Daily Archives: August 21, 2008

Special Extra — EDITORIAL: Khodorkovsky Surrenders


Khodorkovsky Surrenders

“I’m not going to return to the oil and gas business or seek a review of the unjust decisions concerning Yukos after being set free. I will devote myself to humanitarian projects and, most importantly, my family.”

— Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to his Chita parole board, August 21, 2008

Another one bites the dust.

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August 24, 2008 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Putin, Enemy of the Markets

(2)  EDITORIAL: Thanks, Mr. Putin!

(3)  Essel: There are Good People Everywhere

(4)  Ossetians Admit to Ethnic Cleansing of Georgians

(5)  Planning for Strategic Victory Over Russia

(6)  Putin’s Neo-Soviet Diversionary Tactic in Georgia

(7)  Pasko on Russian Olympic Fraud

(8)  War in Georgia Costs Russia Big Time

NOTE:  Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment is up and running on Pajamas Media.  She calls upon the world to act now to prevent Ukraine from becoming the next domino of the Putin regime.  Ukraine in NATO now!  Armed to the teeth now!  We must stop Russian aggression before it spirals out of control.

NOTE:  The ever brilliant Vladmir Socor is in Tbilisi and churning out an array of required reading from ground zero.  Read it here.

EDITORIAL: Putin, Enemy of Markets

The Russian stock market tracks the Georgia crisis

The Russian stock market tracks the Georgia crisis


Putin, Enemy of Markets

The Moscow Times reported on Wednesday:  “Russia stocks slumped badly Tuesday as concerns over the continuing Georgia crisis fueled investor pessimism . . . .  The dollar-dominated RTS index sank 5.2 percent to 1,685.6 points, its lowest since November 2006, while the ruble-denominated MICEX Index dropped 6 percent to 1,361.54 points, its steepest fall in almost seven months.”

As the chart above clearly shows, between August 6th, when Russia invaded Georgia, and August 10th, when it agreed to a ceasefire at the urging of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, the market lost over 10% of its value.  It then recovered on news that the country would stop fighting, only to plunge again when it became clear that Russia had no intention of keeping its promise to Sarkozy, as world condemnation escalated.  Informed investors understand the basic reality:  The Russian market is a hollow fraud, utterly dependent upon the fluctuating market for crude oil, with no normal foundation based on diversity and consumer production.  On top of that, Russia is governed by a rogue regime capable of seizing assets and starting unwinnable wars at the drop of a hat, isolating Russia from world markets and terrorizing businessmen of all stripes.

The Motley Fool gets it:  “With all that’s occurring in Russia these days, I’m wondering how long it’ll be before Western investment in that nation grinds to a halt.”  They say Russia is now an “investment gulag.”

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EDITORIAL: Thanks, Mr. Putin


Thanks, Mr. Putin

We have to deny Russian strategic objectives, which are clearly to undermine Georgia’s democracy, to use its military capability to damage and in some cases destroy Georgian infrastructure and to try and weaken the Georgian state. We are determined to deny them their strategic objective. We are not going to allow Russia to draw a new line at those states that are not yet integrated into the trans-Atlantic structures. This is a very dangerous game and perhaps one the Russians want to reconsider. This is not something that is just cost-free. Nobody needs Russian strategic aviation along America’s coast.

— U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, en route  Monday to an emergency session of NATO to address Russian aggression in Georgia.

We are making a list, and checking it twice. So many people need to express their heartfelt thanks to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Georgia.  Here’s our top-ten list.

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Essel: There are Good People Everywhere

There are Good People Everywhere

by Dave Essel

I recently had to visit the managing director of a small Russian company located in one of the CIS countries. I have known this man for some years. He is a bluff, pleasant person. His children are being educated in the West (at considerable financial sacrifice to the family budget – we are not talking oligarch here).

I usually avoid talking politics with this man as it seems the safest way to maintain a friendly acquaintance since it is easy to ascertain from the occasional dropped remarks that we are dealing here with an unreformed Putinite and greater Russian chauvinist.

Besides having his children educated abroad, he loves holidaying in England. How he reconciles his political views with his actions is something that I ought to try to dig into one day.

