Daily Archives: August 29, 2008

September 1, 2008 — Contents


(1) EDITORIAL: Words Americans Live by, Which Russians should Learn

(2) Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov on Georgia

(3) Goble on Stalin’s Poison Pills

(4) Neo-Sovietism in Post-Putin Russia

(5) Russian Military Failure in Georgia

(6) Flirting with Stalin

(7) Moscow Times Readers condemn Vladimir Putin

(8) Exposing Russian Failure at the Olympics

NOTE: The subject of Josef Stalin, the greatest mass-murderer of Russians in history, comes up ever more often these days when discussing neo-Soviet Russia, and to prove it we have not one but two major items in today’s issue exposing the extent of Stalin’s significance in Putin’s Russia. In connection with them, we are delighted to see that our admired friend Paul Goble, whose brilliant work is regularly republished on this blog, had a recent lengthy op-ed column in the Moscow Times. The next step is for his must-read work to regularly appear in much larger forums.

NOTE: The government of Georgia has released an official chronology and itemization of damage done by invading Russian forces in the recent conflict. View it here.

NOTE: It’s Labor Day in the USA, and with a patriotic editorial we salute all the hard working people of the world including those who selflessly contribute their efforts to generate the content for this blog.  Because of the holiday, publishing of comments may be delayed somewhat over the holiday weekend.

EDITORIAL: Words Americans Live by, Which Russians Should Learn

E pluribus unum -- From the many, one.

E pluribus unum -- From the many, one.


Words Americans Live by, Which Russians Should Learn

Time and again over the last two centuries, malignant dictators of every stripe have calculated that Americans will not fight, that they are a soft people used to comfort and will not stand for principle against the determined onslaught of fire and steel.

Each and every time, those dictators have been proved wrong.  Each and every time, the United States has seen the dictator into his grave, obliterating his nation and rewriting the history of the world.

In this past century alone, the efforts of the United States have laid low Japan, Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  Japan and Germany today are prosperous, happy nations that bear no resemblance to the maniacal dictatorships that challenged the United States and were destroyed by it.  And the United States bestrides the world like colossus.  Most recently, the United States was able tgo project its awesome military power to the other side globe and crush tyrranical regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan — projection of this kind of military power is something Russia has never accomplished once in its entire history, and cannot even dream of attempting. Little wonder Russia’s autocrats became so nervous about it.

But it now appears that the job in regard to the USSR was not completed.  The United States, it now seems foolishly, accepted the surrender of the USSR on highly favorable terms for Russia rather than physically liquidating it’s malignant regime when it had the chance, as had been done in Japan and Germany.   Once again, the forces of venal dictatorship, of haughty childish contempt for American values and indeed for the value of individual human life itself, rise beyond a new Iron Curtain. Once again, ignorant gray little men in lonely towers imagine they can bring down the United States with their furious hatred and delusional arrogance. Once again they believe that no nation can stand behind values like freedom and democracy when fire and steel are flying.

Little do they understand the mighty American people and the principles that guide them, which are consistently expressed throughout American history. Let’s remember them now:

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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov on Georgia

A mistake we will all have to pay for

by Boris Nemtsov*

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Today’s recognition by Medvedev of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is a strategic and long-term mistake, the consequences of which will be felt by practically all of Russia’s citizens.

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Goble on Stalin’s Poison Pills

Paul Goble, writing in the Moscow Times:

A lot of attention was focused on the symbolic importance when Russian forces occupied Gori, the birthplace of Stalin. Few reflected, however, that this conflict, like many others in the post-Soviet states, is the product of what many in business call “poison pills,” arrangements that make it difficult, if not dangerous, for anyone to try to takeover or even change the basic arrangements of another firm.

If the peoples of the region and the international community are to overcome this crisis and the others that are clearly on the horizon in this part of the world, they need to understand the nature and location of the poison pills Stalin inserted in his system and the dangers of swallowing them.

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Neo-Sovietism in Post-Putin Russia

Paul Goble has published an extremely important analysis showing how Boris Yeltsin “laid the foundations for Putinism” and how Vladimir Putin is laying the foundations for something “even worse” — dare we call it “Neo-Sovietism”?  Such a policy, of course, portends Russia’s utter implosion, just as occurred in the USSR. Goble warns that many in Russia itself understand the risk that places like Chechnya will now use this precedent to demand enforced separation from Russia, and even relations with places like Serbia have now been damaged.

