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: