NOTE: In a special issue today, we offer 100% original content in the form of five editorials covering Internet freedom, education, military collapse, Chernobyl and Russian cuisine. We cap things off with an exclusive blogger interview, Kevin Rothrock, the half-hearted Russophile who blogs at “A Good Treaty.”
If we were talking international basketball scores, those would be good numbers for Russia. But we’re not. We’re talking Internet freedom, as analyzed by Freedom House. The higher the score, the less the freedom.
FH reviewed Internet access among a group of 37 countries around the world, and found that Georgia ranks #12 in the group, in the top third and right behind South Korea, while Russia ranks #22, right behind Rwanda and well into the bottom half of all countries surveyed. In the group of nations designated by FH as “partly free” only four have lower scores than Russia (including Egypt at 54 and Pakistan at 55). The USA’s score is 13, surpassed in the group only by Estonia.
Twice as many Russian bloggers were arrested in the most recent survey period compared to the last one. Russia’s rank fell three places since the prior survey, and its score got much worse, from 49 in 2009 to 52 in 2011.
If course, it may not matter much how free or unfree Russia’s Internet is, because according to FH two-thirds of the Russian population has no Internet access at all.
One of the most hilarious features (or it would be if it were not so tragic) about the Russian psyche is the nation’s continued insistence that it is well-educated, especially compared to Americans. The actual facts tell a quite different story (not that Russians are ever over-interested in facts).
The United States spends 5.7% of its GDP on education, ranking #37 out of 132 countries surveyed by the United Nations Human Development Program.
Russia spends a woeful 3.8% of GDP, ranking a sad and sorry #88. Two-thirds of world nations spend more on education as a share of GDP than Russia does. The USA in particular spends over 65% more on education, as a share of its GDP, than Russia.
If you think about it in dollar terms, the picture is even more horrifying for Russia.
La Russophobe recently sat down (virtually speaking) with Russia blogger Kevin Rothrock of “A Good Treaty.” As the name of his blog suggests, Rothrock is lobbying in favor of Barack Obama’s nuclear arms treaty with Russia. As such, he’s eager to paint Putin’s Russia as a more-or-less reasonable country America can trust well enough to keep its word on such a treaty.
Just as we suspected was the case with now defunct Russia blogger Mark Adomanis, Rothrock is far from being the hardcore Russophile fanatic that many of the idiotic Russophile lurkers and scum seem to take him for being. And, just as we suspected, that doesn’t keep Rothrock from both intentionally and unintentionally undermining American values and helping (in his silly, insignificant little way) to perpetuate the worst and most abusive aspects of dictatorship in Putin’s Russia. Commiting such vile acts doesn’t seem to bother Rothrock one bit. Indeed, Rothrock seems almost reptilian in his cold-blooded attitude towards the subject, caring not one wit for the fate of the people of Russia but only for his personal intellectual amusement and his Obamanian political agenda, and not acknowledging that the rise of a neo-Soviet state in Russia has any risks for American security. Truly, with “friends” like these Russia needs no enemies. Americans, the same.
Most importantly, Rothrock is unable to give a satisfactory answer as to how America can possibly place enough faith and trust in the hopelessly corrupt Putin government so as to justify signing a one-sided nuclear arms treaty with Russia, and he refuses to acknowledge anyone as being viable opposition to Putin. He believes that the only way Putin will not have power for life in Russia is if he doesn’t want it, and he goes on the record saying Putin will not stand for reelection — or if he does, apparently, Dima Medvedev will best him at the polls. Quite a long neck stretch, no? Due credit if he is right. If not . . . guess he’ll just shrug and say “oops, my bad” when he learns lots of folks dropped their guard and let Putin sneak in a haymaker because of his prediction. Meanwhile, Rothrock totally ignores the fact that all the evidence from every source, including the Russian people, indicates that Medvedev is nothing more than Putin’s puppet, a total sham, meaning that it might actually be worse for Putin to pull the strings in secret, where his accountability is even less.
We cannot afford to create a fully professional army. If we save funds elsewhere, we will certainly go back to this idea, but well prepared.
— Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, October 2010
As shown in the chart at left, between 2006 and 2010 the number of young Russian men drafted into the army has nearly tripled, from just over 200,000 per year to nearly 600,000 per year.
There are two simple reasons for this shocking increase in conscription: First, the number of young men newly eligible to serve in the Russian army is plummeting along with the general population (from about 900,000 in 2004 to 500,000 in 2011); second, the horrors of dedovschina and other barbaric practices and hardships of the army have led many young men to reject the option of volunteering. The result is that nearly 100% of all newly-eligible Russians were drafted into the army in 2010. If things go on as they are, even drafting every single eligible man won’t be enough to fill out Russia’s ranks — and the Russian army will start collapsing.
The nuclear reactor in Power Unit No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded at 1:23 am on Friday, April 25, 1986 — twenty five years ago this month.
It immediately generated a cloud of radioactive vapor ten times more toxic than the Hiroshima nuclear bombing.
But the 50,000 residents of the neighboring town of Pripyat, USSR, were not told to take protective measures, such as staying indoors with the windows shut, for a full twelve hours following the blast, when it was announced that they faced “an unfavorable radioactive atmosphere.” Unfavorable indeed! They were not told they would be evacuated until late in the evening the next day, Saturday April 26, and they were not actually evacuated until 2 pm on Sunday, April 27. By that time, many had incurred lethal or life-altering doses of radioactivity.
Residents were not permitted to take their personal property with them. Patriotic Soviet citizens soon swarmed in and looted them to the bare walls. Today, Pripyat is a ghost town.
Even when Russia gets something right, it’s still wrong. That’s Russia in a nutshell. And we do mean nut.
For the first time, Russia has placed a restaurant into the world’s top 50 as assayed by the San Pellegrino sparkling water company. The place is called Varvary, and its chef is Anatoly Komm. It even specializes in Russian cuisine! This ought to be a great day for Russia.
But here’s what Komm has to sayabout his eatery (which costs over $300 per person to explore):
You may e-mail La Russophobe with comments or submissions for publication consideration at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations, you are now reading the best Russia politics bloggers in the world!
-- Peter Finn, Washington Post
-- The Moscow TimesOur creed: You don't really know Russia unless you read La Russophobe!
Our motto: Russia is the best country in the world . . . except for all the others.
Our slogan: "Что-то типа Новой Газеты на английском языке." (Translation: Something like Novaya Gazeta, but in English).
NOTICE: This blog quotes from source material, and links to it. When a post contains quotes and original material, the quotes are in ordinary print and the original in boldface. See "About LR" in the title bar for copyright notice.
Supporting La Russophobe
La Russophobe does not solicit or accept financial support from any source. If you would like to show your support for LR and your opposition to the rise of dictatorship in Russia, the easiest way is to create a Digg or StumbleUpon or Delicious account and use it to favorite some of our posts. LR also welcomes your e-mail comments and submissions for publication, and we urge you to support the effort to boycott of the Sochi Olympics.