Boris Yeltsin’s support for the rise of the oligarchs and the latter’s decision to turn to the siloviki in order to protect themselves from any challenge from the people laid the foundations for Vladimir Putin to construct his increasingly authoritarian regime, according to the leader of the liberal Yabloko party. But as depressing as that trend has been, several recen tarticles in the Russian press called attention to the appearance of a new history textbook for Russian school children which argues that Stalin’s terror was justified as “an instrument of development,” a message which suggests Putin has plans for an even more draconian system than the one he oversees now.

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Russia’s Military Embarasses itself in Georgia

The Times of London reports on the shoddy, embarrassing quality of the army Russia sent into Georgia, one which NATO could easily have brushed aside at will if it had chosen to do so — yet another serious error made by the Putin regime in connection with the Georgia conflict.

Pictures of triumphant Russian soldiers sitting on armoured personnel carriers as they were driven through towns in Georgia will be among the lasting images of the seven-day war. But the victory did not tell the whole story, analysts said yesterday.

The ageing vehicles were so lightly armed and so uncomfortable and hot to sit in that the Russian soldiers felt safer perched on top. “At least they could then react quickly if there was an attack,” Colonel Christopher Langton, an expert on Russian armed forces at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said.

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Flirting with Stalin

Mass murder is so sexy!

Mass murder is so sexy!

Writing in Prospect magazine Arkady Ostrovsky, Moscow bureau chief of the Economist magazine,  tells us about “flirting with Stalin” and the horror of life in neo-Soviet Russia:

“Dear friends! The textbook you are holding in your hands is dedicated to the history of our Motherland… from the end of the Great Patriotic War to our days. We will trace the journey of the Soviet Union from its greatest historical triumph to its tragic disintegration.”

This greeting is addressed to hundreds of thousands of Russian schoolchildren who will in September receive a new history textbook printed by the publishing house Enlightenment and approved by the ministry of education. “The Soviet Union,” the new textbook explains, “was not a democracy, but it was an example for millions of people around the world of the best and fairest society.” Furthermore, over the past 70 years, the USSR, “a gigantic superpower which managed a social revolution and won the most cruel of wars,” effectively put pressure on western countries to give due regard to human rights. In the early part of the 21st century, continues the textbook, the west has been hostile to Russia and pursued a policy of double standards.

Had it not been for Vladimir Putin’s involvement, this book would probably have never seen the light of day. In 2007, Putin, then Russian president, gathered a group of history teachers to talk about his vision of the past. “We can’t allow anyone to impose a sense of guilt on us,” was his message.

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Moscow Times Readers Condemn Vladimir Putin

Letters to the editor of the Moscow Times regarding the Georgia crisis.  Note how bold it is for the MT to publish a letter accusing Russian dictator Vladmir Putin of being a criminal. The Kremlin has shown itself more than capable of launching a criminal prosecution against those who publish such statements.  Perhaps one day the MT will be even bolder and publish an op-ed or, dare we dream, an actual editorial that makes the same charge.

(1) Isn’t Vladimir Putin a Criminal?


In August 1999, after being provoked by a raid on Dagestan by Chechen rebels, Russia started an air campaign against Chechnya, followed by a massive ground attack in the following months. As a result of that, the Chechen capital, Grozny, was completely destroyed, tens of thousands of Chechens died, and even more Chechens had to flee their country. Chechnya at the time was a separatist region. It was de facto independent and out of the Russian sphere of control. Legally, however, it remained an integral part of the sovereign Russian state.

Now turn the clock forward nine years. In August 2008, after being provoked by South Ossetian militias and by Russian peacekeepers, Georgia attacked South Ossetia with ground forces and Grad missiles. As a result of this, the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, was destroyed, an unknown number of South Ossetians were killed and tens of thousands of South Ossetians had to flee their homes. South Ossetia at the time was a separatist region — de facto independent and out of the Georgian sphere of control. Legally, however, it remained an integral part of the sovereign Georgian state.

