Daily Archives: May 14, 2009

May 17, 2009 — Contents

SUNDAY MAY 17 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  Waiting for Godobama

(2)  EDITORIAL:  The Real Russian Bear

(3)  Medvedev, Pretending to Lead

(4)  The Russians and their Dangerous Self-Delusion

(5)  Obama must Speak Up!

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EDITORIAL: Waiting for Godobama

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 EDITORIAL

Waiting for Godobama

“Most Russians don’t care whether they are ruled by fascists or communists or even Martians as long as they can buy six kinds of sausage in the store and lots of cheap vodka.”

– – Alexander Lebed (General, Governor, Presidential Candidate)The Financial Times, September 6, 1994

It was announced last week that U.S. President Barack Obama will attend a summit with “president” Dima Medvedev in Moscow on July 6th.  Hopefully Obama will be smart enough to stay away from the Moscow Metro, where his lynching would be almost assured, and will not be idiotic enough to think he’s talking to the actual ruler of Russia. Vladimir Ryzhkov, who knows the corridors of Kremlin power far better than Obama, says the American naif is dealing with a counterpart who is just “pretending to lead.”

But the more important question is whether Obama will finally have the courage and intelligence to speak up for American values, something so many heroic people in Russia desperately want him to do.

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EDITORIAL: The Real Russian Bear

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EDITORIAL

The Real Russian Bear

An extraordinary new survey of the Russian economic landscape by the respected McKinsey & Company (available both in English and in Russian) reveals the shocking extent of mismanagement and failure over which proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin presides.

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Medvedev, Pretending to Lead

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Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:

One year after President Dmitry Medvedev took office, it is clear that his “tandemocracy” with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin does not work. Furthermore, their modernization efforts have accomplished little if anything at all.

According to a Levada Center survey conducted in April, 76 percent of Russians approve of Putin’s work as prime minister, and 67 percent approve of Medvedev’s job performance. Putin also holds more than a 10 percent lead over his successor in ratings for overall trust and policies — 48 percent and 37 percent, respectively. In a hypothetical early election, Putin would earn 28 percent of the vote to Medvedev’s 19 percent. Only 2 percent of those questioned perceived the president’s actions as representing fundamentally new policies, and 11 percent think that he is gradually shifting his political course. But a full 80 percent of respondents are certain that Medvedev is essentially, or even completely, continuing Putin’s course.

The country’s tandem therefore continues as before, with one ruler reigning and the other one pretending to lead.

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The Russians and their Dangerous Self-Delusion

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Russian expat Alexei Bayer, writing in the Moscow Times:

A year ago, at the height of the oil price bubble, I took a flight from London to Moscow. Once our final boarding call was announced, duty-free shops all over the terminal came alive with a flurry of activity. Moscow-bound passengers, already burdened with numerous shopping bags, grabbed last-minute electronics, perfume and jewelry and rushed to the checkout. Then, on the way to the gate, we were greeted by a man in a kind of butler’s uniform bearing a strong resemblance to the late British actor John Gielgud. His jaw set in a disdainful grimace, he kept repeating: “Thank you very much, my Russian friends. Much appreciate your spending your money here.”

I have no idea who paid him to stand there and whether his withering English sarcasm was part of his job description. It is true, however, that in recent years Russian visitors have developed a reputation for crass nouveau-riche consumerism. Although Russia no longer has world-renowned writers, artists or composers, wild Russian spending and partying have become legendary the world over.

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Obama must Speak up!

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Fred Hiatt, writing in the Washington Post, calls upon Barack Obama to speak up for human rights defenders in Russia:

 Tanya Lokshina did not set out to put her life in danger as a human rights campaigner in Russia.

Asked whether his killing heightened her sense of danger, Lokshina demurs. Human Rights Watch has taken security precautions; she can travel abroad; people working for smaller, Russian organizations, without outside backing, are far more vulnerable. But, she acknowledges, “anyone who is working on human rights abuses in Russia . . . is part of a group at risk.”Asked whether his killing heightened her se

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