The Bolotnaya Politburo Lays An Egg

Uncle Volodya says,”Bandar Log, can ye stir hand or foot without my order? Speak! Good…come all one pace nearer to me.”

As readers are doubtless aware, this weekend marked the occasion of online “elections” in Russia which are supposed to fire up the opposition and elevate new leaders who will establish a “shadow parliament”. Quite often in this brave new world of interventionism, Job One is the establishment of a government-in-exile, usually composed of favoured political dissidents whose ideas meet the interventionist smell-test, which can then be conveniently recognized at the appropriate moment as the legitimate government. This quite often coincides with the outgoing government reeling and staggering from a barrage of bad press coordinated with a push by rebel mercenaries, at least in countries in which conflict in the political arena has escalated to outright violence.

Once it was feared that the kack-handed blundering about of the Russian liberal opposition marked a resolve by the west to overthrow and replace the Putin government,using a model which has become fairly popular among western conservatives and colloquially known as “the Arab Spring”. That has looked increasingly unlikely as time goes on and, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say the west is resigned to the Putin government or is no longer interested in seeing it collapse, the opposition movement in Russia looks steadily less propped-up by western interests.

Perhaps that is motivated by embarrassment.

Let’s look at an example; this weekend’s grimacing failure on the part of what Pavel Danilin first referred to as “The Bolotnaya Politburo”.

In order for us to grasp what a clanging disaster these online elections were, let’s go back a bit, and see what they were supposed to achieve. According to Brian Whitmore at The Power Vertical, these online “primaries” were to be nothing less than a model for free elections to be held in post-Putin Russia. An example of an alternate civil society where decisions are arrived at democratically. An important step in recognizing the legitimacy of the opposition. Even, God help us, a powerful sign that the opposition is serious and maturing. Although I didn’t see it specifically mentioned, an additional bonus likely was the contrasting of Russia’s hip, internet-savvy youth with the doddering technically-inept pro-Kremlin generation, and a bravura demonstration of how the technology tribe would simply go around the easily-duped electorate if it could not go through it. According to the BBC, the election may help decide who will lead the loose alliance of anti-Putin forces, and may offer an opportunity to turn the protest movement from a group of people defined by what they oppose into a group united by a positive and constructive agenda.

Lofty ambitions. But not unreasonable. The only fundamental reason Russia is led by the people who lead it is because it is the will of the people. This is something the opposition seems incapable of absorbing – it is not in charge because it has failed to convince the electorate that it would do a better job leading the country, because it has no plan beyond shouting that Putin is terrible and because it manifestly cannot even stop its members constantly bickering among themselves – how in hell is such a crowd of self-appointed busybodies and would-be martyrs supposed to come together to lead the nation?

Every time there is an election, the opposition dusts off its charges of ballot-stuffing – which it consistently claims to be able to prove and then shows video clips which don’t really show anything and claims they are proof – and carousel voting. However, every time the opposition loses in a landslide, it completely fails to understand why it lost. The opposition loses – every time – because of its failure to inspire the Russian electorate with its vision for Russia. It’s not even that it’s easy to portray the opposition as western-backed, because they are and if that fit with the electorate’s general ambitions for their country, nothing could stop the election of the opposition to power. Being western-backed is not a persuader these days, although once it unarguably was. Be that as it may, today’s liberal opposition in Russia runs the same campaign over and over, and seems repeatedly dismayed that it is again a failure – it’s time for Putin to go. Is it?? And then what??

Putin has been extremely successful in first rescuing the Russian Federation from going over the edge of the cliff to which Yeltsin had pushed it, then building it into a financial colossus and an energy superpower. But the electorate is fickle, and conforms its loyalty into a commodity bought and sold to the beat of Janet Jackson – What have you done for me lately? I can’t say it enough – an opposition with a powerful and resonant message of global inclusiveness, commerce on an advantageous footing and social reform would be an opposition that put Mr. Putin out of a job. It’s not God who keeps him there: God is extremely impartial about such things. Mr. Putin stays in power because he keeps delivering on his promises, and because the opposition doesn’t have a plan, choosing instead to run on a relentlessly-negative and elitist platform of getting rid of Putin.

So, what went wrong this time? A good place to start would be the candidates, which included let-it-all-hang-out exhibitionist Peter Verzilov and, if you can believe it, his swell-headed smirking common-law wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova: the former a Canadian citizen, and the latter a guest of the Russian Federation’s state prison system for the next two years. What a proud moment for Russia, to be able to acknowledge such a couple as contributors to state policy! Vladimir Ryzhkov, perennial malcontent, whose Republicans barely cleared the 5%  required to participate in recent regional elections and won a single seat on the Barnaul City Council although “well-connected political strategist” Stanislav Belkovsky predicted Ryzhkov would easily win the governorship of the entire Altai region (according to reliably unreliable numpty Vladimir Kara-Murza). Incidentally, Kara-Murza does not shrink from ambitious predictions himself, forecasting gleefully back in May that restoration of direct elections spelled new trouble for the Kremlin.  My, yes; they sure have. Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov, both under investigation for serious crimes. TV presenter Ksenya Sobchak, who is probably the smartest and most compelling of the lot. Lots of other vanity candidates who appear to have been chosen solely because they create the appearance of getting up Putin’s nose – have I mentioned the weaknesses of campaigning solely as an opposer?

There’s another solid reason for staying away from this silly online posturing – Sergei Mavrodi. If any two words should strike terror into the hearts of those asked to offer personal and financial information in a public forum, those two would have to rank high on the list. Pathologically incapable of staying away from Ponzi schemes which make money from the unwary and the incurious, Mavrodi and his operatives have heavily infiltrated the voter registration lists, providing by Kommersant’s estimate as much as 30% of the body of registered voters. Of course Mavrodi’s bandwagon-jumping is not the fault of the opposition – in fact, since it has the effect of complicating the opposition’s mission, it was instantly blamed on the Kremlin, although there is no reason whatever to believe the Russian government would bring a pit viper like Mavrodi back into circulation just to wreck the lame opposition, and a moment’s reflection would clarify how stupid a suggestion it is. Sergei Mavrodi’s schemes are conspicuously subject to mission creep, and once he had destroyed the opposition there would be nothing to stop him continuing his predations on everyone else. Also, as long as the opposition continues to flail and to repeat stupid mistakes with metronomic regularity, there is less chance a strong and united opposition will emerge, so likely the current crop of posing halfwits suits the Kremlin just fine. But the complaint that this is a Kremlin provocation serves to camouflage the reality that the registration turnout -once stripped of Mavrodi schemers – is even more pitiful than originally imagined. Small turnouts don’t trouble the opposition, though, because they live in the fantasy that they enjoy broad popular support despite abundant evidence to the contrary. Alexei Navalny, for example, was quite chuffed about winning the title “Virtual Mayor of Moscow” after amassing about 30,000 votes of a total 67,000 in an online poll sponsored by Kommersant and Somewhere between 13 and 15 million people live in Moscow. His next-closest rival, comically, was “Against All Candidates”.

Sweetly ironic is Bloomberg’s contention that an online election which includes verifiable interference by the individual known as “The Russian Bernie Madoff”, whose MMM pyramid scheme cost millions of Russians their life’s savings, is “an honest election”, and recommends that “[i]f Putin were interested, the voting mechanism could be further developed to eliminate fraud and hold fair nationwide elections. He is not, so his opponents view the exercise as an investment in the future. They would rather build a working model of democracy than take part in what passes for it in Putin’s system.

Well, let’s look at that “voting mechanism” through the lens of its ability to realize the opposition’s dreams, shall we? Perhaps Putin is being a fool by not simply putting the opposition in charge of ensuring fairness in voting. First, as a model for free elections to be held in post-Putin Russia. I realize that’s a rather grandiose ambition, but even had it been stated more modestly I think we would have to acknowledge it was not in any way an improvement on the manner in which elections are conducted already. Not yet, at least. According to figures just becoming available from the chaotic weekend and even allowing voting was extended an extra day to make sure everyone got a chance to vote, only about 80,000 people were registered in accordance with the criteria established by the opposition leaders and their advisers. Only 80,000 people in a country of 140,000,000. I don’t think even Alexei Navalny would have the brass to argue that the will of 80,000 people, perhaps – as Yalensis suggests elsewhere – twice as many if you factor in those who were keen but were unable to navigate the computer complexities, should be held representative of the will of 140,000,000. As to the shrill accusations that Putin is responsible for denial-of-service attacks against the voting website, don’t make me laugh. Websites that experience higher-than-usual volume go down all the time for a variety of reasons, chief among them being it was not set up properly to handle heavy volume. We were told Internet genius Ilya Segalovich, co-founder of Yandex, helped design the site. How many protest movements get the benefit of a major electronics engineering technologist to help design their website? Segalovich has worked in software for more than 20 years, as a team leader for much of that. And he has Navalny, who is “wery good at Internet” to help him out, plus Leonid Volkhov – computer entrepreneur – and his team of 25 eager acolytes from among the smartest hipsters to help him out. Failure on this scale due to computer problems would suggest, I’m afraid, the advertisement that all the savvy young byte-crunchers in today’s Russia are lined up in ranks against the old ways and the grey old men of the Kremlin is a bit of a pipe-dream. More to the point, if Putin – who we are told basically ignores the internet – is a match for Navalny (who we are told basically owns the internet), how good at internet is Navalny, really? And to what degree does he enjoy the support of Russia’s hipster computer crowd?

Well, let’s move on. An example of an alternate civil society where decisions are arrived at democratically? I’m afraid I’m not sold. Only 30 seats on the 45-seat “Coordinating Council” are up for grabs based on a free vote; the remaining 15 are reserved in advance – 5 each – for the three major ideological blocs. Can you imagine what the opposition’s response might be to the suggestion that United Russia was going to reserve a third of all seats in regional elections for itself? I can. “Call that an election??” would likely be the collective shriek. No matter what might have been the altruistic motives of the planners when they dreamed that one up, keep in mind that it is how your actions are perceived by the voters that counts, not what you were thinking when you made the decision. I think this satisfies the relative accuracy of “an important step in recognizing the legitimacy of the opposition” as well.

Which brings us to “a powerful sign that the opposition is serious and maturing.” Anybody see that? No, I’m afraid I didn’t, either. Instead, I saw in Navalny’s continued angry accusations that Putin is responsible for all the problems the organizers experienced – after they smugly announced these were going to be the best elections evah – a return to the only formula he knows. In an environment in which the opposition is supposedly ground to powder under the ruthless jackboot of the state, its organizers and their western backers nevertheless gloated that “slick web clips have publicized the virtual contest and popular opposition-oriented cable-and-internet TV channel Dozhd has aired hours of vibrant debates among the candidates“. Internet penetration is steadily increasing in Russia, and apparently the opposition has its own TV station. Face it, gang; everybody in Russia who was motivated by a burning desire for deep and rapid political change knew about your elections. Those who didn’t turn up to vote, weren’t. Alexei, they’re just not that into you.

Of course the whole sad debacle will either be spun as a defining period in Russian politics or ignored as if it never happened. But those who were looking to this as the moment the opposition emerged as a coherent political blunt instrument that would smash Putin like a bug may as well go back to blowing up “Free Pussy Riot” balloons.

Much has been made of Mr. Putin’s reference to the Bandar-Log; the monkey-folk of Rudyard Kipling’s brilliant “Jungle Book” – from this, the chattering press concludes that Putin compared his opposition to “chattering monkeys” in the context that its message is smug and self-congratulatory, and not to be taken seriously. Serious devotees of Kipling would note, however, that the passage he chose to quote referred to the hypnotic thrall in which Kaa, the rock python, held the terrified Bandar-Log; that for all their squealing and poo-flinging while they felt themselves to be safe, when they were offered the opportunity to say it to the face of the enemy, they were struck dumb. Whether or not it was deliberate on Mr.Putin’s part – and I believe, from my totally amateur non-insider analysis viewpoint, that it was – it suggests the opposition likes to make a big noise about what it will do and to hint at great capabilities; but like monkeys hypnotized by a snake, when subjected to the cold and emotionless gaze of state power, it is both afraid to meet its eye, and unable to look away.

But since the image of chattering monkeys is not entirely inappropriate regardless the intention, here’s Boris, Ksenya, Ilya, Sergei, Alexei, Garry and Vladimir to sing us out with “The Road-Song of the Bandar-Log” (with apologies to Kipling);

Here we sit in a branchy row,
Thinking of beautiful things we know;
Dreaming of deeds that we mean to do,
All complete, in a minute or two:
Something noble and wise and good,
Done by merely wishing we could;
We’ve forgotten, but…..never mind:
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
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759 Responses to The Bolotnaya Politburo Lays An Egg

  1. yalensis says:

    Woo hoo, I’m first!

    Excellent post, Mark, and extremely topical! Best Quote = “Alexei, they’re just not that into you….” Meaning the real voters, not the virtual ones. I love it!
    Politics aside, as to the technical feasibility of holding elections over the Internet, I think this could actually work in a small European country, maybe like Switzerland or Belgium. Maybe even in Canada (?) Requirements would be: (1) relatively small population, (2) universal literacy and computer literacy, (3) every adult possessing some type of authenticatable ID, such as a credit card online bank account.
    It couldn’t work in America, though, because they have this huge underclass of citizens who (1) don’t drive a car, so they don’t have a driver’s license, (2) never travel abroad, so they don’t have a passport either, (3) don’t have a credit card or bank account; even if they have jobs, they use a check-cashing office to cash their paychecks; and/or (4) might own a computer, but cannot do online purchases or banking because of above situation of not having a credit card.
    Even traditional elections don’t work so well in America. Allude to the fact that the Republican Party is attempting to disenfranchise tens of thousands of African American and Hispanic voters, who truly are legitimate citizens and have the right to vote, but do not own proper ID to authenticate themselves.
    (Another method American ruling class uses to disenfranchise African Americans is to bust them for drugs and turn them into felons, then they will never have the right to vote; but that’s a different story…)

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, Yalensis! What you are describing, of course, is the utopian system of Yulia Latynina’s dreams, in which poor folk are denied the vote. And for a good reason, even – their citizenship cannot be verified.

      Perhaps a good side exercise for this post would be to describe in greater detail the internet vote you propose – why it would work, under what conditions it would work, how to iron out the bugs which plagued the one held in Russia and how to safeguard the integrity of the vote. Up front, hacking would be a big one, because electronic voting such as is done in the USA on the Diebold voting machines is only a small step removed from Internet voting, and it is rife with problems and falsification potential.

      • yalensis says:

        Thanks, Mark, I’ll try to come up with some technical analysis of Opps internet voting, although I think you covered the major bases in your blog, with your discussion of the voting system set up by Volkov and the others.
        The irony is that Navalny and his friends consider themselves to be SO technologically superior to the Troglodyte Putinoids, and yet it was the Putinoids who hacked Navalny’s email! Not to mention successful surveillance of Udaltsov/Targamadze. When it comes to technology war, the Kremlin has the world’s best engineers at its disposal. Navalny cannot win in that arena, even with his 25 attractive Wunderkinden slouching on the floor and tapping into their Apple laptops.

        • marknesop says:

          Agreed. What I am getting at is more a plan for how it would work. What I attempted to cover here was the extent to which it did not work, despite the smug confidence of the self-appointed King Of The Internet. What did they do wrong? How could it be made to work, so that a Mavrodi would be detected earlier? How could voters be identified if there were no such thing as a national ID card (the thought makes me shudder, as politicians have made serious runs in both Canada and the UK at introducing and mandating a national ID card), to the satisfaction of the authorities, so that a vote count would be legitimate? Internet voting offers a valuable bonus, in that voters do not have to get to the polls to vote in person (although that should be an option, too), but traffic on the site would spike on voting day (another measure of the opposition’s insecurity, in that they allowed all weekend to vote even though they must have known the numbers would be many times smaller than a true national vote). How to guard against service dropout owing to heavy traffic, using current technology, as well as repelling deliberate denial-of-service attacks (although there should be no reason for those in a motivated electorate that trusted internet voting).

          Show that you are smarter than the Bolotnaya Politburo, and win a special prize of a MEGGITT baseball cap! One size fits all.

          • yalensis says:

            How could one actually make internet voting work? Hm…. I actually have more issues than solutions.
            As a database designer, I encounter this problem all the time. Basically, there is no guaranteed way to identify a unique object except by assigning it a unique number. I guess that’s why Nazis tattooed a unique number on each prisoner’s arm, so that they could properly identify them before driving them into the gas chamber.
            If tagging people like cattle or tattooing a person’s DNA code on the back of their neck is politically too incorrect (oooh, one does not want to upset the Canadians!), then the only plausible and humane solution is retinal scan of registered voters.
            Now, how did the Navalnyites handle this technical and philosophical problem? They had 2 problems in need of solution: (1) identify each voter reliably to prevent fraud and duplicate voting, while (2) protecting each voter’s privacy.
            They solved (2) with the assistance of a hash function (see below), but they did not solve (1). Nobody has ever been able to solve (1).
            Navalnyites methodology was as follows:
            Their whiz-kid programmers crafted a hash function to transform each “voter” into a number. Inputs to the function are a combination of Name, Patronymic, Family Name, Address, and Telephone number. The usual demographic markers. Output was a non-unique ID. (Non-unique, because the hash function is a one-way function, and different inputs could theoretically produce the same output.)
            For example here is the very first record in their database of “voters”:

            7c0a347e; 09/22/2012 09:26:56;…464;BankVerified;False

            This is an actual person who registered on 9/22/2012 at 9:26 in the morning, the last 3 digits of their phone# are “464”, and their assigned ID is hexadecimal code “7c0a347e” (which, theoretically, they could share with a completely different person).
            As to the question, how could they detect Mavrodi sooner? Sorry, I worked my little brain cells on this… but I got nothing! I don’t win the baseball cap…. (snif)


            • marknesop says:

              That was certainly informative enough to rate a baseball cap. I’ll have to check the swag locker to see what we have left. Although this is not specifically Peter’s line of work, he might have some ideas as well. It’s over my head, though.

  2. kirill says:

    Nice article. The bottom line is that it is the Russian electorate that is dictating the success or failure of the “opposition” and not Putin’s mythical jackboot. The arrogance (“nahalnost”) of the opposition is so brazen they could never hope to inspire the voter. You don’t win support by belittling and brow beating the voters. They probably know this and that is why you have the big plans for governments in exile and breakaway regions with direct NATO intervention. Obviously, democracy is not something that the opposition is about. Bleating “down with Putin” without even explaining why (sorry but corruption was worse before Putin and has been significantly reduced) just emphasizes the fact that the opposition is really a comprador tool with its true support lying outside of Russia’s borders.

    • Indeed an excellent article Mark!

      I’ll have more to say when I get back to London later today. However since you have brought up Putin’s Kipling quote I would say that what was for me a momentarily farcical moment in the Guardian’s coverage of the protest movement last year was the Guardian editorial writer’s complete misunderstanding of Putin’s reference to Kaa and Bandar Log. This is because the Guardian editorial writer obviously had not read Kipling’s actual Jungle Book but got his ideas about it from the Disney Film. In the Disney film Kaa is one of Mowgli’s enemies. In the actual Jungle Book and i believe in the Soviet animated film, which presumably the film of the Jungle Book with which most Russians are familiar, Kaa is Mowgli’s friend.

      • marknesop says:

        Thanks very much, Alex! If you can find that article, I’d very much like to read it, because I didn’t see it and I can imagine few things funnier than such an exposure of ignorance by someone arguing a point of literature based on familiarity with the Disney movie. If that were me I would have to resign in shame, but it appears shame is a concept unexplored by The Guardian.

        The one thing I have in common with Mr. Putin besides our gender is a love of Kipling since I was a child; since I learned to read, actually. It probably contributed to my having a much more romanticized vision of In-jah than most; a country I’m afraid I have never visited, although I’d love to.

        I’ve never seen the Soviet animated film, either, but indeed in the original Kaa is battling the Bandar-Log on Mowgli’s behalf – to rescue him, in fact, as they have taken him with them. I’m afraid there are no fat apes dancing and singing in the original, but the analogies Mr. Putin might have drawn are virtually endless. Although Kaa is not normally part of the warm-blooded creatures’ daily social intercourse, the others have called upon him because the Bandar-Log are too numerous for them to prevail, and because the Bandar-Log fear Kaa most. His hypnotic power over the Bandar-Log is not because he has a pair of kaleidoscopes fitted in his face like in the children’s film, but the actual paralyzing effect on many animals of the lidless and unblinking eye.

      • Wouldn’t that be the perfect nickname for the would-be leader of the Bandar-log : “Nahalny”!

        • kirill says:

          Exactly. Fits perfectly this two bit crook posing as an anti-corruption crusader and democratic leader. And Bandar-log fits the excrement hurling “opposition” to a ‘t’ also.

  3. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, here is the latest gossip on Leonid Razvozzhaev: noted aide to Ilya Ponomarev, loyal friend of Udaltsov, unfairly accused of meeting with Givi Targamadze (aka Jabba the Georgian) to plot nefarious deeds. Recall that when Raz went on the lam, he sent out a fake decoy to the effect that he was heading for Siberia, where he would live a survivalist life out on the Primorye tundra. Unfortunately, Special Forces were not fooled, those monsters hunted him down and arrested him in Kiev. Right in front of the U.N. office for refugees! Raz came THIS close to making it inside, before he was brutally nicked by Russian FSB who, according to Ponomarev, hustled him into a private jet to return him to Moscow. Raz was not seen for a few days, had no contact with his attorney, and people wondered if he was being held in some dungeon somewhere, being beaten bloody with rubber truncheons.
    Well, to everybody’s relief, Raz popped up today with no visible bruises. (Just psychological ones.) Basmanny Court held preliminary hearing on his case and sent him off to Lefortovo (which is a scary KGB-owned fortress) to cool his heels for a 2-month stint. (Raz’s co-conspirator Lebedev is also in Lefortovo, so the two friends will be able to tap messages to each other through the walls.) Raz’s attorney is … (wait for it) …. Violetta Volkova! Volkova is a reknowned lawyer, also known for her brilliant defense of Pussy Riot. With her brains and astute legal instincts, she is exactly what would result if Clarence Darrow and Perry Mason had a child together!

  4. hoct says:

    …the remaining 15 are reserved in advance – 5 each – for the three major ideological blocs…

    What would these blocs be?

    • marknesop says:

      The article wasn’t more specific than that (The Power Vertical), but one I can identify without guessing would be Sergei Udaltsov’s Left Front. Another would be whatever “party” Navalny controls; does it actually have a name? References insist on calling him the dominant opposition leader. The last is likely the “legitimate” political figures who, scheming like the U.S. Republicans harnessing the power of the Tea Party for their own ends, mean to let the movement carry them along to see where it may take them. That’d be figures like Boris Nemtsov and Garry Kasparov, who might not agree to come on board – thus lending legitimacy to the upstarts – unless they were guaranteed a central role. Politics makes strange bedfellows, what?

    • yalensis says:

      The 3 official ideological blocs are: (1) liberals, such as Nemtsov; (2) leftists, such as Udaltsov; and (3) nationalists, among whom Navalny is counted.
      Communist Party is not included in any of this, since they abstained from this particular Popular front (which was too putrid even for Ziuganov!)

  5. yalensis says:

    Here is main site of Opps election committee:

    Numbers shown on site, as of this moment:
    170,012 registered
    96,290 verified
    67,803 voted

    I guess they will announce winners Monday evening.

  6. kievite says:

    Some relevant humor from Twitter (sorry in Russian):

    Lev Sharansky ‏@LevSharansky: Сергей Удальцов: “Сбылась мечта идиота”.
    Lev Sharansky ‏@LevSharansky: Ольга Романова: “Я стала лучше одеваться. После того как открыла кошелек оппозиции “.
    Просто Мила ‏@prostitutkamila: А как лучше написать в заголовке – Удальцов залетел; Удальцов приехал или Удальцов приплыл?

    Aleksandr Nagovitsyn ‏@ANagovitsyn : @prostitutkamila Напишите: Сергей залетел от Виолетты.

    Yury Saprykin ‏@sapr21 : @ikrasil @krasovkin Виолетта, Виолетта, мы не забудем наше лето

    Lev Sharansky ‏@LevSharansky : В поддержку Сергея Удальцова седня буду кататься на водных лыжах по Гудзону. Буду гнать волну максимально.

    Резнов ‏@WhiteBelleon: В поддержку Серёги Тютюкина трижды подряд смыл воду в унитазе. Гоню волну максимально.

    Ashot Gabrelyanov ‏@gabrelyanov : “DJ Smash – Я волна” – официальный саундтрэк к аресту Сергея Удальцова

    Lev Sharansky ‏@LevSharansky: Предлагаю собраться вместе Маше Бароновой, Анне Ведуте и Тане Романовой, сфотографироваться топлесс для календаря в поддержку Удальцова ‏@russiaru

    Возбуждаем быстро и качественно. Выезд. Дорого. Ваш Следственный Комитет…

    Коробков-Землянский ‏@korobkov

    Возбуждено уголовное дело по факту хищения средств граждан, зарегистрировавшихся для участия в выборах в КС оппозиции (активисты МММ подали)

    Lev Sharansky ‏@LevSharansky

    Лёня Волков и Виолетта Волкова не родственники часом? В составе организованной шайки разгромили оппозицию за один день.

    Славик Ценер ‏@zehnerson

    Вкладчиков МММ кидают на бабло борцы с фальсификациями на выборах. Пелевин, прекрати.

    ПолиТрэш.ру ‏@politrash

    Фатальная ошибка – это когда ты думаешь, что можешь кинуть Мавроди на деньги.

    Сергей Удальцов ‏@s_udaltsov

    Не молчите! Главное не молчите!

    Просто Мила ‏@prostitutkamila

    Хватит ЭТО молчать! (с) Сергей (Настя) Удальцов(а)

    Просто Мила ‏@prostitutkamila

    @lifenews При обыске в кровати Сергея Удальцова @s_udaltsov обнаружено два революционно настроенных мужчины, грузинской национальности

    svetlaja_75 ‏@svetlaja_75

    и три совершенно не настроенные женщины))

    Просто Мила ‏@prostitutkamila

    Голубой фургон бежит, качается, Удальцов отправился в “поход”. Следом и Алеша собирается – Этого мы ждали целый год!

    • yalensis says:

      Dear kievite:

      “Виолетта, мы не забудем наше лето….”
      I also have such romantic memories… (sigh!)
      New slogans, feel free to spread ‘em around:
      (1) Каждый неполживый рукопожатец – волна !
      (2) Мы все грузины !

  7. Moscow Exile says:


    Razvozzhaev confesses!

    “Официальный представитель Следственного комитета Владимир Маркин сообщил, что Леонид Развозжаев, доставленный в Москву из Киева неизвестными лицами, написал явку с повинной, где признался, что вместе с Удальцовым и Лебедевым готовился к массовым беспорядкам в России и что финансирование этой деятельности осуществлял Гиви Таргамадзе. Борис Немцов заявил, что Развозжаева пытали.”

    [Official spokesman for the Invistigation Committeee, Vladimir Markin, has said that Leonid Razvozzhaev, having been conveyed to Moscow from Kiev by unkown persons, has written out a confession where he admits that together with Udaltsov and Lebedev he prepared a massive disturbance in Russsia and that the financing of this action was carried out by Givi Targamadze.]

    And Beefcake Boris has had to get his two pen’orth in, of course:

    “Борис Немцов заявил, что Развозжаева пытали”.

    [Boris Nemtsov has said that Razvozzhaev was tortured.]

    How the f*ck does he know?

    So I reckon it’s time to kiss your arse goodbye, Sergei!


    • yalensis says:

      Here is you-tube video of Raz being taken out of court and put into Avtozek. He doth clearly state thrice to camera that “They tortured me”:

      • Moscow Exile says:

        For someone who has been tortured he looks in rather fine fettle.
        Water boarding?
        Sleep deprivation?
        Heavy duty crocodile clips, KY jelly and an induction coil, perhaps?
        Or a few slaps and threats?
        Not that I condone physical violence.
        Nor does Udaltsov – or so he says.

        • yalensis says:

          Raz claims they “tortured him for 2 days and nights”. I am guessing, sleep deprivation and constant questioning? Maybe they forced him to watch the “Jabba the Georgian” videotape over and over?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            And the feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot’s latest and greatest hits constantly piped into his cell perhaps?

