Russians: We are More Corrupt, and Hopelessly Sick, under Putin

Marc Bennetts, writing on RIA Novosti, points out that a majority of Russians now believe their country is more corrupt under Vladimir Putin than it was under Yeltsin, and one member of the Russian Duma believes the country is “seriously sick and may already be untreatable.”

The recent brutal slaying of a family of five – including three small children – in a provincial town near Moscow was enough to shock even Russia, a country with some of the highest murder rates in the world, and led a parliamentarian to suggest the killings were a sign that the country was “sick.” Perhaps incurably so.

The bodies of the 35-year-old woman, her three boys aged four, five and nine, and their grandmother were found stacked up in a bathroom in an apartment in Tula, some 200 kilometers from Moscow, late on August 1.

Police were called to the apartment after neighbors complained of an unusual smell. Initial reports suggested the victims had been beaten to death with a hammer nine days before their bodies were found. Two days after the gruesome discovery, police detained a 19-year-old male suspect. Reports suggested he had carried out the killings after his love affair with the mother had soured.

The murders echoed last year’s notorious killings in a village in south Russia’s Krasnodar region, when 12 people, including four children, were slaughtered by a criminal gang. The discovery of the Tula bodies also came on the same day that an improvised bomb injured a five-year-old girl in a kindergarten in Russia’s Far East and a provincial police officer was charged with beating up a six-year-old boy.

Russia has been plagued with rising violence since the split-up of the Soviet Union, and most people here are jaded by daily reports of crimes that would make the headlines for weeks in other far less brutal countries. Still, the Tula and Krasnodar murders stood out.

‘The country and society are seriously sick and may already be untreatable,” Gennady Gudkov, deputy head of the Russian parliament’s security committee, told the Komsomolskaya Pravda paper after the news of the Tula killings broke.

“The country is wallowing in corruption, theft, and hypocrisy, and all of this is reflected in incidents like the one in Tula,” he went on. “We need to understand very clearly that this is a reflection of the general symptoms of the degradation of the nation.”

But if Russia is, as Gudkov claims, “sick,” what ails it? Gudkov, a supporter of President Medvedev’s often ridiculed “modernization program,” didn’t really have any suggestions on that.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, were he still alive, apart from being very old, would undoubtedly put this overall “degradation” down to svoevoliye, a word often mistakenly translated as “self-will,” but better defined as the practice of pursuing one’s desires no matter what, to the sacrifice of all and everyone else. Even if that means destroying lives in the process. It’s a theme that underpins novels like “Crime and Punishment” and “The Devils” and is the “sin” that inspires some of his most notorious characters’ crimes.

The opposite of this is, of course, rationality, or the ability to act upon the realization that ambitions and desires can be controlled, and no one has the right to try to fulfill them at any cost.

Unfortunately, that’s not the message being given out by the country’s officials.

Let’s look again in more detail at Gudkov’s assertion that Russia is “wallowing in corruption.” A recent poll by the Levada Center found that just over half of respondents believe corruption among the country’s leadership is higher now than it was in the notoriously “lawless” 1990s. Almost 40 percent of respondents thought corruption was greater the higher you went up the political ladder, with 50 percent saying all officials were “equally” corrupt.

Polls also reveal an equal distrust of police, and with good cause. One of the clearest examples of the malfeasance of the country’s law enforcement agencies is the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow pretrial detention center. Magnitsky had uncovered massive fraud by police officials in the days before his arrest on trumped-up tax evasion charges and – as the Kremlin’s rights council has suggested – he was simply thrown into jail to die as punishment. Svoevoliye can lead you down some nasty paths.

Now, I’m not suggesting that the Tula or Krasnodar murderers were thinking about all this high level unpleasantness before, during, or even after their crimes. But they didn’t really need to. All they had to do to get infected by this lack of self-restraint was look around them. As Gudkov put it, “even the criminals have degenerated.”

Memorial human rights chief Oleg Orlov successfully argued in court earlier this year that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov was “responsible” for the death of human right activist Natalya Estemirova in 2009 by creating a society in which such killings could be carried out without sanction. The same idea holds true for mainstream Russia – the country’s leadering officials and law enforcement bodies have combined to pollute the collective mindset to such an extent that nothing, it seems, is sacred any longer.

Or, in other words, “Everything is permitted.”

63 responses to “Russians: We are More Corrupt, and Hopelessly Sick, under Putin

  1. Another good news from russia…Moscownews, August 12, 2011

    Russian train crash kills two
    by Tom Washington at 12/08/2011 15:21
    Two coal trains collided as one of their brakes failed, killing two people and derailing 71 carriages. A criminal investigation is underway.

    The accident took place 5 kilometers from Simskoe station on the Kuibyshevskoe line in Chelyabinsk Region at 16.58 Moscow time Thursday.

    One locomotive’s brakes failed and both it and its 67 carriages turned over killing the crew of two as it crashed into the other engine, 4 of whose 69 carriages were derailed. The accident destroyed 200 meters of track.

    Criminal probe

    Alexander Galichin, the radiation and ecological safety minister for Chelyabninsk region has been sent to check up on the situation and a criminal case has been launched.

    “Galichin has travelled to the site on behalf of governor Mikhail Yurevich to provide the necessary assistance and determine the scale of the damage caused by the accident,” the Chelyabinsk press service told Interfax.

