Daily Archives: March 20, 2009

March 22, 2009 — Contents

SUNDAY MARCH 22 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:   A Scary Cold-War Postcard

(2)  EDITORIAL:  How we See Things

(3)   A Russian Fairynightmare

(4)  Latynina on Classic Russian Idiocy

(5)  Inflation Grinds Russians into Pulp

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EDITORIAL: A Scary Postcard from the Front Lines of the New Cold War with Russia

EDITORIAL

A Scary Postcard from the Front Lines
of the New Cold War with Russia

Two events last week, viewed in juxtaposition, are extremely disturbing.

First, Russian “president” Dima Medvedev ominously called upon Russia’s wealthy to “pay off moral debts” they owe to the state.  He stated: “Nowhere in the world perhaps has the development of entrepreneurship in recent times happened as quickly as in our country.  People simply have been getting very rich in a very short time.  Now it is time pay off debts, moral debts because the crisis is a test of maturity.”

How we ask you, dear reader, is Medvedev’s rhetoric any different from that heard at the time of the Bolshevik revolution? What does he plan to do with those recalcitrant folks who don’t want to simply hand over their wealth voluntarily to the state?  Will they be “asked” to pay in the way that Mikhail Khodorkovsky is paying, Mr. Medvedev.

But pathetic hapless fools like Gary Hart were not listening. 

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EDITORIAL: How we See Things

EDITORIAL

How we See Things

There are those who think that the sort of direct confrontation of Russians practiced by this blog is counterproductive. They naively think it will only make Russians recoil into their nationalist shells like turtles, giving them confirmation that the world really does hate them and justifying their rabid xenophobia.  They think Russians need kindness and understanding from the outside world to coax them out of their shells like timid forest creatures to nibble at the tender morsels of civilization in our outstretched hands. 

This is how Chamberlain saw Hitler.

To the extent these are folks who actually know the Russians, as a result of living cheek-by-jowl with them (we think precious few such persons are among them), as opposed to abject fantasizing morons with no more idea of the real Russia than of the real Mars, they’re entitled to their own opinion.

We, however, beg to differ.

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A Fairynightmare: Russia and the Golden Goose

The Moscow Times reports on how Russia is pathologically savaging the last vestiges of its credibility among foreign investors:

A lawyer for Farimex Products said Friday that it did not want Telenor to sell its stake in VimpelCom, a perhaps surprising admission given that Farimex has spent the past few months fighting in court to make Telenor pay close to the very value of that stake.

The now three-year saga, which has drawn comparisons to the attack on Yukos and the drama last year at TNK-BP, stands alone for the questions it has raised regarding the hierarchy of competing verdicts — and the might of individual shareholders.

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Latynina on Classic Russian Idiocy

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

I was recently invited by the Russia.ru web site to discuss what the Kremlin needs to do to overcome the economic crisis. As it turns out, the answer is for Russia to unite with Ukraine.

The person responsible for this ingenious idea is Anatoly Vasserman, the eccentric television wonk and host of intellectual game shows. His reasoning is grounded in economics: Russia’s manufacturing sector will not develop until it has a solid, reliable customer base of at least 200 million people. Once Moscow unites with Kiev, demand will reach critical mass, and Russia’s manufacturing sector will skyrocket.

You might remember the joke about the workers at a collective farm who met to discuss how to fix the cowshed. The chairman stood and told them: “There are two ways to repair the dilapidated cowshed — one is realistic, and the other is completely far-fetched. The realistic way is if a space alien were to fly down here and fix the thing. The far-fetched way is if we were to try to repair it ourselves.”

I never imagined that 20 years after the end of the Soviet Union’s 70-year experiment in creating communism, I would be seriously discussing the realistic way of fixing the cowshed.

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Inflation Grinds the Russian People into Pulp

The Moscow Times reports:

Her job is safe and her salary hasn’t been cut by a single ruble, yet Svetlana Nikolayeva says she feels the effects of the financial crisis as badly as anyone.  “Every time I go shopping, I can afford less and less,” said Nikolayeva, a 41-year-old single mother who lives in a two-room apartment with her younger brother and autistic son. “It’s not just food. Children’s clothes, medicine, communal services — it’s all getting more expensive.”

The rising cost of goods has confronted Nikolayeva with some painful decisions, like deciding which medicine her son needs least so she can afford to buy him the ones that are crucial for his health. It has also changed her opinion of the government, which she staunchly supported less than a year ago.  “There’s a feeling right now like everyone is out for themselves,” she said. “Putin and Medvedev don’t care about my money. They’re too busy worrying about their own.”

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