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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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov Volume III, Part 4

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the fourth 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, and the prior issues are here. 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 FIVE: Oh Dear, the Roads!

We all know that the bad state of our roads roads is one of Russia’s major headaches.

In our first report on the results of Putin, we described in detail the degradation of the road infrastructure under his presidency. The very fact that the rate of road-building dropped during the “fat” years is a disgrace. China in just 20 years has built itself a modern highway network: in 1989 the Chinese had just 147 kilometres of motorway, today they have 60,000.

Meanwhile, in Russia the road-building industry is going down the drain.

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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov Volume III, Part 3

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the third 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, and the prior issues are here. 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 FOUR:  Dead End in the Caucasus

The Caucasus has played a key part in raising Putin to Olympian political heights. Immediately after he was appointed prime-minister in 1999, Putin initiated military engagements against Chechen separatists and memorably promised to “slaughter them in their outhouses” [TN: the Russian phrase “zamochit v sortire” is intended to sound crude but does not really have much meaning – I would have gone for “drown them in their own sh*t” in a literary translation. This manner of speech is much more “Putin”.] Riding the terrorism wave, Putin got the support of a large number of people and became president in Spring 2000.

For the rest of the decade, the myth has carefully been cultivated that Putin pacified the Caucasus and beat the terrorists. In 2007, Putin declared that “ international terrorists’ aggression has been stopped in its tracks thanks to the courage and unity of the people of Russia.”

Quite the opposite, however, is true. Below you will find a table listing numbers of acts of terrorism over the last decade. This table has been assembled by us from data officially promulgated by spokesmen for law enforcement and the specials services.

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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov Volume III, Part 2

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the second 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, and the prior issues are 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 THREE:  Russia as Raw Materials Appendage

When “Putin – The Results”, the first edition of our report, was published back in February 2008, Putin was happily boasting about economic successes. On 8 February 2008, he addressed a sitting of the State Council. Talking about the results of his presidency, he made much of the facts that GDP had risen during it and that in 2008 alone Russia had attracted $83 billion on inward investment.

Even then, however, we warned that the economic model being constructed by Putin was just a speculative bubble that could burst at any moment. And that is precisely what happened six months after our report was published: a massive economic crisis broke in Russia in 2008, a crisis far worse than the 1998 default, one which if it is to be compared with anything, then only with the period of the collapse of the Soviet economy and the economic depression of 1992-1994.

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Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov Volume III, Part I

Editor’s Note: We are delighted to welcome back to our pages the irreplaceable Dave Essel, master translator of the Russian media. Today we begin publishing installments of the third white paper on the Putin regime issued by former first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, along with co-author Vladimir Milov. Dave’s prior two translations appear in our header, and have been recognized by such lofty publications as the New York Review of Books.  As we have previously reported, the malignant Putin regime has already moved, in classic neo-Soviet fashion, to confiscate and suppress this manuscript before Nemtsov could try to distribute it, as it did with the others. Following is the introduction and the first two chapters.

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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Another Original LR Translation: Russia Overflows with Anti-Americanism

Translator’s Note: I am fascinated and horrified by the amount of mindless anti-Americanism one comes across these days.  Obviously, it comes as no surprise when one experiences this in neo-Nazi Russia, where national chauvinism is official policy but it is more annoying to come up against this in Europe, where they should know better. It was therefore with particular pleasure that I read this intelligent article on the subject by a a Russian American.

Don’t Look for Fools in America

Vladimir Gandelsman

Grani.ru

7 August 2009

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Gandelsman

Gandelsman

My colleague Lev Rubinshtein recently published an article [in Grani] on the subject of “mother country” and found that we were thinking along the same lines as I was in fact considering this opening for my piece: A certain German chancellor, when asked if he loved his “heimat”, replied that actually he loved his wife… Don’t get smart with words, in other words. However, if it is in someone’s nature to get smart with words or concepts, and if he’s feeling bored and can’t think of anything else to do with his (not so great) brains, he will almost always wind himself up into a state of hatred for the alien or love of the homeland.

I recall how a group of Russian writers once paid a visit to Israel. One of them snorted that Israel is a historical mistake, another made some senselessly rude remark about émigrés. To cut a long story short, they went there, behaved like louts, and left. Even if we allow that our writers were maybe taken somewhere unsuitable (which can happen on any trip to any country), they probably deserved to be taken to that very place and find themselves talking to the people there. Conversely, there was no need for the locals to get upset, they should have known what sort of people they were dealing with.

