FRIDAY JANUARY 1 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Dima “Dumbass” Medvedev
(2) EDITORIAL: Hands up, Officer Dymovsky!
(3) The Final Solution for Russia’s Internet
(4) Happy New Year, Russia!
(5) Third-World Russia
NOTE: Despite Vladimir Putin’s claims that all is bliss in neo-Soviet Russia, the nation’s young women are still fleeing in droves to take up prostitution in places like Thailand, where the government just arrested and is deporting nearly a dozen such maidens. Photos and video await.
Dima “Dumbass” Medvedev
“This is not a remark of mine but a verdict. Remarks are what you say. Everything I say is cast in granite.”
— Russian “president” Dima Medvedev, speaking to Russian industrial leaders at Gazprom’s headquarters last week.
“Cast in granite”? Something can’t be cast in granite. Casting is for liquid metals like iron or bronze. And, um, Dima? Verdicts come from judges and juries, not elected administrators.
The so-called “president” of Russia is, in other words, an idiot. And he was just getting started showing it.
Indeed, Medvedev ended 2009 the way he began it: Looking like a goofy dumbass who makes George Bush seem like Winston Churchill by comparison.
Police Major Alexei Dymovsky
Hands Up, Officer Dymovsky!
Kremlin prosecutors announced on Monday that they would file criminal charges against Russian Police Major Alexei Dymovsky for “abuse of office” in connection with his YouTube plea for Kremlin assistance in dealing with widespread corruption in the ranks of the Russian police.
Once again, in other words, the Russian government is going to massacre a legitimate Russian hero and the people of Russia will not lift a finger to stop it.
“This idea is absurd, awkward and useless. Cyrillic domains are just the first step toward fundamentally creating a separate and fully controlled ‘territory’ in the global network. All these measures will significantly weaken, if not eliminate, the possibility of foreign information influencing the population of Russia, especially the younger generation. It will ensure that their vision of the world better corresponds to the ideology of Russia’s rulers.”
–A Russian commenter on the New York Times Russian language website, responding to the idea that Russia will have Internet domain names in the Cyrillic alphabet
The New York Times reports:
The Kremlin has long been irritated by the way the United States dominates the Internet, all the way down to the ban on using Cyrillic for Web addresses — even kremlin.ru has to be demeaningly rendered in English. The Russian government, as a result, is taking the lead in a landmark shift occurring around the world to allow domain names in languages with non-Latin alphabets.
Russians themselves, though, do not seem at all eager to follow.
Posted in internet, russia
Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:
Russia will finish out 2009 sadder and a slightly more sober than usual but hardly any wiser. Russia’s economy fared worse than all other Group of 20 countries during the crisis, and the excessive number of catastrophes it suffered underscored how woefully ineffective, incompetent and corrupt the government is. Nonetheless, the government hasn’t budged one centimeter from the status quo course that has driven the country into a political and economic dead end.
The State Duma’s reaction to Yegor Gaidar’s death is highly symbolic and is a fitting way for President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to conclude their disastrous year as leaders of the nation. Led by Oleg Morozov, first deputy speaker of the Duma and a United Russia member, the lower house of parliament refused the motion to observe a moment of silence for Gaidar, a Duma deputy of six years, an acting prime minister and one of the most influential economists and reformers in Russian history. Not a single high-ranking member of United Russia or the presidential administration came to pay their last respects at Gaidar’s funeral.
Paul Goble reports:
Russians who think Barak Obama is a “more suitable” partner for Moscow than George W. Bush was are deceiving themselves, according to a Moscow analyst, because unlike Bush who always took Moscow seriously even if he opposed it, Obama views Russia as a third world country that Washington can largely ignore.
“This was not our year,” Russian commentator Vladimir Pastukhov writes in an essay posted online. “And it was not our president who was featured on the cover of magazines.” Instead, “Obamamania has seized the world,” and one of the places where this has happened is in Moscow. For many in the Russian capital, he continues, “Obama seemed a more suitable partner,” but Pastukhov insists, this is “a deceptive impression” because in fact “Obama relates to Russia not better than Bush but more realistically.” And “in the long term perspective, this does not bode well for [Russia].”
“As a result of inertia, Bush conceived Russia as an equal, even as a competitor, and did so even though the ‘de-industrialization of the 1990s meant that Russia could not in any way pretend” to that status. But Russia linked its greatness to the past, and Washington willingly or not played up to it.”