If Russia considers Georgia’s actions illegal and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili a criminal, what about the Russian actions in Chechnya? Wouldn’t then-President Vladimir Putin be a criminal as well?
If Russia affirms the right of independence for South Ossetia, why doesn’t the same apply for Chechnya?

Paul Cordy
Antwerp, Belgium

(2) Why aren’t Ossetians in Russia already?


I’m a little puzzled about something. Five years ago, 90 percent of South Ossetians and Abkhaz freely accepted Russian citizenship. By doing this, under Georgian law, they automatically lost their Georgian citizenship, which they probably were more than happy to be rid of. If I were to take the citizenship of a foreign country and give up my British citizenship, it would be only fair that I should be subject to immigration control in Britain and should have the right of residence only in the country of my new citizenship. Until this August, Russia reaffirmed, time and time again, that South Ossetia was part of Georgia, including in Security Council Resolution 1808. Why then did Russia not use the past five years to relocate its newly naturalized Russian citizens to its own territory?

Michael Petek
Brighton, Britain

Exposing Russian Failure at the Olympics

Writing in the Moscow Times columnist Georgy Bovt makes the point we made a week ago, namely that Russia failed miserably, by its own standards, at the Beijing Olympiad (it didn’t even play soccer, its men’s basketball collapsed in humiliating fashion, it was whipped head-to-head by the USA in men’s volleyball and women’s basketball, and it failed to produce a single memorable athletic performance).  And then he explains why this happened, seeing a connection between the fact that Russia is a sick nation (its male population doesn’t reach age 60 on average) and its lame atheletic performance.  A certain insane commenter who shall be nameless (because he is brainless) previously claimed nobody but LR could claim Russia had failed in Beijing, so although our mission is in fact to be far ahead of the curve on Russia, we admit to a special relish in publishing this post.  We’d say nice try, dummy, but it wasn’t even close. Those who rationalize failure in Russia are its worst enemies. Those who call up on it to rise and meet challenges are its best friends.

With the Olympic Games over, we can now take a look at whether Russia achieved the status of athletic superpower.  Unfortunately, our athletes did not fulfill the medals quota set by the president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Leonid Tyagachyov. Russia’s track and field athletes were the only ones to meet the quota, largely because a modern stadium was built in Irkutsk for them to train in before the games so they could adapt to the Beijing time zone.

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Special Extra — Valiant Georgia Severs Diplomatic Relations with neo-Soviet Russia

In another stunningly bad development for Vladimir Putin, Georgia has become the first nation to break diplomatic relations with neo-Soviet Russia. Georgia’s parliament has voted unanimously to repudiate Russia, and the last Georgian diplomat will leave Moscow this weekend. Russia, in turn, will be forced to close its embassy in Tbilisi.

The U.S. government responded as follows:

[We] don’t find any of this surprising, given the actions of the past three weeks. South Ossetia and Abkhazia are a part of Georgia under UN-recognized laws, in fact, laws and Security Council resolutions that Russia itself has supported. Georgia’s territorial integrity should be intact. We continue to be dismayed that Russia has not fulfilled all of its requirements in the peace agreement. Georgia is going to need the support of the world. And you’ve seen across the board countries coming forward to announce their support for Georgia and condemning the actions of Russia. And the results of that are that Russia is increasingly isolated and will bear the consequences of that isolation unless they fulfill that agreement and then make amends.

The U.S. says that under the France-brokered ceasefire agreement, August 6th is the status quo ante, and this precludes any military basis on the territory of Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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Special Extra — EDITORIAL: Vladimir Putin is Insane

No, you're not seeing things. That's really the then-"president" of Russia Vladmir Putin lifting a little boy's shirt in broad daylight and kissing his stomach.  Note the reaction of the kid at the left.  Just one of many head-scratching moments from Tsar Putin, and nothing compared to Georgia.

No, you are not seeing things. That is really the then president of Russia Vladimir Putin lifting the shirt of a little boy in public, in broad daylight, and kissing his stomach. Note the reaction of the kid at the left. Just one of many head-scratching moments from Tsar Putin, and nothing compared to Georgia.


Vladimir Putin is Insane

In his defense, defeat this wide and deep, humiliation this brutal and complete, might drive anyone berserk.

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