EDITORIAL: Russia is a Bottomless Pit of Bad News

EDITORIAL

Russia is a Bottomless Pit of Bad News

Perusing the news one day week, one was besieged by bad news, each incident more horrifying than the last.  Just have a look at the horror, and remember: It’s just one day in the life of Vladimir Putin’s Russia:

  • In the week before, Russia had spent nearly $10 billion in FOREX reserves defending the plummeting ruble.  It was on the cusp of plunging below $400 billion in total reserves, and if it continued spending at that rate its reserves would only last 40 weeks, less than one year.
  • Once again, a Russian SLBM missile exploded on launch.  Now, more unsuccessful launches have occurred that successful ones.
  • Russia was totally humiliated as not one but four key nations snubbed its invitation to an ex-Soviet summit meeting in Moscow. Ultimately, half the members of the group told Russia to drop dead.
  • And every major world news organization was carrying the horrifying story of Natalia Estemirova, shot and killed the day before by an assassin dispatched by the Kremlin’s puppet in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who had repeatedly and openly threatened her life.

Wow.  Kinda takes your breath away, doesn’t it?  Exactly how many days like that can a country survive?  Not many, we think, not many.

6 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russia is a Bottomless Pit of Bad News

  1. @And every major world news organization was carrying the horrifying story of Natalia Estemirova, shot and killed the day before by an assassin dispatched by the Kremlin’s puppet in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who had repeatedly and openly threatened her life.

    Kadyrov & Medvedev celebrate:

    Kadyrov Shows Off His Horses
    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1010/42/379628.htm

    The horse races were held in stylish form at the 19th-century hippodrome on Begovaya Ulitsa and were overseen by President Dmitry Medvedev, who played host to CIS leaders at an informal summit.

    Although his republic is a subject of the Russian Federation, Kadyrov was conspicuously present at the event, which also included two other controversial Caucasus leaders, Abkhaz president Sergei Bagapsh and South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity.

    Kadyrov, who has been president since February 2007 and has been accused of running war-ravaged Chechnya like a private fiefdom, has been known for collecting race horses and driving fancy, foreign-made cars.

    In line with a Kremlin-led anti-corruption drive, he gave his first income declaration in May, saying he earned 3.5 million rubles ($110,000) last year and that his only personal property consisted of a tiny three-room apartment covering 36 square meters in Grozny and a VAZ-21053 car.

    Komsomolskaya Pravda reported over the weekend that Kadyrov had sent 11 horses to start at the Hippodrome races. Among them was an Irish-bred stallion named Tsentoroi after his native village.

    Kadyrov’s spokesman Alvi Karimov on Sunday refused to give any information on the president’s racehorses. Reached on his cell phone, he said he was just about to board a plane to Grozny and had to check with his superiors there first.

    In an earlier interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Kadyrov said the horses belong to the Chechen republic rather than to him personally. But Kadyrov’s press service in Saturday’s statement explicitly referred to the horses as belonging to Kadyrov.

    This spring, Dubai police detained one of Kadyrov’s horse trainers on suspicion of involvement in the killing of Sulim Yamadayev

  2. Kadyrov also has an exotic zoo at his personal disposal and a fleet of the most expensive cars in the world.

    • His “VAZ-21053 car”…

    • Without a doubt the event of the week, not only for Chechnya but for all of Russia, was Ramzan Kadyrov’s declaration of his personal income and assets. As there is little point in giving a detailed account of the news that came as a real shock to all who heard it, I will merely mention the fact that according to his declaration the head of Chechnya owns a three-room apartment with a total area of 36 square metres and an unpretentious 1999 VAZ-21053 Lada saloon car. The Chechen President’s earnings for 2008 at his main place of work (his salary) were 3,422,000,000 roubles (110,214,884 USD), and he has no other sources of income.

