WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 2 CONTENTS
(5) Jesus of Siberia
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 2 CONTENTS
(5) Jesus of Siberia
The Horror of Life under Putinomics
The Swiss bank UBS has just released its 2009 Prices and Earnings report reviewing of how much people earn and how much they have to pay to afford life in all the major cities around the world. The results for Putin’sRussia are simply stunning.
They show that, among the member nations of the Group of Eight, residents of Los Angeles need to work by far the shortest time — less than 10 hours — to pay for an eight-gigabyte iPod nano (which UBS calls an “ideal example of a globally uniform product”). Montreal comes next, 10 percent longer than L.A., followed by London (15 percent longer), Tokyo (25 percent longer), Berlin (50 percent longer), Paris (60 percent longer), and Rome (twice as long).
Bringing up the rear in its usual fashion is the G8 interloper, Russia. Muscovites in Russia’s capital city must work more than three times longer than Angelinos (a whopping 36 hours) to afford an iPod — and this grossly understates the Russian burden. Moscow, unlike virtually any other major city on the planet, usurps the national wealth to an obscene extent. For most ordinary Russians in the hinterlands, earning $3 and hour and praying their wages will actually be paid, an I-pod is an unattainable fantasy.
Russia is, in other words, totally without qualifications to sit on the G-8 panel as a simple matter of economics. Consider Russia’s barbaric political and legal systems, to say nothing of its open hosility to the security interest of the other G-8 members, and it’s easy to see why John McCain has called for Russia’s ouster.
We wouldn’t be doing what we do unless we thought there was some vague shadow of hope for Russia’s future, that the people of Russia were worth fighting for. And we wouldn’t hesitate to report good news about Russia, if there were any. Most days, because of malignancy of the Putin regime, there simply isn’t. But here’s some we’re glad to mention.
The Moscow Times reports on a tiny but determined trend in Russia cyberspace indicating the development of online markets for the Russian fashion industry. In particular, it points to a Live Journal Blog called Show Room Chic in which Dima Sher, owner of a vintage clothing bouttique called Shtripka, created to offer a forum to up-and-coming Russian designers. SRC has even been linked to online commerce, so the designers make sales as well as networking connections. SRC is loaded with high-quality fashion photographs made on the cheap, like the one shown above, and represents number of garments that appear quite well made an even, in some case, chic. It’s an example of what Russians can do at their cooperative, socializing best.
If the police are like this, can you — do you dare — imagine what Russia’s criminals are like? The Moscow Times reports:
As someone who pays close attention to such cases, I’ve noticed a disproportionately high number of incidents over the past year of law enforcement officials behind the wheel mowing down pedestrians.
This latest deadly accident in the Vladimir region, however, has an interesting twist: The traffic cop suspected of running down a female cyclist, hiding her body in a ditch and fleeing the scene of the crime — well, he apparently was investigating the crime for two days before his involvement was revealed, Gazeta.ru reported Tuesday.
Owen Matthews, Newsweek’s Russia correspondent, writing on the magazine’s website, say that Western nations shouldn’t send ambassadors to the Kremlin, they should send psychiatrists:
IN 1946 a young U.S. diplomat named John Fischer wrote an earnest little book called Why They Behave Like Russians. Fischer, who’d served with the United Nations in postwar Kiev and Moscow, was attempting to explain to a bewildered U.S. public why their wartime ally Joseph Stalin, recipient of billions of dollars in American Lend-Lease aid, had suddenly turned on Washington, declaring it a deadly enemy, and seemed hellbent on starting a Third World War. The book is still a fascinating read—not least because so many of its conclusions continue to ring true today.
We can only (excuse the pun) pray that reader “psalomschik’s” head does not explode when he sees this. The Daily Mail reports (click through for more photos of His Holiness):
The beard and long hair are both present and correct. And with his flowing linen robes and beatific smile he certainly does a fine impression of a holy man. But to his believers in this remote corner of Siberia, Sergei Torop, a former traffic policeman, is the literal reincarnation of none other than Jesus Christ
MONDAY AUGUST 31 CONTENTS
NOTE: Inspired by links from leading LR commenter “Robert” publisher Kim Zigfeld excoriates Barack Obama for backing away from missile defense in Eastern Europe in the latest installment of her Pajamas Media Russia column. Obama is the new Chamberlain! We cannot say we are surprised.
