Ariel Cohen, writing on the National Interest website:
In late August, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev appointed Georgy Poltavchenko governor of St. Petersburg. Poltavchenko has served as presidential envoy to Russia’s central-administrative district since 2000. More importantly, he is a loyalist to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and a KGB veteran. He replaces Valentina Matviyenko, another Putin confidante, who has moved on to chair the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament. Sergey Mironov, the former speaker of the Federation Council, is out. All this game of musical chairs has little to do with either President Medvedev or significant democratic developments. Rather, it demonstrates how Putin is rearranging his insiders.
Sacrilege at Seliger
Vladmir Putin is no stranger to hypocrisy. For example, though calling the USA a “parasite” whose economy is not based on productivity and which therefore is unreliable and harmful, under Putin Russian investment in the US economy has increased by a stunning one thousand six hundred percent.
Putin deals with hypocrisy of this kind they way Soviet rulers like him always have: He lies to his people, seeking to cultivate a nation of thoughtless automatons who can do nothing but worship at his feet. It all begin with the youngest, at summer camp, the way it always did in the USSR.
In the photo above, two participants in the Kremlin’s Hitler-Jugend variant, Camp Seliger (one with a bra with eyes drawn on the outside of her t-shirt) walk past a billboard showing the faces of Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin weirdly fused into a single person, with the explanation “they are interchangeable.”
Elsewhere at the installation, campers walk by a row of photographs of Garry Kasparov, Mikhail Kasyanov, Boris Nemtsov, Eduard Limonov and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, under the banner: “Losers of the Year.”
The Failure of Putinomics
Last year, Russia experienced nearly $40 billion in capital flight. Money flowed out of Putin’s Russia at a rate of $3.2 billion per month. Russians voted with their wallets, and they voted that Putin could not be trusted and that a future ruled by him was bleak indeed.
So far this year, despite a crude oil prices above $100/barrel (and a stock market up one-fifth compared to last year), money is leaving Russia at a rate more than double that of last year. Already, in just the first four months of this year, Russia has hemorrhaged a stunning $26.3 billion — more than half the total it lost in all of 2010. The landslide vote against Putin in 2010 has turned into an absolute rout in 2011.
Russophile Eugene Ivanov Proves Russians are Hopeless
Scary, no? The scariest thing is that he actually thinks he looks good!
It’s not often that we are called upon to defend the people of Russia from the unwarranted attacks of a Russophile, but when the occasion does arise we are very well pleased.
Such is the case with a recent article for the shameless Russophile propaganda project known as “Russia Beyond the Headlines” by the shameless Russophile shill Eugene Ivanov (who scarily poses on his blog in the same type of black leather coat the NKVD wore during an execution of a dissident, and which just recently came back into fashion in Russia).
Ivanov claims the people of Russia are clueless idiots because the vast majority of them think that their court system is corrupt when in fact it routinely rules in their favor. We strongly disagree.
One Nora Fitzgerald recently had a letter to the editor published in the Moscow Times, responding to a recent op-ed piece by Richard Lourie which exposed the naked propaganda fraud that is “Russia Beyond the Headlines,” a paid supplement churned out by the Kremlin and foisted upon financially hapless Western newspapers. What follows is the letter verbatim with our commentary in boldface following each paragraph.
Interestingly, “Russia Beyond the Headlines” doesn’t publish letters to the editor.
Lebedev Goes Down
Lebedev goes Down
Recent days have seen a disturbing trend as oligarch after oligarch bows and scrapes before Vladimir Putin (so-called “president” Dima Medvedev did the same in his recent press conference). By the far the most ominous of these has been Alexander Lebedev.
Lebedev is the publisher of Novaya Gazeta, by far Russia’s most important source of information about the Putin regime. He openly admits that he has been receiving relentless pressure from the KGB on his banking business, and that he has decided to side with Putin rather than become a jailed pauper like Mikkhail Khodorkovsky. The tycoon posted a statement on his website stating that his “Our Capital” movement had decided to join the All-Russia People’s Front created by Putin earlier this month.
