WEDNESDAY JUNE 2 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: With “Friends” like the Russians
(2) World Leaders speak out Against Russia
(3) Lies and the Lying Russian Employers who Tell Them
(4) Annals of Russia’s Neo-Soviet Denial
(5) How Russia Drives her Citizens Away
NOTE: Will wonders never cease? It seems that Stalin, Vladimir Putin’s hero, was gay. Don’t take our word for it, check out the photos for yourself.
NOTE: Julia Ioffe has video of a fascinating bit of street protest by the “blue-bucketers.” If only it had been Vladimir Putin himself sitting in that car! Read more details here.
With Friends like the Russians
The world learned last week why the United States has not yet been able to apprehend mass-murdering lunatic Osama bin Laden. It’s really quite simple, actually.
Russia has been “helping” America to find him.
Apparently, two key facts about Russia have eluded the attention of America’s leaders: (1) Russia hates America and approves of bin Laden’s campaign of terror, and (2) even if that weren’t true, Russia is no more capable of finding bin Laden than of holding a contested presidential election. The lack of leadership, indeed the outright ignorance and stupidity, emanating from the Obama administration in Washington DC is palpable. This is clearly a government which will live in infamy.
If you want to really understand how absolutely benighted America’s policy on Russia really is, you need look no further than the chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, one Alcee Hastings of the U.S. Congress.
In a stunning public blow to the Putin regime, Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, joined by host of prominent international human rights leaders including the former presidents of Germany and South Africa, writing for Project Syndicate, condemns the barbarism of the KGB state:
The death of Eduard Chuvashov, a judge killed in cold blood on April 12 in Moscow, is another in a long and growing list of murders perpetrated on those in Russia who try to seek justice for the victims of crimes – an essential task for the future development of the Russian society.
Within the Russian judiciary, Chuvashov was one of the rare judges with the courage to rule against powerful local government officials as well as high-ranking officers of the interior ministry. Indeed, he dared to send a number of them to prison. Recently, Chuvashov defied personal threats made against him and sentenced members of a particularly nasty Moscow neo-Nazi group to prison.
May 26, 2010
“Russia’s Lying Employers”
by Igor Bakharev
From Johnson’s Russia List
(Hat Tip: SWP reader “Mossy”)
Eighty-four percent of Russia’s workers have been deceived by their employers during recruitment. For drivers and vendors, this indicator reaches 95%, learned HeadHunter.ru (a recruitment agency). In fact, during job interviews, job seekers often hear something different than what they were told by a recruiter, and perceive possibilities as promises.
Deceit during the hiring process is a norm in Russia, HeadHunter analysts have learned, after surveying more than 4,000 Russians from all of the country’s regions. Two thirds of respondents said that they were misinformed about their pay rate. Most frequently, employers indicated that bonuses will be a part of the pay structure. In reality, however, they are virtually impossible to obtain. Others, after being presented a certain pay range, were compensated on the lowest level or even less than what was indicated. Often, employers conceal the fact that the promised salary is the sum before taxes are reduced.
More than 60% of respondents were misinformed regarding their working conditions or the job-related tasks. Often, the amount of responsibility is much greater than what was initially suggested. Head of the “Rabota@Mail.Ru” project Alla Seregina says that many other “hidden agendas” exist. For example, paycheck deductions are given out for disciplinary violations, such as tardiness and fines for customer complaints. Some companies deduct wages for corporate events (to which attendance is mandatory) and insurance.
What’s the longest river in neo-Soviet Russia? Denial! Streetwise Professor reports:
Russian central bank head Sergei Ignatiev claims that the European crisis poses no threat to Russia:
“I don’t think all these events will have a strongly negative effect on the Russian economy,” Ignatiev said at a conference in St. Petersburg today. “The Russian banking system is better prepared for external shocks than it was in 2008.”
The economy is protected by sufficient liquidity, a “much more flexible ruble,” and large international reserves, the world’s third biggest after China and Japan, according to Ignatiev. While the Russian currency reflects external volatility, it can better withstand external shocks than it did before the global financial crisis, he said.
Of course, that’s what Putin, Medvedev, and even my boy Kudrin said said in 2008, when the storm clouds were breaking in the United States and Europe. And we know how that worked out: rather than being a safe harbor from the storms buffeting other economies, as Putin and Kudrin had claimed, Russia was hit harder than virtually any economy. Indeed, only months after boasting about his country’s immunity from the world crisis, in a speech at Davos Putin raged at the West for creating a “perfect storm” that had swept over Russia.
