Russia as Laughingstock
As if the Kremlin did not get enough humiliation last week, as we report in our lead editorial about Khodorkovsky laughing at Putin through his cell bars and in our second editorial about Russian failure in Chechnya and Ossetia — or for that matter the week before when it was forced to advertise in the classifieds seeking lawyers capable of defending it in the European Court for Human Rights — yet another devasting blow to Russia’s ego was delivered.
The Moscow Times reports:
President Dmitri Medvedev cut the number of time zones in the world’s largest country from 11 to nine in March. Now the Industry and Trade Ministry wants to find out whether the change is helping boost the economy as Medvedev promised. The problem, however, is that the ministry cannot find anyone to calculate the impact of the change — and the clock is ticking rapidly. The Industry and Trade Ministry last month issued a public tender worth 18 million rubles ($580,000) for scientists to carry out wide-ranging research on the country’s time zones, but no one has applied, Nikolai Novikov, deputy head of the ministry’s regulations and measurement standards department, said Tuesday. It is the ministry’s second attempt to find candidates after a first in March failed.
Ouch. Not one single qualified applicant.
One can only wonder whether there are no applicants because Russia is totally devoid of qualified specialists or because such specialists as it does have are too terrified to research a question like this and get the “wrong” answer, only to be persecuted or even jailed by Russia’s neo-Stalinist regime.
Either way, the humiliation and failure is palpable. Russia started out with an utterly nonsensical idea of altering time zones to increase productivity rather than actually working harder and better, a typical Russian Potemkin tactic. And now when it tries to document it’s “success” in doing so, it succeeds only in heaping upon itself further embarrassment and failure.
And so it goes in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.