Daily Archives: October 10, 2010

October 15, 2010 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:  The Lenin-Stalin-Putin Continuum

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Russia, Nation of Lab Rats

(3)  EDITORIAL:  Humiliation for Russia in Latvia

(4)  There is no Russia

(5)  IKEA to Russia:  Drop Dead!

EDITORIAL: The Lenin-Stalin-Putin Continuum


The Lenin-Stalin-Putin Continuum

Last week, once again, Vladimir Putin’s Russia was awash in appallingly bad economic news.  Inflation was roaring and consumer confidence was plummeting.  The stock market was bouncing around like a yo-yo, helplessly enslaved by world raw materials prices.  A Russian defector won a Nobel prize and then ruthlessly condemned the state of neo-Soviet science.  Once again, Russia pathetically flailed about seeking WTO membership like a beggar, and retail giant IKEA announced it was halting investment in the the land of Putin (IKEA has spent more on Russia than the Kremlin is planning to spend on the Sokolovo “Russian Silicon Valley” project).

All this leads Russians to look elsewhere for investment opportunities, of course.  Capital flight has always been a main hallmark of the despotic Putin regime.  So last week, Putin revealed his “solution” to that problem:  He simply won’t let Russians access foreign markets.

Who can be surprised that Putin, a proud KGB spy and a relic of the failed Soviet past, would adopt a neo-Soviet authoritarian response to the inconvenience of the marketplace? Who can expect his results to be any better than those of his Soviet ancestors?

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Nation of Lab Rats


Russia, Nation of Lab Rats

Last week the world learned that it may finally have found a use for Russia apart from as a nuclear waste dumping ground: Russians make great lab rats.

Yes, it’s true:  If you’d like to experiment with dangerous new “medications” on real live human subjects, there’s no place on earth you’d rather be than Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

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EDITORIAL: Pain and Humiliation for Russia in Latvia


Pain and Humiliation for Russia in Latvia

Last week, the voters of Latvia spit directly in the eye of the Putin Kremlin.

Despite polls and vociferous claims of Russian nationalists, the pro-Russia party known as “Harmony Center” was soundly defeated by anti-Russian forces in national parliamentary elections. The pro-Russian contingent garnered just 29% of the seats in the legislature and its rivals quickly and easily formed a coalition that thrust it out of power.

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There is no Russia

Paul Goble reports:

The dismissal of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov highlights the fact that “there is no Russia,” a Moscow analyst argues. Instead, “there is only a Sovietoid copy which has been converted into the RF Corporation,” something everyone involved needs to recognize in order not to continue to pay a high price for making a mistake on this point.

In an essay posted on the Folksland.net portal, Aleksey Shornikov says that “the Russian Federation is not a state, although it dresses itself up in the clothes of a power. The RF is instead a commercial company or as it can be expressed in terms familiar to us, ‘RF Inc.’”

According to Shornikov, “the various European East Indian companies” prefigured the form that RF Inc. has taken since 1991. The most famous of these was the British one in India, a public-private partnership chartered by the king that performed many of the functions of a state but was organized and acted like a corporation pursuing profit.

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IKEA to Russia: Drop Dead!

The Russia Monitor reports:

Earlier this year I wrote about IKEA’s corruption problems in Russia.  Two senior managers were fired after Swedish media reported that the managers had approved a bribe payment by their general contractor in order to obtain electricity service for a St. Petersburg Mega-Mall.  IKEA had been powering the mall with rented generators, but changed its approach once it found that an employee allegedly received kickbacks from the generator company in exchange for paying inflated rental rates. As we now know, Plan B did not work out so well.

This week IKEA Russia’s new chief Per Wendschlag announced that IKEA would “focus on existing stores” and that it the Swedish company was halting constructionof a $1 billion mall near Moscow (Europe’s would-be largest shopping mall), which was just announced in April 2010 (right after the corruption scandal in February).  At first glance, this seems like a prudent strategy – some of IKEA’s problems have arisen from its previous balls out expansion strategy.  The resulting construction has at times been shoddy and has caused accidents.

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