Daily Archives: August 9, 2007

August 9, 2007 — Contents

THURSDAY AUGUST 9 CONTENTS


(1) Dismantling Russia Today’s Georgia Propaganda

(2) Neo-Soviet Russia at the Gates of Military Hell

(3) Now, the Defections from Neo-Soviet Russia Begin

(4) Annals of Russian Snake Oil

NOTE: Check out La Russophobe‘s latest on Publius Pundit regarding the crisis provoked by Russia’s outrageous new attack on Georgia, where she hails today’s brilliant editorial on the subject from the Washington Post.

Dismantling Russia Today’s Propaganda on the Georgia Attack

Here is Russian state-sponsored propaganda campaign Russia Today‘s report on the missile attack on Georgia, with La Russophobe‘s running commentary:

Russia denies dropping bomb on Georgia

LR: RT’s defense of Russia begins with the headline.

Russia’s Defence Ministry is strongly denying accusations it bombed Georgia. Tbilisi claims two Russian fighter jets violated Georgia’s airspace on Monday evening and dropped a guided air-to-surface missile on a village 65 kilometres north-west of the capital.

LR: It continues with the lead. Note that this story is anonymously reported, no RT journalist’s name is attached to it. Hence, deniability is preserved.

The quiet Georgian village of Tsitelubani has become the epicentre of a new row between Russia and Georgia, after a 700-kilogramme missile ploughed its way five metres into a field there on Monday evening. The bomb did not explode. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded an immediate investigation into the incident be carried out.

LR: It’s only a “row” not even an incident. It doesn’t really matter because the missile didn’t explode (can you imagine the Kremlin reacting this way to a missile fired by the US on Russian territory!?). Russia is doing the right thing, demanding an investigation.

Accompanied by foreign diplomats, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili inspected the damage at the site and called on the international community to react. He also said Russia’s “provocation” will not achieve its aim. “This act is aimed at destabilising the situation in Georgia, causing panic, splitting the society and making the government of Georgia change its political course. But we will answer these provocations with calm and unity,” he stated.

LR: Note that RT doesn’t allow Saakashvili to specifically blame (or even name) Russia in his own words, but does allow him to speak at the outset, giving the appearance of fairness. This is rather sophisticated propaganda.

Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who received a note of protest from the country’s Foreign Ministry, has rejected any Russian involvement in the alleged bombing. “I don’t have any information – ask those who organised the action. You are journalists, so it’s your job to find out who did it. I rule out any involvement of the Russian side. I don’t consider the photos from the spot an argument because such missiles and jets are spread across the world. The Georgian army also has SU-24 jets,” Mr Kovalenko commented.

LR: He’s ruled out Russian involvement yet the investigation has not even begun. That’s Russian “justice” for you, and notice that RT doesn’t question his statement in the least, or note Russia’s extreme hypocrisy in demanding that other nations not rush to judgment while Russia does exactly that.

Russian Air Force spokesman Aleksandr Drobyshevsky has called the Georgian accusations groundless. “Russian Air Force planes did not carry out any flights either on Monday evening or night, or on Tuesday morning. They did not violate the borders of the sovereign state of Georgia,” he stressed. According to Russian military sources, the 700-kilogramme bomb that the Georgian government earlier said was dropped on its territory does not exist in Russia’s Air Force weapons arsenal.

LR: Is there any sentient being on the planet who thinks that if Russia had been caught red-handed it would admit being wrong and apologize? Has this ever happened in all of Russian history? If not, mentioning Russia’s denial is utterly meaningless and an insult to any thinking person.

By the way, it was reported today (Forbes) that Georgian officials have studied the device and determined it to be “the Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile designed to hit radars. The missile, code-named by NATO as AS-11, carried a warhead of over 300 pounds of TNT,” according to Georgian authorities. Again, RT reports the Russian nonsense utterly unquestioningly.

Meanwhile Georgia’s ex-Foreign Minister, Salome Zurabishvili, does not rule out the possibility that the bomb was dropped by one of Georgia’s own planes. She also said the attack might have been organised by Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili.

LR: Ms. Zurabishvili is an opposition party leader seeking to drive President Saakashvili from power and take his job. Do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if the Western press relied on a source like Berezovsky to explain Russia’s actions against Litvinenko? Do you notice that not one single RUSSIAN source who thinks Russia might have been guilty is quoted, especially not any RUSSIAN opposition figure? This is base neo-Soviet propaganda, pure and simple.

The area where the incident allegedly took place, borders on Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia – an unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s. Georgia’s Interior Ministry says it has discovered a serial number and inscriptions in Russian on what it claims is a missile. Specialists are said to be studying the possible trajectory of the supposed missile’s descent. Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, says Russia committed “an act of aggression”.

LR: Note well that RT first discredits Minister Merabishvili by printing an smear from an opposition politician. Only then does it report on what he says. Typical Stalinist tactics. It’s totally false that this incident took place on the border of South Ossetia. Just look at the map. RT is trying to bring in South Ossetia because it’s a pro-Russian area, but if anyone in the West reported on Chechnya as merely “unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s” Russians would be outraged. Note well, too, that RT’s report doesn’t mention that the attack was just as close the Georgian capital of Tbilisi as it was to South Ossetia. Can you imagine what Russians would say if an American attack was this close to Moscow and that fact wasn’t mentioned?

“Georgia’s civil aviation radars registered that at 1420 GMT a SU-24 jet crossed the Georgian border. The jet dropped a guided air-to-surface missile at this exact place. At the moment specialists are defining the type and model of the missile. The radars also determined the speed and co-ordinates of the jet. It came from the Kazbegi region and went back in the direction of Russian territory. At the moment I assess this as an act of violation of the country’s border committed by another state,” Vano Merabishvili stated.

LR: Look how deep this basic statement of the facts from the Georgian side is buried! Disgusting! Shameless! And the only source they will quote is the one they’ve already tried to smear.

The Commander of Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict region, Marat Kulakhmetov, says it’s necessary to wait for the results of expert investigations before making any statements. “The radars of the peacekeeping posts in the area registered the flight of a jet at 1840 local time on Monday. But too many questions arise as far as the pilot’s actions, the trajectory of the flight and the fact of bombing are concerned. Operations carried out by bombers are usually very efficient. The diameter of the missile found proves it belonged to a bomber, so it’s strange the consequences weren’t far more serious,” Marat Kulakhmetov stated.