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 30 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: The Kremlin hides in Plain Sight
(2) EDITORIAL: Annals of Russian “Cuisine”
(3) The Same old KGB
(4) Yabloko throws in the Towel
(5) Russian Cyber Gangs on the Rampage
NOTE: If you have a Facebook account, consider joining the new group “Russia without Putin,” which is dedicated to organizing both Russians and foreigners in the battle for Russia’s soul. Click here to join.
NOTE: LR wishes all contributors and readers a prosperous and healthy New Year!
The Russian Kremlin Hides in Plain Sight
Proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin must be given credit for making two signficant innovations in neo-Soviet Russia as he seeks to recreate the Soviet dictatorship and empire but without its former vulnerabilities.
First, where the USSR saw an enemy in the Orthodox Church, Putin sees only a friend. Installing a fellow proud KGB spy as primate, Putin realized he could use the church as a weapon against dissent, invoking the power of the divinity in much the same way that the institution of the Tsar used to do.
And second, where the USSR saw only risks in the publication of bad news, Putin sees opportunity for further repression. Thus, far from enforcing a total crackdown on news about the brutal killing of Sergei Magnitsky while behind bars in the Kremlin’s custody, Putin actually encouraged both the media and his sidekick Dima Medvedev to spout off about the event.
Putin gains two clear advantages from this coverage.
Annals of Russian “Cuisine”
Several times already (click the “cuisine” category in our sidebar to see them) we’ve exposed the pathetic charade that is Russian cuisine, a perfect representation of the country itself in that is embodies unreformed yuckiness whilst the benighted population thinks it grand.
But even still, the comments about the latest Russian restaurant to open in America’s eating capital, New York City, in the New York Times by the nation’s leading restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, bear noting:
Paul Goble reports:
The central apparatus of the Russian security services has been subject to numerous reforms since 1991, but the FSB “provincial empire” is little changed from Soviet times, when the KGB and its predecessors sought to impose “total control over the population through repression,” according to a leading Russian specialist.
In an article in Yezhednevny Zhurnal Andrey Soldatov, the head of Agentura.ru which tracks the activities of the security services, says that this lack of change in the regions “not only defines the spirit of the FSB” but creates serious problems for the Russian powers that be. Soldatov notes that the provincial offices of the FSB seldom attract much attention, except on two occasions: when officers are involved in the struggle with terrorism or on Chekist day when these bodies make their “traditional annual reports” that often cross the border of “absurdity.”
Oleg Kozlovsky, whose wife has just delivered his first child (congratulations, m0lodets!) writing on the Huffington Post:
Yabloko, which had claimed to be the last registered democratic party in Russia, has officially broke up with the opposition. Its convention adopted a resolution last week that bans Yabloko’s members from participating in any opposition organizations, movements or coalitions.
Kremlin’s most hated “troublemakers” like The Other Russia and Solidarnost are explicitly mentioned in the resolution. Those who don’t leave these organizations within three months will be automatically expelled from the party, regardless if they hold high posts.
Flashback, early 2008: Citibank officials are witnessing a huge spike in fraudulent withdrawals from New York area ATMs — $180,000 is stolen from cash machines on the Upper East Side in just three days. After a stakeout, police arrest one man walking out of a bank with thousands of dollars in cash and 12 reprogrammed cards. A lucky traffic stop catches two more plunderers who’d driven in from Michigan. Another pair are arrested after trying to mug an undercover FBI agent on the street for a magstripe encoder. In the end, there are 10 arrests and at least $2 million dollars stolen.
The wellspring of the dramatic megaheist turns out to be more prosaic than imagined: It started with a breach of the public website of America’s most famous convenience store chain: 7-Eleven.com.
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 23 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Congratulations, Memorial!
(2) EDITORIAL: NATO lays down the Law to Putin
(3) EDITORIAL: A New Low for Russia
(4) China sticks it to Russia and Gazprom
(5) Yegor Gaidar, Russian Hero: R.I.P.
(6) Russia’s 2009 Report Card is In
(7) Georgia brings down a Soviet Eyesore
(8) Uh-oh: Here comes the Karchai Jamaat
NOTE: With Friday being Christmas day, we will not publish again until Monday, December 28. By way of compensation, today we offer a double issue.
