Daily Archives: May 9, 2009

May 11, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Putin and Portugal

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Russia Today is Really Tragic

(3)  Putin’s Stalin-like Purge of Russian Media

(4)  Putin’s Russia Cannot Feed Itself

(5)  Russia’s Oil Supply is Drying up Fast

NOTE:  Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment on the American Thinker exposes the wretched coverage of Russia being offered by the New York Times, which now has the audacity to charge $2 for a newsstand copy. Good luck with that!

NOTE: Once again, today’s issue offers a stark contrast.  Two items (#4 and #5) show how Russia’s food and oil supplies are disappearing because of Putin’s egregious mismanagment, the others document his response: Lies and oppression rather than review and reform.  In other words, the Soviet response Putin spent his whole life learning.

EDITORIAL: Putin and Portugal


Putin and Portugal

In a Moscow Times column which we republished on Sunday, Russian pundit Yevgeny Kiselyov (once the Russian Ted Koppel, now driven onto radio by the Kremlin’s crackdown on the TV networks) exposed yet another one of proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin’s ridiculous lies about the Russian economy:

Shortly after he was elected president, Putin pledged that Russia would reach the standard of living of Portugal, “the poorest country in [Western] Europe,” in 10 years. If you measure “quality of life” in terms of per capita gross domestic product for both countries in 2008, it is clear that Russia ($15,800) has no chance of catching up to Portugal ($22,000) by 2010.

Kiselyov was actually being far too generous.  According to the World Bank, Russia’s nominal per capita GDP in 2007 was $9,115 placing it #44 out of all countries in the world, right below Libya and well behind Poland.  Portugal, by contrast, was at #27 with a figure of $20,762 — more than double Russia’s figure.  Kiselyov’s suggestion that Portugal is “only”  30% ahead of Russia therefore seems highly misleading.

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EDITORIAL: Russia Today is Really Tragic


Russia Today is Really Tragic

By now most Russia watchers are aware that the Putin Kremlin is squandering millions of dollars badly needed by its sick population (Russians don’t rank in the top 120 countries of the world for adult lifespan) on a shameless English-language propaganda TV network known as “Russia Today.”

It goes without saying that there is no more reliable information to be found in RT’s broadcasts than there was on the pages of Pravda or Izvestia  in Soviet Times. But the fully neo-Soviet character of the network’s material is nonetheless surprising and revolting.

Take, for instance, a recent report on religious freedom in Russia.

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Putin’s Stalin-like Purge of Russian Media

Christopher Walker of Freedom House, writing in the Moscow Times:

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated May 3 as World Press Freedom Day in order “to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom.” But in Russia, there is little to celebrate.  

Using a range of restrictive measures and methods, the authorities have continued to shrink the space for independent journalism. The repressive methods used by the Kremlin has made the country an exceptionally dangerous place for journalists to work.

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Russia Cannot Feed Itself

The always brilliant Leon Aron, writing on the American Enterprise Institute website’s Russia Outlook section:

Although it contains millions of acres of some of the world’s most fertile soil and has implemented the world’s largest land privatization reform, Russia imports food in amounts that are inordinately high for a country of its size and per-capita GDP. The reliance on imported meat and poultry is especially large. Already under strain from rampant inflation, a very significant proportion of Russia’s population will find its access to food further diminished by deep depreciation of the ruble as well as such inevitable consequences of the crisis as unemployment and still higher inflation. While widespread hunger is not likely, the constraints on food consumption could add yet another perilous dimension to a political crisis that is bound to unfold alongside the economic one.

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Russia’s Oil is Drying Up

Last week we reported on how Gazprom’s natural gas production has fallen by a shocking amount, and now the Wall Street Journal picks up on Russia’s equally horrific problem with plummeting oil production:

Is Russian oil production back?

After months of struggling to lift production volumes, Russia says its crude production rose in April by almost 1%. If sustained, that could bode well for global oil supplies in the event demand ever recovers. But take the latest data with a grain of salt. Russia’s Energy Ministry said Monday the country pumped 9.85 million barrels a day on average in April, up slightly from 9.79 million barrels a day in March. (The world’s next biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, currently pumps about 7.9 million barrels a day.)

But analysts at Sanford Bernstein rubbished the data, saying: “Despite perceived strength in March and April Russian oil production data, we do not believe the data supports a theory of returning output growth in the country.” Year-to-date production is still below last year’s, the analysts note.

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