October 19, 2009 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  Obama, Punk’d

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Lies, Lies and More Russian Lies

(3)  Russia as an Appendage of China

(4)  Annals of Neo-Soviet Russian Paranoia

(5)  Medvedev as the New Gorbachev

9 responses to “October 19, 2009 — Contents

  1. I feel that posts #3 and #4 compliment each other very well. It is absolutely correct to say that because of internal Russian problems there will never be a significant improvement in the economic relationship between Russia and China, and this is illustrated perfectly by the post about the delusional Kremlin assessment of the situation in the Caucasus.
    It is impossible for Russia to reform itself in any significant way, in the areas of corruption, economy, whatever, as long as the state believes that its destiny is to be the master of its “sphere of influence”. This lust for power, for the belief that Russia must be great at all costs, is in fact, costing them everything.
    To confront any of Russia’s problems would be the end of the Putin syndicate. To truly confront bureaucracy would mean angering the enormous state apparatus, police, army, border control, and all of Putin’s oligarch and FSB pals. It ain’t gonna happen (Indeed it’s hard to believe that Putin himself doesn’t get a significant cut of every bribe stream in the country).
    In the Caucasus, for the regime to assess the problem rationally would result in a) an outright admission of failure (and crimes) as to their policy to date, and b) a complete repudiation of the policy of “great Russia/sphere of influence” mentioned above. Again, it would result in the end of the Putin syndicate. As a result you get the conclusion that the problems down south are the result of CIA/Georgian machinations, and other out-and-out stupidity. The same goes for addressing the problem of illegal goods. Don’t confront the real problem, just close down the market. In both cases, the evil foreigner is being blamed for all the problems (I believe the Cherkizovsky Market was largely populated with dark skinned merchants). This plays perfectly into the age old fascist meme of drumming up hate in society. Cut off all lines of the truth and get the population into such a seething hate that they think to change course now, when surrounded on all sides by enemies, will result in annihilation. Is it any surprise that the cowering populace of Russia still supports Putin and his thugs?
    A prosperous Russia, a peaceful Russia, a friendly Russia, is an anathema to the existence of Russia with the Putin syndicate in power. For the Putin syndicate, all things (laws, morals, national economy, national health, etc.) are secondary to their power, and to the expansion of that power.

  2. What is strange is that there are people in Russia who do indeed want a free and open society, and not Putlerism. But the majority does nothing about it, in the face of plain evidence. Why?

    2 examples.

    One is a video of ballot-stuffing in a city election, involving 300 pre-marked ballots (for United Rasha, of course) that an election official was going to try to add out of a sealed storeroom after the election was over:



    humor (found this on the Jamestown Foundation blog):

    “Do you know when the precedent of individual free choice in elections was set?”

    “No, but do tell!”

    “Why, it’s all in the Bible! God brought Eve to Adam and commanded: ‘Choose!’”

    • > Why?

      Russians have traditionally been very politically passive. it took many centuries of Czarist mismanagement and oppression until the tragedy of WW One caused the revolution.

      Average Russians treat the governemnt the way they treat the Sun: they take it for a given, and keep away from in order not to get burned.

      They subscrive to the same motto as the American Libertarians use for the Government: “Ask not what your government can do for you, ask what your government can do TO you.” (something I heard from fellow Libertarians in early 1980s). Here are a few similar quotes:


      “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax”.– Albert Einstein

      “If I’m only given a Democrat or a Republican to vote for, I leave that space blank.” — Gov. Jesse Ventura to Chris Matthews 11-5-2002

      “Everybody wants the government to ‘do something!’ until it does it to them.” — Rick Gaber

      “Giving money and power to the government is like giving car keys and whisky to teenage boys.” – P.J. O’Rourke

      “The object and practice of liberty lies in the limitation of governmental power.” — Gen. Douglas MacArthur

      “Politicians, like bombers, seldom see their victims…” — Donald Boudreaux

  3. I can’t see how you criticize
    Moscow… they do glorious things there.

    They can even control the weather:


  4. French Retailer to Close Its Russia Stores

    PARIS — In the space of just four months, Russia has gone from a “strategic priority” to an afterthought at Carrefour, the giant French retailer.