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I doubt the government is going to be willing to let that one slide, although they will want to box clever if they wish to avoid contaminating further incriminating information. Of course Razvozzhaev will claim to have been tortured because it’s the only hope he has now of discrediting not only his own confession, but the incrimination of his associates. He probably has not noticed that civilized countries have given their stamp of approval to torture as a means of extracting information while he was daydreaming or whatever he was doing while this shift was taking place, or that torturing to death is now pretty ho-hum for them as well, so he need not hope for sympathy there. I doubt very much anything that was done to him rises to the standard of torture these days, because he actually seems to have confessed to something he did and victims of torture will say anything to make it stop – the temptation on the part of the torturers to see what else they can hang on him is usually irresistible. Torture in reality only yields reliable information when the torturer is already sure of the parameters of the offense and the tortured person’s part in it. If you already know all that, why do such a thing to confirm it? You could make your mother confess to the same thing, only of course she would not be guilty.

      Also, let’s recall that “torture” for Boris is being forced to stand for 4 hours for courtroom procedures, a fact in one of his trials that caused far more of a stir in the western press than the actual circumstances of his charge. His visualization of torture is actually pretty broad and is informed by good living.

    • kirill says:

      God, the inanity! They don’t need to torture him, they have the smoking gun evidence of the video. But in politics there are no facts, just opinions. So if I say the moon is made out of cheese then I am right!

      • marknesop says:

        Well, no; no, I’m afraid there is enough hard evidence that the moon contains no cheese at all that you would not even be able to convince Congress the moon was composed even partly of cheese. But otherwise you are correct.

      • yalensis says:

        I hope to god they didn’t torture him. Not only because torture is ethically always wrong, but also it would be a shame to blow an airtight case over a technicality.
        Only incompetent police have to resort to torture.
        Personally, I don’t believe they tortured him, I think he’s just bullshitting everybody and trying to get sympathy. But I do expect Amnesty International to start shrieking to high heaven and demanding his release.

  8. Moscow Exile says:

    It’s far more likely, in my opinion, that the IC has made an offer to I-am-a-man-of-the-taiga-and-can-stand-intense-degrees-of-discomfort Razvozzhaev that he just cannot refuse, namely 5 years in a colony instead of 10.

    • yalensis says:

      Yep, now it will be playing a game of “Prisoners Dilemma” among the 3 (Udatsov, Lebedev, and Raz) as to who can betray whom the quicker in order to get reduced sentence.
      The good news is: they all share the same lawyer (=lovely Violetta). So, they get a volume discount for her services!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        That must have been the ultimate threat: servicing by Violletta!

      • marknesop says:

        Let’s not forget Navalny and Yashin and those who were leaders at the time of the disturbance mentioned. The only one with an alibi there is the fair Sobchak, who declined to take part, and I imagine there will be renewed interest in her refusal based on what she might have known in advance.

        • yalensis says:

          That is an excellent point, Mark. The “Bolotnaya” disturbance was the turning point in Opps movement, that was the moment when some of them chose the path of violent revolution.
          We now know that this turn was NOT spontaneous, and that in fact the Gruzian government (in the person of Givi Targamadze) was behind this turn and funded it with tons of cash.
          One could not help but notice over the years that every Opps leader without exception supported Gruzia in 2008 war and sang praises of Saakashvili. How could they not, since Saakashvili, as it turns out, was the guy who signed their paychecks?
          As we now know (Surprise! Surprise!), Givi Targamadze had his tentacles in Opps movement and in “Bolotnaya” disturbance, long before that fateful day when he parked his tentacles on that comfy sofa in that Minsk flat, alongside Comrades Udaltsov, Lebdev, and Razvozzhaev. For years Jabba the Georgian was funding coloured revolutions and funnelling American/European money to Russian Opps. Even the lovely Miss Sobchak cannot wiggle her way out of the fact that she took, and takes, Gruzian money; and that she must have known beforehand that violence was brewing. (Not just the lame hooliganistic violence at Bolotnaya, but also serious terrorist acts planned by Udaltsov.) If Sobchak decided to stay home during Bolotnaya, it probably wasn’t due to disapproval of violence, more like physical cowardice and/or unwillingness to muss her doo.
          Here is an interesting piece on persistence Gruzian involvement in the Opps movement:

          Article concludes with the following upbeat paragraphs, declaring the end of coloured revolutions:

          Революция потеряла плацдарм
          По одной из версий, встреча представителей “Левого фронта” с Гиви Таргамадзе происходила на территории Белоруссии, и тайная запись переговоров о подготовке российской революции была сделана местными силовиками. Помощь Минска в этом деликатном вопросе вполне объяснима: несколько лет назад тот же Таргамадзе пытался организовать революцию в Белоруссии, но безуспешно.
          Зато в Украине сценарий цветной революции был реализован как по нотам, благодаря чему Киев долгое время был оплотом “оранжевых”. Видимо, именно поэтому Развозжаев выбрал Украину как наиболее безопасное место, где можно скрыться от российского правосудия. Тем более, что в свое время Гиви Таргамадзе активно поддерживал события на Майдане. Однако расчет не удался. Украина, как и Белоруссия, не стала плацдармом для российских революционеров.
          Судя по тому, что недавно Грузия так же, как и Украина избавилась от последствий “революции роз”, отодвинув от власти Михаила Саакашвили, может оказаться, что в этой стране российские оппозиционеры тоже не найдут понимания и не смогут получить убежище.

          The Revolution has lost its Platzdarm.
          According to one version, the meeting of “Left Front” reps with Givi Targamadze took place on the territory of Belorussia, and the secret recording of their conversation about fomenting Russian Revolution was done by local [Belorussian] police. Minsk’s assistance in this matter is completely logical: several years ago that very same Givi Targamadze attempted to foment a revolution in Belorussia, but was unsuccessful.
          On the other hand, the colour revolution did succeed in Ukraine, note by note, thanks to which for a long time it [Ukraine] became a fortress for Orange forces. It was no doubt for this reason Razvozzhaev picked Ukraine as the safest place he could think of to hide from Russian justice. In addition to which, Givi Targamadze had actively supported the Maidan at that time. However, ultimately it did not work out. Ukraine, just like Belorussia, did not become a Platzdarm for Russian revolutionaries.
          Judging by the fact that not long ago Gruzia, just like Ukraine, has alleviated itself of the consequences of the “Rose Revolution”, having pushed Mikheil Saakashvili out of power, it could happen that Russian revolutionaries will not be able to find refuge there either.

  9. Moscow Exile says:

    From the above link to the MK article:

    “В ней (в явке – ред.) он подробно сообщил об обстоятельствах приготовления им, Сергеем Удальцовым, Константином Лебедевым и иными лицами к организации массовых беспорядков на территории РФ, а также о причастности указанных лиц к массовым
    беспорядкам, произошедшим 6 мая 2012 года на Болотной площади в Москве…” – сказал Маркин.

    “In it (the confession – ed.) he has given detailed information about the circumstances of their preparation, of Sergei Udaltsov, Konstantin Lebedev and other parties organizing mass disturbances on Russian Federation territory, and well as the involvement of these persons in the masssive disturbances that took place on 6th March at Bolotnaya Square, Moscow…” said Markin.

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    From Moskovsky Komsomolets:

    “…[Д]епутат Илья Пономарев сообщил «МК», что его помощника Леонида Развозжаева доставили из Украины в Россию в обход норм международного права и заключили под арест на два месяца.”

    Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev told “MK” that ​​his assistant, Leonid Razvozzhaev, bypassing norms of international law, had been transported from the Ukraine and had been placed under arrest for 2 months.

    “Однако представители СК утверждают, что Развозжаева вовсе не похитили, а он сам написал явку с повинной, в которой не только признал встречу с Таргамадзе, но и заявил, что грузинский парламентарий финансировал беспорядки 6 мая.”

    “However, representatives of the Investigation Committee claim that Razvozzhaev had not been abducted and that he himself had written a confession in which he not only acknowledged meeting Targamadze, but also said that the Georgian parliamentarian had sponsored riots on May 6.”

    «Я считаю, что в здравом уме Развозжаев не мог написать эту явку с повинной, поскольку то, что он в ней изложил, не соответствует действительности, — рассказал „МК“ Сергей Удальцов. — На видео после выхода из суда Леонид кричит, что его пытали, — и неизвестно, к чему это могло привести. Я вполне могу предположить, что под пытками он оговорил себя и своих товарищей, не все способны на проявления героизма в подобных условиях».

    “I believe that Razvozzhaev could not have written this confession in a sound mind, because that which he has stated is not true”, – Sergei Udaltsov told the “MK “. “After coming out of the courthouse, Leonid cried out that they had tortured him – and who knows where this could lead. I can well imagine that under torture he incriminated himself and his comrades: not all are capable of heroism in these conditions”.


    From ITAR-TASS:

    СК России проведет проверку по заявлению Развозжаева о якобы применении к нему пыток

    Russian Investigating Committeee will undertake a check on Razvozzhaev’s statement alleging the use of torture.

    “По заявлению Леонида Развозжаева о том, что он якобы был схвачен в Киеве и два дня к нему якобы применялись пытки, Главным следственным управлением СК РФ инициирована доследственная проверка”, – сообщил Маркин.”

    According to a statement by Leonid Razvozzhaev that he allegedly was seized in Kiev and for two days was allegedly tortured, the Central Investigation Department RF IC has initiated a preliminary examination”- said Markin. [IC spokesman]

    “Однако необходимо пояснить, что Развозжаев, находясь в здравом уме, как он это написал в своей явке с повинной, дал показания об обстоятельствах приготовления к организации массовых беспорядков на территории РФ. Более того, при поступлении в следственный изолятор 21 октября Развозжаев был осмотрен врачом, никаких телесных повреждений на его теле не зафиксировано”, – сказал Маркин.

    “However, it is neccessary to make clear that Razvozzhaev was of sound mind as he wrote his confession testifying about the circumstances of the preparations for the organization of mass unrest in Russia. Moreover, on admission to prison on October 21, Razvozzhaev was examined and no injuries on his body were determined”, said Markin


  11. marknesop says:

    Which will probably result in a confession from Razvozzhaev that he was in fact not tortured, which he will subsequently say he was tortured into signing. Here we go ’round the mulberry bush.

    • yalensis says:

      The only way to make sure Raz is not being tortured is to place a 24-hour surveillance cam in his cell. Like a baby monitor. Put it up on the web, then he would have his own reality show! Call it “Big Brother – Lefortovo”.

      • kirill says:

        All the phony concern about torture, how nauseating. This clown was involved in plotting terrorist acts on Russian soil (i.e. reference to the Chechens by Givi) and should get the Guantanamo standard of treatment. Sleep deprivation and water boarding are two routine “procedures” at Guantanamo.

        • yalensis says:

          Russia should not stoop to American level of barbarity. Russia should strive to be civilized country. No need for Gitmos there. And P.S., I do not believe Raz is being tortured, I think he just made that up in order to recant his confession.

          • kirill says:

            I agree. But the hypocrisy of some clown who planned terrorism and his western supporters is a bit too much. It is the duty of every media outlet in Russia that is not shilling for the west to point out this BS.

        • AK says:

          Guantanamo is for dirty foreigners, not Americans. I.e., not a good comparison.

          • kirill says:


            Putin can declare them to be enemy combatants like Bush did with Padilla. But instead they are getting celebrity treatment at home and abroad. Sick.

            • yalensis says:

              Two other examples of American citizens detained as enemy combatants are Yasser Hamdi and John Walker Lindh.

              • kirill says:

                I will admit that comparing the USA to Russia is more apples to oranges than apples to apples. The domestic scene in the USA has been tamed. Most Americans would not even think of pissing on their own country like the opps clowns in Russia. And there are no foreign regimes funding the American fringe to demonstrate and plot for government overthrow. If the USA was facing the same 5th column disruption as Russia, it would have sent thousands to Guantanamo. The USA and Canada were quick to round up and send to concentration camps “enemy combatants” during WWII, namely Japanese. They robbed them of their property too. Canada also sent Ukrainians to gulags during WWI since the immigrated from parts controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s really cute how this history is hidden: there is a labour camp site in Banff National Park which is called a POW camp. I guess Ukrainian-Canadians were all foreign “soldiers” on Canadian soil.

                • yalensis says:

                  Money is the root of all evil. Without American money pouring in to fund these disloyal Opps, they would not exist. Maybe instead there would be a REAL Opposition, which is what Russia needs.

  12. Moscow Exile says:

    “President Vladimir Putin has had nothing but mockery for the protesters who have taken to the streets against him in unprecedented numbers.”

    Washington Post, October 22nd 2012

    Unprecedented numbers?

    Does that mean that each successive protest march has been larger than the previous one?

    The first “anti-Putin” meeting at Academic Sakharov Street was unprecedented, in that there had never before been one larger than that. Howevever, after 1st Sakharov, the numbers of protestesters have been in continuos decline. How many turned up to register at Trubnaya Square at the weekend: 1,000…800…fewer even?

    Or do I and Washington Post journalists live on different planets?


    I wonder what the OMON agent is laughing about as he hurries Ponamarev off to the paddy wagon?

    The third inset picture in the WP article shows, by the way, one of the “brutal”, according to PR attorny Feigin, prisons in central European Russia to which one of the “feminist punk rockers” has beeen sent.

    Heres a Mordovian colony where Tolokonnikova will now possibly be resident:

    And here is a picture of camp inmates with their children. Of course, Tolokonnikova will not be with her child as she is with her father, Verzilov, who is touting her for all her worth:

    For more pictures from Reuters and posted on RFE/RL, see:

    • marknesop says:

      “Unprecedented numbers” is just one of those macros that is now permanently slaved to “protesters” in the western lexicon, so that every time “protesters” are mentioned, “unprecedented numbers” is automatically added.

      • yalensis says:

        The whole point of this exercise was so Western press could introduce into their propaganda such memes as “unprecedented numbers” and ” the election indicates that the protest movement has wide support nationwide, with more than half of the registered voters living outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.”
        Next step is for West to recognize Bolotnaya Politburo and the 80,000 people that they represent as the ALT-govenment and only legitimate government of Russia and start funnelling money and weapons to it.

        • marknesop says:

          I’d be interested to see where Putin actually said that, and I’d bet that he didn’t. He has been studiously polite and circumspect where the protesters are concerned, confining his comments mostly to repeating that they have rights and that there is nothing wrong in their peceful exercise of them. That’s despite attempts to draw him out and make him express hostility, and he is certainlt a mature enough politician that he knows better than to laugh at or mock any group. The most adventurous he’s gotten with commentary on the opposition movement has been the oblique Kipling reference.

          • kirill says:

            That’s really funny in a sick sort of way. Putin has to be polite to scum while said scum can pour excrement on basically all Russians. And no matter what Putin does he will always do wrong according to the west and its scum sycophants in Russia.

            But I think the phrase “history repeats as a farce” applies to modern Russia. There will be no 1917 style revolution (no support of significance for it) and there will no be no new era of gulags to teach Russians how to love utopia.

            • marknesop says:

              If there’s no 1917-style revolution, then jail would be the best place for Udaltsov, because if ever there was a guy who sees himself dying a glorious martyr in a violent revolution, it’s him. He wants bloodshed and head-cracking so badly he can taste it, and he obviously doesn’t expect to survive it. He wants the history books to remember Sergei Udaltsov as something more than a stumbling frustrated rabble-rouser. He wants to be remembered as the leader of the charge that stormed the ramparts and swept them contemptuously aside, and died on the Kremlin steps with the nationalist standard clutched in his torn, bleeding fists.

  13. Just back in London to find this article by Miriam Elder waiting for me on the enigmatic triumph and poetry of the Opposition’s “election”.

    • yalensis says:

      Navalny won the “election”, it goes without saying, with over 43,000 votes.
      So, it is official now: he can “legtimately” call himself the leader and Grand Poobah of the White-Ribbon Opps.

      Here are the final results:

      • marknesop says:

        It must have twisted Nemtsov’s weenie into a tight pink thimble to come 16th – if that’s not a clarion call to take up a new line of work, I don’t know what is. Nemtsov at least understands the political milieu, having been in pretty much nothing else his whole life, and the task of organizing a government would not be so staggering and complicated for him as it would be for some – he knows how the machine works. But Navalny is just some Johnny-come-lately blogger, whose education as a lawyer didn’t teach him anything about organizing a group of people into a coherent instrument of policy and philosophy. In about half the photos you see of him, he has his arm straight out with his fist clenched like he’s the front man for the Sex Pistols or something. That’s all very well for making the crowd roar, but he’s really just a big noise. Running even a town, never mind a country, calls for a lot more than just punching the air and strutting and bragging.

        This has to be a great day for the Russian government, because it virtually guarantees the opposition will remain weak and puffed with its delusions of grandeur, as Navalny basks in the glow of his tiny kingdom. But it’s a sad day for Boris Nemtsov, to have come so far for this. Everybody see if they can’t squeeze out a tear for Boris, what do you say?

  14. Moscow Exile says:

    Here’s this morning’s Moscow Times take on the “election”:

    Note the comment below the article. That blob of concentrated russophobic slimy sputum, La Russophobe, goes into attack mode (does she know any other?) against the whole show and against Navalny in particular.

    I just hate having to agree with her but…she’s right! And even when comparing Navalny’s “victory” with Putin’s “landslide”, albeit that by “landslide” she more than likely is intimating that Putin’s presidential ballot was fixed, which it wasn’t in the sense that even without the irregularities and blatant rigging in North Caucasus and some other places, he still would have won, I feel she’s right: the person she loves to hate predictably won the “election” because of the lack of opposition.

    What’s going to happen when the “real leader” of Russia gets his “go to jail” card, I wonder?

    Go to jail!

    Do not pas “go”!

    Do not collect £200!

    • yalensis says:

      LaRussophobe’s analysis of the election was succinct, accurate, and completely on target!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        “Thank you all decent people in Russia” says an MT commentator at the foot of an article on the “election”.

        So that means in the commentator’s opinion 99.92% of the Russian electorate are “not decent”:

        “We are the 0.08 percent – opposition elects representatives online”


      • marknesop says:

        Except that the conclusion she draws from it is that the foibles of the opposition illustrate what a disaster the country is; that they can’t get it together because they are Russians. It was accurate up to that point. I believe the cathartic event La Russophobe prays for also is a bloody and violent revolution with lots of dead Russians. Her pretense to wish for a peaceful, modern Russia that is a western-style market democracy is just window-dressing; she needs someone to hate, and has settled on Russians. Her heroes are all Russian dissidents, many of them living in the U.S., but they don’t realize her laurels are awarded to them on the basis of how they have soiled and degraded themselves. She doesn’t actually “like” them any more than she does any other Russians; she just likes to use them as examples of people who once lived in Russia, but now love America.

  15. Misha says:

    Regarding Putin, this piece contradicts the image that some have of RT:

    This openness has limits. Professionally criticizing Putin seems easier than criticizing the ongoing status quo at the more high profile of media venues.

    The Western mass media featured criticism of RT includes some inaccurately unfair comments. That said, RT should receive a constructively fair criticism (for quality control and fairness purposes), along with other news organizations. Some folks come across as preferring to have a faulty RT to kick around. In turn, RT has the appearance of carrying on in an above the clouds mindset – something that’s evident elsewhere.

    From last week, RT’s website listed as a number one world news headline, the arrest of two American Green Party candidates, who blocked a roadway outside by where the Obama-Romney debate was being held. That presentation comes across as an overkill payback for the faulty Western mass media coverage of Pussy Riot. These thoughts are stated with the belief that the arrest of the two Green Party candidates and the motivation behind their action (having to do with the limited clout of a political alternative to the Democrats and Republicans in the US) is a worthy enough news item to cover.

    Countering BS with BS isn’t as convincing as an intelligently presented media overview in a high profile situation.

    Biases and cronyism continue to hinder the coverage.



    Excerpt –

    “Big business is organised crime. And, given that no big business in Russia can operate without government approval (just ask the numerous exiles who left Russia in 2003 after the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky) it follows that the state and organised crime are inextricably linked.”


    Nothing propagandistic about the above excerpted? No mention of how Khodorkovsky carried on in an era that involved very suspect business practices. An overly simplistic and inaccurate comment on the dynamics of big business in Russia; which uncritically references the (if I’m not mistaken) Lozansky coined KGB (Khodorkovsky, Gusinsky an Berezonvsky) types.

    Prokhorov isn’t a Kremlin dupe. “State giant” Gazprom is known to do/advocate things that don’t always jive with what the Kremlin at large prefers. liking.



    This article on Belarus and Ukraine features the former recognized emblem of post-Soviet Belarus, instead of the one that has been officially used for a good number of years since being formally adopted.

  16. Misha says:

    This piece touches on what most Russians don’t seem to want of their country – thereby partly explaining the continued support that Putin receives:

    “Crime Minister of Thacistan”

  17. Misha says:

    On how Ukrainian oligarch influence is hindering closer Russo-Ukrainian ties:

    As previously noted, there’s good reason to believe that the EU isn’t likely to take in Ukraine as a full fledged member anytime soon, if ever. Ukraine’s economy remains challenged, with a good portion of its population believing that Ukraine should’ve closer ties with Russia.

    A Putin prediction:


    An RFE/RL Q & A with Anne Applebaum:

    Among some of the other follow-up that can be made, this segment downplays that the aforementioned ethnic cleansing was willingly done by noticeable non-Soviet elements.


    Turkey not Russia:


    In contrast to how some have viewed contemporary Russia:


    Luka apparently couldn’t resist keeping quiet until after the medical procedure in question:

  18. Misha says:

    An upcoming event that was brought to my attention:

    Regarding that event, someone expressed to me the following:

    As you may know, it is important that the trade increase between America and Russia. It is only 7% now and has a lot of room to grow now that Russia has become a member of the WTO. It can help build jobs in Russia and jobs in America.


    Relative to that view and the aforementioned upcoming EC conference, last night’s Obama-Romney debate is a hopeful sign, given that it lacked the level of Russia bashing, which was evident in the Bush-Kerry foreign policy presidential debate of a few years ago (when Kerry attacked Bush for being “soft” on Russia).

  19. yalensis says:

    Opps election analysis by Konstantin Kostin:

    Как объяснил всем политолог Станислав Белковский, нужно это, чтобы Алексей Навальный стал наконец полноценным лидером чего-нибудь значительного. Не все же ему блогером маяться.

    “As pundit Stanislav Belkovsky has explained, this whole exercise was necessary in order for Alexei Navalny to become, finally, the full-fledged leader of something important. Just being a blogger isn’t enough.”

    Exactly. Navalny and his friend Volkov organized and rigged these so-called elections, in order to (1) annoint Navalny the leader of the Opposition and (2) provide him with a shadow cabiner of 44 other people, so that they can pretend to be the government of the Virtual Society described by Miriam Elder. Americans had already decided quite a while back that Navalny was their guy, they made sure that Nemtsov and Kasparov and the others knew it too. The other competing alpha males were all called into McFaul’s office and told that Navalny was their new boss, and if they didn’t like it, well, there’s the door.
    But, as Navalny ascends the throne victorious, he faces a big problem: He has no budget. Will the money dry up, now that Americans NGO’s cannot funnel cash; Berezovsky is broke; and Givi is no longer a member of Gruzian government? Who will pay for the demonstrations now? All the balloons, banners and T-shirts? More to the point, who will pay Navalny’s salary?
    Recall that REAL political parties have dues-paying members; and these dues pay the salaries of party leaders. Virtual parties only have virtual members, and they don’t pay dues. Unless they are members of Mavrodi’s party, I guess.

    • marknesop says:

      I honestly don’t get why Stas Belkovsky still retains credibility with the chattering press of both nations, after his blubbering self-reinvention as a Putin supporter. Apparently disloyalty can be forgiven providing you come back to the liberal side even more squirelly than when you left it.

      I’d have to read the article, but I don’t think the “election” was rigged. I just think the whole premise of pretending to be something you’re not (fist-in-the-air crusader for human rights and a chicken in every pot) and holding meaningless popularity contests to prove it is silly. It’s like some kind of “Who Wants To Be A Leader” game show.

  20. yalensis says:

    More evidence that Opps election was rigged:

    Article cites Oppositionist Oleg Lurie who was running as a candidate, however, he withdrew from elections ahead of time, citing Navalnyite fraud and predicting the top 30 winners in advance. His prediction jibed so close to actual results that one could suspect Lurie of being psychic:

    Was there fraud, and if so, what was the mechanism? Virtual carousels? No… DNI piece suspects the following the supposed influx of Mavrodi MMM voters, which Opps ascribed to Kremlin machinations, could have actually been a convenient way for Volkov (=election organizer and old friend of Navalny’s) to toss out votes inimical to Navalnyite slate. Under pretext they were MMM. After all, as article points out, how could Volkov really know who was MMM and who wasn’t, given that a person only had to present a passport photo and telephone number?

    (I showed above how the computer hash function automatically transforms a name/address and telephone number into a hexadecimal ID. It is extremely unclear how, in this process, Volkov and his pals could intuitively “sense” that a certain voter was MMM? Probably they waited until the actual voting, saw votes for a slate they didn’t like, and tossed them out, saying they were Mavrodi voters.)

    • kirill says:

      The so-called opposition is no better than the militias in Libya and Syria. This whole “democracy” shtick is obscene posing until they get the power. But there are too few of them to get power and they certainly are not sending an appealing message to the vast majority to gain support. These internet vote farces are only going to gain them legitimacy in the west where the MSM filter out inconvenient details such as this. But as I said before, the manipulators in the west need to worry about Russian support and not the support of the brainwashed masses at home. (i..e that rock has been squeezed dry of water already).

    • marknesop says:

      Oooooo…. that might actually work. I read that the Mavrodi types were winnowed out by tossing all the registrations in which the voter had put in the self-description, “I am an ordinary person” (because they were all identical, supposedly so they could be recognized later). But I think all those were tossed well before the vote, so how would Volkhov and his team know from the registration who the registrant intended to vote for?

      Never mind; I answered my own question. That scam was allegedly directed at submitting actual candidates who were Mavrodi-ites, not flooding the system with fake voter registrations.

  21. kirill says:

    So Romney was attacking Russia with its actual election process and real civil rights (yapping by propagandists notwithstanding) while praising China as a solid business partner. What a maggot. Corporate raider Romney who helped ship tens of thousands of US jobs to China values his source of profit while trying to restart a cold war with Russia to justify military welfare.

    • Misha says:

      I didn’t see the whole of last night’s debate – at least not yet.

      In that debate, Obama initially bought up Russia by criticizing Romany for calling that country America’s number one foe. Without quoting verbatim, Romney answered by saying that Iran is right now the greater threat, with Russia being the greater rival. Romney also quipped about taking a view of Russia without rose colored lenses. He didn’t follow-up by also stressing that he wouldn’t unnecessarily bash it.

      Will check to see what if anything was said of Russia thereafter in that debate.

      Even for a politician, Romney greatly flip flops. With that in mind: regarding Us-Russian relations, it will not likely be so bad if Romney is president.

  22. Misha says:

    Of possible interest, this news item was forwarded to my attention:

    На грузинском ТВ раскрыли “жестокую провокацию” силовиков, убивших “бородачей” на границе с Россией

    The cover note of this forwarded news item:

    Georgian TV GNS (Georgian News Service) aired an exposé of what’s described as a Saakashvili staged incident, before the recent election in Georgia – with the Georgian military presented as killing 12 Chechen Islamic militants, coming across the border from Russia. A set-up as an election stunt is now claimed, with real fatalities. Some of those said to be involved with this matter have (as stated) fled, with Saakashvili left to answer.

  23. Moscow Exile says:

    Udaltsov is going to be charged within 3 days says the Investigation Committee. Both he and his counsel Violetta Volkova have been invited to appear before the committee on October 26th. The committeee has also announced that Razvozzhaev has put the finger on Udaltsov. For that reason the committee has announced that Volkova shall not be defending Razvozzhaev:

    При этом Маркин отметил, что Волкова не будет защищать Развозжаева, так как его интересы противоречат интересам Удальцова. “Адвокат Волкова по названному
    уголовному делу защищает интересы подозреваемого Удальцова и обвиняемого Лебедева. Учитывая имеющиеся в деле материалы, интересы обвиняемого Развозжаева противоречат интересам названных фигурантов. В связи с этим следствием вынесено постановление об отводе защитника Волковой, которое направлено ей в установленном порядке”, – рассказал Маркин.

    [In that case, Markin [IC spokesman - ME] said Volkov will not be defending Razvozzhaev because his interests conflict with those of Udaltsov. “In the criminal case in question, advocate Volkova is defending the interests of the suspect Udaltsov and of the accused Lebedev. Given the current facts pertinent to the case, the interests of the accused Razvozzhaev run contrary to those of the other parties. Consequently, there has been issued a ruling concerning the disqualification of defence counsel Volkovo, which ruling has been referred to her according to due process” said Markin.]


