MONDAY AUGUST 23 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: In Putin’s Russia, the law is for Sale
(2) EDITORIAL: Russian Inflation, on the Warpath
(3) Know-nothing Russians wallow in Ignorance
(4) The Contours of Russian Paranoia
(5) Clueless Putin betrays Russia
NOTE: Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her Russia column on the mighty Pajamas Media mega blog details the horrifying fact that accounting major KPMG is actively supporting and funding the Putin-Jugend known as Nashi and their festival of neo-Soviet horror known as Seliger. Did somebody say “boycott”?
NOTE: On August 31 there will be a demonstration by “Article 31” in London at 7 pm at 6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, W8 4QP, in support of demonstrators’ right to peaceably assemble under Article 31 of the Russian Constitution. Your support is needed. Further information on the Facebook page.
In Putin’s Russia, the Law is for Sale
Our last editorial focused on the extent to which Vladimir Putin’s so-called “legal system” has been fundamentally corrupted, to the extent that it cannot fairly be said that Russia has a legal system at all. Immediately after it appeared, we received a stunning practical example of what this means to ordinary Russians.
A study by the Clean Hands and Association of Russian Lawyers human rights groups has revealed, after analyzing 6,589 complaints from ordinary people received between July 2, 2009, and July 30, 2010, that positions in law enforcement are for sale: “the job of an aide to a district prosecutor could cost $10,000 [and] the job of a traffic police officer is the most popular position, carrying a $50,000 price tag.” Why Russians are willing to pay such huge fees for a job is clear: “Citing Interior Ministry data, Clean Hands said a standard bribe in Russia averaged 44,000 rubles ($1,450) in mid-2010, almost double the average of 23,000 rubles at the start of the year.”
To the ridiculous and offensive suggestion that corruption is just part of normal life in Russia, clean hands offers this devastating response: “Such an interpretation is pretty widespread, but it is nothing else than a means of manipulating public opinion in a bid to justify the growth of corruption in Russia.”
Russian Inflation, on the Warpath
Perhaps the single most inane and comical pronoucement we’ve see come out of the Russophile camp this year was the suggestion that Russia had cured its life-threatening problem of chronic inflation. Russian inflation has remained horrifyingly high by world standards, and any reduction has been owing to the simple fact that Russians have seen their incomes wiped out by the global economic slowdown, which at its peak stripped 80% off the value of the Russian stock market. With no money, impoverished Russians had a hard time bidding up prices for Russia’s anemic manufacturers.
But now, inflation is back with a vengeance, and is expected to be one-third higher this year than Russians had been led to believe by their government, again aproaching double digits. Grain prices are already soaring because of the national epidemic of wildfires: Prices for buckwheat groats surged 7.3 percent, while wheat flour gained 2.8 percent and millet increased 2.1 percent.
Nobody can be surprised, of course, at Russia’s continuing inability to produce enough goods to satisfy demand even when its citizens are impoverished by world standards.
Boris Kagarlitsky, writing in the Moscow Times:
Since so many predictions about the future are negative, few people want to wait around to see whether they come true. Perhaps that is why the Russian authorities and society prefer to ignore information about impending problems. When the world began speaking about global warming, no countries in Europe treated the topic as lightly as we did. Russia believed that it was all much ado about nothing, a fabricated crisis invented by the West or leftist environmentalists.
Moscow’s responses were: 1. There is no climate crisis; 2. Humanity and the existing economic system are not responsible for it; 3. The crisis in no way affects Russia; and 4. Even if it does exist, it can only be to Russia’s benefit.
Not only did Russia make no attempt to help solve the global environmental crisis, it did everything to exacerbate the problem on its own territory.
Patriots’ Fears — West Not At All Interested in Weakening Russia
August 4, 2010
by Georgiy Mirskiy
From Johnson’s Russia List (Hat Tip: Scraps of Moscow)
“People want to weaken Russia … what do you mean weaken it – they want to crush, dismember, subordinate it…” Who among us has not heard such cries? Journalists, TV and radio commentators, parliamentarians, generals, and professors compete with one another in their attempts to convince the Russian people that the West – and especially America – dreams only of causing catastrophic damage to our country, destroying it, taking things away from it. What is particularly interesting is the more our relationship with Western countries improves, the more vigorous and vociferous the counterattack becomes of those who implore: “Do not believe this! It is all lies! They are undermining our vigilance, they want to trap us!” And this mass brainwashing that has lasted for many years must inevitably produce results. In one opinion poll, almost a third of those who answered thought it possible that AIDS had been deliberately brought into Russia by the Americans.