Daily Archives: November 6, 2008

November 9, 2008 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Why are you Silent, Mr. Obama?

(2)  EDITORIAL:  “Healthcare” in Vladimir Putin’s Russia

(3)  EDITORIAL:  Kasparov as the New Yavlinsky

(4)  Economic Darkness Descends on Putin’s Russia

(5)  Putin, Going Nowhere

EDITORIAL: Why are you Silent, Mr. Obama?


Why are you Silent, Mr. Obama?

The new cold war is well underway, and Dima Medvedev’s Russia is consumed with a frenzied desire to provoke the Americans into a costly full-scale arms race Russia can ill afford.  No sooner had it been announced that the U.S. would undertake a massive program to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, obviously a direct response to Russian threats which have included buzzing the Americans with nuclear bombers, than Medvedev was threatening to place Russian offensive missiles on the border of the Baltics, in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.  This makes the missile defense system now being installed in Eastern Europe, of course, all the more essential.  Medvedev declined to congratulate president-elect Barack Obama, a clear signal that relations are about to get even frostier with the world’s only superpower.  Obama snubbed him right back.

And yet, Obama remains silent about Kaliningrad.  He is receiving national security briefings on a daily basis, yet we still have not heard one single word from him on Medvedev’s “missiles of November.” No sooner did we congratulate Mr. Obama on his electoral victory that he already has disappointed us.  We feel betrayed.  When another Democratic president, John Kennedy, was confronted by a missile provocation, he responded swiftly with condemnation and a U.S. military response.  Obama has been tested, and he has failed.  John McCain, America’s leading policymaker on Russia, cannot speak out for fear of being accused of divisiveness in the wake of the electoral results.  Obama must speak out, and he  must do it now.  The Washington Post attempts to give Obama cover, arguing he can just ignore the problem and it will go away, that all Putin wants is attention.  That’s naive nonsense, exactly the kind that gave us Josef Stalin.

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EDITORIAL: “Healthcare” in Vladimir Putin’s Russia


Healthcare in Vladimir Putin’s Russia

Global Voices has translated a series of Russian blog posts dealing with the quality of healthcare provided in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  The story they tell is truly horrifying, and not only because of the grotesque disregard for individual human life that is shown by the regime but also because of the craven cowardice displayed by the Russians who confront it.

The story begins in 2006, when a blogger’s mother is taken to the hospital with an injured leg.  She spent her entire period of treatment languishing in a hallway along with hundreds of other patients helplessly waiting (basically, begging) for treatment in the packed confines of the facility.

Jump ahead to this year, when the mother’s condition worsens and she needs specialized surgery.  There’s a gigantic two-year waiting list, and the only way the woman can get on it is to obtain a specialized permission to enter the list. This requires a ghastly encounter with the bureaucracy.  Global Voices translates what happened next:

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EDITORIAL: Kasparov as the New Yavlinsky


Kasparov as the New Yavlinksy

The New Yavlinsky

The New Yavlinsky

Grigori Yavlinsky, who undoubtedly has a good heart and an able intellect, will nonetheless go down in history as one of the most harmful Russians who ever lived.  A classic “white moderate” as defined by Martin Luther King, as such more dangerous to African Americans than the KKK, Yavlinsky’s pathetic performance as leader of the Yabloko party in the Yeltsin days sucked all the oxygen out of the democracy movement, depriving it of the opportunity to gain critical mass and contend for power. 

We loathe Yavlinsky, perhaps more than Vladmir Putin himself. After all, Putin never promised us a rose garden.

Thankfully, Yavlinsky has passed from the scene into well-deserved obscurity.  But it seems that Garry Kasparov is eager to fill his shoes with more cold feet.  Kasparov has repeatedly disappointed us with his failure to take significant direct action to challenge the Kremlin (or to step aside and support someone else willing to do so).  His craven withdrawal from the presidential election was a low moment in a very meager political career. At least in the past Kasparov did do one thing Yavlinsky never could: Give good op-ed in the Western media.  But now it seems, that too has gone the way of all things.

Writing in The Australian recently, Kasparov stated that Barack Obama, if elected President of the U.S.,

could get off to a good start by making it clear he does not consider the people of Russia to be the enemy of the US. As in most authoritarian states, the Putin regime does not represent most of its citizens. Kremlin propaganda works hard to present the US as Russia’s adversary. Obama could strike a blow against that image by speaking out against dictatorial leaders in Russia and across the world.

Kasparov could not be more mistaken or unhelpful.  The Russian people are the enemies of the U.S., and of all people who love freedom and democracy and peace and prosperity, and they must be told so — often and loudly — for the very reason that the Putin regime precisely represents a majority of them.

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Economic Darkness Descends on Putin’s Russia

Panic is sweeping Russia. Half of all Russian people believe they’ll lose their jobs in the next three months.  Nice work, Mr. Putin. Time magazine reports:

The friend giving me a ride swapped just a couple of grim words with his wife on his cell phone, then turned to me. “They fired her,” he said sadly. “There go our plans.” The wife, who had enjoyed a cushy bank job, then joined the tens of thousands of Russia’s new middle class who have found themselves newly unemployed.

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Putin, Going Nowhere

Eurasia Net reports (the Times of London has one too):

Where there’s smoke in Moscow, there must be a conflagration of speculation: various media outlets were predicting on November 6 that Russia’s political supremo, Vladimir Putin, will officially reclaim the presidency as early as 2009.

One report, printed in the Moscow newspaper Vedomosti and citing an unidentified source close to the Kremlin, hinted that incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev was merely keeping the seat warm for Putin. Medvedev, the report suggested, might even resign next year, opening the way for Putin’s “re-election.” The flurry of media speculation followed Medvedev’s announcement on November 5 that he would seek to lengthen the presidential term from four to six years.

Putin aides have denied the media reports about Putin’s imminent return to the presidency.

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