Daily Archives: July 15, 2007

The Sunday Photos: Annals of Signs of the Russian Apolcalypse


Russia’s top pop diva, the freakishly horrifying Alla Pugachyova (like the Russian Edith Piaf, except that nobody in the West has ever heard of her, for damn good reason) launches her own radio station, Radio Alla, where she will host a show and play her music every hour.

Taken from the Ha Ha blog, the following images are not only cool to look at, but perfect microcosms of Russia: Piles of garbage creating the illusion of substance, which is nothing more than shadows and fog.




The Sunday Slam: Lucas Lets "Private Putin" Have It

Writing in the Daily Mail, blogger and Economist columnist Edward Lucas, author of the forthcoming book The New Cold War and How to Win It, lets neo-Soviet Russia have it with both barrels:

We Must be Tough with Private Putin

How they must be trembling in the Kremlin. Britain is talking tough: a “withdrawal of cooperation” in education, social affairs or trade. Probably the first public expulsion of Russian diplomats since 1996.

Officials will dress this up as a strong response. But in truth it is preposterously feeble.

We have seen nuclear terrorism on the streets of London. The assassins used polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope produced in a Russian government research institute.

They killed a UK citizen and endangered dozens more. Now Russia is brazenly refusing to extradite the prime suspect.

It is clear that Britain now officially accepts what many have been saying for months: that the FSB, the secret-police heirs to the KGB, connived in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

If the skull and crossbones were flying over the Kremlin, it could hardly be clearer: Russia under Vladimir Putin is a pirate state that unashamedly flaunts its contempt for the law.

It is no exaggeration to say that the FSB runs Russia: its former chief, Mr Putin, is the president. Its ruthless and greedy tentacles stretch across all corners of that vast land, high finance to the depths of organised crime.

It has throttled Russian democracy. It is gobbling up business. Now it is hunting down the Kremlin’s foes abroad.

We should be responding to this outrage with a series of tough measures that will hit the Kremlin and its cronies hard.

Britain’s first step should be the expulsion of not just a symbolic few, but every one of the dozens of FSB operatives here.

They range from a handful who are “declared”, working openly at Russia’s embassy and Edinburgh consulate as liaison with British counterparts.

The more sinister ones pretend to be cooks and drivers there.

At the Aeroflot check-in back to Moscow they can meet their deep-cover colleagues: those pretending to be businessmen and students.

Some expulsions may, indeed, have already happened. Sources say they were kept quiet in order not to escalate the row with Russia.

If so, that was typical official spinelessness: we should be trumpeting our fury from the rooftops of Whitehall, not sparing the Kremlin’s blushes. We should stop giving Russia’s rulers visas to come here.

They enjoy the spoils of power at home while they invest in Britain, their wives shop here, and their children go to our finest private schools. They must realise that welcome is cancelled for accomplices in murder.

British banks and businesses must realise the risks of gobbling Russian bait. The heads of Britain’s biggest companies recently paid grotesque homage to Mr Putin at an economic forum in St Petersburg in June.

They included BP and Shell, seemingly undeterred by having had their best assets in Russia snatched by the Kremlin’s business allies.

Tony Blair had just warned British firms about the political risks of Russia. Yet scandalously, our captains of industry toed the Kremlin line, that Mr Blair’s warning was the “emotional outburst of an ex-prime minister”.

Not since British trades unionists went to the Kremlin in the 1980s to praise the peace-loving Soviet leadership and denounce the “war-mongers” Thatcher and Reagan have I felt more ashamed. The bleak truth is that we again have a fifth column in this country.

During the last Cold War it was the communist trade unionists, who with their “peace movement” allies used the Kremlin’s secret funding to undermine our democracy and our defences.

Now the fifth column wear pinstripes, not overalls. The 30 silver roubles that fuels their treachery is not smuggled, but highlighted in the top line of their annual report and accounts.

Selling lorryloads of stolen goods in the streets of the City of London would be stopped even by our paperwork-swamped

No compromises: Vladimir Putin police. Yet Russian companies that have looted their rivals and defrauded their shareholders are allowed to raise money on the London Stock Exchange.

Our American allies now deny visas to dodgy tycoons and have toughened the rules for Russian companies wanting to list their shares in New York. But London’s financial markets have become a colossal car boot sale for the crony capitalists of the Kremlin.

The grim pattern is repeated across Europe. Our influence on Russia is swamped by the Kremlin’s clout inside the West.

Its energy companies’ investments create a formidable bridgehead. Germany’s gutsy Chancellor, Angela Merkel, longs to be tough with Mr Putin, a man she loathes. But her own party’s influential business backers are holding her back.

We must stop Gazprom and other statebacked Russian energy companies buying our companies until Russia abides by the rule of law. That day is a long way off.

Russia’s increasingly menacing nuclear posturing gives the lie to any idea that a replacement for Trident is no longer necessary.