LR: Here we go again. They are suggesting that because the action under study is irrational, Russia wouldn’t have done it. Haven’t they ever heard about Krushchev taking off his shoe at the UN, or Putin joking about rape in front of a diplomatic delegation? Did those events also not happen? In Russia, the irrational is common place, which explains why men don’t live past 60 and people work for $3 per hour.

The missile was blown up later in the day in a controlled explosion. But the ramifications of this incident will be a lot less easy to predict. The region itself is extremely unstable. Clashes in South Ossetia have been getting more and more frequent over the latest months. The only thing that is obvious at the moment is that the incident will heighten already strained tensions in South Ossetia, and possibly it might lead to more violence. Russia-Georgia relations, which have also been strained for many months, now are likely to get worse.

LR: RT is saying that everything is so unstable that Russian intervention is clearly necessary. Indeed, Russia may well have planned this event specifically to justify such a conclusion and hence a military invasion of the area.

Dismantling Russia Today’s Propaganda on the Georgia Attack

Here is Russian state-sponsored propaganda campaign Russia Today‘s report on the missile attack on Georgia, with La Russophobe‘s running commentary:

Russia denies dropping bomb on Georgia

LR: RT’s defense of Russia begins with the headline.

Russia’s Defence Ministry is strongly denying accusations it bombed Georgia. Tbilisi claims two Russian fighter jets violated Georgia’s airspace on Monday evening and dropped a guided air-to-surface missile on a village 65 kilometres north-west of the capital.

LR: It continues with the lead. Note that this story is anonymously reported, no RT journalist’s name is attached to it. Hence, deniability is preserved.

The quiet Georgian village of Tsitelubani has become the epicentre of a new row between Russia and Georgia, after a 700-kilogramme missile ploughed its way five metres into a field there on Monday evening. The bomb did not explode. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded an immediate investigation into the incident be carried out.

LR: It’s only a “row” not even an incident. It doesn’t really matter because the missile didn’t explode (can you imagine the Kremlin reacting this way to a missile fired by the US on Russian territory!?). Russia is doing the right thing, demanding an investigation.

Accompanied by foreign diplomats, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili inspected the damage at the site and called on the international community to react. He also said Russia’s “provocation” will not achieve its aim. “This act is aimed at destabilising the situation in Georgia, causing panic, splitting the society and making the government of Georgia change its political course. But we will answer these provocations with calm and unity,” he stated.

LR: Note that RT doesn’t allow Saakashvili to specifically blame (or even name) Russia in his own words, but does allow him to speak at the outset, giving the appearance of fairness. This is rather sophisticated propaganda.

Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who received a note of protest from the country’s Foreign Ministry, has rejected any Russian involvement in the alleged bombing. “I don’t have any information – ask those who organised the action. You are journalists, so it’s your job to find out who did it. I rule out any involvement of the Russian side. I don’t consider the photos from the spot an argument because such missiles and jets are spread across the world. The Georgian army also has SU-24 jets,” Mr Kovalenko commented.

LR: He’s ruled out Russian involvement yet the investigation has not even begun. That’s Russian “justice” for you, and notice that RT doesn’t question his statement in the least, or note Russia’s extreme hypocrisy in demanding that other nations not rush to judgment while Russia does exactly that.

Russian Air Force spokesman Aleksandr Drobyshevsky has called the Georgian accusations groundless. “Russian Air Force planes did not carry out any flights either on Monday evening or night, or on Tuesday morning. They did not violate the borders of the sovereign state of Georgia,” he stressed. According to Russian military sources, the 700-kilogramme bomb that the Georgian government earlier said was dropped on its territory does not exist in Russia’s Air Force weapons arsenal.

LR: Is there any sentient being on the planet who thinks that if Russia had been caught red-handed it would admit being wrong and apologize? Has this ever happened in all of Russian history? If not, mentioning Russia’s denial is utterly meaningless and an insult to any thinking person.

By the way, it was reported today (Forbes) that Georgian officials have studied the device and determined it to be “the Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile designed to hit radars. The missile, code-named by NATO as AS-11, carried a warhead of over 300 pounds of TNT,” according to Georgian authorities. Again, RT reports the Russian nonsense utterly unquestioningly.

Meanwhile Georgia’s ex-Foreign Minister, Salome Zurabishvili, does not rule out the possibility that the bomb was dropped by one of Georgia’s own planes. She also said the attack might have been organised by Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili.

LR: Ms. Zurabishvili is an opposition party leader seeking to drive President Saakashvili from power and take his job. Do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if the Western press relied on a source like Berezovsky to explain Russia’s actions against Litvinenko? Do you notice that not one single RUSSIAN source who thinks Russia might have been guilty is quoted, especially not any RUSSIAN opposition figure? This is base neo-Soviet propaganda, pure and simple.

The area where the incident allegedly took place, borders on Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia – an unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s. Georgia’s Interior Ministry says it has discovered a serial number and inscriptions in Russian on what it claims is a missile. Specialists are said to be studying the possible trajectory of the supposed missile’s descent. Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, says Russia committed “an act of aggression”.

LR: Note well that RT first discredits Minister Merabishvili by printing an smear from an opposition politician. Only then does it report on what he says. Typical Stalinist tactics. It’s totally false that this incident took place on the border of South Ossetia. Just look at the map. RT is trying to bring in South Ossetia because it’s a pro-Russian area, but if anyone in the West reported on Chechnya as merely “unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s” Russians would be outraged. Note well, too, that RT’s report doesn’t mention that the attack was just as close the Georgian capital of Tbilisi as it was to South Ossetia. Can you imagine what Russians would say if an American attack was this close to Moscow and that fact wasn’t mentioned?

“Georgia’s civil aviation radars registered that at 1420 GMT a SU-24 jet crossed the Georgian border. The jet dropped a guided air-to-surface missile at this exact place. At the moment specialists are defining the type and model of the missile. The radars also determined the speed and co-ordinates of the jet. It came from the Kazbegi region and went back in the direction of Russian territory. At the moment I assess this as an act of violation of the country’s border committed by another state,” Vano Merabishvili stated.

LR: Look how deep this basic statement of the facts from the Georgian side is buried! Disgusting! Shameless! And the only source they will quote is the one they’ve already tried to smear.

