Daily Archives: June 5, 2007

June 5, 2007 — Contents


Vladimir Putin: Neo-Soviet Madman, Part I

(2) Vladimir Putin: Neo-Soviet Madman, Part II

(3) Kasparov Speaks

(4) Sidelsky on Neo-Soviet Ideology

(5) Annals of Shamapova

NOTE: Today we carry two posts from the Times of London based on an extensive interview they recently conducted with Vladimir Putin as part of a group of other journalists (the Globe & Mail also has an interview transcript, here). In the interview, Putin becomes totally unhinged. First he threatens Western Europe with specific nuclear targeting if it insists on depriving him of the ability to fire missiles at a defenseless Eastern Europe (in other words, he’s asking Europe to remain hostage to an attack from a radical Islamic state just so Russia can preserve this capacity, in so doing helping nations like Iran to continue to flout and terrorize the West), then he states that he is the second coming of Mahatma Ghandi, the only real democrat in the entire world. In other words, he’s a fully realized, pathological neo-Soviet man. Don’t forget, LR told you this was coming long ago (though even she’s suprised at how fast and horrible the metamorophosis has been). And she’s telling you this: It’s going to get much worse before it gets better, especially if Western leaders keep fiddlingly while Rome burns. They should remember that history is watching them, and will condemn them with bitter fury if they walk again down the same path of appeasement that allowed the rise of the first Soviet state.

Vladimir Putin: Neo-Soviet Madman, Part I

The Times of London reports:

President Putin has warned the US that its deployment of a new anti-missile network across Eastern Europe would prompt Russia to point its own missiles at European targets and could trigger nuclear war. In an exclusive interview with The Times, the Russian leader says: “It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the US is located in Europe and will be threatening us, we will have to respond. “This system of missile defence on one side and the absence of this system on the other . . . increases the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict.”

Russia has been alarmed at America’s plans to install a network of defences in Eastern Europe to shoot down incoming missiles it fears that Iran might launch. Mr Putin expressed scepticism of this motive, arguing that “There are no such missiles – Iran does not have missiles with the range”. The US was insisting, he said, that the defence system was to be “installed for the protection from something that does not exist. Is it not sort of funny? It would be funny if it were not so sad.” He speculated that the US’s real motive was to provoke Russia’s retaliation and so “to avoid further closeness of Russia and Europe”.

Mr Putin’s tough warning comes days before the start of the G8 meeting of the world’s most powerful industrialised economies. His uncompromising stand on America’s missile defence, Kosovo, Iran and climate change was partly blamed for the failure of last month’s summit between Russia and the European Union. Mr Putin had warm words for the “cordial reception” that Tony Blair had given him, and for Gordon Brown, “a high-class specialist”. But he offered little room for compromise on Britain’s request for the extradition of Andrei Lugovoy, the former intelligence officer, wanted on charges of the murder of dissident former agent Alexander Litvinenko by radioactive poisoning in London. “No matter from what angle we look at this problem, it’s all stupid, stupid nonsense”, he said of Britain’s extradition request. “I will not see any single positive component. It’s complete nonsense.”

Russian authorities were investigating the case and if enough evidence were found, the case would “certainly be sent to court”, he said. In theory, he added, “there are possible circumstances” in which Russia would comply with the extradition “but it would require an amendment to the Constitution.” But Britain had not provided justification for such a dramatic move, he said. “If heads of British law enforcement agencies “did not know that the constitution prohibits the extradition of Russian citizens to foreign states then their competence is questionable” and “they should work for parliament or newspapers” because the request was at heart “only a political public relations step”.

He also gave no quarter on the cases of Shell and BP, the British oil giants, who have recently seen the terms of their investments in Russia rewritten because of alleged breaches of their licences. Mr Putin insisted that he wants “cooperation not confrontation”, repeatedly blaming the US for its intransigence. But of all the potential clashes at the G8 meeting, which begins on Wednesday in Germany, it is his warnings on Russian retaliation to the US missile defence plans that are likely to cause the greatest friction. He called on “our American friends to rethink their decision” and warned that”We cannot be responsible for our reciprocal steps because it is not us who are initiating an arms race in Europe”. He added: “We will need to establish such systems which would be able to penetrate the [US] missile defence systems. . . What kind of means will be used to hit the targets that our military believe are potential threats – ballistic missiles, or cruise missiles, or some kind of new weapons system?

