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.

I recall reading last week about the Putin regime threatening to jail “speculators”. There are no economic fundamentals to explain the rise. Oil (the foundation of the economy) is down to a record low of 35, close approaching the $30/bbl “disaster” mark for oil producers.Tons of rhetoric, no new real economic data from Moscow or the country-side that the market is turning around. So, rather than generically say – 1) the jail threat is working, 2) the central bank MAY be pouring a lot more money into the ruble defense, – it would be nice to hear something solid, i.e. hear from a scared (and probably anonymous) currency trader from a respectable (oops, lets say top 10 bank in Moscow) bank about how the he got a call that told him what to expect if he didn’t play ball the way the administration wanted it, and how much (because traders can find this info on their trading screens) the CB spent on ruble defense today, last week, etc.

I am sending this in as a big fan of your work, hoping that the above may incite some interest in uncovering a pretty cool story.

2.  Sochi

I am in support of your statement that our athletes (as well as our moral principles) are at risk in having the Winter Olympics in Sochi. A different way, from other posts, to look at this is geographically. This is one of the hottest conflict zones on the planet. If you were to draw a circle with the random distance of 120 miles (on Russian roads a 2-4 hour car ride… if you make it…) around the city of Sochi as an epicenter, you would see within the circle alone the hot war zone of Georgia, and the Russian puppet state-in-being of Abkhazia. A number of terrorist attacks, sniper shots, the standard KGB shot-in-the-head murders have occurred frequently around this region in the last 2 years. The two next viable shipping ports to the south of Sochi (Sukhumi and Poti) are respectively a soon-to-be Russian naval and airbase, and the scene of starving Russian troops looting Georgian homes for food, and ripping off US Humvees as “war loot” – if only there was a McDonald’s in that port we probably could have encouraged the defection of more hungry Russian soldiers.

Even more worrisome is the Chechnya Republic which has an active Muslim insurgency which has made no secret of planning to use the Sochi games as a forum for attention to their sufferings under the Putin regime. Although it is a democratic aim, unfortunately their standard and proven approach to PR is via a terror attack.

That the US is a party to this by its support of the Olympic games is shameful. In fact, it is also puzzling as to why our administration has not used a “peaceful context” in the zone around Sochi to put pressure on Putin to pull his military out of the occupied zones in Georgia (Abkhazia and S. Ossetia).

Very truly yours,


3 responses to “Letter to La Russophobe

  1. Not to worry, dearest Kavkazwatcher, those indexes will fall again. Rouble too…oops, it already did.

  2. “Even more worrisome is the Chechnya Republic which has an active Muslim insurgency which has made no secret of planning to use the Sochi games as a forum for attention to their sufferings under the Putin regime.”

    I think I missed this statement. Any link please?

    Oh, and it’s not even no longer Chechen or Chechnya insurgency. It’s regional pan-Islamist. It’s still Chechen-led (overally, in the ethnicity sense), but even of the two main ideologues is from Kabardino-Balkaria. They say they’re hostile only towards Israel of all nations.

    “Although it is a democratic aim, unfortunately their standard and proven approach to PR is via a terror attack.”

    These guys don’t have any democratic aims anymore and they don’t even fight for Chechnya (http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=4579), but they dropped terrorism as a struggle tactic in 2004 and never attacked any foreign targets to raise attention. (There was only an abortive and bloodless hostage taking by Turkish and other (Abkhaz for example) sympathisers in Instanbul 8 years ago.)

  3. Btw, guess whom the Russian government blames for the Ingushetia insurrection? That’s right – the “English” (British) and US special services:

    In an interview with the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published on February 9, [the new Ingush President] Yevkurov laid the blame for the violence squarely with the “newly arrived Arabs,” stating that they were responsible for destabilizing the situation in the region in general and in Ingushetia in particular. Moreover, Yevkurov also blamed the “American and English special services.” Another interesting feature of Yevkurov’s interview was his admission that the authorities must be facing more than just a thousand militants. Yevkurov cited endemic corruption in the republic as the main reason why youths have joined the militants. However, the president did not bother to explain why 16-and 18-year-old boys would be concerned with corruption in Ingushetia, when in reality they are much more worried about the religious persecution of those suspected of adhering to the Salafi ideology, and the numerous assassinations of young men during so-called counter-terrorist operations. It seems that the popular theme of fighting corruption, which was pitched from Moscow, has become the motto of the new president of Ingushetia, who likes to portray it as the root of all of the republic’s problems.

    Meanwhile, on February 10, the militants killed a traffic police officer in the Tsentr-Kamaz neighborhood of Nazran—precisely the neighborhood where law enforcement officials launched a combat operation against the militants two days later. During this operation, four members of the Special Operations Police Squad (OMON) from the Central Directorate of Internal Affairs of Murmansk Oblast were killed and fifteen were wounded (Radio Ekho Moskvy, February 12). According to other reports, twenty-four people, including three city residents, were wounded during the operation (Lenta.ru, February 13).

    However, the independent on-line publication Ingushetia.org gave a completely different version of what happened. Citing information received from a source inside Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, the website reported that between 15 and 20 police officers were killed in the operations, including four OMON members (Ingushetia.org, February 12). Ingushetia.org cited comparable figures regarding the number of wounded. Apparently, in the course of a routine document check, teams from the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Interior Ministry managed to contain and blockade the group of militants in house No.8 on Gorovozhdev Street in Nazran. An ensuing shootout with the militants (whose precise number has yet to be established) lasted several hours and the law enforcement authorities had to use armored personnel carriers. As the battle drew to a close, the militants managed to destroy two APCs and one Ural military truck. When it seemed as if the militants had been wiped out, the first group of police officers entered the house, after which there was a powerful explosion that obliterated the entire structure. Apparently it was that explosion which claimed the majority of victims among the law enforcement officers involved in the operation.


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