Daily Archives: September 2, 2010

September 6, 2010 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  The Craven Cowards in Washington DC

(2)  EDITORIAL:  A Russian Tail, and Dog

(3)  Russia’s Pathetic Education Fraud

(4)  Russia’s Outrageous Assault on Journalism

(5)  Putin’s Destructive Foreign Policy Failure

EDITORIAL: The Craven Cowards in Washington DC


The Craven Cowards in Washington DC

Here is what the U.S. State Department had to say about the Kremlin‘s barabaric crackdown on peaceful protesters on August 31st, including the illegal arrest of a former first deputy prime minister:

U.S. officials in Moscow and St. Petersburg confirmed that several gatherings took place across Russia to demonstrate support for Article 31 of the Russian Constitution. And according to our Embassy and consulate, dozens of protestors were detained in both cities. Article 31 guarantees to Russian citizens the right to gather peacefully, without weapons, and to hold meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches, and pickets. Since 2009, Russian citizens have been holding similar rallies on the 31st day of every month that has 31 days. The United States reiterates the importance of embracing and protecting universal values, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly enshrined in the Russian Constitution, as well as in international agreements with which Russia has signed.  We are concerned by actions by the Russian Government in recent years, shrinking the space for civil society. We have concerns about intimidation of citizens, intimidation of journalists, intimidations of nongovernmental operators who are working on behalf of the Russian people. It is part of our ongoing dialogue with the Russian Government, and we hope and expect that Russia will live up to its human rights obligations. We – well, through our Embassy, we have expressed our concern to the Russian Government and that conversation is ongoing.

This mealy-mouthed, craven gibberish would be unacceptable even if it came directly from the lips of the President of the United States or the Secretary of State.  There is no hint of any policy action, no naming of names like Nemtsov, and no language which would even vaguely suggest outrage.  It is the language of a small person, from a small country, a cowardly mouse hiding in the shadows.

But America did not even have the courage to let a president or secretary utter these words. Instead, they came from an anonymous underling deep in the bowels of the State Department and were heard by almost nobody, least of all anybody in the Moscow Kremlin.

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EDITORIAL: A Russian Tail, and Dog


A Russian Tail, and Dog




Suppose we told you that those three numbers represent the annual salaries of the President of Russia, the Prime Minister of Russia and the Chief of the KGB (now known as the FSB).

In reverse.

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Russia and its Pathetic Education Fraud

Michael Bohm, writing in the Moscow Times:

Three weeks ago, NTV television reported that more than 70 engineers working at a Komsomolsk-on-Amur airplane factory in the Khabarovsk region had obtained fake engineering degrees from a local technical college. The high-security military plant, which belongs to state-owned Sukhoi, assembles the Su-27, Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets, as well as the much-anticipated Superjet 100 passenger plane. The trade in fake diplomas is nothing new, of course, but the sheer number of employees involved was mind-boggling.

Sukhoi management took a nonchalant attitude toward the scandal and refused to fire the employees, referring to a company rule that employees can be dismissed only for “grave crimes.” (According to the Criminal Code, knowingly purchasing a fake diploma carries a maximum punishment of an 80,000 ruble [$2,600] fine and two years of “correctional labor.”) Sukhoi management also explained that the diplomas were a mere formality since the engineers had been employed at the plant for years and assured that no engineers with fake diplomas had been employed in actual plane production.

This is a classic case of self-deception. Sukhoi pretended that it had “raised worker qualifications” by instantly turning dozens of employees with only a high school education into engineers with college degrees. Until they got caught, everyone seemingly gained from the scheme. The plant reported to Sukhoi headquarters in Moscow that it fulfilled its plan for the number of degree-holding engineers on staff, the workers received a small bonus for their new skill level, and everyone pretended that they were making better airplanes.

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Russia and its Outrageous Assault on Journalism

Reuters reports:

Armed and masked police raided the opposition New Times magazine on Thursday, pressing journalists to hand over interview recordings used in reports on alleged abuse of authority by the OMON riot police.

A handful of police entered the magazine’s Moscow office seeking recordings of interviews and other material used in a February report that cited police sources as saying OMON officers are permitted to commit abuses when breaking up protests.

“We suggest you voluntarily — voluntarily — give us the recordings of the interview with the current and former OMON staff,” the officer in charge of the raid told New Times editor Yevgenia Albats in the presence of a Reuters reporter.

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Putin’s Destructive Foreign Policy Failure

In a stunning act of political courage Irina Busygina, a professor of political science and director of the Center for Regional Political Studies at Moscow State University for International Relations, joined with Mikhail Filippov, a professor of political science at Binghamton University in New York, to offer the following devastating condemnation of the foreign policy of Vladimir Putin in the Moscow Times:

Over the past decade, Russia has made repeated attempts to demonstrate its growing power to the world. There are two main objectives behind these attempts: to obtain international recognition as a superpower and to coerce other states into partnership. Both goals are based on the political elite’s belief that Russia should be included on that list a priori by virtue of its huge territory, nuclear arsenal and economic potential.

In this respect, Russia’s policy toward the West places a strong emphasis on its sovereignty and on the assertion that it deserves equal standing with the other great powers.

But Moscow’s strategy toward other former Soviet republics is another matter entirely. Here, Russia is essentially attempting to coerce its neighbors into partnerships. Moscow takes this approach because it wants to have pro-Russian coalitions in its backyard. In practice, Russian foreign policy in its near abroad looks like a series of random fits and starts. Initiatives to create multilateral alliances, such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, have been unsuccessful. Russia’s attempts at strong-arm diplomacy and the use of its natural resources as a bargaining chip have also failed.

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