WEDNESDAY JULY 1 CONTENTS
(1) Another Original LR Translation: Medvedev as Goebbels
(2) EDITORIAL: Russia, Obama and the Internet
(3) EDITORIAL: Russia Legalizes Barbarism
(4) EDITORIAL: One Year for LR on WordPress!
(5) Putin’s Russia brings us “Menocide”
NOTE: You can listen to a panel of Russia experts including the heroic Andrei Piontkovsky discussing Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Moscow as part of a Hudson Institute Panel here
NOTE: You can read a transcript (in English!) of Vladimir Putin’s meeting with the Pikalyovo protesters here.
Enough to Make Goebbels Green With Envy
26 June 2009
Translated by Dave Essel
On 24 June, President Medvedev issued an Executive Order entitled On Russia-Wide Compulsory Total-Access Television and Radio Channels. The aim of this Order is to ensure that certain TV and radio channels are available in every household. That great lover of the ‘power vertical’ Adolf Hitler had the idea down pat ages ago: “In the future Germany, we will have wired radios, that’s evident. No sensible government can allow its people’s minds to be poisoned”. [AP – quoted in Oleg Plenkov, The Third Reich]. Hitler may have failed to carry this out but we won’t!
Russia, Obama and the Internet
For years now, Russia has been weaponizing the Internet using a two-track approach. First, Russia has been seeking to excercise totalitarian control over its domestic Internet by generating content and harassing independent publishers and ISPs, even going so far as to prosecute bloggers and commenters. Ultimately, once the Runet is brought to heel, the proud KGB spies who rule the Kremlin plans to use it to further brainwash the lemming-like population just as it is doing today with the TV networks and major newspapers that it seized years ago. Second, Russia has been developing its capacity to attack the Internet resources of foreign countries. Russia has actually waged open “cyber war” against Estonia and Georgia when those two former Soviet states dared to defy the Kremlin’s demands.
As if all this weren’t enough, Russia’s extreme poverty (the average worker earns less than $3/hour while the cost of Interet access is comparable to that in the West) serves as yet one more barrier to the population’s use of this valuble resource. As we reported in our last issue, many Russians have no chance to get near the Internet, even in large cities, and this means that the claim that the Internet’s relative freedom can offset the total lack of objectivity in print and television media is utter nonsense.
Now, the Obama administratration has created a new cabinet-level position devoted to Internet security, and it is pressing for dramatically higher levels of worldwide response to cyber terrorism. Putin’s Russia, of course, stands in the way — just as it has stood in the way as the world has sought to demand justice and democracy in places like Iran and North Korea.
Russia Legalizes Barbarism
A few weeks ago, we reported on how Russian courts have ruled that it is illegal for women to work in various jobs that men are genetically better suited for.
More recently, we noted the European Union’s conclusion that corruption is so widespread in the Russian court system that justice is impossible to obtain.
But none of that prepared us for the revelation provided by Khodorkovsky attorney Robert Amsterdam while translating a report about his client’s second trial, now underway, from the pages of Novaya Gazeta.
How We’re Doing
Our first year on WordPress ends with a bang
This month marks our one-year anniversary here on the WordPress server. We take this opportunity to offer a little review of our progress in our new home, where by and large we are very happy.
Last month, as the graph above shows, we set another new record for most visits to the blog in a month, with 117,480 in total. In seven of the past eleven months, we had likewise set new records for monthly visitation, breaking the 100,000 threshold for the first time two months ago. In less than one year here on WordPress, our monthly visitation has doubled. We are on pace to become the first English-language Russia politics blog ever to post 1,000,000 visits on a public counter by the end of this month.
Paul Goble reports that Vladimir Putin is wiping out Russia’s male population far more effectively than Adolf Hitler ever dreamed of doing:
Extremely high mortality rates among Russian men in prime child-bearing ages, far larger than those in other developed countries and largely the result of alcohol consumption and drug abuse, are undercutting not only Moscow’s efforts to solve the country’s demographic problems by pro-natalist policies but its hopes to modernize the Russian economy.
Grani.ru reports (translation below, original carries 42 comments in Russian) on moves to sanction Russia in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. If that happens, the Russians are threatening to withdraw from it altogether.
This presents an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, the Russians deserve to be thrown out of most anything; one the other, some of these international gatherings are of some – usually pathetically little – use in reining in Russia’s worst abuses.
Russia, Standing with Iran
The world has gaped in slack-jawed horror at the photographs of a young Iranian woman lying on the streets of Tehran after being gunned down by the cowardly goons of the terrorist-supporting Islamic fundamentalist regime because she dared to offer a peaceful protest to their most recent “election” sham. The world, that is, except for Russia.