      The problem is not even that the level of income and the amount of property are understated. They are entered in the document without consideration for the reaction of the general Russian public. Kadyrov hardly needed powers of clairvoyance in order to predict how such a strange declaration would be perceived outside Chechnya (and also in the republic itself). The Chechen leader’s fortune is legendary. (…) It is possible that the declaration points to an insurmountable and mocking desire on Kadyrov’s part (accompanied by a gnashing of teeth) to show how invulnerable he is, how impervious to public opinion, how independent of the control of anyone except his sole master who now sits in the White House in Moscow. He is making it clear that he will not allow anyone to poke their nose into his private affairs. Russia, to which he daily swears loyalty, can go to hell with its interest in the contents of his pockets..

      http://www.watchdog.cz/index.php?show=000000-000024-000001-000005&lang=1

      And now I remember how Spartan lives were of the separatist presidents, even during peacetime…

  3. Why the “Chechen leader” is treated by the Kremlin like the “Abkhazian leader” (Sukhumi officially “independent”, Grozny sovereign in practice):

    Kadyrov Nears Abkhaz-Like Independence

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1016/42/379656.ht

    Opponents of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov — both real and imagined — have been mowed down like grass in recent years. The victims include Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Chechen commander Movladi Baisarov, the brothers Ruslan and Sulim Yamadayev, former Kadyrov bodyguard Umar Israilov and now human rights activist Natalya Estemirova. The murders have taken place all over the world: in Grozny, Moscow, Vienna and Dubai. At the same time, a host of prominent Chechen expatriates have voiced support for Kadyrov and his regime. Even as the Kremlin continues to regularly allocate huge sums from the federal budget to finance Chechnya despite the economic crisis, Kadyrov squeezes Kremlin loyalists out of his domain, becoming in the process an absolute dictator of the republic — and now, in part, of Ingushetia as well. Kadyrov commands a personal army that largely consists of former insurgents and special forces that carry out fully official reprisal missions in Chechnya, Moscow and, less officially for now, in other countries.

    For a long time, Kadyrov failed to exercise complete control over Chechen counterterrorism operations and the actions of the federal law enforcement agencies connected with them. The Chechen law enforcement agencies also did not monitor violations committed by the federal forces, and vice versa. What’s more, Memorial — the only independent organization providing the world community with reliable information about events in that part of the Caucasus — is leaving Chechnya.

    On Kadyrov’s list of unfulfilled demands to Moscow is a completely independent budget giving him control over all proceeds from resource extraction and oil refinement as well as more autonomy in carrying out external relations — specifically, the right to build an international airport and set up his own customs service. The process to receive all that during the crisis might take anywhere from a few months to a year. Chechnya then would be transformed from a de facto independent state associated with Russia into a de jure independent state that could request and — after the precedent of last year’s Russia-Georgia war — receive recognition of its independence from other countries. Kadyrov might choose not to request such recognition, pointing instead to his “good behavior” and his nominal demonstration of loyalty to Moscow to gain additional concessions from the Kremlin. That is essentially what has been happening all along, with then-President Vladimir Putin instituting a policy of appeasing Kadyrov with money and power and giving him all the trappings of real authority. The result is that the territorial reach of Kadyrov’s authority has now spread into Ingushetia, eliminating all competition and obstacles in the way. At the same time, Moscow has fewer carrots to offer, with less money in its coffers and few powers left to grant Kadyrov. What’s next? All that remains is for Kadyrov to further consolidate his power by either signing a agreement with Moscow on the delineation of powers after the model of Tatarstan — only with far greater powers in Chechnya’s case — or for Kadyrov to pursue the same goal without Moscow’s consent.

    The economic and political crisis into which Russia has fallen, largely because of its own errant policies, especially in relation to the Caucasus, provides Kadyrov with additional maneuvering room and restricts Moscow’s options.

    At some point, Moscow will inevitably be forced to reconsider Putin’s policy of appeasing Chechnya, and that time might come sooner rather than later.

  4. Wow! Like totally! All my friends here in East Bumblef.k, IL are so outraged about the murder of Nataliya Estemiryova, we even had to stop watching the Michael Jackson coverage.

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