FRIDAY OCTOBER 2 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Stinging Defeat for Russia in Germany
(2) Russia’s Virulent Hatred of America, Part I
(3) Russia’s Virulent Hatred of America, Part II
(4) Armenia and the Caucasus
(5) Russia and the Movies
NOTE: Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her Russia column on the American Thinker blog is up and running, it exposes the pathetic level of Internet access available to Russians
NOTE: Yezhedevny Zhurnal columnist Alexander Podrabinek, whom we’ve often translated on this blog, has received death threats over a recent column and gone into hiding.
NOTE: A Russian photographer posts graphic, deeply disturbing photographs taken by his colleague at a provincial Russian mental hospital. Note the photographer’s response to comments in English. Warning: not for the squeamish. Hat tip: Global Voices.
Stinging Defeat for Russia in Germany
Last weekend, Germans went to the polls to choose a new national government, and the pro-Russia party of former German Prime Minister Gerhard Schröder was badly beaten. It’s support in parliament dropped from 34% to 23% and Prime Minister Angela Merkel, who flew to Georgia as soon as Russian tanks rolled in last August to stand by the side of beseiged Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, was decisvely reelected.
The Moscow Times reported that one opposition blogger in Ivanovo posted the following message on his Twitter page: “Good news from Berlin: Putin’s friends lost the election.”
Former Russian Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:
In his speech before the United Nations General Assembly last week, U.S. President Barack Obama said we are entering a new historical era. He declared that the United States would cease taking unilateral actions and called on all people of all nations to join together in combating the challenges facing the world. Obama said we need the “cooperative effort of the whole world.” His foreign policy leitmotif has become the call to cooperate based on shared values. He made similar appeals during visits to Prague, Cairo and Moscow.
Robert Coalson, writing on The Power Vertical:
The reports of U.S. President Barack Obama’s private talks in New York yesterday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have generally optimistically highlighted the two leaders’ apparently growing agreement on the need to step up pressure on Iran over its nuclear program. Speaking to reporters after the talks, Medvedev repeated a statement he’d made earlier in Moscow that “sanctions are seldom productive, but they are sometimes inevitable.”
I have long been skeptical of the Kremlin’s interest in cooperating with the United States on Iran and should confess that I remain so.
Writing on Hetq Online, an Armenian-American freelance journalist analyzes Armenia’s position in the Caucasus quagmire:
Russia will be well along the road to total defeat by the US and NATO in the Caucasus and beyond if the recently proposed Armenian – Turkish “Protocols” are ratified.
Within two months after ratification, Turkey would be required to open its border with Armenia. Subsequently, or perhaps simultaneously, the Azerbaijani – Armenian border will open if, as appears increasingly possible, an Artsakh (Karabagh) peace agreement is signed.
Regardless of whether the Azeri border opens, a fully open Turkish – Armenian border would inevitably result in US and NATO penetration and subjugation of Armenia.
Let us look at US and Russian policy in the Caucasus, both past and present.
The Diplomat reports:
In St Petersburg you learn how the Cold War was won. Next to a McDonald’s there is a movie theatre, and my translator Anna is taking me out to a Hollywood blockbuster. I don’t quite understand why; Russia is famous for its avant-garde directors and has a proud cinematic tradition. It’s not until we’re sitting in the overheated dark, with the smell of cigarettes and diesel drifting in from the street, that I realise this is a lesson. For a few moments the soundtrack swells, a hush falls, then with a whir and a click the dialogue vanishes beneath a jumpy tape-recording.
Unlike most other countries in Europe, English is not a stalwart of the primary school curriculum. Russia dubs its imports, but the budget for doing so isn’t exactly vast. Pitt and Clooney whisper beneath the rapid-fire bouts of disinterested Slavic drawl, but it’s impossible to catch what they’re saying. No matter how many characters a film may have, only two Russian voice actors play them all – one for the men and one for the women. And it seems to be the same two every time.
The Latest Barbaric Outrage from Russia’s Man in Chechnya
Last week, Russia was formally convicted after a trial once again for barbaric abuses of human rights in Chechnya by the European Court for Human Rights. Last year, Russia was convicted more than 200 times for everything from kidnapping to murder by the ECHR, and already this year it has been ordered to pay more than $700,000 to its victims in the Caucasus region. But the Kremlin, of course, goes right on flouting international law, and it’s only response to the convictions has been to threaten to reject the court’s jurisdiction.
That is, until recently. In the past few months the Kremlin has hit upon a new masterstroke: Blame the CIA. That’s right, the CIA.
