Putin sticks his Foot in his Mouth, Again

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.

The likelihood of collection in the event of a favorable verdict is probably small.  Indeed, given the murky and political nature of the case, a favorable verdict is not a foregone conclusion.  But Putin has reason for fear nonetheless, because regardless of the verdict, a trial would be huge problem.  The kinds of information that would be revealed would be extremely damaging.  The ongoing SOVCOMFLOT trial in London, and other London cases involving Russian litigants, demonstrates just how such proceedings can bring to light all sorts of shady practices.  And those cases pale in comparison to the blockbuster potential that any litigation involving Yukos would have.  No wonder Putin goes ballistic under these circumstances when somebody rings the Khodorkovsky bell.

A couple of other things about Putin’s virtual audience with the great unwashed amused me.  First, his whining about the WTO, and supposed American opposition to Russia’s accession.  All nations, the US included, are hypocrites on trade policy, but Russia is a leader in this area.  The economic crisis has exacerbated Russian protectionist tendencies, and these are likely to get worse, not better, if the oil price remains relatively high and takes the ruble with it. Whereas world manufacturing is recovering, albeit unevenly, Russia’s is contracting further.  This will only encourage Russian protectionist tendencies.

Second, Putin continued his on-the-one-hand-but-on-the-other-hand evaluation of Stalin.  The amusing part, though, was Putin’s explicit mention of the cult of personality: indeed, in the critical portions of his remarks, he mentioned the personality cult before,  you know, the millions of deaths: “At the time (of Stalin’s rule) we had to deal not only with a cult of personality, but with massive crimes against our own people.”  Pretty bizarre coming from a man who is actively creating is own personality cult.

One last Russian, but not Putin-related note.  The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has again delayed a decision on a Rusal (Deripaska) public listing.  The bankers who are into Rusal for billions are desperate for an IPO so they can get some of their money back.  HKSE gives the impression, though, of somebody who figures that if they just ignore an embarrassing person in their company, he’ll just go away.  Given Rusal’s desperation–and that of its bankers–that’s not likely to happen. Meaning that HKSE will have to fish or cut bait.

It would be foolish to permit the listing.  Rusal, and anything dealing with Deripaska, is a scandal waiting to happen.  Or, more accurately, a scandal that’s already happened, and ongoing, just waiting to be revealed.

4 responses to “Putin sticks his Foot in his Mouth, Again

  1. What protectionism is he talking about? I understand when Germany wants to restrict her market not to allow American or Japanese cars, or when Japan does the same to German cars. but the party one tries to protect himself against should be one’s equal.

    Now, what exactly would an underdeveloped country as Russia restrict as far as imports? Cars? I don’t think their well to do population however small size it is would be content if they only had Ladas to buy. Maybe food? They would starve to death because their alcoholic peasants are drunk all the time and barely produce to meet their own household needs. Maybe electronics? Do they make their own electronics to replace imports? I doubt it.

    So, if a country produces very little except raw materials, caviar, vodka and arms, that country is in no position to have any protectionist measures in place. They need imports. On the other hand, they would not be afraid of any trade wars of retaliation — they export nothing but raw materials, caviar, vodka and arms, and so there is nothing really to be restricted.

  2. They reject some food. Not the food their people would not need. Just the food that comes from near-abroad countries they wanna punish: Georgia for turning towards Europe, NATO and normal human life of their people; Lithuania and such. They wanna force their peasants to produce something, and wanna convince the Russian and or Georgian and Lithuanian people that Russia is much stronger economically than such countries as Lithuania or Georgia, and that the Russian peasants actually produce what they really don’t. :D
    The protectionism plays the role of fooling Russians and blackmailing their neighbors only.

    • They are fools if they are rejecting Lithuanian food. I visited Lithuania, Kaunas and some seaside resorts, back in 2005, and I found the food superb. “Zeppelins” and “Zemaiche” were the best dishes I have tasted in years. Did not stop at Vilnius though. Probably, I would have found even better food there, since it’s the capital city

  3. La Russophobe, you have some links to other good websites. Why not to add link to Kavkaz Uzel. This is very nice professional website. I think it would be logical if you link with it.
    URL: http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/
    (sorry if offtopic)

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