Paul Goble reports:
Most Russian businessmen prefer to keep their money in offshore banks and their children at foreign schools lest the businessmen be charged with corruption and lose everything, a Moscow specialist on Russian elites says, just one of the ways in which Russian government policies are promoting short-term thinking and undermining development.
Olga Kryshtanovskaya, the head of the Center for the Study of Elites at the Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology, drew those and other conclusions during an interview with Svobodnaya Press on the basis of a survey of 25 leading Russian businessmen conducted by UBS and Camden Research.
Those two firms, which conducted the study for Vedomosti which published the results in its edition today, queried 25 Russians who own privately held businesses with annual turnover of 100 to 500 million US dollars in a broad range of fields. Among the more interesting results were the following: “72 percent are not considering the possibility of expansion abroad in the near future. But all except two are ready to sell their business for a good price and a little more than half are ready to do this in the next two to four years.”
MONDAY MAY 31 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Reading, Writing and Reckless Ruin in Russia
(2) Just Plain Crazy: Russia’s Moronic “Students” Unmasked
(3) Now, Putin’s Goons just start Kidnapping
(4) Internal Inertia eats away at Putin’s Russia
(5) PHOTOS: A Russian and her Pretzels
NOTE: Today is Memorial Day, the day America celebrates her army of patriots who fearlessly, selflessly laid down their lives for the cause of liberty and democracy. We salute these heroes, who serve as a beacon light of hope for all the peoples of the world who struggle under the oppressive yoke of dictatorship, not least of which are the people of Russia. If only one day Russians could learn to fight for freedom, Russia might become a great nation.
Reading, Writing and Reckless Ruin in Russia
From the very earliest days of this blog’s operation, we have been tirelessly documenting the horrific fraud that is the Russian so-called “education” system. We thought we had seen it all.
But nothing prepared us for the column in last Thursday’s Moscow Times newspaper from high-ranking Kremlin educator Yevgeny Bazhanov, Vice Chancellor of the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy. We republish it in full in today’s issue, and we still cannot keep from quoting it at length here.
We confess that, Russia cynics though we may be, we were left slack-jawed by the horrifying revelations Professor Bazhanov offered about the so-called “best and brightest” in Russia’s top universities. His plaintive cry “with these brains, how will Russia ever modernize?” left us feeling more hopeless than we ever have about Russia’s future.
As if that were not enough, we also carry in today’s issue a report from the Other Russia which documents a reporter having her children kidnapped by the state apparently in retaliation for critical reporting about the Kremlin-connected Avtovaz factory in her city.
No other description fits: This is naked barbarism. It is a country totally disconnected from the basic standards of the civilized world, descending into the bleakest pits of animalistic frenzy, destroying itself utterly in the process.
Yevgeny Bazhanov, vice chancellor of research and international relations at the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy, writing in the Moscow Times:
I have noticed a disturbing new trend among my students: In the past 10 years, the number of them who sincerely believe ridiculous conspiracy theories about U.S. aggression and global domination is increasing. This is particularly disturbing considering that many of these students may very well rise to become members of the country’s elite and represent the new faces of Russia.
One of their favorite conspiracy theories is that former U.S. President George W. Bush and his cronies were behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Al-Qaida, it would seem, had nothing to do with Sept. 11, although it has claimed responsibility repeatedly. And when asked why Bush would commit such an unthinkable crime, they always respond, “So that he would have a pretext for attacking Iraq.”
Other Russia reports:
A Russian journalist and activist in the industrial town of Tolyatti had her children taken from her by police without explanation on Tuesday the Forum.msk news site reports. It looks to be the latest of such cases where the confiscation of children by the police has been used to threaten or intimidate activists and oppositionists in Russia.
An article by the journalist, Galina Dmitrieva, had been published two days prior describing the situation in the AvtoVAZ automobile manufacturing plant. Then, on Tuesday at 1:30 pm, local police came to her home and said that since her children were living in unsanitary conditions, it was possible that they could be taken away.
Paul Goble reports:
Migration within the Russian Federation has fallen significantly and now stands at level it was in 1897, a figure that reflects popular inertia, bureaucratic obstacles and shortages of housing stock but one that is simultaneously leading to more immigration from abroad and slower economic growth at home, according to a leader of the Social Chamber. In an article in Profil, Leonid Davydov, a political scientist who heads that body’s Commission on Regional Development and Local Self-Administration, argues that “the lack of internal migration remains a serious brake on the path of the economic development of Russia.”
