Daily Archives: July 14, 2007

Annals of Wealthy, Successful Russia

Blogger Paul Goble reports:

Dramatically rising prices for bread – up more than 10 percent this month alone — have led some officials in the northern capital to think about issuing food stamps for the city’s poor or even ration cards to ensure that everyone there will be able to purchase this basic staple, according to a member of the local legislature.

In comments to the Fontanka.ru news agency yesterday, Yuriy Rakov, the first deputy chairman of that body’s Committee on Economic Development, Industrial Policy and Trade, said that “in the immediate future, the introduction of ration cards in Petersburg is possible”

But as soon as he said that and indicated that city officials, including Governor Valentina Matvienko, were considering what to do about the rising price of bread, Rakov backed off, saying that “this sounds bad. Perhaps [what he should have said is the introduction of] food stamps like in the United States for less well-off families.”

The reasons for increases in the price of bread are not far to seek: Ukraine stopped exporting grain to the Russian Federation this year. Russian production is stagnant. And processing costs are up. But the kind of step Rakov is talking about highlights just how unequally Russia’s recent economic gains have been distributed.

His remarks are especially striking because they come less than a week after the Public Opinion Foundation published the results of a recent poll on hunger in Russia, who has experienced it and who has not, and when Russians feel hunger was most prevalent in their past.

Only 10 percent of the sample said that they had ever had to go hungry in recent times, compared with 67 percent who said they had never had to do so. But an increasing share said that they feared there could be food shortages in the future – 62 percent this year as compared to 55 percent last.

At the same time, however, many recalled hungry times in the past – during and after the second world war, in the course of collectivization, or even earlier. And 30 percent of those who said they had not personally suffered in this way indicated that members of their families – presumably from older age groups – had.

These results at the very least suggest that the fear of hunger remains a real one for many Russians even though few are suffering from it now. Rakov’s comments will do nothing to calm these fears; instead, they almost certainly will generate new concerns not only in St. Petersburg but elsewhere in the Russian Federation as well.

UPDATE ON JULY 11: The suggestion that St. Petersburg might introduce bread rationing or food stamps of one kind or another proved so explosive that the city government within a few hours of the Fontanka.ru report not only denied it but said it was appealing to the central Russian government to help it cope with rising prices for grain and bread.

Annals of Sochi: Some Russians Get It

The Russian Russia blog Whims of Fate translates the following article from the Regions.ru Russian website in which a member of the Duma exposes Russia’s being awarded the 2014 Olympics as an utter fraud:

The decision OF IOC about the victory of Sochi is made only out of corrupt motives, counts the Deputy Chairman of Committee of the State Duma for constitutional legislation and state building Andrey Savelyev.

“The city, into infrastructure of which they will pack enormous money, is absolutely not ready for any mass sport measures”, stated deputy in interview REGIONS.RU/”Novosti for federation”, commenting on the victory of Russian health resort in the competition to the right of conducting winter Olympiad -2014.

According to the parliamentarian, “Russian mass sport is completely destroyed. Therefore the victory of Sochi causes in me no feelings, except displeasure, besides corruption there’s nothing else to expect”.

The deputy chairman of committee considers that for the victory of Sochi in the competition to the right of conducting winter Olympiad -2014 “was prepared the act of international corruption of large scale. And differently this cannot be concluded in any other way “.

After reporting that he himself has been in Sochi, Andrey Savelyev emphasized: “in this city neither Olympiad nor other large-scale sport measure cannot be undertaken. Indeed in order to convert this city into the sports center, it is necessary to spend colossal amounts of money, which are necessary in our country for other purposes. Moreover the preparation for the Olympiad will damage of the ecology of surroundings, because of the building it is necessary to change the landscape, which at the given moment does not make it possible to conduct mass sporting events. Therefore this entire idea will cause great harm to both the city and to country”.

Deputy is convinced that the arrival of Vladimir Putin into Guatemala in no way influenced the decision of members IOC. “The decision was accepted only due to corrupt motives, and there are no other motives. Since any specialist, who would take one glance at Sochi, immediately would understand that it is not possible to carry out the Olympics there “.