    It looks like Razvozzhaev is going to turn state’s evidence.

    Bear in mid, if they tortured him so that he would squeal, he can always recant in the dock.

    • marknesop says:

      If so, he’s going to have to say that they shouted at him and scared him or something, because he’s already been examined and there were no visible signs of torture. Still, I don’t imagine he was examined by doctors from Amnesty International or Freedom House or whatever, so they’ll just take the position that the word of Russian doctors is worthless.

  24. yalensis says:

    Well, what d’ya know, our inappropriate joking wasn’t that far off the mark:

    “Razvozzhaev has declared that he was subjected to psychological torture”:

    “Oppositionist Leonid Razvozzhaev declared to the Chairman of of the Social Observing Mission of Moscow Valery Borshchev that he was subjected not to physical, but to psychological torture.”

    According to Raz, they threatened to disappear him and kill his kids if he didn’t sign the confession.

    At this point I am left with no choice except to quote that famous quote:

    Lord relieve me of my physical pain. I can deal with the spiritual pain. – Oscar Wilde

  25. yalensis says:

    Looking on the bright side, Raz has a private room at Lefortovo:

    (If I ever went to jail, I’d rather have my own room than have to deal with a messy, noisy roommate.)

  26. yalensis says:

    OMG there is so much news going on today, I can’t keep up with it.
    Now Navalny’s arch-enemy Bastrykin is trying to get him disbarred from his attorney’s license:


  27. Saying Yulia Tymoshenko is Europe’s Aung San Suu Kyi. Could that be the most preposterous headline ever to have appeared in the Guardian?

    • marknesop says:

      The only thing more preposterous is that it was probably Tymoshenko herself who gave it to them. She is all about the drama, and constantly imagines herself to be larger than life, far above the common herd. Some say it takes a huge ego to assume yourself capable of – nay, entitled to – ruling others. If that’s true, Tymoshenko is a born leader. She uses the braids to camouflage her swelled head.

  28. Moscow Exile says:

    Those braids stop her head from bursting. I often wonder if she really does believe that she is “the one”? After all, from flogging bootleg porn at video rental shops in Dniprpetrovsk, her home city, with the help of the offices of that city’s regional governor, former state farm tractor diver and Ukrainian prime minister who is now in gaol for a very long time in the USA, she became fabulously wealthy in an amazingly short time and pumped millions out of the Ukraine into her own coffers. She had long,straight brown hair then. Came the Orange Revolution and she miraculously transformed from a Russian speaking “business woman” into a Ukrainian “Jeanne d’Arc” – blonde hair, white dresses, braids and all. Her messages from from her present residence to her supporters have a messiah-like tone. She recently wrote that no matter where she is “I am always with you”.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I remember seeing her picture from when she was a brunette; she really was a very attractive woman, and even when she began to gain a little weight as she got older she carried it very well and still maintained the most beautiful complexion, very young-looking. Tough to keep that up in jail, of course, and I laughed when I saw her using a walker to get about – claiming her back problems were so severe that she couldn’t move without it, but then she is shown banging on the door with one of her stiletto heels. People with serious back problems are rarely seen in stiletto heels.

      There’s a picture of her here as a brunette, but there are better ones; she has kind of a vulnerable look in this photo that does not suit her. She looks her best when she is acting imperious and regal. Doesn’t make her likeable, mind, but it does look better.

  29. Moscow Exile says:

    Yes, I’ve seen that clip where she’s banging away with her stiletto on a locked door whilst her prison guard patiently tells her to pack it in. At first she answers him back in Russian, but after suddenly realizing she’s being filmed and observed, she starts haranguing him in Ukrainian.

  30. marknesop says:

    Extra!! Extra!! Razvozzhaev apparently has some sort of seizure!! Says so right here on The Power Vertical!

    Oh, wait. They’re talking about him being snatched off the streets of Kiev when he popped out for lunch, after having been assured that he had political asylum. Not that he has done anything wrong, of course – fleeing the country after leaving a false trail suggesting he was going to go survive in the tundra and eat mice, like Farley Mowat in Never Cry Wolf, is the kind of thing he normally does when work gets tedious; it kind of livens things up.

    So I guess the west and its courts frown on grabbing people off the streets of a foreign city in order to take them in for questioning. Who knew?

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    And where was Russian arms dealer Victor Bout, now serving 25 years in a US prison, arrested?

    • marknesop says:

      Excellent counterargument. In point of fact he had been given asylum, and the United States lobbied hard and continuously to have it overturned. Sovereign territory only means “someplace you’re not allowed to come and do things unless we say – we can go anywhere”.

  32. Moscow Exile says:

    There are several stories surfacing in the Russian news media today about the likelihood of Udaltsov making a run for it before his next appointment at the Investigating Committee this Friday together with the delightful Violetta Begamotova. News is that he’s already packed off his wife and child to Ukraine.

    I think it’s very likely he’ll be charged on Friday if he turns up for his interview.

    I should think that the virtual leader of 0.08% of the Russian electorate will be next to have his collar felt.

    Адвокат оппозиционера Виолетта Волкова заявила изданию, что “существует 99-процентная вероятность, что С.Удальцова арестуют” во время допроса, на котором ему, как ожидается, будут предъявлены обвинения.

    “То, что СК за три дня проанонсировал предъявление обвинений, может служить сигналом для Сергея. Если он уедет, то всем будет удобно: следователи скажут, что и так докажут его вину, а он не сядет. Хотя сейчас неясно, как тут лучше поступить: идти или нет”, – сказал собеседник издания из окружения С.Удальцова.

    Opposition lawyer Violetta Volkova has told this publication that “there is a 99 percent probability that S.Udaltsova will be arrested” during the interview, at which he is expected to face charges.

    “The fact that the Investigation Committee announced the charge three days ago may be a signal to Sergei. If he leaves, it will be convenient all round: the investigators will say that his guilt is proven, and he will not go to gaol; although it is not clear what is best to do: whether to go or not”, someone close to S.Udaltsova told the publication.


    Decisions, decisions!

    To be, or not to be, that is the question:
    Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
    The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
    Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles…

    See further:

    • yalensis says:

      To Flee or not to Flee, that is the question:
      Whether ’tis Nobler in the flesh to suffer
      The rubber truncheons of outrageous OMON,
      Or to eat rats in the tundra like Farley Mowat….

      • Moscow Exile says:

        And by eating them: to die, to sleep
        No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
        The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
        That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
        Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
        To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
        For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
        When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
        Must give us pause. There’s the respect
        That makes Calamity of so long life:
        For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of OMON,
        The Oppressor Putin’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
        The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay…?

        But hark! I must away, for here cometh the fat Violetta…

        My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
        Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
        If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
        If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
        I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
        But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
        And in some perfumes is there more delight
        Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
        I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
        That music hath a far more pleasing sound…

        (Sonnet 130)

  33. yalensis says:

    Stas Apetian has another interesting piece on the Bolotnaya elections:

    Stas proposes that the elections were rigged. I attempt to summarize his arguments and conclusions. Recall that elections were organized by Navalny’s friend and ally Leonid Volkov (who is shown in the graphic juggling cards).
    Recall that each voter was allowed to vote for up to 45 candidates. For example, I could have voted just for Navalny (1 vote from me); or I could have voted for Navalny AND Nemtsov (2 votes from me); and so on, up to 45 votes just coming out of me. OR I could have cast one vote for “None of the above”.
    With 81,801 successful voters, if each voter had cast all 45 votes they were allowed to, then there would have a resulted a grand total of 3,681,045.
    Instead, there ended up an official grand total of 2,092,102 votes cast (because most voters did not actually use all their possible 45 votes).
    For example, here is the very first record in the file of voters who voted for the Navalnyite slate:

    7c0a347e;464;86 16 36 195 117 127 222 141

    This is an actual record, not an example made up by me. In this record we see that the very first voter, Voter #7C0A347E (last 3 digits of whose telephone# is “464”) voted for Candidates #8, 19, 11, 12, 22, 14, 6, 16, 36, 5, 7, 7 (oops, they voted for #7 twice!), 2, and 1. He or she cast 14 votes, including two for Candidate #7. (I don’t know which of these numbers is Navalny, but I am guessing he is Candidate #7, since he is so beloved!)
    The election results data file, by the way is here, in case anyone wants to download it:

    Somewhere out there in the intertubes an avatar named “neo-der_tal” did download then actually sat down and analyzed this data file, counting up all the cells in this spreadsheet to come to a grand total of 2,424,021 votes cast.

    And yet the official count is, from the final results, is that a grand total of 2,092,102 votes were cast.
    As Stas and “Neo” point out, the difference between the 2 numbers is 331,920. That would be the number of votes that were tossed out AFTER they were cast for this particular slate.
    Were these votes that were simply inconvenient to the organizers? Were they duplicates (as in the two votes cast for #7 above?) Were they MMM voters or MMM candidates? Or was this whole election a botched disaster at the hands of incompetent amateur computer programmers? These are the burning questions of our era.

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. The data from the voting record got messed up a bit when I pasted it into comment above. Anyone who is a geek can download the file and take a look for themselves. The main point is that over 330,000 votes were thrown out from the NAVALNYITE slate, and to my knowledge his slate didn’t even include MMM candidates!

      In conclusion, Navalny is a fraud and a con artist. QED.

    • marknesop says:

      All of it, whether errors were intentional or deliberate, suggests elections are never, ever as clean or as transparent as their organizers say they will be, or were once they’re over.

  34. yalensis says:

    One final technical/geek point about these ridiculous Opps elections:
    As I mentioned above, the computer algorithm that turned applicant’s (name+address) into a numeric ID is a deterministic ONE-WAY hash function with a non-unique result. For non-programmers out there, here is an extremely simplified example of such a function:
    Suppose that the inputs to your function are 2 numbers. In this simplified example, the hash algorithim multiplies the 2 numbers and produces a single output. For example, Inputs are 2 and 3; output is 6.
    The function is ONE-WAY, which means that you cannot take the output (6) and reproduce the 2 inputs. This protects privacy, so, for example, you can’t deduce a person’s name and address from the ID, even though the ID was crafted from the name and address.
    [That’s why programmers call this a “hash” algorithim: It takes the ingredients, and turns them into an indecipherable hash. Like, after you bake a cake, you can no longer pull out the eggs and flour that went into the cake.]
    The function is deterministic, because (2 * 3) always produces 6, and nothing other than 6.
    The function is non-unique, because the output (6) could have also been produced from a different set of inputs (say, 6 * 1).
    It is the latter property that could create a problem in online voting. Say, my name is “2” and my address is “4”. I register, receive my hash ID of “8”.
    Meanwhile, somebody on the other side of country, their name is “1” and their address is “8”. They registere and acquire the same hash password of “8”, unbeknownst to each other.
    That person is an early bird, they vote, and their record is marked as “voted”.
    Innocently I attempt to vote the following day, I plug in my password of “8”, and the machine tells me, “Sorry, you already voted.”

    In theory, this could account for at least some of the rejected votes. Unless the programmers screened for duplicate hash ID’s. But same problem, except it would reject people from registering earlier in the game. They would be forced to try a different name and/or address. But then they wouldn’t pass the passport-verification phase. Catch-22 ! Wannabe voter tears his hair out and gives up.

    • Dear Yalensis,

      Thanks for this extremely interesting explanation.

      It seems to me that what we are looking at is a child’s parody of a Soviet Communist Party election.

      The essence of any genuine election is that control of the process is in the hands of the electorate which votes for the candidates it chooses. This is not a genuine election since instead of the electorate choosing the candidates it is the candidates, who are simultaneously the organisers of the election, who choose the electorate.

      If there had been a desire to hold a real election it would surely have been possible to conduct an election with an electorate based on the actual Russian electorate. Russia must have an electoral register and this must be publicly available. Arrangements could surely have been made to send postal ballots to all Russian voters inviting them to participate in the election. It would be a costly and difficult thing to organise but not an impossible one. Of course only a small fraction of the electorate would have voted but those who voted would not have been chosen by those they were voting for. The election would have been a genuine democratic primary like the primaries in the US..

      What we got instead was an invitation to people to register online in order to vote. That already excludes the very large proportion Russians who are not online. Needless to say of those who did register online the overwhelming majority would be opposition supporters who support the election and can therefore be assumed to be loyal to the organisers. In order to make sure that this is the case and to weed out “unreliable” elements the organisers nonetheless assume the right to purge any elector they deem “unreliable”. In all the discussions about Mavrodi the fact which is overlooked is that if this was a truly democratic election then anyone he got to sign up for the election should have as much right to vote in it as anyone else. Not only have the organisers of this election assumed some unexplained right to purge Mavrodi’s voters but through some mysterious process of verification they have purged around 40% of the whole electorate.

      Having obtained a carefully selected electorate in this way the organisers have then ensured that when it comes to the actual voting the electorate is not given a choice. This was not an election in which voters chose between say Navalny and Udaltsov so that one wins and one loses. Instead the election was organised in such a way that there were no losers and all the leaders of the opposition were elected to the Coordinating Council. Both Navalny and Udaltsov (and Chirikova, Yashin, Kasparov and Nemtsov) are now members of the Coordinating Council.

      In effect as at CPSU Party Congresses a carefully selected electorate has “elected” a Central Committee drawn from a single predetermined slate with the only issue being the number of votes cast for each member of the slate. The latter does not of course affect membership of the Coordinating Council but is intended to establish the hierarchy amongst the members with Navalny (who has controlled the whole process) “outranking” his rivals Udaltsov and Nemtsov. Needless to say in order to ensure that the numbers add up in the correct predetermined way the voting and counting are controlled in the way you have said. As Comrade Stalin so rightly said, it is not who votes but who decides who votes and who counts the votes who matters.

      We therefore now have a “Central Committee” (“the Coordinating Council”) and a “General Secretary” (Navalny) and we doubtless (as the heading of Mark’s article says) will soon have a Politburo as well. Of course there is no programme, organisation, membership or party. Not surprising really. After all we live in a post modern age. What could be more appropriate in a virtual world than a virtual revolutionary movement leading a virtual revolution?

      • yalensis says:

        Dear Alexander:
        That is a very perceptive analogy of Opps elections being similar to CPSU Central Committee elections. All of the points are exactly as you named. And that’s not even mentioning the issues of the “slates” or “curias”, which were also established in advance, in order to guarantee seats on the “Council” to a few individuals who were known to be unpopular in the Opps ranks.
        To review this issue:
        In the “General Slate” (=Navalnyites), of 169 possible candidates, the first 30 were elected, starting with Navalny at #1 (with 43,723 votes), and ending with some guy named Naganov at #30 (with 15,541 votes).
        The “Left Forces Slate” was guaranteed 5 seats for their top 5, with some guy named Gaskarov at #1 (with 22,935 votes), and Razvozzhaev at #5 (with 12,760 votes).
        The “Liberal Forces Slate” was also guaranteed 5 seats, with some guy named Davidis at #1 (with 27,216 votes), and some guy named Tsar’kov at #5 (with 17,729 votes).
        The “Nationalists” slate was also guaranteed 5 seats, with some guy named Konstantinov at #1 (with 21,433 votes) and some guy named Kralin at #5 (with 10,593).
        In other words, types like this Kralin guy got elected onto this council, even though they pulled fewer votes than, say, Oleg Lurie who pulled 11,040 votes on the “General” slate.
        Here, again, is a list of winners and losers on the 4 slates (with winners in boldface):

  35. yalensis says:

    Crowned with his new mandate as “Leader of the Opposition”, Navalny hit the ground running.
    Calling a special emergency midnight meeting of his inner circle, Navalny had no time to gather all 45 members of the Committee. This being an emergency, General Navalny had to decide single-handedly what to do about Razvozzhaev’s arrest. Very quickly he issued statements calling on America and Europe to ban entry and freeze assets of anybody connected with Raz repressions:

    Согласно плану, будет составлен список лиц, “причастных к организации незаконного уголовного преследования по “делу 6-го мая””. Ожидается, что к работе будут привлечены организации РосУзник и Агора, адвокаты обвиняемых. Также будут организованы обращения в профильные органы Евросоюза и США, пройдут переговоры с официальными лицами Евросоюза. По словам членов КСО, будет положено начало кампании с требованием “воспрепятствования въезда в ЕС и США и заморозки активов в ЕС и США всех, причастных к незаконному уголовному преследованию, пыткам и похищению людей по “делу 6-го мая””.

    …(we) will compose a list of persons “complict in the organization of illegal criminal repressions around the 6-May (Bolotnaya).” We expect to draw into this effort organizations such as RosUznik and Agora, also attorneys of the accused. We will also organize appeals to organs of the European Union and USA, we will conduct negotiations with official representatives of the EU. Members of the Coordinating Committee will initiate a new campaign with the demand to ban entry into EU and USA and to freeze assets of all persons associated with these repressions… (blah blah)

    Another Magnitsky List, but this time for Raz. This is actually bad news for Russia, because just yesterday Europe passed their version of Magnitsky List. Now I suppose there will be more sanctions, and all of this will be harmful for Russia. But what can you do, you can’t just let people like Raz run around free-range plotting shit.

    • marknesop says:

      Did you dig into the lead sent by moskandogg? Maybe there’s something there that can be used to mock the missionary zeal with which the two partners in the “Special Relationship” are embracing the Magnitsky list. You know, selectively ignoring massive corruption while falling on it like the Hammer of God when it suits policy and politics.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      What Navalny and the rest of his clownish committee are in effect demanding is that the probity of all judicial actions, decisions, practice and explanations made or taken by the Russian judiciary in accordance with Russian constitutional and statute law be first assessed and approved of by the legislature of a foreign power, namely that of the United States of America and the European Union, and that the Russian state suffer penalties imposed upon it by those foreign powers if any judicial actions, decisions, practice and explanations made or taken by the Russian judiciary be judged unlawful by those foreign powers.

      In other words, they wish to allow the decisions of US and EU lawmakers to override those of the Russian judiciary.

      In other words, they wish that Russia be governed by foreign powers.

      In other words, they are acting treasonably.

  36. Moscow Exile says:

    We the people…or the virtually elected representatives of 0.08% of those thereof that are elegible to vote…do hereby declare to the self-apponted world guardians of freedom and democracy that the opinions of the 109 million plus Russian electors that did not cast an electronic vote for our Russian leadership are superfluous to those of the hamsters that elected us.

    • yalensis says:

      WE THE PEOPLE… Never in the history of the Universe have prouder words ever been spoken! (snif)

    • marknesop says:

      We will get an important signal in the official response to this which will give us a fairly good idea whether this “Shadow Parliament” is going to be taken seriously as a government-in-exile. It seems fantastic that it could because it’s just so stupid, but given the initial reaction to the decision to hold the vote at all – ecstasy, freedom, democracy, so brave, and much more in a similar vein – it’s difficult to say. I’d go with if the United States even acknowledges they received Navalny’s plea, it suggests intention to take these yahoos seriously. That’s a dangerous step to take, though, and one they certainly won’t take before the election. Afterwards, Obama probably no, Romney probably yes. Although I still can’t take it in that there are people outside the Romney family who actually think he would make a good president. Sometimes it just pays to be white, I guess.

      It also suggests an early policy of the Bolotnaya Politburo will be to make a martyr of everyone arrested while Putin is President. This will look particularly rigid and ideological when Raz’s guilt is proven, which is an issue that even RFE/RL didn’t touch – they merely capered and shouted that there were big differences between the official version and what really took place, and tried to run with the idea that he was tortured into making a confession. They’ve suggested in a roundabout way that he didn’t do anything wrong, but they dare not come right out and say it because his behavior looks so bizarre for an innocent man.

      • kirill says:

        Once the video is forgotten by the western media consumer, they will be free to say anything they want. Revisionism is all the rage these days.

  37. kirill says:

    The Magnitsky farce is surreal. Here is a list of deaths associated with Clinton:

    I am not going to say all of them are murders due to conspiracy. But if the west is going to turn Magnitsky into some sort of martyr it should look at home first. James McDougal’s death is particular note. He did not get proper medication. Magnitsky died of **undiagnosed** conditions.

  38. Moscow Exile says:

    I should think that the Germans would not be all that keen to impose some kind of Magnitsky – style sanctions on Russia, as Germany is the biggest Russian energy customer. Next year, nuclear power is going to be switched off in Germany, which will further increase German demand for Russian gas and oil.

    Russia has Germany very much by the short and curlies energywise.

  39. Moscow Exile says:

    First prison letter from the Tolokonnikova, now doing porridge. It was written whilst she was in remand prison. The letter was handed by advocate Polozov by a relation of someone who was a cellmate of Tolokonnikova. Polozov put it on Facebook:

    1.We believe that it is tactically wrong to act within the state framework, a system in which actions fail to get done, are ineffective or just disappear. We call on all those who cherish the values that we stand for – freedom, independence, human rights without compromise, standing up for which we got two years in a colony – to support us, not only in words but also deeds.
    We are writing to you because we are discouraged and temporarily unable to conduct rallies and speeches. While we were at large, we could, as you could, stand up for our and your values. Help us continue to be active. Help mount pickets, make speeches, speak at rallies and at your own particular events.
    2. We are surprised that PR supporters, whom P.Verzilov has for some time tried to represent, support and prolong the confrontation with our lawyers Feigin, Polozov and Volkova. We do not understand the principles of such a position. We have no interest in the conflict, as both our attorneys and PR supporters command a unity of political purpose: the release of political prisoners, the establishment of democracy in Russia and the destruction of an authoritarian political system.
    3. Even more than how things have ended up with us are we annoyed by arguments based on money disputes between persons claiming to be associated with PR. We find such disputes disgusting. We declare that we have no money and commercial interests: we do not have any nor do we wish for any: we have no economic interest in PR activities. The funds allocated to us at the time of our detention we have entrusted to our lawyers Feigin, Polozov and Volkova, as well as those who are at the moment busy raising our children. It is enough for us that our children are at liberty and are decidedly well fed. Other material goods we are not looking for. The basic thing that we want is the continuation of the political activity of people who share our values.


    What noble souls!

    And their children are at liberty!

    Thank God that Evil putin didn’t lock them up and throw away the key!

    And reading between the lines, old Pete ain’t gonna get no more pussy off Pussy Riot, it seems.

    There also seem to be some shenanigans going on as regards the distribution of the PR takings and future earnings.

    I don’t know about her standing up for her values, though I’ve seen images of Tolokonnikova kneeling down for them.


    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      Thanks again for all this.

      It is very interesting. What it shows is that there is increasing criticism of the lawyers even amongst Pussy Riot’s closest supporters. The declaration seems primarily to be intended to defend the lawyers from such criticism with some of it apparently coming from Verzilov. The comments condemning cooperation with the authorities, though classic anarchism, in their uncompromising tone also seem to be a thinly veiled criticism of Samutsevitch and her new lawyer.

      Reading between the lines it seems that there are also allegations swirling around that the lawyers have misappropriated funds raised by well wishers on Pussy Riot’s behalf. Do you remember the photos you provided which showed Pussy Riot supporters with placards showing pictures of the lawyers waving the US flag and walking off with bails of money? After reading this statement some of the pictures on those placards take a new significance. I would not be surprised if this story were to run and run with more revelations coming.

      I wonder by the way whether this statement was drafted by Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina or by the lawyers? Bear in mind that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are now separated so they would need to liaise through the lawyers to communicate with each other.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        An interesting point about this letter that I should like to comment on is that despite claims often made by Tolokonnikova and the rest of her motly crew and “oppositionists” that Russia is an authoritarian state is this: if the “feminist punk-rock artiste” in question had smuggled out such a letter in a UK nick she would be in big trouble. Convicted prisoners in the UK are only allowed to write a very limited number of letters a week – three, if I remember rightly. All prisoners’ letters, inbound and outbound, are scrupulously censored. UK prisoners are not allowed to discuss in their letters the conditions under which they or fellow inmates exist nor are they allowed to write about the cimes and convictions of their fellow inmates. If Tolokonnikova were a UK prisoner, she would have had to have a meeting in prison with her lawyer if she had wished ro discuss the financial concerns that she mentions in the smuggled out letter that has appeared on Facebook. Furthermore, if Tolokonnikova were in a UK prison, she would have had by now certain “priviliges” withdrawn as a result of her breach of prison regulations. At the very worst, she might have found herself in solitary by now if she were a British convicted prisoner unergoing a custodial sentence.

        • yalensis says:

          Well, you know how it is, in Russia pretty much “anything goes”, even in the prison system.

        • kirill says:

          Thank you for the valuable information. As usual the Devil is in the details. The softness of the western justice system and the harshness of the Russian system are propaganda myths.

  40. cartman says:

    Is Borodin now the new “sugar daddy” now that Berezovsky is broke? Or is this a different Borodin?

  41. Moscow Exile says:

    From MK:

    Illogical Anatomy

    The Razvozzhaev case becomes more and more contradictory
    Moskovsky Komsomolets No. 26076 from October 25, 2012, views: 1705

    The more that time passes since the beginning of the mass disorder preparations shown on video footage from “Anatomy of Protest-2”, the more obscure is becoming his circumstances. Leonid Razvozhaev was allowed to see lawyers. It would seem that the story of his alleged torture should have been clearer, but human rights activists tell opposing versions of events. Sergei Udaltsov, meanwhile, has gone: he cannot be contacted, but his lawyer, Violetta Volkova, told “MK that the rumours about ” Udaltsov escaping abroad do not correspond to reality and lie on the conscience of unscrupulous journalists.”

    President of the Supervisory Commission and a member of the Moscow Helsinki group, Valeriy Borschev, after having conversed with Razvozhaev told “MK” what he had said. “If you don’t do what we tell you, there will only be a little mound of your remains — and no one will know where it is” are the words that the rights activist remembers Razvozhaev telling him had been said to him by his abductors. The oppositionist also said that they had threatened to kill his children and loved ones. According to Borshchev, Razvozhaev was seized near the UN Office in Kiev and taken to Russia by car with a cap stretched over his face and held for three days without food and water, which led to him making a confession.

    However, another representative of the public supervisory board, Anton Tsvetkov, has stated that he also visited Lefortovo gaol and spoke with Razvozhaev. According to him, the prisoner complained of torture, but there were no traces of it. “When I visited Razvozhaev, he said that the central investigation committee had turned up when he was having dinner on Sunday. I talked with him on Monday night. In front of me stood a man on which there were no scratches or bruises. Neither while at the investigation hearing, nor in remand prison, nor in the police van, nor in court did anyone notice any signs of torture or other effects. As far as I can see, on the website of the commissioner for human rights in Russia, Lukin, exactly the same is said by him” explained the Tsvetkov, stressing that Razvozhaev had declared that no action, neither physical nor psychological pressure, had been applied.


    • The important point to understand about Razvozzhaev is that ultimately it does not matter whether he was abducted in Kiev or not. What matters is whether he is guilty of the very serious charges he faces.

      I am fairly sure Razvozzhaev was abducted in Kiev by the Russian secret service probably working in collusion with the Ukrainian secret service. The story about Razvozzhaev’s handing himself in and making a “confession” was probably fabricated in order to protect Yanukovitch from embarrassment on the eve of the parliamentary elections in Ukraine on Sunday. Neither the Russian nor the Ukrainian governments would want the nationalist opposition in Ukraine making hay on the eve of an election because Yanukovitch handed over a Russian dissident to the Russian security agencies at a time when the dissident had approached the UN to have himself declared a political refugee. As there is no evidence that Razvozzhaev has been tortured my guess is that he was either tricked into signing the confession or that it is a forgery and I suspect this too was done to strengthen the story that Razvozzhaev handed himself in so as to protect Yanukovitch from embarrassment.

      I have no problem with any of this provided Razvozzhaev gets a fair trial. I think it is entirely appropriate that the secret service of a country should carry out such undercover arrests in foreign lands to ensure that a fugitive from justice charged with the very serious offenses of which Razvozzhaev is accused should stand trial for them. The US Congress has given the US President the right to execute US citizens who pose a security threat to the US and who have fled abroad. That is unacceptable. Taking resolute action to ensure that there is a proper trial is not.

      I am sure that the European Court of Human Rights will take the same view. The Russian authorities have previously shown that they are prepared to bend or even break the rules in order to ensure that a suspect charged with serious crimes does not flee abroad and stands trial in Russia. This is what happened in Khodorkovsky’s case and it is what has just happened in Razvozzhaev’s case. Provided the trial itself is fair and any conviction obtained is safe I expect the European Court of Human Rights to uphold the conviction and merely award financial compensation for the violation of the suspect’s rights before the trial caused by the illegal arrest. This is what happened in Khodorkovksy’s case and it is what I expect will happen in Razvozzhaev’s.