Mr Putin threatened that in retaliation, Russia might stop complying with agreements to reduce conventional forces. “We have brought all our heavy weapons beyond the Urals and reduced our military forces by 300,000. But what do we have in return? we see that Eastern Europe is being filled with new equipment, two positions in Bulgaria and Romania, as well as radar in the Czech Republic, and missile systems in Poland. What is happening? Unilateral disarmament of Russia is happening.” He also warned that Russia might quit a treaty with the US to cut stocks of intermediate range missiles because so many other countries were racing to develop these weapons.

Commenter “Mike Sanders” from Hong Kong writes as follows in response to this article on the Times website:

At no time in history has Russia been a trusted ally of any other country. Her relationships have always been opportunist and cynical (Japan, Germany etc.) each time they have been saved from being on the losing side by the US and its allies. Putin is a very dangerous man who wants Russia back in the stalinistic times and to rule as a dictator. He positively hates what is happening to the rest of East Europe which was enslaved by Russia for 50 years. Instead of opening up his country he is closing it down in the most frightening way, his friends are gangsters and thieves he is despicable.

That is a cutting observation. It bears repeating: “At no time in history has Russia been a trusted ally of any other country. Her relationships have always been opportunist and cynical.” And today, as a result, Russia is on the verge of extinction. Russia actually is what some accuse the US of being — a rogue state without allies intent on self-destruction.

Vladimir Putin: Neo-Soviet Madman, Part II

The Times of London:

‘I’m a pure and absolute democrat. It’s a tragedy that I’m the only one’

Vladimir Putin tells our correspondent that he is Gandhi’s true heir and warns against hypocrisy on human rights

In four hours at his country residence, Vladimir Putin talked at length about his desire for cooperation with other countries but blamed them for provoking conflict, attacked them for abuses of human rights and democratic freedoms, and gave not an inch on the clashes between Russia and the West.

“I am not President of the Russian Federation to bring our country to the brink of catastrophe, on the contrary,” he said at the start of an interview on Friday night that continued until nearly midnight.

“Of course, I am a pure and absolute democrat,” he said. “But you know what the problem is – not a problem, a real tragedy – that I am alone. There are no such pure democrats in the world. Since Mahatma Gandhi, there has been no one.”

The Kremlin had summoned a newspaper from each of the G8 countries –Britain, the US, Russia, Japan, Canada, Italy, France and Germany – and employed an international public relations company to “put Russia’s message across” before the annual summit, which begins on Wednesday in Heiligendamm, Germany. The Novo Ogarevo residence is where Mr Putin retreats most evenings; his cavalcade, with four outriders, can cover the eight miles in minutes, along a highway lined with new Ralph Lauren and Prada boutiques, but for ordinary commuters in Moscow’s immobile traffic it would take two hours.

The two-storey lemon-and-white villa is in a claustrophobic setting, behind steel gates embossed with Russian eagles, in a tiny clearing among 90ft birch and fir trees. Inside, the newly refurbished rooms are of immaculate blandness – grey-green rugs, reproduction walnut furniture, peach-coloured drapes and picture lights illuminating empty walls, like a John Lewis showroom of unwanted items after the winter sale.

A Russian television crew knocked balls around the pool table under a screen showing a gangster film of unremitting mutilation as the delay for the scheduled interview stretched to two hours. The Kremlin press squad declared that everyone should prepare for a surprise dinner that the President would host to show his friendliness – and by the way, his remarks would be under embargo and not publishable until Monday.

It is not often, these days, that media management is so poor that it warrants comment, but the Kremlin, having gone to such lengths to stage the audience with the President, then threw away, in that reflex of control, the pages of newsprint cleared by editors in seven countries to receive his words. The man from Nikkei let out a long exhalation of disbelief; the Globe and Mailslumped into a leatherette swivel chair to break the news to Toronto; Le Figaro fixedly studied a crystallised fruit pinched between thumb and forefinger.

“You can’t phone the White House on Sunday,” said a Kremlin press apparatchik, incredulous that any other leader might overtake Mr Putin in the competition for the airwaves, apparently ignorant of the Bush Administration’s round-the-clock advocacy or the sour tenacity of the Blair press machine even in its fading hours.

