MONDAY JUNE 15 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Putin Tosses Medvedev Under the Bus
(2) EDITORIAL: Russia on the Warpath
(3) EDITORIAL: The New Adventures of Bradski Pitski
(4) A Question for Vladimir Putin
(5) Exposing the Farce called Putinomics
NOTE: Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment over at Pajamas Media exposes the horrifying crackdown of late by Vladimir Putin on the art community in Russia, which Putin seems to fear just as much as Stalin did. Welcome back to the USSR, Russia! Combined with #6 above, regarding Putin’s electronic surveillance measures and our editorials about Putin’s military spending (#2) and attacks on the presidency (#1), it paints a truly terrifying picture.
Putin, Sticking it to Medvedev
Vladimir Putin’s English-language mouthpiece and bagman (and namesake) Vladimir Frolov has launched yet another of his vicious submarine attacks on “president” Dima Medvedev.
Putin has many reasons to root for the economy to fail. It weakens his oligarch rivals, it devastates the population and makes it even more craven and vulnerable, it justifies ever more draconian levels of state control and, most importantly, it allows him to scapegoat Medvedev, justifying his return to the formal corridors of power as “president” for life.
Russia on the Warpath
The Stockholm Peace Institute reported last week that while U.S. military expenditures have increased 67% over the past decade, Russian expenditures have increased at a far greater rate, a shocking 300% and more than four times the American rate.
Two important factors make this comparison even more stark than it superficially appears.
The New Adventures of Bradski Pitski
It seems that Russia has a speeding problem in Siberia. Entertainment Weekly asks the appropriate question: “What are they in such a rush for — you know, besides leaving?”
And it seems the only way Russians can think of to deal with the problem is to put up cardboard cutouts along the roadways of a famous actor dressed like a cop, telling folks to slow down.
It’s all quite insane, of course, but at least they’d surely choose a Russian actor, right?
Nope, Brad Pitt. Think they got copyright authorization? Think again.
We’d like to ask Vladimir Putin: If you can’t protect supreme court judges and cabinet ministers in the Caucasus from lethal acts of terrorism, how in the world do you imagine you’ll be able to protect Olympic athletes in Sochi?
Aleh Tsyvinski, a professor of economics at Yale University and the New Economic School, mocking and deriding the farce known as Putinomics in the pages of the Moscow Times:
While spending three days at the 13th annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, I was constantly thinking to myself, “What is the main message of the forum and what can I take away from it?” The topics of the sessions were vague, and they duplicated what almost every other large global conference discusses: the crisis, globalization and a new financial architecture.
But after the forum was completed, I realized that the main point of the conference boiled down to one session only — the one titled “What is the Price of Oil?” During this session, participants were asked to answer the question using individual electronic controls. The answer that most people chose was a range of $70 to $80 per barrel. When people ask me what I learned the most from the forum, I have my own one-liner: “70 to 80.”
Remember how good old “Tricky Dick” Nixon got in trouble for spying on the Democrats? He was a small timer, compared to the neo-Soviet exploits of proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin. Paul Goble reports:
A system of video monitoring Vladimir Putin introduced in 2005 ostensibly to fight street crime has since been extended to 53 of Russia’s federal districts and is now being used as part of a countrywide electronic network to “control the population,” according to a leading Moscow specialist on the security services.
In the latest of her series of articles on the modernization of Russia’s security services, Agentura.ru editor Irina Borogan describes the ways in which these agencies are combining video monitoring with other local and federal data bases to increase the ability of the authorities to monitor any and all opposition activity. Russian officials have acknowledged that their goal is to ensure “public order” by bringing together all the sources of information they have about groups like football fanatics, extremist youth groups, and others in order that through the use of biometric data they can identify and detain particular individuals.