Daily Archives: September 15, 2010

September 15, 2010 — Contents

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 15 CONTENTS

(1)  EDITORIAL:  Russia is not Sustainable

(2)  EDITORIAL:  The Eternal Russian Mystery

(3)  EDITORIAL:  What Russians mean by “Democracy”

(4)  Russians in Ukraine reject Russia

(5)  Microsoft Condemns the Kremlin!

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EDITORIAL: Russia is not Sustainable

EDITORIAL

Russia is not Sustainable

“What became clear from the financial crisis is that Russia is not a sustainable BRIC,” said Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

What makes it so clear that Russia isn’t sustainable?  The Wall Street Journal reports a truly stunning fact:  “After years of rapid economic growth, Russia was hit hard by the crisis. Last year, its economy shrank by 7.9%. That put its economic performance in 206th place out of 213 countries, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.”

That’s right:  Last year, only seven countries on the entire planet performed worse than the one presided over by proud KGB spy Vladimir Putin.

So now, a desperate Russia is attempting to make common cause with the European Union. Good luck with that, Russians.

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EDITORIAL: The Eternal Russian Mystery

EDITORIAL

The Eternal Russian Mystery

Russia has been famously described as a riddle wrapped in mystery surrounded by an enigma.  And the fundamental question foreigners are always left with having dealt with Russians is:  “Is it dishonesty, or stupidity?”

Which one, for instance, would make Vladimir Putin say “that Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president of the U.S. four times in a row, and that didn’t damage the U.S. Constitution.”  Is Putin really such an ignorant ape that he doesn’t know Americans immediately changed their Constitution after FDR passed from the scene, concluding his bid for power was outrageous and dangerous?

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EDITORIAL: What Russians mean by “Democracy”

EDITORIAL

What Russians mean by “Democracy”

“I categorically do not agree with those who maintain that there is no democracy in Russia, that it is ruled by authoritarian tradition.  Russia, without a doubt, is a democracy. Yes, it is young, immature, imperfect, inexperienced — but it is democracy. We are at the very beginning of the path.  They tell us about parliamentary democracy. Our Kyrgyz friends have taken the path. But for Russia, as, I am afraid, for Kyrgyzstan as well, parliamentary democracy is a catastrophe.  Nothing needs to be radically changed. Not because it is not allowed, but because there is no need”

–Russian “president” Dima Medvedev, speaking at the “World Political Forum” in Yaroslavl, Russia on September 10, 2010

What does Mr. Medvedev understand from the term “democracy,” which he takes no trouble to define? If it does not include a “parliament” with rival political parties, then what pray tell does it include?  Everyone knows that Russia’s direct presidential elections are shamelessly rigged, so obviously they too are not part of Medvedev’s definition of “democracy.” What is?  What aspect of Russian society is any way democratic?  Governors and mayors are directly controlled by the Kremlin, there is no parliament, no contested presidential elections, no opposition parties, no critical national media.

Perhaps a clue can be found in an AP report which stated: “Anyone who says that Russia has a totalitarian system is ‘either lying or has a terrible memory’ he said. Medvedev said protests were ‘normal’ but had to take place ‘within the limits of the law.'”  So, it seems that when Medvedev utters the word “democracy” he means “not totalitarian” or “not Soviet.” As long as Russia is not as repressive as it was in Soviet times, then, it’s enough of a democracy that, in Medvedev’s opinion, it needs no radical change.

That is sick and perverse.  The “president” of Russia, supposedly a “lawyer,” does not even begin to comprehend the meaning of democracy or rule of law. He believes his country is such a basket case that it is making all the progress it can simply to avoid being a worst-case scenario right now, today.

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Russians in Ukraine begin to reject Russia

Paul Goble reports:

An “extremely significant segment” of ethnic Russians in Western Ukraine, particularly among the younger generation, regularly vote for pro-Ukrainian parties, either because of “nationalist propaganda” or because they hope to live “‘in Europe’” rather than to maintain “ties with their historical Motherland – Russia,” according to a Russian analyst.

And that is just one of the indications of the declining role of an ethnic community that came into existence in the years after World War II and that played a large role there until the 1990s, Dmitry Korolyev says in a detailed essay on the Russians in the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv.  The first Russian who settled in Lviv, he writes, was Ivan Fedorov, the printer who arrived in 1572, but until 1939, there were very few ethnic Russians there. They consisted mostly of anti-Bolshevik White Army soldiers and their families, and they numbered at most in “the hundreds.”

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Microsoft Condemns the Kremlin!

The Kremlin has lost a major battle and received another humiliating international black eye.  The Microsoft Website reports:

A story in yesterday’s New York Times reports on anti-piracy enforcement actions in Russia that have been used for more nefarious purposes than protecting intellectual property rights.

As General Counsel for Microsoft, it was not the type of story that felt good to read. It described instances in which authorities had used piracy charges concerning Microsoft software to confiscate computers and harass non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others engaged in public advocacy. It suggested that there had been cases when our own counsel at law firms had failed to help clear things up and had made matters worse instead.

Whatever the circumstances of the particular cases the New York Times described, we want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain. We are moving swiftly to seek to remove any incentive or ability to engage in such behavior.

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