FRIDAY MARCH 4 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: The Voice of Russia(n Lies)
(2) EDITORIAL: Night Falls on Putin’s Russia
(3) EDITORIAL: Blood on the White Russian Snows
(4) EDITORIAL: Time for the Old Switcheroo!
(5) Why the Kremlin Can’t fight Terror
(6) Welcome back to the USSR!
(7) The Terrific Trio slams the Terrible Tyrant
(8) CARTOON: Putin the Fanat
NOTE: Over on the powerful American Thinker blog, LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld warns the world once again about the horrific dangers of sending its athletes to Sochi in 2014 for the Olympic games.
NOTE: More spectacular pain and failure for the Russian ladies on the tennis court. In the desert of Dubai, Russia’s “best” player Vera Zvonareva was booted out of the tournament in the third round in easy straight sets by player not ranked in the top 15 in the world. Then, Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the finals only to be blown off the court in embarrassing, non-competitive fashion by the glamorous world #1. Ouch.
NOTE: Any attractive young ladies looking for that special man, act now. This offer won’t last long. Must be good with a knife in the dark.
Night Falls on Putin’s Russia
If you look at a map of the world at night, Europe and the United States and Japan and even India are lit up like Christmas trees. Compare them to the vast northern swaths of Russia and to Africa, which lie in sullen darkness. In Africa’s case, it’s because the population simply doesn’t have access to electricity. In Russia’s case, it’s because there are no people present at all.
But the world’s population is exploding. Experts say that “we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000” in order to feed all the new mouths. Russians are doing their part to help: Their population is expected to shrink drastically, by 15% or more, over the next few decades. So the question is: As Russia empties, who’s going to move in? Most likely, it will be the Chinese; but exploding Muslim populations across Russia’s southern border will also have a say.
Russia’s horrifying darkness is both literal and figurative, of course.
Blood on the White Russian Snows
Last week Russia suffered what may well be, pound for pound, the most terrifying act of separatist violence in its history.
In a gesture of unmistakable menace towards the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the Caucasian rebels launched an all-out assault on winter sportsmen. Three skiers from Moscow were shot dead on the road to the slopes in Kabarino-Balkaria (two other members of their party were wounded), and at nearby Mt. Elbrus another force of rebels blew up a ski lift, bringing down dozens of cable cars. The attacks were timed to coincide with the staging of the first test events for the Sochi games.
The response of the Putin regime was truly terrifying. It openly admitted that it could not control the separatist violence, and helplessly warned Russian sportsmen to simply stay out of the area. Today Kabarino-Balkaria, tomorrow Sochi.
Time for the Old Switcheroo
On February 20th, activists from Roman Dobrokhotov’s “We” movement hung a fifty-square-meter banner, shown above, from a bridge directly opposite the Moscow Kremlin. You can view photos of the unfurling on the blog of “We” activist Ilya Varlamov.
The banner showed photos of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in a presidential gaze, and Vladimir Putin, behind bars, and invited viewers to consider the possibility that it was time, as LR founder Kim Zigfeld said on Siberian Light several years ago, for the two to change places.
We’ve written about Dobrokhotov before. He’s made many spectacular and direct challenges to the dictatorial rule of Vladimir Putin, but none more awesome and fearless than this one. Make no mistake: Putin shoots people for doing stuff like this, shoots them dead.
The New York Review of Books explains why the Putin regime is unable to protect Russian citizens from terrorism:
As the story of the horrific January 24 bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport continues to unfold, the parallels with past major terrorist attacks in Russia are striking. It is not just the high number of casualties (36 dead and 160 wounded) and that the perpetrators appear to have come from the volatile North Caucasus. As with earlier such violence, there were also serious warning signs in advance that were ignored, and the immediate handling of the attack by the authorities was botched. Above all, the confusing and contradictory response of both the security agencies and Russia’s leadership has once again raised troubling questions about the Kremlin’s counter-terrorism policies.
British diplomat Tony Brenton reveals the true horror of life in Vladimir Putin’s neo-Soviet state in the Daily Mail:
Should you get home to find the door to your flat unlocked from the inside, that’s just the FSB (the KGB’s successor) letting you know they called. If you pick up the phone to hear your voice played back, as I have, someone is recording your conversations. Such was my life in Russia during my time as a senior official and then as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008.