    An investigation into violating transport safety rules and carelessly causing the death of two or more persons is underway, RIA Novosti reported.

    Local disruption

    Alternative transport links are stepping into the breach caused by the crash, with elektrichkas and buses taking on stranded passengers. A transport hotline has been set up (8-800-775-00-00), local news portal reported.

    Transport woes

    This latest disaster comes on the back of accidents involving aging transport. Earlier this week an An-12 freight plane crashed, no bodies have been recovered but all on board are believed to be dead.

    Soviet-made An–24, and Tu–134 aircraft have also been involved in similar accidents and two serious boat disasters this summer have brought the transport death toll into the hundreds this year.

  2. A train crash may be sweet vindication of any rational person’s view about Russia, and it may trigger a long needed wake up call to the Russian people (doubtful); but to characterize a civilian train crash as “good news” leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. I understand your point and agree with it, but arguements are more effective when you choose your words carefully

    • Umm, “good point” about a train crash killing a few people a “good news”? Back in the good old British empire you could not find a scum low enough to say such a thing. Same in the States in the 60ies. Think it’s all changed because people feel quite troubled nowdays for many obvious reasons.

      • These posts are actually something very instrumental. They reveal the nature of both this site and of the commenters who come here. In the mind of these people any tragedy or death in Russia is “good news” or “sweet vindication”. The fact that the same could happen in their own backyard,,15314188,00.html
        does not appear to teach them anything. Their gloating, however, is useful as it exposes them for who they are: hate mongers.

    • It brings to my mind a ‘celebration’ in russia after downing the plane of Polish president – it is difficult to find a civilized way to deal with barbarity and obscenity of Russia……

      • What celebration exactly?

        • AT, On Russia Today, the day of that political murder, that revolting dwarf, Peter Lavelle, who worked in Warsaw for about 10 years and left suddenly, in stranged circumstances – rumour had it that his liking of a little iressistible polish blond boys was a little to much to swallow for the Polish authorities….was laughing and making jokes about that tragedy – it was even for the russian standard a pure obscenity. But that political murder commited by barbaric russia has been vindicated already – Polish people watch with delight and real pleasure a capital city of Moscow – 80% muslim and central asian – it is truly a poetic justice to see russia being overtaken by the asians….and all those planes dropping of the russia’s skies – three a day – what a pleasure indeed…..

  3. But “Back in the good old British empire’ you did not have a murderous regime that did not give an ‘iota’ about the welfare or plight of its downtrodden comrades. Similarly the same can be said for the “States in the 60ies”. Sure they had their problems and steps were put into place to remedy this.

    Now I ask you, in all honesty, what are the steps being put in place by the murderous and oppressive oligarchy of midget Putin and co. to improve the welfare of the average neo soviet citizen. And don’t give me that rubbish about him building new palaces etc for this oligarchy (and thereby giving a very miniscule section of the population a temporary job) while they continue to rip off the population for their self gain.

    • I have no idea about the British Empire or the US in the 1960s, but as for “the steps being put in place”, you can look up any source of statistics, from to Wikipedia and Some of them show more conservative numbers, others more optimistic ones. All of them, however, show that, compared to just 10 years ago, Russia has become a more affluent and safer place with higer living standards than in any ex-USSR country, except for Estonia and, probably, one more Baltic country. The same sources will show you that Russians live better every year. Whether the living standards could increase faster under a different regime is a legitimate point to discuss, but to deny Russia’s substantial progress at this point in time is to deny the obvious.

      • AT, it will be increasingly difficult to improve the russia’s standard of living and simultaneously fight endless, unwinnable wars against non-russian nations, incorporated into russia by force, non-russian nations that are increasing in numbers while russians are dying; approximately 1 million a year of alcoholism, drug overdose, malnutrition on the verge of staravation;[according to the French documentary film, the russians of siberia eat meat ONCE A YEAR. ] or common treatable diseases in the West that are deadly in russia bacause lack of basic treatment. How the russian arm, which is already 50% muslim and central asian, will be defending the imperialistic russian interest????? Do tell….

        • Well, mccusa, if instead of your dreams and “French documentaries” the name of which you even don’t remember (also probably a hallucination) you referred to UN statistics, you would see a different picture:

          • AT, Let’s organize a fact finding trip to siberia with western journalists, for a change – siberia which, by the way, is off limit – and check those magnificent ‘developments’ there – no electricity, no running water, no gas and those pathetic russian slaves…that enver rebel….
            Have some self respect dearie, and look around you – you will see the desolation and desintegration of russia – by the way, any planes crashed today???? It seems to everybody a daily routine…..

            • mccusa, I suspect you lack both resources to organize such a trip and — we all know your educational background by now — skills to conduct it successfully. I visit Russia quite often, and frankly, I see no general, universal signs of “desolation and disintegration”. Of course, there are very deprived areas in the country, but this is not something unexpected in a country that practiced a highly inefficient economic model for almost three quarters of a century. What is universal, however, are the signs of quite fast improvement.

              Your thesis that gas distribution and water supply would somehow magically appear if people rebel is quite amusing. I would like to hear more about that theory. Or maybe you will explain to me why many more people get access to those amenities in the despotic China, KSA or UAE every year than in the democratic India. In any case, the lack of those amenities, impacts a very small number of the Russian citizens, and this number is going down every year as well.

              There was a train crash in Poland today, and its very revealing that no one is gloating about it on this site.