Posted in editorial, journalism, journalists, neo-soviet crackdown, russia
Tagged Alexander Lebedev, dmitry medvedev, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, novaya gazeta, russia, vladimir putin
Victor Davidoff, writing in the Moscow Times:
Judging by the buzz in Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev’s news conference, which was held on May 18 to an audience of more than 800 journalists, was expected to be the event of the year. The number of journalists and unprecedented format — Medvedev had not done anything like it during his presidency — all suggested that there would be an important announcement. Speculation began long before the event and ranged from the belief that Medvedev would finally announce his candidacy for president in 2012 to the rumor that he would fire Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
But in the end, the highlight of the news conference was a joke that began to circulate on the Internet while he was still speaking: “It’s clear that now there are two new political camps in Russia — Putin’s party and Medvedev’s party. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear which party Medvedev belongs to.”
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.
Sean Guillory, Damnable Liar
Yeah, you're better without the mouth, Mr. Guillory. Much better.
Sean Guillory, an avowed Marxist and atheist, has been blogging about Russia since October 2004. In the six and a half years since then, according to the counter on his blog, he has received just under 310,000 visits — that’s less than 50,000 per year, less than 140 per day.
By contrast La Russophobe, which has only been blogging for five years, has received nearly 2.8 million visits — that’s almost 560,000 per year, more than 1,500 per day. In other words, we have over ten times more traffic than Sean.
The reason for that is pretty simple. Sean tells lies about Russia, and sensible people aren’t interested in lies.
The heroic Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
The smell of February is lingering in the air — February 1917, that is.
I am not talking about the revolutions in the Middle East but about Russia’s extraordinarily weak leaders and the growing contempt that the leading public figures and ordinary citizens are showing toward them.
Look how quickly the seemingly ironclad vertical power structure can evaporate into thin air. For example, Bolshoi prima-turned-celebrity Anastasia Volochkova had no qualms about publicly thumbing her nose at United Russia when she quit the party after revealing that she was “tricked” into signing a group letter in support of prosecuting former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In the 1970s, no Soviet citizen would have even thought about snubbing the Communist Party.
Time for the Old Switcheroo
On February 20th, activists from Roman Dobrokhotov’s “We” movement hung a fifty-square-meter banner, shown above, from a bridge directly opposite the Moscow Kremlin. You can view photos of the unfurling on the blog of “We” activist Ilya Varlamov.
The banner showed photos of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in a presidential gaze, and Vladimir Putin, behind bars, and invited viewers to consider the possibility that it was time, as LR founder Kim Zigfeld said on Siberian Light several years ago, for the two to change places.
We’ve written about Dobrokhotov before. He’s made many spectacular and direct challenges to the dictatorial rule of Vladimir Putin, but none more awesome and fearless than this one. Make no mistake: Putin shoots people for doing stuff like this, shoots them dead.
In a truly thrilling op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Milov, Russia’s terrific trio, lay down withering crossfire against the advancing legions of the Putin dictatorship:
This year started quite symbolically in Russia. In the last days of 2010, government authorities decided to demonstrate their power and their intolerance for being challenged: The verdict issued at the farcical trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev had no relation to jurisprudence; leading opposition figures were detained for as many as 15 days on purely political grounds.
These heavy-handed actions set a peculiar stage for President Dmitry Medvedev’s address at the World Economic Forum. Nevertheless, the intelligent and well-informed audience in Davos enthusiastically applauded his nice words about Russia’s economic modernization and dynamic democratic development. International business leaders seem to accept his complaints that few Russians understand his great plans for the country’s future, which greedy oligarchs and corrupt officials from the 1990s prevent him from undertaking.
Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times, asks why her countrymen are so pathetically spineless:
In an interview with Gazeta.ru, Natalya Vasilyeva, assistant to Judge Viktor Danilkin in the second criminal case against former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said Danilkin had to obtain approval from the Moscow City Court — and higher — for each of his actions, and that the city court wrote the verdict that Danilkin read at the trial.
There were two surprising things about the interview with Vasilyeva. The first is her claim that Danilkin considered the process unjust and was out of sorts as a result. If that is true, it is unexpected because people tend to rationalize their actions. I find it hard to believe that the average NKVD officer really considered himself an inhumane executioner, despite the historical record showing him to be exactly that.
