January 29, 2010 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  The Putin Pogrom

(2)  Russia, Marginalized in Science

(3)  Ryzhkov:  Putin is Starting to Freak

(4)  Uh-Oh Russia, Here come the Republicans

(5)  Demographic Doom for Russia

(6)  Australian Open Wrapup

4 responses to “January 29, 2010 — Contents

  1. Russia’s number one state owned company Gazprom, have suffered yet another damaging setback, they have announced that the giant Shtoman gas field in the Barents Sea which holds 134.178 billion cubic meters of natural gas is to remain undevelpoment.

    Shtoman was seen as a key to Gazprom and Russia’s energy future; it was planned that this gas would be used to supply much of Western Europe.

    In the early 1990s, Gazprom started talks with a group of five Western companies to participate in the field’s development. In 1992, the foreign consortium was pushed out by the Rosshelf consortium, a Gazprom subsidiary that comprised 19 Russian companies. in August 1995, Gazprom and Rosshelf signed a letter of intent with Norsk Hydro of Norway, Conoco Inc. of the United States, Neste Oy of Finland, and Total S.A. of France to evaluate the possible joint development of Shtokman field.[2][3]
    In January 1996, a project of a large floating liquefaction plant was designed, but this plan was abounded and in March 2000, Rosshelf began developing plans for production and construction of a natural gas pipeline from the field via Murmansk to Vyborg.[2] In 2001, Gazprom announced its intention to develop the gas field together with Rosneft. In 2002, the license for the field development and recovery was transferred from Rosshelf to Sevmorneftegas.[3]

    On 20 June 2005, Russia and Norway signed a number of agreements related to development of Shtokman field. On 28 June 2005 Russia signed a memorandum with France. In August 2005, Gazprom received bids from ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Norsk Hydro, Statoil, Mitsui, Sumitomo Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron Corporation, and Total to develop the field.[2] In September 2005, Gazprom selected five companies – Statoil, Norsk Hydro, Total, Chevron and ConocoPhillips – as finalists in a search for partners to develop the field, but in October 2006 decided to REJECT all potential partners.

    This decision to go it alone was disastrous. since 2006 the world has changed. We have seen a massive global down turn, the demand for Russia’s natural gas has dramatically fallen, LNG sold on the spot market is now very competitively priced, and the western countries Russia targeted for Shtoman; Britain, France, Spain, for example have all build new LNG port facilities.

    There is a political dimension to this, Russian/ Ukrainian gas transit disputes have effected supply to EU countries and threatened energy security, a situation that is simply unacceptable for the EU, LNG is now viewed as a more reliable and diverse source. It is also expected that the USA will become an exporter of LNG within the decade thanks to their unprecedented achievement in shale gas technology (the USA will supply 100% of its own needs within 6 years). Planned Shale gas production in Europe will also deprive Russia of even more market share and Russia could face the grim prospect of their new Nord and South stream pipe lines full of unwanted gas.

    In 2006 It was a political descion to reject foreign partners for the Shtoman project At the same time Gazprom aided by Putin’s regime made a concerted effort to force BP a long term investor out of Russia. In 2006 Putin flush with his oil and gas revenues simply no longer wanted to share his short term windfall with others.

    Now Gazprom the jewel in his tarnished crown is a company in debt to the tune of $59 billion, a company that needs another $200 billion to unlock Russia’s trillions of cubic meter gas potential, unfortunately it appears to be gas nobody in Europe will want or need. Still for now there’s always China ready and willing to pay Russia “peanuts.”

  2. The main crisis gripping Russia is a crisis of government. When a government is unable to govern it pretends to govern, and Moscow proposed a record number of measures that could be termed “pseudo-governance” last week. The first was the creation of the North Caucasus Federal District.


  3. Even more profoundly, the authoritative Russian magazine Kommesant-Vlast received an official warning concerning the “inadmissibility of extremist activities” from the Russian government agency that oversees the media. The magazine was reprimanded for publishing an interview with the Ingush writer and Soviet-era political dissident Issa Kodzoev in November 2009 (kavkaz-uzel.ru, January 26). Two such warnings against a media outlet allow the government to ask a court to close it down.