              • AT, the russian slaves know very well if they rebel they would be destroyed – they know that the only infrastructure that works in russia is the system of gulags – operational and ready to receive the hordes of russian slaves… AT, by the way, in case you didn’t know, only freedom, tolerance and democracy lead to prosperity hence russians are doomed to live in abject poverty for ever – you russians are happy savages that cannot even imagine better life….

                • mccusa, you really show examples of tolerance here;

                  freedom and democracy are not perfectly correlated with prosperity. Otherwise, Poles would not be less developed than the oppressed and unfree citizens of Brunei, Quatar, Bahrain, UAE etc. Democracy undoubtedly provides political stability, which is essential for prosperity. Freedom is just essential for any of us as human beings. Russians are more free and more prosperous than they have ever been now, and are making progress in both of these directions. Poland, at this point in time, enjoys a higher level of prosperity and freedom, no doubt. And this makes your malevolence towards Russians and your supremacism quite revolting, actually. Evidently, your unfortunate background in educational institutions, which instilled hatred, is partially responsible for your moral and intellectual deformity. The fact that you demonstrate how ugly and stupid Russia’s haters are redeems you to a great extent, however.

                  • AT wrote;
                    ‘Evidently, your unfortunate background in educational institutions, which instilled hatred, is partially responsible for your moral and intellectual deformity. The fact that you demonstrate how ugly and stupid Russia’s haters are redeems you to a great extent, however.’

                    This stupid comment sounds like an excerpt form Pravda, 1958, PLEASE…….

                    • Well, I don’t think I’ve ever read the Pravda, but what is particularly stupid or untrue about it?

                    • my statement that is, not the 1958 Pravda article (a reference, which dates mccusa so severely and explains a lot).

          • I don’t know what you are bragging about and what your point is. Russia is #65 on the list, below many poor countries such as Panama, Libya, Montenegro, Bulgaria, below even Belarus. Certainly below Poland that for some reasons you hate so much.

            • Other example of underdeveloped countries that are above Russia are Peru, Trinidad/Tobago, Barbados, Mexico; tied with Albania. None of these countries demands a right to veto which international treaties should Ukraine be allowed to sign, none of them demands that their currency be made a reserve currency, none of them is on the G8 or on the Security Council.

              • RV, I am not sure why you are calling Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago “underdeveloped”. To me, they are solid mid-income countries. They don’t make the same demands as Russia, mainly because they cannot. Russia can and does. What is your problem with it?

                • I’ve been to both countries, so I know how poor they are. If that’s your model for Russia, fine

                  • Then you have not been to really poor countries, have you? Barbadian GDP per capita is higher than that in Poland, Hungary and pretty much the same as in Estonia — all of which are more economically developed than Russia. Prices in Barbadian restaurants are higher than those in the States, and so is real estate. And the GDP per capita is even higher in T&T. The only real problem I noticed in both of these places is a lack of social mobility, which is typical of island nations. So there is nothing in particular to be ashamed about being in the same development category as Barbados.

                    Also, its not a model, its a stage in Russia’s economic development. As you noted yourself, Russia’s aspirations are much higher.

                    • I never said anything about “aspirations,” you did. Russia does not just “aspire” to become a normal civilized country, it would be fine if she just did that, many underdeveloped countries dream of this. No, she pretends (very aggressively and loudly, I may add) that she has already achieved this level, and makes demands totally disproportionate to what it really is, a pathetic source of raw materials.

                    • RV, you use the word “pretends”, I use the words “acts as” and “aspires to”. You say “underdeveloped” I say “emerging” or “developing”. You say “a pathetic source of raw materials”, and I say “a competitive supplier of commodities”. Your terms have a negative connotation, and my terms carry a positive one. From my standpoint, there is nothing wrong in trying to achieve an objective in an aggressive and even a vociferous manner. You yourself admit that these attempts are quite effective: unlike any other country with a similar economic profile, Russia (i) has a de-facto right to veto which international treaties should Ukraine be allowed to sign, (ii) has a currency that may be adopted as a national currency of a neighboring state; (iii) is on the G8 and (iv) on the Security Council. Moreover, no one of any importance insists on Russia’s having these privileges. On the contrary, in part thanks to its “aggressive and loud” policy, the country gets more of those every year. I can understand your irritation about it and really expect my government to continue to continue with all of the above despite your opinion and opinions of other political nonentities.

                    • Barbados is a country that is either barely first world or reasonably close to it. It is very likely the world’s most successful black country. The locals are descended from the Ibo tribe, the Jews of subsaharan Africa, and British rule was very long and unvaried. Anyone who is not impressed with Barbados knows next to nothing about the Third World. I know this as I am a Barbadian.

                    • I very much agree: there is nothing for Russia to be ashamed of about being in the same development category as Barbados.

            • RV,

              The Russians’ widespread and even institutionalised hatred of Poland stems back from the XIXth century, when their imperialists have got this concept of Pan-Slavic unity under the Russian crown but Poland kept rebelling, which apparently made Poles the “traitors of Slavdom” in the eyes of even much of Russian intellectual class and altogether horrible, irrationally uppity people who prefer being part of the West and the Catholic world over their “Third Rome” and “all-Russian” Orthodoxy. This was later reinforced by the inferiority complex from the war against the “White Poles” (just Poles) that was lost by the officially “invincible” RKKA after WWI. Before WWII, Stalin shot over 100,000 ethnically Polish Soviet citizens in the systematic “Polish operation”, the first and largest of the genocidal “national operations” of the NKVD in the Great Purge period, that is directed not against the real or alleged political enemies but against certain national minorities as a whole (this is well described here: – click on the Contents and get to the chapter 3).

