Tag Archives: dmitry medvedev

The Obama’s Cowardice has Made Neo-Soviet Russia Possible

lan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, writing in the Moscow Times:

What’s next for the U.S.-Russian reset? Having already succeeded in ramming the ambitious New START arms control treaty through a reluctant Senate late last year, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is now eyeing the next step in its reboot of relations with Moscow: integrating Russia into the world economy.

“Our trade and investment relationship is nowhere near where it could or should be,” U.S. Vice President Joe Biden wrote recently in the International Herald Tribune. “Russia was America’s 37th largest export market in 2010, and the value of goods that cross our borders with Canada and Mexico every few days exceeds the annual value of our trade with Russia.”

Further improvements to U.S.-Russian ties, Biden believes, require the United States to support Russia’s ongoing efforts to join the World Trade Organization.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Behind the Curtain

EDITORIAL

Russia, Behind the Curtain

Over the past year, the confidence of the Russian people in their government has plummeted. From a high of 56% in May 2010, the approval rate has fallen steadily until last month it dropped, stunningly, below a majority to 48%.

In July 2010, only 29% of Russians thought their government was moving in the “wrong direction.”  As of last month, that figure stands at 40% — a whopping increase of one-third in less than a year.  Back in July a majority of Russians thought the country was moving in the right direction; now, just 43% think so. Only 27% of Russians firmly believe the government will be able to change things for the better, while 37% are sure there is no chance that will happen.

Meanwhile, another poll revealed that 40% of Russians favor the installation of a constitutional monarch.

These are devastatingly bad poll results in a country where the state controls all major media outlets and public criticism of the regime is almost wholly absent. If the public had better information, the regime would no doubt be in single-digit approval.

In shockingly bizarre fashion, however, Russian approval of the country’s two leaders, Medvedev and Putin, is still stratospherically high.  Medvedev has 68% approval and Putin, who is in charge of the government, is even higher at 71%.  There is only one word for such results, and that word is:  irrational.  Or perhaps a better word would be:  psychotic.

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EDITORIAL: $175,000

EDITORIAL

$175,000

As of the last tax year, that was the sum in Russian “president” Dima Medvedev’s bank account.  It had doubled compared to the year just before he became “president” of the country, although his salary in the intervening three years remained constant and was far lower than he received as the top executive at Gazprom, Russia’s largest business entity.  Medvedev’s income remained, laughably, far less than that of Russia’s “prime minister” Vladimir Putin.  Two years ago Medvedev’s wife had 50% more than that in her own bank account.  Now, she has nothing. When asked what happened to the money by a Russian financial newspaper, the Kremlin refused to say.  In a recent survey, over 75% of Russian respondents said that Medvedev, like all Russian officials, was lying when he reported his income last year.

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Pamfilova Speaks

Radio Free Europe has interviewed Ella Pamfilova, who spoke candidly about the shame presidency of Dima Medvedev:

Ella Pamfilova is one of Russia’s most distinguished liberal figures. She is the head of two NGOs — Civil Society For Russia’s Children and Civic Dignity. She is a former Duma deputy and a former social affairs minister. In 2000, she became the first woman to run for the office of president of Russia.

In 2002, then-President Vladimir Putin named her to head the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, which was later transformed into the Presidential Council on Human Rights. In July 2010, she resigned from that post after coming under strong pressure from the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth group. Since then, she has generally shunned the limelight.

RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Maria Morozova caught up with in Moscow and asked her about her tenure on the human rights council and her views on the political environment in Russia now.

RFE/RL: What were your thoughts when in 2002, being a critic of the authorities, you agreed to head the Presidential Council on Human Rights, which under you later grew into the Council on Cooperation With Institutions of Civil Society and Human Rights?

Ella Pamfilova: In 1999, when Vladimir Putin was confirmed as prime minister, I was one of the few Duma deputies who spoke against him and voted no. This annoyed a lot of liberals who back then were already working hard to elevate him to the presidency.

But in 2001, I and a group of rights activists and regional nongovernmental organizations — with the clear support of the presidential administration — organized the first Civic Forum with the participation of Putin. This provoked a certain enthusiasm. It seemed to us that it might be possible to pull the country out of chaos. And I believed that finally a dialogue between the state and civic organizations was being established.

So when I was asked to head the semi-dormant Presidential Council on Human Rights, I already understood exactly what I wanted. As a politician, I believed that in order to turn the heavy Russian political machine in the direction of democracy, it was very important to create a permanent, functioning forum in which the liberal, rights-oriented minority — de facto in opposition to the government — had the opportunity to bring directly to the authorities their views, arguments, information, and proposals.