The Commander of Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict region, Marat Kulakhmetov, says it’s necessary to wait for the results of expert investigations before making any statements. “The radars of the peacekeeping posts in the area registered the flight of a jet at 1840 local time on Monday. But too many questions arise as far as the pilot’s actions, the trajectory of the flight and the fact of bombing are concerned. Operations carried out by bombers are usually very efficient. The diameter of the missile found proves it belonged to a bomber, so it’s strange the consequences weren’t far more serious,” Marat Kulakhmetov stated.

LR: Here we go again. They are suggesting that because the action under study is irrational, Russia wouldn’t have done it. Haven’t they ever heard about Krushchev taking off his shoe at the UN, or Putin joking about rape in front of a diplomatic delegation? Did those events also not happen? In Russia, the irrational is common place, which explains why men don’t live past 60 and people work for $3 per hour.

The missile was blown up later in the day in a controlled explosion. But the ramifications of this incident will be a lot less easy to predict. The region itself is extremely unstable. Clashes in South Ossetia have been getting more and more frequent over the latest months. The only thing that is obvious at the moment is that the incident will heighten already strained tensions in South Ossetia, and possibly it might lead to more violence. Russia-Georgia relations, which have also been strained for many months, now are likely to get worse.

LR: RT is saying that everything is so unstable that Russian intervention is clearly necessary. Indeed, Russia may well have planned this event specifically to justify such a conclusion and hence a military invasion of the area.

Dismantling Russia Today’s Propaganda on the Georgia Attack

Here is Russian state-sponsored propaganda campaign Russia Today‘s report on the missile attack on Georgia, with La Russophobe‘s running commentary:

Russia denies dropping bomb on Georgia

LR: RT’s defense of Russia begins with the headline.

Russia’s Defence Ministry is strongly denying accusations it bombed Georgia. Tbilisi claims two Russian fighter jets violated Georgia’s airspace on Monday evening and dropped a guided air-to-surface missile on a village 65 kilometres north-west of the capital.

LR: It continues with the lead. Note that this story is anonymously reported, no RT journalist’s name is attached to it. Hence, deniability is preserved.

The quiet Georgian village of Tsitelubani has become the epicentre of a new row between Russia and Georgia, after a 700-kilogramme missile ploughed its way five metres into a field there on Monday evening. The bomb did not explode. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded an immediate investigation into the incident be carried out.

LR: It’s only a “row” not even an incident. It doesn’t really matter because the missile didn’t explode (can you imagine the Kremlin reacting this way to a missile fired by the US on Russian territory!?). Russia is doing the right thing, demanding an investigation.

Accompanied by foreign diplomats, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili inspected the damage at the site and called on the international community to react. He also said Russia’s “provocation” will not achieve its aim. “This act is aimed at destabilising the situation in Georgia, causing panic, splitting the society and making the government of Georgia change its political course. But we will answer these provocations with calm and unity,” he stated.

LR: Note that RT doesn’t allow Saakashvili to specifically blame (or even name) Russia in his own words, but does allow him to speak at the outset, giving the appearance of fairness. This is rather sophisticated propaganda.

Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who received a note of protest from the country’s Foreign Ministry, has rejected any Russian involvement in the alleged bombing. “I don’t have any information – ask those who organised the action. You are journalists, so it’s your job to find out who did it. I rule out any involvement of the Russian side. I don’t consider the photos from the spot an argument because such missiles and jets are spread across the world. The Georgian army also has SU-24 jets,” Mr Kovalenko commented.

LR: He’s ruled out Russian involvement yet the investigation has not even begun. That’s Russian “justice” for you, and notice that RT doesn’t question his statement in the least, or note Russia’s extreme hypocrisy in demanding that other nations not rush to judgment while Russia does exactly that.

Russian Air Force spokesman Aleksandr Drobyshevsky has called the Georgian accusations groundless. “Russian Air Force planes did not carry out any flights either on Monday evening or night, or on Tuesday morning. They did not violate the borders of the sovereign state of Georgia,” he stressed. According to Russian military sources, the 700-kilogramme bomb that the Georgian government earlier said was dropped on its territory does not exist in Russia’s Air Force weapons arsenal.

LR: Is there any sentient being on the planet who thinks that if Russia had been caught red-handed it would admit being wrong and apologize? Has this ever happened in all of Russian history? If not, mentioning Russia’s denial is utterly meaningless and an insult to any thinking person.

By the way, it was reported today (Forbes) that Georgian officials have studied the device and determined it to be “the Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile designed to hit radars. The missile, code-named by NATO as AS-11, carried a warhead of over 300 pounds of TNT,” according to Georgian authorities. Again, RT reports the Russian nonsense utterly unquestioningly.

Meanwhile Georgia’s ex-Foreign Minister, Salome Zurabishvili, does not rule out the possibility that the bomb was dropped by one of Georgia’s own planes. She also said the attack might have been organised by Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili.

LR: Ms. Zurabishvili is an opposition party leader seeking to drive President Saakashvili from power and take his job. Do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if the Western press relied on a source like Berezovsky to explain Russia’s actions against Litvinenko? Do you notice that not one single RUSSIAN source who thinks Russia might have been guilty is quoted, especially not any RUSSIAN opposition figure? This is base neo-Soviet propaganda, pure and simple.

The area where the incident allegedly took place, borders on Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia – an unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s. Georgia’s Interior Ministry says it has discovered a serial number and inscriptions in Russian on what it claims is a missile. Specialists are said to be studying the possible trajectory of the supposed missile’s descent. Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, says Russia committed “an act of aggression”.

LR: Note well that RT first discredits Minister Merabishvili by printing an smear from an opposition politician. Only then does it report on what he says. Typical Stalinist tactics. It’s totally false that this incident took place on the border of South Ossetia. Just look at the map. RT is trying to bring in South Ossetia because it’s a pro-Russian area, but if anyone in the West reported on Chechnya as merely “unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s” Russians would be outraged. Note well, too, that RT’s report doesn’t mention that the attack was just as close the Georgian capital of Tbilisi as it was to South Ossetia. Can you imagine what Russians would say if an American attack was this close to Moscow and that fact wasn’t mentioned?

“Georgia’s civil aviation radars registered that at 1420 GMT a SU-24 jet crossed the Georgian border. The jet dropped a guided air-to-surface missile at this exact place. At the moment specialists are defining the type and model of the missile. The radars also determined the speed and co-ordinates of the jet. It came from the Kazbegi region and went back in the direction of Russian territory. At the moment I assess this as an act of violation of the country’s border committed by another state,” Vano Merabishvili stated.

LR: Look how deep this basic statement of the facts from the Georgian side is buried! Disgusting! Shameless! And the only source they will quote is the one they’ve already tried to smear.