              Today, it lives in the form of the Russian “Unity Day”, which is an anniversary of Moscovites’ uprising against a bunch of semi-private Polish adventurers – in Poland, a historical event so minor that many people don’t even know Poles once occupied the Moscow Kremlin, just like the Polish king was not really all that interested in it back then (but you’ve got to remember it was when Russia was literally the backwoods of Europe, and the Russian high culture and science were simply nonexistant, especially there was absolutely no Russian literature, and no Russian-language non-religious books – and yes, it was a time well into the Renaissance in the more civilized parts of the world such as Poland, which for example has had universities for hundreds of years already, the first one founded in 1364, and had gave the world Copernicus among others).

              • Thanks Robert. From you discussion, it does appear Russians have some kind of inferiority complex. I realize they had those ancient hatreds, but why keep carrying on? I mean, we had our own war against England in 1770s. The best friends now. France fought non-stop wars against both Germany and England for hundreds of years. And look at their relations now

                • Sure RV, my reactions to Polish commentators’ gloating about traffic accidents in Russia, difficult conditions in some parts of Siberia, health problems of Russia’s religious leaders etc. is nothing but an inferiority complex. How would you classify Robert’s and mccusa obsessing about Russia’s problems then? Also, isn’t it fair to point out that Poland does not make any aircraft and automobiles at all when Polish posters bash Russians cars and planes. After all, none of the Russian posters tracks and gloats about every single traffic accident in Poland.

              • Robert,
                Poland also created a written constitution, the first in Europe – accepted by the Polish Parliament – Sejm, on May 3rd, 1795, and the second only to the best one; the American constitution.

                The most extraordinary political entity, The Commonwealth of Kingdom of Poland and Duchy of Lituania, 1569-1795, was a multinational, multireligious, multilingual country with privileges given to Jewish population, with election of their kings, etc.

                Poland saved Europe twice; the first time 1683 – the siege of Vienna; the battle led by King John Sobieski of Poland against the Turks and, more inportantly, in 1920, in the battle of Warsaw, defeating the Boshevik russia and consequently, saving the european culture…

                This is a logical explanation for Russia’s pathological hatread of Poland.

                By the way, the first female tzarina of russia, was Katherine the 1st, born Marta Skowronska. She was born in the Commonwealth of Kingdom of Poland and Duchy of Lithnuania, to Polish peasant family, she stayed proudly illiterate all her life, but married the greatest russian tsar, Peter the Great. Oh, and she was also prostitute who followed the different armies, cooking and cleaning, and performing other services. That’s how she met Peter the Great. Apparently, she was a great tsarina, she created a numerous institutions for young girls, and was greatly loved by russian population….

                How can

                • Sure, mccusa, I think you are an idiot you because of the Polish Constitution of 1795. Absolutely nothing else in your comments reveals you as an idiot. Blame everything on the Constitution.

              • Robert, sorry to disappoint you but there is no institutionalised hatred of Poland in the modern Russia whatsoever. For the most part, Russians do not care about Poland or Poles as long as they don’t hear statements similar to the pearls your compatriot posts here on a daily basis, including:

                – russians are not only murderers; they are born slaves;
                – ‘Russian workers’ are hungry, drunk, living in the holes in the grounds all over chinese siberia; on their knees, as always….
                – russian lives ARE TOTALLY WORTHLESS;


            • And why exactly #65 out of 160+ countries with a reasonable growth a bad thing? I don’t hate any country in the world, including Poland. Two posters at this blog (they provided ample comments below) are Polish, so I point out Poland’s own shortcomings when they gloat about Russia’s. Just reciprocity.

            • And again, I don’t hate Poland, but what reaction would you consider as normal to something like this regurlarly coming from a Polish poster: “Another good news from russia…Russian train crash kills two”?

  4. Double tragedy on Moscow’s river
    by Tom Washington at 15/08/2011 15:40

    A boy-racer show-down between two expensive yachts and severe alcoholic intoxication caused the death of two young men on the Moskva River at the weekend, injuring others.

    In the first instance a 19-year-old male and a 22-year-old woman suffered the effects of a boat race when one vessel tried to overtake the other at close quarters on Saturday evening, in the other a man born in 1986 jumped from a boat near Kievsky railway station for a bet and drowned.

    They add to this summer’s growing number of transport disasters but suggest highly reckless behavior rather than aging infrastructure.

    Boat race’s tragic consequences

    “The alert came through about 8:00 pm,” Mikhail Yeremin, head of the Moscow Region Centre for Crisis management, told Komsomolskaya Pravda. “It transpired that as a result of a crash between two boats one person had been killed and another one injured. A possible reason for the accident was violating water safety rules.”

    No alcohol was found in either captain’s bloodstream.

    Ivan Ivanov was killed as he sat on the stern of one boat watching his friend Tatyana Kropotkina be towed along behind the boat on a surf board.

    The other boat, piloted by a man with his wife and two children on board, tried to overtake but despite the wide expanse of river available came too close and collided with Ivanov’s and Kropotkina’s boat. As a result of the collision Ivanov was killed, after sustaining severe injuries to his chest and stomach.