We need to upgrade our electronic security: the cyber-assault on Estonia in May was a grim warning of what awaits those who annoy the Kremlin.

Networks of thousands of computers – known as “botnets” – hijacked by organised criminals crashed many of that brave little country’s most crucial websites, cutting off the outside world.

American and Nato specialists have been working intensively to learn the lessons of that attack. We risk being dangerously complacent.

The BBC must urgently investigate the scandalous pusillanimity of the Russian service, once an emblem of British liberty and now unwilling to interview Cold War heroes such as Sir Oleg Gordievsky on the Litvinenko case for fear of losing their transmitters in Russia.

It is worrying that Gordon Brown’s close advisers include no one with real knowledge of Russia, now the world’s largest rogue state.

Britain has the chance to lead Europe in resolute resistance to the Kremlin’s xenophobic and authoritarian regime. Let us hope our new prime minister does not flinch from the challenge.

The Sunday "Song"

This “song” was by the “group” Serebro (“Silver”), which doesn’t really exist and like all things Russian is a mere illusion, officially chosen by Russia to represent the country at the Eurovision music contest. In other words, it’s the best they can do. Do you dare to imagine the worst? Ah, Russia. The land of great artists and great culture, nobody can dispute it. One question: Why exactly does she wrap her fingers with a strip of fabric? Is this some new Russian contribution to world culture? Too deep for mere Westerners to comprehend? By the way, Russia failed to make the 28-nation semi-finals. “Flashy skin”? “Put your cherry on my cake”? “I’m killing your pill”? It’s the land of Pushkin!

“Song Number One”

Serebro

Girls, Kick the Flow
Listen to me
All my girls get ready (Uh huh)
We’ll make it easy (Uh uh)

When I catch you picking me
You better get a chill
Boy, you wanna take on me
‘Cause I’m your killing pill

Can’t you see the way I move
My dress, my flashy skin
Listen up, you know I got
The place you’ve never been

Chorus:

Slow down
Boy, you don’t wanna let me down
You better stop, you know what
Oh, don’t call me funny bunny
I’ll blow your money, money
I’ll get you to my bad ass spinning for you
Oh, I’ll make it easy, honey
I’ll take your money, yummy
I’ve got my bitches standing up next to me

2x:
So come and check it (Uh)
So come and check it (Uh)
So come and check it
My bad ass spinning for you (Ow)

Keep on taking over you
It’s kinda getting free
Baby boy you know I still
Got sexy freak in me

Gotta tease you nasty guy
So take it, don’t be shy
Put your cherry on my cake
And taste my cherry pie

Chorus

Maybe I’ll take you with me tonight
Maybe you’ll show me another way
And find a reason for me to stay
But something I must tell you

Chorus

The Sunday Funnies: Everything Old is New Again

Annals of Neo-Soviet Russia: Everything is a Crime, Even Being Poor, Which is the Same as Being Russian

The Moscow Times reports on the Kremlin’s plans to make being poor a crime, just as in Soviet times. But how can such a measure be necessary, when Russia is a resurgent economic paradise?

Police said Thursday that they wanted to revive a Soviet-era law to jail vagrants and beggars, a move critics condemned as a return to the totalitarian past.

“In the past, such people could be jailed for up to a year or be ordered to do forced labor,” a railway police spokeswoman said. “Now we have no such system, we have no place for isolating these tramps.” The proposal to reinstate Soviet-era punishments originates with city railway police chief Andrei Alexeyev. The spokeswoman said Alexeyev’s initiative was aimed at “protecting normal people from having to contemplate these human beings, if you can so call them.”

“You must agree: If you travel by metro, by bus or on a commuter train, you would never want to take a seat previously occupied by a vagrant, especially because many of them swarm with lice, right? But we still have our hands tied.” Police officials told newspapers this week that many homeless would benefit by being kept in custody through the bitter cold winter. But human rights campaigners say the proposed amendments to the criminal code are “another blow to constitutional rights.”

“This is just a new tool to strengthen police control over society,” said Yevgeny Ikhlov, a spokesman for the group For Human Rights. “This is another example of a return to totalitarian laws.” A tougher law could only widen police corruption, said Maxim Yegorov, head of the charity Shelter, which helps homeless people in St. Petersburg. Authorities are trying “to put an end to a problem they cannot resolve in a humane way,” Yegorov said. “How can you possibly blame a person for living in the street if he has no chance to stay anywhere else?” he said. Yegorov, whose charity receives aid from the European Union and charitable groups in Europe, said the situation outside Moscow and St. Petersburg “defies description.”

“A total of 4.5 million homeless roam in Russia,” Yegorov said. “Outside Moscow and St. Petersburg, there are no homeless shelters, no free baths, literally nothing.”

July 14, 2007 — Contents

SATURDAY JULY 14 CONTENTS


(1) Annals of Wealthy, Successful Russia

(2) Annals of Sochi: Some Russians Get it!

(3) Kiselyov on Russians Gone Amok with Hatred