Daily Archives: November 5, 2009

November 9, 2009 — Contents

MONDAY NOVEMBER 9 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  Obama teaches Russia a Lesson

(2)  EDITORIAL:  McFaul Speaks?

(3)  Russian Nazis on the Warpath

(4)  Not since the Time of Stalin

(5)  Petulant Putin, Pouting

NOTE:  Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her Russia column on the mighty Pajamas Media megablog deals with Russia’s attack on Poland in September with nuclear missiles.  Didn’t hear about it? Barack Obama sure didn’t tell you, did he?

EDITORIAL: Obama Teaches Russia a Lesson

EDITORIAL

Obama Teaches Russia a Lesson

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Obama, famous on YouTube for flyswatting says: "This year was a tough one. More and more problems every day." Source: Ellustrator.

Last Tuesday must have been rather disturbing for the denizens of the Russian Kremlin.

American voters helped the Republican Party adminster a “humiliating” beat-down of the Democrats in gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, both states Barack Obama easily carried last year in his presidential bid.  The humiliation for Obama was especially intense in New Jersey, an overwhemlingly “blue” state that hadn’t seen Republicans in the statehouse in ages, a state Obama won in a landslide and where he campaigned actively for the Democratic incumbent.  And the Republicans didn’t just win, they won in absolutely dominating, blowout fashion.  It seems that reports of the GOP’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

These results would have the Kremlin heads spinning for two different reasons.

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EDITORIAL: McFaul Speaks?

EDITORIAL

McFaul Speaks?

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Michael McFaul

Here’s something you don’t see every day, a classic bit of Internet adventure.  Someone claiming to be Michael McFaul, Barack Obama’s chief Russia advisor, has posted two comments to Oleg Kozlovsky’s Facebook page under a post which Oleg also blogged in which he discussed a report quoting McFaul in the Kommersant newspaper; Kommersant reported that McFaul had said the U.S. would back away from pressuring Russian on human rights.  On Facebook (screenshot after the jump for those without Facebook accounts) “Michael McFaul” wrote:

Kommersant grossly misquoted me. See Interfax transcript if you want to see what I really said. And anyone who knows anything about my thinking would be suspicious of such an assessment of my views.

LR founder and publisher Kim Zigfeld has intiated a little dialogue with “McFaul” using our Facebook account, for those who are Facebook members and wish to follow it, for what it is worth.  We’ve previously discussed McFaul’s alleged appeasing statements to Kommersant .  Obviously, they tended to seriously undermine the impetus to stand up to Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship, and although McFaul claims not to have made them there is scant evidence of either he or Barack Obama saying anything to the contrary, directly challenging Putin on human rights, since Obama came to power.  In other words, perhaps what’s most troubling about the McFaul quote was that it was credible, not whether it was actually true or not.

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Russian Nazis on the Warpath

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Paul Goble reports:

Those taking part in the Russian March in Moscow yesterday – an officially authorized demonstration which organizers claimed attracted 7,000 people but which observers said included only about 700 – were given written instructions on how to acquire guns so that they would be able to defend what nationalist speakers called “the Russian order.”

Such calls in the increasingly overheated atmosphere of the Russian capital given the availability of guns of all kinds there are inherently provocative and could prompt their opponents among non-Russians to arm themselves in response, provide a justification for the authorities to crack down on the nationalists, or, quite possibly, do both.

And while there is as yet no Russian media reporting that Russian nationalist groups who organized similar marches on the Day of National Unity in dozens of places across the Russian Federation handed out the same advice in the same way, it is very probable that the participants received a similar message in one way or another.

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Not since the Time of Stalin

An editorial in the Washington Post:

MURDERS OF human rights activists in Russia have been happening with such frequency that some will be tempted to shrug at the brutal slaying on Sunday of Maksharip Aushev, who campaigned against abuses by the security forces in the Caucasian republic of Ingushetia. Mr. Maksharip was driving on a major highway, in broad daylight, when a car pulled up beside him and delivered a fusillade of bullets. His funeral came two months after that of Zarema Sadulayeva, the head of a children’s charity in neighboring Chechnya, and her husband, who were shot and stuffed in a car trunk. Those murders, in turn, followed the July 15 killing of Natalya Estemirova, Chechnya’s most prominent human rights activist.

Petulant Putin, Pouting

Streetwise Professor rips Mr. Putin a new one:

GM has finally come to its senses and rejected the sale of Opel to Canadian autoparts maker Magna–and its Russian partner (initially Sberbank, but eventually Avtogaz).  GM initially agreed to the deal when faced with an existential crisis in the early part of this year; its “choice” of partner was largely driven by Germany’s conditioning of financial support for the deal on GM selling to the Canadian-Russian tandem.  GM got cold feet in the summer, as its bankruptcy/government takeover and cash-for-clunkers gave it a financial respite.  It was explicitly reluctant to get involved in a deal that could lead to the loss of its technology and intellectual property to a potential Russian competitor; no doubt it was also reluctant (though it did not say so publicly) at the prospect of getting enmeshed (as a minority partner) in the financial and business machinations of Oleg Deripaska, victor in the bloody aluminum wars, unscrupulous businessman, and arguably the world’s largest insolvent.  Moreover, recent statements by the EC called into question Germany’s ability to condition its subsidies to favor factories located in Germany at the expense of others in Belgium, Spain, and the UK.

The decision of GM’s board to maintain control of Opel touched off howls of protest from Germany–and Vladimir Putin.  Putin was outraged that GM would act in such a high-handed way.  A deal is a deal, after all–if it works in Russia’s favor.  Putin made heavy hints that Russia would explore legal options.

Cry. Me. A. River.

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