    Interfax reported that a further seven people were injured.

    Drunken bet goes badly wrong

    The next day and further up stream, by busy Kievsky station, a drunk young man leaped off a boat and into the river.

    “The incident happened at 8:30 pm a young man, born in 1986, close to Taras Shevchenko Embankment, jumped into the water from a moving boat, swam for some distance, came to the surface but after a while went under,” a law enforcement source told RIA Novosti.

    He took the plunge as a result of a bet with his friends, Interfax reported.

    River death toll

    Nine people died as the “Lastochka” went under the hull of an oncoming cargo vessel on the Moskva River two weeks earlier, raising concerns about safety practices and the age of Moscow’s river fleet.

    The “Bulgaria” passenger boat went down on the Volga in July, killing 122 people. It too was old and overloaded.

  5. AT, Just to let you know that in today’s ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’ August 15, 2011 there is an article by W. Radziwinowicz, regarding the open letter to prez. Obama sent by the inhabitants of Elisty, the capital of Kalmukia, begging for money to save the children hospital.
    There, apparently is the only one children hospital in the city of 300,000 inhabitants. Conditions in that hospital described are beyond shocking.. The money [200 million rubles alloted by the federal government were, of course, stolen ], and at the same time, in London, the ‘president’ of Kalmukia, bought a property for 227 million US dollars – Russian medias triumphantly informed the russian public; it was the most expensive real estate transaction in London…

    So, now russia is begging for money the feature that has to be added to other dispicable activities; e.g., wars, coups d’etat, political assassination, poisoning the politica opponents, etc. and now begging…. that’s the way to go russia…..

    • This is an interesting form of protest, yet something quite predictable in a country were people are accustomed to expect the State and its leaders to play the paternalistic role. I guess, this petition will either (i) make the Kalmyk authorities to react, which would, unfortunately, reinforce the above-mentioned expectations, but will deliver the needed piece of infrastructure to the people faster or (ii) will be ignored by the authorities leading to popular discontent, which will increase the chances of improving Russia’s political system in the long run, but will leave the inhabitants of Elista without a hospital for now. What is your point exactly?

      • AT, My point, exactly, is that russians are not only kleptoctocratic, murderers but also a contemptable beggars – that is my point dearie….got the idea????

        • Russians begging the Americans for help – priceless…..

        • mccusa, as with most of your “ideas”, I did not get it. If these people consider the petition as an effective tool to have a children’s hospital built in Elista, I see nothing wrong with them trying get it built this way. After all, its much less insane than spending time on a hate mongering site writing posts with the only purpose to gloat about people getting hurt or sick. I think I could quite easily get my neighbors in a quite affluent American city neighborhood to petition the President of Poland for any free piece of infrastructure if they were naïve enough to think that the Polish President can find money for it or if this could embarrass the city council in producing the cash. I would sign such a petition myself if I thought it were effective. Any free piece of public infrastructure is a good thing, and any legal ways to get one are good in my view.

          One of the advantages of a developed civil society, which Russia does not have, however, is that it makes the general populace aware of the fact that a petition to any authorities is effective only if it is based not only on wishful thinking but also on fiscal realities.

      • You said many times that Russia has changed and is now an individualistic nation where capitalism rules. So, cut the crap about the people being “accustomed to expect the State and its leaders to play the paternalistic role.” Which one is it? And if this is true, are they accustomed to expect foreign states and their leaders to play this role. You just recently denied that Russia received food assistance, all the evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Are they now expecting for a foreign power to start building hospitals for them. What a mess.

        If you had been intellectually honest, you wouldn’t have forgotten to mention the most likely thing that is going to follow: (iii) to determine who wrote the subversive letter and to arrest them for daring to cast aspersions to the greatness of the fatherland.

        In carrying out this operation, I am sure the local authorities can count on assistance from the Kremlin. I mean, undermining the forced phony patriotism is not going to be tolerated, is it?

        • On “which one is it”: its both in fact… younger, economically active, more successful people are predominantly individualistic. Many representatives of the older generation and many people living in economically depressed areas, like Kalmykia, one of Russia’s poorest regions, tend to continue to expect the State and its leaders to play the paternalistic role. With the individualistic model becoming increasingly predominant.

          On Russia’s “receiving food assistance”: Didn’t I actually describe my personal experience related to food sent to Russia, how (not) essential it was and how (in) efficently it was handled? You once accused me of being a social darwinist, and if you go back and actually read what I said about this food assistance to Russia, you will understand why I profoundly believe that any organized charity brings more harm than value. In any case, I am very sorry about your ungrounded expectation of gratitude. Bear this experience in mind next time someone asks you to participate in charity.

          On “are they expecting”: No, they actually expect the local authorities to be embarassed into building a hospital for them.

          On “intellectually honest…arrest them… undermining patriotism” etc.: again, as I mentioned before, this just reveals how brainwashed you are and how little you understand about the modern Russia. Again, maybe its a good thing. After all, your hatred of Russia is irrational, being based on your perception that “Russia does not know its place”. A person who hates your country irrationally is, after all, much less dangerous if he does not understand what is really going on in your country.

  6. Russian Health Care Provides No Real Safety Net

    August 14, 2011

    By Tom Balmforth, Gregory Feifer

    In February, Muscovite Svyat Kozlov felt ill and lost consciousness. Taken by ambulance to a top cardiovascular clinic, he soon stopped breathing.