The Commander of Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict region, Marat Kulakhmetov, says it’s necessary to wait for the results of expert investigations before making any statements. “The radars of the peacekeeping posts in the area registered the flight of a jet at 1840 local time on Monday. But too many questions arise as far as the pilot’s actions, the trajectory of the flight and the fact of bombing are concerned. Operations carried out by bombers are usually very efficient. The diameter of the missile found proves it belonged to a bomber, so it’s strange the consequences weren’t far more serious,” Marat Kulakhmetov stated.

LR: Here we go again. They are suggesting that because the action under study is irrational, Russia wouldn’t have done it. Haven’t they ever heard about Krushchev taking off his shoe at the UN, or Putin joking about rape in front of a diplomatic delegation? Did those events also not happen? In Russia, the irrational is common place, which explains why men don’t live past 60 and people work for $3 per hour.

The missile was blown up later in the day in a controlled explosion. But the ramifications of this incident will be a lot less easy to predict. The region itself is extremely unstable. Clashes in South Ossetia have been getting more and more frequent over the latest months. The only thing that is obvious at the moment is that the incident will heighten already strained tensions in South Ossetia, and possibly it might lead to more violence. Russia-Georgia relations, which have also been strained for many months, now are likely to get worse.

LR: RT is saying that everything is so unstable that Russian intervention is clearly necessary. Indeed, Russia may well have planned this event specifically to justify such a conclusion and hence a military invasion of the area.

Dismantling Russia Today’s Propaganda on the Georgia Attack

Here is Russian state-sponsored propaganda campaign Russia Today‘s report on the missile attack on Georgia, with La Russophobe‘s running commentary:

Russia denies dropping bomb on Georgia

LR: RT’s defense of Russia begins with the headline.

Russia’s Defence Ministry is strongly denying accusations it bombed Georgia. Tbilisi claims two Russian fighter jets violated Georgia’s airspace on Monday evening and dropped a guided air-to-surface missile on a village 65 kilometres north-west of the capital.

LR: It continues with the lead. Note that this story is anonymously reported, no RT journalist’s name is attached to it. Hence, deniability is preserved.

The quiet Georgian village of Tsitelubani has become the epicentre of a new row between Russia and Georgia, after a 700-kilogramme missile ploughed its way five metres into a field there on Monday evening. The bomb did not explode. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded an immediate investigation into the incident be carried out.

LR: It’s only a “row” not even an incident. It doesn’t really matter because the missile didn’t explode (can you imagine the Kremlin reacting this way to a missile fired by the US on Russian territory!?). Russia is doing the right thing, demanding an investigation.

Accompanied by foreign diplomats, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili inspected the damage at the site and called on the international community to react. He also said Russia’s “provocation” will not achieve its aim. “This act is aimed at destabilising the situation in Georgia, causing panic, splitting the society and making the government of Georgia change its political course. But we will answer these provocations with calm and unity,” he stated.

LR: Note that RT doesn’t allow Saakashvili to specifically blame (or even name) Russia in his own words, but does allow him to speak at the outset, giving the appearance of fairness. This is rather sophisticated propaganda.

Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who received a note of protest from the country’s Foreign Ministry, has rejected any Russian involvement in the alleged bombing. “I don’t have any information – ask those who organised the action. You are journalists, so it’s your job to find out who did it. I rule out any involvement of the Russian side. I don’t consider the photos from the spot an argument because such missiles and jets are spread across the world. The Georgian army also has SU-24 jets,” Mr Kovalenko commented.

LR: He’s ruled out Russian involvement yet the investigation has not even begun. That’s Russian “justice” for you, and notice that RT doesn’t question his statement in the least, or note Russia’s extreme hypocrisy in demanding that other nations not rush to judgment while Russia does exactly that.

Russian Air Force spokesman Aleksandr Drobyshevsky has called the Georgian accusations groundless. “Russian Air Force planes did not carry out any flights either on Monday evening or night, or on Tuesday morning. They did not violate the borders of the sovereign state of Georgia,” he stressed. According to Russian military sources, the 700-kilogramme bomb that the Georgian government earlier said was dropped on its territory does not exist in Russia’s Air Force weapons arsenal.

LR: Is there any sentient being on the planet who thinks that if Russia had been caught red-handed it would admit being wrong and apologize? Has this ever happened in all of Russian history? If not, mentioning Russia’s denial is utterly meaningless and an insult to any thinking person.

By the way, it was reported today (Forbes) that Georgian officials have studied the device and determined it to be “the Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile designed to hit radars. The missile, code-named by NATO as AS-11, carried a warhead of over 300 pounds of TNT,” according to Georgian authorities. Again, RT reports the Russian nonsense utterly unquestioningly.

Meanwhile Georgia’s ex-Foreign Minister, Salome Zurabishvili, does not rule out the possibility that the bomb was dropped by one of Georgia’s own planes. She also said the attack might have been organised by Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili.

LR: Ms. Zurabishvili is an opposition party leader seeking to drive President Saakashvili from power and take his job. Do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if the Western press relied on a source like Berezovsky to explain Russia’s actions against Litvinenko? Do you notice that not one single RUSSIAN source who thinks Russia might have been guilty is quoted, especially not any RUSSIAN opposition figure? This is base neo-Soviet propaganda, pure and simple.

The area where the incident allegedly took place, borders on Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia – an unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s. Georgia’s Interior Ministry says it has discovered a serial number and inscriptions in Russian on what it claims is a missile. Specialists are said to be studying the possible trajectory of the supposed missile’s descent. Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, says Russia committed “an act of aggression”.

LR: Note well that RT first discredits Minister Merabishvili by printing an smear from an opposition politician. Only then does it report on what he says. Typical Stalinist tactics. It’s totally false that this incident took place on the border of South Ossetia. Just look at the map. RT is trying to bring in South Ossetia because it’s a pro-Russian area, but if anyone in the West reported on Chechnya as merely “unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s” Russians would be outraged. Note well, too, that RT’s report doesn’t mention that the attack was just as close the Georgian capital of Tbilisi as it was to South Ossetia. Can you imagine what Russians would say if an American attack was this close to Moscow and that fact wasn’t mentioned?

“Georgia’s civil aviation radars registered that at 1420 GMT a SU-24 jet crossed the Georgian border. The jet dropped a guided air-to-surface missile at this exact place. At the moment specialists are defining the type and model of the missile. The radars also determined the speed and co-ordinates of the jet. It came from the Kazbegi region and went back in the direction of Russian territory. At the moment I assess this as an act of violation of the country’s border committed by another state,” Vano Merabishvili stated.