In a truly thrilling op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Milov, Russia’s terrific trio, lay down withering crossfire against the advancing legions of the Putin dictatorship:
This year started quite symbolically in Russia. In the last days of 2010, government authorities decided to demonstrate their power and their intolerance for being challenged: The verdict issued at the farcical trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev had no relation to jurisprudence; leading opposition figures were detained for as many as 15 days on purely political grounds.
These heavy-handed actions set a peculiar stage for President Dmitry Medvedev’s address at the World Economic Forum. Nevertheless, the intelligent and well-informed audience in Davos enthusiastically applauded his nice words about Russia’s economic modernization and dynamic democratic development. International business leaders seem to accept his complaints that few Russians understand his great plans for the country’s future, which greedy oligarchs and corrupt officials from the 1990s prevent him from undertaking.
Translation: The TV says “Team Dictator is down by a score of 0-2.”
Putin responds: “Let’s go Muamar!!”
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 25 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: The Coming Russian Depression
(2) EDITORIAL: Long Live Luke Harding!
(3) EDITORIAL: Russians — You just can’t Trust Them
(4) EDITORIAL: Home Sweet Home for Vladimir Putin
(6) Russia’s Stunning Failure in Chechnya
(7) Latynina: Why are Russians so Gutless?
(8) The Downfall of Education in Putin’s Russia
(9) CARTOON: Alien, 2011
NOTE: One of our favorite Russia bloggers, Julia Ioffe is interviewed in Russian on Russian radio here.
NOTE: A defamation lawsuit by former parliament member Vladimir Ryzhkov and former Kremlin officials Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov has begun its trial in Moscow. The defendant? Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
NOTE: Ever wonder what the lives of Russian customs officials are like? Wonder no longer.
The Coming Russian Depression
Even by Russian standards, the economic news last week was exceedingly grim.
A new report released by Standard & Poors revealed that as Russia’s population crashes to near 115 million by 2050, a loss of well over 15% from today’s level, and as it ages while younger workers disappear, the country can expect national debt to soar to stratospheric levels nearly six times what Russia produces in value in a given year. Russia will produce less and less value with fewer and fewer productive workers (Russian workers are already among the world’s least productive and most corrupt), yet it will be called upon to pay out more and more to unproductive, aging workers.
S&P’s conclusion was stark indeed: “By 2035, we expect that Russia’s fiscal indicators will have weakened such that they would be more in line with sovereigns currently rated in the speculative-grade category, because, in our view, the projected improvement in GDP per capita would not be able to offset the potential fiscal deterioration.”
Long Live Luke Harding
On December 1, 2010, Luke Harding, Russia correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, published a story based on leaked confidential government documents which concluded that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin approved the murder of dissident KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko.
Six weeks later, the very next time Harding tried to enter Russia, his visa was revoked and he was sent back home. More than three dozen foreign journalists have been refused entry to Russia since Vladimir Putin came to power and many others, like Paul Klebnikov of Forbes, have been murdered outright.
But it’s pretty hard to think of a single pro-Kremlin journalist who has been arrested or exiled or murdered by the Putin Kremlin, isn’t it?
Posted in editorial, iron curtain, journalism, journalists, neo-soviet crackdown, russia
Tagged Alexander Litvinenko, KGB, luke harding, moscow times, Paul Klebnikov, russia, The Guardian, vladimir putin, Walter Duranty
Russians — You just can’t Trust Them
When the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer surveyed 200 members of the Russian elite recently, it found that “Russia’s elite are the least likely out of 22 world nations to trust their country’s business institutions. Only 41 percent of those surveyed expressed confidence in businesses.” The level of trust, already pitifully low, slipped from last year.
Do Russians think their government and/or the media is their champion, honest itself and fighting against business corruption on their behalf? They do not. The Moscow Times reports:
The survey revealed that Russians are also wary of their political and social institutions, with confidence ratings falling at least 14 points below the world average in each category. Nongovernmental organizations got the highest confidence vote, 42 percent. But only 39 percent of the elite trust the government, while only 37 percent believe the media.
It’s exactly what one would predict in a country that has chosen to allow itself to be ruled by a proud KGB spy whose raison d’etre is lies and deception.
The MT explains that the financial costs to the Russian people of all this suspicion are astronomical.
