Hero journalist Yulia Latynina, writing in the Moscow Times:
While watching the Bank of Moscow scandal unfold, two questions come to mind. First, the Bank of Moscow held the accounts of Moscow’s city budget, and the deficit of the bank is now $14 billion. In essence this means that the city’s funds have been stolen from the bank. How did this happen?
The second question is whether VTB will file a lawsuit in London courts against former Bank of Moscow president Andrei Borodin. It appears that the goal is not to extradite him back to Russia but to put him behind bars in Britain.
Borodin somehow received 20 percent of the shares of the bank, but it is difficult to say whether he was an actual or nominal shareholder.
The always-brilliant Ariel Cohen, writing on the Heritage Foundation blog:
[The first week in November], two seemingly unconnected events took place in Moscow. Yet, considered together, they have are of tremendous importance and serve to weaken the rule of law in Russia.
[On] Tuesday, imprisoned former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky delivered a passionate speech at the end of his kangeroo court proceedings about the corroding lawlessness plaguing his country. As Khodorkovsky addressed the court, masked Russian police SWAT teams armed with Kalashnikovs raided the National Reserve Bank in Moscow. The bank belongs to Alexander Lebedev, another billionaire political opponent of the Putin-Medvedev “tandemocracy.”
Moscow’s New Crypto-Fascist Scumbag
Deutsche-Welle, one of the best sources of reporting on Russia, has published a brilliant exposure piece on Sergei Sobyanin, the handpicked, unelected new mayor of the city of Moscow.
Here is what Sobyanin said after he was “elected” governor of Tyumen provience in 2000: “There is opposition, look! Only 24 out of 25 deputies have voted for me.” Such a remark could easily have been made by a stooge of the Soviet empire, and indeed quite often was. Now, Sobyanin has been placed in charge of one of the world’s largest cities by exectutive fiat of the Kremlin, and he will be its slave. Democratic politics at the local level has been absolutely and finally extinguished, and it has been carried out by the so-called “liberal” reformer Dima Medvedev.
Racism and Insurrection in the Russian Army
In our last issue we carried two items illustrating the dire consequences of unchecked power being given to Russia’s cadre of spies and its police officers. Today, we turn our attention to the Russian military.
Last week we were appalled and terrified by the spectacle that unfolded in the Siberian city of Perm. The indispensable and brilliant Paul Goble, translating from the Russian press, reports how Russian army units there are in open rebellion against their officers because large numbers of the young recruits are Muslim and they face daily oppression from their racist Slavic “brothers.” What the Kremlin does not seem to have noticed while ignoring this scathing, barbaric racism is that its victims are being armed and trained to kill.
The upshot of the rebellion was the Russian officers were forced to turn to Muslim clerics and beg for their assistance in quelling the insurrection.
Paul Goble reports:
The dismissal of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov highlights the fact that “there is no Russia,” a Moscow analyst argues. Instead, “there is only a Sovietoid copy which has been converted into the RF Corporation,” something everyone involved needs to recognize in order not to continue to pay a high price for making a mistake on this point.
In an essay posted on the Folksland.net portal, Aleksey Shornikov says that “the Russian Federation is not a state, although it dresses itself up in the clothes of a power. The RF is instead a commercial company or as it can be expressed in terms familiar to us, ‘RF Inc.’”
According to Shornikov, “the various European East Indian companies” prefigured the form that RF Inc. has taken since 1991. The most famous of these was the British one in India, a public-private partnership chartered by the king that performed many of the functions of a state but was organized and acted like a corporation pursuing profit.
For Little Dima Medvedev, a Knife in the Darkness
An interesting thing happened a few days ago. Moscow “Mayor” Yuri Luzhkov was fired by Russian “President” Dima Medvedev, and the so-called Mayor was soon lashing out publicly at the so-called President. Luzhkov, of course, is a very popular fellow in many Russian quarters, and his words carry weight. Not a word was said about Vladimir Putin. In fact, it was almost as if Putin had planned the whole thing, just to kill two competitive birds with one stone as he prepares to become “president for life.”
And who can say that this is not precisely what has occurred?
Konstantin Sonin, writing in the Moscow Times:
Reading tea leaves — or coffee grounds if you happen to be in Russia — won’t help anyone guess who the next mayor of Moscow will be. My prediction is that our leaders will opt for the candidate who is least likely to make a play for the Kremlin in the future.
But Yury Luzhkov’s firing has made one thing very clear: United Russia is not a political party at all. In reality, it is little more than a superficial label or a badge worn by the overwhelming majority of high-ranking, opportunistic state employees. Examples of genuine parties include the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in Mexico; the Communist Party of the Soviet Union; the Communist Party of China and the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan.
Michael Bohm, writing in the Moscow Times:
On the day President Dmitry Medvedev fired Yury Luzhkov, reporters asked Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to comment on the reason. “The Moscow mayor didn’t get along with the president,” Putin said.
Medvedev’s own explanation wasn’t any more substantial. “As the president of Russia, I have lost my trust in Yury Mikhailovich Luzhkov as the mayor of Moscow,” he told journalists in Shanghai on Sept. 28, the day he signed the dismissal order.
Since then, Medvedev hasn’t explained any further. Although the law apparently allows Medvedev to get away with this vagueness, the president has an obligation to explain the exact reasons why he sacked the mayor of Moscow, who held the most powerful positions in the country.
Backing the ruling tandem’s silence, one of United Russia’s top leaders, Vyacheslav Volodin, commented the day Luzhkov was sacked: “The president’s decision shouldn’t be discussed. It should be carried out.”
Putin’s Russia, Fading Fast
Public opinion polls show that only 13% of Russians (Russian-language link) believe that Dmitri Medvedev really holds presidential power in their country, even though he’s called “president.” More than twice as many think Vladimir Putin holds this power exclusively, and a whopping 78% of Russians believe Putin holds at least a share of presidential power. 64% of Russians believe that Putin’s actions are completely independent of Medvedev, while half that number think Medvedev can act independently.
Despite the scorn heaped upon the street demonstrators by the Putin regime and the Russophile rabble, a whopping 85% of Russians (Russian-language link) believe the Kremlin should listen to what the protesters have to say, yet less than 30% think the Kremlin actually is listening. If an election were held today, only 27% of Russians say they are ready to cast a vote for Putin, while a pathetic 20% are committed to voting for Medvedev.
These facts add up to just one conclusion: Russia is a dictatorship.
Russian Hypocrisy knows no Bounds
Anyone who knows Russia even casually has heard it many times: It’s wrong to publicly criticize government leaders, it undermines their authority and their ability to do good for people. That’s why the state has to control all the major TV stations and newspapers, and become a national cheerleader to inspire Russians who would otherwise give up hope in dealing with the horrific problems they face every day.
It’s total crap, of course, but OK, let’s go with it. Assuming the Kremlin is right, how in the world can it possibly justify suddenly using a massive TV campaign to attack Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, last week?
Dmitri Sidorov, Washington correspondent for Kommersant, has a great new blog on the Forbes website. Here’s his post on the Luzhkov fiasco:
President Dmitry Medvedev’s awkward attempts to fire Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov during the past two weeks look pathetic, and serve as yet another indication of his very limited authorities when it comes to running the country. In reality, no one except for the Kremlin inner circle knows what triggered a scandal. However, my sources in Moscow insist that economic dispute between Medvedev and Luzhkov teams led to the Russian president’s rage.