LR: Look how deep this basic statement of the facts from the Georgian side is buried! Disgusting! Shameless! And the only source they will quote is the one they’ve already tried to smear.

The Commander of Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict region, Marat Kulakhmetov, says it’s necessary to wait for the results of expert investigations before making any statements. “The radars of the peacekeeping posts in the area registered the flight of a jet at 1840 local time on Monday. But too many questions arise as far as the pilot’s actions, the trajectory of the flight and the fact of bombing are concerned. Operations carried out by bombers are usually very efficient. The diameter of the missile found proves it belonged to a bomber, so it’s strange the consequences weren’t far more serious,” Marat Kulakhmetov stated.

LR: Here we go again. They are suggesting that because the action under study is irrational, Russia wouldn’t have done it. Haven’t they ever heard about Krushchev taking off his shoe at the UN, or Putin joking about rape in front of a diplomatic delegation? Did those events also not happen? In Russia, the irrational is common place, which explains why men don’t live past 60 and people work for $3 per hour.

The missile was blown up later in the day in a controlled explosion. But the ramifications of this incident will be a lot less easy to predict. The region itself is extremely unstable. Clashes in South Ossetia have been getting more and more frequent over the latest months. The only thing that is obvious at the moment is that the incident will heighten already strained tensions in South Ossetia, and possibly it might lead to more violence. Russia-Georgia relations, which have also been strained for many months, now are likely to get worse.

LR: RT is saying that everything is so unstable that Russian intervention is clearly necessary. Indeed, Russia may well have planned this event specifically to justify such a conclusion and hence a military invasion of the area.

Dismantling Russia Today’s Propaganda on the Georgia Attack

Here is Russian state-sponsored propaganda campaign Russia Today‘s report on the missile attack on Georgia, with La Russophobe‘s running commentary:

Russia denies dropping bomb on Georgia

LR: RT’s defense of Russia begins with the headline.

Russia’s Defence Ministry is strongly denying accusations it bombed Georgia. Tbilisi claims two Russian fighter jets violated Georgia’s airspace on Monday evening and dropped a guided air-to-surface missile on a village 65 kilometres north-west of the capital.

LR: It continues with the lead. Note that this story is anonymously reported, no RT journalist’s name is attached to it. Hence, deniability is preserved.

The quiet Georgian village of Tsitelubani has become the epicentre of a new row between Russia and Georgia, after a 700-kilogramme missile ploughed its way five metres into a field there on Monday evening. The bomb did not explode. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has demanded an immediate investigation into the incident be carried out.

LR: It’s only a “row” not even an incident. It doesn’t really matter because the missile didn’t explode (can you imagine the Kremlin reacting this way to a missile fired by the US on Russian territory!?). Russia is doing the right thing, demanding an investigation.

Accompanied by foreign diplomats, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili inspected the damage at the site and called on the international community to react. He also said Russia’s “provocation” will not achieve its aim. “This act is aimed at destabilising the situation in Georgia, causing panic, splitting the society and making the government of Georgia change its political course. But we will answer these provocations with calm and unity,” he stated.

LR: Note that RT doesn’t allow Saakashvili to specifically blame (or even name) Russia in his own words, but does allow him to speak at the outset, giving the appearance of fairness. This is rather sophisticated propaganda.

Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko, who received a note of protest from the country’s Foreign Ministry, has rejected any Russian involvement in the alleged bombing. “I don’t have any information – ask those who organised the action. You are journalists, so it’s your job to find out who did it. I rule out any involvement of the Russian side. I don’t consider the photos from the spot an argument because such missiles and jets are spread across the world. The Georgian army also has SU-24 jets,” Mr Kovalenko commented.

LR: He’s ruled out Russian involvement yet the investigation has not even begun. That’s Russian “justice” for you, and notice that RT doesn’t question his statement in the least, or note Russia’s extreme hypocrisy in demanding that other nations not rush to judgment while Russia does exactly that.

Russian Air Force spokesman Aleksandr Drobyshevsky has called the Georgian accusations groundless. “Russian Air Force planes did not carry out any flights either on Monday evening or night, or on Tuesday morning. They did not violate the borders of the sovereign state of Georgia,” he stressed. According to Russian military sources, the 700-kilogramme bomb that the Georgian government earlier said was dropped on its territory does not exist in Russia’s Air Force weapons arsenal.

LR: Is there any sentient being on the planet who thinks that if Russia had been caught red-handed it would admit being wrong and apologize? Has this ever happened in all of Russian history? If not, mentioning Russia’s denial is utterly meaningless and an insult to any thinking person.

By the way, it was reported today (Forbes) that Georgian officials have studied the device and determined it to be “the Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile designed to hit radars. The missile, code-named by NATO as AS-11, carried a warhead of over 300 pounds of TNT,” according to Georgian authorities. Again, RT reports the Russian nonsense utterly unquestioningly.

Meanwhile Georgia’s ex-Foreign Minister, Salome Zurabishvili, does not rule out the possibility that the bomb was dropped by one of Georgia’s own planes. She also said the attack might have been organised by Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili.

LR: Ms. Zurabishvili is an opposition party leader seeking to drive President Saakashvili from power and take his job. Do you dare to imagine how Russians would react if the Western press relied on a source like Berezovsky to explain Russia’s actions against Litvinenko? Do you notice that not one single RUSSIAN source who thinks Russia might have been guilty is quoted, especially not any RUSSIAN opposition figure? This is base neo-Soviet propaganda, pure and simple.

The area where the incident allegedly took place, borders on Georgia’s breakaway province of South Ossetia – an unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s. Georgia’s Interior Ministry says it has discovered a serial number and inscriptions in Russian on what it claims is a missile. Specialists are said to be studying the possible trajectory of the supposed missile’s descent. Georgia’s Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, says Russia committed “an act of aggression”.

LR: Note well that RT first discredits Minister Merabishvili by printing an smear from an opposition politician. Only then does it report on what he says. Typical Stalinist tactics. It’s totally false that this incident took place on the border of South Ossetia. Just look at the map. RT is trying to bring in South Ossetia because it’s a pro-Russian area, but if anyone in the West reported on Chechnya as merely “unrecognised republic, which has been striving for independence since the beginning of the 1990s” Russians would be outraged. Note well, too, that RT’s report doesn’t mention that the attack was just as close the Georgian capital of Tbilisi as it was to South Ossetia. Can you imagine what Russians would say if an American attack was this close to Moscow and that fact wasn’t mentioned?