      I would finish by saying that what this episode shows is that the Russian authorities take a different view from the one that has been expressed on this blog: they prefer that persons like Udaltsov, Navalny and Razvozzhaev accused of serious crimes stand trial for those crimes in Russia rather than flee abroad. This is a brave and commendable position.

      PS: I understand that Feigin will be representing Razvozzhaev. With Volkova representing Udalstov it looks like we have more fun in store.

      • marknesop says:

        I wonder who chooses the attorneys to represent these individuals. Surely Udaltsov would not choose Violetta Begamotova (as Moscow Exile referred to her; a little inside joke – “Begamotik” means “Hippopotamus”) after her lackluster (to say the least) performance in the defense of the Pussy Riot girlies. Well, perhaps I’m wrong; I did say earlier that Udaltsov has a death wish and if he is charged with anything, he wants to be sent down for it so he can be a martyr. Might also be a good opportunity to be shot while escaping. That boy is wired wrong. But the point stands – both lawyers are known now to be grandstanding posers who are more interested in making highflown political statements than in conducting a competent defense in a businesslike manner that ignores the special status of celebrity clients, as it should be in a system where all are equal in the eyes of the law.

        You could argue that both are likely for the high jump in any case, as the video looks genuine and there have been a number of stumbles since it came out that suggest it touched a lot of nerves. But a competent lawyer might be able to wring some concessions at least, and at best might even get portions of the evidence ruled inadmissible. Udaltsov might crave punishment as a validation of what a great threat to the government he feels himself to be, but it appears Razvozzhaev is made of softer clay.

        Unfortunately for him, he has more or less advertised his guilt by fleeing and leaving a he-man cover story to mislead the cops. Give Udaltsov credit for the courage of his convictions,; he seems to be daring the authorities to arrest him and appears uninterested in making a run for it.

      • yalensis says:

        Dear Alexander: Your analysis is spot on. Clearly Raz was nicked on the streets of Kiev, hooded, hustled into a car, and driven back to Moscow. The bogus “confession” was, as you say, for the benefit of not embarrassing the Ukrainian authorities, who assisted their Russian colleagues in helping to nab an accused criminal on the lam.
        Also recall that the Belorussian authorities assisted too: apparently they helped set up the Givi Targamadze surveillance system in Minsk. In other words, the three great Slavic nations are getting along pretty well and helping each other out with these important matters.
        You also made a good point about the Russian authorities taking this matter extremely seriously, and how we shouldn’t joke about it so much and egg these guys on to run. I think one of the reasons authorities are taking this matter so gravely is because of the danger of terrorist acts occurring. It’s not that Putin fears these guys can actually overthrow him and move into the Kremlin. They can’t do that. What they can do is maybe blow up some building and harm some innocent people. If there was any loss of life in a terrorist act, even just a few deaths, then the Russian government would come in for extreme criticism for their negligence.
        One of the components of Putin’s uneasy “contract” with the Russian people: it is his job to protect them from terrorist acts aka Nord-Ost, Beslan, etc. The fact that there was a “Gruzian” in other words “Caucasian” element to this plot has extremely alarmed the authorities.

        • kirill says:

          Russia had its own terrorists over a century ago. The current crop of self-righteous lunatics is moving in that direction. They demand serious treatment and they are getting, the poor dears.

          Israel abducted Mordechai Vanunu who was a nuclear arms whistleblower:

          “Mordechai Vanunu (Hebrew: מרדכי ואנונו‎; born 14 October 1954) is a former Israeli nuclear technician who, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction, revealed details of Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986.[2][3] He was subsequently lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and abducted by Israeli intelligence agents.[2] He was transported to Israel and ultimately convicted in a trial that was held behind closed doors.[2]

          Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, including more than 11 in solitary confinement. Released from prison in 2004, he became subject to a broad array of restrictions on his speech and movement. Since then he has been arrested several times for violations of those restrictions, including giving various interviews to foreign journalists and attempting to leave Israel. He says he suffered “cruel and barbaric treatment” at the hands of Israeli authorities while imprisoned, and suggests that his treatment would have been different if he were Jewish (Vanunu is a Christian convert from Judaism).”

          His case never got the sort of hysterical treatment that hooligans and terrorism plotters receive when it comes to Russia. These terrorist martyr wannabes from Russia are facing *up to* 10 years in prison and not 18 years with parole restrictions.

  42. kirill says:

    “Russia’s Opposition Council Accuses Kremlin of Political Terror”

    Wow. So a few perps who got caught in the act of gross criminal activity (plotting terror attacks with Givi) are evidence of “terror”. The so-called opposition are lunatics. And it is a gross mischaracterization to call them the opposition. You have such fringe “opposition” in the USA too but they are never tagges as *the* opposition.

    • yalensis says:

      From linked article:

      “Some two dozen people picketed the headquarters of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on Wednesday for a second straight evening to protest what they called an increasingly brutal crackdown on anti-Putin activists. ”

      Emphasis mine.

      • kirill says:

        For some reason tens of thousands of people are not taking to the street to protest in support of these clowns. Maybe it has something to do with the damning evidence against them.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          No, they are clearly not taking to the streets because of the reign of terror here.Likewise only twelve unbelievably brave protesters outside the FSB HQ today, which is still the old Lubyanka. Those twelve people outside KGB/FSB HQ must be the only decent people in Moscow.

          Free Pussy Riot.

          • Misha says:

            Some people seem to have answers for everything:

            One that immediately comes to mind is in a scene from the Len Deighton novel based movie Billion Dollar Brain. The ideologue American retired general in that movie leads a crusade against the Soviet Union. Upon being told that there’s no evidence of anti-Soviet activity in support of his attempt to attack the Soviet Union (his forces never quite made it), he replies by saying (not verbatim): Of course! They’re being brutally repressed. That’s why we must go in there to help them.



          • yalensis says:

            Most dissidents seem to believe that the more you get repressed and the worse and more dangerous things get, the more fired up people will come streaming into the streets to join the movement.
            Usually it’s the other way around.
            Reminds me of an old joke told by an old Commie:
            Communist agitator is haranguing on a soapbox on the streets of [name some city, probably some place in Latin America]. A small crowd gathers. Agitator goes on about unemployment, housing, schools, hospitals, etc. Crowd applauds. Crowd gets bigger. Agitator then turns to the following theme: “All over the country we Communists are being hounded, our families threatened and ostracized, many of us are being arrested, thrown into jail, subjected to the most excruciating tortures, even murdered. In conclusion, I call on all of you to join the Communist Party today!”
            Agitator pauses and looks around; crowd has mysteriously disappeared…

  43. AK says:

    The correct whataboutist comparison would be if an American anarchist were to be taped with some comrades talking with a Russian oligarch and making grandiose but patently unrealistic and dreamy plans to kick off mass protests in San Francisco, New York and Hawaii with the aim of overthrowing the US government. This tape would later be aired on PBS as a part of a general blackwash of not only the Black Block, but the Occupy Wall Street movement in general.

    Then one of these anarchists flees to Canada, but he is extraordinarily rendered back to the US, either by undercover FBI agents (according to the anarchist), or by the Canadian police (Mercouris’ supposition). He and his comrades now face charges that could get them locked up for up to 10 years.

    Would this ever realistically happen in the US context? If it did, would yalensis, Mark, ME and co. rush to defend it with as much fervor as they do the SK’s prosecution (I am tempted to say persecution) of the far leftist opposition?

    This is not an attack. I am just concerned that the understandable skepticism towards opposition claims (borne of their constant lying) is turning into a blanket denial of the possibility of actual Kremlin repression.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      In such a hypothetical scenario that AK describes above, in which US law enforcement agencies, with or without the collusion of the law enforcement agencies of another sovereign state or states, were claimed to have undertaken the extraordinary rendition of a suspect criminal anarchist back to the USA, which anarchist had been allegedly plotting to cause the downfall of the US government, I should tend to accept the possible veracity of such a claim owing to the fact that there is ample evidence that US government law enforcement agencies do, in fact, undertake extraordinary rendition:

      Would I defend such a rendition?

      Yes, I would. I would accept the fact that the first duty of a state is its self preservation and that any person or persons that illegally attempt to overthrow the legal government of a state is/are acting contrary to the interests of that state. I believe that the United States has the legal right to defend its own state interests. I also believe that the state known as the Russian Federation also has the legal right to defend its own state interests.

      As regards any claim that an extraordinary rendition undertaken by US law enforcement agencies had resulted in the torture of a suspect: there is ample evidence that US law enforcement agencies have had occasion to use torture in order to extract information.


      I do not condone torture in any shape or form: it is internationally recognized as being illegal. It is also immoral.

      I do not doubt, however, that in particular circumstances, most noticeably as regards matters of state security and counter terrorism, torture has been and possibly still is used, and not only by Russian law enforcement agencies; nevertheless, the claim made by Razvozzhaev that he suffered 48-hours of “torture” before making his confession I consider to be just part of the Rusian “opposition” repertoire played out for the benefit of US and EU legislators: it is an appeal played out before willing believers in the “free world” to convince them further that Russia is both an immoral and illegal state.

      Firstly, one must define what the suspect Razvozzhaev means by “torture”. It has already been commented on by observers that there are no indications that Razvozzhaev was physically tortured. Now Razvozzhaev says that his “torture” was “psychological”.

      Such “psychological” torture as he claims to have occured must have been intense: he was only being interrogated during a period of 48 hours. It seems, so far, that his “torture” consisted only of threats – very nasty and cruel ones indeed, if what Razvozzhaev says about them is true – but are threats “torture”?

      “Sticks and stones can break my bones…”?

      Furthermore, in this respect it should not be forgotten that the counsel for the PR defence also claimed that their clients were undergoing “torture”, in that whilst being held on remand they were made to rise at 6 a.m. to attend their trial, during which process it was claimed that they had very little to eat or drink. The PR counsel even went so far as to claim that the regime that their clients had to endure during their trial amounted to torture by “sleep deprivation”, notwithstanding the fact that on more than one occassion the PR defendants were checked by doctors, who reported that they were healthy and fit to stand trial.

      Former detainees at Guantanamo Bay detention camp can also tell interested listeners tales about torture – torture that was somewhat more intense than being made to rise at 6 a.m.

      • Dear Anatoly,

        A comment entirely to the point.

        I have already made clear my view (1) I believe Razvozzhaev’s account of his abduction and (2) I think it is justified in order to bring a fugitive charged with very serious offences to justice. I stress to justice. If this degenerates into a show trial then that would be a serious matter. However Razvozzhaev has been allowed to meet with human rights activists and has instructed his own lawyer even if I find his choice of Feigin unfortunate. Though it is very early days it doesn’t so far look like a show trial.

        Turning to your analogy, Razvozzhaev himself may be a marginal figure (until Yalensis mentioned him in relation to the release of the video I had never heard of him) but he appears to be associated with Udaltsov who is not. Udaltsov is one of the leaders of the protest movement. If we are to believe what we see in the video Udaltsov did not merely discuss plans for an insurrection with Targamadze, which however fantastic those plans were would still be a serious matter, but also took money from Targamadze to the tune of £35,000 a month to finance the protest movement and those plans. Moreover there seems to be separate evidence that Udaltsov was actually taking calls from Targamadze which caused him to call protests at Targamadze’s instructions.

        If one of the most prominent leaders of Occupy were to be caught on film with a Russian oligarch who is also believed to be an agent of the Russian government accepting Russian money to finance Occupy whilst plotting armed insurrection in the US Occupy would surely find itself in terminal crisis whilst the other Occupy leaders would be doing their best to distance themselves from the whole affair instead of doing what the protest leaders in Moscow are foolishly doing, which is rush to defend those involved. If one of those involved in the plot then tried to flee abroad in order to escape to Russia he would (deservedly) get little sympathy when the FBI brought him back however irregular the methods of achieving it were.

        I would just add that (as Mark has correctly said) Razvozzhaev’s attempt to flee abroad is if not a confession of guilt still a deeply self incriminating act unless of course one believes (as Peter no doubt does) that the trial he will get in Russia will not be fair. Also that most governments faced with this sort of situation would if they could have acted in the same way is strongly suggested by the so far very muted western criticism of the whole affair.

        Lastly I would say that in my opinion the video and the pending case against Udaltsov and Razvozzhaev and the others is much more important news that Navalny’s sham elections to his sham Coordinating Council, which will quickly be forgotten. Back in May in several comments I made on Eugene Ivanov’s blog I said Udaltsov is trouble and that the protest movement was being very foolish in allowing him so much prominence. The events of the last month show how reckless and foolish the leaders of the protest movement were. If they have the smallest grasp of reality, which is admittedly doubtful, they will come to bitterly rue the day they allowed Udaltsov to climb into bed with them.

    • yalensis says:

      Quod licet Iovi non licet Bovi.

      • kirill says:

        Yeah. I’d like to see actual examples of repression in Russia. You know, convictions of people for simple acts of civil disobedience that exceed what routinely occurs in the USA (the puppet master of the west). The Pussy Riot hooligans and the Udaltsov type terrorist martyr wannabes don’t cut it as evidence.

        This procedure of giving two sides of the story equal weight is the same BS that the media does with AGW. Some incompetent, uneducated kooks come up with childish claims that it is all one big hoax and they are somehow deserving of equal time. For some reason the media does not apply this “fairness” to Holocaust coverage. Otherwise there would be deniers trotted out on every occasion to argue that it never happened.

        • kirill says:

          I should have added that there is total circularity in the narrative being pushed by the liberast opposition and their western patrons. They first break the law and then invoke the subsequent legal sanction as “proof” of persecution. That is not how it works. In the 1930s you had people rounded up who did not break any real law and the scale of the repression was vast. Udaltsov and Pussy Riot are not examples that have any resemblance to victims of political repression. They are political militants who deserve to be smacked down.

    • marknesop says:

      Without having looked yet at any other responses – as you know, I see comments in a different format than they appear on the site, in chronological order rather than in nested threads – I would look at the situation you describe through two filters. One, how badly does the leader need a crisis, politically, in order to make himself/herself look strong and engaged? To that extent, the capture of an “enemy agent” would be spun as a big deal, and the answer in this case would be “not at all” unless we believe the capture of the hapless Raz is payback for the Russian technology spies. Otherwise, Mr. Putin does not need the allegation of foreign interference to pump himself up in the polls; he has just won an election and will not challenge another for more than 5 years, and there is already a fairly broad belief that his enemies are foreign-backed. To be honest, I think it is a serious tactical error for Navalny to threaten to run crying to Uncle Sam so early, because it merely confirms what everyone mostly believed to be true. It probably suggests Navalny will never run openly as a Presidential candidate, choosing to remain instead a constant heckling irritant. Two, if there really does exist such a brutal state of repression and crackdown, why is Navalny deliberately endangering his fragile fledgling flower of democracy as soon as its head breaks the dirt, in the cause of an individual whose guilt looks fairly certain? Perhaps Navalny is just crazy with courage himself, but why is he recklessly risking his followers’ lives on such a foolish roll of the dice? The answer is, of course, the brutal repressions he describes are wildly exaggerated.

      The Russian government is still very interested in establishing – for western ears, as I’m sure Russians were an easy sell – that the sudden veer toward violence in the street demonstrations was a calculated escalation rather than a spontaneous flash, and Udaltsov and Raz’s perfidy could provide the key to unlocking that. Understandably, that’s a position the opposition does not want to see made any clearer than it is already.

      If I were the Russian government, I would have summoned McFaul whatever the hour and asked him in front of witnesses to take an official position on the issue; does the United States really believe Raz was tortured to obtain a confession of an offense of which he is wholly innocent? If so, does the USA intend to back the Navalny Clown Council in its efforts to bring this before the ECHR? It would cost Putin nothing, and would force the USA to show its cards early – either McFaul would have to acknowledge official backing for the Bolotnaya Politburo as a political entity despite its being “elected” by a tiny minority of the population which was pre-screened for loyalty and charged a fee to vote, or back away and disavow official support, in which case any later inveigling in its favour would look hypocritical. The only safe course would be to pretend to be taken by surprise and not to have read the news, choosing a blanket fluff statement like “The United States is opposed to torture as a means of extracting information (ha, ha) wherever and whenever it may occur”. He might be that fast on his feet, but nothing to date suggests so.

      • yalensis says:

        Good points, Mark. The turn towards violence at Bolotnaya was obviously the trigger that alarmed the authorities (who had not been paying much attention to Opps before) into the current rash of investigations and arrests.
        Badgering the witness with “Do you or do you not concede the possibility of actual Kremlin repression?” is incorrect posing of the question. Clearly a Kremlin repression is going on. Even a child can see that. A better question would be: “Is this repression a good thing or a bad thing?”
        An even better question: “Do you believe that the accusations against Udaltsov/Raz are completely fabricated?” If one answers “Yes” to that question, and one is outraged at their arrests, then one has a consistent (although improbable) position. If one answers “No, the charges are not fabricated”, then one has to adopt a much more subtle stance, something like, “Yeah, they did what they are accused of doing, but it wasn’t that bad, everybody does it, and they shouldn’t have been arrested for it.”
        If Udaltsov/Raz did indeed meet with Givi, take $$$ from him, and plot riots and disorders, then their arrests ARE justified, even if the state should end up arresting dozens of collaborators and it looks to Western media like a big honking Stalinist purge. The difference between that and 1937 is that Zinoviev and Bukharin and the others were not actually guilty of the crimes with which they were charged.
        In conclusion, Razvozzhaev is not Trotsky; and Putin is not Stalin. And this is 2012, not 1937.

  44. Misha says:

    Let’s see what if anything becomes of this:

    A reasonable idea if properly implemented, in terms of promoting a responsibly intelligent patriotism (minus chauvinism), that has an eye for biased commentary against Russia/Russians and the ability to successfully answer back.

    Putin recently reached out to Masha Gessen. In terms of the above project, he’d do better by reaching out to some others.

    An example of biased commentary against Russia:

    An example of the opposite, inclusive of a relative objectivity:

    Among some others, kudos to the George Mason University affiliated History News Network for picking up the last linked piece unlike….

    It’s no small wonder why the coverage of Russia continues to lack among the more high profile of venues.

  45. yalensis says:

    Russian-Gruzian relations already improving on the sports front:
    Ivanishvili has announced that the Gruzian team WILL take part in 2014 Sochi Olympics. Yay!
    Elena Gedanashvili will have an opportunity to compete in Freestyle Figure Skating. I have met Elena, she is a really sweet kid and a wonderful figure skater who actually has a shot at a medal. Elena’s brother Dmitry may also be competing on the Gruzian ski team:

  46. kirill says:

    I wonder if these perps will run to the west and seek asylum. After all evil tyrant Putler is on a rampage of repressive terror. LOL.

  47. marknesop says:

    Yee Haw!!! Republican Texas Attorney General informs the OSCE that monitors it is sending to oversee the U.S. presidential election (either this is brand-new, or I never knew that U.S. elections had international monitoring, because this is the first I’ve heard of it) “…may be committing a criminal offense if they come within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place”.

    In writing, no less. No possibility of “I don’t recall saying that” here.

    Naturally, someone is going to explain to me how this practice is free and democratic, and how restricting the access of monitors to polling places so that they are unable to observe the vote is outrageous only if it happens in Russia. Because, any time you like, I can show you a bunch of complaints from GOLOS or any one of a handful of other western-backed regime-change-enablers that go into a perfect ecstacy of righteous wrath because they believed their monitors were disallowed from hanging right over the voter’s shoulder to see how he or she voted. If they were even told to sit down – in the polling station, I might add – so that they did not get in the way of voters trying to get to the ballot box, it was interpreted as interfering with a monitor or volunteer election observer in the performance of his or her duties. Stack that up against the Land Of The Free, where a state official feels he is safely within American law to write in advance to the major electoral body on the globe and tell them their monitors are not permitted – by law – to approach closer than 100 feet from a polling place, never mind enter it. This one is getting lots of pushback. Say, can you read this sign? Yes, I know it’s 100 feet away. OK, you’ll have to take my word for it; it says, “You are a fucking hypocrite”.

    More? Sure. Bank of America sued by the Feds for $1 Billion – yes, that’s with a “B” – for a host of offenses including “…us[ing] scissors, tape and Wite-Out to create fake bank statements, inflated property appraisals and other phony paperwork”, as well as ” …assign[ing] critical underwriting tasks to loan processors who were previously considered unqualified even to answer borrower questions. The mortgage company also eliminated previously mandatory checklists that provided instructions on how to do this vital task…” I’d almost have to call this corruption, what do you say?

    • kirill says:

      The Canadian Supreme Court laid an egg too, today. It decided to ignore voting irregularities in Toronto riding in the name of preserving confidence in the system. Let’s get this straight, if some shitball in Russia claims whatever comes to their mind about “irregularities” and there is no proof of said incident, then Russian elections are a fraud. But if you have outright fraud in Canadian elections, i.e. people voting who should not be able to vote in the riding, then there is no problem until somebody actually tracks down each of the fraudsters and has them sign a confession. The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum!

      • AK says:

        But mass fraud in Russia is statistically provable.

        • kirill says:

          With your amateur “statistics” giving lots of graphs that don’t actually quantify the level of the fraud. You also can’t reconcile the exit poll results with the claim of massive fraud. Also, the system in Canada, the UK, the USA and elsewhere does not require massive fraud to achieve the desired result. Ohio 2004 would be a good example.

        • kirill says:

          BTW, I would like to see a documentation of the fraud in Russian elections. Not some n-th hand blog spew but a list of numbers and locations. The so-called opposition has had months to put such a list together.

          As for the Etobicoke Center riding *fraud* it was enough to allow the neocon candidate to win:

          “The Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that Etobicoke Centre Conservative MP Ted Opitz can keep his job, bringing to an end former MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj’s long battle to overturn the election result.

          Opitz won the riding by 26 votes on election day, but Wrzesnewskyj, a Liberal, took him to court, alleging that there were irregularities that affected the outcome. In May, a judge at the Ontario Superior Court agreed, finding 79 of the votes were invalid and should not have been counted. Opitz appealed, arguing that Justice Thomas Lederer erred in throwing out some of those votes.

          Four of seven Supreme Court justices agreed with Opitz on Thursday, and found that 59 of the 79 thrown-out ballots should have been counted. Three judges – including Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin – dissented, finding that most of the ballots thrown out should not have been counted. The case comes down to the threshold at which votes should be thrown out.

          The majority found that minor administrative errors should not be sufficient to allow an election to be overturned.“The practical realities of election administration are such that imperfections in the conduct of elections are inevitable,” the justices wrote. “Courts cannot demand perfect certainty.” ”

          It is quite clear that Opitz should have lost but the Supreme Court decided that this level of fraud was too minor to matter. Obvious and patent nonsense when applied to a first-past-the-post system where a few votes can make all the difference.

        • marknesop says:

          “But mass fraud in Russia is statistically provable.”

          Yes, it is, in extreme cases like some Caucasian republics where the turnout is in the high 90’s – all voting for ER – or sometimes even higher than the verifiable population of the village. That, however, is not the norm, and it has never been my purpose to show that Russia is some kind of overlooked utopia. It most certainly has its problems, but my argument is it is no better nor worse than any other country at its stage of development and does not rate even a tenth of the unusually high level of criticism it receives.

          Elections said to have been stolen in the United States (and perhaps Canada, too; I have to confess I pay less attention to Canadian politics than I probably should) have been documented with extensive statistical as well as anecdotal evidence; charts and graphs and scribblings everywhere. The official response – largely echoed by the electorate – is, “Mumbo-jumbo dreamed up by haters who can’t adjust to the fact that we won because we deserved to win”. Fraud in Russian elections is documented with charts and graphs and scribblings, and the response of Russia’s American critics – by far the largest group, which is not to suggest all Americans are delusional busybodies – is, “PROOF!! Irrefutable proof that Vladimir Putin is a thieving scumbag who illegitimately occupies the Presidency”.

          This odd duality of attitude also conveniently ignores that American elections are often heart-poundingly close, and even when less so are made to look like anybody’s race by the popular press, which loves a good contest. Even a tiny bit of rigging, and there is plenty upon plenty of documented evidence of rigging, could throw the election to a candidate who otherwise would have lost. This is not the case in Russia, where the candidate who came second could have doubled his take and still lost. There is nowhere near that level of fraud.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            According to certain pundits at the EU, when not long ago commenting on falsification in Russian elections and on the fact that Putin had been predicted to win and had indeed done so, in a real democratic election, nobody should know who the winner will be. In other words, a “real” democracy should operate a national lottery and draw numbers out of a hat .

            • marknesop says:

              I totally agree that in a democratic election, nobody should know for a certainty who the winner will be. And just as soon as Russia stops having elections in which a politician and leader with an established record of achievement is running against a crowd of spoiled rich kids with aspirations to grandeur but no background except a huge spike in income coincident with the moment in history that the state’s wealth was stolen by oligarchs, whining anarchists and constantly complaining liberatsi who promise reforms as dictated by foreign leaders, there’s a real possibility that might happen.

              The opposition cannot seem to come to grips with the idea that it is not entitled to win just because Vladimir Putin has already had a turn. See, how a democracy works is you have to sell the electorate on your plan, and the electorate has to agree it is better than anyone else’s plan. Just complaining about the other guy’s plan and vaguely suggesting, “Oh, we would do it better” IS NOT A PLAN. Saying, “We would ask western agencies to come in and advise us on the best way to restructure” has already been tried once, and the results wiped out the life’s savings of whole swaths of ordinary people. Saying if you were in charge you would immediately delegate that authority to foreigners so they could come up with a plan IS NOT A PLAN.

              Opposition members who wish to have their ideas vetted to see if they in any way resemble A PLAN can submit them here, and I will reluctantly take them under advisement while inviting comment from all of you. But for my part, I have to do it for nothing as charging for the service would be a clear conflict of interest.

              A possible option – although expensive and complex – would be for the populations of Russia and the United States to simply switch countries. That would allow elections in Russia in which, even though it’s not really close, the media acts as if it is close and consequently voters who cannot get off their lazy asses long enough to look up information could allow themselves to be spoon-fed utter bullshit by the candidate who DOES NOT HAVE A PLAN, resulting in a cliffhanger election in Russia which would satisfy all the foam-spattered complainers.

          • AK says:

            No, they are wrong on that. Putin did unquestionably win the Presidency on the first round. But United Russia should not have a majority, as its real score was about 40%-42%, not 49%.

            • marknesop says:

              Okay, that’s maybe true; I’m not trying to wiggle out of taking a position, I just have not looked at all the evidence. But once again, the opposition does not want to prevent United Russia’s gaining a majority so that it – the opposition – can have more of a say in the decision-making, but so that it can block United Russia from getting anything passed and thereby sow the seeds of it being seen as weak and ineffective because it can’t get anything done. Four straight years of lockstep obstruction in American government has resulted in the same kind of gridlock – how’s that working out? There’s a great example of a lesson of western democracy that Russians should remark and say, “uhhh…thanks, but no, thanks”.

              I question whether the Russian opposition could ever unite enough to block United Russia’s every move, because there are too many conflicting priorities and, taken together, they do not have the Republicans’ party discipline. If it were otherwise, though, United Russia would have to coalition-build to get anything passed and would have to make concessions to other agendas, which might result in a slightly more democratic process. However, when a like situation occurs in western democracies it is very rare that the peoples’ will is considered in making those deals, and more often pet party projects which get advanced in their place.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I saw a report he other day which said that a state duma member is, in fact, going to the USA to observe the elections.

      • kirill says:

        Canadian MPs are heading to Ukraine to observe the elections there.

        • Misha says:

          Those “Canadian MPs” are no doubt influenced by a certain lobbying influence in Canada.

          The more realistic of Orange leaning folks recognize that Yanuk’s party is likely to prevail in the upcoming election. Across the geopolitical spectrum, the Ukrainian situation is a frustrating one.

          • kirill says:

            In 2004 the Canadian embassy together with that of the UK and US were busy setting up fake exit polls as part of outright meddling in the Ukrainian election. The “orange” revolution fell apart because it was engineered from abroad and did not have popular support.

            • Misha says:

              As some on the ground there at the time observed, the manner of those observers and that of Orange poll workers in heavily Orange areas left quite a bit to be desired in terms of objectivity.

