Lawless, Barbaric Russia
Last week, Vladimir Putin was “shocked, shocked” to find bread prices rising in Russia as grain prices soared because of his badly bungled agricultural policies. As in Soviet times, one had the clear impression that Putin was threatening to round up and shoot the evil capitalist millers and bakers who dared pay attention to market reality and make him look bad. And Putin was was also aggressively carrying out a neo-Soviet coverup of the wildfire disaster that, as we show in in our other editorial in this issue, has laid Putin low.
The two great Roberts of Russia-blogging, Amsterdam and Coalson, coincidentally teamed up last week to offer the world three devastating accounts of the extent to which Vladimir Putin’s Russia has degenerated into a lawless, barbaric state unworthy of respect from civilized democratic nations.
Welcome back to the USSR!
First, Amsterdam reports on how Russia has chosen to simply disregard the ruling of an American court holding that Russia’s retention of a library of Jewish books is illegal.
Then, Coalson shows how Russia is steadfastly refusing to reform its own legal system, even as it uses obviously unconstitutional expansions of KGB power to crack down on civil society and deprive it of even more rights.
Finally, Amsterdam emphasizes that Medvedev’s ridiculous plans to create a Russian version of Silicon Valley are a total sham because Medvedev has done absolutely nothing in the first half of his presidency to protect the legal rights of foreign investors.
Referring to “political subversion of the judiciary” and “deep corruption within the judicial bureaucracy” Amsterdam writes about Russia as if it were a third-world banana republic — and indeed, but for a rocket program, that’s exactly what Russia is. Zaire with permafrost, and nuclear weapons. That such a country would imagine itself capable of attracting responsible foreign investment or of competing in a global free-market economy only goes to show how very neo-Soviet, that is detached from reality, Putin’s Russia has already become.
Amsterdam, who has deep personal experience in the Russian market, writes that “state-owned interests or private companies with close political ties enjoy unfair advantages in a court of law — it’s a real experience suffered every day by foreign investors in Russia.” But Medevedev and Putin act is if they think the rest of the world is not paying attention, and has no idea of the way foreign money is treated in Russia — or foreigners themselves.
We are though, paying attention. The world may still have some evil folks who want to help the Putin dictatorship, some greedy ones who don’t care about the harm they do, and some morons who can’t think of anything better to do with their extra cash than throw it down the Russian rat hole. But most people in the world are decent enough to reject the Putin regime, and Russia will only find itself that much more alone the more barbaric and neo-Soviet it chooses to become.
@”On the contrary, it is American Hasids who must return to Russia seven books from the same collection that they lent from the Russian State Library in 1994 through the U.S. Congress library for two months and have withheld illegally for 16 years now”…
Btw what the Russians call “American Hasids” (Chabad) is a global movement active in dozens of countries around the world and which actually first originated in Russia.
Royce Lamberth, the chief judge of U.S. District Court in Washington, ruled that taking the material was discriminatory, not for a public purpose and occurred without just compensation to the Jewish religious organization that is suing, Chabad-Lubavitch.
At issue are 12,000 religious books and manuscripts seized during the Bolshevik revolution and the Russian Civil War from 1917 to 1925 and 25,000 pages of handwritten teachings and other writings of religious leaders stolen by Nazi Germany during World War II.
The documents seized by the Nazis were transferred by the Soviet Red Army as trophy documents and war booty to the Russian State Military Archive.
Last year, lawyers for the Russian government argued that judges have no authority to tell the country how to handle the sacred Jewish documents.
Under the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a sovereign nation is not immune to lawsuits in cases where property is taken in violation of international law.
Lamberth found that the religious group had established its claim to the material, which he said is “unlawfully” possessed by the Russian State Library and the Russian military archive.
According to court papers reciting the history behind the case, Russian President Boris Yeltsin once gave an explicit assurance to President George H.W. Bush’s emissary, Secretary of State James Baker, that the Russian government would return the library of religious books and manuscripts to Chabad-Lubavitch.
The judge’s decision is correct, and the main issue, i.e., that of jurisdiction was decided also correctly, under the the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Unfortunately, however, the court has no way to enforce it, if Russia refuses to comply. And it undoubtedly will. Among other reasons, what could generate more pleasure than sticking it to the Jews, particularly, ultra-Orthodox ones
As they have absolutely no reason nor need to keep the stolen books for themselves (unless they’re actually studying them all the time to create an invincible army of golems and KRUSH THE AMERICAN PIG-DOGS), and would just give them away if it was a normal/real country, I think they simply want the Jews to buy them out.
It’s Russia after all, everything there is about money now.
I am sure money is a part of it, but I don’t think that’s all it is. You may underestimate the importance of sheer joy they must feel, as all good anti-Semites should, when Jews hurt
I am sure you are right Robert.
those books belong with the plaintiff.
Noted law enforcer Imam Ramzan (TM) in action:
GROZNY, Russia, Aug 18 (Reuters) – The spiritual leader of the Muslim region of Chechnya has ordered that eateries shut down completely for the month of Ramadan, sparking outrage from activists and residents who say it violates Russian law.
Against the backdrop of a spreading insurgency, many fear that growing interest in radical Islam could fuel separatism in the volatile North Caucasus region where rebels are fighting to create a pan-Caucasus state governed by Islamic sharia law.
Chechnya’s mufti Sultan Mirzayev said on Wednesday cafes and restaurants must stay closed even after sundown during Ramadan — a radical move compared to other parts of the Muslim world.
The cafe blackout highlights tension over efforts by Chechnya’s firebrand Moscow-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, to enforce Islamic rules that can violate Russia’s constitution.
Kadyrov’s spokesman declined to comment on the shutdown.
By comparison, in neighbouring Muslim Dagestan, this year’s Ramadan was observed largely in line with traditions accepted in most other parts of the Muslim world, with cafes staying open after nightfall and with no alcohol served.
Dagestan has overtaken Chechnya and nearby Ingushetia as the epicentre of violence as the Islamist insurgency gains momentum.
Before Ramadan started, insurgents from the Kabardino-Balkaria region in the North Caucasus said on Islamist web sites that alcohol-sellers would be “eliminated” during the holy month.
Rights activist and founder of the Chechen Civil Society Forum, Minkail Ezhiev, said the Ramadan shutdown showed that Chechnya was functioning as a state separate from Russia, where the constitution states that religion and state are separate.
“I am totally against the cafes’ closure,” he told Reuters. “Everything needs to be within the confines of the law that dictates in Russia.”
Critics say Kadyrov’s large personal militia impose his vision of Islam in Chechnya, where alcohol is banned, women must wear headscarves in state buildings and polygamy is encouraged by authorities.
In July Kadyrov shocked human rights groups when he praised unidentified assailants for targeting women with paintball pellets for not wearing headscarves.