We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and we hope the spirit of the season will lighten the heart of the Russian dictatorship and make them see the harm they are doing to Russia’s future.
Perhaps one day, the Russians will even learn to celebrate Christmas on the same day as the rest of the world, and realize that they are not a separate species of human being but part of the global family, whose basic moral values they have an obligation to honor and even celebrate rather than repudiating and seeking to destroy.
NOTE: A little additional Christmas present for our readers in the form of a cool YouTube video — Are you sure of what you see?
Memorial's Oleg Orlov (left to right), Lyudmila Alekseyeva, and Sergei Kovalyov receive the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize in Strasbourg.
Last week in Strasbourg the President of the EU Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, handed Sergei Kovalev, Oleg Orlov, Lyudmila Alexeyeva of the Memorial human rights organization a check for 50,000 euros and presented them with the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Buzek left no doubt about the meaning of the ceremony:
“Human rights defenders in Russia are awaiting liberty. They are waiting for European Union support, and we are awarding this prize today to all Russian citizens. With this prize we members of the European Parliament honor those who still among us fight for human rights. But we also honor those who lost their lives in this valiant struggle. Natalya Estemirova should have been among us today.”
We congratulate these great Russian patriots on their heroic efforts to bring civilization and democracy to Russia at the risk of their own lives, and we condemn the craven cowards who prowl the Kremlin and seek ways to liquidate them, just as was done in Soviet times. We also congratulate the EU for making a clear stand against dictatorship and state-sponsored murder in Russia. The photograph above will surely give the KGB spies in the Kremlin many sleepless nights of well-deserved fury.
NATO lays down the Law to Russia
“I made it clear that NATO insists on full respect of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We have long ago taken the decision that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members.”
–NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to Echo of Moscow radio during his first visit to Russia
Last week, the head of NATO visited Russia and spit in Dima Medvedev’s eye. He repudiated Medvedev’s call for a new European security pact, fully embracing the continuing role of the United States in European security, and he openly demanded that Russia release both Georgia and Ukraine to the embrace of Europe both economically and militarily.
The crazed propagandistic lie promulgated by Russia’s KGB dictators that Europe secretly loves Russia and despises the United States were blown to smithereens, right along with the parallel fantasy that Europe will stand idly by and watch a neo-Soviet juggernaut roll back into former Soviet space.
A New Low for Russia
It’s simply stunning the depths to which the failed state that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia is prepared to sink these days. Just as in Soviet times, it’s as if Russia has totally lost touch with its perception in the outside world, or simply doesn’t care how it humiliates itself.
We refer of course to Russia’s effort to buy the recognition of its imperialist aggression against Georgia by the tiny island nation of Nauru — population 14,000 — for the shocking price of $50 million.
Pavel Baev, writing in the Moscow Times:
Most news reports and comments on Monday’s festive opening of the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China portrayed the event as a strategic setback for Russia. There has been no official reaction, but the Kremlin has demonstrated total indifference to the break on its monopoly on importing gas from Central Asia. (Actually, Iran had broken the mononpoly much earlier in 1997.)
Yegor Gaidar, Magnificent Russian Patriot, R.I.P.
Fellow Russian economist Konstantin Sonin writing in the Moscow Times about the demise of one of Russia’s greatest living patriots, Yegor Gaidar (view photos from the funeral here, more on Gaidar from Yevgeny Kiselyov follows Sonin’s piece, and after that a third eulogy by Anders Aslund). Make no mistake, this man was a true giant and Russia is diminished by his loss irreparably.
Yegor Gaidar, acting prime minister during the critical months of 1992, was 35 years old when he assumed responsibility for economic policy under President Boris Yeltsin. His tenure at the top lasted less than a year, yet it was his name that is most prominently associated with the transition from a communist, planned economy to a market-based one. It is Gaidar’s name that became the symbol of free-market ideology in Russia. He was a courageous leader during the grim period of 1991-92, and throughout the difficult 1990s and 2000s Gaidar continued to stand up for free markets. He remained a dominant intellectual force in economic policy discussion until his untimely death Wednesday.
