Daily Archives: February 19, 2009

February 22, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Putin is Worse than any Foreign Foe

(2)  The Internet under Siege in Putin’s Russia

(3)  Letter to La Russophobe

(4)  Springtime war in Georgia?

(5)  A New Film on Russia’s Katyn Atrocity

(6)  Drinking in Russia

NOTE:  Georgia’s entry in the EuroVision song contest is a wicked mockery of the odious, malignant little troll who rules Russia. Go Georgia, go!

EDITORIAL: Putin is Worse than Any Foreign Foe


Putin is Worse than Any Foreign Foe

If Bob Dylan, of all people, can agree to use his music to hawk Pepsi Cola, surely all things are possible, and we live in hope. But we continue to be amazed and disappointed at the failure of the Obama administration to reverse course on Russia.  Given the harsh criticism leveled at former U.S. President George Bush by Obama’s supporters, one would think it would be a no-brainer for them to reject Bush’s declaration that Putin was “trusthworthy” after having “looked into his eyes and glimpsed his soul” and start demanding that Putin respect human rights.  And yet, Obama remains silent.  In doing so, he betrays not only the interests of his own people but also those of the people of Russia, because their government, largely unopposed by Washington, is driving their economy to ruin.

Continue reading

The Internet under Siege in Putin’s Russia

p1020316ru1Our staff translation (corrections welcome) of a blog post in Russian by Live Journal blogger “Plucer” dated February 11th:

The Russian government as a whole, and the leadership of the Ministry of Interior in particular, have decided on the complete and final abolition in Russia of the right of writers and artists to use pseudonyms. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, anonymity in the creation of texts of all kinds is one of the main sources of all crimes in the Russian Federation. In particular the decision to destroy the rights of Russian writers and artists to create online texts and recorded under pseudonyms on the web anonymously has been taken.

Continue reading

Letter to La Russophobe

Letters, we get letters, we get lots of cards and letters every day!

Dear La Russophobe,

I’d like to offer your readers some comments on two pressing issues: first, the Russian stock market, and second the proposed Sochi Olympiad, both issues which you’ve addressed in recent blog posts.

1.  The Stock Market

I’ve noticed with growing dismay that MICEX and RTS index have been steadily growing this month: Micex went from a low of 505 points at the start of the month up to around 630 today. RTS from below 500 to around 620 today.And the ruble went from a low of nearly 37 to 34.5 on February 13th.

Continue reading

Springtime War in Georgia?

The always brilliant Pavel Felgenhauer, writing on the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor:

Six months after the French-brokered agreement ended the Russo-Georgia war on August 12, 2008 the ceasefire continues to be fragile with constant incidents that both sides describe as “provocations.” Last month the Defense Ministry of the separatist South Ossetia said Georgia was moving troops towards its border (RIA-Novosti, January 9). This week the South Ossetian authorities again accused Georgia of “increasing preparations to begin an aggression” and firing two RPG-7 shells at the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali and accused EU observers that monitor the Georgian side of the ceasefire line of turning a blind eye to the alleged Georgian military buildup. On January 26, Tbilisi signed an agreement with the EU observer mission to limit its armed presence near South Ossetia and Abkhazia to one battalion (500 men) and exclude all heavy weapons. The South Ossetian authorities called this agreement a sham to cover “the preparation of an aggression” (Interfax, February 9).

Continue reading

A New Film on Russia’s Katyn Atrocity


The New York Times reports on a new movie about Russian atrocities in Katyn; if you are in New York City, go out and support this film, which calls for justice as a neo-Soviet regime rises in Moscow (if you’ve seen it already, we’d love to hear your reactions in a comment or e-mail):

The first scene in “Katyn,” Andrzej Wajda’s solemn and searing new film, takes place on a bridge somewhere in Poland in mid-September 1939. The bridge is aswarm with people fleeing in opposite directions. Panicked families trying to escape the Germans, who invaded on the first of the month, collide with equally terrified compatriots coming from the eastern part of the country, scene of a recent Soviet intervention.

The chaos and terror form a living tableau of Poland’s terrible predicament in the middle of the last century, when it was caught in the pincers of two toxic strains of European totalitarianism. In 1939 Hitler and Stalin pledged mutual nonaggression, a pact that lasted long enough for their armies to collude in the destruction of Polish sovereignty.

Continue reading

Drinking in Russia

Alexander Nazaryan, a Russian expat English teacher in Brooklyn who has written for the Village Voice, New Criterion and other publications, and is working on his first novel, “Golden Youth,” about Russian organized crime in Brooklyn, had the following op-ed in the New York Times last week (click through to read a number of comments the piece attracted). In it he observes:  “But perhaps because our foods are less sensuous or readily appealing than Mediterranean cuisine ― sour cream is not so sexy, it turns out ― only the [vodka] bottle lingers in the imagination.”  He might not have limited the comparison to Mediterranean cuisine, since Russian food suffers by comparison to virtually any other cuisine you can name. It’s an observation we made long ago, that Russian cuisine is a perfect microcosm of Russia itself, gross and unreformed, because the people of Russia simply can’t be bothered.

There are few bars in my native city of St. Petersburg, and none at all, as far as I can tell, in Brighton Beach, the Russian enclave of Brooklyn to which I return whenever the memory of stuffed cabbage dumplings and accordion music begins to beckon. Not that sobriety has too much traction in either: when I returned to St. Petersburg in 2003 for the first time in 20 years, it was much more common to find open beers in the morning crowd than cups of coffee. And in the extravagant cabarets of Brighton Beach ― those gilded mafiya haunts now frequented by well-heeled families from Montclair and Stamford ― each dinner table is marked by an endless cavalcade of Smirnoff and Courvoisier.

Continue reading