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Ossetia admits to Ethnic Cleansing in Georgia

Paul Goble reports that Ossetian leaders have admitted to systemmatic ethnic cleansing:

In an interview published in Kommersant, South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity said that his people and Russian forces behind them had driven the ethnic Georgians who had been living there out and would not allow them to return, although he said his government would investigate and punish cases of burning and looting. Kokoity’s words are a rare public acknowledgement by an official that he and the forces under his command or with whom he is working are engaging in what can only be called ethnic cleansing, a form of genocide.

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Planning for Strategic Victory over Russia

The Weekly Standard continues its excellent analysis of the new cold war battlefield. First it dealt with tactical issues, and now it turns to strategic matters.

My brief assessment of the military options open to the West in the ongoing Georgian conflict “The Pain Game: A Military response to Russia’s aggression?” provoked many comments both favorable and unfavorable. The most thoughtful criticism accused me of elevating the tactical over the strategic; i.e., of not looking at the “big picture.” To that I offer a qualified “Mea culpa.” The piece was intended as a focused response to numerous commentators, decision makers, and analysts who said the West had no “military options” in Georgia, when in fact there are such options.

But I have pondered at some length a comprehensive strategic approach to U.S. relations with Russia. These ideas can be found summarized in Chapter 9 of Ideas for America’s Future, which I wrote in collaboration with Mr. Jeffrey P. Bialos of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Transatlantic Relations. The strategy described therein was based on the following premises:

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Putin’s Neo-Soviet Diversionary Tactic in Georgia

Writing in the Moscow Times Russian Konstantin Sonin, a professor at the New Economic School/CEFIR and a columnist for the Vedomosti newspaper, says he understands the real reason for Russia’s attack on Georgia: coverup.

In any country — whether it is democratic or authoritarian — politicians in power do everything they can to make citizens pay more attention to foreign policy issues and less to domestic ones. The reason is simple: it is easier to manipulate people when the issue is abstract and remote.
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Pasko on Russian Olympic Fraud

Writing on Robert Amsterdam’s blog, Grigori Pasko highlights the ludicrous fraud being perpetrated by “Russian” athletes who, like Maria Sharapova and Becky Hammon, don’t live or train in Russia:

The Russian Olympic team, poor in gold medals, evokes a feeling of pity in me. The athletes are forced to be distracted by events that have nothing to do with the Olympics. For example, by the war of Russia with Georgia. For four days they were forced, as someone joked, to fight on two fronts. And then to participate three days in hypocritical mourning for those killed during the time of the Russo-Georgian conflict. Who can think about medals…?

But there are yet other certain circumstances to which I would like to bring the attention of readers.

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War in Georgia Costs Russia Big-time Cash

Paul Goble reports that Russia’s war of aggression in Georgia has cost the country billions in capital flight alone:

More than seven billion U.S. dollars left Russia during Moscow’s military campaign in Georgia, a rate more than ten times higher than earlier in the year and the product at least in part of fears that “certain political risks” are making the Russian Federation a less attractive place for investment, according to Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin.

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Special Extra — The G-7 Deals with Russia

The International Herald Tribune reports that, even as it has been ejected from the NATO council, Russia has been effectively booted out of the G-8, with all the other members of the group siding with Georgia against Russian aggression:

The world’s major industrial countries are calling for increased economic support for war-torn Georgia.

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Special Extra — Postcard from Georgia

The author, left, with his cousin Vakhtang, the conductor

The author, left, with his cousin Vakhtang, the conductor

Redjeb Jordania, the musician, writing in the Washington Post:

I cannot help being anxious about what’s happening to Georgia. My daughter is in Tbilisi with my grandson. Her husband, Sandro Kvitashvili, is the minister of health and social services. I don’t know how dangerous his job is each day, whether he is on the streets, possibly exposed to gunfire. I don’t know how he will cope with all the dead and wounded, how he is helping the refugees. All humanitarian activities are his responsibility, and Russia has blocked many of the routes necessary to transport goods. My daughter communicates with me online and assures me that Tbilisi is relatively calm. She thinks that she is not in danger. But there are frequent disruptions to our connections, and I would worry even if there were not.

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