“Georgia’s civil aviation radars registered that at 1420 GMT a SU-24 jet crossed the Georgian border. The jet dropped a guided air-to-surface missile at this exact place. At the moment specialists are defining the type and model of the missile. The radars also determined the speed and co-ordinates of the jet. It came from the Kazbegi region and went back in the direction of Russian territory. At the moment I assess this as an act of violation of the country’s border committed by another state,” Vano Merabishvili stated.

LR: Look how deep this basic statement of the facts from the Georgian side is buried! Disgusting! Shameless! And the only source they will quote is the one they’ve already tried to smear.

The Commander of Joint Peacekeeping Forces in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict region, Marat Kulakhmetov, says it’s necessary to wait for the results of expert investigations before making any statements. “The radars of the peacekeeping posts in the area registered the flight of a jet at 1840 local time on Monday. But too many questions arise as far as the pilot’s actions, the trajectory of the flight and the fact of bombing are concerned. Operations carried out by bombers are usually very efficient. The diameter of the missile found proves it belonged to a bomber, so it’s strange the consequences weren’t far more serious,” Marat Kulakhmetov stated.

LR: Here we go again. They are suggesting that because the action under study is irrational, Russia wouldn’t have done it. Haven’t they ever heard about Krushchev taking off his shoe at the UN, or Putin joking about rape in front of a diplomatic delegation? Did those events also not happen? In Russia, the irrational is common place, which explains why men don’t live past 60 and people work for $3 per hour.

The missile was blown up later in the day in a controlled explosion. But the ramifications of this incident will be a lot less easy to predict. The region itself is extremely unstable. Clashes in South Ossetia have been getting more and more frequent over the latest months. The only thing that is obvious at the moment is that the incident will heighten already strained tensions in South Ossetia, and possibly it might lead to more violence. Russia-Georgia relations, which have also been strained for many months, now are likely to get worse.

LR: RT is saying that everything is so unstable that Russian intervention is clearly necessary. Indeed, Russia may well have planned this event specifically to justify such a conclusion and hence a military invasion of the area.

Neo-Soviet Russia at the Gates of Military Hell

With Russia now attacking Georgia and the two countries on the brink of imperial war, it’s worthwhile remembering how many other former Soviet slave states the Kremlin may have set its sights on. Estonia, for instance. The the West doesn’t unify to nip this aggression in the bud, it will only grow and expand just like Hitler’s did until they go one step too far and World War III breaks out. The Peninsula reports:

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet yesterday stepped up the Baltic country’s war of words with former overlord Russia, accusing President Vladimir Putin and other leaders of tolerating “fascism”. Paet was countering Moscow’s accusations that Tallinn is allowing extremists to flourish and honour the pro-Nazi camp in World War II, notably because of a decision to shift a Soviet-era war memorial from the centre of the Estonian capital. In an opinion piece published Monday in the Postimees daily, Paet said Moscow was making “crazy accusations” about “neo-fascism” in Estonia while ignoring that such extremist views were taking hold at home. “The ideology now in formation in Russia shares dangerous similarities with the phenomenon of which Russian politicians are so fond of accusing Estonia,” Paet wrote. Paet singled out rising harassment of Estonians, which has included a campaign against the country’s ambassador to Moscow, as well as the deportation of hundreds of Georgians – accused of residing illegally in Russia – following a diplomatic spat. “One can come across notices on Moscow pub doors, stating that Estonians and Georgians are not served,” Paet claimed. “What ideology was it which tolerated about 70 years ago notices on businesses that people of certain origin are not served?” he said, in an apparent reference to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany. Pushing the Nazi comparison further, Paet lashed out at Putin – a former KGB officer – for taking part in ceremonies to mark the foundation of the Soviet secret police in 1917. “Can you imagine the leaders of Germany celebrating with great pomp the anniversary of the formation of the Gestapo? This is unthinkable and it would not happen,” he said. Relations between Estonia and Russia have remained rocky since 1991, when Estonia regained its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union after a five-decade occupation.

Now, the Defections Begin Again

The Moscow Times reports that one of the final nails in Russia’s neo-Soviet coffin has just appeared, defections. Yet another sign of the neo-Soviet apocalypse. Remember friends, you heard it hear first, long ago. And this is only the beginning.

Members of one of Chechnya’s most prestigious folk ensembles have requested political asylum after arriving for concerts in Finland, suggesting that life in the war-torn republic is not as friendly as presented by authorities there. Eighteen Chechens, seven of whom are children, applied for asylum after they arrived by train in Helsinki on Sunday, Mikael Storsj, a local human rights activist said Tuesday. The group consisted of Bislan Saraliyev, the manager of the female vocal group “Zhowkhar,” four singers, two male musicians plus their spouses and children, StorsjЪ said in a telephone interview from Helsinki. He said he had arranged their long-planned visit and that they were to perform a few gigs in Finland. But at the train station, they told him that they wanted to apply for political asylum. “So, we went to the police that night with them,” he said, adding that the performances had been postponed.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov tried to downplay the incident, calling it an act of political opportunism. “It was not the whole ensemble, just four former performers who went, and they did not leave for political reasons, but simply changed their place of residence,” he said in a statement released by the Chechen presidential administration Tuesday. “Any citizen has the right to choose his residence and if they want to live in Western Europe, they have the right to do so,” Kadyrov said.

The ensemble members in the group had officially resigned their posts before leaving, Saraliyev confirmed by telephone from Helsinki. “We came as common people and have no political ambitions,” he said. He would not elaborate on his request for asylum. Storsj said the Chechens had stated that their reason for leaving was that life in Chechnya was unbearable. There is always a risk of violence, he said, and if people were in the wrong place at the wrong time, they might become victims of the so-called mop-up activities. The republic has officially been peaceful since the second Chechen war was declared over by Moscow a few years earlier. But despite the declared return to normalcy, notably in cities like Grozny, the region has been fraught with violence. Two soldiers were killed when a bomb detonated in the mountainous Vedeno district in July. Neighboring Ingushetia has seen a flurry of attacks with several dead in recent weeks.