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Another Original LR Translation: Russia’s Lethal Bunnies

kbtop21Translator’s Note:  The following is just too funny and just too sad. What better example could one wish for of a country and people who have not just completely lost their way but actually appear to have lost any sense of honour and pride. One has to have completely lost one’s moral compass to act as described below. It is beyond imagining that the British or US (or indeed almost any other) army could sink to this. The danger, of course, is that although the event in question was totally harmless, an army so devoid of morals or pride will as a matter of course sink to anything, including atrocities.

Orchestra Leadership Will be Punished For Parade in Bunny Costumes

Grani.ru

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

42186Fontanka.ru reports that the tribunal of the Leningrad Military District has completed its investigation of the military band which performed in bunny costumes, the symbol of Playboy magazine, at a private evening parry.

The district’s military prosecutors have completed their report which has been to the CiC of Leningrad Military District Andrei Tretyak. The document demands the prosecution of Sergei Yezhov, the officer commanding the 5th Military Orchestra of the Leningrad Military District as well as of his second in command and head of music Sergei Vovka.

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Another Original LR Translation: Stalin vs. Novaya Gazeta

Yuck!!! Joseph Stalin's grand-son Eugeny Dzhugashvili kisses the death-mask of his grand-father. The picture was taken in the native house of Joseph Stalin.

Yuck!!! Joseph Stalin's grand-son Eugeny Dzhugashvili kisses the death-mask of his grand-father. The picture was taken in the native house of Joseph Stalin.

Pots and kettles

Alexander Skobov

Grani.ru

6 August 2009

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

The news that Stalin’s grandson is suing Novaya Gazeta for defamation of his grandfather is not something that can or should be just laughed off as a joke. The thick mud of moral deafness and the sadomasochistic inclinations that infect both the state élite and the population as a whole have created an absurdly Kafkaesque situation in which it is quite possible that the court will find for the plaintiff. The episode, furthermore, fits in fine with a whole chain of steps that government and public bodies have been taking recently to achieve a creeping rehabilitation of the Stalinism though the application of administrative and legal levers to deny dissenters of a voice.

First and foremost, we should recall the notorious Shoigu Law. If one strips it of the verbal dross about prevention of justifications of Nazism and of belittlement of the role of the USSR in the victory over it, it is evident that the main purpose of the law is to make it possible to prosecute anyone for any condemnation of anything about how the Stalin régime ran the war or for saying anything remotely justificatory about the the actions of the régime’s enemies.

Next we have the establishment of the commission to counter the falsification of history and protect the perceived interests of the Kremlin. Its aim is of course not actually to verify any sort of facts or truth (for example, the genuineness or not of the Politburo resolution ordering the murder of imprisoned Polish officers) but solely to inveigh against evaluations of historical events that the ruling cliques consider inimical.

Following on this, we have the hysterical reaction to the resolution of the parliamentary assembly of the OSCE by our parliament which is stubbornly determined not to know that the Stalin régime brought the same evils to people as Hitler’s and that in 1939 it allied itself with Hitler’s to start the world war.

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Spawn of Stalin Sues Novaya Gazeta

Translator’s Note: Neo-Nazi Russia is putting a toe in the water to test the political mood of the country. In a supremely emetic move, it has been announced that . . .

Stalin’s Grandson Sues “Novaya Gazeta”

Grani.ru

30 July 2009

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel


40005Ekho Moskvy radio station has just broadcast the news that Stalin’s grandson, Yevgenii Dzhugashvili, has had a writ served on Novaya Gazeta, complaining about an article entitled “Beria Was the Guilty Party” published in that paper on 22 April this year. The writ is against the newspaper itself and the author of the article Anatoli Yablokov. The writ demands that the paper publish a retraction stating that Yablokov’s remarks about Stalin are baseless, untrue, and defamatory of Stalin’s honour and reputation. In particular, the plaintiff is concerned with the words: “Stalin and the Chekists are bound by great bloodshed and the worst of crimes, above all against their own people”. The plaintiff is demanding moral damages of 10 milllion roubles and also that a retraction be published. Yevgenii Dzhugashvili’s case has been accepted and will be heard by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court.

[This of course is the court whose name has become a byword for justice perverted by instructions from on high to its judges (or which simply has the most prejudiced and stupid judges in the world). The world laughs and weeps as Russia degradates.]