With all the contempt we can muster, we condemn the wanton savagery that has led Russia to side with the maniacal, murderous Islamic radicals in Iran against the valiant citizens who march in support of justice. By standing mute as their government stands alone against all the other members of the G-8 to support the Iranian regime’s brutal campaign of homicide against peaceful demonstrators, the people of Russia are as blameworthy as that government. We condemn them.
Just call him Vladimir “Sucker” Putin
Not long ago, Russophiles were strutting and preening and bragging about their clever ploy to bribe Kyrgyzstan with $2 billion to boot the United States out of its military base in that tiny former Soviet republic.
Oops. Last week came news that Kyrgyzstan was doing no such thing, and would pocket Russia’s largesse whilst accepting triple the former U.S. rent to allow the Americans to stay as long as they like. The Russians, fuming and sputtering in a most pathetic and neo-Soviet manner, are left with mucho eggski on their faces.
Russia between a Rock and a Hardened Silo
Where its military policy is concerned these days, Russia finds itself between a rock and a hardened nuclear missile silo.
On the one hand, Russia would like to rely more on nuclear weapons than conventional armies. The former are much less expensive and much easier to control. Ballistic missiles don’t humiliate you by cutting of each other’s genitals and such, and they don’t have to be fed three times a day. The Russian economy is in abject freefall, and the Kremlin is simply running out of funds to pay the massive overhead of the neo-Red Army. It’s already been forced to cut thousands of officers from the payroll, as if it were engaged in nothing more than corporate downsizing.
But to rely on nuclear weapons means getting involved in a technology race, an innovation race, a creative thinking and productivity race, with the United States of America. Russia would have a huge amount of trouble winning those kinds of races with the United States of Armenia, much less with the most vibrant and progressive industrial society on the planet. It’s a daunting prospect, to say the least. Whereas, although you’re supposed to feed your soldiers, if you don’t really want to to you don’t actually have to. The Soviet Union sure didn’t, for instance, and it managed to go on for decades like that. If you don’t improve your nuclear missiles, however, they become obsolete, especially if you can’t overcome inferior technology with sheer numbers.
One of the very most under-reported critical facts about Russia is the total lack of Internet access available to the country’s general population, which remains in the dark ages. Thus, claims about freedom on Russia’s Internet counterbalancing the loss of TV and newspaper freedom are wholly bogus. Paul Goble reports:
Despite reports about the expansion of Internet use in Russia, more than half of that country’s urban residents over age 12 have never gone online, and more than a third have never used a computer, global figures which set Russia apart from Western countries but ones that conceal deep divisions within the Russian Federation in the electronic world.
Kadyrov the Beast
We always know when the Kremlin is starting to panic, because the rhetoric of its malignant denizens goes from infantile to senile to simply bestial. With four major attacks on leading Caucasus Kremlin puppets in as many weeks, the Kremlin is getting desperate and its utterances are getting scary.
The Soviet Story
by Dave Essel
I recently bought and watched the documentary The Soviet Story on DVD, which has just recently become available by mail order. I would now like to heartily recommend to LR readers. In the same way that I was astonished by the BBC having found genuine colour footage for its documentary on WWII (to me, a post war child, that was an event!), Edvins Snore, the Latvian director of this film about the evils of Soviet communism, has unearthed stunning, heartbreaking, and extraordinary footage in illustration of his cogent and withering attack on the very foundations of the Soviet philosophy.
Annals of the Russian Mental Case
It’s ironic, to say the least, that Russia’s neo-Soviet overlords so often attempt to put their political rivals into psychiatric hospitals (we have a whole category in our sidebar devoted to documenting these efforts). Ironic, since it’s the overlords themselves who are so much more in need of such treatment. Our lead editorial today about the literally crazed remarks of Putin’s puppet in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is all the evidence any reasonable person needs on this point. But there’s lots more.
Reuters reports that the classic stereotype of Russia being a nation of reckless drunkerds is, well, quite simply true. Maybe instead of attacking as “racist” anyone who dares to point out basic demographic facts, so-called “russophiles” ought to be working to change the status quo and save lives:
Cheap and illicit alcohol kills more than half Russian men and women in their most productive years and the government must act urgently to reverse the trend, a study to be published in The Lancet at the weekend said.
Another ouchie for the lanky "Russian"
Last week we exposed the outrageous rigging of the Wimbledon ladies’ draw in favor of “Russian” Maria Sharapova, who was given a seed her ranking did not merit — the only player to receive such a gift. Tournament organizers freely admitted they were doing it to build interest in the tournament, which offered the propsect of repeating the all-Russian final seen at the French Open a month earlier — one of the worst grand slam finals in tennis history, unwatchable and indeed simply embarrassing from start to finish. Tournament bigwigs were right to worry, since a few more grand slam finals like that and the entire sport would be washed up. But rigging the draw for cheap theatrics is no answer.