For all the trappings of hospitality, Mr Putin’s message, when finally delivered, was uncompromising on all the fronts that threaten to scupper the G8 meeting: not just the US plans for missile defence, but Iran, Kosovo, human rights, protection for foreign investors and Nato expansion.

Mr Putin listened to questions intently, scratching the thin hair on the back of his head, then gave five-minute answers, citing figures for oil contracts, weapons systems and fish exports without hesitation, with all President Clinton’s command of detail but without the Clinton smile or mantra that the world is a hopeful place. He is short – about 5ft 7in – but disproportionately broad-shouldered, more tanned than the pallor of the usual photographs and favours direct eye-contact. When President Bush remarked that he had looked into Mr Putin’s eyes and seen his soul, he may not have been given the choice.

Mr Putin argued that “an arms race is unfolding”, but blamed the US for starting it by quitting the 1972 AntiBallistic Missile Treaty in 2002, planning to deploy missiles in outer space and developing smaller nuclear weapons. He cautioned that “we do not want to use our resources” for an arms race and that “we will find an asymmetric answer”, pointing missiles at Europe or declining to cut conventional forces near Europe. “Of course, we are returning to that time” when Russian missiles were aimed directly at Europe, he said. Nor did he offer hopes of gentler treatment for Russia’s neighbours with whom he has picked recent fights.

“For 15 years we have been subsidising the former Soviet Republic with cheap energy,” he said. “What is the logic?” He had no objections to eventual European Union membership for Ukraine – where Russia cut off gas supplies in January last year in a row about pricing – but he attacked the notion of Ukraine joining Nato. He recalled an old joke about Erich Honecker, the last East German leader – you could tell which phone on his desk had the direct line to Moscow because it was the one with only an earpiece. “This is the way that Nato functions,” he said, “except that the phone is connected to Washington.”

He dismissed as “another piece of nonsense” suggestions that Russia should be thrown out of the G8 for failing to improve democracy as it promised when it was made a member in 1998. “Let us not be hypocritical on human rights and democratic freedoms,” he said in a swipe at other countries, which is his favourite rebuttal technique. “Let us look what is happening in North America. It is horrible – torture, the homeless, Guantanamo, detention without normal court proceedings.” In Europe, he said, “we can see violence against demonstrators, the use of gas to disperse rallies”.

He has regularly acknowledged “certain miscalculations”, and the indisputable point that corruption “is one of the sore spots troubling everything”. But he baldly denied that he had curtailed the freedom of expression, despite recent crackdowns on the media and demonstrations. “If people want to express disagreement, they should have that right. But they should not impede people going to work, normal urban life – then the Government must take measures to restore order.” Given the rise of digital television and the internet, he argued, “even if we wanted to control all of that, it would be impossible”.

He thanked Tony Blair for a “cordial welcome” in Britain in March 2000; in a visit criticised at the time as prematurely friendly, the Prime Minister was one of the first leaders to call on Mr Putin, when he was still acting-president. But that does not, it seems, translate into concessions on the Litvinenko case, and Mr Putin also said, in effect, that he had been looking for a reason to revoke the exploration licence originally granted to Shell.

“Did you see the initial agreement?” he asked. “It was a colonial agreement that had nothing in the interests of the Russian Federation. A real zero.” He added that “if our partners [Shell] had honoured their commitments then we would have had no chance of remedying the situation but it was their fault that they violated our environmental legislation.”

In the case of TNK-BP, the British energy company’s 50 per cent owned Russian joint venture, which is waiting to hear the fate of a $20 billion (£10 billion) licence, he said: “They have not met their commitments. They knew about the possible difficulties and they decided to buy the licence anyway.”

Calling Gordon Brown “a high-class specialist” – a compliment from one technocrat to another – he said: “I hope that if he is the head of the British Government, then all the positive achievements [in Russian-British relations] will be recognised and extended.”

In Russia, unlike the Labour Party, he said, the next president would be chosen “by the people”. He insisted that “my term is over”, repeating his commitment to step down next March. He retains effective power, many analysts believe, to tip the scales in favour of a chosen successor from the current field of half a dozen contenders; he remarked, in one of the few jokes of the evening, that Gordon Brown was not eligible.

Many have speculated that after one term out of the Kremlin, as obliged by the Constitution, he might want to return. He said that after March “I know that I will be working. But where, I cannot say”; many have surmised that he will return to his power base in St Petersburg.

