Daily Archives: January 1, 2009

January 4, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Russia with 30/30 Vision

(2)  Annals of Russian “Patriotism”

(3)  The Sunday Book Review: USSR Stole H-bomb

(4)  Translation:  The End of Television

(5)  Americans & Russians Study Cold War Together

EDITORIAL: Russia with 30/30 Vision


Seeing Russia with 30/30 Vision

Imagine that Larry King had interviewed Vladimir Putin on New Year’s Eve one year ago and suggested to him that one year hence the value of the Russian ruble measured in dollars and the price of a barrel of Russian crude oil would be reflected by the same number, and that number would be “30.”

Can you imagine the sort of haughty, condescending smirk that would have been reflected on Putin’s countenance at the foolish American’s idiotic ravings?

$1 barrier

The ruble crashes through the 30:$1 barrier

Yet as we go to press, both the ruble and the price of Russian oil are closing fast on that very number — and some would say they won’t stop there for long as they plunge even further into the gloom.  As we reported earlier this week, the ruble experienced its largest one-day drop in value in recent memory to start the week last Monday, and in the currency markets was less than one ruble from the 30-ruble psychological barrier on Tuesday morning, while Russia’s Urals Blend crude oil was selling for just over $32 per barrel.  The ruble is already trading on the streets of Moscow at more than 30 to the dollar.

Responding to this catastrophic collapse, Russian “Prime Minister” Putin recently advised journalists as follows:

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Annals of Russian Patriotism

U.S. News & World Report reports on Russian military service and displays of patriotism:

Misha, a subdued, blond 21-year-old, recently sat in the run-down Moscow office of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, an advocacy group that offers advice to soldiers and men of draft age. After ignoring a draft summons, police had come to his mother’s apartment to seize Misha, who declined to give his surname for fear of reprisals, and cart him off to a conscription office, from where he’d be sent to his barracks, possibly somewhere distant like Siberia or the Far North. He wasn’t home.

Tatyana Znachkova, the teacherlike head of the committee in Moscow, advised him to hide at his grandmother’s. She also told Misha’s mother, as she has told thousands of other mothers, how to deflect the police without making them think he was dodging the draft, a criminal offense. “You say, ‘Oh, how unlucky! He sent a text just yesterday saying he was spending the night at his girlfriend’s.’ ”

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The Sunday Book Review: USSR Stole, did not Invent, the H-bomb

In yet another ignominy for Soviet history, a new book reveals that Russia did not develop its own H-bomb but merely stole the technology from the U.S. So much for Soviet science! The New York Times reports:

A defining moment of the cold war came in 1955 when Moscow detonated its first hydrogen bomb — a weapon roughly a thousand times more powerful than atom bombs and ideal for obliterating large cities.  The bomb ended the American monopoly and posed a lethal danger. So Washington dealt far more gingerly with Moscow, beginning a tense era dominated by fear of mutual annihilation.

Now, a new book says Moscow acquired the secret of the hydrogen bomb not from its own scientists but from an atomic spy at the Los Alamos weapons lab in New Mexico. Historians call its case sketchy but worthy of investigation, saying the book, “The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation,” by Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman, adds to a growing number of riddles about who invented the Soviet H-bomb a half century ago.

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The End of Russian Television?

The End of Television

by Kirill Rogov

Novaya Gazeta

December 23, 2008

Translated from the Russian by Other Russia

In recent years the Russian population has, on the whole, demonstrated very high levels of trust in the central television channels and very high levels of complaisance in embracing the world view offered by these channels.


In general terms, this view has consisted of three main elements. In one part appeared marginalized liberals, American imperialists, British spies, Georgian militarists, Islamic terrorists and other vermin hostile to the average Russian’s prosperity. Shown in another part were signs of the steady improvement in this very same Russian’s prosperity and the universal indications of Russia’s rebirth as a whole. The third part was devoted to portraying the life and toils of Vladimir Putin, who was protecting those who belonged to the second part from the persons of the first, who were threatening their peace and future well-being. The image of the light side of the moon convinced those citizens whose affairs went well during this period that their personal successes were not accidental or transient, but part of the common future outlined by the man at the helm. The image of the dark side of the moon convinced those whose affairs were not going so well that the world is even worse and more dangerous than the dark, dreary corners and eternal smoke of their native Uryupinsk’s heating plants, a backwater from which there was no escape.

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Americans and Russians Study the Cold War Together

The Bergen Record reports:

Glasnost is alive and well in Ramapo College in Mahwah, where an undergraduate course in the Cold War pairs American and Russian students who communicate in real-time via videoconferencing. The Russian students all speak English, and in each class the students look at U.S. and Soviet accounts of events and issues that shaped global relations after World War II.

The Cold War, of course, is purely history to the young students. Most, if not all, of them were born after the fall of the Berlin Wall. But the students are still steeped in their respective society’s outlooks and that can make for some spirited debate. “We did the Cuban Missile Crisis and one Russian student said it was clear that Russia had won,” recalled Ramapo Professor Tom Heed. “My students went absolutely apoplectic; they literally erupted from their seats.”

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