SUNDAY JANUARY 25 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: A Neo-Soviet Anschluss?
(2) EDITORIAL: Publish and Perish in Putin’s Russia?
(3) Russia Must Face Reality
(4) Ryzhkov on Belykh
(5) Luzhkov Defends Lenin
NOTE: The second installment of LR publisher Kim Zigfeld’s Russia column on the prestigious American Thinker blog is running now. It deals with the Markelov assassination, reciting the horrifying litany of political killings that began when Vladimir Putin arrived in Moscow.
NOTE: We say a fond farewell to the blogger at Ruminations on Russia, who announces his retirement effective January 21st.
A Neo-Soviet Anschluss?
Two very disturbing recent news reports point to a bizarre anschluss (the German word for “link up effort,” which is used to describe the unification between Austrian and German Nazis in the prelude to World War II) between various fringe groups in Germany and the neo-Soviet regime of Vladimir Putin.
First, writing on the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor, the ever-brilliant Vladmir Socor describes an “open letter” to Barack Obama from German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier which uses a “pathos-filled style echoing the globalist and pacifist yearnings of German Leftist circles” and seeking to bring Obama over to the cause. Socor notes that “Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Joschka Fischer of the Greens published an article in a similar spirit on January 11 in several German and other European newspapers.” It advises Obama to trust and accept Russian “President” Dima Medvedev’s ideas about “new security architecture” in Europe and makes no mention of the threat posed by Russia to the present architecture.
Then, writing on Robert Amsterdam’s blog, hero journalist Grigori Pasko regales readers with a recent award Germans chose to bestow upon Vladmir Putin, a man who previously spied on their country for the USSR.
Publish and Perish in Putin’s Russia?
A recent item in the Moscow Times reported that a judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the paper, its publisher and one of its reporters over a news report about oligarch billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. A lower court had ordered the newspaper to publish a retraction and pay a fine of 1,000 rubles after it ran an interview with another oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, in July of last year in which Potanin was quoted as stating that Prokhorov had “promised” to sell a stake in Norilsk Nickel to him and billionaire Alisher Usmanov and to buy his stake in Polyus Gold, “but he avoided doing this.” The MT states: “Prokhorov’s lawyer told the court in October that the phrase ‘promised but avoided doing this” paints Prokhorov as “an unreliable partner,’ damaging his reputation in business circles. Potanin’s lawyers have argued that the disputed phrase in the interview was in fact true because Prokhorov had proceeded to sell his stake in Norilsk Nickel to Oleg Deripaska’s RusAl in April in violation of the protocol.”
Regardless of whether Potanin’s remark was true or false, the fact is that he said it and the MT quoted it accurately. Nobody disputes this. How then is it possible for the MT to be sued? Is the MT supposed to verify the statements of people it interviews or hears speaking, and publish their remarks only if they are found to be true? Should it adopt that approach to reporting the insanely dishonest ravings of such persons as the “president” and “prime minister” of Russia, for instance? If it did, it could not repeat a single word that passes their lips after “good evening.”
The penalty being imposed here is nominal this time. What about next time? Isn’t it clear that this lawsuit is a threat to the MT, a warning from the Kremlin that it can put the tiny defenseless paper out of business any time it likes? Is it any wonder that, as LR publisher Kim Zigfeld has previously reported, the MT seems to be running scared?
We condemn the outrageous aggression of Vladimir Putin’s corrupt court system towards the Moscow Times. We urge the people of Russia, and the leaders of the Western democracies, to see that the little paper is one of the last canaries in the Russian mineshaft, and that it cannot survive over the long haul without serious protection. If the paper’s light is snuffed out, all those who need to know what is going on in neo-Soviet Russia will be the worse for it.
James Marsen, writing on the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog:
As Barack Obama prepares for his inauguration, one analyst has suggested that the US faces more serious trouble than even the most pessimistic economists have forecast. The entire economy is set to crash by November, leaving states fighting among themselves and leading to disintegration into six parts by summer 2010. As the weakened parts fall under foreign influence, Russia will take the golden opportunity to replace the US as the world’s foremost superpower.
According to the former KGB analyst and dean of the international relations department at the Russian foreign ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, Igor Panarin, this scenario has “a roughly 50% chance of coming true”. This theory has been receiving widespread attention in the Russian state-controlled media.
Opposition leader and Echo of Moscow radio host Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:
On Jan. 15, Nikita Belykh was inaugurated as the governor of the Kirov region. The ceremony, which was held at Kirov’s main theater, had the trappings of a drab Soviet obkom meeting, although it also offered some new post-Soviet attributes, such as the blessing by two Russian Orthodox metropolitans. To add a little extra dazzle to the ceremony, a Cossack general from the Urals regiment presented Belykh with a traditional Cossack fur hat and saber.
This was the first time in years that an outspoken member of the opposition was installed as governor. Belykh emphasized the values of democracy and freedom in his inaugural address, quoting President Dmitry Medvedev’s phrase that “freedom is better than non-freedom.”
Will Belykh be able to create a Kirov-based “island of freedom” in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s sea of “power vertical”? Working to his advantage is his passion for change, as well as the cart blanche the Kremlin has apparently given him to form his own team. In another positive sign, Belykh was not required to join United Russia as a condition for his appointment.
The Moscow Times reports:
Moscow police detained 25 people on Wednesday who had been planning to stage a protest to demand the removal of a mausoleum containing the embalmed body of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin from Red Square. Police closed Red Square ahead of the planned protest on the 85th anniversary of the death of Lenin. “They were trying to hold a rally that the authorities had not allowed,” a police spokesman said. The group had intended to dress up as mummies and demonstrate outside the mausoleum with a cardboard coffin. Media reports described the group as Orthodox monarchists who want Lenin buried as an ordinary person.
About 400 supporters of the Communist Party laid flowers Wednesday at Lenin’s tomb. The small and quiet gathering, which got some desultory glances from skaters on Red Square’s ice rink, was a sharp contrast to the massive demonstrations of fealty to Lenin that marked life in the Soviet era. Tribute participants said they believe that communism’s time would come again. Lenin “goes into history as the creator of a new society that all mankind came to,” said Valentin Vazhanian, a retired rear admiral in the Soviet Navy. Zyuganov told reporters on the frigid square that “the current [economic] crisis underlines the necessity of studying Lenin’s ideas anew.” Zyuganov vehemently opposed the notion of removing Lenin’s tomb, arguing that it is part of the Red Square ensemble that has been recognized as a world cultural monument by UNESCO.