The second is that, if Vasilyeva spoke the truth, it is amazing how easily Danilkin buckled under pressure and sold out his ideals. After all, what would have happened to him if he had acquitted Khodorkovsky?
Michael Bohm, editorial page editor, writing in the Moscow Times:
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent a clear and chilling signal on Dec. 16 that the “soft autocracy” of his first decade in power will become more oppressive in his second decade.
It was on that day that Putin effectively delivered the guilty verdict in the second trial of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky during his annual call-in show — two weeks before Judge Viktor Danilkin actually found Khodorkovsky guilty of embezzlement and money laundering and added six years to his sentence, ensuring he will be locked up until 2017.
Putin’s declaration that Khodorkovsky belonged in jail was eerily similar to Stalin’s notorious practice of delivering a sentence and then having the court confirm it. Putin easily could have not selected the Khodorkovsky question during the call-in show and applied pressure on Danilkin in private. Instead, Putin flouted an apparent disregard for the law on national television. (Applying pressure or interfering in a trial is a violation of Article 294 of the Criminal Code.)
Vladimir Kara-Murza, writing on World Affairs:
Russian officials have a selective approach to holidays. When it came to arrestingopposition leader Boris Nemtsov on New Year’s Eve and sentencing him on January 2 (a Sunday), no effort was spared. Yet when it came to hearing his appeal, Tverskoy Court remembered that January 1 to 10 is a period of vacation. By law, an appeal against administrative arrest must be heard within 24 hours. The former deputy prime minister has been in detention since December 31, but his appeal has still not been reviewed due to “holidays.” On January 8, another attempt to vindicate Nemtsov’s legal rights ended with Mr. Nemtsov’s lawyer, Timur Onikov, being escorted out by bailiffs. On January 11, the appeal was admitted as a priority case — by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Neo-Soviet Russia goes Berzerk
The cell is a concrete box, 1.5 by three metres, without a window and without even a mattress. A bare floor and that’s it. Absurdly, they have charged me with disobeying the police. For three hours the police bosses didn’t know what to charge me with; then they received an order from upstairs. I understand this action is designed to frighten the opposition. They are mad and don’t know what to do with us. We cannot and will not give in.
— Note written by former Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and smuggled out of his jail cell in Moscow following his arrest for publicly criticizing the Putin regime in a permitted demonstration
Vladimir Putin started of 2011 by making it seem that his New Year’s resolution was to conclusively prove to the world once and for all that his country has gone berzerk.
First, one of his “judges” convicted Mikhail Khodorkovsky again, ignoring his years of incarceration in Siberia and ignoring the fact that the evidence against him was a total charade. As we report in today’s issue, the “judge” cited testimony from witnesses who said Khodorkovsky did not steal oil as proof that he had done so, and convicted him of stealing more oil than the prosecution had accused him of doing. He was then sentenced to the absolute maximum allowable by law.
Then, another one of Putin’s “judges” convicted Boris Nemtsov of participating in an illegal demonstration even though the event had the formal written permission of the government. As we report in today’s issue, Nemtsov was held in a cell with bare walls (no windows, ventilation, raised bed or even mattress on the floor) and made to stand through his entire four-hour “trial.” Unlike Khodorkovsky, the only “crime” of which Nemtsov was even accused is speaking to harshly about the Kremlin’s crackdown on democracy. Unlike Khodorkovsky, too, Nemtsov has held high-ranking government positions and been elected to office.
But the rule of law, of course, is a meaningless concept for the barbaric clan of apes that now rules Russia.
Simon Shuster, writing in Time magazine:
It must have been an awkward meeting for Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. On Dec. 29, he convened a session with his economic aides to talk about attracting talented businessmen to Moscow. No one mentioned that across the river from where they were sitting, a judge was reading out the guilty verdict of one of Russia’s most successful businessmen, oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose case has scared off a lot of capital from the country. But when the subject turned to Russia’s appeal for investors, Medvedev’s tone became forlorn: “The investment climate in our country is bad. It’s very bad.” And everyone understood why.