            • yalensis says:

              Another reason Orange revolution fell apart was because of ferocious in-fighting between the leaders, especially Yushchenko and Timoshenko. When foreigners come in and impose an articifical pecking order (“You Number 1, you Number 2″), it never works out properly. To be viable, a leadership pecking order has to come about through internal processes.
              Same thing is happening in Russian Opps, where Americans decided from the other side of the ocean that Navalny is their new President of Russia and the likes of Ponomarev must salute to him.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Here’s the article. It’s from the Moscow Times and penned by Freiherr Niklaus von Twattel:

        • Misha says:

          He gets around – RT and JRL among the promoters.

        • yalensis says:

          I have a feeling the Russian observers to U.S. elections will be able to gather some juicy anecdotes (for example, document an African-American or Hispanic voter turned away from the polls for lack of proper ID), which they can produce later, in a tit-for-tat proganda game, next time Americans diss Russian elections!

          • Misha says:

            Some might be surprised at the lack of ID required to vote in a US election. The voter gives their name to a poll worker, who then checks a roster noting the eligible voters in the area in question.

            If a prospective voter isn’t listed on the roster while claiming to be registered, a judge at the nearest county court is available to hear and judge their claim.

            • marknesop says:

              There is a surprisingly low level of fraud in U.S. elections that originates with misrepresentation of identity, although the Republicans regularly howl about it. By far the greatest fraud efforts are directed at suppression of voter turnout, media misrepresentation of candidates sometimes extending to reversing their actual party affiliation and electronic rigging.

              • Misha says:

                On the ignorance of voters, I’ve first hand knowledge (from a source involved with such matter) that at US election primaries involving candidates other than Repubs and Dems, (Green, Conservative, Liberal…), it’s not uncommon for the greatest turnout to come from registered Repubs and/or Dems who show up to vote.

                Upon being told that they aren’t eligible to vote, (because such primaries are for registered members of the given party) the aforementioned Dems and/or Repubs have a shrugged shoulders look of: gee I got a notice that there was an election.

                Leaving one to ask what kind of research of the candidates did they do? Their manner seems like a robotic vote for voting sake.

                Electronic voting was introduced for the purpose of limiting the chance of fraud. This updated process includes having the paper ballots entered into the machine to serve as a backup – the ballots plus the machine tabulated figure.

          • marknesop says:

            On such occasions I recommend they cite the Texas Attorney-General as well, who claims to have a legal basis for restricting monitors to 100 feet from the entrance; that’s why I put the link up. Woe betide GOLOS next time they start screeching about not being allowed to hold the voters’ hands or entreat them to change their vote, calling it “brutal repression”. I got your brutal repression right here.

  48. yalensis says:

    I found a real gem of a piece today in Gazeta:
    Representatives of “Gruzian Dream” party and other pundits dishing what they know about Givi Targamadze and his “export of revolutions”.

    The most amazing thing about this piece is that these people feel free now to speak out and not be afraid Saakashvili will have them thrown in jail and jam a broomstick up their ass:

    Kaxa Kukava, leader of Opposition party “Free Gruzia”:

    “It seems to me that the film Anatomy of a Protest II distorts the actual situation. What I know is that the Gruzian authorities are connected with the Russian Opposition, but not with all of them, and certainly not with Udaltsov. Udaltsov is simply not at that level. They are connected more with the likes of Garry Kasparov, Valeria Novodvorskaya and Konstantin Borovoi. Those (three) were frequent guests to Tbilisi. More to the point, whenever they visited Gruzia they met mainly with the police/security forces (siloviki), they have been seen (a lot) with (…) Vano Merabishvili.”

    (When asked to comment on this), Borovoi did not deny that he is favorably disposed toward President Saakashvili and (often) went to Gruzia, but he denied that he had any financial relations (with him).


    Gia Nodia, political analyst:

    “He (Targamadze) specializes in peaceful revolutions. But it is hard to imagine him actually influencing anything in Russia. Usually Targamadze’s actions are limited to consulting, he does not possess the kind of resources to sponsor a revolution, especially in Russia.”

    Soso Tsiskarishvili, president of Independent Club of Experts:
    “For 8 years Targamadze was head of parliamentary committee for Defense. This past Monday he entered the new parliament as a (now Opposition) member of Saakashvili’s party, and once again headed that same committee. But in the post-Soviet space Targamadze has been better known as the ideological point man for peaceful revolutions. He started this track in his own country, having taken part in the Rose Revolution of 2003, when he became allied with Mikheil Saakashvili. Then, in September 2004 Targamadze helped incite the Tulip Revolution in Kirgizia. He arrived in Bishkek accompanied by parliamentarians Kaxi Getsadze and Temura Nergadze. As they explained to the Kirgiz media, they had arrived to support the fraternal Kirgiz revolutionaries. (….)

    Kukava again:
    “Targamadze headed a group of liberal organizations, the largest of which was the Freedom Institute, they were all financed through the USAID. He headed the so-called SonderGruppen. Goons whom the authorities did not officially arm, but who took part in provocations and street riots. After 2004 Saakashvili appointed him (Targamadze) curator of the project called Exporting the Gruzian Revolution. Since that time he has openly participated in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and was an official advisor to Yushchenko. But his biggest project – was the 2010 elections in Ukraine. In 2010 the Ukrainian authorities accused Targamadze of bringing 400 (Gruzian) Special Forces troops into Donetsk, pretending to be election observers. One year earlier the Ukrainian media published transcriptions of tapped telephone conversations between Targamadze and Gruzian mobsters Lasha Shushanashvili and Gia Khmelidze. From the conversations it was clear that Lasha and Khmelo were supposed to operate in Donetsk as Gruzian observers. What they were supposed to actually accomplish is unclear, but we assume it was to agitate for Timoshenko and buy voters.
    “After the (Ukrainian election defeat), he tried to hide from media attention, became secretive….”

    Soso again:
    “In 2010 parliamentary elections Moldavian media accused Targamadze of agitating for National Liberal Party. Four years earlier, Mikhail Leontiev, in his show “Odnako” published tapped phone conversations, which he says he received from a source in Gruzian secret services, of Givi Targamadze talking to people in Vilnius and USA. A voice which Leontiev ascribed to (Givi) promised (the person he was speaking with) to organize the murder of Belorussian oppositionist Alexander Milinkevich….”

    Beso Aladashvili, former official in Gruzian Special Security Services:
    “In June 2012 on the Gruzian internet was published a transcript of phone conversations between Targamadze and Gruzian businessman Koboi Nakopia. Somebody is telling Nakopia about his conversation with Udaltsov, he is talking about the activities of March 5 on Pushkinskaya….”

    (Article goes on to say that Givi, now that Saakashvili is out of power, might face charges in his own country. However, this is complicated by the fact that he has immunity as a member of parliament.)

    • kirill says:

      Peaceful revolutions using Chechen elements? WTF. Does anyone speak the truth or is spewing inane lies considered normal.

      • yalensis says:

        The Gruzian pundits quoted in the piece seem somewhat contradictory:
        They are eager to dish dirt against Targamadze, presumably because he is one of Saakashvili’s goons. At the same time, they are somewhat defensive about the Udaltsov case, and maybe about the Rose Revolution itself.

    • marknesop says:

      He ought to get down on his fat knees (those are the places where your legs bend in the middle, Givi; I know you can’t see them) and say a prayer than none of that money came from state funds, or if it did, that it can’t be traced. Because you know what that would be, don’t you? That’s right; state terrorism.

      • yalensis says:

        What strikes me in all those interviews is how many times Givi has his phone tapped and his conversations taped. Not to mention having his “secret” meeting with Udaltsov videotaped and recorded. Is Jabba an incompetent conspirator, or what??

  49. yalensis says:

    There are some issues with the Raz arrest timeline:
    “Some of the incongruities are connected with the ‘kidnapping’ of Razvozzhaev in Kiev. He went there to receive political asylum. Razvozzhaev asserts that on 18 October unknown men in masks grabbed him on the street, threw a bag over his head, and drove him to Moscow. However, officials from SAJI (Society for Aid to Jewish Emigres, which assists the UN in composing documents for refugees) out of whose office the Oppositionist was coming when he was supposedly seized by unknown men, assert that Razvozzhaev came to them on the 19th of October. That is, one day after his “kidnapping”
    “Okay, we can put the confusion of dates down to stress; but there are other incongruities too. Let’s assume that Razvozzhaev was actually arrested on 19 October (not 18 October). The oppositionist asserts that he was not allowed to eat, drink, or use the bathroom [for 2 days]. However, the kidnappers apparently allowed their victim access to the Internet. Otherwise how to explain that Leonid Razvozzhaev visited his “vKontakte” page [Russian version of Facebook] at 18:50 [6:50 PM] on October 19? A few hours after his kidnapping?”

    “With a bag over his head and duct-taped hands, Razvozzhaev somehow managed to tap out a communique of 2 pages of text on his page, in which he doesn’t mention being kidnapped; however there is a warning: ‘If in the near future I should be detained, or something bad happens to me, do not believe the bad things they will say about me. I am of sound mind and sober memory, although my living conditions right now are not so great…’
    “The comments of Leonid Razvozzhaev’s wife Yulia confuse the matter even further. This woman declared to journalists that ‘all day Friday, October 19, Leonid was home, with the kids.’
    “Whereas the Ukrainian border police maintain that Razvozzhaev spent 19 October in the Ukraine. And left the country voluntarily, on his own passport.”

    Curious and curiouser. How to explain these discrepancies?
    According to one conspiracy theory: On October 19 Raz returned to Moscow, turned himself into FSB, they allowed him to go home and spend the rest of the day with his family. He spent the evening sitting at his computer and updating his online journal. Meanwhile, Raz and FSB had worked out a phony game to make it seem like Raz had been taken against his will and coerced to confess. This was to fool the other Opps and make Raz look like a victim instead of a lying dirty rat and stool pigeon.
    Unfortunately, in the course of concocting this cover story, the players made a few mistakes in crafting their fake timeline. Raz just couldn’t resist hopping onto Facebook and timestamping himself. Also, the wife goofed and let the cat out of the bag.

    • marknesop says:

      Except for the wife’s slip – if slip it was, and if so it was pretty stupid; you’d think the moment your spouse was seized by the security services would be engraved indelibly upon your brain – it’s quite explainable. The person who logged in to vKontakte could have been anyone; the truncheoneers probably tortured it out of poor Leonid: “…give us your login and password, Leonid, or it’ll be the worse for you!!! Don’t make us plunge your hands into the bowl of cold spaghetti…ummm, I mean guts, again!!!” Once in possession of poor Leonid’s password and login, any one of the chinless goons could have logged in as him and written a long, rambling liberal-leaning soliloquy (I may not come back from this show, dearest Katie; give me your red, red lips but one last time…) and post it in order to confuse other investigations. I mean, look at how long Leonid’s own red herring about living on mice in the freezing tundra confused them. Oh, wait – that didn’t fool anyone except Stanislav Belkovsky.

      This is all just turning into a big comedy, and it’s hard to keep a straight face through Navalny’s Lord of the Flies pontificating (I have the conch!! You have to listen to me!!) about higher principles and the overall despicinacity of Putin’s clumsy Orcs with their jelly manacles and peanut-butter thumbscrews (that wrench a shrieking confession from their victim while leaving never a mark to betray their evil application). Surprising to see him make a fool of himself so soon, although it was inevitable at some point.

      The fool saith, I have no friends, I have no thanks for all my good deeds, and they that eat my bread speak evil of me. Welcome to your throne, Alexei – here’s your cap with the bells on it. Hope it’s not too tight for your swelled head.

      • marknesop says:

        Ha, ha, ha!!!! Whew: my ribs. If you want a good laugh, check out this comedic episode at RFE/RL; the whole thing is written in that I’m-choking-with-rage-at-the-injustice-of-it-all style that Brian Whitmore seems to settled upon as his signature, and it is all pretty silly. However, I could no longer hold back the laughter when I finished the following paragraph:

        “But even that number — an all-time low for the president — paled in comparison to the way survey respondents characterized their government. Asked to compare their rulers to an animal, 88 percent named some sort of predator — either a wolf, lion, or wild boar.”

        Even now, it’s difficult not to go off into roars of laughter again. Whoo!!! Asked to compare their rulers to an animal. Oh, my God. I guess being compared to a Lion or a Wolf, as a leader, is now indicative of deep failure. Presumably the power animal this month is the Bunny. What a good thing people were not surveyed to determine what vegetable their rulers should be compared to – the cucumber probably bespeaks homosexuality. Give me strength, Jesus.

        Thanks to all your revealing and contradictory info, Yalensis, I was able to write an extremely mocking reply. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if it will be allowed, although they quite often don’t censor replies. The moderators are just really slow, and you don’t normally see new comments until the following day.

        • kirill says:

          This just highlights the total intellectual and moral bankruptcy of Russia’s critics. If Putler was such a big bad tyrant repressing his people they would have an endless stream of serious subject matter to write about. Instead they have Pussy Riot and Udaltsov. In other words the have absolutely nothing to back up the criticisms.

        • Misha says:

          No surprise that BW used to be with TMT. The overall selection/non-selection of “Russia Watchers” at his RFE/RL blog page appears to exhibit his and RFE/RL’s general slant.

          • marknesop says:

            Interesting; I didn’t know that. He certainly does seem to cite it often as a reference. Occasionally he used to offer a fair column (at The Power Vertical), or perhaps he just seemed more evenhanded compared with his former partner, Robert Coalson. I believe he (Coalson) still writes occasionally for RFE/RL – supplying a reliably stinging denunciation of Putin’s shenanigans every time – but he no longer collaborates at The Power Vertical. I remember LR used to rate him (still Coalson) as “one of the two great Roberts in Russian blogging”; the other, of course, being Robert Amsterdam.

            I still occasionally come across a column by Whitmore that is not too bad, and when confronted on a particular point he sometimes tries to be fair, by which I mean you can still sometimes reason with him. But he’s drifting deeper into the Russophobe orbit all the time, and Putin seems to be at the root of it, as he often is. These liberal bloggers just see red whenever his name is mentioned, and impartiality goes right out the window.

            • Misha says:

              It gets down to (relatively) moderate Whitmore, in contrast to some others.

              An aspect that’s part of an overall freak show with numerous exhibits. As one case in point: Pussy Riot, Navalny, Kasparov and Udaltsov have yet to come close to matching the level of popularity that the Finnish, Spanish, Frence and Italian Communist parties achieved at their respective zenith.

              In October of 1998, the US at at large was greatly discussing Moinica and Bill as the situation in Kosovo was showing signs of getting out of hand. On this particular (as well as some others), the “paper of record” with “all the news that’s fit to print” more closely resembled tabloid journalism than a serious news reporting venue.

              No small wonder at the level of faulty journalism which to a good extent was uncritically highlighted when the situation in Kosovo became noticeably more tense in the first half of 1999.

        • yalensis says:

          Woo, I see that they posted your comment. Fantastic mockery, you DO have a way with words, dude!
          “Revealing and contradictory…” yeah, reality is always so complicated… Drives me crazy, because I tend to see everything in life as a puzzle that needs to be solved. Must be Aspberger’s, I guess.

        • cartman says:

          Now it’s “from scandal to crisis”. Do they hire another person to sex up the titles of these articles?

          • marknesop says:

            Yes. La Russophobe. “She” used to regularly cite articles from various sources which had relatively low-key titles, such as “Russia’s Unemployment Rate Rises Slightly Following Downturn” (that’s just made up, for an example), but the La Russophobe article built on the bones of it would be something like “Russian Jobs In Ashes After Putin’s Astounding, Jaw-Dropping Failure”. In the dictionary, under “hyperbole”, there’s a picture of her.

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. According to this conspiracy theory, Raz voluntarily turned state’s evidence and gave up his homey Udaltsov, in return for a lighter sentence. But he demanded one favor in return: Coppers had to compose an alibi for him, hence the fake kidnapping, to make it look to his friends like Raz was not a snitch and a dirty rat.

      It’s just a theory, I don’t necessarily subscribe to it. But it has its charms.

  50. Moscow Exile says:

    From today’s UK Independent:

    Note the headline:

    Vladimir Putin: ‘If Pussy Riot had not broken the law, they would be at home doing their housework’

    And the full quote in the text:

    “If they had not broken the law, they would now be at home, doing the housework, or back at their jobs.”

    See how the headline portrays Putin as a sexist?

    Shock horrors!!!

    What depravities and baseness is this monster not incapable of?

    And i should think that it wasn’t Mary Dejevsky who wrote the headline: it was probably the sub-editor.

    Lord Snooty, who appears in the comments section, is at present living in exile in Muscovy.

    • Misha says:

      That’s often the case in such a clumsy discrepancy.

      Journos the world over have noted how the titles of articles are often not that of the author. Some journos don’t even bother submitting an article title.

      IMO, the really good journos (stress really good) will have the best title of their piece, on the premise that:
      – they best know the article, seeing how they wrote it
      – understand the marketing aspect, in a way that ideally doesn’t sacrifice quality for tabloid sensationalism.

    • yalensis says:

      Well, at least he didn’t say, “They would be back in their kitchens barefoot and pregnant, cooking dinner for their lieges.”
      P.S. on the issue of sexism, I read one piece (didn’t save the link and can’t find it, sorry) according to which Tolok in her women’s labour camp was to be taught to sew. Well, sewing is often perceived as women’s work, but it is also a marketable skill that she could use afterwards. (And it certainly beats outdoor work.)
      I am assuming the girls in the camp are given proper sewing machines and not just needles and threads, but I could be wrong about that. In any case, it would be somewhat appropriate job skill for Tolok, since she is a fan of Chernyshevsky, and if you recall, Chernyshevky’s heroine Vera Pavlovna founded a women’s sewing cooperative.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes; if he were interested in accuracy, he would have said, “If Pussy Riot had not broken the law, they would be right now squatting in some abandoned basement, plotting their next “art collective” stunt involving big greasy bugs or fucking each other in public or dangling from ropes in simulated death in the supermarket where your children might see them, while ascribing to themselves values and morals higher than yours. Gee, sure is a shame they’re in prison, isn’t it? Bet you wish they lived nearer to you.”

      Too bad they didn’t come to me for a quote. But then, I don’t run the country.

  51. Moscow Exile says:

    Word was over the past couple of days that Udaltsov won’t be charged today because of his pal’s recantation of his confession, allegedly made under duress. However, word is now out that Udaltsov is still going to be charged despite Razvozzhaev’s about turn because the Investigatory Committee has stated that Razvozzhaev’s confession was not the only evidence that can be used to charge him.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      They’ve charged him with organising public disorder. See:

      And now, waiting eagerly in the wings and ready to enter centre stage are:
      Alekseeva,Navalny,Nemtsov, the US Congress, US Secretary of State, the EU parliament, Madonna, John McCain, McFaul etc ., etc….

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Repeated link should be:

        • Moscow Exile says:

          But they’ve not locked him up: he’s still under a restriction order. And he still pleads “not guilty”.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              He invited his supporters to come along this morning and demonstrate outside the IC building, their demonstration intended to be an indictment against the “Putin regime”.

              In view of the fact that only a dozen turned up the other day outside FSB HQ in order to protest against Razvozzhaev’s “torture”, I shouldn’t think that many turned up to clap and sing or shout or whatever in support of Udaltsov, what with today being a working day.

              • marknesop says:

                As usual, they claim wide international support. I seem to recall Pussy Riot did the same. It did not appear to affect the trial or the verdict, which was only slightly less than the prosecution sought and allowed for time served, and where’s all that international support now? Did any international music luminaries quit in protest? If so, I must have missed it.

                Any party in Russia (perhaps I should say, “any group”, because the Clown Council does not represent an elected body) that indicates, “we would seek and accept international advice and direct input in the running of the country” is going to attract a certain level of hopeful interest. But there are enough holes in Raz’s defense even without the video that nobody is going to find him innocent. And “Prisoner of Conscience” has a lot in common with indictment by a Grand Jury in that a ham sandwich could reasonably aspire to being found a prisoner of conscience, as the acceptance criteria are not particularly stringent.

        • yalensis says:

          Charged under Articles 30 and 212 (Part 1 of criminal code).

          Actually, not as bad as could have been.
          Raz will get it worse, because he attempted to flee.

    • yalensis says:

      They don’t need Raz’s confession. They have that movie. Duh!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Quite! That was the response off the IC after the sweet Violetta and others were saying that they couldn’t charge Tyootyookin (Тютюкин) because Razovozzhaev had recanted his confession.

        As regards the prospects for Tyootyookin, the skinhead co-ordinator of the “Left Front”, I think it’ll soon be a case of:

        Toot Toot Tootsie goodbye

        as he boards the slow train to Magadan or wherever.

  52. Misha says:

    Two career military Repubs endorse Obama:

    Once again noting that Romney is known to flip flop, with foreign policy not appearing to be his primary interest. It’s not as if the Democratic foreign policy record has been so noticeably (in the comparative sense) dovish. (Vietnam and former Yugoslavia serving as two reference points.) In the recent nationally televised foreign policy debate, much attention was given to how Romney presented a more moderate view from what he earlier said.

    On Russia, is Leon Aron (involved with Romney on Russia) that radically different from Michael McFaul (involved with Obama on Russia)?

    Hilary Clinton’s State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, is someone who has comfortably served under a Republican presidency. A formally released statement from Nuland on Pussy Riot broadly spoke of the support for free expression, without any note of Pussy Riot’s disrespectfully provocative manner – behavior which very likely wouldn’t have been prosecuted (at least to the degree of what occurred) had Pussy Riot chosen a different venue from the chapel they disrespected and without permission. In contrast, H. Clinton pointedly denounced as “disgusting” a privately made anti-Muslim film that wasn’t released in a mosque.

    When it comes to foreign policy elders, Republicans James Baker, Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft don’t come across as being noticeably more hawkish than Democrat Zbigniew Brzezinski.

  53. Misha says:

    Putin answers back at Valdai:–finance.html

    The above piece written with a typical English language mass media presentation.

    • marknesop says:

      Ah. Now Pussy Riot is a “protest band”. The western press seems to be casting about for a title that will invest them with the maximum amount of altruism and dignity. Give it a couple of months, and they’ll be a Vatican Catechism Copycat Band.

    • R.C. says:

      They sure love to misquote leaders of other countries they don’t like.

      Remember the stupid Ahmadinejad misquote about “wiping Israel off the map” that was quoted by th press over and over even AFTER it was roundly debunked?

      • marknesop says:

        Equaled only by the completely fabricated “quote” that Obama supposedly said to Putin that he would get whatever he wanted “after the election”. He didn’t even say it to Putin, who was not present, for a start. But their audience, every time, is the low-information American voter, who will instantly be outraged and demand that something be done. Chaos and confusion are the friends of the stolen election.

  54. Misha says:

    Excerpt –

    “For Russia’s leaders, the Obama Administration has proved annoyingly adept at ignoring the growing stream of accusations that now come from official Moscow.
    When Mitt Romney told CNN that Russia is the ‘No. 1 geostrategic foe of the United States,’ I thought I could hear the cats purring in the Kremlin.

    Yesss! Instead of being treated like an oversized Serbia with nukes, we finally get some respect! With Romney, we will be back to being eyeball to eyeball with the Americans!”


    That’s not what post-Soviet Russia under Putin has sought. Note which head of state was the first to console the US on 9/11. The US State Dept. response to issues like Pussy Riot exhibit a hypocritical bias. An anti-Muslim film is “disgusting”, unlike the antics of Pussy Riot, in a chapel of a Russian church that had been repressed under Communism.

    The above reference to Serbia is incoherent. Serbia has been treated as a miniature Russia without nukes. Combined, Serbia’s upside down Russian flag (no disrespect intended), two headed eagle, Cyrillic alphabet, Orthodox Christian denomination, Slavic culture and historic pro-Russian sentiment, have contributed to the hypocritical bias against that country.

    Serbs and Russians have reason to feel perplexed about such sentiment, given that they’re otherwise not pre-disposed to seeking to be hated rivals of the West. Note the overall historic relationship their countries have had with the West.

    This doesn’t stop the likes of RFE/RL from writing anti-Serb hack pieces on Serb WW II resistance leader Draza Mihailovic, while being comparatively soft on the Nazi allied Croat Ustasha and its leader Ante Pavelic – the latter grouping being far more gruesome than what Mihailovic and his forces can be legitimately accused of.

    Excerpt –

    “But, equally important, Putin is embarking on a massive $770 billion, 10-year rearmament program for Russia’s armed forces.
    Even for oil-rich Russia, this is no small sum. There is fierce competition for this budget money, notably from Russia’s swelling population of pensioners.

    Last fall, Alexei Kudrin, Putin’s respected Finance Minister of 11 years, quit over this military spending plan. As recently as last week, he was criticizing the armaments spending program as wasteful. Kudrin estimates that Russia’s ballooning annual pension shortfall will hit $42 billion this year – 43 times the level of 2005.

    To keep the military shopping list intact, Putin needs an external threat. And what better ‘enemy’ than one that resonates with the Cold War era generation of pensioners?

    ‘Despite the fact that Mr. Romney considers Russia enemy number one, if he is elected president of the U.S., certainly we, including me, will work with him as an elected head of state,’ Putin said last month in Sochi.

    ‘I am actually very grateful to him for formulating his position so clearly and freely,’ Putin continued. ‘He has again confirmed the correctness of our position on missile defense problems’.”


    The proposed Russian armed forces buildup isn’t along the lines of a guns over butter economy. A country such as Russia is in need of a relatively strong armed forces for defensive purposes, given the situation along its borders.

    Putin was obviously being a bit sarcastic in his thanking Romney. An except from the comments section below the above linked piece:

    “To say that Vladimir Putin a Secret Mitt Romney Fan is asinine!

    It’s pretty clear the kind of man Putin thinks Romney is based on this quote alone: ‘If Romney wins, we may have to enlarge the defense budget.’
    He goes on to say: ‘He has again confirmed the correctness of our position on missile defense problems.’ Translated; if Romeny is elected, Putin won’t reduce the amount of missiles that are pointed at the US and our allies due to his mistrust towards Romney and lesser chance of peace with a Romney administration.

    When it boils down to it, Mitt Romney validates to Russia their huge arsenal of missiles.”

    • marknesop says:

      The Kudrin attribution makes me laugh, because it was Alexei Kudrin who argued, every budget cycle that he remained finance minister, against increasing wages and pensions. It was Putin and later Medvedev who overruled him and raised wages and pensions anyway, while Kudrin kept up a steady drone that the bottom was going to fall out of oil prices and then where would Russia be, with its crazy spending on old folks with their querulous demands? It’s true he argued against generous defense spending, but that’s a safe bet because he argued against any kind of spending. And the pretense of sources like this to actually care for the fate of the Russian pensioner is just nauseating hypocrisy. What this is is a wholeheartedly cynical jumping on the Navalny Clown Council bandwagon, to a trifold purpose – one, it creates a much-desired stir in the international press which casts Russia in a bad light as a repressive and dictatorial power, while legitimizing the Clown Council as a legislative body, which it is not; two, it reassures Navalny and the Clown Council that the west is onboard and prepared to support them, at least rhetorically, and holds out the hope that there will be money from somewhere, and three, it lays the groundwork for Navalny’s eventual arrest being political, because he is such a thorn in the side of the Kremlin with his constant and noble agitation for human rights. The fact that he is a criminal – worse, a petty financial crook – will be overlooked entirely and the press will be full of anguish about the next Khodorkovsky.

      This is not going to make Putin fall, either. It is a warning to him that the west, rather than seeking any kind of rapprochement, is going to make it as rough a ride as lies in its power to do and to keep the news cycle buzzing with the latest juicy atrocities and bestial repressions of the horrible Putin government. Diplomatically, business as usual. However, it would be nice to see Russia react differently for a change. The west owns the diplomacy machine, lock, stock and barrel. It is useless to register outraged protests at its treatment, which are promptly and smugly spun as confirmation that the charges are true and have “touched a nerve”. Russia should ignore the west outright, reduce its use of western products to the extent it is comfortable to do so, and increase its ties with China so as to drive improvement of Chinese goods and services to the world-class level. When a Chinese-built car has as good a reputation as a German-built car – and there is absolutely no reason this should not be so as it is only a matter of money, engineering skill and focus – then the west will have lost most of its technological advantage. Its main defense now against the flood of Chinese-made goods is that they are cheaply made and not durable. The west may find it has fewer loyal allies in Asia than it thought, as many – Korea, for example – remain within the western orbit for reasons of trade and military protection. When the former falls away the latter will be impossible to maintain – military dominance is horrifically expensive.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        About 10 years ago I became acquainted with a Russian businessman, a former Soviet Air Force officer, born and brought up in Vladivostok and a Chinese speaker, who spent a lot of time in China. He was telling me then about Chinese cars and how crappy they were. And he said that in about a decade, they’d be up to scratch and they’d be competitive. I remember this conversation well because I told him then about how, when I was much younger, we used talk about “Jap crap”, which amused him somewhat. In those days I had a British Triumph motorbike and “Jap crap” Hondas and Suzukis were just appearing on the British market.