Another Original LR Translation: An Inconvenient Explosion

Bulava Pin-Pricks

Vitalii Portnikov

Grani.ru

24 July 2009

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Vitalii  Portnikov
Vitalii Portnikov

 Why did Yuri Solomonov, the chief design engineer of the Bulava and director of the institute which designed the rocket, resign? Is his departure from the job merited or the just top brass interference? Who is to blame for the failures of Russia latest big missile project after it was so proudly promoted to the public by the government?

Maybe Solomonov was not really up to the task, maybe his institute bit off more than it could chew? Perhaps the designer was hamstrung by having to play two roles – after all, when you are in charge of an enterprise, it cannot be easy also to have to deal with product faults. Or is it maybe that Russia’s military-industrial complex is no longer what it once was?

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Another Original LR Translation: Executioners on the Map in Russia

Translator’s Note: This caught my eye today as it rather continues the thought I was illustrating recently about how Russia and the Soviet Union before it seem to think that vile crimes can be whitewashed by awarding medals to the perpetrators of crimes instead of prosecuting them. The article below by EJ’s Kara-Murza is about the poor places in Russia lumbered with the names of executioners instead of their proper names.

Executioners on the Map in Russia

Vladimir Kara-Murza (Jr.)

Yezhednevny Zhurnal

21 July 2009

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Moscow:  Repent!

Moscow: Repent!

I never thought that I would ever find myself in agreement with Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin about anything. A former KGB man (it is rumoured that Vladimir Ivanovich worked in the KGB’s New York residency in the 1980s), a current member of the Ozero dacha compound, the director of a number of companies, the patron of various “state-patriotic” organisations, and the head of RZhD Russian railways, Yakunin could serve as a generic portrait of the Russian élite in the age of the Chekist kleptocracy.

In early July, however, the State Railways Corporation issued an instruction that Moscow’s Leningrad Station was to revert to its historic name – Nikolayev Station – and made it known that this was not the last name change that would take place. The instruction remained in force for no more than a few hours: after an urgent telephone call from on high, it was rescinded and the Moscow map reacquired a railway station named after a non-existent city, which itself was named after the pseudonym of the founder of one of the cruellest and bloodiest régimes the world has ever seen.

This railway station affair, one can readily imagine, will surely put paid to any further contemplation of reformist ideas by the head of RZhD. But a broken watch shows the right time twice a day for all that.

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Another Original LR Translation: Russia’s Gas Boomerang

Russia’s Gas Weapon is a Boomerang

Yuliya Latynina

Novaya Gazeta

20 July 2009

main_2People have begun to take Russia seriously. In 2005, immediately after signing the agreement on building the North Stream pipeline, we announced that we now possessed an energy weapon. “Not to worry, it’s just words,” Europe responded. But the Kremlin has since then actually used the weapon.

And Europe has at long last started to take Russia at its word. Europe has realised that for Russia gas is not a commodity but a weapon. Yet all it takes to make it ineffective is to refrain from buying the stuff. Last Winter, Europe cuts its imports of Russian gas very significantly and just last week signed the agreement for the building of the Nabucco pipeline. So yes, the Kremlin is quite right: gas is a weapon. And I know the name and class of weapon it is – a boomerang.

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Another Original LR Translation: Lonely Russia, Part II

Lonely Power:
Why Does the West Not Wish to Irritate the Kremlin?

Lilia Shevtsova, Senior Associate, Carnegie Moscow Center

Novaya Gazeta

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

[This is a continuation of extracts from Lilia Shevtsova’s new book “Lonely Power: Why Russia Didn’t Become the West and Why She Has Difficulties With It” – about the the whys and wherefores of Russia’s foreign policies today. Part I was published on July 5th].

Lilia Shevtsova

Lilia Shevtsova

Why does the West not wish to irritate the Kremlin? The answer is simple: the West as a commonwealth is wary of the Kremlin’s aggressivity and vengefulness. Another no less serious reason is that influential political circles in the West believe that Russia is not be reformed so that there is no point even trying: better to look for those places where there is a “coincidence of views” with the Russian élite.

These circles do not want to put the fulfilment of their pragmatic interests at risk. They therefore do not wish to consider a long-term strategy with regards to Russia as this would demand too much time and effort of them.

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Essel on Russian “Heroism”

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

by Dave Essel

A tradition that neo-Nazi Russia continues from its Soviet predecessor is hypocrisy in its awarding of medals, thus devaluing, and making a mockery of, these strange little bits of metal that states award their most exemplary citizens.

