FRIDAY JUNE 5 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: A Tale of a Russian “Hero”
(2) Russia’s Last Lions
(3) Russian Discovers Wonders of Electricity
(4) The Medvedev Behind the Curtain
(5) Russian Soldiers Betray their Country
(6) Piontkovsky on Putin’s Minions
(7) Annals of Shamapova
NOTE: More evidence of the awesome power of Russian food to enchant and satisfy is that there isn’t one single Russian restaurant in the entire city of Seattle. Hardly surprising given the boring, off-putting litany of dishes the author describes.
A Tale of a Russian “Hero”
In 1999, Human Rights Watch documented the involvement of troops under the command of Russian Major-General Vladimir Shamanov in “at least 14 killings which amounted to extrajudicial executions in Alkhan-Yurt in Chechnya.” What does the Russian government think about this atrocity? It has made its view quite clear: Shamanov has been named a national hero and promoted.
The Washington Post reports:
They would meet in secret, terrified of a KGB knock on the door. They laboriously typed out banned publications. Many ended up in prison, labor camps and exile. They were the Soviet dissidents, the human faces of the Cold War, waging nonviolent resistance against a cruel and cynical system.
Today, 20 years after Eastern Europe shook off its communist chains, the Berlin Wall fell and the death knell sounded for the Soviet Union, Sergei Kovalyov might have expected to be feted for his role in breaking the chains of communism.Yet the man regarded by some as the patriarch of the dissident movement is almost forgotten at home. He is unyielding in his critique of the new Russia and Vladimir Putin, the man who has done much to shape it, at a time when Putin is popular and criticism can be viewed as disloyalty.
There’s nothing like Vladimir Putin’s brand of law and order, nothing at all. The Telegraph reports:
The 30-year-old electrician, identified only as Dmitry K, lured victims to his house by posting adverts for computer equipment on the internet.
Who is Mister Medvedev?
May 27, 2009
Translated from the Russian by Other Russia
Plenty has been said and written about the recent anniversary of Dmitri Medvedev’s presidency. The apologists sing their praises for the appearance of a tandem, seeing in it the signs of a new style of Russian politics and the seed of a future separation of powers. The critics, both in Russia and the West, conversely lend the heaviest meaning to any hints of division in the tandem, still hoping that Medvedev will become a monocratic leader and start to modernize the country (although truth be told, the patriot-defenders see modernization in one way, and the liberals in another). “The process of political modernization of the Russian government”, writes one author of the Yezhednevny Zhurnal [online newspaper], “needs a leader. Will President Medvedev have enough courage, political will and public liability to have a clear break from the corrupt bureaucracy? In many ways, Russia’s future depends on it.”
Strategy Page reports:
For the second time in the last three months, Russian customs officials have announced the cracking of a ring of retired and active duty military personnel caught smuggling weapons. In this case, the gang had been operating for about two years and were stealing components for S-75 (a fifty year old system), S-125, S-200 and S-300 (a 1990s design) anti-aircraft missile systems, and smuggling them to neighboring countries (that used to be part of the Soviet Union), where they were sold, or exported to more distant nations that used these missile systems, and were interested in less expensive spare parts. At the time of the arrests, some 22 tons of missile parts were seized. This gang had apparently sold parts that returned to the thieves at least $10 million. Over a dozen officers were involved in the theft and smuggling of these items.
Heroic scholar Andrei Piontkovsky, a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, writing in (of all places) the Lebanon Daily Star:
Germany’s ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is a legend in Russia. He serves Gazprom’s interests for a measly couple of million euros a year, sits in at sessions of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and writes books about his staunch friendship with “Genosse Wladimir,” who, in the not-so-distant past, earned himself the well-deserved nickname of “Stasi” among business circles in gangster-ridden St. Petersburg.
Once again so-called “Russian” Maria Sharapova, who has lived most of her life in the USA and pays her taxes there, has gone down to humiliating, spectacular defeat. In her quarterfinals match at the French Open in Paris, she lost every single game in the first set against her lowly #20-seeded opponent, a virtual unknown, and then lost the first five games of the next set too, only managing to win two of 14 games played by the time the carnage was over, avoiding another infamous double-bagel by the skin of her perfect teeth.