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.