SUNDAY OCTOBER 26 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: The Russian Stock Market in Horrifying Freefall
(2) EDITORIAL: The Moscow Times, Asleep at the Switch
(3) Russia, in Default
(4) Soviet Crimes documented on the Silver Screen
(5) Russia, Weaponizing Natural Gas
NOTE: Oleg Kozlovsky comments on the award ceremonies in New York City on Friday over at his English-language blog, and promises photographs from the scene in the near future. He also details an impressive series of meetings he held in Washington with human rights organizations and U.S. government officials. We like to think this blog played a critical role in bringing Kozlovsky to prominence in the West, and are overjoyed to see him receive the recognition he deserves. Oleg has also established a new presence on Facebook (in English). We encourage all our readers to drop by his blog and Facebook page and offers words of encouragement for his historic struggle against the dark forces of the Kremlin.
The Russian Stock Market in Horrifying Freefall
Another bubble burst, another world on the RTS -- does Putin still feel the love?
In Friday’s trading the Russian stock market’s RTS dollar-based index (charted at left) crashed through yet another critical psychological barrier. When trading was once again shut down at 1 pm Moscow time to halt the carnage, the RTS index was below 590, down over 7% on the day and less than one quarter of the value the index held in May of this year, down over 75% in just six months. When trading reopened an hour later, the index immediately plunged to a loss of over 13%, just under 550, and the market was shut down again, this time for the rest of the day and “until further notice.” Financials (down over 12%) and fuels (down nearly 14%) led the way into the abyss, and all this happened before the market could take cognizance of a big drop in the U.S. markets, which were down over 5% in early trading before climbing strongly at noon.
Gazprom and Sberbank were both down a jaw-dropping 22%. These are enterprises controlled lock, stock and barrel by the Russian government, and the government can do nothing to halt their slide, nor can it affect the plunge of the overall market even though it is frantically buying shares and squandering the national savings account to do so.Had the Kremlin not simply pulled the plug on the market at 1 pm, the market could well already have reached zero.There was a time, not long ago at all, when the Russophile madmen were talking about the Russian stock market and the Russian ruble the same way they used to talk about the military power of the USSR. And just as the USSR, despite all that blather, spontaneously collapsed and proved the utter folly of the propaganda, now the neo-Soviet economy has done exactly the same thing.
And as bad as things were on the RTS, they were even worse on the MICEX ruble-based index, where the lion’s share of the actual trading occurs.
The Moscow Times, Asleep at the Switch
Writing on Pajamas Media a while back, our founder Kim Zigfeld has documented the appalling extent to which the Moscow Times newspaper is backing away from its previously heroic coverage of neo-Soviet barbarism in Russia. The most odious example of this noxious trend has been the paper’s stubborn unwillingness to give prominent coverage to the heroism of dissident leader Oleg Kozlovsky.
And the most repellent instance of that behavior came recently, when the paper buried the news of Kozlovsky’s human rights award in a tiny sentence at the bottom of an item about another dissident winning asylum in Ukraine. Kozlovsky hobnobbed with the likes of Mary Robinson, Sigourney Weaver and Caroline Kennedy, but you’d never know that from the pages of the Moscow Times. He had an op-ed in the Washington Post, but readers of the MT are oblivious of that fact. He was arrested preemptively on bogus charges, went on a hunger strike and then beat the charges in an appeal, but MT readers remain in the dark about all of it. Nor will the MT publish the letters to the editor it routinely receives from Kim, one of the most powerful Russia bloggers on the planet.
Andrew McChesney, the paper’s editor, should be ashamed of himself. If you’d like to register your displeasure with McChesney, click here or FAX (7-495) 232-6529, or write The Moscow Times, 3 Polkovaya Ul., Bldg. 1, Moscow, 127018.
Did somebody say “default”? The Moscow Times reports that major Russian companies are diving perilously into the red and flirting with collapse, leading Standard & Poors to downgrade Russia’s credit rating.
Standard & Poor’s lowered its outlook for Russia to negative on Thursday, warning of the costs of bailing out troubled banks, hours after data showed that Moscow spent another big chunk of its reserves defending the ruble.
The JB Spins blog reviews a new film documenting the horror of life in the USSR, currently screening in New York City:
Prior to Sunday night’s Lincoln Center screening of Katyń, Andrzej Wajda gave the audience a probably much-needed history lesson, explaining the Soviet-German alliance during the early years of WWII. When he concluded, Wajda received a well-deserved standing ovation. However, for his in-depth survey of Soviet crimes against humanity, including Soviet cooperation with the Third Reich, Latvian director Edvins Snore was burned in effigy by Neo-Soviet Russians. It is an ominous badge of honor. The film that you are not supposed to see is titled The Soviet Story (trailer here), and it opens in New York this Friday.
The National Post reports on Russia’s continuing efforts to weaponize its natural gas resources and use them to attack Western values rather than to advance the interests of the people of Russia:
Last year, CanWest News reported on reports the government of Saudi Arabia suggested Canada should consider joining the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the much-reviled international oil cartel: “Ali Al-Naimi, the Saudi oil minister, said…’If Canada decides on its own to join OPEC, what would we say? Of course it would be welcome,'” the report said. Needless to say, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper did not rush to submit membership papers on behalf of Canada — even though we are a budding “energy superpower,” according to the PM.
Now comes word of the formation of a new league of energy-producing states — this time, with a natural gas focus. Iran, Qatar and Russia — together representing about 60% of global natural gas reserves — announced on Tuesday that they are forming a “gas G3.” The announcement came following a meeting in Tehran of top officials from the three countries.