Russia, Putin’s Bitch
We were very pleased, of course, to see a cartoon (shown above) from our favorite Russian political artist, the inimitable and indispensable Sergei Yelkin, appear atop a column in last week’s Moscow Times by former Duma member Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of our favorite Russian politicians.
Ryzhkov neatly sums up the attitude of Russia’s rulers towards her people, an attitude of pure contempt and hatred that spells certain national disaster if these rulers are allowed to continue in power. He states: “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Kremlin first deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov and their ideological supporters don’t believe Russians can be trusted to vote. They are not smart or civilized enough to vote responsibly.”
For Little Dima Medvedev, a Knife in the Darkness
An interesting thing happened a few days ago. Moscow “Mayor” Yuri Luzhkov was fired by Russian “President” Dima Medvedev, and the so-called Mayor was soon lashing out publicly at the so-called President. Luzhkov, of course, is a very popular fellow in many Russian quarters, and his words carry weight. Not a word was said about Vladimir Putin. In fact, it was almost as if Putin had planned the whole thing, just to kill two competitive birds with one stone as he prepares to become “president for life.”
And who can say that this is not precisely what has occurred?
When is a Russian not a Russian?
Professor Andrei Geim
Last week a “Russian” won a Nobel prize for Physics. Two of them, actually: Andrei Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. They invented a new material so strong that a single layer of it stretched across a coffee cup could support the weight of a tractor trailer pressing down on a pencil point. Yet, it’s also the thinnest material ever made.
It will surprise no regular reader of this blog to learn, however, that neither one of them is really Russian.
Oleg Kozlovsky, writing on the Huffington Post:
As Vladimir Putin is apparently preparing to return to the Presidential seat in 2012, PR campaign in his support is gaining strength sometimes almost reaching the level of cult of personality. On October 6, a day before Putin’s 59th birthday, he got an unusual gift from several female students of Moscow State University’s Department of Journalism. Twelve soon-to-be journalists in sexy lingerie posed for a calendar entitled “Happy Birthday, Mr. Putin!” Next to their smiling photos were put slogans like “How About a Third Time?”, “Who Else If Not You?”, “You Are Only Getting Better with Years” etc. Names of the girls and their department were mentioned at every page.
Top: cover of the original calendar saying “Vladimir Vladimirovich, We Love You!”
Bottom: remake by Zhurfak students, saying “Vladimir Vladimirovich, We Have a Few Questions For You.”
Make no mistake, it wasn’t a joke or a spontaneous burst of patriotism of a few not-so-smart girls.
Konstantin Sonin, writing in the Moscow Times:
Reading tea leaves — or coffee grounds if you happen to be in Russia — won’t help anyone guess who the next mayor of Moscow will be. My prediction is that our leaders will opt for the candidate who is least likely to make a play for the Kremlin in the future.
But Yury Luzhkov’s firing has made one thing very clear: United Russia is not a political party at all. In reality, it is little more than a superficial label or a badge worn by the overwhelming majority of high-ranking, opportunistic state employees. Examples of genuine parties include the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in Mexico; the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; the Communist Party of China and the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan.
Michael Bohm, writing in the Moscow Times:
On the day President Dmitry Medvedev fired Yury Luzhkov, reporters asked Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to comment on the reason. “The Moscow mayor didn’t get along with the president,” Putin said.
Medvedev’s own explanation wasn’t any more substantial. “As the president of Russia, I have lost my trust in Yury Mikhailovich Luzhkov as the mayor of Moscow,” he told journalists in Shanghai on Sept. 28, the day he signed the dismissal order.
Since then, Medvedev hasn’t explained any further. Although the law apparently allows Medvedev to get away with this vagueness, the president has an obligation to explain the exact reasons why he sacked the mayor of Moscow, who held the most powerful positions in the country.
Backing the ruling tandem’s silence, one of United Russia’s top leaders, Vyacheslav Volodin, commented the day Luzhkov was sacked: “The president’s decision shouldn’t be discussed. It should be carried out.”