        The British motorcycle industry is only a faint memory now.

        • kirill says:

          But Chinese quality is something that is not certain to emerge and is certainly not following the curve established by Japan and South Korea. There are cultural differences that affect quality, much like Germany compared to other parts of Europe.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            So how do Laborghinis and Skodas and Volvos and Bentleys – to name but a few – compare with German cars?

            • Moscow Exile says:

              And another thing: only the other month I bought an iPad. On the packaging I noticed “Product of California”. In the small print on the serial number labelling, however, was “Made in China”.

              • kirill says:

                I have experience with FoxConn motherboards and they are crap. That Dell and Apple use this crap does not make it good. I have also had fun with Chinese made wireless telephones (Panasonic brand name). The breakdown of the electronics was spectacular. After a couple of years of normal function my phone started randomly dialing and managed to dial 911 by itself. I have never seen solid state components fail in this way before.

              • yalensis says:

                You bought an iPad? I was thinking of buying one. does it support Cyrillic fonts?

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Yes, but that might be because I bought it here.

                  No! I’ve just looked at the settings: there is almost every language under the sun there, including Croatian, Czech, Romanian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Bahasa Indonesia and even “British English”.

                  It always makes me smile when these programmes differentiate between “English” and “British English”. For me it’s like saying Alabaman English and Connecticut English. They’re all dialects of the same language with different pronunciations and sometimes
                  different orthography as well, as in my spelling of “programme” above, which word and my pronunciation of it, I am sure, would certainly be comprehensible to the most hill-billy of Ozark hillbillies – if they still exist that is.

            • kirill says:

              Buying up foreign producers =/= creating your own producers. Japanese brand cars were not created by buying out quality foreign makers.

            • marknesop says:

              In my personal opinion, they don’t. Lamborghinis, and Ferraris as well, although they are extremely quick, are notorious for tuning problems and needing to be constantly fussed over. Bentleys less so – although Lucas should be shot for their electronic ignition, which is a crime against mechanics everywhere – and the Bentley is perceived to be a Granddad’s car like most of the Volvos. I’ve never seen anything yet to beat German engineering, although my personal experience is limited. A year or so ago we traded in our 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe on a 2007 BMW X-5, and it’s the best vehicle I’ve ever driven. My sister had a Triumph Spitfire that caught fire spontaneously one night while there was nobody near it and cooked itself to the firewalls. My ex-wife and I had a 70’s-vintage Mini whose transmission was like a broom handle in a bucket of bolts, and parts for it might have been made of the bones of endangered species judging by what they cost in Canada. I’m not a fan of British cars, generally speaking. Of Italian cars I am going only on hearsay; I’ve never owned one.

              China has the money and the talent to make as good a car as BMW; it’s just a matter of working carefully, building in small lots rather than mass production, overengineering everything and using superior-quality materials. China certainly doesn’t work that way at present and it would require a big shift in attitude as well as a good reason to produce that kind of product, but I simply chose that as an example. Once Japan was there, as you say, but Japanese engineering is now as good as anything in the world.

              • Misha says:

                The 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds Lamborghini is insane.

                • marknesop says:

                  It is, but you pay a price for such unearthly power, and I don’t mean just what it costs to buy one. Ferraris and Lamborghinis are basically thoroughbred race cars, not meant for superfast but dependable street transportation.

                • Misha says:

                  The people’s budget alternative to some buzz with performance is something along the lines of the Civic SI and Sentra Spec V. Not bad when considering the cost by today’s standards.

                  Most modern car designs are a downer IMO from what they were. The definite exceptions being the retro designs of the Camaro, Mustang, Challenger and Charger.

                  I’ll miss the soon to disappear (from common sight) Crown Vic, as will many cops and cabbies.

                • marknesop says:

                  The Challenger is a good retro remake, retaining most of the brash swagger of the 1970’s muscle car. I don’t care for what they did with the Charger, it looks too blocky and brutish, and the Camaro is slabby compared to its fleet-looking former body style. The Mustang is okay, although if anyone had told me in the 70’s that one day a Mustang would sell for over $42,000.00 with all the bells and whistles I’d have thought he had been out in the sun too long. You could buy a new one in 1970 for about $3000.00.

                  I can’t remember if I wore a black crepe armband in 1974 when the newly-redesigned Mustang hit the streets, but I was definitely in mourning. North America’s premiere muscle car had just reemerged as a Pinto dressed up with a racing stripe. It looked ashamed of itself, as well it should have done. With its beefiest engine that year raising a pitiful 105 hp, it had nothing but the name in common with its 500 hp 1967 pavement-boiler cousin.

                • Misha says:

                  Mustang went thr a challenging period for sure.

                  On retro looks, I didn’t mention the updated Beetle and Tbird. Both of them entered the market with considerable interest. As has been reported, the Beetle has been plagued with quality control issues, with the Tbird falling short of performance expectation relative to its price.

                  Agree on the Challenger and Mustang being the better of the retro designs.

        • marknesop says:

          That makes a little nostalgic tear trickle down my cheek; when I was a wet-eyed, knobby-kneed schoolboy entering “high school”, which for us started with Grade 7, the tough guys we dreamed about being and tried to pretend we were were those just exiting the school system, at Grade 12. Although they seemed like grown men to us – some of them even had the beginnings of a beard! – they would only have been 17 or 18. They wore white T-shirts and pegged jeans and leather jackets like The Fonz in “Happy Days”, and straddled BSA’s or Norton’s odd-displacement 850 Commando. Honda was just appearing on the North American market, too, although the small Trail 90 had been out for some time and was very popular. But the average bike was a 350 then; a 750 was a big machine. Connoisseurs of motorcycles of the day used to say the frame welds on a Honda looked like the welder had just shot hot metal at it from about 3 feet away. British bikes were just better built. I don’t know what ever happened to BSA, and you might still find a Norton 750 or 850 around in a bike show, but they’re rare. Triumph went into bicycles for awhile, but it didn’t last long and wasn’t much of a success; they were actually made in China, and I had one for a few years that was a sort of collector’s item – although it bore the “Triumph” name and used the same logo as the motorcycle, they had actually misspelt the word, and the metal decal said “Truimph”.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I think they still make “British” bikes in India. I’m certain I saw an Indian Norton a few years back. A Norton Commander was the last bike I had. I bought it off the local cops in their used vehicles sale. I also had an AJS 350; AJS later became part of Norton. Most of these British bike firms were small family businesses from the metal-bashing English Midlands in and around Birmingham and Wolverhampton; BSA was originally a gun manufacturer – Birmingham Small Arms.

            I’ve been meaning for a few years now to buy a Russian copy of a 1940s BMW combination, a “Ural” – just for chugging around the countryside in summer. The Soviets just shipped the German bike plant off to the Urals at the end of the war. They’re not really retros – they’ve just barely altered the design 70 years on. I suppose the philosophy behind this is the well-tried one: If it works, don’t try to fix it.


            Trouble is, my wife refuses to contemplate riding to the local village in a sidecar.

            • yalensis says:

              Why not? Even though I don’t know her, I think she would look very cool riding in a sidecar.

            • marknesop says:

              See if the idea of wearing those round-lens leather goggles and a white silk scarf will sway her – women are suckers for a fashion statement.

            • cartman says:

              She can ride on the bitch seat and you can use the sidecar for luggage.

              • I am not a car enthusiast (with my eyesight driving is out of the question) but I would make one observation about some of the European models discussed here. This is that Skoda and Bentley now both belong to the Volkswagen group and use generic Volkswagen components in their models and that Lamborgini belongs to Audi, which is also part of the Volkswagen group. Rolls Royce incidentally now belongs to BMW. All of these cars therefore increasingly use German engineering and components. As for Volvo, it was acquired by General Motors in the 1980s together with the other Swedish brand Saab. General Motors unfortunately did not prove a good custodian of the two brands which during its ownership lost a lot of their unique character. When General Motors went bankrupt in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis Volvo was sold to the Chinese and is now Chinese owned.

                This brings me to one of the most sordid and wretched episodes of the 2008 financial crisis. As a result of its bankruptcy General Motors decided to sell Opel, its German car division which it acquired in the 1920s, and Saab. The German government negotiated a buy out of Opel by a Russian consortium that included Gaz (Gorky Avtozavod – part of Deripaska’s group) and Sberbank. Saab was to be sold separately to a Dutch company called Spyder that also had links to Russia. After the Opel buyout was negotiated and the contracts were signed General Motors suddenly reneged on the Opel buyout citing its better financial position as a result of Obama’s bailout as the reason. Simultaneously it hedged around the sale of Saab to the Dutch company Spyder with conditions intended to prevent Saab falling under Russian control.

                Embassy cables published by Wikileaks have now confirmed that this extraordinary volte face was carried out at the insistence of the US government with the US embassy in Germany lobbying heavily to prevent General Motors’s sale of Opel to the Russians, Both Merkel and Putin (both of whom were heavily involved in the negotiations for the buyout) were incandescent with anger at the way US interference derailed the Opel buyout.

                In my opinion the revelation of the (always suspected) involvement of the US government in derailing a commercial transaction that would have secured thousands of jobs in Germany and Sweden was one of the most important to have come out of the Wikileaks cables. Despite telling everything one needs to know about US paranoia and hostility to Russia (the reason for derailing the buyout) and about US willingness to interfere in commercial contracts (something the US routinely accuses Russia of) these revelations from Wikileaks have received almost no attention outside Germany except for a few short paragraphs in the inside pages of the Financial Times and the London Times.

                • cartman says:

                  The turnaround did not last, it seems. Those jobs in Germany are going to be lost anyway, which is why Merkel wanted this deal in the first place.


                  The evidence is all there that the federal government up to the POTUS intervenes on behalf of corporations. I think it was revealed in the cables that Obama secured a deal for Visa and Mastercard when it looked like they were about to be shut out of the Russian market. Both “helpfully” responded by stopping donations from going to Wikileaks.

              • Indeed! And Saab (one of the iconic European car brands) has now closed after a possible Chinese buyout was also stopped.

                By the way, just to correct an error, Ford not General Motors was the US owner of Volvo, which is as I said in Chinese ownership.

      • Even Kudrin in one of his less dogmatic moments has admitted that the rise of defence spending could strengthen the Russian economy by assisting in its reindustrialisation and modernisation. In a sense defence spending is a way of investing in the economy without appearing to do so.

        I would just say that over the course of a recent discussion I heard a quite different explanation for Kudrin’s dismissal than the ones we have heard so far. This is that in 2008 and 2009 he came in for criticism for allowing Russian companies to overborrow on the world money markets exposing them to the risk of financial collapse when as happened in the autumn of 2008 the debts were suddenly called in. Supposedly this criticism weakened his position within the government to the point of making it untenable.

        I don’t know whether this is true or not. There is no doubt that the extent to which Russian companies were borrowing on the world money markets pre 2008 was causing concern. I remember reading articles to that effect. Whether behind the scenes there were in 2008 and 2009 any recriminations about this and/or whether Kudrin was blamed I of course don’t know.

        • yalensis says:

          Sounds plausible to me. The 2008 crash was a big effing deal and shook up many governments, including Russian. Although most governments, including Russian, tried to dowplay and not let on to the world just how shaken they were.

          • marknesop says:

            Russia simply spent its way out, although it cost them a big part of their reserves to do it. But a lot of countries didn’t have any reserves and had to borrow. I can’t remember if I already mentioned that the USA is just now getting around to suing some of its major banks for their gleeful and deliberate repackaging of toxic debt in order to move more mortgages, but chief among them is Bank of America. They – actually, their owned affiliate Countrywide – “eliminated every single checkpoint on loan quality and compensated its employees solely based on the volume of loans originated“. That was an election year, let’s recall, and when the rivets began to pop out, candidate McCain’s solution – for which he vigorously pressed – was for more deregulation, and less restriction on the finance industry ; that only unfettered commerce could pull the United States out of its power dive. A prudent voter would note that this is again an election year, the economy is far from solid, and candidate Romney’s ideas do not differ significantly from candidate McCain’s. In fact, if candidate Romney were to be elected, I would not be surprised to see those lawsuits quietly fold.

      • rkka says:

        “Russia should ignore the west outright, reduce its use of western products to the extent it is comfortable to do so, and increase its ties with China so as to drive improvement of Chinese goods and services to the world-class level. ”

        At least as far as the Anglosphere goes, they already do.

        Note it isn’t an Anglosphere firm laying the pipe of Nord Stream, or building big amphibs for the Russian Navy, nor are the Anglosphere building a fully-instrumented brigade-sized training range for the Russian Army.

        • marknesop says:

          No, those are good points, and generally speaking European countries get along fairly well with Russia. Similarly, published Russophobic rants can most always be traced to either the UK or the USA, and that is generally who I mean when I say, “the west”.

          I’d like to see Russia stop responding, to the extent it is possible, to the barbs of the UK and USA – to simply ignore them except for the barest of diplomatic courtesies; congratulating President Obama on his re-election, for example, but other than that laying down a wall of silence. McFaul should feel like he’s living in a play where he can’t see behind the curtain; he should be met by the lowest-level diplomat politeness allows, never receive any reply to his inquiries or requests except, “I will convey your requests to my government”, and then nothing, and he should under no circumstances be allowed to speak directly to anyone higher. Similar chilly politeness and arms-length diplomacy should be extended to the British ambassador.

          None of that will happen, of course, and it is once again probably fortunate I have no input to diplomacy, because I wouldn’t make a very good diplomat. With Russia’s entrance to the WTO, the exchange of information will probably be more, not less. Information from Russia to the west, I mean; the west (meaning the UK and USA) feels no obligation to make a partner of Russia or to do otherwise than demand explanations of it.

          But Russia could do worse than remember that the USA cannot continue to be the world’s largest economy and field the world’s largest, most expensive military. One or the other must be sacrificed to reality, because the crazy military spending cannot live in the same world as economic recovery; the numbers just don’t add up. Knowing the USA, it will probably be the economy that is sacrificed to keeping a gargantuan military. And China is gaining steadily on the economic front.

          • rkka says:

            “European countries get along fairly well with Russia. Similarly, published Russophobic rants can most always be traced to either the UK or the USA, and that is generally who I mean when I say, “the west”.”


            But since France, Germany, Italy, etc., are part of the “West”, I like the term “Anglosphere” in describing which countries constantly stoke lunatic Russophobia.

  55. yalensis says:

    Russian Communist Party making an important tactical switch: Today, meeting of Plenum of Central Committee is taking place in Moscow area, and has issued a draft resolution, according to which Commies will NO LONGER COOPERATE with Navalnyites (aka “Coordinating Committee”), instead will lead the protest movement themselves.
    “В России есть все предпосылки для организации массового социально-классового протеста. И обязанность коммунистов – стоять в первых рядах этого движения, выступать его организаторами и вдохновителями”, – цитирует агентство текст документа.
    При этом лидер партии Геннадий Зюганов, выступая на форуме, заявил, что КПРФ не будет сотрудничать с избранным на днях Координационным советом российской оппозиции. Об этом сообщает ИТАР-ТАСС. “На мой взгляд, граждане разобрались, что они несколько мероприятий провели и не представили программу – за что борются, каким образом. Если они и дальше за либеральный курс, противоестественный для нашей страны, то граждан они уже не обманут. Это – не оппозиция”, – заявил он

    “In Russia we have all the prerequisites for the organization of mass socio-economic class protest. It is the duty of communists to stand in the first ranks of this movement, to become its organizers and leaders.
    Party leader Gennady Ziuganov, speaking at the podium, announced that the CPRF will no longer cooperate with the recently elected Coordinating Committee of the Russian Opposition…”
    Слава богу!
    My conclusion: Popular Front of (leftists + Navalnyites) is disintegrating. It was bound to happen. Ziuganov may be a jerk, but he’s not a traitor. Also, it has been clear for quite some time that Ziuganov was facing a mutiny within his own ranks if he continued that disastrous policy of collaborationism with the White-Ribbon Compradore crowd.
    In conclusion: Communists may be thick-headed, but they are not stupid, especially the younger generation, and they can see the possibility of actually coming back to power in Russia, or at least grabbing a bigger slice of power. By all rights, without United Russia election falsifications, commies would have gained a majority in current Duma and garnered some juicy cabinet posts and committees. That didn’t happen, but in any case Russia is ripening (just like the rest of Europe) for more social and class struggle, there are many opportunities for agitation, especially around the issues of corruption and privatization. Even without coming to power, commies have an opportunity to push Putin more to the left, for example laws banning officials from owning foreign bank accounts, and so on. This is actually a good development, but all along the Navalnyites have been in the way, and must be pushed aside, with brutality if necessary, in order to clear the field for a real opposition.

    • R.C. says:

      Professor Stephen Cohen said that the Communist party is NEVER mentioned in the western press as the largest opposition party in Russia. It’s almost as if they don’t exist. With their split with the white Navalny crowd, I’m wondering how the west will spin the next protest march? I’m guessing they’ll pretend this split never happened and just carry on as usual without telling their readers/viewers.

      As Mr. Cohen himself has said, the coverage of Russia in the west is complete rubbish and borders on tabloid journalism at its worst. We know they don’t like the communist party anymore than Putin, so they’ve simply airbrushed the communists out of the narrative by throwing english-speaking pro-western oppositionists on television to “speak” for the opposition. They’ll never acknowledge the communists until they all start carrying the old Soviet flag in mass numbers at their rallies — which’ll make it hard for the western media to spin it away.

      • kirill says:

        They will have a hard time showing images of the small protests that will be held in the absence of KPRF participation. In fact all of the large protests since last December were due solely to KPRF participation (I would even claim that the nationalists participated only because the KPRF gave the movement credibility and the KPRF is not outright 5th columnist trash). So, no more “unprecedented” protests.

      • Misha says:

        Dr. Cohen has to say such to make that observation official?

        As has been previously noted at this blog, he has had some questionable moments – leaving one to add that for quality control sake, a noticeable shakeup is needed, in terms of the decision making behind who does and doesn’t get top billing at the more high profile of venues.

      • yalensis says:

        This is all true, of course. But Communist Party under Ziuganov is guilty of shooting itself in the foot many many times, with or without Western recognition. For example, their rotten coalition with the Navalnyites. Not to mention Ziuganov attending the delegation of petitioners to the American Embassy to greet Opps new Overlord McFaul. Ziuganov should pay for these mistakes by being voted out of Party leadership. Is time to leave, Tovarish.
        An interesting question, which I don’t know the answer to, but hope to research, is whether Commies plan to throw Udaltsov under the bus. I think they tolerated him far too long, maybe out of respect for his great-granddmother and his impeccable Bolshevik pedigree. But Jesus Christ on Rollerskates, once they saw that porno tape with him and Jabba on that sofa, they should have recoiled in horror and cast him out, like the black sheep of the family!

  56. Moscow Exile says:

    And Prokhorov has decided to join battle:

    • yalensis says:

      During his speech to the assembled delegates, Prokhorov called for amending the Constitution to end Russia’s division into ethnic “districts and republics,” saying they amount to “ghettos” where corruption thrives.

      They are “national ghettos were corrupt local authorities oppress and rob our people, people of all ethnicities,” he said.

      Prokhorov said the country’s current administrative divisions were a throwback to “a Stalinist-Leninist system that is no longer effective in the 21st century.”

      Redrawing the boundaries would redirect budget resources to the municipalities, he said.

      Believe it or not, I might actually agree with Prokhorov (at least partially) on this one. But need to think about it some more.
      The legacy national-ethnic enclaves were indeed a crucial component of the Leninist system, which grew out of (1) Lenin’s core belief in self-determination for national minorities, and (2) the horrors of WWI which saw Europeans genociding each other on ethnic grounds.
      The Soviet system gave non-Russian minorities a chance to preserve their languages and cultures while at the same time having access to national institutions and government through quota systems. Just like the Roman Empire, it gave minorities a chance to buy into the system and become integrated, even at the highest levels.
      Possibly it is indeed time to replace these 20th-century entities with purely administrative boundaries. But any change is fraught with danger. The national question has always been the Third Rail of Russian politics. One wrong move, and all is lost.

      • kirill says:

        Great, just what Russia needs: more ethnic strife. Why the sudden concern for issues in ethnic enclaves? Here in Canada, the aboriginal reservations have the very same issues and are little 3rd world countries imbeded in a 1st world country. So these problems cannot be wished away or blamed on the commies.

        • yalensis says:

          You’re right, @kirill. I don’t trust Prokhorov any father than I can throw him, and he’s a fairly big guy. If the likes of him, who are not pure of heart, are thinking of tinkering with the ethnic system, then ipso facto their motives cannot be pure.
          Behind the scenes, I am guessing their political goal is to undermine Putin who possesses that great 99% voting record in the Caucasian enclaves!

    • marknesop says:

      …and the search for that electrifying and unifying leadership figure goes on, as Prokhorov’s party chooses its leaders “from real life”. We’ll see. I like his suggestion that immigrants must invest in learning the Russian language and culture. But that was kind of a cheap thrill, because they would have to do that at least to a point in order to find work, unless it is within their own insular ethnic communities. It’s probably a good initiative also to make communities more multicultural, but that is often driven more by religion than culture, as some non-Muslim values are anathema to Muslims. The tolerance he speaks of would have to come from both sides to make it work, and a cynic might suggest Prokhorov is merely trying to stoke ethnic unrest to create a further problem to keep Putin busy. For my part, it merely looks to me that he is trying to court the ethnic vote, and that’s nowhere near enough to give him much of a constituency. Ethnics and the white-ribbon intellectuals of the Garden ring are not going to cut it, and it makes me wonder where he got the reputation of being so clever.

    • AK says:

      I agree with Prokhorov completely on this. So does Zhirinovsky.

      • marknesop says:

        Sounds like the makings of a competitor to the Coordinating Council to me. You, Prokhorov and Zhirinovsky. I bet you could run a better online campaign than Navalny.

        I don’t agree completely with Prokhorov, because he hasn’t said yet how he would tackle the problem, just that it’s something that needs to be fixed. Anyone could do that, and up to that point I do agree completely. I’ll reserve my enthusiastic support for Prokhorov until I hear his plan – until then, he’s just grandstanding. But he’s supposed to be quite smart, and I imagine he has some sort of feel for how difficult it is. We’ve all read accounts of Muslim youths living in Moscow for work purposes who say the women are sluts because they show their legs with short skirts and high heels, and don’t cover their hair or sometimes their whole faces. The women of Moscow are not going to willingly adopt the burqua to please Muslims from the Caucasus. And that’s just a tiny, microcosmic example of the problem. If I could give Prokhorov a small piece of advice, in my experience little to no cultural rapprochement occurs unless the populations are intermixed. That’s not going to happen as long as the minority lives in enclaves, because they do that so as not to constantly have their religious customs challenged by the things they have to see and hear. Obviously, Prokhorov gets that, because it’s enclaves he wants to eliminate. But religious custom is a powerful persuader to argue against, and he will have his work cut out convincing the majority that they should become – in their eyes – less observant of their religious tenets in the interests of more tolerance for behaviors they find repugnant and heretical.

        For what it’s worth, I think Putin gets that, too. He just doesn’t have any more idea how to tackle it than Prokhorov.

        Maybe more political representation from the enclaves. Is there much of that, do you think?

  57. yalensis says:

    While Communist Central Committee was meeting in plenary session today in their Moscow dacha, Navalnyites were not far behind.
    First meeting of “Coordinating Committee of Opposition” (aka the “Bolotnaya Politburo” aka “BP”) took place a few minutes ago somewhere in Moscow.
    Alexei Navalny was elected to preside over the session. Actions that were voted on:
    • On 30 October another demonstration to support “political prisoners”,
    • Still another demonstration on anniversary of Duma elections,
    • Opps Election Subcommittee will continue to register supporters online. I am guessing they will start asking supporters to pay dues via Yandex money transfer. With funds from Givi drying up, the BP needs MORE MONEY NOW $$$$ !!!!!

  58. yalensis says:

    And while Lord Navalny was presiding over his Bolotnaya Politburo, General Sergei Udaltsov was detained once again. For leading an unsanctioned demonstration at the Lubianka, demanding the release of political prisoners.
    Udaltsov, along with two of his friends, was hustled into the avtozek
    I guess he must have been released, because he was soon dishing to Gazeta all about it. (All this stuff took place just an hour ago.)
    By Udaltsov’s own account, only 300-400 demonstrators showed up. Originally they were supposed to form a human chain between Lubianka and Lefortovo Prison, but I guess that didn’t happen.
    The article concludes with this sentence:
    “Among the participants of the action were Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin, Evegenia Chirikova, Dmitry Bykov, and others…”
    Hey, wait a minute! Didn’t I just read in that other piece that Navalny/Bykov and the others were presiding over their first Bolotnaya Politburo meeting at the same time? How could they be in two places at once? (Unless their BP meeting was also held in front of the Lubianka? … color me confused…)

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Clearly their tactic is simply to make as much noise as possible in order to draw attention to themselves.

      However, it’s not the Russian voter or the government whose attention they want to draw: it’s the western news media and public opinion that is their target. And they are succeeding in doing so, for no matter how few number their number, these “actions” will always be reported in the West as “unprecedented” and that the Russian head of state trembles in fear before them.

      Udaltsov and his pals talk of “Marches of Millions” and these demonstrations are reported as such in the West. You can see how these Westerners are duped by their lying media when you read their comments in the western press: they really seem to believe that the so-called oppressed citizens of Russia are so seething with unrest over the “authoritarian” regime tand its repeated “crackdowns” on dissent that they have to endure, that vast numbers of them regularly take to the streets of Russian cities in order to voice their discontent – in their millions. This western fantasy, of course, runs contrary to another dearly held one: that if one dare to protest in Russia, the most terrifying acts of police brutality will be unleashed on demonstrators and all who dare to speak against the Russian president will suffer the direst consequences.

      So how many millions of Russians are now in gaol as a result of their protesting, I wonder?

      There is one section of world society – as regards this matter the crucial one, as it
      happens – that recognizes these “opposition” actions for the charades that they are: the vast mass of Russian citizens that do not go on “Marches of Millions”, and that includes the 99.92% ofthe Russian electorate that did not participate in the recent election of the self apointed candidates to membership of the Bolotnaya Politburo. They, the silent minority of over 190 million voters recognize the “oppositionists” for the liars they are. And they can – and many do – read the lieson the Internet (another western lie: few have accesss to the Internet in Russia) in translated western newspaper articles and pour scorn and derision on them, recognizing these protests for what they are: an orchestrated exercise funded by the USA to create civil disorder and instability in Russia, albeit that very many white-ribbonists are too naive to recognize this – not that the likes of Chirikova, Nemtsov and others don’t, judging by the number of trips they make to the USA and the meetings that they have with US government functionaries.

      The other day I was talking at work with a white-ribbonist – the usual type: highly educated, well travelled (far more than I am), well off (far higher earnings than mine), and pampered (unlike me: I’m a rough as a bear’s arse) – who said to me: “At least you come from a state where the government listens to what people say!”

      He has been a participant in recent “Marches of Millions”. I told him that in the “free world” over which he drools in raptures (he is especially fond of that cess pit of anti-Russian intrigue, London), an estimated 36 million protested in marches over the USA’s and its allies’ (chiefly its lickspittle associate the UK) imminent plans to wage war upon Iraq. In London in February 2003, it was conservatively estimated that 750,000 marched in protest over US warmongering: the organizers of the London “march of millions” claimed 2 million had marched.

      These were true “marches of millions” that Russian “oppositionists” could only dream about.

      And did the free, liberal, civilized, democratic Western governments listen to the protests of the millions – the very real millions – that demonstrated?

      Like fuck they did!


      • kirill says:

        The pattern that is evident to me is that there is a frenzy of anti-Russian hate propaganda whenever things go well in Russia but heaps of praise and apologia when things are nasty. This happened during the 1930s when Russians were being sent off to the gulags and during the 1990s when millions were dying premature deaths due to a depression imposed from above by diktat worse than any in the 20th century outside the 3rd world. In both cases the western media was full of “experts” boosting the new regime without the frothing at the mouth hate spew you got after WWII when things improved dramatically and after Putin demonstrated that he was not a sock puppet in 2003.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        That should be 109 million Russians that make up 98.2% of the Russian electorate.