Georgia blew up a Soviet-era World War II monument in its second city of Kutaisi on last Saturday to make way for a new parliament building. Once again, in a crazed and incomprehensible diatribe, the Russian government indicated it felt that Georgia, a sovereign nation, had no right to destroy the monument — the same position Russia had taken earlier in Estonia. Yet just let any foreign country try to tell Russia what it can and can not do on its own territory (say, Chechnya for example), and all hell breaks loose. This is Russian hypocrisy at its most insane. Tragically, a mother and child who were watching the implosion were killed by stray debris from the blast.
After the jump, photos of the implosion.
The Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor reports:
December 11 marked the anniversary of the beginning of the first Chechen War. It was then, in December 1994, that President Boris Yeltsin decided to militarily force the Chechen people to abandon the idea of independence. As is known, the Russian army lost that war to the Chechen resistance. However, Moscow decided to get its revenge in the second military campaign in 1999. But things went wrong again: Vladimir Putin’s blitzkrieg plan did not materialize and, moreover, the battleground with the insurgents spread to the whole North Caucasus region. Today, Moscow is forced to combat a growing insurgency stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, which indicates a major problem for the Kremlin in the entire Caucasian region (www.rusrep.ru, September 30).
On December 2, 2009, in the seaside Indian state of Goa, speedboat manufacturer and failed candidate for the Indian parliament John Fernandes (pictured above right) allegedly offered a ride to a Russian woman (above left, face concealed) and her friend, both of whom he had been acquainted with for more than a year. At some point after that, after first dropping off the friend at home, Fernandes then allegedly attacked and raped the Russian woman. He’s now in prison awaiting trial. The Russian woman, whose identity is being withheld, worked as a tour operator for a major hotel; apparently Russians are flocking to Goa these days.
A few days later the ruling Congress Party’s Shantaram Naik, Goa’s representative in the upper house of India’s parliament, stated: “An alleged rape of a lady who moves with strangers for days together even beyond middle of the night is to be treated on different footing.” Fernandes’s supporters began claiming the charges could be politically motivated retaliation following his unsuccessful bid for office, which he only narrowly lost.
The Russian consulate in Goa reacted rather strangely — or it would seem so, if you were not well acquainted with the Russian mindset on rape. Study the matter a bit, and you see the true horror of Russia’s blind hypocrisy fully revealed.
Mummy & Daddy? Notice the gleam in his eye?
A Bun in Putin’s Oven?
“The most puzzling part of this story is that at press time, not a single major Russian media [outlet] has reported that Kabaeva had a son.”
That was the Russian website ReadRussia.com, discussing the delivery of a male child by unmarried 26-year-old rhythmic gymnastics champion Alina Kabaeva.
And yet, not a single major Russian media outlet had the least bit of interest in the story.
This woman is a major celebrity in Russia. She’s posed in the Russian Playboy (chickening out and hiding herself behind furs). The fact that she was pregnant and then gave birth is major entertainment news, and there is only one reason that the mainstream press would have ignored it: Namely, that the Kremlin doesn’t want it reported. And what reason could the Kremlin possibly have for being interested in the pregnancy of a gymnast?
Well, for nearly a year now, rumors have been circulating that Vladmir Putin was having an affair with Kabaeva, and now she turns up with a bun coming out of the oven and no father in sight. Where was the coverage during the pregnancy? Where is the coverage of the birth? If Putin isn’t the father, who is?
The real reason that Russia wants to build Nord Stream, which is more expensive than the existing gas pipeline network, is that it will enable Russia to interrupt gas supplies to EU member countries like Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine, while keeping its German and other West European customers snug and warm.
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, a former foreign minister of Denmark, writing in the Moscow Times:
As winter approaches, many people in Central and Eastern Europe remember the chill caused last winter by Russia’s deliberate cutoff of gas supplies. That shutdown was a harsh reminder that gas is now the Kremlin’s primary political instrument as it seeks to re-establish its privileged sphere of interest in what it thinks of as Russia’s “near-abroad.” If Russia is allowed to continue imposing Moscow’s rules on Europe’s energy supplies, the result will be costly — not only for Europe, but for Russia as well.
So it is past time that the European Union stop treating energy as a bilateral issue, with some of the larger member states trying to protect their own narrow interests at the expense of the common European good. The EU urgently needs to build a common energy policy and a single market for natural gas. Until both are established, there is a grave risk that Russia will use new blockades to continue the kind of divide-and-rule policy that the world has witnessed since Vladimir Putin came to power.