He added that, at 54, “I have not reached my retirement age and it would be silly to sit at home without doing anything”. His wife is contemplating the end of his presidency “without any regret”, as are his children, he said. The presidency “is a burden on the family which does not give them the compensations” of the office itself. “My wife is a philologist” – well occupied studying languages and the humanities, he said. “I do not expect any problems to appear there,” he added, with the air of a man used to keeping an eye on every front.

Throughout the dinner, he had ignored the plates put in front of him: carpaccio of sea bass with black caviar, crab gazpacho, turbot with asparagus. His aides waited 20 minutes for him to start before nervously lifting their own forks. He ignored the wine, taking only three sips of water; Western officials say he never takes the “bathroom breaks” that punctuate the world’s diplomatic marathons. Only when the final course of “strawberry soup” arrived did he show awareness of the food’s existence, dunking the ball of ice-cream in the liqueur for emphasis as he spoke, and then ferrying the tiny wild strawberries to his mouth as if they were the only sustenance he had been offered all evening.

As his aides told him delicately that it was approaching midnight, he joked to the table: “Is it I who is torturing you?” The Japanese correspondent asked why Russia had banned the export of crabs to his country and Mr Putin, reluctant to relinquish the chance of a final, technical answer, acknowledged “with deep regret” Russian smuggling but chided Japan for fishing so intensively so that “in parts of the ocean, there is nothing left”.

He concluded: “I love sushi myself so I have a stake in this.” That gesture towards common tastes might win a smile in Japan, but it would not be a wise line to try in London. Seven years after Mr Blair’s enthusiastic first visit, murder by sushi is only one of the enduring causes of suspicion between Britain and Mr Putin’s Russia.

Kasparov Warns G-8 Leaders on Putin

Garry Kasparov, writing in This is London:

People argue that Russia under Vladimir Putin’s iron hand is stable. But while the Kremlin controls all the television channels, I wouldn’t rely on those opinion polls. Give us two weeks of uncensored television and the myth of this regime, of its stability and prosperity, will be blown away.

When you talk to people in the countryside, as I do, they see Russia in a very different light. True, they did see some sort of stability in the early Putin years, which was a relief after the very hectic and tumultuous Nineties. But for the past two or three years they have seen a steady deterioration in living standards, and the gap between rich and poor is growing. Everybody can see it.

So people are starting to come out on to the streets in Moscow, St Petersburg and elsewhere. Change is not going to happen overnight but it will happen relatively quickly, and much sooner than anybody expects because this regime is built on sand – it has no real foundation in political or economic structures.

No one sets out to sacrifice himself or herself but I must keep going because I am leading people who are facing great dangers every day. I don’t think about it. I just do what I have to do. That’s what I learnt during my childhood. I could have a very different life now, but looking at what our activists are doing, the hardships they are experiencing every day, I believe I have no choice. Just look at how many repressive measures have been taken lately. The Constitutional Court decided you can be tried a second time for the same crime. Then parliament approved, at a first reading, a new amendment to the law on extremism. Now your prison term will be longer if they see ‘extremist intention’ behind your crime. And they are adding something quite ridiculous – people can face criminal charges for ‘sympathising with or excusing extremism’. That applies to journalists as well, of course.

The FSB, the successor to the KGB, interrogated me for four hours. They were investigating a case of extremism based on interviews I had given. As far as I could tell, the lieutenant colonel was not ecstatic about having to question me. There was one telling detail. In his office he had two portraits, one of Putin and one of Felix Dzherzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka secret police. That’s nice.

So, might I stand as a presidential candidate in 2008? I have been playing the role of co-ordinator, someone in the middle of a broad and quite fragile coalition of opposition groups known as The Other Russia. The game now is not about sending messages but about the opposition winning or losing. We now have to look for a candidate who can mobilise both Left and Right, voters from all walks of life. Stepping in as a candidate would mean me putting my personal agenda ahead of the common interest. That is why I think, for the success of the coalition, I should stay at the centre and do my utmost to bring in as many different political strands as possible. Everybody who joined The Other Russia signed a declaration which was very clear about the rule of liberal democracy. That’s where Russia’s future should be.

