” he said. “But these are just excuses. This is really a show of force. Estonia is being used as a testing ground for Russia to experiment with measures it could inflict on the EU.”

The removal of the Bronze Soldier statue and riots, in which a Russian national was killed and several hundred mostly Russian people detained, plunged relations between Estonia and Moscow to their lowest level since the Baltic state regained independence 16 years ago. Russia has lashed out not only at Estonia but also at the EU and NATO for backing their member state in the row with Moscow. The week after the row broke over the Bronze Soldier monument, which Estonian officials moved from the centre of Tallinn and placed a few days later in a military cemetery, the Russian railway company announced it had to repair the line that carries freight into Estonia. Last week, state-run Russian Railways announced it was halting a new passenger service linking the western city of Saint Petersburg with the Estonian capital. While Russian Railways cited a shortage of passengers as its reason for halting the service, its Estonian partner, private company Go Rail, said demand for the trains had been “very high both among Estonian and Russian travel firms”. Russian authorities have also announced that heavy vehicles will be banned as of May 15 from crossing the bridge that straddles the Narva River separating Estonia and Russia. The reason? The bridge was in a poor state of repair and potentially dangerous, the Russians said.

Estonian Econony Minister Juhan Parts argued that the bridge was Estonian, and the Russian move was unnecessary and illegal. “The bridge belongs to Estonia, and a recent study shows the bridge can be used, although repairs will be needed in the future,” he said. “A unilateral decision like this one is just one example of how the Russians are applying hidden sanctions against Estonia — which are not so hidden, actually.” In the first week of May, the volume of Russian oil products shipped to Estonia declined by half, while coal and fertilizer shipments destined mainly for other markets in the EU were halted, according to the Estonian Transit Association. About 1,500 people will have to be sent on unpaid leave in mid-May, it said. The Estonian food industry has also been put on a forced diet. “Quite a few Estonian food companies are hearing all sorts of excuses from Russia about why their products are no longer wanted,” said Sirje Potisepp, director of the Estonian Association of Food Processing Industries. “Contracts are not being cancelled but products are simply not being taken.” In 2006 one-fourth of Estonian food exports went to Russia. Losing that market would result in large job cuts, Potisepp said.

Pro-Kremlin youth group Young Guard has been asking shopkeepers in Russia’s second largest city, Saint Petersburg, to pull Estonian goods from their shelves as part of a campaign against the Baltic state. “Fortunately, not all food stores have joined the campaign,” Potisepp said. “We hope the emotional outburst will fade soon.” Russia was Estonia’s fourth biggest market for exports and second biggest source of imported goods last year. Nearby Finland is Estonia’s biggest trading partner