At that time, I had complete freedom of action, so I invited into the council independent experts and human rights advocates who were not afraid to harshly criticize the government and defend their positions. To a considerable extent, I considered myself an intermediary between rights activists and the Kremlin.

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Putin and the Rise of the Neo-Soviet State

Victor Davidoff, writing in the Moscow Times:

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s May 6 speech in Volgograd finally put an end to the questions that have been asked for the last three years: Who is ruling Russia, and who will rule Russia after 2012?

It was a canonical speech by a national leader who is both trying to help the party he heads, United Russia, in December’s State Duma elections and who is priming himself for the presidential race in 2012. The speech painted a rosy picture of Russia today and an even brighter picture of the future if, of course, the country maintains “stability,” which when translated from post-Soviet newspeak means “the status quo of United Russia and the siloviki in power for many years.”

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EDITORIAL: Corruption in Putin’s Russia

EDITORIAL

Corruption in Putin’s Russia

Political competition is a necessary element for properly structuring any economy. We would like to see more ideas and more political competition in the development of these ideas.

– Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, April 21, 2011

They say that a fish rots from the head. Nowhere is that more true than in Russia.  The country ranks a genuinely shocking #154 out of 178 world nations when surveyed for corruption, meaning that Russia is the 24th most corrupt country on this planet.  Three people can count on their fingers the number of nations more corrupt than Russia, with more than a whole hand going spare.

It did not get that way by accident. As we document in today’s special issue, Russian corruption is so shockingly extensive and deep-rooted because Russia’s very highest leaders are themselves on the take, and the nation is just following their example.

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EDITORIAL: Russians Love them some Graft

EDITORIAL

Russians Love them some Graft

One of the most obvious reasons why corruption rampages like a wildfire in Vladimir Putin’s Russia is that the people of the country would prefer to lap up its “benefits” than to live another way.

For instance, Russians pay far less for gasoline than they otherwise would because of political corruption. Just like in the USSR, the Russian Kremlin controls gas prices to make the privations of the failed neo-Soviet economy more palatable to clueless Russian citizens.  Other prices are controlled too, like transportation and basic foodstuffs, regardless of the fact that it’s not legal.

The result of such a practice is predictable:  Shortages.  The USSR was infamous for them.  Now, the same is happening in Russia.

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Corruption is Killing Russia, Literally

Kirill Kabanov, head of the nongovernmental National Anti-Corruption Committee and a member of “president” Dmitry Medvedev’s Human Rights Council, writing in the Moscow Times:

In an April 22 comment in Moskovsky Komsomolets, political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky called for the arrest of Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova and her husband, Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko, on charges of corruption. In particular, Belkovsky accused the health ministry of pilfering funds for tomographic scanners and recalled that Golikova had promoted a drug called Arbidol that is produced by Pharmstandard, a company believed to have close links to her family.

Russians, suffering from corruption fatigue, have had a rather ho-hum reaction to the Golikova and Khristenko scandal. It is long been accepted as a given that the higher an official’s rank, the more opportunities he or she has to embezzle.

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In Russia, even History is Corrupt

Brian Whitmore, writing on The Power Vertical:

A Russian leader gives a four-hour speech filled with empty platitudes about imaginary accomplishments, promises of a bright future, and dire warnings about dangerous foreign influences. The speech was interrupted 53 times by applause.

Sound familiar?

Several months back, I blogged about the striking similarities between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Each replaced a reformist predecessor who was ultimately seen as bumbling, erratic, and ineffective — Nikita Krushchev in Brezhnev’s case, Boris Yeltsin in Putin’s. Both ushered in an era of stability and relative prosperity thanks to high oil prices. And both perceived a “golden age” that lasted roughly a decade.

But by the late 1970s, the luster began to wear off Brezhnev’s rule as the Soviet economy stagnated, life expectancy plummeted, and social problems like rampant alcoholism, worker absenteeism, and widespread cynicism became endemic.

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INTERVIEW: Kevin Rothrock of “A Good Treaty”

INTERVIEW

Kevin Rothrock of “A Good Treaty”

La Russophobe recently sat down (virtually speaking) with Russia blogger Kevin Rothrock of “A Good Treaty.”  As the name of his blog suggests, Rothrock is lobbying in favor of Barack Obama’s nuclear arms treaty with Russia. As such, he’s eager to paint Putin’s Russia as a more-or-less reasonable country America can trust well enough to keep its word on such a treaty.

