MONDAY JANUARY 26 CONTENTS
(1) Another Original Translation: YeZhe on the Gas War
(2) EDITORIAL: Sberbank (and everything else) in Freefall
(3) The Missiles of January
(4) Putin and Chavez are like Peas and Carrots
(5) More Defiance from Novaya Gazeta
NOTE: It should be brutally difficult for anyone who cares about Russia’s future to even scan through today’s table of contents. From Venezuela to Iran to Ukraine, Russia is exposed as a malignant foriegn policy actor soon to face direct confrontation with every civilized nation on the planet. Domestically, it is exposed as an economy in freefall, resorting to barbaric political murder to maintain itself. It is a ghastly landscape indeed.
A note from the translator: It’s a refreshing change to see Russians excoriating Europeans deservedly! Here is Yezhednevny Zhurnal columnist Matvei Ganapolski’s take on the recent ‘gas war’. The journalists of Yezhednevny Zhurnal, Grani.ru, Novaya Gazeta have most certainly earned the right to speak to the West on the subject of principledness, courage, and honour. Europe is a disgrace to its name and history. The only country that still seems to hold the banner up is the USA. My inauguration wish is that it should continue so to do.
What an unbelievable farce!
by Matvei Ganapolski
21 January 2009
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
Whoever was worried about the Russo-Ukrainian gas jamboree that has been shaking Europe can now heave a sigh of relief – it has come to an end with a deafening plop. However, this plop is not just the long-awaited sound of the gas valve to Europe opening but also of the failure to find the true reason why the gas was turned off in the first place.
One wonders if Europe will ever realise that it not only watched but actually took part in one of the grandest settling of accounts ever – wonderfully choreographed by Russia and the Ukraine.
So who directed the event and what was the libretto?
Sberbank's share price is in freefall
Sberbank (and everything else) in Freefall
Last Monday, shares in Russia’s leading financial institution, Sberbank, lost 9% of their value on the RTS dollar-denominated exchange. On Tuesday the bloodletting continued, and the mighty bank’s shares plummeted an additional 8%. By midday on Wednesday, another 3% had been forfeit, so that by midweek the institution’s investors had lost one-fifth of the value they owned before the week began. In the second half of the day on Wednesday the bank clawed back the morning losses and closed with a small gain, but on Thursday it plunged again, this time over 6%, leaving it down well over 20% for the week. Things got worse on Friday, as the bank bookended its week by losing another 9% of its share value. The shares now trade at 45 cents each.
That right: In just one week shareholders in Russia’s largest and most potent financial institution, funded and run directly by the Kremlin, lost nearly one third of their equity.
An anonymous former CIA agent, writing on Pajamas Media:
Esmaeil Kosari, deputy head of the Iranian parliament’s foreign affairs and national security commission, recently announced that Russia had started supplying components for S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran. The sophisticated S-300 missile defense system is capable of intercepting 100 ballistic missiles or aircraft at once within a range of over 90 miles at low and high altitudes. They are also effective against cruise missiles and, because of their range, a danger to non-combat aircraft such as AWACS planes, stand-by rescue planes, and other planes with protective missions.
Iran’s defense minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, also verified such delivery, adding that Tehran would elaborate on the missile defense system “when the occasion presents itself.”
The U.S. administration’s failure to serve notice to Russia after its delivery of the TOR M-1 air defense system earlier this year to Iran has emboldened Russia to disregard the international community’s will in stopping Iran from its pursuit of building a nuclear bomb. The mullahs who rule over Iran will soon have the means to protect their nuclear sites against any possible attacks by Israel or the United States. Revolutionary Guards personnel were sent to Russia to train on the S-300 system, so when the missile system was delivered to Iran, the Guards personnel were ready for its deployment.
Attorney and blogger Robert Amsterdam, writing in the Washington Post:
The administrations of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Vladimir Putin in Russia are enjoying a robust, burgeoning friendship. Though they are separated by 6,000 miles, the two leaders’ bond is sealed not only by their similar tastes for repressive authoritarianism, oil expropriations and large arms deals but also by parallel trends of increasing violence and murder on the streets of their cities.
Last week we republished deputy Novaya Gazeta editor Pavel Felgenhauer’s defiant essay in the Eurasia Daily Monitor, pointing the finger of blame for the Markelov murder directly at the Kremlin. Below, NG reporter Elena Milashina adds her own voice of defiance. She states: “The killers have no fear because they know they will not be punished. But neither are their victims afraid, because when you defend others you cease to fear.” (We’d note that we’re delighted not to have needed to edit this piece at all from NG’s English-language website; seems they are getting their ducks in a row.)
On 19 January in the centre of Moscow Anastasia Baburova, a journalist with Novaya Gazeta, and the lawyer Stanislav Markelov were shot dead. The killer stood behind them and aimed at the back of the head. He had no reason to fear. Not one such public political assassination has yet led to a trial or conviction.
Stanislav Markelov was an exceptional lawyer.
He took on hopeless and dangerous cases. A Moscow attorney, he was constantly in Chechnya, representing the interests of the victims of extra-judicial punishment and torture. He also dealt with cases elsewhere of those who had been attacked by Russia’s fascist groups.
Stanislav defended those who were killed or humiliated by the State. He was a friend to our newspaper and its legal advisor. He was responsible for the civil cases of Anna Politkovskaya, defending those she wrote about. He represented our journalists in court. Stanislav was attorney for the family of Igor Domnikov, an editor with Novaya gazeta who was murdered in 2000, and tried to force the authorities to open criminal proceedings against those who were behind that killing and who remain, to this day, at liberty.