FRIDAY APRIL 24 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Mountains of Bad Economic News for Putin’s Russia
(2) Russia’s Rulers are Tripping
(3) George Will on Potemkin Russia
(4) Drunken, Dying Russia
(5) Putin’s Economy, by the Numbers
NOTE: Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her American Thinker column takes a look at recent evidence indicating that Russia is looking to provoke Georgia and justify a second military assault on the tiny neighbor. Scary stuff, with Nashi playing a leading role. Commenter “Robert” offers a link showing that the news grows more ominous by the hour. For a hearty belly laugh, click the jump to read one of the many pieces of hatemail we’ve received from the rabid Russophile set on Kim’s behalf in response to the AT piece.
NOTE: Dima Medvedev is now blogging on LiveJournal. If you read Russian, sign up for a free account on ZheZhe and you can give him a piece of your mind in the comments sections of his posts. Or try to slip past his censors, anyway; the Kremlin openly admits it will strictly control access to comments.
The Bad News Just Keeps on Coming for the Russian Economy
The ability of the Putin administration to keep on generating such a consistent stream of bad economic news is really quite breathtaking.
In an unusual move Michael Bohm, the opinion editor of the Moscow Times, has published himself. For such a thing to happen, you know that a truly outrageous act must have been perpetrated by the Kremlin, and indeed it is so. Bohm minces no words in declaring that Russia’s top rulers are totally out of touch with basic reality, lost in a neo-Soviet fog of the same type that brought down the USSR. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst is that they are shamelessly lying to the people of Russia, leading them down the garden path that leads to ultimate destruction.
Several weeks ago in Voronezh, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the ambitious goals for “Strategy 2020” remain in place — despite the economic crisis. He also said Russia has every chance of becoming the world’s most desirable place to live by 2020. “This is no fairy tale,” Shuvalov added. But if you examine the strategy closely, it certainly looks like one.
Consider the four main goals of Strategy 2020:
Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter George Will, writing on Real Clear Politics:
America’s “progressive” president has some peculiarly retro policies. Domestically, his reactionary liberalism is exemplified by his policy of No Auto Company Left Behind, with its intimated hope that depopulated Detroit, where cattle could graze, can somehow return to something like the 1950s. Abroad, he seems to yearn for the 1970s, when the Soviet Union was rampant and coping with it supposedly depended on arms control.
Actually, what was needed was not the chimera of arms control but Ronald Reagan’s renewal of the arms race that helped break the Soviet regime. The stately minuet of arms negotiations helped sustain U.S. public support for the parallel weapons spending.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau International Data Base for 2007, Russia ranked 164 out of 226 globally in overall life expectancy. Russia is below Bolivia, South America’s poorest (and least healthy) country and lower than Iraq and India, but somewhat higher than Pakistan. For females, the Russian Federation life expectancy will not be as high as in Nicaragua, Morocco, or Egypt. For males, it will be in the same league as that of Cambodia, Ghana, and Eritrea.
That’s a quote from the following long piece by Nicholas Eberstadt, who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute and is Senior Adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research, writing in World Affairs Quarterly and exposing the ghastly demographic nightmare that Vladimir Putin has cooked up for Russia. Here’s the full text:
A specter is haunting Russia today. It is not the specter of Communism—that ghost has been chained in the attic of the past—but rather of depopulation—a relentless, unremitting, and perhaps unstoppable depopulation. The mass deaths associated with the Communist era may be history, but another sort of mass death may have only just begun, as Russians practice what amounts to an ethnic self-cleansing.
Since 1992, Russia’s human numbers have been progressively dwindling. This slow motion process now taking place in the country carries with it grim and potentially disastrous implications that threaten to recast the contours of life and society in Russia, to diminish the prospects for Russian economic development, and to affect Russia’s potential influence on the world stage in the years ahead.
Net worth of Russia’s 100 richest citizens in 2007, in billions of US dollars
Their net worth in 2008
Number of Russian billionaires in 2007
Number of Russian billionaires in 2008
(The U.S. has ten times more billionaires than Russia, but that’s not the most stunning point of comparison. The U.S. economy is fifteen times larger than Russia’s, so it should have fifteen times more billionaires. That it doesn’t means that the U.S. distributes wealth among its citizens far more fairly than Russia does. Russia today is no different than it was 100 years ago, with a tiny class of superrich sucking the lifeblood out of the vast underclass)
Svetlana Bakhmina with her children
First Russian “president” Dima Medvedev sits down with Kremlin foe Novaya Gazeta and now the Kremlin has released Khodorkovsky attorney Svetlana Bakhmina, who will walk out of prison almost three years to the day after she was sentenced to six for fraud.
Nothing could better prove how desperate the Kremlin is becoming to deflect criticism as the Russian economy faces a relentless tsunami of bad news. Unemployment is soaring, inflation is doing the same, and Russia is caught in a merciless vortex of finanical hardship that the KGB thugs who rule Russia simply have no idea how to correct.