MONDAY FEBRUARY 16 CONTENTS
(1) Another Original LR Translation: The Kozlovsky Spies
(2) Nemtsov puts Putin on the Spit
(3) EDITORIAL: Blogging Medvedev
(4) Another Original LR Translation: Medvedev on the Crisis
(5) Goble on the Kozlovsky Spies
(6) The Revolution starts in Tuva?
NOTE: We offer a really amazing issue today, with three great translations from the Russian media two of which are original to this blog, with background material on all of them from Paul Goble and our own editorial.
NOTE: Here’s something unusually weird even by Russian standards. Anybody make anything out of it?
Translator’s Note: What I find most interesting about this story of dirty little infiltrations and attempts at dirty little tricks against the opposition is how pathetically inept, empty and ignorant the Kremlin’s little hirelings are. Being somewhat older myself, I have not had much contact with young Russians who grew up entirely after the collapse of Communism and the USSR. Looking at the vacuousness and sloppiness of the thinking (if there is any thinking done at all) here and the total deficit of any morals whatsoever, it is clear that the education system collapsed as well. Aren’t these vacuous little hirelings neat miniatures of the supreme Lilliput (in Michael Saakashvili’s wonderful allusion)?
Petersburg Branch of Oborona Uncovers Nashi Spies
Oborona St. Petersburg
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
The Petersburg Branch of Oborona has uncovered a number of paid infiltrators working to the order of a secret project called Runners of the President. This project was set up by the pro-Kremlin Nashi movement and has been operating for the last 18 months. Its particular purpose was to collect information on opposition groups and to set them up for provocations during demos. The infiltrators engaged in the latter activity have unfortunately not yet been uncovered. We know that spies of this kind have been infiltrated into other organisations in Petersburg and other towns around Russia.
The paid informers infiltrated into the Petersburg Branch of Oborona, who received about 20000 roubles a month (~$550), were Vladimir Bynkin, who joined Oborona in July 2008 and became a member of the St. Petersburg Branch coordination committee, and Taras Filatov, an activist recruited by Bynkin in December. We also discovered that prior to these people joining, Darya Odintsova, who earlier left the Runners of the President project and ceased being active in Oborona, had also been a paid infiltrator. The three have now been officially expelled from Oborona at a General Meeting of the organisation.
Boris Nemstov pulls no punches, writing on Grani.ru and translated by Robert Amsterdam. How long he’ll be allowed to do so is anybody’s guess.
The crisis has shown the complete incompetency and weakness of the state built by Putin. The main feature of “putinism” – an inability to adapt to new conditions, external threats, crises. Under the leadership of Putin, Russia has lost immunity to the crisis, and has experienced a significantly greater hit than all the other countries that have caught the virus.
Therefore, the main anti-crisis measure – this is the resignation of Putin and his government, as the architects of an incompetent, weak state. Without this decision, citizens are going to writhe convulsively, observing how the national leader conducts experiments on the country.
Medvedev is telling the old warhorse: "Medals are fine, but I'm a blogger with 10,000 registered readers!" (Source: Ellustrator)
It was reported last week that Russian “president” Dima Medvedev’s six-month-old blog, which was however opened to commenting less than a month ago, has recorded its 10,000th registered reader (registration is required to comment). What Kremlin mouthpiece RIA Novosti didn’t care to mention, however was that only 50 of those “readers” signed up to receive regular updates on the blog’s contents and, according to Yandex, Dima’s blog wasn’t in the top 400 in Russia based on link activity. It was behind the blog of so-called “liberal” politician Nikita Belykh, for instance, and Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s blog has more than 10,000 readers receiving updates, Belykh more than 2,000. The Moscow Times reported: “Of the more than 6 million blogs tracked by Yandex, Medvedev’s was ranked No. 293,326 according to the number of subscribers. President Dmitry Medvedev may be the most powerful man in the country, but it appears to be a different story in the Russian blogosphere — at least for now.”
From the 10,000 registered readers only 2,500 comments have actually been published to date, so at most a quarter of those who registered have talked back to the “president” (less for each reader who commented more than once). The Committee to Protect Journalists suggests why that might be: Not that they didn’t write, but that they got censored.
Russian “president” Dima Medvedev wrote about what he called the “global economic crisis on his blog on October 23, 2008. He blamed the United States entirely for causing the crisis, said Russia was only a minor victim and only because it had become open to the outside world, and said Russia would avoid any more serious consequences. He did not give a single specific statistic on any consequences Russia had experienced to that point, making no reference to the catastrophic decline in Russia’s stock market or the massive FOREX reserves Russia was expending, nor did he acknowledge that the Russian economy’s performance at that time was far worse than most other nations. He states: “We have taken a number of measures that should restore confidence in the near future in the financial sector and normal lending.”
Since then, the bottom has fallen out of Russia’s currency, reserves are down by half and the stock market has been virtually obliterated. Meanwhile, Medvedev has put up four additional posts: one about sports, one about what he does in a typical day, one about how students can finance education and one about his trip to Latin America. For more than three months, he has totally ignored the country’s economic status on his blog.
Here is Medvedev’s October 23rd blog post in full (staff translation, corrections welcome):
I would like to talk about what is now worrying the world – the global financial crisis. Most countries are faced with the fact that the gross errors – errors committed by several states (especially America) – have led to serious problems. The size of the U.S. financial market and its impact on the world economy is very high. That is why when the crisis happened in the U.S., the rebound hit the economies of almost all countries.
Five or seven years ago, the impact of this crisis might have been negligible in Russia. Now the situation is different: we are a country with an open economy. On the one hand, this gives us enormous advantages, on the other – it forces to react and deal with the problems faced by other leading states. Now everyone is focused on one problem: how to get through the global financial crisis with minimal losses.
Paul Goble reports:
Pro-Kremlin groups are regularly inserting into the ranks of opposition groups spies who “just like in old times” are writing denunciations and generally informing their control officers about what is going on, according to a detailed article in this week’s “New Times” magazine. In an article entitled “The Seksots of the 21st Century,” Ilya Barabanov and Yekaterina Savina say that “the lexicon of the times of the all-powerful KGB” – including terms like “seksot [secret co-worker],” ” agent,” and “observer” – is once again becoming part of political discourse in Russia.
According to Anna Bukovskaya, a 20-year-old member of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi who worked as a senior organizer of this effort before breaking with it and exposing it in comments to the media, the Kremlin started this revived effort in September 2007 against opposition groups in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yaroslavl. Among the groups that she dispatched agents she had selected for this work were the banned National Bolshevik Party, Garri Kasparov’s OGF, the Oborona [“Defense”] Movement, and Young Yabloko. And many such agents, the “New Times” journalists suggest, would be working to this day if she had not exposed them.
Paul Goble reports:
The Republic of Tuva is calling on Moscow to eliminate a key element of Vladimir Putin’s power vertical: the power of the central government to appoint representatives of Moscow bureaucracies in the regions without reference to the views of the governments of the country’s republics and regions.