    In his interview, Kodzoev predicted that the violence (the “war,” in Kodzoev’s words) in Ingushetia would go on for the foreseeable future, but that there would be no war on a large-scale as in Chechnya. Kodzoev stated that the Ingush people used to be loyal Russian citizens, but with the latest violence in the republic, that has irrevocably changed. “There is such hatred toward Russia in every [Ingush] family,” he said in the interview. “There is no family [in Ingushetia] in which Russians would not kill a man. The blood has been spilt, you see.” He also offered a solution to the problem, although an unrealistic one, as he himself acknowledged: “This war can be stopped in a month’s time. Russians only need to withdraw their troops and the death squads [a reference to the Russian security services’ armed groups]. We will restrain our youth after a month. They know it very well in Moscow, but they will never do it.”

    Kodzoev also alleged that the former President of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had a row that led Aushev to slap Putin in the face. One of the writer’s sons, Iznaur, was killed in a police operation in spring 2005, even though he had been proclaimed dead after the school siege in Beslan. His second son, Zelimkhan, is serving a twenty-four year sentence in a Russian prison for involvement in an attack on a joint Ingush-Ossetian police outpost in 1998 (Kommersant-Vlast, November 2, 2009).

    Few independent news sources remain in Chechnya following the murder of the renowned Chechen human rights activist and journalist Natalya Estemirova in July 2009.

    On January 25, in a lengthy interview with the Kremlin-sponsored Russia Today television channel, the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov accused the exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky of involvement in Estemirova’s murder and repeated his traditional accusations that Western countries are meddling in the North Caucasus, this time supplementing his claims with the assertion that the US itself founded al-Qaeda. Kadyrov quite openly indicated his irritation with Estemirova’s work: “She started receiving a little money from the West,” he said, adding, “Their aim was to speak more about us and receive more money. They were paid for speaking about our problems. We asked them, why scream about our problems as long we are taking care of everything? That is why we exist, and why we are paid. If we have some failures, why tell the whole world about it?” (www.rt.com, January 25).


    • Kadyrov Today:


      SS: Mr. Kadyrov, it’s been a year since the counterterrorist operation in Chechnya ended. What does a peaceful life mean to you? A new airport? A city that has been rebuilt? Or a change in people’s attitudes?

      RK: Every Chechen dreams of the war being over… that there be no bombs, explosions or military jets flying over their heads… that we could go visit other states, flying from the airport in Grozny… that we could receive guests, foreign athletes, cultural and political representatives. It’s a dream for everyone in Chechnya, and even more so – for me.

      SS: You have mentioned that the militants in the Caucasus have powerful support from the West. Who are these people?

      RK: Well, I don’t know the names. But there are states that fight against the sovereign state of the Russian Federation. Those are the Western states that are under American influence and their task is to tear Russia apart. Why? Because they need to have an enemy.

      They know that people in the Caucuses believe in God, that we are Muslims, and they think that we are fine with resorting to terrorism. They think that the Chechens took offence with the Soviet Union, that we were made to go to Russia, and initiated the first and the second campaign.

      As for Islam, it has nothing to do with it. The fathers of those who talk about stuff like the call of Islam for Shariah law and for jihad have never prayed, and their grandfathers never prayed either. They’ve always betrayed Islam together with our customs and traditions.

      Take Umarov – he’s been a criminal his entire life. Maskhadov served in the army his entire life, he never prayed and then he came here and started calling for jihad. The same about Dudaev!

      SS: Do the Chechen terrorists have a link with Al Qaeda?

      RK: Who founded Al Qaeda? The United States. The United States gave birth to it. America promised to give them Iraq or Afghanistan, but did not live up to its promise. That’s when Bin Laden started acting against them. They sent the remaining forces to the Caucuses. That’s where Al Qaeda originates from. Naturally, they represent Al Qaeda. If they were not, they would mention our people in their addresses. But they never do so. Umarov once said that Chechen people are his enemies. What is he expecting, if he declared our people his enemies? Al Qaeda has its own ideas. These are people who were offended. They fought for America – America gave birth to them, but did not fulfill its promise. That’s it. That’s the root cause.

      SS: Mr. President, there have been some events that damaged the image of the Chechen Republic. A recent one was the murder of Natalya Estemirova, a prominent human rights activist. It stirred up the West. How is the investigation progressing?

      RK: Estemirova’s murder was provoked by the people who murdered Politkovskaya and Litvinenko. I am pretty sure that that’s [Berezovsky’s] job. Politkovskaya was speaking about Chechnya all the time. When everything became fine in our republic, and there was nothing to blame us for, was the perfect time to kill her and shift the blame on Kadyrov to undermine the system.

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