Just as we suspected was the case with now defunct Russia blogger Mark Adomanis, Rothrock is far from being the hardcore Russophile fanatic that many of the idiotic Russophile lurkers and scum seem to take him for being.  And, just as we suspected, that doesn’t keep Rothrock from both intentionally and unintentionally undermining American values and helping (in his silly, insignificant little way) to perpetuate the worst and most abusive aspects of dictatorship in Putin’s Russia. Commiting such vile acts doesn’t seem to bother Rothrock one bit.  Indeed, Rothrock seems almost reptilian in his cold-blooded attitude towards the subject, caring not one wit for the fate of the people of Russia but only for his personal intellectual amusement and his Obamanian political agenda, and not acknowledging that the rise of a neo-Soviet state in Russia has any risks for American security. Truly, with “friends” like these Russia needs no enemies.  Americans, the same.

Most importantly, Rothrock is unable to give a satisfactory answer as to how America can possibly place enough faith and trust in the hopelessly corrupt Putin government so as to justify signing a one-sided nuclear arms treaty with Russia, and he refuses to acknowledge anyone as being viable opposition to Putin.  He believes that the only way Putin will not have power for life in Russia is if he doesn’t want it, and he goes on the record saying Putin will not stand for reelection — or if he does, apparently, Dima Medvedev will best him at the polls.  Quite a long neck stretch, no?  Due credit if he is right. If not . . . guess he’ll just shrug and say “oops, my bad” when he learns lots of folks dropped their guard and let Putin sneak in a haymaker because of his prediction.  Meanwhile, Rothrock totally ignores the fact that all the evidence from every source, including the Russian people, indicates that Medvedev is nothing more than Putin’s puppet, a total sham, meaning that it might actually be worse for Putin to pull the strings in secret, where his accountability is even less.

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EDITORIAL: Kremlin Stooge, The Very Bottom of the Fetid Russophile Barrel

EDITORIAL

Kremlin Stooge, The Very Bottom of the Fetid Russophile Barrel

He is a stooge, and he is proud of it!

We here at LR have laid quite a number of invidious, smelly little Russophile bloggers in their graves.  Konstantin.  Accidental Russophile. Russia Blog. Even a queer little bird called “La Russophobe Exposed.”  So many others. We’ve seen them come, and we’ve seen them fall. And each time one does, we’ve noticed, the replacement is that much more insipid, clueless and pathetic than the one that came before — which, in context, is saying quite a lot.

Here’s a case in point:  The ever so aptly named “Kremlin Stooge.”  With this one, Russia really is scraping the absolute bottom of a very fetid barrel.

Here’s the executive summary:  Russia is losing billions and billions and billions in capital flight and foreign investment.  The response of the Kremlin Stooge:  It doesn’t matter. Russia already has more money than it knows what to do with.  Besides, America also has financial problems.

You think we’re kidding? Read on.

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Putin to People: Drop Dead!

Galina Stolyarova, writing in the St. Petersburg Times:

In an old Soviet joke, three elderly women go to the doctor. All have exactly the same health condition but they enjoy very different incomes. When the first woman — the wealthiest — tells her story, the doctor asks what her income is, and then suggests eating plenty of fruit and vitamins and recommends a trip to a seaside sanatorium. The next one, who has an average salary, is recommended to cut meat, sweets, and fatty foods from her diet. When the doctor examines the last one, who survives on a tiny pension, all he can prescribe is plenty of fresh air.

It is an open secret that the cynicism of the Russian authorities today is no less than that of the doctor in the joke. And a 17-year-old Yekaterinburg high school student, Vitaly Nikishin, embarked on a crusade last month to expose this cynicism to the entire world. He launched a popular blog in which he recounted his attempt to survive for a month on 2,632 rubles, or $88 — the sum calculated by his regional government as the cost of the monthly “minimum consumer basket.”

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Russia’s Drinking Problem

Dima Medvedev has suddenly started blabbing about illegal narcotics. Mark Lawrence Schrad, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and the author of The Political Power of Bad Ideas: Networks, Institutions and the Global Prohibition Wave, writing in the New York Times, explains why:

IN an effort to reduce both its sky-high alcoholism rate and its budget gap, Russia recently announced plans to quadruple the tax on the country’s eternal vice, vodka, over the next three years.