NOTE: Kim also has her latest installment on the powerful American Thinker blog up and running now, exposing the disgraceful efforts of an American PR firm to help Russia lie about its aggression against Georgia.
You’re Making it too Easy for us, Mr. Putin
It used to be somewhat challenging to expose the fraud that is Vladimir Putin. The smokescreen around him, created by the accident of soaring world crude prices, combined with his malignant ability to lie without shame or remorse, were somewhat formidable obstacles.
But now, it’s like shooting fishkies in a barrel. Putin is getting desperate, and he’s getting very sloppy.
Russia Today, wallowing in the Gutter
Scientists invent a camera that sees your soul!
Hairdresser turns robber into sex slave!
You may think we are recounting recent headlines from The National Enquirer, but we’re not. These are the “new stories” offered to “readers” by the Kremlin’s online propaganda machine “Russia Today.”
Reader and frequent commenter “Andrew” points us to the following piece by Echo of Moscow radio’s Matviy Hanapolsky on Radio Free Europe exposing the fraud that is modern Russian “journalism”:
The television screen shows an elderly woman of around 80, badly dressed. She is an Ossetian, lives in Tskhinvali, and witnessed the tragic events of last year’s Russian-Georgian war.These investigative reports always follow the same scenario: the villains are at bottom, the mid-level boss is good, but all hopes lie with Putin, and because Putin exists, a bright future awaits us.
She was recalling how Georgian troops forced their way into her home. “They were wearing American military uniforms and had American weapons,” she says. “There was a chief instructor with them, he gave them orders in English.”
The camera continues to focus on the woman as she speaks. The journalist doesn’t interrupt. He doesn’t ask how someone who has never in her life seen anything except her own cow knows what kind of weapons and uniforms the soldiers wore, or how she could be sure the commands were in English.
The journalist knows, which is why he doesn’t interrupt. He and his group are the authors of this disinformation series that will be triumphantly screened by Russian state TV channels.
The woman was told what to say, and she is saying what she was told to. The journalist doesn’t conceal his face: state TV and radio pay handsomely, and the Russian media operate on the principle “five minutes of ignominy and you can live comfortably for the rest of your life.”
The son of a notorious CIA double-agent jailed in 1997 for spying for Russia has also pleaded guilty to espionage charges, the US Department of Justice said.
Nathaniel Nicholson, 25, appeared Thursday before District Judge Anna Brown and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to commit money laundering, a statement said.
Harold Nicholson, 58, the highest-ranking CIA officer ever convicted of spying, was jailed in 1997 and is serving a 23-year prison sentence. He must also answer the latest conspiracy charges but has pleaded not guilty.
SUNDAY AUGUST 30 CONTENTS
Nemtsov Steps Up
It seems that Garry Kasparov may at last be evidencing enough good judgment to step into the background of the “Solidarity” opposition movement and let Boris Nemtsov take the leading role. As a result, we’ve seen Nemtsov in public far more often at opposition rallies, and we’ve even seen Nemtsov elbow Kasparov aside on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, as he recently did while excoriating the Kremlin for its failed policies in Chechnya — a failure he believes is leading to a third regional war.
I asked a Russian friend how the financial and economic crisis had affected the regional art center in the Urals where she works. She said that she and her colleagues were coping with typical Russian resignation, and had made “нет дениг, нет проблем” (”No money, no problem”) their motto.
The “нет дениг” part may fit the country as a whole, but the “нет проблем” part doesn’t, quite. The Sayano- Shushenskaya dam disaster is widely considered to be a harbinger of potential problems. The direct economic consequences are severe, reducing Russian electrical generating capacity by 2 percent; this in fact understates the impact because the dam was an inframarginal (i.e., relatively cheap) source of power. The costs of repair are very high. Estimates run to $1.25 billion, but being estimates, being early, and being Russia, it is likely that the final bill will be much higher than that. (Just ask the Indians about how the estimates for the repair bill to the Admiral Gorshkov compared to the actual cost.) That in itself represents about 3 percent of total Russian infrastructure spending in 2008.