Home Sweet Gold-Plated Home for Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin's new front door, complete with Russian Eagle
Last week Vladimir Putin announced he intended to spend more than $20 billion over the the next five years on housing for Russia’s impoverished, homeless masses. We wonder if he includes himself in that group, and if so how much of that $20 billion will go into Putin’s personal pocket.
He needs the money, of course, if he’s going to go on building personal palaces plated with gold at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, and maintain them for decades.
Joshua Yaffa, writing on Foreign Policy, says that Russians brought the Domodedovo terrorist attack upon themselves:
For over a decade, suicide attacks have been a persistent and macabre feature of Russia’s battle with militants in the North Caucasus. The suicide bomber who took the lives of 35 people in the arrival hall of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Jan. 24 provided only the latest chapter in a dark history that, for many Russians, is also the history of Chechnya’s struggle for national self-determination. In reality, however, the violence is no longer political — for the residents of this troubled region, it has become something much more noxious and potentially unsolvable.
Under Vladimir Putin, whose rise to power was intertwined with Russia’s second invasion of Chechnya in October 1999, Moscow marginalized the nationalist, secular wing of the Chechen rebel movement. The conflict’s unapologetically violent extremists, inspired by the language of global jihad, filled the gap — allowing the Kremlin to plausibly claim that further negotiations were impossible. The current generation of militants is not motivated by the prospect of a realistic political settlement — unless the establishment of an Islamic “emirate” in the North Caucasus can be called realistic.
Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times, asks why her countrymen are so pathetically spineless:
In an interview with Gazeta.ru, Natalya Vasilyeva, assistant to Judge Viktor Danilkin in the second criminal case against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said Danilkin had to obtain approval from the Moscow City Court — and higher — for each of his actions, and that the city court wrote the verdict that Danilkin read at the trial.
There were two surprising things about the interview with Vasilyeva. The first is her claim that Danilkin considered the process unjust and was out of sorts as a result. If that is true, it is unexpected because people tend to rationalize their actions. I find it hard to believe that the average NKVD officer really considered himself an inhumane executioner, despite the historical record showing him to be exactly that.
The second is that, if Vasilyeva spoke the truth, it is amazing how easily Danilkin buckled under pressure and sold out his ideals. After all, what would have happened to him if he had acquitted Khodorkovsky?
Vladimir Ryzkhov, writing in the Moscow Times:
The Education and Science Ministry headed by Andrei Fursenko has a good shot at winning the dubious title of Least-Loved Federal Agency, an honor once incontestably held by the Health and Social Development Ministry when it was headed by Mikhail Zurabov. He was disgraced after trying to monetize pensioners’ benefits, which sparked widespread protests in 2005.
Criticism has not subsided over standardized university-entrance exams that were intended to end corruption by leveling the educational playing field for rich and poor, urbanites and people from the provinces. But the exams have only given the advantage to the most corrupt regions and turned the educational process into a mindless rote process of memorizing facts instead of testing students’ intellectual ability.
The title reads: “Alien 2012, the Saga Continues”
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 18 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Russia Eliminates
(2) EDITORIAL: Berlusconi goes Down
(3) EDITORIAL: Hypocrisy, thy name is Russia
(4) EDITORIAL: Russia’s Siamese Twin Idiots come Unglued
(5) EDITORIAL: Maria Sharapova, Rotten to the Russian Core
(6) Putin is Public Enemy #1
(7) Putin Lies about Yeltsin
NOTE: LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment on the influential American Thinker blog focuses on the recent explusion of leading Russia correspondent Luke Harding and the craven dishonesty of the Obama administration, which is rapidly losing the respect of the entire world (except for its beloved Kremlin, of course).
NOTE: Russians are on the march. Shades of Egypt?
NOTE: Dima Medvedev is the world’s best Russian blogger. LOL!
Daylight savings time.
What do these three things have in common? They were all banned last week in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Illegal. No more. That’s it. That’s right, banned. In so-called “democratic” Russia.
What’s next? Only God knows the answer to that question, dear reader. Just try to make sure it’s not you.
Berlusconi goes Down
Bosom Buddies Berlusconi (left) and Putin
Vladimir Putin’s best pal, Italian ruler Silvio Berlusconi, was indicted by prosecutors last week for buying sex from a child and for theft. He already faces numerous charges for official corruption. His immunity from prosecution has been lifted. He’s going down, and he’s going down fast.
