Daily Archives: November 11, 2008

November 14, 2008 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Putin’s Russia, Firing Blanks

(2)  Another Original LR Translation:  Listening to Dima Medvedev

(3)  A Postcard from Neo-Soviet Russia (Medical Schools)

(4)  Annals of the Iranian Quagmire

(5)  Putin’s Insane Kaliningrad Gambit

(6)  Latynina on Obama vs. Medvedev

EDITORIAL: Putin’s Russia, Shooting Blanks


Putin’s Russia, Shooting Blanks

The latest breathtaking failure by the Putin regime was documented with a report revealing that Russian oil exports have fallen to 25% below their prior level.  The cause of the plunge is quite clear:  The Putin regime has failed to lower oil tarriffs in line with the plummeting price of crude oil on world markets, meaning that Russian producers cannot profitably export their stocks and prefer to hold them and await a price rise.

The Putin regime knows only too well that it cannot simply cut the tariffs, which consitute the Kremlin’s main funding source. Yet, it is between a rock and a very hard neo-Soviet place, because if it does not cut the tariffs it may drive the entire oil industry into oblivion.

And that was only the beginning of an avalanche of bad economic news for Russia as the week began.

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Another Original LR Translation: Listening to Dima Medvedev

A note from the translator: This, I think, ranks amongst the best of the many reviews of the state of the nation address made by Pooty’s Teddy to the Federal Assembly. It’s written in the rather histrionic, hysterical style that Russian journalists like to adopt occasionally. To the Western reader, this may appear overly self-conscious, like a novice writer for a provincial paper, but here it’s a accepted style.


Boris Suvarin

Yezhedevny Zhurnal

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Medvedev’s first state of the nation address has been interpreted in many ways.

The simplest – don’t worry your head about it! It’s a ritual, a farrago of words… Words were in order and words were spoken. “Freedom (bureaucracy) is better than slavery (the population). We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again…. (Incidentally, why do we actually need all the “phonemes about freedom”? The West couldn’t care; inside the country, they are as unpopular with the natives as they are with the inhabitants of the Kremlin; and no one would want a liberal, even if one was being given away for free. And the same goes in reverse: the liberals don’t want these speeches which they don’t believe or trust in the slightest. So why give the address? Is it something he just enjoys?)

Nonetheless, whatever you may think of Medvedev and his speech, objective facts remain: they can’t be abolished. Russia has come up against a challenge. And its leaders simply MUST do something about it. As everyone knows, a failure to respond is also a response.

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A Postcard from Neo-Soviet Russia

Jackson Chung, a Malaysian who studied medicine in Moscow, writes about his experiences in the Malaysian Star newspaper. His message? “Consider other options.” Good advice, indeed.

IN the last couple of years, Russia has become a hotbed for young Malaysians who wish to pursue a career in medicine. Why? Plain and simple — its tuition fees are particularly low.

Four years ago, I was among 180 Malaysian students who entered the Russian State Medical University (RSMU) in Moscow, referred to as the Second Medical University by the locals. Although I was a freshman in a foreign university surrounded by people who spoke a language I’d only heard in movies, I was still excited to be here.

Since then, I have seen the true Russia which can be exciting to some, and not as interesting to others.

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Annals of Iranian Quagmire

The blogger at TakeYourCross points us to a report from JihadWatch that indicates more gross incompetence on the part of the Bush administration, which maybe allowing U.S. funds to pay for Russian nuclear experts giving advice to Iran. Yikes! At least there may be some hope in this:  Paul Goble reports that some Russians are starting to realize that their brinksmanship in Iran isn’t working out as planned:

Moscow’s efforts in recent months to play “the Iran card” against the West reflect a dangerous misapplication of the principle that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” and are leaving the Kremlin with few good options, according to a leading Russian specialist on foreign policy in southwest Asia.
In an interview in “Moskovsky Komsomolets” Ivan Danilin, a senior scholar at the Moscow Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), argues that the Russian government has fallen into the trap of considering Iran largely in terms of Moscow’s relationship with the United States.

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Putin’s Insane Kaliningrad Gambit

Defense expert Alexander Golts, writing in the Moscow Times:

Imagine the following scenario: After the standoff between the United States and Russia has reached boiling point, the U.S. president decides to launch a nuclear first strike. Russian radar and spy satellites identify a launch of U.S. missiles directed at Russia. The Russian president gives the command for a nuclear counterstrike and simultaneously orders the destruction of U.S. missile-defense installations in Central Europe. To neutralize U.S. radar systems in the Czech Republic and missile-defense batteries in Poland, Russia launches Iskander missiles from Kaliningrad — the ones that President Dmitry Medvedev mentioned in his state-of-the-nation address on Wednesday.

Is this the script of the latest cheap Armageddon novel? Not at all. I just carried the statements and hints made by Kremlin leaders to their logical conclusion. It all started when then-President Vladimir Putin, and now Medvedev, invented the myth that the United States is attempting to create a global missile-defense system to establish military superiority over Russia. This myth is based on the notion that the United States or NATO could launch a first strike against Russia and its missile-defense system would be able to fully intercept a counterstrike of Russian missiles, thus guaranteeing complete military superiority over Russia.

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Latynina on Obama vs. Medvedev

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

Late in the evening on Nov. 4 in Chicago, Barack Obama addressed the American people after he won the U.S. presidential election. In his speech, Obama said one of the strengths of U.S. democracy is its ability to change.

Several hours later on Nov. 5 in Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev gave his first state-of-the-nation address. He spoke not to the Russian people, but to a group of loyal politicians in the Kremlin’s St. George Hall. Medvedev assured his colleagues that he was committed to the rule of law, and one minute later he proposed changing the Constitution.

What is the difference between the truth and a lie? If you say, “I follow the law” and do, in fact, obey the law, this is truth. But if you say, “I follow the law” but then jail former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky to usurp his company, that is a lie.

What is the difference between a closed society and an open one? Closed societies do not tolerate the opposition and freedom of the press, and they don’t care much for government transparency or an open, competitive economy.

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