Daily Archives: September 11, 2009

September 13, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Russian Schools get another “F”

(2)  Putin is to Blame

(3)  Once Again, Russia lags behind the World

(4)  Latynina Probes the Russian Subconscious

(5)  Putin’s Neo-Stalinist State

NOTE:  Radio Free Europe interviews Scott Anderson here.

EDITORIAL: Russian Schools get an “F”


Russian Schools get an “F”

One of the least well-reported and most under-appreciated facts about Russia is the dismal quality of its education system.  Even in Soviet times, huge swaths of analysis and  critical thought were bludgeoned into dust, so that Russians had no real understanding of foreign culture or history, or indeed even their own.  Only in a tiny band of scientific education did the Soviet system hold its own, and under the continued rule of the KGB even that has utterly collapsed.  Indeed, how can people like Vladimir Putin, educated by the miserably failed Soviet system, hope to reform that system? They can’t. It’s impossible. In fact, even those with good intentions often go astray.  Today, Russians are among the most barbarically ignorant and backwards of any people in the industrialized world.

Writing in Vedemosti and republished in the Moscow Times, Vladislav Inozemtsev, director of the Centre for Post-Industrial Research and the publisher and editor-in-chief of Svobodnaya Mysl magazine, exposes the horrific failure of neo-Soviet education.

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Putin is to Blame

In another brilliant condemnation of the Putin dictatorship, Streetwise Professor reports:

The Moscow Times reports that the Russian Federal Audit Chamber had inspected the Sayano-Shushenskaya dam two years ago, and reported that 85 percent of its equipment needed to be replaced.  The Chamber’s boss, Sergei Stepashin, said that “the government and the Prosecutor General’s Office were informed about the results of the check at the time.”

This gives the lie to Putin’s post-disaster statement stressing the need to inspect Russian infrastructure to identify problems.  In the particular case that spurred the Putin’s demand, an inspection had been carried out.  The inspection had identified problems.  The government had been informed.  But nothing was done.  So . . . you can inspect all you want, but if you ignore the results of the inspection, what you get is a disaster.

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Once Again, Russia Lags Behind the World

Russia, a follower among followers

Russia, a follower among followers

The Moscow Times reports:

Despite regulatory reforms, Russia got poor marks in terms of competitiveness and the ease of doing business, with corruption considered the biggest problem, according to two global reports released Tuesday.

Russia ranks 120th in the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business” report, which evaluates laws and regulations that affect business activity in 183 countries. Russia improved on three of the survey’s 10 indicators by easing the process of registering property, lowering the corporate income tax rate from 24 percent to 20 percent, and defining bankruptcy rules more clearly. But it still slid overall because of tough competition in a year that saw countries introduce a record 20 ­percent more business-friendly reforms than in any other year since the report was first published in 2004, said one of the authors, Svetlana Bagaudinova.

“The splash of reform activity indicates a concerted effort to support business during the crisis,” Bagaudinova told The Moscow Times.

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Latynina Probes the Russian Subconscious

The fearless and heroic Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

In an authoritarian society, public opinion surveys are meaningless. The problem isn’t so much that survey data are falsified. It’s that the results themselves do not provide an accurate reflection of reality — just as a thermometer placed outside the kitchen window cannot give you the temperature indoors.

As soon as word of the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric plant accident became known to residents who lived downriver from the dam, most relocated immediately to higher ground. If you were to ask those people in a poll if they have faith in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, they would surely answer positively. They are convinced that Putin brought stability to Russia, restored the power vertical and saved our citizens in South Ossetia from Georgian genocide.

It is not that respondents lie when surveys ask for their opinions. But consciously they believe one thing, and subconsciously quite another. Consciously, they love Putin, but subconsciously they know that if the dam had burst and the Yenisei River had swept them all away, Putin, if asked by the media what had happened to the victims, would not hesitate to quip, “They sank” — just as he did in 2000 when U.S. television journalist Larry King asked Putin what happened to the Kursk submarine.

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Putin’s Neo-Stalinist State

Paul Goble reports:

Vladimir Putin is not pursuing the kind of authoritarian modernization described by Fareed Zakaria as characteristic of illiberal states but rather an updated and specifically Russian version of Stalinist modernization based on the search for enemies and the instillation of fear, according to a leading Russian commentator. But this distinction has been obscured, Irina Pavlova argues, because Putin’s approach, thanks to the possibilities offered by modern information technologies, does not require many of the features of classical Stalinism such as the GULAG and a new iron curtain even though the essence of Putin’s approach is the same.

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