Daily Archives: November 13, 2008

November 16, 2008 — Contents


(1)  Another Original LR Translation:  The Sub Disaster

(2)  EDITORIAL:  History is Watching, Mr. Obama

(3)  Annals of the OMON flag Stomper

(4)  The Ostrich Syndrome on Georgia

(5)  Tiny Britain Whips Gigantic Russia!

Another Original LR Translation: Of mice and men and submarines

A note from the translator:  One of the things I find most striking about Russia’s recent misadventure with its submarine is how little sense is being written about it. This is one of the best I could find. Yet, it, too, disappoints – in a very Russian way. Here we have a professional, writing a popular explanation in what is left of Russia’s free press. Well and good. But he too suffers from a peculair Russian syndrome. The question that immediately occurred to me – and I am sure it would to any Western reader – was: how is fire prevention and firefighting done on the submarines of other countries? The author of the article below writes as if submarines are only made in Russia. [Any submariners out there among LR’s readers willing to enlighten me/us?] Why do Russians always have to re-invent the wheel? This clearly sensible writer appears to live on an island called Russia, just like the people he disapproves of.

Of Pikes and Freon

by Alexander Pokrovsky, Submariner and Author

Novaya Gazeta

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

“On 8 Novermber at 20:30 local time, the multipurpose submarine Nerpa (project 971 Shchuka-B [shchuka = pike] sailed from its ZATO (Closed Territorial-Administrative Settlement ) Bolshoi Kamen base to undergo sea trials. During these trials, the freon-release fire extinguishing system went off unexpectedly. Six servicemen and 14 civilians died. A further 22 people required hospital treatment. All told, there were 208 people on board the submarine, of whom 81 were servicemen.” Thus the official press release.

The press office of the navy later issued a correction: the dead consisted of 3 servicemen and 17 civilians.

One of the things that makes the Project 971 Shchuka-B special is that it involves more automated systems that previous designs. Command and control is from a single central command centre. The boat is run by a crew of 73.

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EDITORIAL: History is Watching you, Mr. Obama


History is Watching you, Mr. Obama

The Russian stock market took another brutal pounding last week.  The MICEX ruble-based index, where most of the action is, spent all day Wednesday shut down in fear of disaster after taking a massive hit on Tuesday.  When it reopened on Thursday morning, the bloodletting continued, and it was down nearly 10% by noon, and closed crashing through the critical 600-point psychological barrier to finish at 598.  The RTS dollar-based index suffered a similar bashing and was also repeatedly shut down to prevent even more humiliation for the Kremlin. By midweek the RTS had shed over 20% of its value.

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Essel Updates the OMON Flag Stomper Story

OMON Riot Policeman Fired

by Dave Essel

The riot policeman I wrote about the other day, the one who was stomping on a demonstrator’s Russian flag, has been found and dismissed, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported on Wednesday.

Always a pleasure to see something like this

Always a pleasure to see something like this

According to the GUVD (State Directorate for Internal Affairs – what is this love for acronyms? And don’t they sound threatening?), OMON internal security identified the officer and he was dismissed on the spot. “He was lucky to get off so lightly,” Komsomolka was told by Moscow GUVD. “Had he actually broken the flag, he would have gone to jail. We are not releasing his name as we feel he has already been sufficiently punished.”

How humane! So the OMON do know how to be considerate – but obviously only when it comes to one of their own.

The Georgia-Russia Conflict and the Ostrich Syndrome

Melik Kaylan, writing on Forbes.com:

We can ask the world to give Obama breathing space to get his thoughts in order before, as Joe Biden had it, other countries “test” him with all manner of impossible crises. Not as preposterous as it sounds, this notion of asking the world to hold off, considering Obama generates so much genuine goodwill abroad and, after all, his decisions will shape other countries’ futures significantly.

Any countries found to be misbehaving prematurely will instantly get the dog-in-a-manger treatment, for with George Bush gone, whose fault could it be but their own? But no, the Taliban won’t stay their barbarism an extra hour for popularity’s sake.

Perhaps we can adjust our view of the world, instead, so crises just don’t seem as imminent or morally exigent. The latter approach seems to be prevailing. Witness the recent sudden uptick in media noise about the Russia-Georgia conflict.

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Tiny Britain leaves Gigantic Russian in its Dust

Russian economics professor Konstantin Sonin, writing in the Moscow Times:

Russia is a country with large geopolitical ambitions. Both the Kremlin and the general populace dream of having as much influence on global affairs as during the glorious days of the Soviet Union. Yet the country produces slightly more than 3 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, and thus it will probably not play a major role at the Group of 20 summit to be held in Washington on Saturday. The only chance for President Dmitry Medvedev to make a significant contribution would be if he could bring to the summit some innovative proposals to help solve the global financial crisis.

Unfortunately, up until now, the country’s leaders have focused more on criticizing the way the world order is evolving over the last two decades– and particularly the U.S. role in causing the crisis and its excessive dominance in global affairs — than on putting forward any new, productive proposals to improve the situation.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown heads a country with the same share of the world GDP and roughly the same level of economic clout as Russia wields. Nonetheless, he has been much more active in offering useful suggestions that have made the headlines of leading newspapers. One of his more practical ideas to help mitigate the crisis is to convince the Persian Gulf states to participate in the International Monetary Fund’s efforts to help the countries that are most in need of financial assistance.

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