“The decisive argument for the victory -was the huge sums of money, which will be pocketed by members of IOC, and also Russian sport officials, who suffocated Russian sport, and, apparently, for a good reward”, the deputy chairman of committee was convinced.

Andrey Savelyev described that he himself spent his entire life practicing martial arts, and now is occupied by karate.

Kiselyov on Russia Gone Amok with Neo-Soviet Hatred

Writing in the Moscow Times, Russia’s leading pundit Yevgeny Kiselyov exposes the naked, blind hatred of the West that is consuming Russia, pushing it once again over the edge of rationality and into the abyss of self-destruction.

There has been much talk in the past couple of days that Russian-British relations is undergoing an unprecedented crisis. According to The Times, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Moscow’s refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the leading suspect in the killing, “extremely disappointing.” Next week, the British Foreign Office will present a report to the British parliament regarding the Alexander Litvinenko murder investigation. As a result, the Foreign Office is preparing a whole series of retaliatory measures against Moscow.

Not surprisingly, Russia has returned the favor. The Russian ambassador to London, Yury Fedotov, accused the British a couple of days ago of Russophobia, and he accused the British police of equating every Russian with the mafia. Fedotov said Britain’s animosity toward Russians has become a serious problem. This hatred takes the form of discrimination and harassment against Russians in stores, hotels, restaurants and on the streets across Britain.

To be honest, I haven’t heard such rubbish in a long time. I have been to London dozens of times and I haven’t encountered any type of Russophobia. On the contrary, the British have always been the epitome of hospitality and courtesy. Maybe I have been lucky during my visits to Britain, but many of my friends, who have lived in London for many years, were surprised, to say the least, when they heard the Russian ambassador’s statement.

To be absolutely fair, among our fellow countrymen who travel to London, you can find Russians who have long ago gone berserk after they amassed so much wealth. They squander their money, are openly rude and scandalous, and they make public scenes. And in light of this, Russians complain about how the British look upon them with contempt.

It is good that the British can put the Russian nouveau riche in their place. Their behavior has really gotten out of hand — so much that it is a disgrace to our country.

But the largest disgrace is what is happening in Moscow. This is where the real Anglophobia gets blown out of proportion. It has reached the level of hysteria: the massive accusations of espionage; the pressure applied to nongovernmental organizations, which have received grants from Britain; the closing of excellent English-language courses sponsored by the British Council; our Nashi riffraff, who terrorized the British Ambassador Toni Brenton with the tacit consent of Russian authorities; and the various anti-British publications in the pro-Kremlin press.

As regards Russia’s refusal to extradite Lugovoi, I can agree with this decision in principle because the law should be above everything. And the Constitution, which protects Russian citizens from extradition, should always be observed.

But it seems to me that if our government acted differently, Britain would not have taken the firm position that they have now. It is unfortunate that our so-called “elite” absolutely don’t want to understand why the British reacted so sharply to the Litvinenko case. (In reality, the Russian “elite” is no elite at all, but, in most cases, complete rabble, who have no sense of responsibility for the fate of our country and who are concerned only about stuffing their pockets with loads of money and running away to London in time.)

Regardless of how you feel about Litvinenko, a crime has been committed and a person has been killed with a highly radioactive substance. Moreover, dozens of Londoners were subjected to the risk of deadly poisoning. Unlike Russia, British society is not accustomed to a situation where such serious crimes go unsolved (we have the exact opposite situation). In this crime, all of the evidence leads to Russia: The polonium that killed Litvinenko most likely originated from Russia and it is even more likely that Lugovoi executed this killing. Although Russian law prohibits Lugovoi’s extradition, it by no means prohibits Russia from carrying out a thorough investigation of Lugovoi’s alleged participation in the murder.

What is really going on in this case?

