Daily Archives: November 17, 2008

November 19, 2008 — Contents


(1)  Another Original LR Translation:  Essel on the Russian Motorcar

(2)  EDITORIAL: LGBT is RIP back in the USSR

(3)  Stock Market Fun with Dave Essel

(4)  EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian Ignorance

(5)  EDITORIAL:  Shame on you, Mr. Medvedev!

(6)  Putin’s Constitutional Junta

Another Original LR Translation: Essel on the Russia Motorcar

pics1A note from the translator:  I’m not the sort to deny myself or feel guilty about Schadenfreude, particularly when it comes to Russia and the Russian “élite” (whom I wouldn’t let come nearer me or mine than a – preferably spiked – barge pole would permit). So I couldn’t resist translating this for LR readers. (It was either this or more on the freon submarine).

That however, would have been more of the same – underfunded shipyard, loss of specialists, unpaid subcontractors, what one can expect for mothballing a complex piece of engineering for 22 years, poor planning of systems upgrades, and so on and so forth. The usual for Russia.

This, therefore, was the better laugh. Not feeling easy in a Bentley . . . The Rich are Selling Their Premium Class Vehicles; Working Folk are Buying Them.

Pavel Kalygin, “Our anti-crisis correspondent”

Novaya Gazeta

15 November 2008

Translated by Dave Essel

The world crisis is steadily worming its way into stranger and stranger places, confounding our dreams of stability and undermining our way of life and habits. The middle class is already profoundly affected and has lost everything: creditworthiness, quarterly bonuses, free lunches… But the premium class is striving to stand firm against the crisis. It is not proving easy for them as I discovered when I took a trip to the Rublevka and saw the scale of the damage, the actual costs of their battle. I was shaken: a Porsche Cayenne S, fresh from the factory in March this year, going for a mere 1,5 million roubles (~$55K)…

“That’s mind-boggling!” I said to Maxim Denisov, the manager of this second-hand car dealership on the Rublevka. “It’s worth twice that.”

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LGBT is RIP back in the USSR

One of the most telling features of the recent U.S. presidential elections was that gay marriage was banned by voters in referendums in several states by the same margin that Barack Obama was elected — in other words, these socially conservative measures were enacted by Obama voters.  If you add on top of that how surprisingly well John McCain did, and the extent to which Obama voters were motivated by frenzied hatred of George Bush rather than rationally-based respect for their own candidate and his qualifications, you begin to see that Obama’s support isn’t really as wide and deep as some might like to imagine.

But if LGBT partisans think they have it bad in the United States, they should cast their glance across the Atlantic (or, for that matter, the Pacific) and take a look at Russia. It will make them feel much better, as virtually any comparison to Russia almost always has that effect on those lucky enough to be living someplace else.  And maybe, must maybe, it will make them want to start acting in political solidarity with their oppressed brothers and sisters behind the new Iron Curtain.

In a feature entitled “Closeted Russia,” the In These Times website tells the tale.   It quotes Kevin Moss, editor of the anthology Out of the Blue: Russia’s Hidden Gay Literature:   “It’s strange.  Before, you could almost understand the secrecy, and yet now, even with all the contact Russia has with the West, gay people just aren’t out.”  That’s because, in fact, Russia has far less “contact” with the West and its values than most people know, or care to admit.

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Stock Market Fun, with Dave Essel

Stock Market Fun

by Dave Essel

Prompted by LR’s post “Freefall on the Russian Stock Market”, I decided to visit the RTSI (www.rts.ru) website. It was good fun. The site is quick and responsive and the charts are something! Click and see a daily, yearly, weekly, monthly, yearly, or 3-year graph.

The way the markets reflect politics is simply wonderful. You don’t need to look further for proof that people put their money where their mouth is, or, in other words: where the mouth (i.e. the information) is, thither goes the money.

In this case, it is OUT of Russia. As well it should be if you value your assets…

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EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian Ignorance


Annals of Russian Ignorance

The black voters cast their ballots without thinking. The victory of democracy and tolerance in the United States is a sham. Obama won simply because of the black majority that voted for his skin color and not his views or policies.

–Russian political analyst Alexei Chadayev, quoted in the Moscow Times

Sometimes (well, most of the time) Russian ignorance is so mind-bogglingly deep and wide that there simply are no words to describe it. Often, when one Russian tries to correct another, it only makes matters worse.

