Daily Archives: January 9, 2010

EDITORIAL: Russia’s Empty Schools


Russia’s Empty Schools

Speaking on Echo of Moscow radio last week, Russian Education and Science Minister Andrey Fursenko said that “three or four years from now, there will be half as many students [in the country’s higher educational institutions] as there are now.”  Over the next two years, the pool of annually available potential university students will be just 700,000 compared to 1.3 million three years ago.

The consequences of this fact are obvious:  Unqualified students will be admitted to study where their efforts will be wasted, and qualified instructors will lose their jobs.  Even worse, the diversity and creativity present in the Russian classroom will plummet.

Fursenko reveals a truly shocking and horrifying statistic, namely that less than one third of enrolled students, even in the most elite institutions, are “really” engaged in study, and that as few as 15% — yes, fifteen percent — are doing so in the second-rate institutions.

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Rotten Russia

The American Spectator reports:

There is a chilling sequence in Tsar, Pavel Lungin’s dark and brilliant new film about Ivan the Terrible. Ivan, played by the mercurial rock musician Pyotr Mamonov, steps out of his private chapel wild-eyed after a long session of wheedling and bargaining with his God. The Tsar walks, lost in thought, through a series of rooms. As he shuffles along grovelling boyars ceremonially dress him. One group gently places a cloth-of-gold gown over his shoulders. Another group presents an embroidered collar, then cuffs, a crown and staff. Finally the Tsar emerges into the winter sunlight, golden and terrible. The crowd of people who have been waiting for him since dawn prostrate themselves in the slush and the sh*t of the palace yard. Silence falls. The message is clear: for the grovelling boyars and the grovelling peasants alike, the Tsar is God’s messenger on earth, the sole fount of worldly power and protection.

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Putin betrays Russia’s Future

Paul Goble reports:

All the problems Russia had in the late 1990s remain unresolved because Vladimir Putin failed to use income from the rise in oil prices to address them, preferring instead to enrich himself and his friends and to pretend that the existence of such wealth, even though kept abroad, was by itself sufficient to pull Russia back from the brink.

But now, a decade after “the miracle” of the rise in oil and gas prices propelled Putin to the stop, Moscow commentator Maksim Kalashnikov says, “the Putin zigzag” in the ongoing decline of Russia is coming to an end, and Russia faces a terrible reckoning, one highlighted by but not limited to technological disasters.

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Stay away from the BRIC Bully

Investment U reports (hat tip: Robert Amsterdam):

These days, you don’t have to look far to read about success stories within the “BRIC” nations. However, while Brazil, India and China enjoy solid growth, the remaining member – Russia – has fallen to the bottom of the pack.

And with good reason.

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More Shame and Disgrace for Russia on the Tennis Court

The Hopman Cup is the Superbowl, the World Cup if you will, of mixed doubles tennis.  Last year, Russia’s brother-sister tandem of Marat and Dinara Safina went down to sensational, humiliating defeat in the finals against a much lowlier team from Slovakia.  It made a hat trick of championships for Slovakia in the event, which has been contested since 1988.  The United States has won the tournament four of the past seven years.  Russia has prevailed only once in its entire history.

The shame and disgrace for Russia at the Hopman continued last week as its Elena Dementieva (world rank #5) and Igor Andreev (world rank #35) went down to spectacular defeat at the hands of Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvevdova (world rank #51) and Andrei Golubev (world rank #133).  The Kazakh team was the weakest in the group of eight nations contesting the title in round-robin play, and therefore seeded last in the draw.  But the Russians could not handle them.

This meant that Russia fell to third place in its group and could only qualify for the finals  by beating first-place Great Britain in its final tie and then seeing Kazakhstan lose.  Neither happened, and Russia was sent packing.

Once again, Russia proved its “dominance” in the sport of tennis.