Storsj said the refugees could not see any future for themselves and their families in the present situation, which differed from official pronouncements. The Chechen culture minister, Dikalu Muzakayev, also tried to strike a different chord. He refuted the idea that the whole state-sponsored ensemble had fled the country. “Their members are in Grozny and stage concerts every day,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax. He added that he had been approached a month ago by four women and two young men from the ensemble who said they were invited to go on tour in Finland. But when the minister was told that the invitation came from private persons, he told them that such invitations would not qualify as a tour, the agency reported. Muzakayev said the musicians then requested to resign from the group, which they were allowed to do.

The group will now have a good chance to get asylum status in Finland. Whoever can rightly prove that he is from Chechnya will get official status, Esko Repo, head of the asylum department in the Finnish immigration service, said in a telephone interview. Up to 15 percent of the 176 applicants from Russia in 2006 were Chechens, he said. Storsj said he thought there were 210 Chechen refugees in the country. According to human rights activists, Scandinavian countries have become a haven for refugees in recent years, after legislation on the admittance of refugees was tightened in much of Western Europe. StorsjЪ said Norway had a Chechen refugee population of around 2,000. Most prominent among them is Anzor Maskhadov, son of former Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed by Russian forces in 2005.

Zhowkhar, which means pearl in the Chechen language, was founded in the 1990s, a rebel-controlled web site, Nohchi.vu, said. According to a report by Ekho Moskvy radio, the group’s former head, Aiman Aidamirov, was severely injured when he performed while a bomb exploded in Grozny’s Dynamo stadium in May 2004, which killed the republic’s President, Ahmad Kadyrov, the father of current leader Ramzan. Another reason that more Chechens decide to leave the republic might be the recent easing of restrictions on issuing passports. This year authorities in the republic have started handing out passports to citizens who did not have international travel documents. In Grozny, many people are waiting for their passports and eager to leave their homes for good. “We are waiting for our passports so that we can go to Norway,” said one woman, who only gave her first name, Zara, adding that she was taking her 23-year-old son. “There are many Chechens there, and they write that conditions for refugees are very good there,” she said.

Annals of Russian Snake Oil

A snake charmer greeting wealthy Russians this year at a party for the opening
of a Jean Paul Gaultier store in Moscow.


We’ve said before that the vaunted New York Times is largely clueless where Russia is concerned, and it’s also got a pro-Putin bias because of its extreme left-wing, anti-capitalism ideology. For instance, the Times has a special web-page devoted to Russia on the web called the Russia Navigator, and if you visit it you will find out that there is only one significant blog about Russia and it’s called “Laughter in the Darkness.” If you click the link the Times gives you for that blog, you get nowhere fast. It’s a dead link. That’s about as much total incompetence as you can get.

The editors of the Times have a vested stake in making Putin look good because they told the world it should tolerate him as a “necessary transition” to democracy. It said that because, all through the Cold War, it claimed Russia was a nation of decent, democratic-minded people being abused by a few bad eggs in Moscow and, especially, Washington DC. Then suddenly the Russians elected a proud KGB spy as their president. The Times had egg on its face. It had to rationalize.

Coverage of Russia in the Times’ “World Business” section is especially shoddy; that section is not taken seriously by anyone interested in business, who would quite naturally get their news from the Wall Street Journal (if you don’t believe us, just ask any business person). Instead, it’s basically just a bunch of silly fluff for the amusement of lay people with nothing better to do. The following story from World Business, with our running commentary (in red), is a good example.

The Almighty Ruble

The ruble got no respect. During the cold war, it symbolized the backward Soviet economy. After the U.S.S.R. collapsed, it was an avatar of instability. Even plumbers in Moscow often preferred to be paid in bottles of vodka rather than rubles — the bottles did not lose their value. No more. Lifted by high oil prices and a wave of foreign investment, the once humble ruble is showing its muscle, and fueling a consumer boom.

That’s nice dramatic rhetoric there. Must have been as slow day for news. Now go try to buy some rubles at an exchange station in an airport abroad before arriving in Russia, they way you can do with euros or rupees or yen and many other currencies. Actually, better still, try to think of something you would want to buy that was made in Russia with such rubles, if you could get them, which you can’t.

After gaining 20 percent in value against the dollar in the last few years, the ruble is even starting to displace the greenback as Russians’ currency of choice for both saving and spending. As the ruble increases in value — not just against the dollar, but against brawnier currencies, too, like the euro — imported goods are becoming cheaper for Russian consumers. Now ruble notes, once handed over by the fistful for a loaf of bread, are being used to purchase Mercedeses, flat-screen televisions and European beach vacations.

But at the same time, goods made in Russia are becoming more expensive, meaning that Russian manufacturers are being priced out of the market and Russians are losing their jobs or having their wages cut from the already horrifying average of $3 per month. But as long as a few millionaires can get cheaper Mercedeses, all is right with the world? Do you notice that the Times gives absolutely no data about the extent to which the ruble is “displacing ” the dollar?

Of course, the party could be short-lived. Russia takes in roughly $530 million a day from oil, its most lucrative export. If the price of oil declines, so will the ruble. And even if the price of oil does not fall, an oil-fueled boom brings dangers of its own. In many countries, an over-reliance on petrodollars has led to underinvestment in businesses outside oil and gas, and a subsequent withering of other domestic industries. To deal with such downsides of the ruble’s rise, Russia is salting away oil money in a rainy day fund, called the Stabilization Fund, which holds more than $120 billion. In January, Moscow will split it into two funds: the Reserve Fund and the Fund of National Prosperity, the latter intended for state investments. Together with the Central Bank of Russia’s foreign reserves, Russian authorities have a currency reserve of $413 billion, the largest per capita foreign currency reserve of any major economy, including China’s. In an oil downturn, authorities could spend that reserve to protect the ruble. In the meantime, the reserve adds an aura of stability to the economy for investors. “Excluding a couple of oil countries where the money belongs to the local ruling family, which is something different, Russia has surpassed all the newly industrializing Asian countries,” in foreign currency reserves, Kenneth S. Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard, said in a telephone interview.

It’s worthy of special note that even this puff piece, which reads like a commercial for the Kremlin, can’t avoid touching on the obviously threadbare nature of the Russian economy. What if the downturn continued after the fund had been spent? And what happens to Russia in the meantime, as that money is hoarded rather than spent on increasing the adult male lifespan above 60 or raising the average wage of $3 per hour? What about the fact that Russia is massively increasing its military budget, which would in all likelihood have first crack at reserves to maintain current levels, at the expense of ordinary people?

