Daily Archives: July 1, 2009

July 3, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Our Shortest Editorial Ever!

(2)  Welcome to Russia!  When will you be leaving?

(3)  Desperate Russia begins Drafting Invalids

(4)  Russia still just Doesn’t get it: The problem is Russians


EDITORIAL: A New Low in Obscene Russian Barbarism


A New Low in Obscene Russian Barbarism

This is going to be our shortest editorial ever, just one sentence with no need for further comment from us, yet perhaps it is our most horrifying ever:  59% of Russians surveyed have no idea what happened in Pikalyovo, and only 16% of them are fully familiar with the cutting of a major national transportation artery by workers unpaid and starving, causing “prime minister” Putin to rush to the scene on an emergency basis.

NOTE: In our Monday issue, we’ll have four editorials and an original essay by Dave Essel focussing on Vladimir Putin, the man, the failure, the international paraiah.  The issue will go live on the web on Friday, we will not publish on Sunday but will allow the Monday issue to run two cycles. It’s that important. Don’t miss it.

Welcome to Russia!

The foreigner-in-Russia blogging at News of the Eastern reports on a typical encounter with Russian “law enforcement” authorities.  (NOTE:  An average Russian is paid less than 90 rubles for each hour of work.  Thus, the “little bit of money” asked for by the police as a bribe in this story amounts to more than three hours of labor, nearly half a day’s pay, for an average Russian and as such is roughly equivalent to a bribe of $60 being demanded from an average American. Imagine being asked that for, say, walking on grass with a sign to the contrary.)

Yesterday I had my first run-in with the Russian police. Unlike many of my other foreign friends, I am not routinely stopped and hassled for my documents so this was my first direct experience of the renowned MVD, although of course I’d heard thousands of stories about how corrupt the Russian police are. This time around, however, I was definitely in the wrong, although I’m not entirely sure to what extent the police were in the right either.

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Desperate Russia begins Drafting Invalids

Paul Goble reports:

Caught in a bind between the largest draft quota in years – 305,000 — and the smallest cohort of draft age men from which to fill it – those born in the difficult year of 1991 — the Russian military, in violation of the law and its own regulations, is taking in “anyone that moves,” according to two activists who work on military manpower issues.

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Even Russians can see it: Russia’s problem is not bad PR, but gross misconduct and denial

Paul Goble reports:

The explanation for Russia’s negative image in the West, one that a Moscow journalist argues currently makes the country appear “100 times worse than we are,” is to be found “not in its public relations specialists” or in a conspiracy by foreign governments but rather in Russians themselves.

In an article in Moskovsky Komsomolets, Mikhail Rostovsky says that most members of the Russian elite are “pessimistic” about the possibility of “a radical improvement in the image of Russia in the eyes of the ruling class of the Western powers,” having convinced themselves that their country “by definition cannot be popular” with democratic countries. But such a view is doubly wrong, Rostovsky continues. On the one hand, Russia has been popular in the West in the past even when it had far more authoritarian rulers than it does at present. And on the other, it distracts attention from Russia’s own responsibility for the current negative image the country has.

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We have never done this before, and have no idea if our readers are interested in such a thing or not, but some blogs offer readers “open threads” where they can post whatever they like, so we thought we would try it. If readers take advantage we will repeat, if not then not.  With U.S. President Barack Obama due in Moscow next week, a multitude of issues may be worthy of discussion.  We won’t be responding to any comments on this thread and will offer maximum liberalism in allowing publications in order let the readers have their say.