Daily Archives: January 5, 2009

January 7, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Russia’s Madmen

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Russia’s Financial Annus Horribilis

(3)  EDITORIAL:  Annals of the Russian Male Chauvinist Ape

(4)  Madness in Moscow

(5)  Milov on the Opposition

EDITORIAL: Russia’s Madmen


Russia’s Madmen

It grows more and more possible to believe that the men who govern Russia are actually, medically, insane.

We reported last week on a high-ranking official in the diplomatic corps — an educator, yet — who argues that America is just about to collapse, breaking up into a number of smaller, weaker regional states.  Russia of course, in his view, is doing just fine.

That idea is crazy enough on its own, but it gets worse — because the Kremlin is not only paranoid, it’s schizophrenic in its paranoia.

To illustrate, refer to the ravings of the commander of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Force, Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov which we report in full in today’s issue. As the Washington Times states:  “In a stream of press releases and appearances the general described what he called ‘the U.S. concept of an uncontested nuclear first strike’ to destroy all Russian strategic missiles and prevent a counterstrike. ”

Breathtaking, isn’t it? And not just because of the stupidity and ignorance of the individual stories. Indeed, not even mostly because of that.

No, the worst thing is the hypocrisy and the inconsistency.

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EDITORIAL: 2008, Russia’s Financial Annus Horribilis


2008, Russia’s Financial Annus Horribilis

Russia’s RTS dollar-indexed stock market ended 2008 as the worst performing major equities market on the planet, down a breathtaking 72% over the course of the year.  At the start of the year, Russia’s shamelessly profiteering stock brokerage firms had predicted a 50% gain with a year-end value of 3,000.  The market actual closed out 2008 well below 650, less than a quarter of the value they had misled their customers into considering. On more than two dozen occasions, the RTS exchange was simply shut down by government regulators as the only means of preventing total collapse.  It was the market’s worst year in a decade.  The ruble, down 17% on the year and nearly 4% against the dollar on New Year’s Eve alone, also had its worst year of the past 10.  This isn’t just a matter of national prestige:  Russians need a strong ruble to be able to afford to buy all the products they must import because their feeble economy can’t produce them itself. Now, the plunging ruble imposes a dramatic new level of price inflation on the Russian consumer, and inflation was already in double digits before the fall began.

Horrifying as all that was, though, it was only the beginning of the tale of Russia’s financial annus horribilis, only the tip of the iceberg of failure into which Russia’s proud KGB spy ruler has crashed his ship of state.

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EDITORIAL: Annals of the Russian Male Chauvinist Ape


Annals of the Russian Male Chauvinist Ape

Responding to our editorial last week about the “Name of Russia” online voting that designated Stalin, by a wide margin, as one of Russia’s four most heroic historical figures, a Russian who listed his phoney e-mail as “PutinFromKremlin@kgb.gov” and named himself  only  “*” had the following comments:

Эй, ты, выжившая из ума старая маразматичка. Прямо как Конди Райз, которой никто не даёт. Сними себе мужика и оттянись хотя бы раз в жизни. Да уж, недоёб – страшная штука.  A мы не на смотринах, кретин, чтобы всякая мразь тут кого-то из нас выбирала.

Translation:  Hey, you mindless slag. You’re the same as Condi Rice, who doesn’t put out for anyone. Hire yourself a toyboy and relax for once in your life. Not getting laid enough is a f**king terrible state to be in.  We’re not at a show where any arsehole can pick one of us….

Let’s be clear:  The purpose of these “comments” (if so they can be called) was, and could only be, to show us how wrong we are in thinking of Russia as a crude and barbaric nation populated by denizens who think of one of the world’s great mass murderers as their hero.

Is this really, in that regard, the best that Russians can do?

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Madness in Moscow

The Washington Times* reports:

During this Christmas season most people wish for peace on Earth and goodwill for their fellow man, but not the rulers of Russia.

In a stream of reports from Moscow the leaders and their generals threaten war and boast of their growing military power. Their excuse is the imagined threat that the United States might launch a nuclear attack on Russia. This is paranoia if not outright madness.

Americans are worried about the recession, the security of their jobs and pensions, the decline of the stock market, falling home values and failing industries. There is concern about how to withdraw from Iraq, how to deal with Afghanistan and Pakistan, how to face China and how to promote peace in the Middle East. Russia is way down the list of concerns. In fact, few Americans are thinking of Russia at all.

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Milov on the Opposition

Writing on Radio Free Europe, Vladimir Milov (co-author of the Nemtsov White Paper and a key player in the new “Solidarity” movement) reviews the condition of the Russian opposition going into the new year:

Russia’s recession is turning out to be sharper and more problematic than anticipated. Just three months ago, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was convincing the public that there was no crisis in Russia. But October and November brought declining GDP, industrial output, and fixed investment — none of which were predicted by the government.

The economic downturn has already affected ordinary Russians. About 1 million jobs were lost between August and November, and personal incomes declined. The ruble has lost about 20 percent of its value against the dollar since August, eating into salaries and savings. A sharper devaluation is on the agenda as the value of exports continues to decline with global commodities prices.

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