Two formidable politicians, ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Viktor Gerashchenko, the former head of the Central Bank, have declared their intention to run for president, and that is a good start. We may get a couple more candidates but, even with just these two, I think we can show our potential is as great as the combined potential of the Kremlin successors. The future lies here, not with tycoon Boris Berezovsky, now exiled in London. He called for a new Russian revolution, but it was a PR stunt. Berezovsky doesn’t play any role in Russian current affairs. Obviously he is a man still full of energy who wants to pretend that he matters here. In fact, if you read his statement, it was more about Putin’s entourage than the opposition. He was talking about buying the people around Putin. That’s what made the regime so angry. I have no links to him – none at all.

We have only modest funds. If you look at our offices, you will see we are not living in the lap of luxury. We have resources, from Russian sources, and we know how to spend the money wisely. We don’t need vast amounts of money because, unlike the Kremlin with its Nashi youth organisation, we do not pay people to demonstrate. From the West we hear only kind words, and that is fine. We believe this is our business. Condoleezza Rice came to Moscow and spoke about Kosovo and the missile problem but, as for elections in Russia, she said that was the internal affair of the Russian people.

The Americans are not exactly selling us down the river – we don’t expect much from them. But for an administration which was so vocal in promoting the idea of democracy – making it the core of its foreign policy – to then say that democracy in Russia is irrelevant is outrageous. We are not asking the West to interfere but the fact is that the West is interfering – on Putin’s side. They keep referring to Putin as a democratic leader, which is very damaging for our democrats inside the country.

Call a spade a spade: Putin is a dictator. And we want the West to be blunt about it too. I am not saying the West should break off economic ties with Russia. Western corporations make billions of pounds by trading with China and nobody talks about breaking off relations with the Chinese Communist government. But neither do people have any illusions that the Chinese Communists are democrats. So deal the same way with Putin. You cannot invite Putin to meetings of the world’s properly elected leaders. He doesn’t belong to G7 – I don’t call it G8 because G7 stood for seven great industrial democracies. The G8 is utter nonsense.

When Western politicians and experts say the West has no bargaining chips in dealing with Putin, this is not true. The money of his ruling clique is kept abroad, and they won’t be indifferent if they are refused entry visas. They will pay attention if the West is serious. I am not suggesting outright hostility, but simply that the West should recognise who they are dealing with: the Russian elite are rich, they’re loaded with money, but they are not the same as Westerners because they do not respect the rule of law. And so you should make it clear, when Putin is part of a group such as at the Summit between Russia and the EU last month, you should say: ‘Mr Putin, your country is a police state and you have to understand that, if you continue down this path, you will be treated as a rogue leader.’

Skidelsky on Neo-Soviet Ideology

Writing in the Times of London Robert Skidelsky (pictured), a British lord and columnist for the Russian business daily Vedemosti, sums up the Putin ideology in a perfect compliment to the translation we published yesterday from the “Nashi” manifesto:


The Litvinenko affair gives a human dimension to what we in the West find most disturbing about modern Russia. It leaves the impression of rogue elements of the Russian State murdering enemies with impunity, at home and abroad. Add to this Andrei Lugovoy’s surreal claim that MI6 had a hand in the murder and Russia’s use of its “energy weapon” to bully its neighbours and it is as if the Cold War never ended.

How Russians see the end of the Cold War is actually a good place to start to understand the muscle-flexing of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Two explanations are popular in Moscow. Liberals argue that the Russian people voluntarily renounced their oppressive, incompetent system, but then the West trampled all over them, claiming victors’ rights over large swaths of former Soviet territory. Conservatives, however, acknowledge that the USSR lost the Cold War – due to Mikhail Gorbachev’s “stab in the back” – but want a replay, this time with the windfall from Russia’s oil wealth.

These two explanations for the end of the Cold War have given rise to two influential doctrines – Anatoly Chubais’s “liberal empire” and Vladislav Surkov’s “sovereign democracy” – that form the ideological basis of Russian foreign policy. Chubais, architect of Boris Yeltsin’s victory in the 1996 presidential election, is head of the electricity monopoly UES; Surkov is deputy head of Mr Putin’s Presidential Administration. What is striking is the similarity of vision between a leading spokesman of “liberal” Russia and the Kremlin’s chief political manager.

