Daily Archives: November 2, 2008

November 5, 2008 — Contents


(1)  Another Original LR Translation:  The Perils of Svetlana Bakhmina

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Putin’s Beetroot Republic

(3)  EDITORIAL:  What about those Passports, Mr. Putin?

(4)  The Saddest Story We’ve Ever Published

(5)  Illarionov on the Crisis

(6)  The Final Solution for Russia’s Internet

(7) Putin is Murdering the Russian Constitution

Another Original LR Translation: The Perils of Svetlana Bakhmina

Svetlana Bakhmina, in Kremlin custody

Svetlana Bakhmina, in Kremlin custody

A note from the translator: Yuliya Latynina is a great columnist with the requisite gifts of perception and clear-sightedness and the ability to write straightforwardly. This is very noticeable when one translates things. Some texts just flow from the Russian through the keyboard into English, others are a struggle. Milov, for example, is much harder to translate than Yuliya. It’s not a matter of subjects, it’s a matter of good thinking and expression. I see it the other way round too — I can read a free translation of an Economist article out loud to my wife [the Economist has strict style standards] but pieces from other journals are always harder. Translateability, therefore, can be a measure of the excellence of the author. Yuliya ranks high. 

A note from the editor:  You can sign a petition to call for Bakhmina’s freedom here. A second piece about Bakhmina’s plight from the same Russian source follows Latynina’s.

First she did not Apply
and Secondly she Withdrew the Application

Yulia Latynina

Yezhedevny Zhurnal

31 October 2008

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Cops flag down a black Mercedes on Kutuzovsky Prospekt. They find a body with a bullet in its head in the trunk. “What’s all this, then?’ they ask. “Well, our friend here committed suicide and we’re on our way to bury him,” answers the driver. “And why’s he got a soldering iron up his rectum?” “Oh, that was the deceased’s last wish.”

I was reminded of this wonderful anekdot [TN: the Russian анекдот is so special it does not deserve to be translated by the word ‘joke’] when I saw the Kremlin’s reaction to Svetlana Bakhmina’s request for release on parole. The Kremlin said she had made no such application. The camp authorities said she had withdrawn her application. As for Bakhmina herself, not even her lawyers are able to get in touch with here – she’s been hidden away in hospital.

Isn’t that just typical of those liberal swine: they raise Cain in support of Bakhmina but she never even asked for parole and in any case has rescinded her request!

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EDITORIAL: Putin’s Beetroot Republic


Putin’s Beetroot Republic

Reporters without Borders has released its 2008 ranking of 173 world nations for press freedom.  Russia comes in at #141, the bottom 15% of all nations in the world.  Last year Russia was #144, so it has actually improved 3 spots since then, and six spots from the position it had in in 2006.  But it still lags behind its position in 2005, when it was already abysmally low at #138.  Georgia ranks much higher, at #120.  Ukraine is higher still, at #87.  Many banana republic African countries, such as Zambia, Cameroon and Guinea, allow more press freedom than is permitted in the Beetroot Nation run by proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin.

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EDITORIAL: What about those passports, Mr. Putin?


What about those Passports, Mr. Putin?

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said Tuesday that Moscow had been issuing Russian passports in Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based. “We all know that they are handing out Russian passports over there,” Mr. Kouchner said in an interview with Kommersant, a Russian online newspaper. The government of Ukraine has said it wants the fleet to leave the Crimean base in Sevastopol when its lease runs out in 2017. But the Russian naval authorities have indicated that they want to retain the base. Mr. Kouchner said Russia might try to make advances in Crimea after the success of its military operations in Georgia in August.

Agence France-Presse, October 28th

Once again, we learn that Vladimir Putin’s rogue KGB regime in the Kremlin is doling out passports in a foreign country.  By this logic, America is free to begin handing out U.S. passports in Ingushetia — or for that matter in Ossetia and Abkhazia.  But what do you think Russians would say if America began doing just that?

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The Saddest Story we’ve ever Published

We’ve published a lot of sad, pathetic stories about fundamental failure in Vladimir Putin’s Russia over the years, but to date we feel this is the saddest and most pathetic of them all.  It truly sums up the abject horror that has been brought to Russia by the governance of a proud KGB spy, a relic of a failed passed who simply knows no better. The Moscow Times reports:

Punctuality in making payments had always been Dmitry’s pride, but in April he was forced to delay employee salaries by more than a month.

