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.
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,