Take Moscow Times columnist Boris Kagarlitsky, for instance, in our view one of the most hopelessly ignorant human beings on the planet. Trying to correct Chadayev’s shameless racism, he points out:  “Blacks have never constituted a majority in the United States, and even if the Latino population were added, the aggregate sum would still represent a minority of voters. The truth is that the majority of Americans who voted for Obama were not black.” 

Even Kagarlitsky, a rabid Russian nationalist and Kremlin apologist, is shocked and embarrassed by this so-called intellectual’s naked barbarism, and chides: “Not only do our pundits have a distorted view of what is happening overseas, they are detached from domestic realities as well.”  Appparently he doesn’t stop to think that this ignorance might bleed into the Kremlin as well. 

Or reach himself — but any educated American would instantly realize that it has.  After all, he’s one of those pundits.  Kagarlitsky’s comments are just as stupid as those he purports to criticize, if not stupider. And given the breathtaking, apelike stupidity of Mr. Chadeyev, that’s saying quite a lot.

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EDITORIAL: Shame on You, Mr. Medvedev!


Shame on You, Mr. Medvedev!

It’s bad enough that Russians themselves won’t do anything to reconcile themselves to their abhorrent history of mass murder.  Unlike Germans, Russians not only refuse to take responsibility for the barbaric actions of their ancestors, they’re actually in the process of rehabiliating those homicidal lunatics, like Josef Stalin, and lionizing them as great historic figures.  But if Russians want to obliterate their own country, that’s their affair.

However, when Russians, like so-called president Dima Medvedev, attempt to prevent other nations from confronting their totalitarian past, a line must be drawn.  Last week, in an action so outrageous that it bespeaks mental illness, Medvedev dared to intrude into domestic Ukrainian politics and lecture Ukrainians as to how they should commemorate the famine that wiped out millions of their ancestors in Soviet times.

Do you dare to imagine, dear reader, how Russians would react to a similar effort by the American president to lecture Russians on how to remember their own history? How is it possible for Russians to reach this stunning level of apelike hypocrisy?  How can Russians even believe, with their long years of totalitarian dictatorship, that they even know their own history, much less anybody else’s? Dima Medvedev was schooled under Communism and appointed to office by a proud KGB spy following an election that was an utter sham. For this imbecile to imagine he has insights into the history of oppression is the height of Russian insanity.

We call upon the people of Russia to act like responsible human adults and be consistent. If you demand foreigners butt out of Russian affairs, then keep your noses out of theirs.  If you feel you have the right to instruct Ukrainians about their own history, then don’t complain if the next U.S. adminstration begins to instruct you about yours.

Putin’s Constitutional Junta

Russian political commentator Dmitri Oreshkin, writing in the Moscow Times:

What is most interesting about the term increases for State Duma deputies to five years and for the president to six years is the reaction to these changes. We heard hearty, prolonged applause by the Kremlin lackeys in the audience when President Dmitry Medvedev made his announcement in the state-of-the-nation address on Nov. 5. On the other hand, ordinary Russians are strangely silent on the issue.

The game that the Kremlin is playing with the people has taken a new turn. At some point, Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will have to show their cards. Although most people probably have a good idea of what might be up the leaders’ sleeves, they are not ready to believe it completely.

Why was this plan thrown together so hastily? After all, there are more than three years until the next elections, which is ample time for a thorough public discussion and a referendum on such an important matter involving a change to the Constitution. Moreover, given the government’s control over the media, getting a mandate from the people on Duma and presidential term extensions would not have been difficult.

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Special Extra: Stock Market Update

Once again on Monday, at 5 pm Moscow time, the dollar-denominated RTS stock exhchage was shut down to staunch frenzied, panicked selling.

When the Kremlin threw in the towel, the market was down 6% and flirting with crashing through the 600 point barrier, into truly shocking 500-point valuation — close to 80% less value than it had six months ago!  The RTS market “closed” at 605, and the MICEX ruble-denominated market was shut down as well, having shed over 5% of its value and actually crashed through the 600-point psychological barrier to close at 560.

The oil & gas index led the way down as oil prices continued their precipitous slide and the value of Russian crude oil slipped well below $50/barrel.  LUKOIL was down nearly 12% and so was the once-mighty Norilsk Nickle minerals concern. Sberbank was down nearly 10%.  “Oil falling below $50 is a very worrying sign for the Russian budget,” admitted Alexander Zakharov, co-head of equities at Moscow-based Metropol.

Amazingly, the Russian ruble was stable, indicating that the Kremlin was spending its reserves at truly furious rate to keep it that way and giving Russia a fully-fledged Potemkin currency. What happens when the reserves run out, as they will do in less than a year at this rate of spending?  Only the Devil knows for sure.