Daily Archives: February 16, 2009

February 18, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  The Russian Pressure Cooker

(2)  EDITORIAL: From Russia with Love

(3)  Exposing Russia’s Incompetent Leadership

(4)   Russia’s Naked Emperor Caught in the Cold War

(5)  Russia’s Drug Problem

EDITORIAL: The Russian Pressure Cooker


The Russian Pressure Cooker

Streetwise Professor notes that because of a new policy being implemented by the Russian Central Bank, the ruble has stopped plummeting in value and even clawed back a few cents from the U.S. dollar.  Since the policy doesn’t involve spending massive amounts of foreign currency reserves to buy rubles and artificially inflate their value (“only” $3 billion was spent last week doing so, SP says), one might well ask:  Why didn’t the Kremlin do this earlier?

The reason is quite simple, really. Because it’s suicidal, and the only reason the Kremlin is doing it is because it simply doesn’t have any other choice.  It has already spent half its total foreign currency reserves, and it has to make the rest last longer.

So here’s what it’s doing.

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EDITORIAL: From Russia with Love



From Russia with Love

If you process the search phrase “from Russia with love” in the Google search engine, you get 1.7 million hits.  Seemingly, a day does not go by without some clever headline writer finding a way to work this phrase into any and every type of news story involving Russia;  the Google news engine shows 75 such stories in world media in the last month alone, and the Google image engine has over 150,000 pictures relating to the phrase, including the soft porn imagine seeming to extol the virtues of underage Russian prostitution shown above as the first response.

The phrase, of course, comes from the most popular film about Russia, an entry in the James Bond series made three decades ago, and its omnipresence in Russia reporting today is a profound testament on the total lack of diversity and interest projected by Russia to the world .  Ask a Westerner to name other films about Russia and you’re not likely to hear a very long list. Not one of them will have been made by a Russian.  Russia’s total inability to affect a positive projection of its own culture in ways that foreigners can appreciate is one of the nation’s most pathetic features.

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Exposing Russia’s Incompetent Leadership

Writing in the Globe & Mail Aurel Braun, a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Toronto and author of NATO-Russia Relations in the Twenty-First Century, calls upon the West to stop being fooled by Potemkin Russia’s incompetent leadership:

Huge cranes at enormous construction sites in Moscow stand idle as investors walk away. Russian auto workers are confronting mass unemployment just as the stock market and the ruble plunge precipitously. Protesters, in small but growing numbers, are demonstrating across Russia, demanding economic relief. And a distinguished group of Russian economists meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev warned him of impending economic catastrophe.

Russia is certainly not the only state facing significant difficulties but the crisis here is multidimensional and particularly daunting. Worse, the leadership is extremely ill-equipped to deal with it. Several factors are at play in an alarming widening of the gap between reality and official rhetoric.

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Exposing Russia’s Naked Emperor, freezing in Cold War II

Matthew Kaminski of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, writing on the paper’s website, calls upon the west to open its eyes to Potemkin Russia:

Barack Obama wants to make friends with Russia, “press the reset button” as his Veep proposed the other day. Sounds familiar. Bill Clinton bear hugged Boris Yeltsin and George W. Bush peered into successor Vladimir Putin’s soul. Yet relations haven’t been this bad since Konstantin Chernenko’s days at the Kremlin.

So what? America is on a roll in Eurasia. Democracy, open markets and stability spread across the region in the Clinton and Bush eras. From Estonia to Georgia to Macedonia, free people want to join the West.

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Russia’s Drug Problem

Paul Goble, writing on Georgian Daily, reports:

Three “drug” problems – the increasing inability of many Russians in the current economic crisis to pay for scarce medications, the rising number of Russians using illegal drugs, and mounting suspicion that illegal immigrants are involved in this traffic – are all hitting Russian society hard, Moscow officials say.

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