FRIDAY DECEMBER 19 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: On the Trail of Lira Tskhovrebova
(2) The Putin Recession Begins to Bite
(3) Lugovoi has an OJ Moment
(4) Annals of the Gontmakher Saga
NOTE: It’s hard to imagine how any Russophobe could ask for more satisfying validation than they receive in our issue today. A KGB spy is caught red-handed in the act of anti-Georgian propaganda (#1), Litvinenko’s killer has an embarrassing OJ moment (#3), and a Russian scholar valiantly condemns the Putin economy, flouting the Kremlin’s terror tactics (#4). We are winning ! The Putin fraud is being laid bare. The Neo-Soviet Emperor has no clothes! It feels good, does it not?
On the Trail of Lira Tskhovrebova
Jabba the KGB Mole
On October 8th of this year an op-ed column appeared in the Christian Science Monitor with the byline Lira Tskhovrebova. The write was identified as “the founder of the Association of South Ossetian Women for Democracy and Human Rights and has worked for more than a decade to improve relations between people of Georgian and Ossetian descent in the Caucasus.” The column began: “I survived the Georgian war. Here’s what I saw. I blame Georgia’s leaders.”
But on Monday, the Associated Press reported that Ms Tskhovrebova’s credentials were somewhat different from what CSM represented:
A woman who traveled to the U.S. as an independent activist is at the center of a high-stakes campaign between Russia and its neighbor, Georgia. Georgia says she’s a spy. The woman (Lira Tskhovrebova) says she is the victim of a smear campaign. But U.S. officials have become wary of her – questioning who paid for her Washington tour. She challenges U.S. support for Georgia. Georgia and Russia are eager to blame the other for the August war over the disputed region of South Ossestia, and to influence the incoming administration’s policy. Georgian intelligence provided The Associated Press with secret tapes of the woman with a man the Georgians say helps lead the South-Ossetian security agency still known as the KGB. The woman says she didn’t know she was under surveillance. The KGB man appeared interested in her frequent contact with the West.
See her now.
Once again, crudely ham-handed Russian propaganda is unmasked. So much for the idea that the facts of the Georgia campaign were on Russia’s side! The CSM owes its readers a massive apology.
Russian industrial production shrank the most since the economic collapse of 1998 in November as the global slowdown reduced demand for steel, pipes and fertilizers, pushing the nation to the brink of recession.
Output contracted 8.7 percent after growing 0.6 percent in October, the Moscow-based Federal Statistics Service said today. The result was about 4 percentage points below the lowest forecast in a Bloomberg survey. Production shrank for the first time since new methodology was introduced in 2003 and the biggest decline since 1998, when the government defaulted on $40 billion in debt.
Russia is not in recession “yet” and the economy will grow by as much as 3 percent next year, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said yesterday. Barclay’s Capital said on Dec. 10 that the economy will sink into recession next year, as eight years of growth averaging above 7 percent comes to a halt.
“If someone has caused the Russian state serious damage, they should be exterminated.”
— Andrei Lugovoy, Russian MP
The Times of London reports:
The Kremlin has hardened its stance against dissent in Russia by expanding the definition of treason to include critics of the state.
A new Bill submitted to the Duma, the Russian parliament, on Friday will leave people vulnerable to prosecution for acts considered to threaten not only national security but also the country’s constitutional order. Critics said that it was designed to intimidate opposition to the Kremlin at a time of rising economic discontent.
Details of the Bill emerged as the man accused by Britain of murdering Alexander Litvinenko, the dissident former spy, said that anyone harming the Russian State should be killed. Andrei Lugovoy, who is now a member of the Duma, said that he would order the assassination of anyone considered a traitor if he were in the Russian President’s shoes.
“If someone has caused the Russian state serious damage, they should be exterminated,” Mr Lugovoy, a former KGB officer, told the Spanish newspaper El País. “Do I think someone could have killed Litvinenko in the interests of the Russian State? If you’re talking about the interests of the Russian State, in the purest sense of the word, I myself would have given that order. “I’m not talking about Litvinenko but about any person who causes serious damage.”
A few days ago, we republished a translation from the Russian press by Robert Amsterdam by economist Yevgeny Gontmakher, an article which got the author in very hot water with the Kremlin. Now the Moscow Times has a two-part op-ed series on the article.
First it offers a column by the author himself:
The shelf life of most newspaper articles is usually one or two days. After that, readers tend to forget whatever the article said. That is why I am so surprised by the continuing debate over my article, “Novocherkassk-2009,” published on Nov. 6 in Vedomosti. In that comment, I described a typical city with a workforce dependent on a single major factory or industry (Russia has about 700 such cities) and the social problems that could result if the economic crisis were to worsen.