To say the least, we are not surprised.
To say the least, Putin is guilty of at least as much public and private corruption as his bosom pal Berlusconi, ought to be facing at least as much attention from Russian prosecutors. Revelations about the personal palaces Putin is building for his golden years alone ought to be enough to justify this . That it isn’t happening is a testimony to the vast differences in civilization between Russia and Italy.
Hypocrisy, thy Name is Russia
Cynics on Russia though we may be, we were absolutely floored by the shocking, nauseating hypocrisy flowing out of Russia last week. First, the Putin regime accused Egypt of mistreating journalists and demanded that it stop. Then, it accused the Chechen separatists of acting with “senseless cruelty” at the Domodedovo airport.
We don’t think any rational person can deny it: Russia is one of the world’s worst abusers of journalists, and the senseless cruelty Russia has applied against Chechnya is unprecedented in modern world history.
In fact, Russia has been formally convicted of senseless cruelty over and over and over again by the European Court for Human Rights, and its brutal murder of journalists requires an entire online database just to keep up with.
And in fact, days after making this breathtaking announcement, as we report in our lead editorial, the Kremlin banned one of the world’s leading Russia correspondents, , Luke Harding from even entering the country to stop him from reporting on corruption in the Kremlin.
How dare the Russians? How dare they even consider opening their mouths to criticize anyone on this planet where cruelty and mistreatment of journalists are concerned? Are they really so totally oblivious of reality that they cannot understand the world will simply burst into hysterical laughter and hearing such pronouncements from Russia, just as it always did when they came from the USSR, as if from a lunatic asylum?
And that’s not the end of Russia’s breathtaking hypocrisy.
Russia’s Siamese Twin Idiots Come Unglued
“You can say that the case has on the whole been solved.”
— Vladimir Putin, February 3, 2010
“No one has a right to make an announcement about the solution of this crime.”
— Dmitri Medvedev, February 3, 2010
The horrifically successful bombing of Russia’s Domodedovo airport has caused the idiotic Siamese twins who rule the country to come unglued. It seems those who gave their lives at the airport did not do so in vain.
They are actually, openly contradicting each other. It’s sweet music to our ears.
Maria Sharapova, Russian to the Rotten Core
“We are going to go out and fight. We never give up and that’s not what our country is known for, and we are going to go out there and battle for what is ours.”
That was Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova talking, shortly after losing her Fed Cup match in Moscow in easy, non-competitive straight sets 3-6, 4-6 to France’s Virginie Razzano, the lowly world number 83. Sharapova may well have found it hard to get inspired by patriotism paying in and a for a country in which she spends hardly any time. She lives in the USA, owns lots of property there, and is engaged to a non-Russian who does likewise.
And what did Shamapova do after making this bold statement? She promptly quit. She was replaced in the second-round singles match by countrywoman Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the desperate hope of eking out a win against the unheralded and hopelessly out-gunned French squad. What’s more, the fourth member of Russia’s Fed Cup team, Dinara Safina, did not even set foot on the court. Sharapova then promptly also quit her next scheduled tournament, claiming she had a cold. Russians fighting on? As if.
Sharapova was, of course, simply lying (in classic Russian fashion) when she said Russia is “not known for giving up.” In fact, that’s exactly what Russia is known for, in every walk of life, all throughout history. When the going gets tough the Russians get going, right out the “Exit” door. When democracy is too tough, they opt for dictatorship. When a tennis match is too tough, they quit. As such, Shamapova proves herself 100% Russian to the core with her behavior in Moscow.
Hero journalist Yelena Milashina, an investigative journalist for Novaya Gazeta, and a recipient of Human Rights Watch’s 2010 Alison Des Forges award for extraordinary activism, writing in The Wall Street Journal:
The terrorist attack at Domodedovo Airport last week, likely organized by Islamists from the North Caucasus, claimed 36 lives. Less than a year ago, 40 people died in the March bombing of the Moscow metro, also carried out by Chechen Islamists.
Prior to the metro attack there hadn’t been a bombing in Moscow for nearly six years. In summer 2004, militants acting on orders of Chechen leader Shamil Basayev organized a series of terrorist attacks in several cities. The culmination of these attacks was the seizure of a school in the small Ossetian city of Beslan in September 2004. When Russian troops stormed the school, 333 hostages died, including 186 children.