The brilliant Vladimir Kara-Murza, writing on World Affairs:
In Russia, New Year’s Eve is usually a joyful family occasion. Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov spent it in a police detention cell — a five-by-ten feet concrete cubicle with no windows, no ventilation, no plank bed, not even a mattress. The Moscow Public Supervisory Commission, a prisons watchdog group, reported that conditions of his detention violated the most basic rules. On January 2, the former deputy prime minister of Russia was driven from his cell to Tverskoy Magistrate Court and sentenced to 15 days in prison for “disobeying police.” Judge Olga Borovkova, who forced Mr. Nemtsov to stand for the duration of the trial (more than four hours), disregarded statements from 13 witnesses as well as the video of his arrest. The conviction was based on the words of two police officers who asserted that Mr. Nemtsov was “cursing” and “attempting to block Tverskaya Street” (Moscow’s main avenue). He is currently being held in a detention center on Simferopolsky Boulevard.
Anne Applebaum, writing in the Washington Post, explains why the Kremlin feels strong enough to ignore the law and extend Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s sentence illegally:
The judge had already postponed the verdict without explanation (“The court does not explain itself,” said a spokesman). Before reading it, he barred journalists and the defendant’s family from the courtroom. No one should have been surprised, therefore, when Mikhail Khodorkovsky – the Russian oil baron who once defied the Kremlin – received a further six years in prison last week, on top of the eight he’s served. This time, he was sentenced for “stealing” an impossible quantity of oil, the same oil he has already been accused of selling without paying taxes.
Nemtsov Arrested, Again!
Boris Nemtsov, New Year's Eve 2010
Once again, the Gestapo-like goons of Vladimir Putin, who pretend to be police officers, have arrested the former first deputy prime minister of the country for daring to publicly criticize the Putin regime and to support jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This time, they did so even though Boris Nemtsov and his followers had a fully legalized permit to demonstrate. That did not stop Putin, who ordered mass arrests (120 or more were taken into custody, more than a third of all those present — many dressed in Santa Claus outfits) because that’s the only way he can silence his critics.
Nemtsov has now been sentenced to shocking term of fifteen days in a brutal, savage, uncivilized Russian prison where he, like Sergei Magnitsky, could easily be murdered by any number of killers. All for doing nothing more than peacefully speaking his mind in public. Mind you, the New Year’s holiday is protracted in Russia, the most important of the year by far. Nemtsov will be held apart from his family throughout it, in mortal peril. This is the nature of the enemy he faces, that we face.
Welcome to neo-Soviet Russia!
The Russian “Legal” System, Out of Control
That’s when dissident oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky can expect to leave the Siberian prison cell where he has been held since October 2003. He’ll serve 14 long, brutal years — and indeed may not live to complete his term. Then again, since he has just been sentenced a second time for the same offense he’s already served years for allegedly committing, what is to stop Russian dictator Vladimir Putin from taking a third bite at the apple. Or a fourth?
“The verdict has nothing to do with justice,” said Karinna Moskalenko, Khodorkovsky’s attorney. That’s putting it mildly.
We have long warned about the danger of the “give Russia a chance” advice. We have warned that if you “give Russia a chance” to do the right thing on Khodorkovsky, you play into the Kremlin’s hands, allowing it to consolidate power and present horrific misdeeds as fait accompli. What can be done now to influence Russia’s manifest persecution of a political rival to the Kremlin? Nothing.
And so the Kremlin will continue and persecute more rivals, until there are none. In fact, the so-called Russian “justice system” has been on something of a feeding frenzy of late. And that does not surprise us.
A truly brilliant and inspiring editorial from the Christian Science Monitor, which takes the words right out of our mouth. There is something deeply wrong, perhaps evil, about the President of the United States and his malignant advisor Michael McFaul, who continue to betray American values in the hopes of scoring cheap electoral points with sham foreign policy “victories” while Russia descends into neo-Soviet darkness:
Talk about timing. A Russian court waited until this week – after the US Senate had ratified an arms-control treaty with Moscow – before handing down yet another conviction on that country’s best-known political prisoner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Sentencing is expected in coming days.
The conviction also came as the West is preoccupied with the winter holidays and not focused on the rise of human rights abuses in Russia.
But here’s the best timing: Mr. Khodorkovsky will now likely be sentenced to several more years in a Siberian penal colony – further isolating him until well after next year’s parliamentary elections and a 2012 vote for president.