WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 24 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: The Sinking Russian Economy
(2) EDITORIAL: The Writing on the Russian Wall
(3) EDITORIAL: Russia plumbs Hilarious new Depths
(4) Alekseeva on Putin’s Powerless Power
(5) Russia on Thin Ice
NOTE: A website has been created to protest the incarceration of police officer Alexei Dymovsky for daring to stand up to Russian corruption. It is now reporting that Dymovsky is being screened for alleged psychiatric illness, a common Soviet tactic still being practiced in neo-Soviet Russia for dealing with dissidents. Many Russians believe that anyone who criticizes or even disagress with Vladimir Putin must be insane, and had the same view regarding Stalin. It also reports that a human rights activist who had been crusading for Dymovsky’s release has been arrested.
NOTE: Russian speakers may be interested in this video of Putin critic Valeria Novodvorskaya.
The Sinking Russian Economy
Last week it was revealed that Russia’s rate of wage nonpayment among employers is on the rise, soaring a shocking 15.5% in January. Total unpaid wages exceeded $135 million, and a million dollars goes a very, very long way in a country where the average wage is $3/hour. The sum which the Kremlin admits is currently outstanding to Russian workers (the actual sum could, of course, be far higher) amounts to 45 million man-hours of unpaid wages, and it occurred even though Russia’s unemployment rate is also soaring.
Why are Russian employers holding back wages?
The Writing on the Russian Wall
Last week in Russia, billboards were going up and they were coming down.
In Omsk, a billboard advertising a children’s theater piece which declared “We await you, merry gnome!” was hastily ripped down in anticipation of Russian “president” Dima Medvedev’s visit, lest the diminutive little president take offense. If that sort of behavior reminds you of the insanity that went on during the time of Josef Stalin, you’re not alone. Some idiotic Russophile commentators would like to paint Dima as some sort of “liberal,” but it’s perfectly clear his own countrymen don’t see him that way. If they did, the merry gnome would still be merry.
And speaking of Stalin, in Moscow, city workers were rushing to throw up billboards praising the contribution of Josef Stalin, the worst killer of Russians in world history, to the Soviet military effort in World War II, in celebration of the Russian “victory” in that conflict. Human rights leader Lyudmila Alexeeva put it bluntly: “Stalin is a criminal, and it is a shame to advertise his regime that killed millions of people.”
With all due respect to Ms. Alexeeva, we’d choose a bit stronger word than “shame.” Perhaps “atrocity” or “abomination” or simply “crime.”
Russia plumbs Hilarious new Depths of Stupidity
One thing you have to admit about Russia is that no matter what ridiculous, humiliating gibberish it might spew forth today, it can always outdo itself tomorrow.
Jaundiced though we may be by spending so many years observing Russian self-destruction, we admit to being surprised upon learning that as a central part of its new government initiative to pursue innovation in business Russia was calling in . . . Ashton Kutcher.
The notion of Russia calling in this ridiculous airhead to advise them on how to innovate speaks volumes about how utterly confused Russia really is. One minute Russians are screeching to high heaven about the incompetence of American advice, blaming America for Russia’s economic downturn, and the next they are going hat in hand to Ashton Kutcher. It’s Russia in a nutshell. And we do mean nut.
Paul Goble reports:
Moscow’s efforts to resolve the challenges it has faced in the North Caucasus over the last 20 years by force alone, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, the grand dame of Russia’s human rights community says, have demonstrated “the powerlessness of [that kind of] power” and have contributed to the spread of “civil war” across the region.
In a comment in Osobaya Bukhva, Alekseyeva argues that even a “superficial” examination of what has taken place in that region shows the non-expert that Moscow is not solving the problems it faces but making them worse.
Moscow’s policy failure in this regard “began in Chechnya, [but] now it has spread already almost in all republics,” because the central powers that be have “not changed their tactic” and have acted in ways that lead either the victims or the families of the victims to “go into the woods” to take revenge.
Isn't it an outrage that foreigners don't respect Russian culture when Russians themselves treat foreign cultures with such reverence?
Adding even more shame and disgrace to Russia’s already horrific debacle at this year’s winter olympiad, USA Today reports on the wretched antics of Russian male figure skater Evgeny Plushenko, who was denied a repeat figure skating gold medal by American Evan Lyacek after humiliating himself and his country by taunting his rival in a typical neo-Soviet manner and then claiming he was “not a champion” afterwards. Way to make Russia look like a nation of juvinile deliquents, Evgeny! Don’t let the door hit you on your way into obscurity. [For more on the photo detailing yet another Russian disaster on ice, click here.]
The Winter Olympics have never seen a men’s figure skating competition quite like the one that starts today. The field is deep and decorated. About eight men realistically could win the gold. And the event comes with its very own, already raging judging controversy, which began a full week before the first official triple jump was even attempted.
If there’s a skating controversy brewing, you can bet that a Russian is nearby, and this time, it’s 2006 Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko, who has staged an impressive if controversial comeback at 27 and is considered the favorite to win, especially if the judges continue to send him their late Valentine’s hugs and kisses in the form of the incredibly generous artistic scores he has been receiving all season.
It’s one thing to launch scores into the stratosphere for Plushenko’s jumps, which are among the best the sport has ever seen. But when he postures and preens in front of the judges while his competitors work up a sweat with intricate footwork and innovative choreography between their jumps, his artistic program component scores should take a nose dive.
Whether they will probably will determine if Plushenko wins the men’s competition. There’s certainly been a backlash against Plushenko of late, as reported in the news media.