Daily Archives: January 15, 2009

January 18, 2009 — Contents

SUNDAY JANUARY 18 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  Putin’s Russia, Setting Records

(2)  Frolov Exposed as Fraud in Moscow Times Itself

(3)  Russia’s Wheel of History Rolls, Crushes

(4) Putin Shows how to win Enemies and Alienate People

(5)  The Sunday Art Show

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EDITORIAL: Putin’s Russia, Setting Records

EDITORIAL

Putin’s Russia, Setting Records

74.

That’s a record.  It’s the amount of the Russian people’s money, in billions of dollars, that Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin spent in foreign currency to buy (or “defend”) the Russian ruble in the month of December, 2008.  In other words, to fraudulently alter its true value and hide the Kremlin’s policy failure from the people.  It’s over 15% of all Russia’s foreign exchange cash reserves on hand at the beginning of the month.  Russia had never spent as much in any prior month in its history.

130.

Another record for Putin’s Russia.  It’s the amount, in billions of dollars, that fled from Russia to other countries for investment purposes in 2008.  Never in any prior year in Russian history had that much capital flight occurred in just one year. 

32.23

And yet a third record for Putin.  It was the cost of one U.S. dollar in Russian rubles at the close of trading last Thursday, the highest value the American currency has had in the modern history of the ruble.  It means that now all foreign goods, which Russia depends on for survival, cost more than they ever have before.

That’s only the tip of Vlad Putin’s record-setting iceberg, of course.

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Frolov Exposed in Moscow Times’ own Pages

Roman Kupchinsky, a partner in the U.S.-based consulting firm AZEast, writing in the Moscow Times, confirms our editorial last week which condemned the mendacious disinformation campaign of Kremlin stooge Vladimir Frolov (it’s highly unusual for a newspaper to allow one op-ed columnist to attack another, a humiliating blow for Frolov — the word “disinformation” actually appears in the MT’s headline — and one for which the MT is to be commended):

Did Russia really score a knockout over Ukraine in the second round of the gas fight, as public relations consultant Vladimir Frolov would have us believe in his comment in Tuesday’s issue of The Moscow Times?

The millions of Bulgarians, Serbs, Moldovans and others who sat huddled in their cold homes for a week in temperatures of minus 10 to 15 degrees Celsius don’t care who won the PR contest and probably would laugh bitterly at Frolov’s Komsomol-like glee with the Kremlin’s “victory.”

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Russia’s Wheel of History Rolls and Crushes

Irina Yasina, an analyst at the Institute of Transitional Economy, a weekly economic commentator for RIA-Novosti and a representative of the Open Russia Foundation, writing in the Moscow Times:

Owing to the harsh economic situation, it was decided to cut off the light at the end of the tunnel as a temporary measure.” That is but one of the jokes making the rounds these days as the country faces its most severe crisis in a decade.

Having been born in the early 1960s, my generation remembers two crises. The first, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, was almost cataclysmic: Nothing was in the shops, the country was in bankruptcy and all savings were lost. The other affected everyone but was less severe: Russia’s 1998 default, which saw a fourfold devaluation of the ruble. Today’s crisis is acute, but there is no sense of an approaching apocalypse.

Yet the crisis will be severe, not only because prices for the major Russian export commodities have plummeted, but also because the government, which believed in its boundless force and wisdom, now seems inadequately prepared for the challenges the country faces. Yes, Russia has enormous gold and currency reserves, but they are being depleted fast. They will not last for long while being spent — mostly in defense of the ruble — at the current pace.

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Putins Teaches World how to Lose Friends and Alienate People

The Times of London reports:

Vladimir Putin’s handling of the gas row is folly. He has found an efficient way of converting Russia’s supposed zone of influence into a zone of countries that mistrust or loathe Russia, and are urgently looking for ways to reduce their dependence on it. If Russia has alienated even Bulgaria, its staunchest supporter within the European Union – but this week its bitter critic – then it really has problems.

The basic judgment in the row has remained the same from the start. Russia and Ukraine are both wrong, but Russia is more so. “It is not our problem. It is the problem of the transit country and they must solve it,” the Russian Prime Minister told the leaders of Slovakia, Bulgaria and Moldova, countries badly hit by the gas stoppages and suffering particularly cold winters.

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The Sunday Art Show

r1

Care to guess who painted this?

Hint:  Josef Stalin also wrote romantic poetry.