In her second match at the All-England Club, Sharapova met journeywoman Gisela Dulko of Argentina. Ranked #45 in the world, well ahead of Sharapova at #59, Dulko should have been expected to win the match (even though she had only won three games in four previous sets against the “Russian”). But if we believed the Wimbledon organizers and their seeding, it was going to be Sharapova who easily prevailed against her unseeded rival.
The organizers fraud was exposed and Sharapova went down in flames.
FRIDAY JUNE 26 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Russia’s Dutch Politics
(2) EDITORIAL: Zagat on Russia
(3) Say it Loud & Proud: “I am a Russophobe!”
(4) Latynina on the Second War in Georgia
(5) Europe on Russian Courts: Guilty!
NOTE: The MICEX ruble-denominated stock index, as shown in the chart at left, has lost nearly one quarter of its value since the month began, a stunning collapse leading it to crash back down through the critical 1,000 point psychological barrier earlier this week. The RTS dollar-denominated index has done the same. Russian corporate earnings are expected to contract a breathtaking 60% this year, more than double the average for all developing countries. GDP was down 11% in May, accelerating the contraction felt in April, and industrial production down 17%. Wow. Yet more proof, as if any was needed, of the catastrophic failure of the Putin government.
Russia’s Dutch Politics Disease
Some economists argue that having a large amount of natural resources is a bad thing for a country. This infamous “Dutch disease” infects the national will, drying up incentives for innovation and encouraging the citizenry to become like the fat couch potatoes in the movie “Wall-E.” Eventually, unless rescued by a heroic robot, such “rich” societies end up destroying themselves.
Can the same be said of politics? Is Russia worse off with a little bit of freedom under Vladimir Putin than it was with none at all under Brezhnev, because there is less chance of fomenting real social change?
We think so, and so does Russian economist Yevgeny Gontmakher in his latest Moscow Times column.
Zagat on Russia
The Zagat publication New York City Restaurants 2009 is the most authoritative guide to eating houses in one of the most diverse eating cities on the planet. It scores cuisines on a scale of 0-30 points based on input from thousands of diners.
For the convenience of those interested in nothing but the best, the Zagat guide lists the top three restaurants in a variety of 37 cusines on pages 13-16. It lists Turkish, Thai, Vietnamese, Kosher, Greek, Korean, Caribbean and Indian cuisines, along with more mainstream choices like French, Chinese and Italian, and lots of others.
Russian cusine is nowhere to be found on pages 13-16. It’s as if it doesn’t exist. And upon closer inspection of the encyclopedic guide, it doesn’t get much more vivid.
Global Voices reports:
LJ user rusanalit, a popular Russian blogger known for his often provocative posts on the Russian economy, published this mock manifesto (RUS) on his blog on June 10, noting with irony that those who attempt a critical look at Russia’s past and present are frequently labeled Russophobes by those who consider themselves patriots, while in fact the opposite may be said to be true in many cases:
Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
Peacekeepers deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe must leave Georgia by June 30 after Russia vetoed on June 15 all attempts to keep their mission in force. That is about the same time General Nikolai Makarov, commander of Russia’s forces in the war with Georgia in August and the commander of the “Caucasus 2009” military exercises planned for June 29 to July 6, announced that “Georgia is brandishing its weapons and is preparing to solve its territorial problems in any way it sees fit.”
This raises a question: If Georgia is really planning to start a war, why is Russia going to such lengths to expel international observers who will be able to testify to the whole world how Georgia started the war?
The Moscow Times reports:
Russia’s court system came under a withering attack by Europe’s top human rights watchdog on Tuesday for “politically motivated abuses” that it said have especially victimized two companies, Yukos and the Hermitage Fund.
The Council of Europe issued a report that deals with legal abuses in Russia, France, Britain and Germany. But roughly half of the document was devoted to Russia, where it said companies must contend with a litany of abuses, including ” legal nihilism” and judges who are pressured to deliver convictions at any cost.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 24 CONTENTS
(1) Another Original LR Translation: Essel on Poland
(2) EDITORIAL: Russia, black sheep of BRIC
(3) EDITORIAL: IKEA and the Russian Jackals
(4) Lipman on Poland
(5) Shamapova Exposed at Wimbledon
NOTE: The President of Ingushetia has been critically wounded in a suicide bombing. It’s the fourth major attack on a public official in the last three weeks in the Caucasus. Russia has clearly lost control of the region. As a result, Kim Zigfeld calls for divestment from the 2014 Olympics in the latest installment of her Russia column on the American Thinker. We second that motion. This matter is now urgent and demands the attention of the President of the United States.