WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 9 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Will Russia double Dip?
(2) EDITORIAL: Russia and the Madman in Iran
(3) Putin continues rewriting Russian History
(4) The Kremlin’s Dog and Pony Show
(5) Putin’s Foot-in-Mouth Disease
NOTE: Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her Russia column on the mighty Pajamas Media megablog deals with the shocking way in which French conservatives, including their mouthpiece newspaper Le Figaro, are playing footsie with the Putin dictatorship. All true Reaganite conservatives, to say nothing of all liberals, should be appalled.
A Double-Dip Recession for Putin’s Russia?
“The economy has grown by an average of 0.5 percent per month over the last five months. I’m counting on these positive trends in economic development becoming more significant in the middle of next year.”
–Vladimir Putin, answering citizen phone-in questions last week in Moscow
Is Russia heading for a double dip?
Not so fast, Mr. Putin. Not so fast.
The brilliant Russia economist Edward Hugh, blogging at Eastern European Economy Watch, offers a wealth of data indicating that Russia is heading for a double-dip recession which may well send the Russian economy into another massive tailspin. Should the price of oil fall again, this time it could easily be fatal.
Russia’s Capital Total Activity Index and GDP Indicator both saw turnarounds in their growth patterns of previous months, and began heading back for negative territory while the Russian Manufacturing PMI index remained in negative territory for a second straight month, and was worsening. Hugh writes that “the quarter-on-quarter [GDP indicator] rate [shown in the chart above] slipped back to a bare 0.2%, treacherously close to the dividing line between contraction and expansion.”
Russia and the Madman in Iran
Now, even Russia is getting scared of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Frankenstein monster it has constructed in Iran.
Last week, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran would push forward to build 10 additional uranium enrichment plants it can use to make fissile materials for nuclear weapons. The international community has been pressuring Iran to allow inspections of its facilities and to send its low-enriched waste materials out of the country for disposal, threatening sanctions if Iran does not comply. Russia has been obstructing this pressure for years by selling Iran the technology it needs to use nuclear power, the military weapons it needs to protect it from Israeli strikes, and by voting to block sanctions int he UN security council, telling the world Iran is a peaceful nation which will use Russian technology only for social purposes.
Now, the world can see that Russia was lying and, at last, the Russians are beginning to see the peril of their lies as well. When the latest secret enrichment facility was discovered in Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency moved to censure the rogue state for lying to the world, and this time Russia joined the vote and so did China.
The Times of London reports:
Now you see him, now you don’t. Stalin was a past master at the art of airbrushing. In one classic set of photographs, there Stalin is with his secret police chief, Nikolai Yezhov — and in the next photo, there Yezhov isn’t (he was executed in 1940, with his boss’s approval). And now, in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the airbrushing of history seems to be all the rage again.
The Moscow Times reports:
The prime minister broke his call-in show records, discussing gold teeth and his love for animals and granting a birthday wish.
Rostov resident Tatyana Romanenko probably had a dream birthday Thursday, when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin bestowed his congratulations on her in a nationally televised show.
Romanenko, who turned 55, asked Putin for his best wishes in one of the more than 2 million e-mails, phone calls and text messages received by his aides in the run-up to his call-in show. Putin, known to send birthday wishes only to his peers, like Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko or prominent arts and political figures, read out the request from a blue folder where he kept a few messages that he had personally chosen.
Streetwise Professor reports:
No doubt the recent decision of Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague intensified Putin’s Pavlovian response to a question about Khodorkovsky. The court ruled that Yukos shareholders could sue Russia for violating the Energy Charter by seizing Yukos assets.