MONDAY OCTOBER 4 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Russian Aggression against Georgia Confirmed Again
(2) EDITORIAL: Russia’s “Internet”
(3) More Attacks on Russian Journalists for Speaking the Truth
(4) Annals of Russian Insanity
(5) Annals of Russian Tennis Humiliation
NOTE: LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld’s next installment of her Russia column on the mighty Pajamas Media mega blog will address the topic covered in #3 above and mentioned in our last issue as well, the appalling threats being made to heroic Russian journalist Alexander Podrabinek, whose work has often been translated on this blog. We ask that all our readers do all they can to make shows of support for Mr. Podrabinek as he struggles to stay alive in neo-Soviet Russia, where telling the truth is a capital offense.
Russian Aggression in Georgia Condemned by the Council of Europe
Last week the Council of Europe released its 1,000- page report on the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. It stated:
Much of the Russian military action went far beyond the reasonable limits of defense. This holds true for all kinds of massive and extended military action ranging from the bombing of the upper Kodori Valley to the deployment of armored units to reach extensive parts of Georgia, to the setting up of military positions in and nearby major Georgian towns as well as to control major highways, and to the deployment of navy units on the Black Sea. Furthermore, continued destruction (by Russia) which came after the ceasefire agreement was not justifiable by any means.
In other words, Russia did to Georgia exactly what it claimed Georgia did to Ossetia, validating Georgia’s actions even assuming they constituted aggression and reducing the entire matter to a question of might makes right.
But that’s only the beginning the Council’s analysis of the war. After that come a relentless series of denunciations of the Putin regime for wantonly violating both international law and the Council’s own requirements for member states.
Russia and the Internet
As we’ve said before, we feel that the most pernicious lie being circulated by the Russian Kremlin and its Russophile apologists is that it doesn’t matter if the Kremlin crushes the life out of news reporting on television and in print because Russia’s Internet can pick up any slack there may be. Of course, such a position is illogical, since if it were true the Kremlin’s frenzied efforts to dominate TV and newspapers would be a laughable waste of time, and not even the Kremlin is that stupid. It isn’t, of course, because for two simple reasons hardly anybody in Russia can get their news from the Internet. First, it costs too much. When the average national wage is $3/hour and inflation is double-digit, people have better things to do with their money. Like eating and staying warm. Second, it’s under seige. Bloggers have been arrested and prosecuted, they’ve been threatened and attacked, and service providers have been shut down outright.
The data, even Russia data, proves this beyond the shadow of any doubt.
Paul Goble reports:
Like other despotic regimes in the past, the current Russian government appears to have crossed the Rubicon separating “an authoritarian regime from an openly bandit-style one” with its campaign of persecution against Moscow journalist Aleksandr Podrabinek, Yezhednevny Zhurnal commentator Vladimir Kara-Murza argues.
In his most recent column, Kara-Murza notes that “force has accompanied the chekist regime from the first days of its birth – from the bombings of the apartment houses to the murders of rights activists and journalists. But until recently, the powers that be have sought to muddy the waters about who bore responsibility.”
The Podrabinek case “shows the true worth” of claims about “‘the liberal president,’” and has “become for Russia a sign of things to come: For the first time since the days of the USSR’s KGB, the Kremlin regime … has openly and without shame unleashed a persecution campaign against a journalist who was brave enough not to agree with the general line.”
RIA Novosti reports:
The Russian Interior Ministry will soon buy a gilded bed for 4.26 million rubles ($141,000) for guest accommodation for foreign officials, a Russian business daily reported on Tuesday.
According to Vedomosti, the Interior Ministry in August placed bids for three lots of furniture worth 24.4 million rubles ($808,000) to be paid in federal funds at zakupki.gov.ru. One of the lots included a hand-carved cherry wood bed with a gilded headboard and footboard. Of three potential suppliers, the Ofisny Komfort (Office Comfort) company offered the lowest price of 4.26 million rubles, which was below the starting price for the bed for Russian police.
Maj.-Gen. Valery Gribakin, chief of the Interior Ministry’s PR department, explained the furniture was meant for the economic security department headquarters and the ministry’s reception house in Moscow’s Serebryany Bor, a protected forest zone on the Moskva River. “As regards law, everything has evidently been faultless,” Mikhail Starshinov, a member of the State Duma security committee, told Vedomosti.
Starshinov, who earlier promised to file a parliamentary inquiry into the purchase, said the question of why such posh furniture would be needed remained unanswered, but MPs have not so far reacted. The parliamentarian proposed waiting until the Audit Chamber has checked the Interior Ministry’s purchases.
At the WTA tour event in Tokyo, Japan this week Russia began the tournament with five of the sixteen seeds, more than 25%, and three of the top five. Not one of them made it to the tournament’s third round, despite most having byes in the first round.