Another milestone for La Russophobe
Over the weekend this blog was pleased to welcome its 500,000th visitor — a mighty achievement for an unfunded specialty blog like ours (our counter visitor counter registered its 220,000th hit, which combined with the 280,000+ on our old counter over at the Google address at the time we vacated pushed the total visits over half a million). Soon, our blog will record the 1,000,000th page view of our content and publish its 12,000th comment. Founded by Kim Zigfeld in April 2006, we have grown to become one of the most formidable voices on neo-Soviet Russia in the world, and our visitation statistics — as we have often said before — are as much due to the efforts of you the reader as they are to those who create our content. So pat yourself on the back for playing your part in confronting the neo-Soviet horror of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
But this is no time to rest on our laurels. The enemy we face is monumental and utterly evil. Our struggle against it has only just begun. We encourage you to see this milestone as confirmation that your efforts are paying off, and to redouble your efforts to publicize our content using services like Digg, Delicious, Dogpile, Reddit, Yahoo! Buzz and others to tag and circulate our web pages.
Just in time to celebrate this occasion, commenter “Charlotte” writes in response to our list of unreformed Russian vices, our most-commented-upon web page with over 300 comments to date:
I’m an American who has recently moved to Russia… and it’s a whole different world. Like a time warp, really. The only thing I could compare it to would be Nixon-era America… but even that is not quite strong enough. About the most I can say for Russia is that it’s exactly like you’d think it would be after decades of Communism. The New Russia, like the FSB, seems to be the same old… “stuff” rebranded.
Well said, Charlotte, well said. And good luck in your daily struggle for change! Russia can’t have too many Americans in country.
MONDAY OCTOBER 27 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Ask not for Whom the Bell Tolls, Putin
(2) Stormclouds over Ossetia
(3) The Kremlin is Lying to the People of Russia about their Future
(4) Now in Ingushetia, the Kidnappings Begin
NOTE: Our content today is bookended with two “special extra” items, one of which memorializes our 500,000th visit and the other of which is the final installment in our “campaign blitz” urging the election of John McCain as the next president of the United States.
Ask not for Whom the Bell Tolls, Putin
Is it the end of days for Vladimir Putin?
His government has made budgetary plans for the nation that depend on Urals Blend crude oil selling for $75/barrel abroad. But the Russian newspaper Vedemosti (Russian link) reported last week that the commodity was trading at just $58.35 — already 22% less than the Kremlin needs to sustain its budget.
All the Russian energy firms have taken massive hits to their share values, and the worst is yet to come. As Streetwise Professor observes:
High energy prices had masked the inefficiencies at these firms. It is easy to look smart when the price of your product is sky high. The real challenge of management is dealing with hard times. There is room for serious doubt as to whether the chekist cadres that run these companies are up to the task of navigating through such turbulent waters. They weren’t promoted for their management acumen, or their knowledge of the oil and gas business. Their skills are not the skills that are needed in current circumstances. High prices covered a multitude of sins, and those sins are about to be revealed in a big way. Which will only contribute to the backbiting and infighting.
Russia simply is not prepared, because its government has spent every waking moment trying to think of new ways to destroy the United States, to deal with this calamity. Just like the idiot farmer in the fairy tales, Putin has actively sought to kill Russia’s golden goose, the U.S. economy that funded the rising price of oil. Full of insane, haughty arrogance, Putin actually believed Russia had somehow become magically independent of the global economy, and could sell its oil to China if the U.S. could not pay.
Pavel Felgenhauer, writing in the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor:
The withdrawal of Russian soldiers two weeks ago from the so-called “buffer security zones” around Georgia’s breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia did not stabilize the situation. The buffer zone around South Ossetia, occupied by Russian troops during the war with Georgia last August, became a lawless area looted by the Ossetian militia. In accordance with the EU-brokered ceasefire, the Russians eventually withdrew as EU observers moved in. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner praised Russia for fulfilling its obligation to withdraw from the buffer zones before October 10 (AFP, October 10).
As the Russian troops withdrew from the buffer zones, armed Georgian police moved in to establish law and order and allow the return of Georgian refugees who fled the fighting and occupation. As a result, today the Georgian police on the one side and the rebels and Russians on the other face off at firing distance along new separation lines in Ossetia and Abkhazia. Several hundred unarmed EU observers are deployed but only on the Georgian side. EU officials say that the observers have established good working relations with the Georgian police and hope they will be allowed in the future to extend operations into Ossetian and Abkhaz-controlled territory (Interfax, October 20).
Ace Russia correspondent Galina Stolyarova, writing for Business Week’s Transitions Online blog, documents the obscene extent to which the Kremlin is hiding basic facts from its own people:
There is a mantra these days, repeated diligently by Russian television: “The Russian authorities have taken all necessary measures to ensure that the global financial crisis does not produce a strong negative effect on the social situation in our country,” or “The situation is under control.”
The word “crisis” is scarcely used and only to concede that, yes, a crisis is unfolding, but this is happening very far from Russia, so the viewer mustn’t worry.
All reports that do touch on the negative consequences of the global banking slump come from abroad. Russian television tells viewers about impoverished Britons unable to bury their dead relatives because the government no longer provides subsidies for that purpose, or about the American businessman, driven mad by the loss of his managerial job, who shoots his entire family and himself. But nothing is said about the clerks of Russian banks living in constant fear of being laid off, or about young families no longer able to keep up with their mortgage payments. Nothing at all is being reported from the regions, and there is no ground-level view of the situation. Only the Kremlin-cabinet view is aired.
It is an open secret that television in Russia – heavily filtered and as unchallenging as possible – is used to manipulate the public or to provide some kind of mass psychotherapy when officials feel it is required.
Armed men drove into Russia’s Ingushetia region and abducted up to 15 people including policemen from a checkpoint and a slot machine parlour, police and witnesses said on Friday. Witnesses said the gunmen, dressed in camouflage, entered Ingushetia from neighbouring Chechnya late on Thursday and presented themselves as police officers. Chechen authorities said they had nothing to do with the raid. Islamist groups fighting an insurgency in Ingushetia against Moscow’s rule frequently target gambling halls and shops selling alcohol, saying they contradict Islam. The Kremlin has been struggling for decades to suppress armed rebellions in its north Caucasus region. Chechnya, scene of two wars, has been largely quelled but the violence has now shifted to Ingushetia, where shootouts and ambushes are common.
This is the sixth and final installment in our series of special posts supporting the candidacy of John McCain, whom we have endorsed as be the best choice in the upcoming U.S. election where Russia policy is concerned. Search “campaign blitz” in our sidebar engine to read the prior entries.
It’s hard to imagine a more convincing argument against voting for Barack Obama, the man Charles Krauthhammer accurately calls “the most inexperienced presidential nominee in living memory,” than the fact that the New York Times has endorsed him. No thinking person should need any more information than that to cast their vote for John McCain.