Eight months have passed since we found out that Litvinenko died from polonium-210 poisoning. During this time, the Russian authorities could have easily clarified whether the polonium used in the killing came from the few Russian enterprises that produce this rare substance. Russian law enforcement agencies could have also investigated the many facts quoted in the press that link Lugovoi to Litvinenko’s murder.

A confession alone cannot be used as evidence to prove that the accused committed a crime. We learned this hard lesson from the Stalin-era prosecutor, Andrei Vyshinsky, who ordered the execution of thousands of people who confessed to crimes only after being tortured. This is also true for the opposite case: Denying a crime is not sufficient proof of innocence.

Lugovoi’s actions remind me of the old Russian saying regarding absolute denial: “This doesn’t concern me, I don’t have the slightest idea of what you are talking about and I am completely innocent.” Lugovoi claims that he has no idea whatsoever how the polonium landed on his body and why his footprints have been found in all the places where he was present — in London, in Moscow, on board the British Airways flights that he took and even in the British embassy on Smolenskaya Naberezhnaya. Enemies probably planted the polonium.

It seems that all of Lugovoi’s words are eagerly accepted as the truth. The Russian prosecutor initiated a criminal case in the Litvinenko murder, but it is impossible to determine his exact status in this case. Is he a witness? An accused? A representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “If we find concrete evidence of Lugovoi’s guilt, perhaps we will consider taking legal action against him in Russia, but we haven’t received such evidence.”

If you read the official records of Berezovsky’s and Zakayev’s interrogation with Russian investigators in London, you can find out a lot about the way Russian prosecutors are treating this matter. Most of the questions have no relation to the murder investigation whatsoever; they were asked with the obvious intention of finding out more about Berezovsky’s acquaintances and their whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Lugovoi held a press conference and claimed that Berezovsky and Litvinenko were recruited into the British intelligence service. It was clear that at this press conference, Lugovoi read a statement prepared for him by someone else, and his statement was broadcasted by major pro-government television stations — as if it were the highest truth. Moreover, the FSB initiated a criminal case of espionage solely on the basis of Lugovoi’s statements, although it failed to state who exactly is the target of the espionage case. The only concrete people that Lugovoi named were Berezovsky and Litvinenko.

I don’t want to say that the British intelligence service does not operate in Moscow, for example, under diplomatic cover. They probably do. Just as the Foreign Intelligence Service probably works in London and dozens of other capitals under diplomatic cover. Moreover, I will tell you a startling fact: intelligence officers use people as important sources of information and try to recruit them as agents. We recruit the British. The British recruit Russians. This has always been the case and will be so for a long time. This is the way of the world.

You could fan the flame on these espionage cases, declare agents who are working in Russia legally as persona non grata and kick them out of the country. If we do, the British will answer in the same exact way and we will return to the level of Russian-British relations of the early 1970s, when there were massive reciprocal expulsions of British and Soviet agents working under diplomatic cover.

What is the point of all this? To punish the British for their unwillingness to strip Berezovsky of his status as a political refugee?

Will this obsession by the Russian authorities to nail Berezovsky at all costs turn into insanity?

Again, I am convinced that if the Russian justice had a sincere interest in working with British prosecutors and investigators in order to confirm or deny the accusations against Lugovoi, there would probably be a thaw in the Russian-British crisis. But the exact opposite is happening, and this only strengthens the suspicion that Lugovoi is deeply entangled in the Litvinenko murder and that the Russian authorities are covering up for him.

July 13, 2007 — Contents


(1) Who is Really to Blame for Dubrovka?

(2) Exposing Putin’s Missile Defense Scam

(3) Annals of Russian Corruption

(4) Annals of Neo-Soviet History

(5) The Eternal Russian Nightmare

NOTE: Yesterday, La Russophobe received her 7,500th comment on the blog.

NOTE: Check out La Russophobe‘s latest installment on Publius Pundit, exposing Russophile bagman Theodore Postol of MIT, whose recent New York Times op-ed urges us to do the bidding of dictator Vladimir Putin. Feel free to leave your comments on the Times and this Russophile scumbag.