    “I was clinically dead,” he says. “But I had a super-professional team of doctors. Thanks to them, I’m still alive today.”

    Kozlov, who suffered a double heart attack, may appear to be stating the obvious by claiming he was incredibly lucky. But he means it in more ways than one.

    “Moscow and other big cities are oases of happiness where it’s possible to get medical help,” he says. “But outside the city limits, people don’t have the same rights.”

    Two decades after the Soviet collapse, Russia’s constitution still guarantees free medical care for everyone. But many Russians say their country is actually segregated between a lucky few who can afford good medical care in private clinics and the vast majority who are left with almost no safety net — or are forced to make side payments to doctors to get care.

    In many regions, crumbling hospitals rely on Soviet-era equipment. Even in Moscow, many hospitals don’t even have air conditioners to stave off the summer heat.

    Natalia (who did not want to give her last name) is a nurse at a top state ophthalmology institute. She maintains that in most cases there are two levels of care: free and paid-for.

    “The free procedures are ones patients don’t need,” she says. “Anything that concerns life-threatening conditions costs a fee.”

    A Looming Demographic Catastrophe

    That’s a serious issue in a country that’s one of the planet’s least healthy, ranking number one in the world in smoking and fourth in per capita alcohol consumption.

    The average life expectancy for men is 59 and the population continues to drop despite solemn government promises to stop the decline.

    In part of its bid to stave off a looming demographic catastrophe, the government says starting this year, it’s spending more than $15 billion on modernizing health care.

    At Moscow’s Sklifosovsky Institute, the city’s top emergency-care hospital, phones ring as nurses chat in a reception area.

    The institute’s director, Anzor Khubtia, praises President Dmitry Medvedev for spending “very big money” that’s enabled him to buy the latest equipment.

    “Any Russian citizen can get care wherever he wants,” he says. “If someone from Magadan [in the Far East] wants treatment in Moscow, he can come to any clinic here.”

    Patchwork Reforms

    But others disagree. Aleksandr Saversky, head of the Patients’ Rights Protection League, claims that access to health care is increasingly divided.

    “Some wealthy Russians only get medical care abroad,” he says, “while many pensioners and handicapped people wait in long lines for care they have to beg for.”

    Most working people who can afford it, he says, end up paying for their own private care anyway.

    Many of Russia’s crumbling health-care facilities still rely on outdated, Soviet-era equipment.

    Saversky argues that, although the government has done much to publicize reform, major health-care projects have had no visible effect.

    “Everyone agrees there’s been an increase in funding,” he says. “There’s enough money for health care, but even still, people say there’s been no improvement whatsoever.”

    Instead of addressing systemic problems by developing a unified health-care concept, Saversky believes patchwork reforms have introduced new contradictions.

    Although patients now have the right to treatment anywhere in the country, he says, the government has failed to overhaul the old system of keeping doctors to care for residents of specific districts.

    Another reform requires Russians to buy medical insurance, contradicting the constitutional right to free care.

    Far from improving, Saversky says, the quality of health care has declined since the 1970s, when he says it was ranked 22nd in the world for quality and accessibility of services.

    Now the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Russia’s medical care 130th in the world.

    Russians are increasingly unhappy about the situation. In a recent survey by the independent Levada polling agency, almost 60 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their medical care.

    Endemic Corruption

    The Levada Center’s Marina Krassilnikova indicates that most believe nothing is improving in Russian health care, while a growing number says it’s actually getting worse.

    “What’s most upsetting is that two-thirds of the population are certain they wouldn’t receive good medical care if it were needed,” she says.

    More than half of respondents say they avoid seeing a doctor to treat illness. Krassilnikova says that probably means the country’s health is even worse than official statistics show.

    Under the circumstances, Russians say, the best way to get decent treatment is to “know someone.” Or pay.

    Quietly paying doctors on the side for care they’re supposed to provide free is a legacy of the Soviet system of “blat,” slang for using connections and payments to obtain otherwise unobtainable services.

    Krassilnikova thinks corruption inside the health-care system means government funding isn’t getting to the nurses and doctors who need it, perpetuating the old practice of payments in the form of “presents” that patients give doctors and other medical staff for care.

    “Many Russians don’t actually see it as corruption,” she says. “They see it as a voluntary and morally justified form of gratitude for services.”

    A House Of Cards

    Nurse Natalia says corruption is seriously affecting quality of care even in private clinics, which she claims employ unqualified staff, including those who received medical degrees by paying for them. “Most clinics are geared toward one thing,” she says, “and that’s earning money. State bureaucrats earn good money. All the rest of us real people earn very little. That’s what’s making the corruption grow.”

    Paradoxically, despite their overwhelming unhappiness with the health-care system, Krassilnikova believes a large majority of people is wedded to the idea of free medical care. That includes wealthy Russians who prefer to have the option of simply paying more for services if they want to.

    “People just aren’t ready to give up the right to free medical care under any circumstance,” she says, “even though they know they can’t exercise it.”

    Lack of popular support for overhauling health care doesn’t provide much hope for change anytime soon. With no real reform in sight, Saversky says, contradictions in the current system will probably continue building “until the whole system collapses like a house of cards.”