Davydov notes that this year represents a triune anniversary in that regard: the 150th since the end of serfdom in Russia in 1861, the 35th since the mass distribution of passports to collective farmers in 1976, and the 20th since the ban on the residential registration system or “propiska” in 1991.
Meet Lina Kulchinsky of Sigmund Pretzel Shop in New York City. She’s a Russian who wanted to be successful in the food business. Here’s her formula (photos from the New York Times):
FRIDAY MAY 28 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Medvedev and Hamas
(2) EDITORIAL: The Horror of the Russian Bear Market
(3) EDITORIAL: Russia is a Sick, Diseased Country
(4) EDITORIAL: Say “NO!” to Sochi
(5) PHOTO: Russia’s Future
NOTE: Oleg Kozlovsky shows how the Google search prompt exposes the fraud that is Vladimir Putin.
NOTE: In another truly shocking moment of sports humiliation for Russia, last year’s finalist at the French Open grand slam event Dinara Safina has been ejected from the tournament by Kimiko Date Krumm, who becomes the second-oldest woman to win a match at a Roland Garros in the open era of tennis.
Russia shakes hands with Syria and Hezbollah
Medvedev and Hamas
Éminence grise Russia blogger David McDuff is back in form, publishing a devastating and carefully researched condemnation of Russia’s recent diplomacy in regard to Hamas.
Just as Russia is aggressively supporting the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon by funneling weapons to them through Syria, it is equally aggressively reaching out to the lunatics of Hamas in Palestine, terrorists who are actively supported by the other leading rogue regime in the Middle East, Iran, to which Russia is channeling nuclear technology.
Russia’s hypocrisy here is truly breathtaking, as McDuff makes clear:
The Horror of the Russian Bear Market
On Tuesday this week the price of crude oil fell by 4.4% on concerns about the Spanish economy undermining the global recovery and in response the value of Russia’s stock markets plunged even more, the MICEX ruble-denominated exchange tumbling by a jolting 5.7% and the dollar-denominated RTS exchange plummeting a shocking 6.5%.
The fact that Russian shares fall instantly with the price of oil, but fall to a greater extent than that price, conclusively shows how pathetically dependent that Russian economy as a whole really is on oil, a finite resource that is running out fast. It is the unmistakable harbinger of doom for Russian society, as it is eaten away at its very foundations.
The MICEX has now shed one-fifth of its value since April, and the RTS has done likewise. Four more months like that and the entire Russian bourse would be history.
Encouragingly, there is strong evidence that foreign investors are at last wising up to the horrific dangers of investing in Russia, and are turning their backs on the Putin dictatorship.
Russia is a Sick, Diseased Country
A few weeks ago we wrote about how the Putin Kremlin (in the person of insider Arkady Dvorkovich) was lobbying to help an insane maniac named Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (who believes he was kidnapped by space aliens) continue to rule the international chess federation.
Now, the Putin regime’s conduct in the matter has gone from the outrageous to the truly nauseating.
Say “NO”! to Sochi 2014
Abkhazia is a part of sovereign Georgian territory according to every country in the world except Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru. Attending the 2014 Olympics under today’s circumstances would make all of us complicit in cementing in practice Russia’s changing European borders by force, even if we reject those changes in principle.
Those were the words of former U.S. ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, one of the highest-ranking diplomats to have spoken out so far against the Sochi 2014 winter Olympiad in Russia. Currently the managing director of the Center on Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University and a senior adviser at the Atlantic Council of the United States, Volker clearly understands that “if the United States and Europe do nothing, we will surely face an untenable situation in 2014.”
At last, while there is still time, the world is turning against the Russian atrocity in Sochi!
Russian opposition leader Oleg Kozlovsky's stunning wife Lada Bat with their daughter Dana, who is appearing at her very first protest event with her parents. If this is Russia's future, things are not so very bad after all.
WEDNESDAY MAY 26 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Russian Barbarism towards Journalists
(2) Poisoning and Coverup in Sunny Tuapse
(3) The Hopeless Failure of Medvedevinomics
(4) Why Russians block Trains
(5) Russia and the Muhammad Cartoons
NOTE: LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her Russia column on the mighty Pajamas Media blog crucifies the foreign policy of Barack Obama, using the abject failure of his Russia policy as the key example.
NOTE: Once again, Putin’s Russia has gone down to spectacular, humiliating failure in sports, this time at the World Ice Hockey Championships in Cologne, Germany. Tiny Czech Republic gave Russia a proper spanking.
