EDITORIAL: Same Old Russia


Same Old Russia

On Friday, as more than 650 people —including a significant number of government officials — were traveling to St. Petersburg from Moscow, the Nevsky Express luxury train was bombed, killing 26 people and wounding more than 100.  One of the most striking features of this incident is how Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made no public comments for two days after it happened. Putin — who likes to display his strength by posing shirtless while on vacation — shows a conspicuous lack of strength after terrorist attacks occur in Russia. Usually, he remains silent. Remember how he kept silent during the Dubrovka theater siege and the terrorist attack on Beslan School No. 1.

–Yulia Latynina, The Moscow Times, December 2, 2009

Putin may have been too busy arresting bloggers to worry about terrorists and their bombs.

In our last issue, we wrote about how the Kremlin continues to lay siege to the Russian blogosphere, persecuting and prosecuting bloggers who dare to criticize power with legal process that could leave them bankrupt and in prison just like dissident oligarch Mikhail Khdorkovsky.

And earlier this week we saw an example of just why the Kremlin is still so worried about the power of the Internet, even though only a tiny fraction of Russian citizens can access it.

Russian bloggers, who previously exposed the truly horrific scale of electoral fraud in Russia’s national polls, discovered that the Kremlin was building a secret Shangri-la outside of Moscow which would include spending millions on such features as a gambling casino.  No sooner did the Kremlin ban casinos from Moscow, in other words, than it was building one at its own dacha to serve the needs of Kremlin bigwigs.  The Moscow Times reported:

Besides the main three-story building, the property has a guest house, a church, a bathhouse, a banya and sauna, four pools, a horse stable, a driving range, courses for golf and minigolf, a sports complex that includes a hockey rink, two helicopter pads and pontoon bridges. .Most bedrooms — bearing romantic names like Flora, Turquoise, and Pistachio — are equipped with 50-inch plasma television sets and 300-disc DVD changers. The spa has a Turkish bath and Swiss shower.

Government data also revealed that when these bigwigs look for vehicles, they don’t do what they tell the people of the country to do, namely buy Russian. Instead, they go straight for foreign models like the Lexus. 

This is in a country where the average wage is $3/hour and the average male worker doesn’t live to see his 6oth year.

This kind of hypocrisy and elitism is truly neo-Soviet in scale and scope, and when the bloggers exposed it the Kremlin ran scared. It imediately removed all references to the gambling casino from online documents, and then it actually cancelled the tender itself.

But the Kremlin cannot hide from this kind of behavior. It’s rapcious greed and reckless indifference to the suffering of Russia’s masses will undermine the foundations of Russian society and, just as surely as it brought down the USSR, it will lay Russia low.

7 responses to “EDITORIAL: Same Old Russia

  1. Activists urge Kremlin to stop building resort
    Today at 16:17 | Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Environmental activists have called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to stop plans for building a government resort at a southern nature reserve.

    Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups have strongly criticized the presidential office’s plan to build a recreational facility at the Utrish national park near the Black Sea city of Anapa.

    They said in a joint statement Wednesday that the project would jeopardize many endangered plants, as well as dozens of rare species of migratory birds.

    The groups said that the authorities have blocked their activists from reaching the area. They denounced the project as a breach of law.


  2. Chechen rebels claim Russian train bombing
    Today at 21:36 | Associated Press

    Chechen rebels claimed responsibility Wednesday for blowing up a high-speed Russian train last week, an attack that killed 26 people, injured scores of others and raised fears of a fresh wave of terror attacks.

    The attack has struck a nerve in Russian society. About 1,500 people gathered for a state-sanctioned anti-terrorism rally in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

    Participants in the protest, organized by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party United Russia, held banners, with slogans including “Terrorists are not People and “Find and Annihilate.”

    “The scariest thing is that this might not be an isolated attack,” said political analyst Yulia Latynina. “It could be the start of a series.”

    Rights activists say government security services in the Caucasus have increased the use of kidnappings, killings and home-burnings of suspected militants and their relatives. The Moscow-based rights group Memorial issued a report this month accusing authorities of implementing “a policy of state terror.”

    Leonid Belyayev, head of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry’s St. Petersburg branch, was quoted by Russian news wires as saying Wednesday that terrorists could have been targeting two trains at once. The blast, he said, was timed to strike when a second train was passing in the opposite direction.

    Belyayev said the double disaster was avoided because the Nevsky Express was running a minute late.


  3. In Dagestan again two pro-russian policemen were killed! Hours later the media reported,that the suspect was caught,but this is a lie,the members of the “Jamaat Shariat” are never caught alive.The police gripped a civilian,as usual after such attacks

  4. My question is simple, with all this chaos, if Russia goes the way of Yugoslavia, what to do with all nuclear weapons? Are there any plans in Washington?

  5. It is mind-boggling: with one hand the Putin’s administration help the Ahmadinejad and the mullahs’ fanatical regime to reach its goal of becoming not a regional anymore, but rather a world nuclear power (whose distabilizing and pro-Shariah jihad capabilities – which manifest themselves even today with a scarrying stength – would become literally catastrophic). On the other hand, the administation tries – not very effectively, it is true – to make us believe that it is fervently on the side of the Russian people in the fight against the plague of islamist terrorism. In a way, it is a position that makes even Obama administation’s pure folly position of trying to “engage” the avowed assassins and aspiring genocide murderers look as less suicidal and out right foolish.

  6. This time, the attackers seemed to have refined their tactics, with horrible success. The 25 dead include at least two high-ranking officials – Boris Yevstratikov, head of the State Reserves Agency, and Sergei Tarasov, chairman of the Federal Highways Agency.

    “It is unprecedented to kill two such high-ranking officials in a single attack,” noted Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Centre.

    To add to the intrigue, one of two Ingush men on trial for the 2007 bombing pleaded guilty on November 25 – just two days before the November 27 repeat attack.

    It is no exaggeration to say that the targeting of the Neva Express has sent a shock wave through Russia’s ruling class – this is probably the first time terrorists have so openly targeted Russia’s civil servants, rather than ordinary civilians.


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