  7. Well AT’s continuing strident wail that Russians are better off under Putin is somewhat retarded as usual. If you talk to ordinary Russians AND members of the Duma it seems a different picture emerges:

    Russia’s standard of living to drop

    Moscow’s excessive reliance on profits from the export of oil and gas — the centerpiece of Vladimir Putin’s policies – has been contributing to a significant decline in the standard of living of most Russians beyond the capital’s ring road even as it has boosted the country’s GDP, according to a UN report on “Energy and Stable Development.”

    As a result, Nataliya Zubarevich, a geographer at Moscow State University who helped prepare the report says, “there is oil and gas [in Russia] but no happiness,” at least outside Moscow, the oil and gas producing regions of Khanty-Mansiisk and Yamalo-Nenets, and the processing center in Tyumen. See here.

    Because the Russian government has “incorrectly” relied on oil and gas profits alone to show economic growth, she continues, there has been a decline in the well-being of Russian citizens, not only in terms of income but also in health, education and other social services. See here.

    Indeed, the report points out, in order to support oil and gas exports, Russia has to spend nearly five percent of its GDP to support the oil and gas infrastructure, an amount that severely limits Moscow’s ability to invest in the modernization of the country and that will largely preclude it as the cost of drilling increases and Russia’s production of oil and gas declines.

    In an interview with “Svobodnaya pressa,” Zubarevich added that the sale of oil and gas abroad had helped Russia but that the way in which these profits were used now constitutes “a very serious break on development,” one that she suggests will only become worse if Moscow doesn’t change course. See here.

    The UN report itself, she says, reflects that dual assessment. The report’s first section says that earnings from oil and gas gives Russia “a chance for a leap forward in innovative development,” all the more so because some of the technologies used in oil and gas processing can be applied in other fields.

    But the succeeding sections “assess this possibility much more skeptically.” And Zubarevich says that she views that assessment as the more correct. Indeed, she continues, as long as the oil and gas money is flowing in, “the Russian powers that be really are not interested in innovations.”

    Such people don’t need or want change, and they talk about innovations only to make themselves look better “in the eyes of the world.” Because that is so, Zubarevich argues, the distribution of profits is unlikely “to simulate innovations.” Instead, even if money is redistributed more equally, that alone will not promote positive change.

    Indeed, the Moscow geographer says, for innovation, there will need to be “a change of institutions and the rules of the game in society.” People will have to be rewarded not because of where they sit and what they control but rather for what they think up, a complete transformation from the current situation.

    These are “global changes,” she continues, and include “very significant changes in the political space. Without that, nothing will happen.” And those changes involve far more that decentralization of control: they require “competition in the political space and openness in the mass media. Only this will reduce corruption in the system of distribution.”

    “In the institutional design which now exists in the Russian Federation,” Zubarevich said, noting that this was her “personal opinion,” “innovative development is impossible.” And some of the proposals for innovation, such as Academic Zhorez Alferov’s call for a Manhattan Project-style effort, simply won’t work.

    Alferov, Zyubarevich pointed out, “is a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.” He always put the state in first place, and while the state can play some role, the kinds of innovations Russia needs are not “’nano’ and not ‘nuclear research’” but rather a broadening of opportunity for “small innovation improvements in the entire structure.”

    Indeed, she says, even if Russians came up with a breakthrough in nano technology, the country would not be able to introduce it because “we do not have the stimuli and drivers which would be necessary for that kind of innovation.” Perhaps the country can change so that this will be possible, Zubarevich concludes, but it will have to change in major ways.

    Paul A. Goble is an analyst and professor at the World Policy Institute who blogs at Window on Eurasia.

    • Sure, the disasters are constantly “looming” over Russia and it’s getting closer and closer to the “verge” of something highly unpleasant. Meanwhile, if you choose to base your judgments on the UN statistics rather than on anecdotal evidence and russophobic articles, the gap in between the human development indicators of Georgia and Russia widened by 50% during the last 5 years… and the gap between the HDIs of Russia and New Zealand contracted by 7% during the same time. A disaster indeed.

  8. AT wrote;

    ‘Sure, mccusa, I think you are an idiot you because of the Polish Constitution of 1795. Absolutely nothing else in your comments reveals you as an idiot. Blame everything on the Constitution.


    Why Polish Constitution of May 3, 1795, or Polish victories I mentioned made you so raving crazy?? Is it really so difficult to accept the fact that Poland was and is always superior to russia…or this is simply a russian ‘sophisticated’ way of agreeing with me.

    By the way, revise this statement; check for style and grammar…..

    • mccusa, you make mistakes in every post of yours (the question opening your “comment” paragraph is not structured correctly for example). I guess, this is the English they teach at the Polish Catholic Boarding School, so its not quite your fault. This said, I would refrain from pointing out other people’s typos or grammatical mistakes if I were you. I am professionally functional in four languages, but I am the first one to admit that I speak none of them perfectly well.

      Also, given your educational background, I see there is a need to answer your question (you tried to make it a rhetorical question, but it is not). So let me break it down for you:

      In my statement you quote I used a figure of speech called “irony”. Polish achievements, victories or state documents bring up emotions in me to the same extent as those of the Benin Empire. What makes me “so raving crazy” is (i) your unsubstantiated claims, like Moscow is 80% Muslim; (ii) your racism (e.g. using the adjective “Asiatic” as an insult); (iii) your gloating about other people being hurt in transport accidents or falling sick, as well as (iv) the constant scatological undertones in your messages. After all you should take a note of the fact that even your compatriot Robert once called you “either stupid or a provocateur”.

