Tag 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


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: Essel on 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: Listening to Dima Medvedev

A note from the translator: This, I think, ranks amongst the best of the many reviews of the state of the nation address made by Pooty’s Teddy to the Federal Assembly. It’s written in the rather histrionic, hysterical style that Russian journalists like to adopt occasionally. To the Western reader, this may appear overly self-conscious, like a novice writer for a provincial paper, but here it’s a accepted style.


Boris Suvarin

Yezhedevny Zhurnal

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Medvedev’s first state of the nation address has been interpreted in many ways.

The simplest – don’t worry your head about it! It’s a ritual, a farrago of words… Words were in order and words were spoken. “Freedom (bureaucracy) is better than slavery (the population). We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again…. (Incidentally, why do we actually need all the “phonemes about freedom”? The West couldn’t care; inside the country, they are as unpopular with the natives as they are with the inhabitants of the Kremlin; and no one would want a liberal, even if one was being given away for free. And the same goes in reverse: the liberals don’t want these speeches which they don’t believe or trust in the slightest. So why give the address? Is it something he just enjoys?)

Nonetheless, whatever you may think of Medvedev and his speech, objective facts remain: they can’t be abolished. Russia has come up against a challenge. And its leaders simply MUST do something about it. As everyone knows, a failure to respond is also a response.

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Essel on Russian Patriotism

What Goes on in the Mind of an OMON Riot Cop

by Dave Essel

If a demonstrator is carrying it, it’s got to be wrong. Right?

Patriotism flowers in Putin's Russia

Patriotism flowers in KGB-ruled Russia

Sorry, mindless thug, but, surprised and approving as I am, you’re wrong from the point of view of your superiors!

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Another Original LR Translation: Now, About those Ossetian Passports, via Dave Essel

Platinum Passports

Boris Suvarin, Ezhednevny Zhurnal, 8 September 2008

translated from the Russian by Dave Eseel

South Ossetia has a population of 60 thousand people. Almost all of them hold Russian passports. Strangely enough, who ordered that they should be given them and why is still a mystery. Some say it was A.S. Voloshin [former chief of Russian presidential administration] but he is not being asked to step forward. For his part, he is keeping his mouth tight shut.

Be that as it may, Ossetians, unlike, say, many of the people from the Caucasus living in Moscow, most certainly did not have to pay for their passports. On the contrary, it was Russia which paid for the pleasure.

Over the last 10 years, South Ossetia has received $100 million a year, paid out of the Russian budget. Of course, no accounts for these funds have ever been produced. No one is asking how precisely Mr. Kokoity spent the money – on the needs of his people, of course. That’s clear since no one is complaining, right?

By a rough calculation, that means every inhabitant of South Ossetia has been having fifteen hundred dollars of Russian budget spent on him every year. It’s worth bearing in mind that South Ossetia contributes no taxes to the Russian budget.

Then came the war.

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Essel on the Bandit Bully

Beware the Bandit Bully

by Dave Essel

Beware the Russian bandit bully – he always was one and always will be unless properly slapped down.

As the EU gets its talking shop into gear – I fear mainly to settle on some minimum of actions against Russia for its behaviour in Georgia that can just about be spun to the public as ‘principled’ – I find myself this Sunday reading a superb new book about the fate of the several thousand Americans left stranded in the Soviet Union of the 1930s. They had gone there – some out of their misconceived socialist convictions, others, misled by an irresponsible press corps that failed to inform them properly, to escape the Depression and find employment. Of course, absent serious a serious taking of positions by their country, all but a tiny few were arrested, tortured, and died in the Gulag.

Their detailed story is to be found in The Forsaken – An American Tragedy in Stalin’s Russia by Tim Tzouliadis (Penguin Press, New York, 2008). I highly recommend this book.

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Essel on Russia and its Frontiers

Russia and its Frontiers

by Dave Essel

Back in commie days, I frequently shepherded Soviet officials around London on commercial business. We had found that one good way of ensuring that contracts went smoothly was to make sure that our contracts provided for an inspection visit during the course of the work. The cost to us was of course built in to our prices so it was actually only a matter of finding time for the shepherding. The inspections/acceptances never amounted to more than a quick walk through followed by signing off the appropriate document. [Message to you present-day businessmen: wasn’t bribery cheap in those days?!?!?]

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Essel: There are Good People Everywhere

There are Good People Everywhere

by Dave Essel

I recently had to visit the managing director of a small Russian company located in one of the CIS countries. I have known this man for some years. He is a bluff, pleasant person. His children are being educated in the West (at considerable financial sacrifice to the family budget – we are not talking oligarch here).

I usually avoid talking politics with this man as it seems the safest way to maintain a friendly acquaintance since it is easy to ascertain from the occasional dropped remarks that we are dealing here with an unreformed Putinite and greater Russian chauvinist.

Besides having his children educated abroad, he loves holidaying in England. How he reconciles his political views with his actions is something that I ought to try to dig into one day.

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Essel: Making the Russians Keep Their Word

Making the Russians Keep Their Word

by Dave Essel

Russia honors most treaties more in the breach than in the observance. Though unlikely to surprise readers of LR, the non-withdrawal of its forces from Georgia is nothing more than international banditry. Russia behaves the same way with contracts (ask TNK-BP and a host of others!). I really don’t know why governments and businesses bother to conclude any such things with Russia.

Just as Basmanny Sud (Court) is now a byword for ‘telephone justice” under which the judge gets a phone call from above with instructions on what verdict to bring in, we do not have to look far for a byword for dishonourableness – “Russian treaty observance” provides the necessary oxymoron.

I have written recently about looking for ways to provoke and infuriate Russia in response to its recent outrages. Thinking about this brought to mind a very vague and distant recollection from the 1st Cold War of a European city council (Brussels) supporting a dissident (Solzhenitsyn) by renaming the street in which the Soviet Embassy was located to that dissident’s name and then officially advising the Soviet Embassy that incorrectly addressed mail would be returned to sender. I can imagine the vicious fury of the Soviet bureaucrats at this treatment.

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Essel on the Journal

Making Russia Pay the Price for its Abominable Outrages

by Dave Essel

In my note Three Cheers for Georgia on August 13, I put forward some suggestions for civilised and proper actions that could be taken to bring home to Russia and its people the seriousness of such barbaric behaviour.

I am very pleased to see than no less an organ than the Wall Street Journal is advocating similar ideas in a opinion piece datelined August 15 entitled The Kremlin’s ‘Protection’ Racket by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey.

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Essel Gives Three More Cheers for Georgia

By e-mail a reader reports this image from the city of Lviv, Ukraine, where authorities are flying the Georgian colors in a sign of solidarity

By e-mail a reader reports this image from the city of Lviv, Ukraine, where authorities are flying the Georgian colors in a sign of solidarity

Three More Cheers for Russia

by David Essel

I have just rushed ordered a half dozen T-shirts for myself, friends and family.

 They look like this:

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Special Extra — Essel on Georgia

Three Cheers for Georgia!

David Essel

Russia has as usual shown its true face, a face that only appeasement-artists, moral relativists and other nitwits failed to see before. I can sympathise with how sensible people must have felt when infamous old Chamberlain came back from Munich promising peace for our time (presumably having looked into Adolf’s eyes and seen something nice there). I mean what does it take for some people? Was poisoning a Ukrainian presidential candidate not enough; was turning Grozny into a mini-Berlin-1945 not enough; was inventing a new form of hostage rescue – being poison-gassed to death is much better for the hostages than the complex Western way of doing things where things like sanctity of life get in the way – not enough? [… continue for 94 pages or read LR…]

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