But while the move might be well intentioned, the long history of liquor taxation in Russia exposes a critical obstacle in the path of any anti-drinking campaign: the Kremlin’s own addiction to liquor revenues, which has derailed every previous effort to wean Russians from their tipple.

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CARTOON: Divorce, Kremlin Style

Translation -- Putin declares to Medvedev: "Uh-oh, looks like our partnership is about to end . . ."

Source:  Ellustrator.

The Doomed Russian Economy

Foreign investment in Russia fell a whopping 13% last year and is now half what it was four years ago.  Vladislav Inozemtsev, professor of economics, director of the Moscow-based Center for Post-Industrial Studies and editor-in-chief of Svobodnaya Mysl, writing in the Moscow Times, explains why:

President Dmitry Medvedev publicly acknowledged last week what everyone has known for two decades: The investment climate in Russia is bad. While the measures Medvedev proposed to improve the investment climate are generally sound, there are several reasons why they won’t work.

In 2010, fixed capital investment in Russia totaled 8.35 trillion rubles in constant 2008 prices ($310 billion), the same as it was in 2007. In China, however, investment in 2010 was 14.4 trillion yuan ($2.16 trillion). One of the main reasons China’s investment level is so high is its high domestic savings. But the higher the level of savings, the lower the level of consumption.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Land of Bandits

EDITORIAL

Russia, Land of Bandits

The image above shows the dictator of Libya and the dictator of Russia flying in attack aircraft to bomb their own populations in to submission, with the Russian using a computer attack rather than an explosive. It is the work of the genius Russian cartoonist Sergei Yelkin, better known as Ellustrator, an refers to a recent massive cyber attack on the Live Journal blogging network in Russia which shut down the entire service for the better part of a day (even the blog of so-called Russian “president” Dima Medvedev was affected — interestingly, Vladimir Putin is not a blogger and was left unscathed). A few days later a massive attack was launched on the website of Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s leading opposition newspaper.  Both Anton Nosik and Alexei Navalny, the two titans of the Russian blogosphere, made it clear that the Putin Kremlin was to blame, in preparation for the rigging of the next presidential “elections.”

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Russia, Land of Mindless Sheep

Masha Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center, writing in the Moscow Times:

The Russian government, with its solid hold on power, has invariably gotten away with poor performance, inefficiency, corruption and widespread violation of political rights and civil liberties. Polls consistently demonstrate that Russians are not deluded. They routinely respond in surveys that government officials are corrupt and self-serving. According to a poll conducted last summer, 80 percent believe that “many civil servants practically defy the law.”

And yet Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has enjoyed high and steady approval ratings for years. A mild drop in early 2011 probably reflected frustration over social injustice and a growing sense of insecurity and uncertainty about the future. Even so, about 70 percent of respondents in a February poll said they approved of Putin’s performance. President Dmitry Medvedev’s approval ratings are only slightly lower.

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Russia, Land of Hypocrites

Streetwise Professor reports:

It’s amazing the things Russophobes will say.  Like this:

“Right now [Russia's] investment climate is so bad that it won’t be affected” [by the imminent failure of the BP-Rosneft deal].

What slander.  Must be some retrograde, Cold War fossil.

Check that.  It was Arkady Dvorkovich, Medvedev’s top economic aide.

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SPECIAL EXTRA: The Nemtsov White Paper, Part V — Putin the Thief

Boris Nemtsov has published the fifth installment of his White Paper series reviewing the manifold failures of the Putin regime. This time, his focus is personal corruption by Vladimir Putin himself, and the allegations are truly sensational.  Nemtsov is clearly taking his life in his hands by publishing this material, once again translated professionally by the amazing Dave Essel.  The four prior installments are located here.  The original Russian version of Part V is here.

PUTIN.
CORRUPTION.

AN INDEPENDENT WHITE PAPER
Moscow 2011

Editorial board
V.Milov, B. Nemtsov, V. Ryzhkov, O. Shorina

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Introduction

Vladimir Putin’s decade in power associates in most minds with two highly negative phenomena – an extraordinary increase in the abuse of power and corruption.

Russia in 2010 managed to rank 154th out of 178 countries according to influential global civil society organisation Transparency International. Our peers in the list are some of the least developed countries of Africa (Congo, Guinea-Bissau) and other countries such as New Guinea and Tadzhikistan. Transparency International considers Russia to be the most corrupt of all the major countries in the world, the so-called G20. Our BRIC colleagues (Brazil, China and India) rate way above us as well in 69th, 78th, and 87th respectively.