      In other words, neither the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1795, nor Polish victories, nor the Partitions of Poland have anything at all to do with my going “raving crazy” about your personality as it is revealed through your posts.

      • Manfred Steifschwanz

        I’m becoming ever more convinced to the effect that mccusa’s Lycée de Merde Pure Catholique amounts, in fact, to THE achievement of Pshekistan. Next to his compatriots’ intellectual tenacity, mccusa’s own one appears impressive enough. However, he’s still much behind the ones he smears and insults.

      • That’s funny AT, you never manage to recognize sarcasm or irony in others posts.

        And as for being racist, you constantly spout racism against Caucasians, not to mention hatred against those who have escaped the evil of Russian imperialism.

        • Sigh….how boring….haven’t you just failed miserably trying to find racism in my comments. The best you came with is that I made a remark on your wife’s mustache.

          • Almost as boring as your attempts to prove Russia is not corrupt, that it does not invade its neighbors, and your constant denial of Russian crimes against humanity, ongoing in most cases.

            • Another unsubstanitated claim…how monotonous…

              • Listen AT, anyone who follows this website can see how you leap to the defence of Putin, deny corruption is a problem in Russia (in one case even saying that the increase in the price of bribes was a good thing….), how you support ethnic cleansing of Georgians from their ancestral lands.

                You are an inhuman, worthless piece of garbage AT.

          • Interestingly of the groups considered an extreme risk for Hirsute women, Russians are in the top 3……

            How should I assess for an underlying cause of hirsutism?

            Consider screening for late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia in women who are at high risk (for example those with a positive family history, or from a high-risk ethnic group [such as Ashkenazi Jewish, Hispanic, and Slavic people]), especially if they wish to conceive.



            DHEAS levels are not helpful in screening for nonclassic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (9 ). Although assay of free testosterone would be expected to detect the excessive androgen underlying hirsutism in NCCAH, the variability in these levels may miss an occasional case (158 ). This justifies measuring an early-morning, follicular-phase level of 17-hydroxyprogesterone in high-risk patients, namely those with a positive family history or in ethnic groups at high risk, such as Ashkenazi Jews (prevalence 1 in 27), Hispanics (1 in 40), and Slavics (1 in 50) in contrast to Italians (1 in 300) and the general U.S. Caucasian (1 in 1000) or African-American population (rare) (9 159 ).


            Seems it is Russian genetics that have a tendency to hairy women.

            How often does your wife shave AT?

  9. Nope, found quite a bit, like your latest post AT.

    If you suppose Georgians are supposedly more genetically predisposed to women with facial hair, please provide evidence. Otherwise its racism.

    Then there are your comments about Chechens all being slave traders, Poles being culturally inferior to Russians, and non Slavs in Russia only being fit to clean toilets etc.

    • Andrew, you lie again. You repeat your lies in an unsubstantiated monotonous way, with no figures of speech whatsoever…failing again to show something at all to prove your statements…

      Please provide a comment where I stated that the Chechens are ALL slave traders. I stated that slave trade was widespread in Chechnya. I have also provided a plenty of examples showing that non-Slavs, in particular Georgians, have always been and remain an inalienable part of Russia’s elites. I also said that that it was due to the insane policies of the current Georgian administration that the importance of a once prominent regional culture has been waning, and Georgians have to move to Russia en masse to take low-pay jobs, such as toilet cleaners.

      As far as your wife’s moustache is concerned, I based my remarks on personal observations, as well as on those of numerous travelers to Georgia. As I said, your Georgian wife’s having a moustache, in my view, does not make her an inferior human being, and you should change your racist behavior towards her now! After all, is not her fault that the primary reason for your marriage was to conceal your same-sex tendencies, which feature prominently in your posts. As I said, my respect my two Georgian female colleagues who also have moustache is utmost.

      In other words, Andrew, you are both a failure and a liar.

      • Now AT, I have already posted where you claimed that Chechens who won cases at the European court of justice were slave traders, and you implied in your posts that all Chechens were slave traders with your blanket comments.

        My observations in the hell that is Russia outside Moscow/St Petersburg is that Russian women are incredibly hairy when they don’t have access to medical/cosmetic remedies, something that is borne out by the statistics quoted above, Russian women being 2nd in the world for unwanted facial hair……

        As for Georgians in Russia “remain an inalienable part of Russia’s elites” well not really, when they live in fear of having a corrupt and racist Russian administration deport them based on their ethnicity, close their businesses based on their ethnicity, harass their children at school, etc etc etc.

        And one further racist barb from yourself, which undermines your comment above is about Georgians going to Russia to work as toilet cleaners. So they are part of the cultural, business, and intellectual elite while cleaning toilets?

        You are a vile little vermin AT, also going by other names on this site, your support of Apartheid policies put in place by Russia in the (Russian backed) separatist black holes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, your strident support for Russian policies of ethnic cleansing and mass murder, your denial of Russian historic crimes etc, all mark you out as a failure and a liar.

    • Another collection of unsubstantiated lies…

  10. Russia loses newly launched telecom satellite (updated)

    Today at 15:59 | Associated Press

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s space agency said it lost contact with a communications satellite shortly after its launch Thursday, the latest in a series of failures that has dogged the nation’s space program.

    Read more:

  11. Pingback: Russians: We are More Corrupt, and Hopelessly Sick, under Putin … | Develogger

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