    The decision follows weak sales figures and recent shareholder and management upheaval for Carrefour, the No.2 retailer globally, behind Wal-Mart.

    It also indicates that a good deal of the shine has come off the Russian retail market, in recent years one of the fastest growing in the world because of trickle-down oil wealth that helped lead a consumer boom built on decades of pent-up demand from the bleak Soviet era.

    Carrefour buried its announcement in a trading update late Thursday, citing an “absence of sufficient organic growth prospects and acquisition opportunities in the short and medium term that would have allowed Carrefour to attain a position of leadership.”

    In June, Carrefour was cutting the ribbon on its first Russian hypermarket, covering 8,000 square meters, or 86,000 square feet, at the Filion shopping mall in Moscow. A second followed soon after.

    The retailer had planned more openings by the end of this year, signing sourcing and distribution deals and praising the “outstanding long term potential” of the market.

    Florence Baranes-Cohen, a spokeswoman for Carrefour, said the U-turn was a “pragmatic” decision, explaining that the company’s strategy was to enter countries only where it could be a market leader and that Russia no longer looked so promising.

    She insisted that the group remained committed to expanding in other major emerging markets like China, Brazil and India, where it expects to open its first wholesale operation next year.

    In Russia, Carrefour was already behind other foreign retailers like Metro of Germany and Auchan of France.

    But there was wider significance in the move as well. Outside investors in Russia are becoming more cautious about the market. As recently as 2008, analysts for the investment bank UBS predicted Russian retail sales would grow 22 percent annually through 2010. Investors piled on, and shares in grocery stores and retail chains soared. Dixy, one grocery chain, was trading at more than 50 times earnings at one point.

    Instead, retail sales this August were down 9.8 percent compared to a year earlier, according to the state statistics agency. Unemployment is now hovering at 8.4 percent.

    Russia has peculiar challenges for Western retailers, including endless red tape and widespread corruption.

    Moreover, much of the purchasing power is concentrated in Moscow, where salaries are on average about double those in the regions. But Moscow is already saturated with shopping centers, while roads and infrastructure elsewhere are dismal.


  5. This is the outcome for people who invest in the kremlin controlled land!

    • Mr Browder, who has been fighting alleged corruption and organised crime in Russia for several years, said his story was not getting through despite being the largest alleged case of tax fraud in the country’s history.

      “The Russian media is afraid to say anything too explicit about police corruption as they fear they will be arrested by the people they write about,” he said. “The beautiful thing about the internet is that you can break through that logjam of fear and, at the same time, explain a complex story.”


      • JOKE OF THE DAY:



        Russia jails sawmill foreman for largest ‘tax fraud’ in country’s history

        Russian authorities have attempted to draw a veil over the largest alleged tax fraud in the country’s history by convicting a sawmill foreman of the vastly complex financial crime and sentencing him to five years in jail.

        According to the verdict, Mr Markelov, 42, “a foreman for deliveries of lumber from sawmill DOZ-160”, used three former Hermitage subsidiaries to reclaim RUB5.41bn (£106m) of capital gains taxes paid by the hedge fund in a highly complex fraud. He will serve five years “in a correctional colony … with no fine”. There is no mention of any attempt to recover the lost taxes in the verdict or pursue other conspirators.

        Mr Markelov’s sentence was reduced from 10 years after the court took “into consideration personal information”. It omitted to mention that he had previously been sentenced to two-and-a-half years for manslaughter.

        Hermitage, the biggest foreign investor in the Russian stock market until 2006, has claimed that the sophisticated fraud could only have been committed with the collusion of senior figures in the nation’s law enforcement agencies and tax offices.


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