Daily Archives: December 30, 2008

January 2, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Russia Votes for History

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Putin declares war on Medvedev

(3)  Pointing the Finger at KGB Killers

(4)  Killers of Chechen Children get Slap on Wrist

(5)  Once Again, Neo-Soviet Russia Breaks its Word

(6)  Annals of the Classic Russophile Sociopath

EDITORIAL: Russia Votes for History


Russia Votes for History

“He acted entirely rationally – as the guardian of a system, as a consistent support of reshaping the country into an industrialised state.”

— Quote from A History of Russia, 1900-1945 referring to Soviet ruler Josef Stalin, the greatest mass murderer of Russians in the nation’s history (the volume will used as a guide for teaching history in Russian schools)

For several months now, Kremlin-operated TV network “Rossiya” has been conducting a nationwide internet poll called “The Name of Russia” asking who was the most important Russian of all time.  As time went on, a large field of initial nominees was winnowed down to 12 finalists, and the polls finally closed last Sunday with nearly 5 million votes having been collected from Russians across the country among the 12 finalists. The winner was to be announced live on the network’s  “Vesti Nedeli” (“Kicking off the Week”) program Sunday evening.

At the same time, a specially selected “jury” of experts was asked for their opinion.  The members of the 12-man (yes, all male) jury were:  Metropolitan Kirill, Viktor Chernomyrdin, Valentin Varennikov, Sergei Kapitsa, Dimitri Rogozin, Alexander Tkachev, Ilya Glazunov, Gennady Zyuganov, Yuri Kublanovsky, Nikita Mikhailkov, Sergei Mironov and Andrei Sakharov Jr.

The 12 “Name of Russia” finalists included four monarchs (Peter I, Ivan IV, Ekaterina II and Alexander II) and the prime minister of a fifth (Nicholas II’s Peter Stolypin), two Communists (Lenin and Stalin), two writers (Pushkin and Dostoevsky), two  generals (Alexander Suvorov and Alexander Nevsky) and a scientist (Dmitry Mendeleev).

On Sunday, we learned the Russian people’s selection.

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EDITORIAL: Putin Declares War on Medvedev


Putin Declares War on Medvedev

Unless we are very much mistaken, the first shot in Vladimir Putin’s war against Dmitri Medvedev was fired on December 29th by Putin shill Vladimir Frolov in his Moscow Times column.

Headlined “Putin’s Remote Control puts Kremlin on Mute,” the article  states: “When Georgia invaded South Ossetia. Medvedev responded with a strong show of force and moved to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, a move denounced by all major powers.”

Note how Frolov blames the Georgia invasion directly on Medvedev personally, and even goes so far as to acknowledge worldwide denunciation of the move. This well illustrates how awfully handy it is to have an expendable “president” around to get the blame for mistakes.  In fact, if one were inclined to attribute genius to Putin, one might even suspect he knew the crisis was coming and stepped aside specifically to avoid it. How long will it be before some other Putin flack blames the economic crisis on Medvedev as well, pointing out how rosy things were before Putin left the Kremlin?

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Pointing the Finger at KGB Killers

At long, long last mainstream media are beginning to wake up to the reality we have been documenting on this blog for nearly three years now.  Writing in Forbes, David Satter, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, lays it on the line:

As the murders of Russian journalists go unsolved, there are increasing signs that the impunity of Russia’s contract killers is not accidental. One reason for the lack of progress may be that the law enforcement organs that are responsible for investigating the murders of Russian journalists are actually involved in carrying them out.

On Dec. 5, at the trial of three men accused in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, Russia’s best known investigative reporter, Sergei Sokolov, the deputy editor of Politkovskaya’s newspaper Novaya Gazeta, told a packed courtroom that he had information showing that Dzhabrail Makhmudov, one of the accused, was an agent of the FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service, and that the FSB was shadowing Politkovskaya up until her death in October 2006. Novaya Gazeta is carrying out an independent investigation of the case.

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Get out of Jail Free Card for Russians who Murder Chechen Children

Paul Goble reports:

A decision by a Russian court last week to grant conditional early release to a Russian colonel convicted of kidnapping and killing an 18-year-old Chechen girl in 2000 has sparked a wave of protests in Chechnya and cast doubt on Moscow’s ability to maintain order there by relying on Ramzan Kadyrov alone. Last Wednesday, the Dmitrovgrad city court in Ulyanovsk oblast announced that it had approved the release after January 11 of Colonel Yury Budanov 14 months before the end of his prison sentence, an outcome and his supporters had long sought but that many Chechens and human rights activists say “spits in the face” of justice and the Chechen people.

This is the latest turn in a long-running case. In July 2003, Budanov was convicted of kidnapping and then killing Elza Kungayeva by a military district court which stripped him of his rank and medals and sentenced him to ten years behind bars. Her family members believe that he raped her as well, although the court did not find him guilty of that. Since that time, Budanov has become a kind of hero for some Russian nationalist extremists who believe that any actions by Russian soldiers against “Chechen terrorists” are justified, and they have pressed for his release, formally appealing to the courts four times before their current success.

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Once again, Neo-Soviet Russia Breaks its Word

Don’t they have that story about “The Boy who Cried Wolf” in Russia? How many times does the Kremlin think it can get away with misleading other countries and then breaking its word before the world simply decides Russia cannot be believed or trusted on any issue and therefore cannot be treated as a civilized nation?  Denis McShane lays out the facts in the Guardian’s Comment is Free section regarding the Kremlin’s latest decision to repudiate its written word:

Pacta sunt servanda is pompous diplomatic jargon for a vital mechanism that allows the world to escape from the conflicts of all against all. The Latin means “Agreements must be honoured.” The concept that once two or more parties in conflict have signed an agreement they will stick by it is essential if the world is to have fewer wars and more multilateral global law.

In August Russia’s president, Dimitri Medvedev, signed a six-point agreement with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to end the invasion and bombardment of Georgia by Russian armoured divisions, as well as her Black Sea fleet and warplanes. Sarkozy was also president of the European Union and presented himself as peace-maker extraordinaire.

His energy, drive and willingness to go at once to Moscow and Tbilisi showed a Europe that would not stand indifferent as Russian tanks rolled over a UN and Council of Europe member state in a repeat of the Russian tanks arriving in Prague forty years before. Angela Merkel also went to Tbilisi and David Miliband went to Kiev to make clear to Moscow that its bullying of the two Black Sea ex-Soviet republics would have consequences.

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Annals of the Classic Russian Sociopath

The Wall Street Journal has finally got around to a scoop we reported weeks ago:

"Professor" Panarin

"Professor" Panarin

For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument — that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. — very seriously. Now he’s found an eager audience: Russian state media. In recent weeks, he’s been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. “It’s a record,” says Prof. Panarin. “But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger.”

Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.

But it’s his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Mr. Panarin’s views also fit neatly with the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia is returning to its rightful place on the world stage after the weakness of the 1990s, when many feared that the country would go economically and politically bankrupt and break into separate territories.

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Special Extra: The Ruble in Freefall

On Monday, the Russian ruble fell to all-time low against the European euro currency, losing close to 2.5% of its value.   It now takes nearly 42 Russian rubles to buy one euro, more than it has ever taken since the euro currency was invented.  Almost 30 rubles are now required to buy one U.S. dollar, a price Russia hasn’t seen in more than three years, up close to 30% since the August when one dollar could be purchased for just over 23 rubles. In a watershed event, the ruble was finally allowed to fall more than 1% against the euro-dollar blend in a single day, the first time that has happened in recent memory.

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