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Essel: Great Britain is back in Churchill Mode

Our Politicians Can Do Some Things Right!

by Dave Essel

HoCsm[1]I never thought I’d be saying this but the UK House of Commons Defence Committee has just published a totally exemplary report on Russia, stating what should underlie the UK’s attitude to that country.

It’s a long time since I have been able to react with pleasure and pride to something done by my country. This report is sensible, literate, clear and organised, and calls a spade a spade. The committee questioned all the right sorts of people, applied collective intelligence to the information gathered, and came up with conclusions that I do not think that any of us on LR would disagree with.

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Essel on Russia’s Best and Brightest

Where the Best Minds Gather

Dave Essel

One of our moron troll vistors commented in response to one of my translations recently that “American T.V. is the basic reason why less than 10 per cent of your nation reads books daily” – of course with no source to back up his claim. This, of course, was silly nonsense, but I wondered if something could be done to counter the concept. (Be warned, the text after the jump contains profanity as translated from the Russian web.)

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Another Original LR Translation: Into the Russian Cesspit

A Note from the Translator:  Russia today is a country so preposterous that it does not deserve to be taken seriously, and Russia has been that way for long swathes of its history. The only time it showed some promise was the period between the 1905 revolution and the Bolshevik coup; it could have become a constitutional monarchy and was developing on lines more or less normal for the times. Lenin put a stop to that. I simply do not understand why any of our leaders in the West can allow themselves to be besmirched by contacts with this country other than the minimum necessary to control arms and purchase raw materials, Russia’s only exportable commodity. In fact, I don’t see why it would not be possible to review and re-plan our commodity needs in such as way as to stop purchasing oil-and-gas from Russia. See how the country manages then. In particular since Russia could not very well threaten to bomb us unless we continued buying – after being bombed, we’d certainly not need that much oil and gas! Here is yet another example of cesspit thinking and nastiness. And we should pretend they are part of the community of nations?!

Investigator Bastrykin’s Expensive Toys

Alexander Podrabinek,

Yezhedevny Zhurnal

 8 July 2009

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

It’s frequently said that the only difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys. Our country’s top investigator, Alexander Bastrykin, is a perfect example of this. At a recent press conference, he announced that the Criminal Investigation Department of the RF Prosecutor’s Office, of which he is head, has practically completed its preliminary investigation and has “proved the fact of genocide in relation to the inhabitants of South Ossetia during the events of August 2008”.

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Another Original LR Translation: Lonely Russia

Not Impressed by Power: How Russia Was Humiliated

Lilia Shevtsova, Senior Associate, Carnegie Moscow Center

Novaya Gazeta

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Lilia Shevtsova

Lilia Shevtsova

The following is an extract, published in Novaya Gazeta, from Shevtsova’s new book – “Lonely Power: Why Russia Didn’t Become the West and Why She Has Difficulties With It”  – about the the whys and wherefores of Russia’s foreign policies today.

Russia’s élite has managed to do the impossible – it has actually turned the chip on its collective shoulder into a survival plan and convinced society at large that its fears are their fears, giving birth to a new anti-Western consensus that supports the monopoly of power. Instead of national unity in the name of development, we have substituted status quo maintenance by toeing to the line “Who Are We Friends Against?” Strangely, a number of clever and, at first sight, liberally inclined people have come over to this cause and become defenders of the system.

What is the West guilty of in relation to Russia? That it, assert these defenders, humiliated Russia in the 1990s, forcing the country to make unilateral concessions and now a) does not want to accept it as “power centre” and b) wants to re-write the rules of the game that came into force after the collapse of the USSR. And that is why, they say, relations have taken a sudden turn for the worse.

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Essel on Threadbare Putin

Has Pooty Lost the Thread? 

by Dave Essel

June is a bit early for the silly season, at least for Brits, where schools and  Parliament take their summer break a bit later. Schools break up earlier in Russia and whether the Duma takes a summer break or not makes not a jot of difference.

So it’s always time for the silly season in Russia and our Pooty got it off to a good start by a run of acts of wanton silliness that were jumped on by commentators, to the extent that the Eurasia Daily Monitor remarked in passing in an article about Gazprom “some commentators started to worry about Putin’s connection with reality.”

This seemed worth a second glance and I took a wander around this and related articles. It would appear that Pooty has indeed being buzzing busily around all sorts of pies and making one commentator after another reel at his revelatory inanities.

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