Chubais’s theory of a “liberal empire”, first aired in a speech in 2003, was clearly influenced by the debates in Washington about invading Afghanistan and Iraq. In 1991, Chubais claimed, “the greatest empire of all time ceased to exist”. Russia should now construct a “liberal empire” of its own from the pieces of the old Soviet Union.

While respecting its neighbours’ “inviolability of borders and territorial integrity”, Russia’s “mission” should be to promote its culture and protect Russian populations in its “neighbourhood”; establish a dominant position in their trade and business; and guarantee their “freedom and democracy”. Only through “liberal empire”, Chubais argued, “can Russia occupy its natural place alongside the United States, the European Union and Japan, the place designated for it by history”.

Surkov’s phrase “sovereign democracy” dates from a speech in 2005. By democracy, he does not mean Western democracy with its “artificial checks and balances” but something more like “independence”, particularly independence from America. Surkov explains Russia’s claim to “sovereignty” as follows: “For 500 years [Russia] was a modern state. It made history and was not made by it”. Some states, it turns out, are more “sovereign” than others. “We differ strongly,” Surkov says, “from Slovaks, Baltic nations and even Ukrainians – they had no state system.”

Surkov’s world view points to the same conclusion as Chubais’s. Russia is one of the world’s natural “great powers”. Greatness is defined by sovereignty. Sovereignty is conferred by history, geography, and the will to power. Some countries are destined to be sovereign, others to be subjects.

Several factors have fed into the new Russian ideology of greatness. One, of course, is its refusal to accept that the Cold War ended in a Russian defeat. It may have ended in an ideological defeat, but geopolitics rises above ideology. A second is the perception that the “West does not love us”. Gorbachev had hoped to “join the West” but was repudiated, so Russia must carve out for itself a separate Eurasian destiny. A third is the realisation of Russia’s potential as an “energy superpower” playing off Europe against China. Russia has also tapped into that Western current of thinking which holds that nation states are doomed – the inevitable victims of a takeover by a US-led global empire or by regional empires.

However, the Chubais-Surkov doctrine has severe problems. Russia’s claim to be protector of the rights and interests of all the Russians of the old Soviet Union is incompatible with respect for the inviolability of its neighbours’ borders. Like the implicit threat to dislodge the US from its new positions in the Caucasus and Central Asia, it carries the seeds of dangerous conflict. This is particularly so in the light of Putin’s military doctrine that all postSoviet airspace may be subjected to “preventive” attack by Russia.

Nor is Russia a plausible guarantor of “freedom and democracy” in its near abroad. Not only is it neither liberal nor democratic now, but it won’t be able to expunge the memory of centuries of autocratic, then totalitarian, rule over the space it now reclaims. Finally, both “liberal empire” and “sovereign democracy” conflict with Russia’s ostentatious commitment to the UN Charter based on the idea of equal sovereignty.

For all its cosmetic adaptation to reality, Russian thought on how to restore national pride remains obstinately stuck in the grooves of tsarist and Soviet strategic thinking. Russian policy-makers cannot yet contemplate a genuinely different future – or at least find a way of talking about it that does not simply echo the past. Of Russia it can be said, as Dean Acheson said of Britain in 1961: “It has lost an empire, but has not yet found a role.” Its moment of truth still lies ahead.

Annals of Shamapova

Well, Maria Sharapova turned in another classic performance on Sunday to reach the quarter finals at the French Open, where she’ll face Russian/Georgian Anna Chakevetadze. Should she win, she’ll likely face another Russian, Svetlana Kuznetsova, for a birth in the finals, meaning that three of her first five matches will have been against Russians.

Against journeywoman Swiss player Patty Schnyder, Sharapova struck a ghastly 43 unforced errors (almost twice as many as Schnyder) and only 16 winners (just seven more than Schnyder) and had her mighty serve broken NINE different times over the course of three sets. Yet she STILL won! She dropped the first set and needed 16 games in the third to prevail (eight of the first twelve games ended in service breaks in a virtually unwatchable match), ending up with only 113 total points to Schyder’s 110 and winning only when Schyder was victimzied by a series of horrific line calls as well as a shameless stoppage of play by Sharapova at a crucial moment, an act which earned her a penalty from the chair (was she really that desperate? you better believe it!).

In other words, more proof that we were right when we said Shamapova is the luckiest human being on the face of the earth. If Shamapova were the role model for the quality of the women’s game, the sport would be headed for bankruptcy.