Analysts say Russia’s underlying fundamentals are good, too. First, oil exports are not the sole source of the ruble’s rise. That was the case before 2007, but now foreign investment has become a significant factor. Private capital flows into Russia increased roughly 360 percent in the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year. Only about 30 percent is attributable to oil and other extractive industries, according to the State Statistics Committee.

Simply amazing. The Times takes at face value the statement of the Kremlin itself, with no corroborating data from any source. Is it suggesting that the regime of a proud KGB spy wouldn’t lie? That would be journalistic malpractice, pure and simple. Do you notice how it doesn’t give the dollar value of this investment, but reports it only in percentage terms? That’s another absurdity, because Russia’s foreign investment has been so low in the past that any investment would register as a major increase.

Analysts also point to what they call Russia’s sound macroeconomics. President Vladimir V. Putin’s government has managed inflation, though certainly not eliminated it. And through its tight control over politics and society, the regime has kept demands for social spending in check — a leadership approach reminiscent of the authoritarian “Asian model” of economic development. But economists also say a long-term cycle of economic depression and recovery is bolstering the ruble, at least for now. Starting in 1990, the year the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia’s economy contracted by as much as 40 percent. This year, for the first time since, Russia’s gross domestic product returned to 1990 levels: factories, oil pipelines, roads, ports and other facilities that once were idled are operating near full capacity.

Here the Times doesn’t even try to argue that Russia’s GDP increase isn’t overwhelmingly due to the accidental rise in the price of oil, the way it does for the ruble, yet it still touts GDP growth as if it was a substantive Russian accomplishment. No data of any kind is given to indicate the growth level of the Russian economy outside the oil sector, not even anecdotally, nor does the Times reveal the pathetic living standard experienced by most Russians, including a $3/hour average wage and a sub-60-year male lifespan.This is grossly unprofessional, biased journalism.

In the decade from January 1993 to Dec. 31, 2002, the ruble’s lowest point, the dollar appreciated 7,664 percent against the ruble, rising to 31.96 rubles to the dollar. On Tuesday, one dollar bought 25.47 rubles, a 20 percent appreciation for the ruble. Even more important, as measured by purchasing power parity, a gauge of a currency’s value based on the goods it can buy, a dollar should buy roughly 15 rubles today, according to a report Merrill Lynch issued in July. By that measure, the ruble remains the world’s second-most undervalued major currency, behind only the Chinese yuan, whose value has given policy makers in Washington headaches. Indeed, the ruble would be even more valuable today if not for the Russian central bank intervening to keep it from rising more. Through much of the 1990s, Russia suffered the opposite problem. Then the ruble, shunned by locals and tourists alike, was propped up by Western lending. It collapsed in 1998, on the heels of the Asian economic crisis. Russians’ life savings evaporated and poverty became widespread. In just one example, the theft of manhole covers became a major problem. Russians were stealing them to sell for scrap metal.

Let’s see if we understand: It’s bad for the ruble to be “propped up” artificially by foreign lending, but it’s just fine for it to be propped up artificially by the price of oil? No wonder foreigners have such a dim view of American intelligence. If to judge by the “paper of record” we’re a nation of idiots.

All that is different now. The current consumer boom has sparked renewed interest in Russia from companies like Wal-Mart and Starbucks. Indeed, shares in grocery stores, electronic retailers and other consumer-sector companies are outperforming Russian oil companies on the Moscow stock exchange.

Let’s see if we understand: The best proof that Russia is doing well economically is that Wal-mart and Starbucks want to go there (but haven’t yet)? McDonalds went to the Soviet Union. Apparently that meant it was doing great. Oh yeah, it collapsed didn’t it? Well, so much for that theory.

Russian banks offer accounts in rubles, dollars or euros. Of the three, ruble accounts are attracting the most funds. Ruble-denominated personal savings accounts rose 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2007, while foreign currency accounts were level, according to a report by Goldman Sachs. That has led to some, perhaps predictable, gloating. Recently, a pro-Kremlin youth group staged a mock panhandling to benefit the United States currency. They held out hats for passers-by to make donations — “raising money for the dollar’s ticket back home,” their signs read.

Nashi is just a “pro-Kremlin youth group”? Who wrote this article, the Kremlin itself? Notice how they don’t give the dollar value of savings in rubles or foreign currency, so no real comparison is possible? Could they be hiding something?

But there are limits as to how far a currency can carry a country. Real economic growth, economists say, will depend on continuing foreign investment. Without it, Russian consumption of imported goods will outpace earnings from oil by 2010, according to Russia’s finance minister, Aleksei L. Kudrin. If that happens, Russia’s economy will depend on foreign investment to maintain the strong ruble and the rising living standards associated with it — much as the United States does, but without the same record of stability.

So Russian growth depends on foreigners? Gosh, Russia is really doing wonderfully well then, because it’s sure getting nothing but favorable press in foreign countries these days. No wonder Putin is going out of his way to avoid offending anyone! What a wise ruler!

Last summer, authorities eliminated all restrictions on ruble trading, making the currency fully convertible and easing the way for the capital inflow needed to meet the demand. In the first six months of this year, net private capital inflow into Russia was $67.1 billion — more than during the entire first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the same period last year, capital inflow was $14.5 billion. While threats of nationalization persist in the oil sector, investors have largely decided that they are acceptable considering the money to be made.

Apparently, the Times is again choosing to rely on Kremlin data — although this time it doesn’t even care to name its source. $67 billion is $3 per Russian per day. It changes nothing in the life of the ordinary Russian person. What’s more, there is no evidence of this money going anywhere but the gambling casino that is the Russian oil industry, money that can be (and has been) seized by the Kremlin at any time. Russia is documented to operate one of the most corrupt civil societies on the planet, something of which the Times is apparently unaware. A civilized society can’t be based on a gambling casino.

In another recent sign of the ruble’s strength, a particularly Russian enterprise has just become more expensive. Russia has raised the price for a tourist flight to the International Space Station aboard a Russian rocket. What cost Dennis A. Tito, the first space tourist, $20 million in 2001, this year cost the former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi $25 million. Citing the strong ruble, Russian space agency officials say they will increase that fee to $30 million.

In this entire article, not one single benefit of the ruble’s rise in value for an average Russian person has been referenced. The only benefit is that rich people can buy more expensive foreign goods and can laugh at the fact that foreigners are unable to pay for more expensive Russian goods. If Russia is happy with that situation, it’s on a pathway to utter annihilation.