Daily Archives: December 11, 2008

December 14, 2008 — Contents

SUNDAY DECEMBER 14 CONTENTS

(1)  EDIORIAL:  Russia, the Africa of the North

(2)  Back in the USSR (LR told you so)

(3)  Latynina on the Russian Economic Morass

(4)  Russian Pipelines in Peril

(5)  The Sunday Funnies

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EDITORIAL: Russia, the Africa of the North

EDITORIAL

Russia, the Africa of the North

Cameroon, Ethiopia, Congo and Russia. What do these four nations have in common?

They are part of a group of six nations, which also includes Vietnam and Peru, that currently, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, have at least two journalists each in prison because of their writing alone.

Only eight countries on the entire planet have more incarcerated journalists according to CPJ.  Russia, it seems, is the Africa of the North.

This doesn’t take into consideration, of course, jounalists who are currently being prosecuted and face future  jail time, or those who are brutally assaulted, driven into exile or killed outright.

The two journalists currently being persecuted by the Kremlin are Anatoly Sardayev, editor of Mordoviya Segodnya and Boris Stomakhin, editor of Radikalnaya Politika.

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Back to the USSR

Everything old is new again . . . and we told you so long ago!

Everything old is new again . . . and we told you so long ago!

We noted in an editorial on Friday that this blog, once accused of extremism, is now mainstream conventional wisdom on Russia.  As if to confirm us, one of the world’s leading Russia correspondents, Luke Harding of the Guardian, lays out the horrifying facts in a manner no thinking person can dispute, saying things we’ve been saying (and predicting) since April 2006:

Tanks rolling into neighbouring countries, the media back under state control and Kremlin policy shrouded in secrecy … Luke Harding reports on why Russia seems hellbent on reverting to its Soviet past

The first thing you come across after hanging up your coat is Yuri Andropov, the former Soviet leader and KGB boss. A large white bust of Andropov adorns the lobby. Next to him, just up the stairs, is a portrait of another KGB protege who went on to bigger things, Vladimir Putin. (Putin is wearing his famous judo outfit. He looks terrific, relaxed. His hands rest lightly, almost pertly, on his hips.)

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Latynina on the Russian Morass

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

Although everyone is now saying that Russia is going through a financial crisis, this seems strange to me. Imagine a drug addict who sold everything he owns to support his addiction, loses his job and his wife, and then says his problem is that he has no money.

The global financial crisis has shown the whole world the extent to which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s power vertical model is flawed — both politically and economically.

Over the past eight years, the government apparatus has been used as a mechanism to protect the highest-ranking officials to rule as they saw fit, regardless of how ineffective and incompetent they were. When oil prices were high and the state coffers were overflowing with petrodollars, the cost of running the country poorly was virtually nothing.

But with the crash in oil prices, what is going to happen now?

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Russian Pipelines in Peril

The Moscow Times reports:

The country’s falling oil output may make a planned export pipeline to the Baltic Sea a costly white elephant — built for political rather than economic ends, its critics say.

Designed to cut Russia’s dependence on transit states, the BTS-2 link is poised to boost shipping costs for oil majors and further dry up state funds at a time when Russia needs billions to support the ruble and help companies refinance foreign debts.  “It is unclear where Transneft intends to find oil for the new pipeline given declining oil production and exports and already ample spare capacity in the pipeline system,” said Valery Nesterov, an energy analyst at Troika Dialog. “Transneft faces the prospect of paying up to $5 billion for a project that would bring no additional revenues, except those accompanied by a similar increase in costs,” he added.

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The Sunday Funnies

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Translation: On the bull is written: “2009, the Year of the Bull.”  The hind end (Medvedev) asks:  “Why do I have to bring up the rear?” The front end (Putin) answers:  “Get off my case. When it’s the year of the bear, you can take the lead.”

Source:  Ellustrator.