Daily Archives: August 6, 2010

August 11, 2010 — Contents

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 11 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  America versus Russia — No Contest

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Arresting Nemtsov

(3)  While Russia burned, Putin Sang

(4)  The Further Adventures of Putin’s Gestapo

(5)  Russian Patriots Morari and Timurziev

(6)  Russia, Melting

(7) CARTOON:  Putvedev to the Rescue!

A postcard from Vladimir Putin's Russia

EDITORIAL: Russia versus America — No Contest

EDITORIAL

Russia versus America — No Contest

Last week the U.S. government reported second-quarter growth of 2.4%, while the International Monetary Fund projected 4.3% growth for Russia in 2010.  The Russian rate was nearly double that of the U.S., yet the IMF harshly qualified the Russian figure as merely “moderate.” It’s not hard to understand why.

IMF figures indicate that the annual value of the U.S. economy exceeds $14 trillion — the largest single value for any nation on this planet by a very wide margin (in fact, the U.S. GDP is as large as the next three largest nations in the world combined).

And Russia?  Russia doesn’t even rank in the top 10 nations of the world according to the IMF, coming in at #12 with a puny, pathetic value of just $1.2 trillion in annual production (the vast majority of which is just the pumping of crude oil).

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EDITORIAL: Arresting Nemtsov

EDITORIAL

Arresting Nemtsov

Imagine that Sarah Palin is on her way to a Tea Party rally in Washington DC, to be held a few blocks from the White House.  She stops to autograph a copy of her new book Going Rogue for an adoring fan, and a swarm of FBI agents descends on her.  They grab her, rip open her shirt, manhandle her, stuff her into a waiting sedan and whisk her away, denying her the chance to utter a single word at the rally.  Her “crime”?  Intending to attend and speak at the rally against Obama and his policies.

Though we have little admiration for the followers of Barack Obama, we’re willing to bet that not a single one of them would support such an action. To the contrary, we feel sure they’d condemn it.  After all, such actions would be directly contrary to the fundamental principles of liberalism by which Obama is supposed to be governing the country. For sure, they’d flout the very fabric of the U.S. Constitution.

Yet, when exactly this same thing actually happened in Russia, to Boris Nemtsov last week, the adherents of Vladimir Putin did nothing but cheer.

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While Russia burned, Putin Sang

A modern Russian fire truck rushing down a modern Russian road. courtesy of the New York Times

“Why the [expletive] do we need an innovation center in Skolkovo if we don’t have common firefighting vehicles?”

— Russian blogger top_lap

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

Since the first wildfires started a month ago, 125,000 hectares of Russia’s forest have been destroyed in 17 regions, and 40 people have died.

Russia’s statistics on casualties from fires have always differed drastically from those in the West. For example, four firefighters died during wildfires in Washington state in 2001. Nine firefighters died in Colorado in 2002. Eleven firefighters died during Spain’s fires of 2005. Only one firefighter has died during this summer’s fires in Russia.

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The Further Adventures of Vladimir Putin’s Gestapo

The Moscow Times reports (watch a video of the arrest described on YouTube):

Moscow region police flexed their muscle Wednesday in the conflict over the Khimki forest, detaining anti-deforestation campaign leader Yevgenia Chirikova in downtown Moscow in front of dozens of reporters.

Meanwhile, a Moscow region court has approved the arrest of two suspects in a daring attack last week on Khimki City Hall, despite what supporters said was shaky evidence against them.

Part of the Khimki forest is being cleared to make way for an $8 billion highway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg. Opponents of the project say the highway could be built around the woods.

“Ten riot police officers grabbed me and dragged me away,” Chirikova said by phone after her questioning ended.

She had been speaking at the Independent Press Center, not far from the Kropotkinskaya metro station.

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Russian Patriots Morari and Timurziev

Two Russian journalists have been honored by Human Rights Watch with Hellman/Hammett Grants for standing up for democracy at enormous personal risk. We congratulate these two magnificent Russian patriots:

Natalia Morari (Russia) is an investigative journalist who writes about corruption and money laundering for the Moscow-based newspaper The New Times. In December 2007, when she was returning from an assignment in Israel, she was barred from entering Russia, held overnight at the airport, and deported to Moldova, her home country. Two weeks later, she was told that she was considered a threat to national security and would no longer be allowed to enter Russia. In February 2008, Morari married Ilya Barabanov, a Russian citizen who is also an investigative journalist at The New Times. When they attempted to visit Russia together as husband and wife, Morari was still refused entry.

Alikhan Kureishevich Timurziev (Russia) covered events in Ingushetia, North Ossetia, and Chechnya as a reporter and then deputy editor of the newspaper Ingushetiya, often writing about corruption and human rights abuses. He also worked with the award-winning Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was later assassinated, arranging meetings and accompanying her on reporting trips. This prompted local police to start monitoring him. Local authorities tried to bribe him into publishing an article smearing international nongovernmental organizations working in the Caucuses. After he refused, unidentified men abducted him, beat him, and left him in a field. He reported the attack to the local prosecutor’s office, but the case was not pursued. Harassment continued; then Timurziev came down with a mysterious disease, leaving him comatose for weeks and causing him to lose most of his teeth and hair. In 2007, he went into hiding and then fled to Poland. For the past 2½ years, he has been living in a refugee camp in Poland waiting for action on an asylum application.

Russia, Melting

Jim Heinz, Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press, reports:

As Moscow’s record heatwave began, I threw open all the screenless windows in my apartment, hoping for some breeze — but mostly what I got was visits from bugs and, briefly, an inquisitive crow. Then, tendrils of the acrid smoke from the peat-bog fires surrounding the city wafted in, bringing nausea and dry-mouth.

The recommendation of Russia’s top doctor to hang wet sheets at the windows to block the smoke just makes the rooms more stifling. With no end in sight to the misery, another doctor’s advice may be the only one thing that brings relief — think as little as possible. In my 11 years in Moscow, the most frequent question from friends abroad has been “Aren’t the winters tough?” Maybe so. But Russians handle winter with aplomb — fur hats, afternoons in steamy bathhouses, long evenings gulping warming vodka around the table in toasty kitchens.

The country’s not geared for summer, however.

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