      • marknesop says:

        Russia may as well compose itself that it has no friends in the west, and as far as administrations go that has been true since the war. That’s not to suggest there are no westerners sympathetic to the daily bollocking Russia gets in the western press; a glance at any of the Comments sections will show you that. But western governments are united in their official dislike, distaste and disinclination to help Russia to be a world citizen in favour of their desire to fragment it, carve it up and share it among themselves or – at the very least – to place a compliant puppet on the throne.

        Trying to be civilized about it is a waste of time. The west’s style is to smile into your face while stabbing you in the back; the direct opposite of the bluff, honest non-dissembler it pretends to be.

        • kirill says:

          You have summed it all up quite nicely. Most of our discussion here and elsewhere is about outright retarded drivel produced by the western MSM. It cannot be constructively engaged and can only be laughed at. Like the Kudrin case noted above the historical facts are being concocted on the spot with no effort at reporting the truth.

          To me this western anti-Russian propaganda is a sign of desperation. The chances of installing a loyal regime a la Boris Yeltsin are basically nil. So you have the clown farce of “independent” opposition committees creating shadow government structures. The west cannot be in such a comfortable position that it feels that there is no room on this planet for an independent Russia where the leadership reflects the will of the vast majority of Russians. Going through all this regime change effort in a nuclear superpower cannot be just a petty whim of some Masters of the Universe.

          • Misha says:

            I think it absurd to suggest (as has been apparently done, regarding a private word of mouth note) that Russia’s image problem is partly the result of a too tame Putin. The man has shown himself to not be shy in hitting back.

            The substantive issues concern how:
            – his replies are reported in foreign mass media
            – how well does he and other Russian government connected folks (direct or not so direct) respond.

            • marknesop says:

              I’ve never personally seen any suggestion that Russia’s problems can be laid at the feet of Putin’s fear to be too aggressive: if anything, the opposite. But if I did, I would disagree. Putin seems to me as reasoned as one could expect in his public intercourse, and seems to me rarely to lose his temper although he is often portrayed as having done so, particularly when goaded by western reporters on non-serious topics such as Pussy Riot. On these occasions, if Putin raises his voice and looks straight at the questioner when responding, this is enough evidence for the western press that he has “lost his rag” and that the question must have “touched a nerve”, and much more self-congratulatory chatter in this vein; really the label “Bandar-Log” belongs most correctly to the western press pool, as their interest is more often in making foreign leaders – or their own, for that matter – lose their temper than in extracting useful information, and there is general acclaim amongst the monkey-folk when one of their number succeeds in provoking someone, as if it were a point of professional pride.

              It’s evident from various news clips that Putin both understands and speaks English, but he usually chooses to carry out press conferences and interviews in Russian, with an interpreter. This is probably wise, because quite apart from the possibility of being misunderstood owing to a mistake, it emphasizes his Russian-ness for his own domestic audiences and reinforces for western audiences that he is not only a foreigner, but not sufficiently interested in toadying to the west to speak English. I’m sure he has his own reasons, but those are the ones I would offer if I were asked to explain in his behalf.

              • Misha says:

                Regarding your opening reply, I just saw such and will provide a more detailed reply with supporting facts in disagreement; along with some additional impressions of what’s actually in need of improvement vis-a-vis the “marketing” (if you may) of Putin and Russia to a foreign audience.

                As the ongoing biases (clearly evident on one side) and crony Club Lavochka manner work against achieving a better result.

                I’ll leave it at that for now.

        • Misha says:

          “Russia may as well compose itself that it has no friends in the west, and as far as administrations go that has been true since the war. That’s not to suggest there are no westerners sympathetic to the daily bollocking Russia gets in the western press; a glance at any of the Comments sections will show you that.”


          For the benefit of providing a more reasonable overview of Russia, the Russian government has done things like shell out money to former BBC bigwig Angus Roxburgh to help improve that country’s image.

          Roxburgh came into that position with a neocon-neolib attitude, which highlighted the impression that Russia’s media and political situation needed to open up. He left that job with a stated frustration over an uncaring Russian bureaucracy.

          While there’s some credence to these thoughts, there’re other issues which Roxburgh hasn’t highlighted as much. Matters that typically get downplayed outside Russia.

          Hint: Russia at large shouldn’t rely too much on Western mass media establishment folks. A good numer of them are raised on the permeating biases Someone like Bill O’Reilly doesn’t seem like he can easily go the other way (in a productive manner) by simply offering him a greater chunk of money.

        • rkka says:

          “But western governments are united in their official dislike, distaste and disinclination to help Russia to be a world citizen in favour of their desire to fragment it, carve it up and share it among themselves or – at the very least – to place a compliant puppet on the throne.”

          Again, this is mostly the Anglosphere. The French, German, and Italian governments seem willing to get along with the Russian government, if only because it is such good business.

  59. Moscow Exile says:

    Again, error! That should be 99.2% of the electorate.

  60. Moscow Exile says:

    С. Удальцов:

    “Но надо понять простую вещь – если умрет улица, то этот КС будет пригоден разве что для коллективной мастурбации”.

    “Изборский клуб без Эволюционного Марша – это патриотический онанизм”.

    S. Udaltsov:

    “But you need to remember a simple thing: if street [protest] dies, then this Co-ordinating Committee will only really be suited for collective masturbation”.

    “An elected club without an Evolutionary March is patriotic onanism”.

    Linked below is a picture taken during the first meeting of the opposition Co-ordinating Council:

    Who’s the wanker on the left?

    Seee also:

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I’ll give him this, though: he said the following about the first committeee meeting before he went off to Lubyanka to get arrested:

      “Крайне недоволен заседанием Слишком много времени потрачено на обсуждение несрочных вопросов. Мы здесь не разговоры разговаривать собирались”.

      “Extremely dissatisfied with the meeting. Too much time was spent discussing non-urgent issues. We didn’t meet here so as to have discussions.”

      Like he said: collective masturbation.


      • yalensis says:

        The first 2 paragraphs from the “Komsomolskaya Pravda” piece linked by MoscowExile:

        Координационный совет оппозиции в субботу провел свое первое заседание. 10 человек на него не пришли, еще несколько, преимущественно медийные «звезды», опоздали и основный вопросы решали без них. На первом же заседании выяснилось, что некоторые участники нового органа на дух не переносят друг. Ксения Собчак, отсутствовавшая на собрании по причине гриппа, сообщила, что передала право своего голоса Илье Яшину, что не вызвало у некоторых присутствовавших никакого восторга.
        А муниципальный депутат член КС Максим Кац, который считал, что сначала надо принять регламент работы совета, иначе все будут орать, перебивать, а то и просто не слушать друг друга, подвергся чуть ли не атаке со стороны координатора «Левого фронта» Сергея Удальцова. Сергей обозвал Каца «саботажником» и выдал ряд других нелицеприятных эпитетов. К тому же Удальцов заявил, что не верит честности выборов, потому что он оказался всего лишь на 20-м месте.

        “The Coordinating Council of the Opposition conducted its first session on Saturday. Ten members (of the Council) did not attend, and several others, primarily the “media stars” were late; therefore the main questions were decided without them. At this very first meeting it became clear that several partricipants of this new organ hate each others guts. Ksenia Sobchak, who was absent from the meeting due to the flu, communicated that she had ceded her vote to Ilya Yashin; this fact did not elicit any joy from the other participants.
        “And the municipal deputy member Maksim Kats, when he said that first it was necessary to establish [Roberts Rule of Order] to plan the meeting of the council, otherwise everybody would simply orate, interrupt, and in general not listen to one another, was subjected to a ferocious shall we say attack coming from Sergei Udaltsov, the coordinator of the “Left Front”. Sergei called Kats a “saboteur” and emitted a series of other unpleasant epithets. By the same token Udaltsov announced that he does not believe in the fairness of the elections [to the Coordinating Committee], since he ended up only in the 20th place.”

    • yalensis says:

      So, nu… The Navalnyites voted to engage in collective masturbation? From the photo it looks like most of them are right-handed. Hence, for maximum onanistic efficiency, I suggest a counter-clockwise circle jerk.

  61. Moscow Exile says:

    RIA Novosti says 200 turned up at Lubyanka to protest against “torture and repression”. They, the oppositionists, had intended to form a human chain from there to the Lefortovo prison, but too few turned up to do that. So they posted individuals along the route holding little signs. They must have been hard to notice: Lefortovo is 3 miles as the crow flies from Lubyanka Square.


    • Moscow Exile says:

      Two hundred protesters in a city that has a population of at least 12 million and some would put as high as 16 million!

      Either western journalists and their readership do not realize the differences in magnitude between these two figures, or if they do, they imagine the paltry number of protesters to be the bravest of the brave who are risking all by facing up to the almost unimagineable suppression of a crazed tyrant: as one commentator wrote in response to a Moscow Times article on the 81,000 that voted in the election of the Bolotnaya Politburo: “Thank you, decent Russians!”

    • yalensis says:

      Yes, but when that crow flew from Lubianko to Lefortovo, was he holding a little picket sign in his beak?

  62. kirill says:

    “A Just Russia party leader Sergei Mironov on Saturday called on his party members to dissociate themselves from the anti-Putin protest movement.”

    So all of the real opposition parties with some weight are distancing themselves from the lunatic fringe that the west calls the true Russian opposition. Of course the western MSM will just accuse Mironov of being a Kremlin stooge. And I and most Russians will accuse the western supported “opposition” as being actual 5th columnists.

    • Dear Kirill,

      You and Mark and RC and Yalensis and Moscow Exile put it very well. ALL the real opposition parties are now disassociating themselves from the protest movement which has to all intents and purposes collapsed. The KPRF’s decision and Mironov’s speech are surely conclusive whilst Prokhorov was notably silent about the protest movement in his recent come back speech. Strikingly neither Prokhorov nor Kudrin, the two individuals hailed last year as the “defectors” from the Putin camp, participated in the elections to the Coordinating Council. As for the SR party that by the way seems to be unravelling with some of its deputies defecting to the government whilst Gudkov and Ilya Ponomariev and Gudkov’s son seem to have gone over to the protest movement. Presumably they will be thrown out of the party before long.

      We therefore have an opposition protest movement that is entirely on its own, which claims to represent the whole country but which was able to attract for its internet “election” just 170,000 people of whom just 90,000 voted, three of whose leaders, Navalny, Udaltsov and Razvozzhaev are facing serious criiminal charges and probable prison terms and one of whose supposedly most popular leaders, Chirikova, got less than 5% of the electorate to vote for her in the Moscow suburb which made her famous. Yet look how much time we spend talking about these horrible people! And all because of the totally disproportionate amount of attention they receive.

      You are also absolutely right when you say that if the worse people can point to in Russia is cases like those of Pussy Riot, Udalstov and even Razvozzhaev then the situation in Russia cannot actually be so bad.

    • cartman says:

      How does Ilya Ponomarev fit into Just Russia, and why haven’t they kicked him out? He is all over the map politically, since his involvement with Yukos, the KPRF, and now the Stalinist Left Front.

  63. says:

    Way too emotional, but still interesting

  64. yalensis says:

    And here is Navalny’s version of yesterday’s portentous events.

    Notice in Photo #1, Navalny sitting in the “power position” at the head of the table.
    As any good Kremlinologist knows, these functions encapsulate a complete pecking order, which can be determined by the seating positions at the table.

    Also, people seated at the glorious Fuhrer’s right hand tend to be more powerful than those at his left hand.
    Or is it the other way around?

    • marknesop says:

      You’re correct, and it is those seated at the right hand of the leader who by tradition are part of a planned succession; hence the phrase, “my right-hand man”.

      As a beginning, I recommend all members of the Clown Council get a library card (maybe they can get a bulk rate!) and spend a few sessions studying constitutional law. Because I presume the next thing they will want to do is write their own constitution, otherwise they are so far out of compliance with the present one that they cannot reasonably aspire to being a governing body of any kind.

      I’m coming around to thinking that this might have been the best thing that could have happened. It will keep these idiots busy playacting at being serious lawmakers while their sandbox dabblings have no legal weight or consequence. Hopefully it will take them some time to realize this.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I just cannot see any government taking these people seriously. I mean, does Navalny and chums really think that they are a shadow Russian government – more exactly, a policy making body – or a government watchdog, or a government in exile – kind of like the Polish government in exile during WWII waiting for the liberation of its country from a tyrant overlord? Do they really expect the EU and USA to accept their petitions, their calls for action, their demands for boycotts and sanctions against Russian government?

        I suppose they do, after all the encouragement they’ve had over the past year or so off their advisors in the US embassy. And not a few of them have long got into the habit of prancing off to the US embassy in Moscow for consultations with the US ambassador, or have been invited for talks and meetings in the USA with congressmen and government funded so-called democracy promoting foundations.

        But now they’ve set up their talk-shop, will they get a response off the “defenders of democracy” in the West?

        • marknesop says:

          They certainly do; western government agencies as well as think-tanks welcome with relief the slightest overture toward setting up an alternative government in opposition to governments they do not like, and customarily are generous with funding. Recall the Iraqi government-in-exile spearheaded by the shameless self-promoter and bootlicker Ahmed Chalabi; much was made of his wonderful education and how smart he was, but in fact he was simply head of a cardboard agency that siphoned millions out of the pockets of American taxpayers. He negotiated for funding and influence from whoever was willing to supply them, resulting in accusations from the American side that he was a spy in the pay of Iran when his stink became too big to cover up.

          In many, many cases the figures on which the U.S. government and policy wonks pin their hopes for the overthrow of non-compliant governments are chosen for their notoriety as much as any other quality, which is translated for the masses as quirky smartness, perhaps even genius. It will be the same with Navalny who – like it or not – will become the face of the Russian opposition. The west would be happy to crown him King if that’s what he asked, and if he wrecked the country trying to shape it to his vision, so much the better. But anyone who thinks the west just wants what’s best for Russians is deliberately fooling himself. There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary if you look.

          • R.C. says:

            …Though reality will have to settle in at some point, that short of a NATO military invasion, there’s no way that Navalny or any of his ilk will come anywhere near the Kremlin. They will be a “govrenment in waiting” for a LONG time. This may actually backfire on Navalny if the west grants his council recognition, because the Russian public will certainly NEVER vote for a turncoat. He must also know that there will never be a military invasion of Russia to place he and his sham council in power as the west was able to do in Iraq, Libya & attempting to do in Syria. For all his bitching and moaning about Putin’s “autocracy,” if things were reversed and Navalny were an American citizen heading a dissident domestic group seeking funds from abroad to overthrow the US government, he and his group would be facing annihiliation or imprisonment in Guantanamo. I wonder if anyone will ever point this all too obvious fact out to him?

            • Misha says:

              On a somewhat related note regarding the intentions that some have had towards Russia, someone recently suggested a likeness between Napoleon and the neocons.

              In contrast, why not liken Napoleon to Hitler? Some might be inclined to liken the neocons with the Nazis.

              There’s such a thing as an overly-stretched analogy.

              On the surface, Napoleon and the neocons had/have a view to get militarily involved abroad to influence change for the better (as they saw/see things).

              Unlike much of the lead neocon advocates, Napoleon came from a military background.

              Like the Nazis, Napoleon militarily attempted to conquer Russia by relying on a good number of foreigners. The neocons haven’t articulated such an advocacy.

              In short, the likening of Napoleon with the neocons isn’t some great intellectual thought that should be bowed down to with considerable acknowledgement.

  65. yalensis says:

    This piece from IZVESTIA reports on first Bolotnaya Politburo meeting yesterday:

    I don’t have time to translate the whole piece, but here is summary of main points. (I added my own little flair, too):
    Bolotnaya Poliburo (BP) meeting began at noon and took place at the Sports Bar “DOME” (spelled in English letters) on Bersenovsky Street in Moscow.
    Leonid Volkov (Navalny’s friend, who organized the internet elections) opened the session. Out of the 45 elected committee members, 35 attended the meeting in person. Two others (Olga Romanova and Boris Nemtsov) took part remotely, via Skype. Volkov handed out membership cards.
    Next the conch was passed to Andrei Piontkovsky, who nominated Aleksei Navalny to chair the session. With nary a “nay” vote, Lord Navalny assumed his seat at the head of the banquet table.
    Two agenda items were proposed: (1) a resolution to support political prisoners, and (2) establish rules of order [e.g., Russian equivalent of Roberts Rule of Order to conduct meetings]. Sergei Udaltsov insisted on a third agenda item: to organize further protest actions.
    On Agenda Item #1 there was much debate on the question how to define a political prisoner. And does it include people who are being investigated by the authorities (such as Navalny), or only those who have already been arrested? Committee voted to table this issue to a subcommittee, headed by Udaltsov.
    Next was discussed rules of order. Maksim Kats proposed his own draft Constitution for the BP. However, Kats idea was shot down by the others, and the issue was tabled.
    Next a resolution was passed to make Volkov’s website “Demokratia2” the main information portal for the movement.
    [I skip over a couple of paragraphs about some issue I don’t understand involving some guys named Nekrasov and Vikonur.]
    By now it was getting close to 15:00 and time for the delegates to march out and get themselves arrested at Lubianka. Delegates quickly voted on a budgetary committee and then got to the issue of further protest actions.
    A debate broke out between Udaltsov, who insisted on organizing a street demonstration for 8 December (anniversary of last year’s big demo), and others who weren’t so sure that was a good idea. Chirikova demurred that it makes the Opps look bad when they call a big demo and nobody comes.
    Others wanted to table the discussion, but Udaltsov insisted they decide NOW, because he needs time to organize the demo. However, his idea was shot down by the majority. Navalny with great relief at that time declared the meeting closed, they all filed out of the bar, and off they went, these glorious “Nepolzhivye” to protest at Lubianka.

  66. Moscow Exile says:

    “Chirikova demurred that it makes the Opps look bad when they call a big demo and nobody comes.”

    Well at least one of them has noticed this tendency.

    I wonder if they all hope that one day in the not too distant future there will be a commemorative bronze plaque in the street outside on the wall of the esablishment, rather like those seen all over Moscow that say something like: “Here on November XVII (OS) 1918, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) addressed the South Moscow Ratcatchers’ Soviet”.

    • Chirikova has consistently been the one with the strongest grasp of reality. What that shows is how utterly lacking in reality the others are.

      By the way I understand Latynina has admitted the result in Khimki was genuine and was not rigged.

    • marknesop says:

      More likely the DOME will offer a Navalnyburger.

    • yalensis says:

      Hey, don’t knock Ratcatchers Soviet, at least they performed a valuable function for society, i.e., THEY CAUGHT RATS. As opposed to White-Ribbon gang, name even one useful thing any of these parasites has done for society! Even one tiny thing….

  67. To anyone interested here are the results of the official exit poll in the Ukrainian parliamentary elections.

    Others like Leos with a better knowledge of Ukrainian politics than me can analyse these results better, but my impression is that the overall balance is roughly the same as that of the previous parliament. The low turnout (around 54%) seems to have worked in favour of the two extreme parties, the Communists on the left and Svoboda on the right, but expectations that Klitschko’s party would overtake Tymoshenko’s are far from being realised. Of course these are exit poll results so the eventual outcome may differ.

    This is hardly a resounding vote for Yanukovitch but I suspect he can live with this parliament especially as I suspect he is going to get a large cohort of the MPs elected in the constituency section.

    • yalensis says:

      Never underestimate Yanukovich, that guy is one smart cookie of a politician.

      • Misha says:

        Witin reason, he’s viewed as a front for one power block there.

        • The official results coming out of Ukraine do not so far seem to correspond with the exit poll I previously provided. There are still many votes to count but I wonder whether what I thought was an official exit poll is instead an exit poll run by the opposition. Ukraine as we know has had an unhappy history with exit polls.

          Anyway it looks like Yanukovitch’s party is winning a run away victory in the constituency section and this should give him a stable majority. Also this being Ukraine it is likely some opposition deputies will go over to Yanukovitch. It bears remembering that the outgoing parliament began with an Orange majority but after Yanukovitch’s election to the Presidency he had little difficulty obtaining a majority in it.

          • Misha says:

            That has been the norm. Take for example this piece regarding a position taken by Litvin:


            In the above instance, Kuchma and Litvin distanced themselves from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. In other instances, Kuchma and Litvin have carried on in a different way.

            During the so-called “Orange Revolution”, the first post-Soviet Ukrainian president Kravchuk was not so enthusiastic about the Orange side. Several years earlier, Kravchuk had run on a noticeably Ukrainian nationalist and anti-Russian leaning platform, upon losing to Kuchma, who at the time took a clearly opposite position.

          • Misha says:

            Among others, someone with the name Habsburg is critical of the way the Ukrainian election was conducted:


            • kirill says:

              This underscores the propaganda motives of the western observers in Ukraine. They are pushing the BS line that it is a regression. Really, they just did not bother noting the abuses last time and on the previous occasions after 2004. Timoshenko is the legitimate prime minister for Ukraine as far as NATO and its pals are concerned. Engineering rent-a-crowd coups (Iran during the 1956) is something the west is keen to do to pursue its own interests. So no western observer, especially from the Toronto area of Canada with a Ukrainian surname can be described as impartial.

              (Note: there are two Ukrainian communities in Canada, the post war Nazi allied one who settled mostly in Toronto and another in the prairie provinces which settled around 1900 during the great European migration period. They have distinct political views.)

              • marknesop says:

                I said as much in my comment following the article itself. I will give RFE/RL credit where it is due; they rarely spike dissenting opinion as The Guardian does, and usually comments are published provided they are on topic and not obscene. Slow, though. It often takes until the next day before your comment appears.

                • marknesop says:

                  Speaking of REF/RL, this is interesting; investigations into the deaths in Georgia of banker Sandro Girgvliani and Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania are to be reopened under the new government. In the case of the latter, supposedly dead at the hands of a faulty gas heater from Iran, it is now revealed that although a bodyguard who found Zhvania and Yusupov dead reported a “terrible smell, like something burning” – and reliable crook “Vano” Merabishvili immediately ruled the deaths accidental due to carbon monoxide poisoning – carbon monoxide has no odour. Additionally, the gas to the entire street had been off for hours because residents reported a gas leak.

                  Hmmm. Things are not looking good for Merabishvili, because the banker Girgvliani was found dead after he had “an altercation in a bar with senior Interior Ministry personnel and Vano Merabishvili’s wife”. Vano, like Super Chicken, seems to be everywhere. Now that nobody need fear him to the extent that they protect him, I’m betting somebody will roll over fairly quickly. Too bad they’ve discontinued that broom-handle ass-raping thing, for selected prisoners, which Merabishvili will likely soon be.

                • Dear Mark,

                  I think this is potentially explosive. There have been persistent rumours that Zhvania’s death was unnatural. If it turns out that he was murdered then it is difficult to see how Saakashvili could avoid being involved since Zhvania was a major political figure who played a key role in the Rose Revolution. If Saakasvhili is charged with murder and of using assassination to eliminate his opponents (and former supporters) it will be interesting to see what his erstwhile supporters in the west and in Russia will say.

                • cartman says:

                  They will say it is Kremlin disinformation as they always do, and call you crazy and gullible for believing it.

                • yalensis says:

                  Almost everyone who followed Zhvania’s death was pretty sure it was a murder.

    • Misha says:

      Regarding Leos, an excellent takedown of the anti-Russian leaning view of Ukrainian nationalism at this thread:

      On Ukrainian issues, this org. has been pretty good, especially when compared to the standard that’s propped in English language mass media:

  68. Misha says:

    Can be filed under political comedy:

  69. yalensis says:

    Latest news on Leonid Razvozzhaev:
    Raz and his common-law life Yulia Smirnova have decided to get married, they plan to tie the knot right there in Lefortovo prison. Raz and Yulia have two kids together, so getting married is a good plan, this will give Yulia and the kids more rights in visitations, etc., especially after Daddy is sent away to the colony.

    Meanwhile, Valery Borshchev, a member of the Helsinki Group of Human Rights activists, plans to visit Raz in Lefortovo, to check up on him and make sure he is okay. Human rights activists are frantically trying to get Raz declared a refugee by international human rights groups. That way Kremlin would have to let him go, and he and family would get to move to Europe.

    Recall that Raz’s girlfriend Yulia (=mother of his two children) is the one who claimed Raz was with her at home all day on that day (October 19) when he claims he was being detained and psychologically abused. This discrepancy has never been reconciled. Recall in that DNI piece that I linked above, Raz claimed he was held for 24 hours in chains, immobile, with no food, water, or bathroom privileges. Later docs examined him and also his clothing. His body was intact – no scars or bruises. His clothing was clean, no nasty stains. Which makes it dubious that he was telling the truth about the bathroom situation. Well, unless he has a super-duper big bladder.
    Having said that, I do actually believe Raz’s story. I believe he was kidnapped from Kiev and held in captivity just the way he said. He did what any person would do if terrorized in that manner: he gave in, told his interrogators what they wanted to know. Then, as soon as he had an opportunity, he publicly recanted his confession.
    As to Yulia’s story, there is no way to reconcile that. Unless she was operating on an earlier, agreed-upon lie: Maybe when Raz took off for Ukraine, he told her to say that he was right there with her in Moscow. In case investigators came sniffing around asking her where he was. (They were still hunting for him, and he had already put out a decoy about heading for Siberia. It’s the classic “Tell ‘em I went thataway” for the guy on the lam.)
    So, Yulia wasn’t in on the loop, and she just parrotted a formerly agreed on story, not reazling that it contradicted a different story? Well, that’s my current theory…
    What gives Raz’s story credibility is the fact that he truly has recanted his earlier confession (given under duress), so that now he cannot count on any special privileges such as a reduced sentence.

    • marknesop says:

      In order for that theory to work, the cops in Ukraine who say he left Ukraine on Friday using his own passport must be in on it as well. Unless they routinely see passport holders leaving the country as passengers in a car in which they are hooded and have their hands and feet chained together. I noticed when I was in Russia that Halloween was not a big event there (or presumably in Ukraine either), and the 19th would be a little early to start with the scary costumes even for here.

      Otherwise your story does make sense; I imagine Raz was scooped off the street, which probably was a big psychological shock to him right off the mark because he probably felt quite smug that everything was going so well and he had so completely fooled his likely pursuers with the living-in-the-tundra survivalist story. Snatching persons of interest in other countries in pursuit of inquiries is now such a well-established tool of law enforcement that I can’t imagine why the west is getting so excited, as it is fond of strutting and whooping whenever it snatches some Imam or other in a foreign country. Where our storylines diverge is that I believe he became frightened fairly quickly, and frankly doubt his protestations of dreadful abuse. I’d bet a little darkness and a little self-realization of the hopelessness of his position after the previous cockiness were enough.

      Information obtained through torture is seldom of any real value, but is what Raz suffered really torture? Compared to, say, waterboarding? It remains to be seen, but so far it just looks as if they frightened the shit out of him and he told them everything he knew. An important distinction here is that when people are truly being tortured, they will begin to make up stuff, to infer grandiose plans and schemes of which they were a part but which were made up on the spur of the moment to make the torture stop. That’s much less likely to be the case when the subject is merely threatened with, “Tell us what you know or it will be the worse for you and your family; we know where you live”. That sort of angle was used as an electoral spur by Saakashvili’s government, and nobody in the west seemed to think there was anything wrong with it, although their preference was to sentence one’s family with lifetime unemployment rather than death or injury. We’ll have to see what shakes out. But Raz as a refugee or a prisoner of conscience is just comical, and speaks to the lengths these people will go to in order to defend the enemies of the state in Russia whereas true cases of great suffering roll past their blank eyes daily in countries of whom their governments approve. He is in all likelihood a petty criminal, and no more or less.

      • yalensis says:

        Yeah, my current Raz theory does require that Ukrainian coppers were in on it too, and cooperated with Russian coppers in nabbing a wanted fugitive, and then making up a story how ti crossed the border voluntarily. An example of Friendship of the Great Fraternal Slavic Nations!
        As to torture, I agree psychological pressure doesn’t come anywhere near to, say, waterboarding. Raz was too easily terrorized; for a professional revolutionary he should have been made of stronger stuff: Russian coppers kept him in a dark place, told him he would disappear without a trace, and they would kill his family. If it were me, I like to think I would have laughed in their face and told them to shove it: “Go ahead and kill my family! See if I care!” However, the moment they ever started to waterboard me, I would be confessing to anything they wanted within approximately 5 seconds!

