Russia, the Incredible Shrinking Country
Businessweek magazine recently published a list of the 25 countries that are losing population most rapidly, in other words shrinking the fastest. In this most basic test of national success, Russia is #18. That means that only 17 countries on the entire planet are shrinking faster than Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
“Salt” in Russia’s Wounds
The horrifying new Angelina Jolie movie, “Salt,” has our vote for the worst. and most well-deserved, publicity Russia has ever received in its sordid history.
In an amazing bit of timing, “Salt” was released almost at the same moment as the spy scandal involving Anna Chapman, dramatizing for all the world to see the dangers of Russian sleeper cell of spies being turned loose to wreck havoc on the American government, and the world. Had this not been the case, Russophiles would surely have tried to claim that sleep cells like these did not exist. Now, they are left to mumble and stand utterly exposed.
The image of Russians depicted in the film is truly shocking, bloodthirsty and barbaric.
Paul Goble, writing for the Eurasia Daily Monitor:
Taking advantage of a “marked” decline in US activity in the former Soviet space, President Dmitry Medvedev is moving to “minimize” what some in Moscow see as the negative “consequences of the most serious geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” by setting “a certain Union of Sovereign Super-loyal Republics.”
In this way, the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta argue, the USSR is reappearing albeit in a somewhat different form, and it future development, they suggest, will depend in the first instance “on the political will and professionalism of those carrying out” this policy direction.
Paul Goble reports:
Attacks on journalists in Russia and militia violence against Russian citizens inevitably attract more attention when they take place in Moscow or another central Russian city, but these disturbing phenomena are increasingly spreading across the entire country, as two new reports make clear.
At the request of the New Times, analysts at the Glasnost Defense Foundation, who have been monitoring attacks on journalists in Russia for ten years provided the Moscow weekly with “a detailed analysis of attacks” over the last five years, one that shows where the attacks have been and what have been the outcomes .
During that period, there have been attacks on journalists in 78 of the 83 federal subjects. Only Smolensk, Tambov and Magadan oblasts and the Nenets and Chukotka autonomous districts have had none, the foundation reports. Moreover, in 66 of the regions during the last five years, journalists have been killed or maimed or both.
The New Zealand Herald reports that the Russians have once again humiliated themselves before the eyes of a slack-jawed world:
Irish super group U2’s first Russia concert was marred Thursday after police detained rights campaigners at the jam-packed venue and tore down tents to prevent them gathering signatures for petitions.
Some 75,000 fans flocked to Wednesday evening’s showpiece in a Moscow stadium which came the day after U2 frontman Bono held talks with rock-loving President Dmitry Medvedev on issues including preventing the spread of polio and HIV.
Bono praised Medvedev as “gracious” in front of the crowd but also as a finale invited Russian rock star Yury Shevchuk – famous for his outbursts against the Kremlin – to the stage for a duet.