Russian journalist Yuri Grachev, editor of Solnechnogorsk Forum, beaten on account of his reporting and found with a broken nose, a concussion and cuts.
Russian Barbarism towards Journalists Laid Bare
The Gray Lady, a/k/a The New York Times, has finally gotten around, after more than a decade of neo-Soviet atrocities in Russia, to speaking out aggressively on behalf of its beleaguered colleagues in Russia. It’s too late to do such titanic Russian patriots as Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova or Stanislav Markelov any good, and we are still waiting for an editorial from the paper in support of the coverage, but it’s welcome nonetheless, and ought to be an embarrassment to the Obama administration because of the President’s craven, stunning silence on issues of this kind.
In a stinging pair of recent articles by veteran Russia correspondent Clifford Levy, the paper excoriated the shocking level of barbarism being displayed by the people and the government in Vladimir Putin’s burgeoning totalitarian nightmare.
The Moscow Times reports:
A toxic fertilizer spill has caused unprecedented protests in Tuapse, which is located 110 kilometers north of Sochi, pictured in this file photo. Sochi and neighboring areas will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
A toxic fertilizer spill in Tuapse, Krasnodar region, has sparked unprecedented protests in the small seaside town, with locals venting their rage at development that they say is putting their lives and health in danger.
About 3,000 residents of Tuapse, located just 110 kilometers north of Sochi, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, rallied in protest on Saturday. They called for a fertilizer shipping terminal, owned by fertilizer giant EuroChem, to be shut down.
In March, a spill at the centrally located terminal, which is still not officially operational, blanketed the town in fertilizer dust, leading to a spike in respiratory problems throughout the town, locals said.
Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:
The modernization rhetoric of President Dmitry Medvedev, who recently marked his two-year anniversary in office, has had no impact on everyday life in Russia. We can say for sure that the country has entered a period of stagnation, a term inextricably linked to the sclerotic era of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Much like the dreary 1970s, time has stopped under the leadership of Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The political landscape in Russia today has become frightfully similar to the Soviet Union. United Russia is looking and acting more like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and, not surprisingly, Russia’s economic development has halted and fallen into decline.
Konstantin Sonin, writing in the Moscow Times:
Two events this month proved that Russia has no real parliament — neither a lower nor an upper chamber. The first event was when State Duma and Federation Council lawmakers published income declarations.
The most unpleasant aspect of this was not the discovery that the lawmakers are very rich, but that their parliamentary duties are far from their primary occupation. Most are businesspeople primarily. In theory, the more businesspeople we have in the country, the wealthier the country will be. But we also need a functioning parliament that represents and defends the people’s interests.
The second event was the double explosions at the Raspadskaya coal mine in Mezhdurechensk in the Kemerovo region on May 8-9 that claimed the lives of 90 people. It also led to clashes between angry miners and the police.
Why does the mine explosion point to the need for a properly functioning parliament? First, we see that the miners there have no political representation. In a healthy democratic society, the lawmakers representing Mezhdurechensk and Kemerovo would have raised a cry in the parliament and the media. If the people elected the senators, then the senator from the Kemerovo region — whose political fate would depend on how vehemently he defended the interests of his constituents — would have acted as the “voice of the miners.”
Last Thursday was “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” The Rationalitate blog reports:
As you may or may not have heard, tomorrow is Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, which has pissed off half the internet and even got Pakistan to block Facebook. I think the most recent trigger was a (double) episode of South Park that either displayed or mocked the image of the prophet, but I’m not really sure. What I have found interesting about this whole controversy is its possible origin: more than one former Russian spy has claimed that it’s a ploy by the Russian secret services to drum up anti-American resentment, as part of a broader campaign of active measures dating back to Soviet times.
This all sounds pretty outlandish, but here is what Thomas Bogart, a historian at the International Spy Museum and Oxford Ph.D. recipient had to say:
MONDAY MAY 24 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Another Nauseating new Low for Russia
(2) Latynina on the Mine Explosion
(3) Putin must Go!
(4) Lies and the Lying Russian Racists who Tell Them
(5) Tumult in Ukraine
NOTE: In the last several weeks, the Russian stock market, as depicted by the RTS dollar-denominated exchange shown at left, has shed over one-fifth of its total value, plummeting from 1650 to 1300 as international financial roiling depressed the price of oil and caused investors to think twice about the Russian market, which would better be called the Russian casino. The Russian market is now at its lowest point in the past half year, and has surrendered back all the gains it had made during that period, and then some. The freefall in value depicted by the chart is truly sickening, especially as a reminder of the 80% drop the market experienced not so very long ago.