FRIDAY JANUARY 11 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: The Russian “Legal” System, Out of Control
(2) Nemtsov Blasts Putin on Chechnya
(3) Milov Blasts Putin on Riots
(4) The Putin Economy on the Verge of Collapse
(5) Fascism takes Hold in Putin’s Russia
(6) CARTOON: Zoich!
NOTE: LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment on the powerful Pajamas Media megablog tells the shocking story of American citizen Arkady Gontmakher and his persecution by the Putin Kremlin. Even as Mikhail Khodorkovsky was being re-convicted for the same crimes, Gontmakher shows that it’s not only Russians who can fall prey to the neo-Soviet dictatorship.
NOTE: In a double play, Kim’s latest entry in her Russia column on the influential American Thinker blog castigates the Kremlin for its total failure to manage Russia’s recent blizzard conditions. Is this the beginnning of the end for Russia? Can’t even handle a little snow, Mr. Putin?
NOTE: Anna Chapman hams it up on Russian TV.
The Russian “Legal” System, Out of Control
That’s when dissident oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky can expect to leave the Siberian prison cell where he has been held since October 2003. He’ll serve 14 long, brutal years — and indeed may not live to complete his term. Then again, since he has just been sentenced a second time for the same offense he’s already served years for allegedly committing, what is to stop Russian dictator Vladimir Putin from taking a third bite at the apple. Or a fourth?
“The verdict has nothing to do with justice,” said Karinna Moskalenko, Khodorkovsky’s attorney. That’s putting it mildly.
We have long warned about the danger of the “give Russia a chance” advice. We have warned that if you “give Russia a chance” to do the right thing on Khodorkovsky, you play into the Kremlin’s hands, allowing it to consolidate power and present horrific misdeeds as fait accompli. What can be done now to influence Russia’s manifest persecution of a political rival to the Kremlin? Nothing.
And so the Kremlin will continue and persecute more rivals, until there are none. In fact, the so-called Russian “justice system” has been on something of a feeding frenzy of late. And that does not surprise us.
Remember how dangerous it is for any Russian to criticize the Putin regime over Chechnya, as best illustrated by the murders of Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova and Stanislav Markelov, a recent interview by Boris Nemtsov is truly breathtaking in its courage. Paul Goble reports:
The North Caucasus at the present time is “our Palestine,” Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov says, the result of the deal between Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov in which the former has purchased the loyalty of the latter for cash and at the price of allowing the Chechen leader and his minions to do what they like throughout Russia.
If Russia is to escape from this dilemma, Nemtsov said in the course of an online press conference, several steps are necessary because as the Manezh violence shows the problems of that region are no longer confined to it but rather spreading throughout Russian society.
Writing on Gazeta.ru Vladimir Milov delivers a one-two punch to the solar plexus of Vladimir Putin on the issue of nationality, along with his partner in opposition Boris Nemtsov. The latter handles the Caucaus region, while Milov addresses Putin’s weakness much closer to home. Paul Goble reports:
Russia’s liberals have ceded issues like migration and the violence in the North Caucasus to the nationalists by failing to address them openly and honestly and to offer programs for their resolution, a shortcoming that has helped to marginalize the liberals in Russia and give the nationalists an undeserved victory, a liberal commentator says
In a commentary on Gazeta.ru, Vladimir Milov, the head of the Democratic Choice Movement and of the Institute of Energy Policy, argues that the Manezh Square violence must become “a serious occasion” for re-assessing “the influence and role of nationalism and the factor of inter-ethnic relations in Russian politics.
Anders Aslund, writing in the Moscow Times:
When Russian leaders review the country’s economic development in 2010, they can only be disappointed. There were no great economic disasters, but Russia has clearly underperformed its peers.
Until 2008, the favorite Russian measuring mark was other BRIC countries, but that is no longer so. In 2009, Russia did worse than all other Group of 20 countries with gross domestic product plunging 7.9 percent. This year, growth will be about 4 percent, less than half of India’s and China’s.
Two years ago, Russia’s GDP per capita at current exchange rates was four times as large as China’s, but now it is only twice as large. From Moscow’s horizon, China looks increasingly like a threat rather than a peer.
Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
There are two reasons for the outbreak of ultranationalist violence in Russia. The first is Caucasus fascism, which is a serious problem for Russia in the same way that Islamic fascism is for the West.
Chechnya is taking revenge on Russia for the war and genocide the Kremlin has waged against it over the past 20 years and beyond. That revenge has taken the form of lawlessness and violence on Moscow’s streets.
Recall the recent incident at Moscow’s Yevropeisky shopping center when a security guard refused entry to an armed 32-year-old man from the Chechen city of Shali. The man later returned with a group of friends and beat the guards with baseball bats.
Meet Zoich, the drunken blue frog who gets our vote for the perfect Olympics mascot for Russia in 2014. The only improvement we’d suggest is that there should be a ticking time bomb labled “Chechnya” right behind him.