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EDITORIAL: The Horrifying Fangs of Russian Poverty

EDITORIAL

The Horrifying Fangs of Russian Poverty

Imagine having to live on $6.93 per day or less.

That’s all you’ve got to buy food and put a roof over your head, and to pay for transportation to and from your work, which pays you roughly $1.30 per hour. For medical expenses, entertainment, the whole shooting match.  You’ve got $0.42 per hour of each day to survive on.

Think you could do it?

If so, would you care to try it in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, where food prices jumped by 17.5 percent between June 2010 and February 2011? No? We didn’t think so.

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EDITORIAL: Medvedev the Broken Record

EDITORIAL

Medvedev the Broken Record

In our lead editorial today we comment on a fact that would be hilarious if it were not so horrifyingly tragic, namely the Kremlin’s claim that poverty is falling in Russia.  It’s not the only such instance we can point to. In fact, in Russia these days, virtually every new development falls into this category.

Take for instance the farcical utterances of so-called “president” Dima Medvedev days ago, when he roared that the army of terrorists that has been besieging Russia north to south, east to west, must immediately “surrender or be destroyed.” We would laugh openly at the utterly nonsensical pronouncements of this ridiculous, ignorant, dishonest little man if it were not for the fact that we know so many Russians will surely suffer and perish as a result of his stupidity.

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When Putin “Wins” by Cheating, Russians Lose

Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:

The Tambov region provides an excellent illustration of the connection between United Russia’s political monopoly, rampant corruption and the low standard of living in Russia.

On July 13, President Dmitry Medvedev appointed Tambov Governor Oleg Betin to a fourth term. Betin has been governor several times since 1995. He is a member of United Russia, although in the 1990s he was a member of the Communist Party. Medvedev particularly values Betin for his role in the 2008 presidential election, when the president received more than 72 percent of the Tambov vote.

The results of the recent March 13 elections demonstrate that the Tambov region has not lost its touch in “organizing” elections, with United Russia reporting 65 percent of the vote there — one of its highest results in the March vote.

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When Will Guilty Russians be Called to Account for Terror?

Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:

Throughout 10 years of terrorist attacks on Russian soil, not a single official has ever been held responsible for negligence of duty. Nobody was fired after terrorists seized Moscow’s Dubrovka theater. Nobody was called on the carpet after the massacre in Beslan and bomb attacks at Moscow’s Rizhskaya and Avtozavodskaya metro stations and in the Vladikavkaz, Astrakhan and Samara marketplaces. Even when the Nevsky Express train was bombed twice in separate incidents, nobody thought to take Russian Railways chief Vladimir Yakunin to task.

But when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the international arrivals hall of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, President Dmitry Medvedev told all of Russia that the guilty parties were none other than the owners of the privately held airport.

Who else could it have been?

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EDITORIAL: Russia, Babbling

EDITORIAL

Russia, Babbling

Last week yet another Russian satellite tumbled out of orbit, becoming just one more chapter in the humiliating tragicomedy that is Russia’s effort to leave the planet earth.  The culprit? According to Russia the satellite was bought down by American spies.

And those darned old spies had a busy week, because according to Russia’s president Dima Medvedev they were also busy practicing how to unseat the clan of KGB spies who prowl the Kremlin.  The practice session occurred in Libya, where American spies were working hard to unseat the legitimate and beloved leader Mr. Qadaffi.

Meanwhile, the heroic Kremlin strode boldly to Qadaffi’s defense, telling the world to stand by and watch while the maniac slaughtered tens of thousands of citizens or else Russia was going to get plenty mad.  It’s the same thing Russia has been saying about the lunatics in Iran for some time now.

And to cap it all off, a major pro-Kremlin party was held in honor of International Women’s Day in Moscow, and the featured entertainment turned out to be . . . strippers.

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At last, they come for Putin

The brilliant Vladimir Kara-Murza, writing on World Affairs:

The scope of corruption in Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been much discussed, documented in expert reports and quantified in international ratings. Transparency International estimates the country’s annual corruption market at $300 billion; its Corruption Perception Index placed Russia in 154th place, behind Congo and Libya. As economist Anders Ǻslund has noted, there is only one country in the world that is both richer (in terms of GDP per capita) and more corrupt than Mr. Putin’s Russia — and that is Equatorial Guinea. Yet despite many suspicions, Mr. Putin himself has not been openly named in relation to a specific scheme — until now.

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