Daily Archives: October 4, 2008

October 6, 2008 — Contents

MONDAY OCTOBER 6 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  The Russian Pension Morass

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Annals of Russian Hypocrisy

(3)  The Enemy Within 

(4)  Illarionov on the Stock Market and Georgia

(5)  Russia is Destabilizing the Crimea

(6)  Medvedev’s Crackdown on Corruption

(7)  Russia initiates a New Nuclear Arms Race

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EDITORIAL: The Russian Pension Morass

EDITORIAL

The Russian Pension Morass

The average monthly retirement benefit paid to an American by the federal government is $1,086.  That’s 6.6 times more money than an average Russian pensioner receives — they get just $164 per month (if you believe the habitually dishonest Kremlin’s data).  An American pensioner gets over $36 per day to live on — a Russian gets less than $6.  And remember: The American population is twice the size of Russia’s, so America is actually spending 13.2 times more on its senior citizens than Russia is as a nation.

Even Russian dictator Vladimir Putin seems to realize this is a serious problem.  Therefore, he has proposed to increase the payroll tax paid by employers to fund the state pension system by a whopping 30%, from 26% today to 34% in 2010.

Yekaterina Katz of Delovaya Rossia, a lobby group for small and medium-sized businesses, called the measure “unacceptable” and warned: “It would kill most industrial enterprises.”

The Russian stock market, however, seems to like the idea.

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EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian Hypocrisy

EDITORIAL

Annals of Russian Hypocrisy

We continue to be genuinely amazed at the ability of Russian people in general, and Russian rulers in particular, to reach new heights of breathtaking hypocrisy.

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The Enemy Within

Writing in Commentary magazine (one of our family of commenters tipped us to the piece) Arthur Herman, the author most recently of Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age, blows away the neo-Chamberlainian cowards who recklessly seek to rationalize Russian aggression in Georgia.  There’s much more to the extended piece, click the link to read the rest. The critical point is that we here in the West have people are are willing to take Russia’s side in this dispute, and who can do so in the most lofty public venues.  But where are the Russians who are able to take Georgia’s side in the mainstream Russian media? You will not find them, because they are censored and because they would be killed if they were not and dared to speak. Thus, Russia like the USSR before it languishes in ignorance, unable to reform and doomed to failure.

On September 1, the leaders of the European Union, having already warned Moscow several times of its obligation to meet the terms of the cease-fire agreement with Georgia, held an emergency meeting in Brussels and decided to—issue another warning. If Russia continues its non-compliance, the leaders threatened, another warning may yet follow.

Such are the pitiful realities of international diplomacy, and of an all too familiar Western pattern of response to acts of blatant aggression by powerful dictators. It is embarrassing enough when governments, with responsibility for the security of millions, resort to such hand-wringing hesitancy. It is worse when analysts and critics who are free to speak their minds on everything under the sun start looking for reasons to avoid placing blame for aggression squarely where it belongs—on the aggressors—and instead strive conspicuously to spread it around among the bystanders and even the victims.

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Illarionov on the Stock Market and Georgia

Andrei Illarionov, first writing in the Moscow Times on the stock market crash and then via Paul Goble on Georgia:

From its peak on May 19 to its lowest point on Sept. 17, the Russian stock market has fallen by almost 58 percent. This is its largest decline since the crash of 1998. What is the cause of the current cataclysm?

The Kremlin has been quick to blame the West, and primarily the United States, for the country’s troubles. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blamed Western “speculators” who pulled out their investments en masse at the first sign of trouble. He also denied that Russia’s aggression toward Georgia played any role in the market’s fall. Putin suggested that the crisis is connected “not with the problems of the Russian economy, but with problems of the West’s economy.” In recent comments, he even referred to it as the “American contagion.”

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Russia is Destabilizing the Crimea

The Jamestown Foundation reports:

On September 29 the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) protested against an appeal made by the Russian delegation to the OSCE about the Crimea. “Methods and dirty technology created in the ’90s of the last century are being used to destabilize the situation in the ARK [Autonomous Republic of Crimea] by fomenting separatist movements in the territories of the former USSR… Such actions cannot be regarded as anything other than gross interference in the internal affairs of another state,” the MFA said (www.mfa.gov.ua, September 29).That Ukrainian-Russian relations are poor and deteriorating is increasingly obvious from mutual accusations, counter-accusations, and insinuations. Russian political technologist Sergei Markov, a Unified Russia deputy, described Ukrainian-Russian relations to all intents and purposes as non-existent (www.pravda.com.ua, September 24).

Even in the area of Soviet history the Ukrainian and Russian sides have diametrically opposite views. The Russian Foreign Ministry gloated over Ukraine’s failure to find support for a resolution at the UN to recognize the 1933 artificial famine as “genocide” conducted against Ukrainians. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a strongly worded rebuttal. Writing in September’s Prospect magazine Arkady Ostrovsky said, “an old fashioned nationalism, in neo-Stalinist costume, has become the most powerful force in Russian society” (www.prospect-magazine.co.uk).

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Medvedev’s Crackdown on Corruption

The Moscow Times reports:

Lawyer Inna Yermoshkina gave little thought to the two dozen police officers waiting near the entrance of her apartment building when she returned home one evening in May. After all, she thought, she hadn’t done anything wrong. But when the plainclothes officers surrounded Yermoshkina and her husband and a uniformed officer ordered their arrest, she understood that there was no going back. Yermoshkina, 41, was handcuffed and placed in a police car, where she said she was assaulted by officers. Police escorted her husband up to their apartment, where she claims that they confiscated documents she had gathered about relatives of senior city and government official.  The man in uniform said the couple was being investigated for fraud.

“This will teach you not to step on the toes of important people,” Yermoshkina recalled the police officer saying.

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