Another Worm Turns
Census Cancellation is Embarrassment for Russia
Army Corruption Creates “Soldier Slaves”
Why Russians don’t Like Money
Russia’s South Ravaged by Terrorist Attacks
Russian Economy in Steep Drop
FSB Involvement in Lebanon?
If you are a Russophile looking back on that sampling of headlines from posts we’ve published over the past six weeks, your blood probably begins to boil, doesn’t it? “Those rat bastard Russophobic racists!” you probably exclaim, don’t you? And we have to admit ourselves, that’s a pretty fierce barrage of Russia-bashing even by our standards, over such a short span of time.
Except of course that we didn’t write a single one of those posts. Every one of them was published in the past six weeks by Russia Blog a/k/a “The Real Russia Project,” which has seemingly been taken over by the head honcho of the Discovery Institute himself, Bruce Chapman — pushing Russian citizen/spy, Putin collaborator, Russia Today flunkie and Russia Blog editor Yuri Mamchur roughly to the periphery (all but one of the above posts were written by Chapman and one was actually written by Mamchur himself, who’s clearly been taken to the woodshed).
The Moscow Times reports:
President Boris Yeltsin spent his retirement in a “golden cage,” his phone tapped and the Kremlin controlling visitors, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said in excerpts from a forthcoming book.
Vladimir Putin, who replaced Yeltsin as president in 2000, forced Yeltsin to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Kremlin and controlled the guest list, Kasyanov wrote in his memoir, excerpts of which were published in the opposition weekly The New Times this week.
“Yeltsin was very upset that they forced him to celebrate his birthday in the Kremlin and not as he wanted, freely, informally,” Kasyanov wrote in the book.
PC World reports:
Russian cybergangs have established a robust system for promoting Web sites that sell fake antivirus software, pharmaceuticals and counterfeit luxury products, according to a new report from security vendor Sophos.
To sell bogus goods, many of those sites rely on hundreds of “affiliate networks,” which are essentially contractors that find ways to direct Web users to the bad sites, wrote Dmitry Samosseiko, a Sophos analyst. He made a presentation this week at the Virus Bulletin security conference in Geneva.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 29 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Putin lies as the Nation Dies
(2) EDITORIAL: Let them Eat Cupcakes
(3) Crisis in Belarus
(4) Crisis in the Caucasus
(5) Kozlovsky Twitters in English
NOTE: Pajamas Media has powerful new evidence that Barack Obama’s book Dreams from my Father was ghost-written by lunatic terrorist William Ayers, a man with who Obama claimed during the campaign he had no significant relationship. Oh Nobama! Say it ain’t so, Mr. Prez. Or, say you’ll resign.
Putin lies as the Nation Dies
Once again, instead of facing a dangerous threat to the health of the Russian people, the Putin regime’s only response is lies and coverup. Well, what else can we expect from a clan of proud KGB spies whose forefathers have liquidated far more Russians than any foreign enemy ever dared to dream of doing?
The Wall Street Journal reports:
A top Russian virologist’s charge that health authorities are drastically understating the number of cases of H1N1, or swine, flu — a claim that senior health officials fiercely rejected — has raised questions about Russia’s claims to be relatively unaffected by the pandemic. The controversy started late Sunday, when state television carried an interview with Dmitry Lvov, head of the government’s Institute of Virology, who reported what he said was Russia’s first death from H1N1 influenza, saying his institute had tested a sample from the victim. Dr. Lvov, one of the country’s most prominent health specialists, also said there were “tens of thousands” of H1N1 cases in Russia, far more than the 381 the government officially reports. In his TV interview, Dr. Lvov accused Dr. Onishchenko’s agency of trying to cover up the scale of the outbreak to conceal the failure of their efforts to keep it out of Russia. Dr. Onishchenko rejected those allegations.
Tens of thousands. Once again, just to be clear: Tens of thousands. And the government has reported what? 381.
Let them Eat Cupcakes
If you think those are Americans lining up to scarf down cupcakes, you’re very much mistaken.
They’re Arabs. And they’re not in America.
Robert Amsterdam translates from Lenta.ru:
They have advised Medvedev not to awaken guerrillas in Byelorussians
Representatives of the Byelorussian opposition Yevgeny Afnagel and Dmitry Dashkevich have turned with an open letter to president of the RF Dmitry Medvedev. They express protest against the introduction of Russian troops onto the territory of the republic (Russian subdivisions have been thrown over into Byelorussia within the framework of training exercises). In the opinion of the oppositioneers, the introduction of Russian troops into Byelorussia creates a threat for its independence.