The sanitary inspector, who he usually bribed, had demanded an extra $15,000 to buy a new car for his wife. Dmitry had little choice but to hand over the money or see his shop closed for “sanitary reasons.” But the bribe left no funds to pay the wages of his 15 employees.

“I had to ask the employees to wait, and I paid them back bit by bit,” Dmitry said.

But Dmitry and other small business owners hope that times will change — and not because the Kremlin has promised to crack down on corruption. They said the financial crisis could actually help their companies by lowering the cost of bribes.

“I hope that this crisis that is hitting every sector of our economy brings some order. I hope that it makes our bureaucrats understand the real value of money,” said Artyom, who like Dmitry asked that his last name be withheld in order to speak candidly.

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Illarionov on the Crisis

Other Russia reports:

Liberal Charter, a Russian political alliance led by liberal economist Andrei Illarionov, writes a scathing statement against the Russian response to the financial crisis, and describes a pathway out of the crisis. Andrei Illarionov is a former policy advisor to the Russian president, is now an opposition leader. The statement first appeared on his LiveJournal blog.

A Statement by the Liberal Charter Alliance

The Liberal Charter alliance expresses its fundamental disagreement with the measures taken by Russian authorities in the financial crisis, and puts forth the principles of a fiscal policy that a government responsible to the citizens of Russia must take.

1. Today’s financial crisis in Russia has foreign and domestic causes. The most important external cause of this crisis is the world monetary system, which goes through cyclical phases of boom and bust. Such instability is created first of all by modern money, which governments can issue in any amount, combined with a wide range of government privileges and guarantees provided to commercial banks. Interest rates held at artificially low levels and government loan guarantees stimulate the growth of credit that is not backed by real savings, leading to less responsibility on the part of creditors and borrowers, and a collapse of confidence in financial assets.

The main culprits of the global financial crisis are the fiscal authorities in the U.S. and European countries, who have pursued a policy of so-called “cheap” money in recent years. The governments of other countries, including Russia, also carry their share of responsibility for spreading and worsening the crisis. Government encouragement of credit expansion has led to massive investments into overly risky, inefficient, and unsalable projects. The illusion of the accessibility of investment resources, created by governments, has led to a decline in the quality of issued loans and purchased securities. As result, many banks have been unable to meet their obligations before depositors.

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The Final Solution for Russia’s Internet

Other Russia reports:

RUSSOFT, a trade association of the largest software companies in Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus, has come forward with a new proposal to separate the Russian internet from the rest of the world. The group’s president, Valentin Makarov, told the CNews internet newspaper that a funnel could readily be created to control the flow of information through Russia’s online borders. Makarov underscored that such a move would cost several hundred million dollars, and would likely take around 10 years to implement.

The proposal seems to mimic an idea expressed by Russia’s Minister of Communication, Igor Schegolev. Schegolev had earlier spoken about the need to protect the Russian share of the internet (called the Runet for websites ending in .ru), from external threats. The ministry is currently working on creating a Cyrillic alphabet alternative to the Latin-based domain name system, and the controls could feasibly go hand-in-hand.

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Putin is murdering the Russian Constitution

Paul Goble reports:

Vladimir Putin’s establishment of “a vertical of power” and his promotion of the idea of “sovereign democracy” have combined with the indifference of the overwhelming majority of Russians to subvert all the key provisions of the 1993 constitution, according to the man who oversaw the drafting of that document’s final version.

In an article in the November issue of “Znamya” timed to correspond to the 15th anniversary of Russia’s “basic law,” Sergei Filatov argues that the 1993 constitution, which was born “in the sharpest struggle of various social-political forces,” played “an important role in the stabilization of the political situation in the 1990s.” That document “defines our state as democratic, legal, federal, and social with a division of power among legislative, executive and judicial functions,” Filatov says, and if it is realized, its provisions open the war for Russia to become a modern, open, stable and strong country with a maximum of human freedom.But since the rise of Vladimir Putin in 1999 and 2000, Filatov notes, Russia has gone in an entirely different direction, with the constitution ignored, the division of power suppressed and the population ignored and repressed. Such “a vector,” he continues, is “incompatible” with the rights of citizens and a strong Russian state respected around the world.

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