Category Archives: essel

ESSEL: See Russian Train Run. Run, train, run!

See Russian Train Run. Run, train, run!

Dave Essel

Grani.ru is currently carrying a short article about the start of a new high-speed train service between St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. This made me curious as I didn’t think Russia had any fast trains. (Not that it is that fast: it covers the 1100 kilometres in 8 hours 25 minutes, which is 129 kph or 80 mph. European high speed trains do 300 kph.)

Grani goes on to say that the train, called the Sapsan, is a joint venture between Russian Railways and Siemens under which Russia is buying 8 trains for 276 million Euro. As this sounded more like a purchase contract than a joint venture, my curiosity was sparked and I followed up on Russian Wikipedia.

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ESSEL: Russia is Disgraceful, Disgusting and Dishonest

Russia: Disgraceful, Disgusting and Dishonest

by Dave Essel

In Russia, deeds hardly ever match words. Below you will find a particularly revolting case in point – small time on the scale of Russia, just one instance of the ubiquitous inhumanity to be found there. But this is how Russia really is: disgraceful, disgusting, and dishonest from top to bottom and through and through.

The Russian authorities are greatly exercised at the moment by Senator Benjamin Cardin’s excellent proposal to the U.S. State Department to deny permanently U.S. visas to over 60 Russian officials and others involved in a $230 million corruption exposed by a Moscow-based lawyer for Hermitage Capital, Sergei Magnitsky, his retaliatory arrest on false charges by the same officials he had accused and his subsequent torture and death in custody. Senator Cardin pointed out that “these officials remain unpunished and in a position of power.”

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The Complete Nemtsov White Paper, Volume III

PUTIN: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought

An independent expert report by
Vladimir Milov and Boris Nemtsov

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Introduction

In February 2008, we published our report “Putin – The Results” [TN: translated by me as “Putin: The Bottom Line”]. It seemed to us back then that it was about time to review what he had brought about now that his presidential term was coming to an end. We assumed that the policies of his successor would differ in at least some ways from those of the previous incumbent. However, Putin continues to play a key role in Russian politics and the course which he followed for 8 years has barely changed.

A great deal has happened since 2008. Russia has plunged into a deep economic crisis. Instead of growing, the economy is contracting. A budget deficit has replaced a former surplus, millions have lost their jobs. Prices, utilities foremost among these, are rocketing. Meanwhile, the number of billionaires has doubled and social and inter-regional inequalities have worsened.

Official propaganda would have it that everything is still fine, the country has weathered the crisis, has conquered terrorism and is beating corruption, that we are proceeding by leaps and bounds along the road of innovation and modernisation, that we are respected around the world, that we are getting wealthier, that there is less poverty, that men and women are bringing forth children, and that “Russia dying out” was a thing of the wild nineties.

The purpose of this report is to tell the truth about what is happening in Russia, to dispel the myths put about by the powers that be, and to relate real information to our fellow-countrymen who for 10 years have not been getting that from the cheerful and frequently false information disseminated by the government-controlled TV and print media.

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TRANSLATION: Nemtsov Volume III, Part 5

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the fifth and final installment of our series from Dave Essel translating the latest issue of the Nemtsov White Paper condemning the Putin years.  The first installment is here, the second is here, the third is here, the fourth is here and the prior issues are here. The full document is now online as a PDF here.  In our next issue we will make the full document available as HTML that can be cut and pasted. Video of Nemtsov and Milov at the press release is here.

PUTIN: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought

An independent expert report by
Vladimir Milov and Boris Nemtsov

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

CHAPTER SEVEN: Pensions Breakdown

One of Putin’s greatest failures was the mess he made of pensions reform. When he came to power, Putin promised that he would give the country a modern pensions system that would provide the elderly with a decent income and at the same time not make for too great a burden on the budget.

This was achievable – if the country had gone over to a funded pensions system under which pensions are paid not from the contributions of the currently employed and the general budget but from accumulated contributions and the income derived from investing them.

The pensions reform has been a catastrophe. Despite the oil price windfall, pensions have stayed under the official subsistence level throughout Putin’s rule.

The distribution pensions system is cracking at the seams. Back when we published our first report on Putin, we predicted that Russia’s pension fund deficit would hit 1 trillion roubles by 2015.

But our gloomy prognosis was not gloomy enough: the deficit reached 1 trillion 166 billion roubles – 3% of GDP – in 2010! Funding pensions is one of the main drains on Russia’s federal budget today.

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TRANSLATION: Essel on HypocRossiya

HypocRossiya

by Dave Essel

Words and phrases such as “dual standards”, “genocide”, “human rights”, “democracy” and so on are so over-abused these days that they have practically lost all meaning when spotted in the MSM.

So I was quite pleased the other day to see an article (translated below) which did not bother to use such terms even though the story begged for it.

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Another Original LR Translation: Latynina on Skolkovo, via Essel

Made in Skolkovo*

Yuliya Latynina

Yezhednevny Zhurnal

29 June 2010

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina

President Medvedev was visiting Silicon Valley. Our Comrade President was told of the achievements of our American colleagues and in turn invited them to take part in the modernisation of Russia. President Medvedev’s visit had two components – one of them was political.

President Medvedev does not in fact have any authority. He can’t fire and replace anyone in the “power” ministries [TN: Interior, Defence, Justice etc…], can’t get into moneymaking deals, can’t push his pals into important posts. In short, he can’t do anything of what it means to be in power in Russia today. What he can do, though, is tweet on Twitter and lunch with foreign presidents so that they can believe that there are some liberal trends in the Kremlin. That is the job that he was given to do by Vladimir Putin and Medvedev puts his all into it, hoping against hope that the West will one day back him instead of Putin.

What the White House really thought about Medvedev’s to California is easily deduced from its pre-visit briefing given to journalists and its press release following the visit.

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Essel on the Russian Road

Russian Roads – An Oxymoron

by Dave Essel

My translation of Yulia Latynina’s piece from Yezhedevny Zhurnal in today’s issue shows what has come of Russia’s efforts to build a competitor to Silicon Valley.  Meanwhile, one cannot help but be reminded of other pressing Russian issues that may be getting left behind.

No Westerner who has not been to Russia, for instance, can truly grasp what a Russian means by bad roads (or, by the same token – a “good” Russian road). In fact, some of the infrastructure labelled road or highway in Russia would be deemed impassable by loggers in Oregon.

As I translated the road section of  Milov/Nemtsov’s latest report, I could not help googling for things about roads in Russia. Laughing just to keep from crying should be the supreme Russian phrase and not a line from the Delta.

I collected a few pictures for fun.

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