“We, Byelorussians, – a patient and amicable people. However we likewise love freedom and are prepared to fight for it. Do not awaken partisans [guerrillas–Trans.] in Byelorussians, Dmitry Anatolievich!”, – is said in the letter.
Paul Goble reports:
The recent increase in attacks on religious leaders and ordinary citizens in the North Caucasus, the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say, highlights a dangerous new development in that region: the increasing role of radical extremists who do not feel themselves limited by any moral considerations. As a result, the Moscow paper says in an unsigned editorial, the conflict in the North Caucasus bears all the signs of “a civil war” in which everyone is a potential victim, a development, the paper continues, that Moscow in recent months appears to be almost entirely oblivious.
Opposition leader Oleg Kozlovsky is now Twittering in English. Here are some of the latest entries (including the big news that his new wife is already pregnant! way to go, Oleg!):
After yesterday’s illegal arrests, Oborona with its friendly orgs held a protest right in metro trains today – http://tinyurl.com/l7h32d1:44 PM Sep 21st from Echofon
Banking on Russia
We couldn’t help but be amused by the odd juxtaposition of two recent stories about Russia’s leading financial institution, state-owned Sberbank. Bloomberg reported that next year Sberbank’s stock might rise 66%. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that so far this year the banks’s net profits are down a truly breathtaking 92%. 100% is not that far out of reach, it seems.
Let’s do the math. Mr. Smith earns $100 in profit in 2008. The next year, like Sberbank, his profit falls by 92%, so he earns a measely $8. Then, in 2010, his profit increases by 66%. That is, it rises to $13.28. Is he doing well?
Russia and the Rogues
If Russia were a civilized nation, it’s people would cower in shame upon learning that a leading U.S. diplomat had chosen to lump their country together with the barbaric likes of Iran and China when he singled out the worst human rights offenders on the planet. In Russia’s case, the legacy of “killings with impunity of human rights defenders” actually makes its offenses seem the worst of the sorry lot.
But Russia isn’t a civilized nation. So instead, we can tell you without fear of contradiction that Russians will respond not with shame but with benighted pride, condemning anyone who dares criticize them and denying even the slightest need to reform. Russians will, like the barbarians they are, justify the killings by suggesting the victims asked for it, betrayed Russia, deserved killing. They will not demand justice now any more than they did during the time of Stalin.
Russian government and central bank assurances that the nation’s financial industry is on the brink of recovery may be premature as asset quality continues to deteriorate, industry executives said.
“There are few quality borrowers, and banks may cease lending to most companies until market conditions improve,” Andrei Sharonov, managing director of Moscow-based Troika Dialog, Russia’s oldest investment bank, said in an interview in the Black Sea coast city of Sochi. “Companies are losing cash flow and becoming unable to service debt.”
The Times of London on the new and old cold wars, viewed through the prism of chess:
In 1984, the Orwellian year in which Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov first sat down to play, chess was as Russian as vodka. The rematch that began this week in Spain marks the resumption of a duel between two names as evocative of Russia as Stolichnaya. But why should anyone who is neither a chess buff nor a Russophile still raise a glass to these old rivals?
I can think of at least three reasons: the symbolic role of chess in the Cold War; the equally symbolic role of the Kasparov-Karpov matches in the demise of the Soviet Union; and Kasparov’s present role as de facto leader of the opposition to the Putin-Medvedev regime in Russia.
Posted in kasparov, russia
Anders Aslund, writing in the Moscow Times, on the horrifying scope of Russian arrogance:
Do you remember the Kremlin hubris of the summer of 2008? Forget it! The ruble cannot possibly become a reserve currency for the next half-century. To become a major financial center, Moscow needs many years of serious reforms, not even contemplated today.
In June 2008, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proclaimed, “We have no crisis.” Also President Dmitry Medvedev thought that Russia would escape the crisis and said, “Russia has not yet carried out a number of reforms … and has thereby managed to avoid some serious mistakes.”
Medvedev’s speech to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 7, 2008, marked the peak of hubris. “We have set ourselves the not very easy goal of setting Russia on an innovative development track and becoming one of the world’s five biggest economies by 2020,” he said. “The transformation of Moscow into a powerful financial center and the transformation of the ruble into one of the leading regional reserve currencies are the key ingredients to ensure the competitiveness of our financial system.” Dreams can be useful if they help people doing the right things, but these mirages were a pure distraction.