FRIDAY FEBRUARY 20 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL : Frolov the Rat
(2) EDITORIAL: Russia Blog Exposed
(3) Massive Industrial Contraction in Putin’s Russia
(4) Is Putler Kaput?
(5) Izvestia Smears Markelov
NOTE: Blogger of color “Buster” over at Moscow Through Brown Eyes, who has experienced Russian racism up close and personal, fled it and now resides in Brooklyn, warns dark-skinned people not to visit Russia, and responds to reader questions about his warning.
Annals of Vladimir Frolov — of Russophile Rats and Sinking Ships
You know things are getting plenty bad in Vladimir Putin’s Russia when you see Russophile rats like Vladimir Frolov start to panic. Once again, he’s written a Moscow Times op-ed column which looks for all the world like a shot by Putin through his Frolov mouthpiece across the bow of Dmitri Medvedev, another salvo in an effort to blame Medvedev for the country’s economic collapse and use his “failure” as an excuse to return to Russia as “president” for life.
The Cosmic Fraud that is Russia Blog
We’ve written several times in the past about the outrageous pro-Kremlin propaganda exercise known as Russia Blog a/k/a “The Real Russia Project.” Working closely with Kremlin-operated Russia Today TV and funded by the corrupt and discredited Discovery Institute, which Little Green Footballs routinely savages because it seeks to promulgate the teaching of “intelligent design” Bible studies instead of Darwin’s theory of evolution in public school, Russia Blog is published by a Russian citizen named Yuri Mamchur who has close ties to the Kremlin (having been educated in a university run by the Kremlin and descending from a family of Soviet aparachiks), and shamelessly seeks to undermine Western security by circulating a ridiculously false impression of Russia.
Russia Blog’s home page currently displays 30 posts dating back to December 19, 2008. If these posts were your only source of news about Russia, you would not know the the Russian ruble has lost nearly half its value, plunging to an appalling 2.8 cents in value, down from 4.2 cents over the past two months — because Russia Blog doesn’t report facts that are inconvenient to Putin’s Kremlin. You would not know that Kremlin-paid spies had been apprehended attempting to infiltrate opposition political organizations like Oleg Kozlovsky’s Oborona group. In fact, if you put the name “Oleg Kozlovsky” into the Russia Blog search engine, you will learn that Russia Blog has never heard of him; therefore, its readers wouldn’t know that Oleg had been published on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post and received a major human rights award from the hand of film star Sigourney Weaver after being illegally shanghaied into the Russian Army to silence his opposition work. Do the same with the name Stanislav Markelov — you get the same result. For a Russia Blog reader, Markelov’s assassination never took place.
A person who read only Russia Blog would think that the collapse of the Russian economy and world oil prices was a good thing, because it gave Russia “the opportunity to diversify.” He would believe that the Russian economic downturn is largely the result of “investment strategies” that made the mistake of putting billions into “rotten” U.S. securities and not cracking down hard enough on the “oligarchs.” He would not have read a word about the new “Solidarity” opposition organization created by Boris Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov, nor would entering “Vladivostok protests” in Russia Blog’s engine reveal a single syllable about the virulent anti-Putin protests occurring in that city over Putin’s auto import duties. He would, however, see the celebration of Russia’s efforts to boot the U.S. military out of its base in Kyrgyzstan, and read warnings that might just as well have been written by the Kremlin about the need to modify U.S. foreign policy or face even more draconian punishment from the mighty Kremlin. And he would see a video from Russia Today declaring Russia the winner in the gas dispute with Ukraine.
We are glad to report, however, that for all its furious and utterly shameless dishonesty, Russia Blog is a total failure on the web.
The Moscow Times reports:
Industrial output contracted by a fifth in January, the biggest monthly fall in the series’ seven-year history, according to data on Monday — including an 80 percent drop in automotive production compared with a year ago.
Slowing demand at home and abroad because of the global financial crisis meant that output fell 19.9 percent in January compared with the previous month. It declined 16 percent from a year earlier, steeper than the 11.5 percent drop that had been expected by economists.
“It’s a dramatic number, it’s like a cold shower in the morning,” said Gintaras Shlizhyus, analyst at RZB. “It increases the possibility of a serious economic slowdown and of forecasts for  GDP being revised down.”
The yellow banner on the right reads: "PUTLER IS KAPUT!!!"
Russians in Vladivostok have created a new historical figure, a fusion of Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Putin named “Putler.” The New York Times reports (click through for video):
Vladimir Kirillov and Vitaly Sukhinin and their co-conspirators once had little interest in politics. They were rat-a-tat-tat salesmen here in Russia’s Far East who did a thriving trade in secondhand vehicles imported from Japan. But then the government reacted to the financial crisis by imposing steep tariffs on their industry.
And so was born a growing protest movement that might easily be dismissed as the Revolt of the Used Car Dealers, except for the fact that it seems to have unnerved the Kremlin like few other outbursts of public discontent in recent years.
The only thing surprising here is that it took the Kremlin this long to “think” it up. The Moscow Times reports (hero journalist Grigori Pasko als0 has commentary, including a link to the Russian source material over at Robert Amsterdam’s blog):
A Moscow journalist has filed a complaint over an article in the daily newspaper Izvestia suggesting that lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were lovers and that their slaying in central Moscow last month was a crime of passion.