See Russian Train Run. Run, train, run!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 KGB-ruled Russia
Sorry, mindless thug, but, surprised and approving as I am, you’re wrong from the point of view of your superiors!
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.