MONDAY JANUARY 19 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Russia is a Barbaric Nation
(2) EDITORIAL: Happy New Year, Russia!
(3) A Russian Speaks out on Aggression Against Ukraine
(4) Goble on Russian Civil War
NOTE: We abbreviate the number of items we publish in today’s issue because #4 is a very long three-part post from the pen of Paul Goble covering three aspects of the horrifying specter of Russian disintegration in the wake of its massive economic and political collapse. It’s required reading for all those concerned about Russia’s future and, combined with the devastating facts set forth our pair of editorials, should give pause to anyone in Russia who thinks Vladimir Putin’s rule is good for the country.
Russia is a Barbaric Nation
Last week we reported on the latest “Index of Economic Freedom” published by the prestigious think tank Heritage Foundation. The report ranked Russia #146 out of 179 nations under study, the bottom 20% of all countries in the world, and #41 out of 43 nations in its region — the bottom 5% of that group, in a class with Haiti. It showed that Poland receives 40% more foreign direct investment than Russia per capita because Poland offers investors so much more economic freedom than Russia does.
Freedom House has also recently released its annual review of political freedom, which it calls the “Freedom in the World” report. Only 42 out of the nearly 200 countries under review are classified as “not free” by Freedom House (down from 54 in 1978) and Russia — purported member of the G-8 group of democracies — is one of them, and only 23 members of the “unfree” group received scores lower than Russia. Russia is one of only seven countries out of 28 in its region, Central and Eastern Europe, to receive the “unfree” designation. Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia and Latvia are all given higher scores for political freedom than Russia.
The shame and humiliation that comes to Russia as a result of scores like these from highly respected international organizations ought to be far too much to bear. Even without considering Russia’s massive economic collapse of the past six months, with soaring unemployment and inflation and plummeting stock market and currency values, the people of Russia ought to see the need for regime change. They ought to be able to recognize that being governed by a proud KGB spy has done nothing but to alienate and polarize the entire world against Russia, so that now the civilized world views Russia as a barbaric banana republic.
But they can’t seem to manage this, and that seems to confirm the world’s worst suspicions about them.
Happy Holidays, Russia!
A Moscow union official has revealed the shocking fact that unemployment in Moscow doubled over the course of the city’s observance of the 10-day winter holiday that began on New Year’s eve and lasted until Orthodox Christmas earlier this month. According to the official, Moscow now has nearly 300,000 unemployed workers, up 500% from 60,000 one year ago and 70,000 four months ago, and job vacancies have fallen by 6% in two months.
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Frost and War Bosses
Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia
There is so much politics in the contractual relationships of Russia, Ukraine and the European Union on the issue of [natural] gas deliveries, that the emerging crisis can’t be understood as an argument between two business entities. Nonetheless, its resolution lies precisely there– there are national laws and international agreements, there are signed contracts. And one needs to read them to understand who is formally correct in the current situation. The different sides will do just that during negotiations this Thursday.
But a newly formalized gas transport reality isn’t the only result of the current conflict. The European Union, where factories have stopped working, schools have closed, and the heating supply has been interrupted as result of gas shortages, will not forgive one of the sides, it stands to reason. The likelihood that this will be Russia is fairly great.
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In a three-part report, the indispensable Paul Goble informs us that as Russian unemployment reaches the “magic” figure of 10% that bodes ill for civil unrest, Russians are arming themselves to the teeth and talking secession and disintegration:
Frightened by the instability the current economic crisis is creating and by the possibility that the powers that be may lose control of the situation, Russians are choosing to arm themselves in unprecedented numbers, with more than one Russian in ten – some 13 million people — across the country now having a lethal weapon in their possession. Those figures, which are included in the “Small Arms Survey-2007” that was prepared by the Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies a year ago, are far higher than Russian officials acknowledge but almost certainly are lower than at the present time, according to an online news agency report today.
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