Briton in Russia Clare Taylor, blogging at the Moscow Times, explains what it’s like to face the Russian retail establishment, which is in no significant way different from what it was in Soviet times. It sees customers as an annoying problem and it is not equipped or interested enough to deal with them properly. This is why Russian can’t compete in international markets and can’t attract a large number of tourists. (FYI, children don’t have the experience to know when shoes fit properly, and therefore can’t help parents when seeking to determine if they do. That’s why careful parents want their kids’ feet measured when buying new shoes.)
Back in May, my sons were in need of new shoes, and, I must admit, I had been putting it off. I was hoping against hope that the canvas sneakers I picked up for them in London on a solo trip over there in April would stay the course until our summer break when we would be back in the land of less expensive and — crucially — expertly fitted footwear. What’s that you say? Muscovite children wear shoes, too, and amazingly, they even fit? That fact is obviously true, but based on our experiences shoe shopping in Moscow, for the life of me I can’t work out how.
Long Live Luke Harding
On December 1, 2010, Luke Harding, Russia correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, published a story based on leaked confidential government documents which concluded that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin approved the murder of dissident KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko.
Six weeks later, the very next time Harding tried to enter Russia, his visa was revoked and he was sent back home. More than three dozen foreign journalists have been refused entry to Russia since Vladimir Putin came to power and many others, like Paul Klebnikov of Forbes, have been murdered outright.
But it’s pretty hard to think of a single pro-Kremlin journalist who has been arrested or exiled or murdered by the Putin Kremlin, isn’t it?
Posted in editorial, iron curtain, journalism, journalists, neo-soviet crackdown, russia
Tagged Alexander Litvinenko, KGB, luke harding, moscow times, Paul Klebnikov, russia, The Guardian, vladimir putin, Walter Duranty
Victor Davidoff, writing in the Moscow Times:
A few weeks ago the Russian blogosphere was shocked by a story out of Vladivostok involving a single mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer. The waiting list for an operation was so long that she decided to take her fate into her own hands. Since she had four years of medical school education, she gave herself a local anesthetic, picked up a scalpel and excised the tumor. She did the operation in her living room, having first closed her two daughters in the kitchen.
As barbaric as this case was, it reflected a remarkable change in the Russian mentality. Russians are beginning to give up the flawed belief, grounded in decades of Soviet paternalism, that the government should solve their problems. Now, they are taking charge of their own affairs.
In an unusual move Michael Bohm, the opinion editor of the Moscow Times, has published himself. For such a thing to happen, you know that a truly outrageous act must have been perpetrated by the Kremlin, and indeed it is so. Bohm minces no words in declaring that Russia’s top rulers are totally out of touch with basic reality, lost in a neo-Soviet fog of the same type that brought down the USSR. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst is that they are shamelessly lying to the people of Russia, leading them down the garden path that leads to ultimate destruction.
Several weeks ago in Voronezh, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the ambitious goals for “Strategy 2020” remain in place — despite the economic crisis. He also said Russia has every chance of becoming the world’s most desirable place to live by 2020. “This is no fairy tale,” Shuvalov added. But if you examine the strategy closely, it certainly looks like one.
Consider the four main goals of Strategy 2020:
Publish and Perish in Putin’s Russia?
A recent item in the Moscow Times reported that a judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the paper, its publisher and one of its reporters over a news report about oligarch billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. A lower court had ordered the newspaper to publish a retraction and pay a fine of 1,000 rubles after it ran an interview with another oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, in July of last year in which Potanin was quoted as stating that Prokhorov had “promised” to sell a stake in Norilsk Nickel to him and billionaire Alisher Usmanov and to buy his stake in Polyus Gold, “but he avoided doing this.” The MT states: “Prokhorov’s lawyer told the court in October that the phrase ‘promised but avoided doing this” paints Prokhorov as “an unreliable partner,’ damaging his reputation in business circles. Potanin’s lawyers have argued that the disputed phrase in the interview was in fact true because Prokhorov had proceeded to sell his stake in Norilsk Nickel to Oleg Deripaska’s RusAl in April in violation of the protocol.”
Regardless of whether Potanin’s remark was true or false, the fact is that he said it and the MT quoted it accurately. Nobody disputes this. How then is it possible for the MT to be sued? Is the MT supposed to verify the statements of people it interviews or hears speaking, and publish their remarks only if they are found to be true? Should it adopt that approach to reporting the insanely dishonest ravings of such persons as the “president” and “prime minister” of Russia, for instance? If it did, it could not repeat a single word that passes their lips after “good evening.”
The penalty being imposed here is nominal this time. What about next time? Isn’t it clear that this lawsuit is a threat to the MT, a warning from the Kremlin that it can put the tiny defenseless paper out of business any time it likes? Is it any wonder that, as LR publisher Kim Zigfeld has previously reported, the MT seems to be running scared?
We condemn the outrageous aggression of Vladimir Putin’s corrupt court system towards the Moscow Times. We urge the people of Russia, and the leaders of the Western democracies, to see that the little paper is one of the last canaries in the Russian mineshaft, and that it cannot survive over the long haul without serious protection. If the paper’s light is snuffed out, all those who need to know what is going on in neo-Soviet Russia will be the worse for it.
The Moscow Times, Asleep at the Switch
Writing on Pajamas Media a while back, our founder Kim Zigfeld has documented the appalling extent to which the Moscow Times newspaper is backing away from its previously heroic coverage of neo-Soviet barbarism in Russia. The most odious example of this noxious trend has been the paper’s stubborn unwillingness to give prominent coverage to the heroism of dissident leader Oleg Kozlovsky.
And the most repellent instance of that behavior came recently, when the paper buried the news of Kozlovsky’s human rights award in a tiny sentence at the bottom of an item about another dissident winning asylum in Ukraine. Kozlovsky hobnobbed with the likes of Mary Robinson, Sigourney Weaver and Caroline Kennedy, but you’d never know that from the pages of the Moscow Times. He had an op-ed in the Washington Post, but readers of the MT are oblivious of that fact. He was arrested preemptively on bogus charges, went on a hunger strike and then beat the charges in an appeal, but MT readers remain in the dark about all of it. Nor will the MT publish the letters to the editor it routinely receives from Kim, one of the most powerful Russia bloggers on the planet.
Andrew McChesney, the paper’s editor, should be ashamed of himself. If you’d like to register your displeasure with McChesney, click here or FAX (7-495) 232-6529, or write The Moscow Times, 3 Polkovaya Ul., Bldg. 1, Moscow, 127018.