Daily Archives: November 4, 2008

November 7, 2008 — Contents

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 7 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  Neo-Soviet Russia’s American Bogeyman

(2)  EDITORIAL:  In Russia, Winning does not Guarantee Victory

(3)  EDITORIAL:  The Russian Sinkhole

(4)  EDITORIAL:  Congratulations, President-Elect Obama

(5)  Who’s More Dangerous to Russians:  Criminals or Cops?

(6)  Russia:  The Junkiest of Junk

(7)  What Can Russians do to Help Americans? (translation)

EDITORIAL: Neo-Soviet Russia’s American Bogeyman

EDITORIAL

Neo-Soviet Russia’s American Bogeyman

Last weekend, Vladimir Putin’s youth cults burst into a flurry of activity in Moscow.  On Saturday, the Youth Guard marched in support of banning migrant workers from entering the country, an openly racist and fascist position that even some of its own members had previously denounced.  Then on Sunday, the Nashists were out in force, laying the groundwork for “president” Dima Medvedev’s state-of-the union message, which will seek to blame America for Russia’s current financial crisis.  Other Russia reports that while Nashi claimed 20,000 of its activists were on the streets, even Kremlin-controlled media were reporting that number was exaggerated by at least half, while OR’s own sources claimed no more than 3,000 Nashists actually came out to march.

No thinking person can point to any significant difference between these events and those that would have occurred in Soviet times.  Russia’s frenzy of generalized xenophobia and particularized anti-American hatred, seeking to scapegoat the outside world for the Kremlin’s own failures, mixed with ridiculous lies and propaganda that only a nation of sheep would believe, is precisely the demonic force that prevented the USSR from undertaking real reform and which therefore drove it into the dustbin of history.

Where are the Russophiles, who routinely screech that attacks on Russia are born of anti-Russian hatred? How can they stand silent as Russia mobilizes such an intense tsunami of openly racist hatred against foreigners? We doubt that they are capable of giving any coherent answer to that question.

How can they, or the people of Russia, justify this mind-boggling hypocrisy? They cannot. They can only follow the USSR into the dustbin of history.

EDITORIAL: In Russia, Winning does not Guarantee Victory

EDITORIAL

In Russia, Winning does not Guarantee Victory

In February of last year, we reported on how a Norwegian company called Telenor was locked in battle with a Russian company called Storm LLC, proxy for a Russian firm called Altimo, itself a proxy for a Russian congolmerate called Alfa Group, over control of a Ukrainian telecommunications enterprise called Kyivstar GSM.  As is the usual thing, the Russian company was playing dirty, and the Norwegians turned to the American legal system for help, notching a big victory over the Russian side.

The Russians responded by launching a billion-dollar lawsuit against Telenor in an obscure Siberian court using a proxy entity called Farimex over shares held by Telenor in the Russian telecom giant VimpelCom.

Now Telenor’s website reports the following:

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EDITORIAL: The Russian Sinkhole

EDITORIAL

The Russian Sinkhole

Earlier this week, we reported one of the most pathetic facts about Russia we can remember in our years to date about about the fundamental failure of the Putin regime in Russia.  It told the story of a Moscow businessman who could not pay his employees’ wages because he had to give priority to massive bribes to government officials in order to stay in business.  And that wasn’t the worst part.  This man actually held out hope that the collapse of the Russian stock market would be good for him, because it might make the expectations of the corrupt bureaucrats he deals with more realistic.

Guess what the response of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is to this crisis.  He’s writing (another) book!

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EDITORIAL: Congratulations, President-Elect Obama

EDITORIAL

Congratulations, President-Elect Obama

This blog knows no partisan affiliations, and judges political candidates on a single-issue litmus test:  How effectively will they stand up to neo-Soviet Russia on behalf of the United States and the values of freedom and democracy for which it stands.  Based on that test, our selection in the U.S. presidential race was a no-brainer:  John McCain was right on Russia from the beginning, long before the invasion of Georgia made it hot worldwide news, long before this presidential campaign even began.  He set out a specific series of steps he would take to deal with Russian aggression, starting with ejecting it from the G-8.  Before he started running for president, Barack Obama barely even knew Russia existed.  Obama’s mealy-mouthed rhetoric about the threat posed by Russia was simply embarrassing.  Therefore, we endorsed McCain.

But we congratulate Barack Obama on his electoral victory on Tuesday, and we are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. We hope and pray we’ll be proved to have been wrong about Obama, and we’d be only too thrilled if that were to occur. 

And there is evidence that such a thing is possible.

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Who is more dangerous to Russians: Criminals or Cops?

Here is an other installment in our ongoing discussion of the question of who is more dangerous to the peace and safety of Russian citizens, criminals or the police who supposedly protect against them. Radio Free Europe reports:

Three Russian policemen assaulted a man to force him to confess to a theft, then doused him in gasoline and burned him to death, prosecutors and media reports said.

The police officers were arrested after the taxi driver they had hired to take them to a remote wasteland to dispose of their victim escaped and raised the alarm, Russia’s private NTV television reported. Prosecutors have charged the three officers, from the Volga River city of Saratov, with the murder of Armen Gasparyan, the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor-General’s Office said in a statement. NTV said the three policemen had been drinking when they stopped Gasparyan in the street near his home. They beat him, then drove to their police station where they continued to attack him, trying to force him to confess to stealing some gold. They called a taxi and drove Gasparyan to a spot outside the city limits. “They then poured gasoline over him and set him on fire,” Anton Pakhomov, a spokesman for the local prosecutor’s office, told the television station. “According to the witness, when the police officers set him on fire, he was still showing signs of life, but he subsequently died from his injuries.” Prosecutors said the policemen buried the victim’s body. The taxi driver witnessed the policemen setting fire to Gasparyan, the television station said. He escaped and raised the alarm, despite threats from the police officers that they would kill him if he did, it said. “On questioning…the suspects confessed to carrying out the crime,” the Investigative Committee’s statement said.

Russia: The Junkiest of Junk

Streetwise Professor reports:

La Russophobe pointed me to this interesting post from the Conde Nast MarketMakers blog. The post discusses credit spreads for BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China). These credit spreads measure the creditworthiness of the sovereign debt on each of these countries. The higher the spread, the bigger the market’s estimate of a default (and/or the greater the market’s estimate of the loss conditional on default.)

You will note that as the credit crisis has exploded since late-August, all of these spreads have blown out, meaning that the market estimates that their risks of default have exploded. And surprise, surprise, surprise (cue Gomer Pyle voice), guess whose risk exploded most? Your favorite country and mine, Vlad’s paradise, that island of tranquility in troubled economic times.

In a nutshell, the market has deemed Russia the junkiest of the junky BRIC sovereign credits. And to think, this is the spread on government debt, the government that is sitting on $500 billion. Think of the market’s assessment of the credit risk of the “private” borrowers, eg Deripaska, Fridman/Alfa, Gazprom, Rosneft who are queuing up hat-in-hand to get charity from that government. Well, perhaps one reason for the wide spread is that market participants estimate that the $500 billion will be largely blown bailing out the oligarchs to keep strategic “crown jewels” out of the hands of the cursed foreigners.

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