The Russian investment houses are of two minds these days. One camp wants to try to sucker as much money out of their clients as possible before the edifice of Russian society finally crumbles. They want to lie and talk about green shoots. Streetwise Professor exposes one such charlatan in today’s issue. Then there are those who are making a last desperate bid for reform in the hope of preserving some vague hope of long-term prospects. Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib Capital, appears to be one of them. Here are his thoughts, from the Moscow Times:
When you are mired in a severe economic crisis, it is normal to get excited at even the smallest morsel of good news. It is therefore tempting to interpret the 0.5 percent monthly improvement in July’s gross domestic product and the smaller contraction in industrial output as an assurance that all is now well with the economy and that the stock market will imminently start the second leg of its recovery rally. Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach fueled this optimism when he proclaimed Monday that “the recession is over,” commenting on July’s GDP results.
Paul Goble reports:
Just as the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident convinced many Ukrainians that they did not want to remain part of the Soviet Union, so too, despite all the differences in the extent of the disaster, the Sayan-Shushen dam accident is leading many Siberians to conclude the same thing about remaining part of the Russian Federation. In the current issue of Novaya Gazeta, journalist Aleksey Tarasov says that in the wake of the August 17 dam disaster, “Siberia is changing” in large measure because “the cheap electric energy” which the dam provided in “compensation” to that region for all that Moscow has taken from it is now a thing of the past.
FRIDAY AUGUST 28 CONTENTS
NOTE: The Oborona activist blogging in English as Kvakrusheva posts disturbing video of Moscow police snuffing out a legal attempt to solicit electoral support.
Putin slithers Around Kadyrov
No rational person, of course, could expect the malignant ruler of Russia, Vladimir Putin, to criticize the campaign of mass murder being waged by his hand-picked Frankenstein ruler in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. After all, to publicy admit fault by Kadyrov would be to acknowledge his own failings as well.
But it’s one thing for Putin to avoid criticizing Kadyrov as he murders political enemies left and right, quite something else entirely to rush to Kadyrov’s defense. Yet that’s just what he did earlier this week, achieving yet another loathsome new low in the modern history of Russia. We condemn his outrageous misconduct, and even more do we condemn the craven people of Russia for allowing this repugnant reptilian dictator to represent them before the gaping, slack-jawed world.
Dima Medvedev, Girly Man-God?
We learned earlier this week, somewhat to our surprise, that although Russian “president” Dima Medvedev has one outward appearance, shown at left while visiting a Buddhist monastery in the village of Verkhnyaya Ivolga in Buryatia on Monday, he has another rather different inner appearance visible to those who are sufficiently enlightened. He looks like this:
The Washington Post reports:
Russia’s severe tuberculosis problem is about to get much worse, increasing the risk that the dangerous drug-resistant strains that are common here will spread, causing outbreaks elsewhere, local health officials and other experts warn.
Preliminary surveys have recorded an uptick in infections, which experts say could be the start of a surge fueled by declining living standards and deteriorating medical care resulting from the country’s worst economic slowdown in a decade.
But Russian officials and health specialists also blame the government’s failure to order supplies of key medicines last year, a blunder that could strengthen antibiotic-resistant forms of TB and threaten wealthier countries that have all but eradicated the disease.
Do you dare imagine how many are consumed by an “above average” Russian adult? Voice of America reports:
New studies find that about a million people in Russia die each year from alcohol and tobacco related illnesses. And in several recent years, more than half of all Russian deaths between the ages of 15 and 54 were caused by alcohol.
In Russia, deaths outnumber births these days.
“You’re a grand old flag , you’re a high-flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave
You’ve the emblem of the land I love
The home of the free and the brave
Every heart beats true
For the red white and blue
Where there’s never a boast or brag
And should auld acquaintance be forgot
Keep your eye on the grand old flag!”
The Russian flag, like the American flag, is red, white and blue. But Russians and Americans treat their flags rather diffrently, and don’t share the same values. Those in Russia who believe in freedom are in the tiny minority. For instance, Russians recently tried to celebrate the Day of the Russian flag in Moscow, led by Boris Nemtsov, Lev Ponomarev, Ilya Yashin and Roman Dobrokhotov. Here’s what happened: They spoke, they marched, they got assaulted by OMON and arrested. See for yourself
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 26 CONTENTS
NOTE: A Live Journal blogger posts photographs he took at a recent “Dissenters March” event on Triumph Square near the Mayakovsky metro station in Moscow.