        • Dear Yalensis,

          I think your analysis and Mark’s is spot on. You’ve explained the discrepancies with the dates. Razvozzhaev’s poor wife was trying to cover for him as he made a bolt for it never imagining that by doing so she was creating confusion that would be used by the authorities against her husband. One has to feel sorry for her. The women in this movement have been consistently better and braver than the men.

          PS: Granting Razvozzhaev refugee status does not mean the authorities have to release him. Frankly I very much doubt a UN agency like thel UN High Commission for Refugees would want to become involved in this sort of case.

          • yalensis says:

            Dear Alexander: Yes, I believe I have a functional theory of what actually happened to Raz. The only remaining piece of the puzzle that has not been explained is the fact that Raz updated his Facebook (Russian “vKontakte”) page at exactly the same time (October 19, 18:50) that he was supposedly being held captive in a dungeon in Moscow!
            I believe I can explain this away, however, and my theory (which is falsifiable) goes something like this:
            Now, we all know that Raz is a Siberian by origin, and I am going to posit that Raz’s internet server is located in Vladivostok, which is 7 hours ahead of Moscow time, and 9 hours ahead of Kiev. (I actually have no idea where Raz’s internet server is, I am just composing a theory). Hence, suppose that Raz is in Kiev around 9:50 am on October 19 updating his Facebook and Twitter feeds. His server logs the time as 18:50.
            Since it’s still actually early morning, this gives Raz plenty of time to finish updating his computer, visit the UN office, fill out the forms, stroll out and have some lunch, get kidnapped, drive to Moscow and be psychologically tortured, all before dinner time.

            • marknesop says:

              I could see that if he were just a visitor to Moscow, while he remained a resident of somewhere near Vladivostok. But he says he has been active in the protest movement for 15 years, and the only places there’s a real permanent presence of a protest movement are Moscow and St Petersburg. And it was my impression that he lived in Moscow; he supposedly has had a part in all the protests, and that’s a long commute every time.

              It’d be easy to tell where the update originated if you had supervisor privileges on the server or with vKontakt. Hopefully someone will release that information. Anyway, your scenario is just possible, but very unlikely.

              • yalensis says:

                Hm…. Well, I guess Raz could be living in Moscow but still using an internet provider based in Siberia. Depending which computer one is on, sometimes you see the server’s time and sometimes your own local time.
                Without that, we are left with the supposition thar Raz updated his Facebook while in detention, and that just doesn’t make sense. Unless he was forced to, by his captors. But in that case they would have forced him to tap out something more like “I’ve decided to come clean about my treasonous activities” instead of “Don’t believe anything I say if I should fall into the hands of the enemy!”
                Unless we are getting into a weird John LeCarre “world of mirrors” type thing, and Raz is actually a double (or triple?) agent…. Nah! Occam’s razor, after all, as peter would say.

                • marknesop says:

                  It doesn’t make sense that he would leave a clear precursor to his capture on social media – long a tool of enforcement agencies in many countries – after going to all the trouble to lay a false trail to Siberia, either. Unless he never believed they were going to buy the tundra tale, which, to be fair, was pretty amateurish. Also, it seems odd that someone who has been active in the protest movement for 15 years – but who is innocent of any wrongdoing – would suddenly flee to another country and turn himself in as a refugee. Does he not realize that rather than making the recordings appear to be fake, flight makes them appear to be genuine?

                  Sometimes I think the authorities should just let Udaltsov and his Left Front LumpenKommando of 500 be, and let him march wherever he wants. Eventually he would get hit by a car (since they seem to love to march where they will interfere with traffic) or beaten up by angry Muscovites that were sick and tired of their posturing, not to mention getting a daily shellacking in the Russian press to the effect that they should get a job and stop being such posers. I suppose they can’t do that, because people have a right to expect they can go about their business in a city without having to wait for 500 tools to march through, carrying silly signs and Free Pussy Riot balloons. But it’s hardly worth it if it just makes him a hero in the Anglosphere (I’m trying that out instead of “the west” because rkka thinks it is unfair to less whiny countries like France and Germany. Although Hollande is thus far shaping up like a charter member of the Anglosphere, what with calling loudly for more sanctions on Iran and the like).

  70. Moscow Exile says:

    Chubais supports “opposition Movement”:

    “Он уверен в необратимости оппозиционного движения. По его мнению, этот процесс уже невозможно остановить”.

    [He is convinced of the irreversibility of the opposition movement. In his opinion, it is impossible this process.]

    See “Chubais to the Barricades?”:

    And from RIA Novosti last June:

    With friends like Chubais on board, how could the “opposition” lose popularity?

    See 2007 Der Spiegel interview with Chubais:

    • marknesop says:

      Chubais and Mavrodi. Two of the most loathed figures in the country, having successfully retained their ordure and disgust quotient relatively undiminished lo these many years.

      On the bright side, Navalny will now likely stop trying to get mileage out of his ridiculous signature phrase, “The Party of Crooks and Thieves”. If I ran a Russian newspaper, I’d be leading with that headline when I reported that story. It’s difficult to imagine two bigger crooks than Chubais and Mavrodi, both of whom seem to see “opportunity” in the Bolotnaya Politburo.

      • I completely agree. Joining up with Chubais is from a political point of view totally insane. Instead of distancing themselves from the 1990s they go out of their way to embrace their single most hated representative.

        • marknesop says:

          Well, I read it that Chubais was just coming out in favour of the opposition, not that his endorsement was solicited by the opposition or welcomed by it. Similarly, it looks as if Mavrodi’s involvement with the opposition was limited to trying to infiltrate its ranks with a view to getting in on the confusion of online voting as purely a money-making opportunity. That shouldn’t suggest the opposition sees Mavrodi as an ally, and their action in purging his candidates argues the oppposite. However, since the latter action is suspected even by some of the successful candidates – Udaltsov, for one – as rigging the vote to ensure the outcome favoured Navalny, Navalny at least is linked inextricably with Mavrodi now, as is all the opposition in a general way. It remains to be seen if Chubais’s implied offer is picked up.

    • Misha says:

      From a distance and without knowing too much about him, Chubais’ older brother seems like a decent chap. I at least like some of what he has said.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      “He is convinced of the irreversibility of the opposition movement. In his opinion, it is impossible this process” should be “He is convinced of the irreversibility of the opposition movement. In his opinion, it is impossible to stop this process”.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The same Chubais story appeared in English later today on RT:

        • Moscow Exile says:

          As in the MK article linked above, RT quotes what Chubais recently said in an interview with Itogi magazine:

          “The fact that the last rally was attended not by a hundred thousand, but thirty does not mean that the protest is dwindling. This is rubbish!”.

          Amazing reasoning! The numbers that protest have been visibily diminishing, but, according to Chubais at least, the public mood of protest has not.

          I suppose that means that although only 81,000, or 0.08% of the 110 million electorate, chose to participate in the election of the Bolotnaya Politburo, the remaining 109 or so milion didn’t vote because they couldn’t log in to the Internet – but they really, really wanted to!

          “There will be ten more rallies gathering three thousand people each and then suddenly half a million will gather!” said Chubais.

          We shall only see how percipient Chubais really is after ten more rallies have taken place. At the present rate of “opposition” street protest, that will only be in about three years’ time.


          • Presumably if at the next rally no one turns up that will mean according to Chubais that it has been a triumph.

            • marknesop says:

              It won’t matter – the western press adores Chubais and considers him a visionary no matter what he says. This is the same press that holds Putin right to the kopeck when he forecasts that this policy funding will double, for example, or that return will triple by 2013, and explodes in scorn and derision if he is off by 5% or 10%. But Chubais can talk out of his ass all day long and they will sit at his feet and gaze up into his face trustingly, like little children. As long as he keeps saying what they want to hear. And if at any protest event in the future – no matter when it took place or what the circumstances – a half-million people actually showed up, they would scream, “Chubais predicted it!!! He’s the Nostradamus of his time!!!”

              I noticed that once again they have chosen to cite the Center for Strategic Research, with its usual doomcrier warnings of a plummeting birth rate and spiraling alcoholism rates. Oh, yes, and “general helplessness”. Who writes this stuff? The birth rate is rising and deaths from alcoholism are falling, but that just doesn’t matter when your belief system relies on regular injections of Russian suffering, destitution and collapse.

              The Center for Strategic Research is an eldis organization,


              funded by DFID (Department for International Development), among others, which is a division of the UK Government’s Foreign Office, with its own minister.

              One wonders what many of these alphabet-soup organizations will do now that the UK has ceased development aid to Russia and China.


              Although this is billed as just a hardheaded pounds-and-pence decision based on re-targeting the funds to “poor countries who need it most” (keep in mind that by this definition at least, Russia is no longer a poor country, because doubtless The Grauniad will be back defending the opposite viewpoint next week), but at least one journalist at the same venue says its all about politics, and the UK is taking its marbles and going home because it cannot influence the current government. For something under £400,000.00, I’d call that a bargain.


  71. kirill says:

    I guess if Putin does not ride a tricycle then he is abusing his power. The Moscow Times is and has been for a long time a total joke. We had links to John Helmer’s insider views on this rag post on this board recently and they are a worthy read.

    My main criticism of the ZIL-4112P is its boxy retro styling.

    • kirill says:

      If ever there was a perp more deserving of a bullet to head then it has to be Madeleine “500,000 dead Iraqi children is worth the price” Albright. Interesting how the west with all its alleged institutions, checks and balances and civil society is wide open to manipulation and leadership by some clique of self-chosen masters of the universe. The western public could only demonstrate in massive turnouts but was totally ignored by the deciders and their media tools.

  72. Moscow Exile says:

    Navalny got whacked 30,000 rubles for last Saturday’s caper. I suppose McFaul will foot the bill.

    Yet more evidence of “Putin’s authoritarian crackdown”!

    Udaltsov’s got to appear in court on Nov. 14 as a result of his contribution to last Saturday’s jolly jape. Considering that he had already been charged with serious criminal offences before the 27th of October, it will be interesting to see what happens to him in court in a fortnight’s time: a fine or remand?


    Is that Limonov in next to the Basket Weaver in the picture?

  73. Moscow Exile says:

    And Udaltsov’s really pushing his luck. He and his according to some reports 500 supporters assembled on Pushkin Square this evening to protest against the “political imprisonment” of Bolotnaya Square rioters. The meeting was sanctioned by the authorities before Udaltsov and company’s unsanctioned little happening last Saturday, when they purposefully, in my opinion, set out to get arrested after their first “council of masturbators” meeting.

    It has become quite wintry here: -1C with, sleet and hail.

    The man in the dark glasses still wore his dark glasses though, even during the sleety downpour.

    From Moskovsy Komsomolets:

    The event in support of political prisoners had been agreed with the mayor’s office a few days before the meeting. “We have to go no matter what, and to show solidarity with those who are in prison on politically repressive false charges”, said Sergey Udaltsov. The phrase “no matter what” was prophetic. There was sleet falling on uesday night at Pushkin Square.


  74. Moscow Exile says:

    And that attendance of a mere 500 this evening at Udaltsov’s little pantomime must have really convinced Chubais even more that in its diminishment, the movement is really growing.

    Udaltsov never asked his supporters to stop behind after the sanctioned time and sit in the drained fountains though. He seems to given up that little tactic, principally, I suppose, because nobody was taking any notice of his demands that they stay behind and get arrested.

    • marknesop says:

      Watch out for his conversion to Buddhism, because it probably means he intends to set himself on fire at the next protest. He certainly seems to have a martyr complex. I am compelled to ask, for Chubais’s benefit; “Yes, it’s diminishing – but is it progress?” I would have to say no.

      I guess Udaltsov is oblivious to the fact that he is building up a profile as a repeat offender and career criminal. External pressures keep exhorting Russia to “follow the rule of law”, but the law must be for everyone – Russia can’t say, “no unsanctioned public gatherings, except for Udaltsov and his friends”.

    • yalensis says:

      In Bizarro World the most successful rally of all is one to which nobody comes. Painters call this “negative space”. Playwrights call it “Minimalist Theater”.

  75. marknesop says:

    Re: Alex and Cartman’s comments above; I agree with both. I agree the reopening of the murder investigations has the potential to be explosive, because the lowest common denominator is Vano Merabishvili and he was second only to Saakashvili, with whom he was and is extremely close and who has hitched his star to Saakashvili’s wagon since the stirrings of the Rose Revolution. I doubt personal involvement on Saakashvili’s part will ever be proven, because he will drop the dime on Merabishvili without a second’s hesitation in order to protect himself, and the western noise machine will lay down a barrage of jamming to prevent any confession by Merabishvili – other than that he acted alone – to ever see the light of day. The possibility that the major western powers enabled and continued to support not only a dictator but also an accessory (at the very least) to multiple murder would be buried by whatever means were necessary.

    I also agree with Cartman that the very suggestion senior members of the former Georgian government could be involved in murder of political rivals and business figures would be shouted down by the mass media, if in fact they allowed it to be published at all. That doesn’t make it untrue, and on the plus side, it gives the incoming Georgian government a powerful lever with the west. Ivanishvili, thus far, is proving to be a quick study, what?

    • yalensis says:

      Mark: If I am reading you correctly, that is a very interesting notion that Ivanishvili could actually be “blackmailing” the West behind the scenes. As in “Don’t plot against my new government, or I’ll blow the lid on your pal Saakashvili and all his murderous deeds.”
      That could explain why West backed off and told Saak to back off too, instead of launching a big civil war to retain power. Also explains why Saak’s henchmen are fleeing the country.

      • marknesop says:

        Well, nothing quite so primitive and undiplomatic as blackmail; I prefer to call it leverage. Ivanishvili, or his advisers, seems to realize the value of this angle, and now that the intent to reopen the investigations has been announced, I don’t see them being quietly closed again; similarly, I don’t see it as a random news item, and I imagine careful thought was given to the possibility of getting a conviction before making such an announcement.

        Whatever you choose to call it, the “eccentric billionaire with a houseful of zebras” talk sure went quiet suddenly, didn’t it?

        For what it’s worth, I think that if the investigation points to Saakashvili, he’ll be given time to get out before any such accusation is made. However, given his legal background and the golden opportunity to pin it all on Merabishvili, I doubt he can be connected directly to anything; it’ll be all implication. But even that will be enough, and I’d guess the diplomatic action behind the scenes to limit the fallout of such investigations is fierce.

  76. marknesop says:

    Another interesting item, as well; Zyuganov now resolves the KPRF will take over the role of protest revolutionaries, and will show the Boloynaya Politburo how street protests are done. They didn’t actually say that last, in so many words, but Zyuganov was pointed in his criticism of the “Marches of Millions”, so I think it would be fair to assume he means the KPRF to raise massive street protests, or disavow street protesting altogether as a medium. Zyuganov, it appears, aspires to the role of class clown usually held by Zhirinovsky!

    The official reaction from United Russia was that Zyuganov is being “pathetic” and “a tortoise”, which sound like fighting words to me. If I had to guess, I’d suggest the Kremlin loves the current opposition – the Clown Coordinating Council – because it is fragmented, non-representative, unelected and constantly squabbling among its own members, some of whom are prima donnas who would try the patience of a saint and can work with nobody. What’s not to like? That opposition is as close to unopposed as a major political party can get.

    • kirill says:

      Well, if these clowns wanted power legitimately they would go through the due process route. But since they are paid shills of foreign powers their methods are banana republic destabilization.

      • marknesop says:

        Oh, I’m sure they consider themselves great thinkers, and ahead of their time, pursuing a fantasy that they are delivering Russia to a better future for which they will one day be recognized. But when you go so boldly across the grain of public opinion, you’d better know something they don’t know or you are probably going to be wrong. Russia certainly isn’t perfect the way it is, but the method the Clown Council wants to use would not solve any of those problems, while they are listening to the seductive praise of those who want them to succeed for their own ends. The best foreign agents are always those who convince themselves that they are doing what they do for altruistic reasons.

        They keep howling that they want clean and fair elections, but I doubt there are many countries in the world which could show them such a model, and it wouldn’t matter because that isn’t really what they’re looking for. What they would really like to see is elections in which the candidates they prefer – in many cases, themselves – are somehow magically elected by popular acclaim. They’re such bigheads that it could never occur to them that they are unpopular; therefore, there must be something wrong with elections in which others are chosen.

        • Zyuganov appears to be (finally) coming under a great deal of criticism within the KPRF for getting so close to the white ribbon movement last year. It seems that old Yegor Ligachev is being particularly pointed in his criticism. I suspect the new policy of distancing the KPRF from the white ribbon movement is Zyuganov’s response to this criticism. There is apparently going to be some sort of emergency Congress soon and there is even apparently talk that Zyuganov might be pushed out (not before time). We will see whether any of this happens or whether it all ends in an anti climax or another KPRF split.

  77. Moscow Exile says:

    At his masters’ behest?

    Udaltsov’s latest demagoguery:

    “This is just not repression: this is terror!”

    Spoken to his crowd of supporters – all 500 of them.

    On Tuesday, 30th October, Udaltsov upped the demagogy at the Pushkin Square meeting that was in protest against the alleged politically motivated imprisonment of Bolotnaya Square rioters when he declared:

    “Наши требования были очень просты: реформы и свободные выборы, ничего больше. Все эти месяцы мы призывали власть к диалогу, к тому, чтобы сесть за стол переговоров. Но
    вместо этого власти прислали нам людей в масках, прислали следователей, которые беспардонно фабрикуют уголовные дела. Нам брошен вызов, и у нас только два пути: или мы ответим на эти респрессии сплочением, мобилизацией и новыми массовыми акциями, или же грош нам цена”. Удальцов завершил свое выступление лозунгом “один за всех, и все за одного!”

    ["Our demands are very simple: reforms and free elections, nothing more. All these months we have been calling on the authorities to a dialogue, to sit at a conference table. Instead they set masked men on us, sent investigators that shamelessly fabricate criminal cases. They have challenged us and we have only two paths to take: either we shall answer these repressions with cohesion, mobilization and mass actions, or we sell ourselves out...All for one and one for all!"]


    Why does he think that the Russian government must enter a dialogue with him and his tiny, motley crew of supporters? Does he think he has some political clout? Does he really believe that he Is able to call on the masses to storm the Winter Palace or such like even though he could only encourage 500 to come and listen to his rantings yesterday – 500 out of a city with a population of over 13 million?

    All the proles that I know think he’s a wastrel and should go and find himself a job. If he dared venture out of the café-milieu of avante-gardists, daydreamers and utopists where he and his ilk do most of their pontificating and came to a Moscow working class area, he’d get his bourgeois arse well and truly kicked – and very likely not only in the metaphorical sense.

    • yalensis says:

      This shows that Udaltsov’s actual base is around 500 people. They are disciplined cadres, so they will always show up for his events. The same 500 people every time.
      Meanwhile, the Communist Party has (more or less) disciplined cadres numbering in the tens of thousands, these thousands, thank god, are not going to show up any more to beef up the Navalny-Udaltsov ranks or give them moral support. The government can now proceed to pick off those 500 people, one at a time, and nobody will come out to support them except for the other 499, 498, 497, 496…. (etc.)

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Moscow City authorities have given the OK to the Nationalists to hold a march on November 4th, which is a public holiday (Day of National Unity) celebrating when the Polish-Lithuanian occupiers were kicked out of Moscow in 1612. (Because Nov. 4 is on Saturday, Monday Nov. 5 is being given as a day-off in lieu.)

        There was originally going to be a nationalist march in the Lyublino suburb, the number of marchers being limited to 20 thousand. Now the mayor has said they can march in the centre; it was up to their organizers to decide where the march would take place, so they’ve gone for the centre. I reckon they hope to impress the weary of such marches majority of Muscovites with their numbers: there’ll certainly be more than Udaltsov’s pathetic 500 that asssembled the other day.

        Apparently, that old bat Alekseeyeva had started going on that the nationalist should not be forbidden from marching – freedom of speech and all that – and that the authorities should only react if they start shouting out radical nationalistic slogans. [Людмила Алексеева заявила, что властям не следует запрещать «Русский марш», однако они должны реагировать, если на акции будут звучать радикально-националистические лозунги - see link below.] Well, maybe she knows that say very abusive, nationalistic things about her, such that she is a Jewish agitator in the pay of Uncle Sam. (See: Then again, maybe not: I think that she long ago departed this present world, in spirit, if not in body.

        The government tactic is, I think, clear: pamper the factions so they can have their own little parades and that will loosen their very fragile joint actions with other disparate factions – not they are tightly bound in brotherly and sisterly love in any case: it was only a couple of “march for a million” ago that anarchists starting battling in the street with communists – very Weimarish.

        Anyway, Nationalist marches have taken place before in Lyublino: it seeems a favourite hangout for the Nationalists: maybe it’s a predominantly “Russian for the Russians” area or, on the other hand, the suburb might be swamped with immigrants and the marches there have been intended as provocations, just like Northern Irish Orangemen like marching through Catholic areas of Belfast every year. I think provocation is the more likely motive of the Lyublino marches: some of these Moscow suburbs are now beginning to resemble Parisian banlieues. The thing is, though, it’s the same place where Navalny attended a previous nationalist march.

        Will he be with the Nationalists this time, I wonder, or will he distance himself from those unsavoury scruffs? More exactly, will he have already received orders from his bosses not to be seen associating with the Nationalists?


        • I gather the number authorised for this rally is 20,000 but I will be very surprised if anywhere near that number turn up. The one thing the last year has done (both the elections and the protests) is expose the falsity of the claim that there is a vast upsurge of ultra nationalist feeling in Russia.

      • “They are disciplined cadres who will always show up for his events”

        They did once leave him to address an empty square.

  78. yalensis says:

    Apetian did juicy expose on Udaltsov/Targamadze case:

    If you scroll down a bit, there is a secretly tapped telephone conversation between Targamadze and a Gruzian named Koba Nakopia. As is common in Saakashvili’s fascist Gruzia, Nakopia is both a billionaire oligarch AND a member of the government. The supposition is that his $$$ helped to finance Russian Opposition.
    The transcript was published by the “Georgian Times” in this expose of the Gruzian-Udaltsov connection:

    The phone conversation is in Gruzian, which very few people know, and Apetian is asking if anyone knows Gruzian to please listen to the tape and verify the translation. In addition, the translation was apparently made first into English, and then from that into Russian, so in each link of the chain there is much room for error. Apetian links to the Russian translation. I can’t find the English translation! If I translate it back into English from Russian I will be introducing still another possible error… oi… Well, in any case, here is the Russian. The conversation apparently took place in March or April and concerned the Pushkinskaya demonstration, which was 5 March. The two Gruzians mull over what happened at Pushkinskaya and look forward to the next one (which would be the fateful Bolotnaya). According to Apetian, conversation proves that Givi was already financing and guiding Udaltsov’s activities, long before that fateful encounter on the Minsk comfy sofa. (So Udaltsov was lying when he said he never met Givi? Shocking!)

    Н (Накопия): Что у вас там происходит? Я не знаю, вы знаете Эдика Тедеяна или нет ? Я с ним тоже разговаривал.
    Т (Таргамадзе): Нет, я звонил ему насчет той небольшой работы и я думаю, что там все закончилось поскольку Удальцов арестован.
    Н: А вы знаете что сейчас происходит? Сколько людей там было?
    Т: Там был митинг – примерно 20-25 тысяч людей. Была суматоха небольшая, но Серега все правильно сделал. Он сказал, что он лично не хотел говорить о том, что выборов не было. Седьмого числа будет церемония инаугурации, так что 1 мая они проведут митинг с участием наименьшего количества людей. Они уже скоро начнут над этим работать. Что касается Пушкинской, он также сказал, что они должны дать им знать, что они будут проходить по площади каждые несколько дней, если не каждый день. Когда митинг закончился, где-то 10 человек пошли за ним и преградили ему дорогу. Они его не пропускали – все они были полковники.
    Н: Гиви, нет ни малейшего шанса, что они…
    (Видимо, Таргамадзе): Да, я тебе говорю – самое главное, что они не смогли его остановить. Он как раз тот человек.
    Н: самое главное что они его не смогли остановить, они не хотели подливать масла в огонь.
    Т: Этот человек сделал все что только можно было. Что еще? Он просто ушел. Он вел себя так, чтобы заставить их арестовать его, была потасовка.
    Н: Чем больше будет потасовок – тем лучше.

    [If this translation is correct, then Nakopia ends with the words: “The more disorders there are, the better (for us)!” ]
    Apetian discusses and dismisses the main debating points of the Navalnyites who are standing firm behind their man (=Udaltsov) when they should have recoiled in horror and cast him out of their ranks.
    Point #1: This is Navalny’s major debating point, which he makes a lot on his blog, and considers himself a clever fellow for pointing out a chronological discrepancy:
    The Bolotnaya disorders took place in May. Udaltsov’s meeting with Targamadze, even if one stipulates that it actually occurred, was in June, in Minsk. Therefore it is ridiculous to accuse them of plotting Bolotnaya, since Bolotnaya had already occurred!
    Counterpoint #1: Tape proves that Givi and Udaltsov had a relationship that went back before Bolotnaya. When Givi-Udaltsov met in Minsk, Bolotnaya had already occurred. The two guys (plus Lebedev and Razvozzhaev) were plotting further adventures, to take place in the future.
    Point #2 (this one was argued especially by Boris Nemtsov): Givi has no money, he is just an adventurist and provocateur. The Minsk meeting was probably a set-up.
    Counterpoint #2: Maybe Givi doesn’t have much money, but he has access to people with money. And is Nemtsov actually accusing Givi of being a Russian spy? Because that simply does not compute.
    Game – set – match. Russian FSB is definitely winning this particular propaganda war against the Navalnyites and Bolotnaya crowd. And has anybody noticed that the real break for FSB came when power started to change hands in Gruzia? Think there might be a connection? Duh!

    • marknesop says:

      Solomon Ternaleli, of “Solomon’s Thoughts” (in the blogroll) is a native Georgian living in Georgia who speaks good English as well. Perhaps the inquiry could be directed to him.

    • Very interesting Yalensis.

      Point 1 is irrelevant. Even with my poor eyesight I gained the clear impression from the video that Udaltsov and Targamadze knew each other from before the meeting. Besides it is a crime to plot disorders even if those disorders have not or do not occur. Even if Targamadze had nothing to do with the disorders on 6th May 2012 the fact that he was plotting more disorders with Udaltsov would mean that a crime was being committed. Obviously it would be more serious if it could be shown that because of their connection disorders did actually occur but this is relevant to the seriousness of the crime not the fact of it.

      Point 2 is also nothing like as conclusive as Nemtsov seems to think. Targamadze may be a total fantasist and the money he was offering to Udaltsov might not exist but it would still be a crime in that case to plot mass disorders with him though if Targamadze is a fantasist and if no money changed hands the crime would be less serious than it would otherwise be. Having said this I am afraid I think the money does exist. Why if Targamadze is just a fantasist and has no money would Udaltsov meet him especially if he was doing so more than once?

  79. yalensis says:

    And here is another name that has come up in the Gruzian connection exposes: She is a journalist (for “Kommersant”) named Anastasia Karimova. An attractive blonde who happens to be friends with Konstantin Lebedev (who appeared in that Givi tape, along with Udaltsov and Razvozzhaev, and is now pining away in Lefortovo prison).
    Back in August, Karimova travelled with Lebedev to Gruzia to meet with several Gruzian parliamentary deputies. Karimova argues on her Facebook page that they did not go there to beg for money or plot treason; and, in fact, the Gruzian deputies kept coming onto her at a party, trying to hit on her, and forcing her to drink stupid toasts. Having seen with my own eyes how a Gruzian banquet works, that last bit sounds credible. In fact Karimova was very lucky that she didn’t get raped by those drunken Gruzian politicians, they probably assumed because she is blonde and pretty that Lebedev took her there to provide the sex:

    • “….probably assumed because she is blonde and pretty that Lebedev took her there to provide the sex”.

      If Georgian politicians are anything like Greek (or Italian or French) that would not surprise me at all

  80. yalensis says:

    And here’s more interesting stuff about Givi’s plot to seize Kaliningrad (=Koenigsberg) and install Udaltsov as Gauleiter:

    Note the sweet picture of Jabba napping on his Lazyboy recliner while clutching his little binky.
    Lordy, that white boy do love his sofa!

    • marknesop says:

      I think that’s just a regular club chair, identical to the one next to it. If so, that’s quite an accomplishment for somebody with an ass five axe-handles wide. I wonder what tired him out – perhaps he had to lift an extra-heavy canape to his mouth.

  81. marknesop says:

    Our hero Raz The Tundra-Dwelling Mouse-Eater is taking on something of the mantle of a folk hero. Allegedly, United Russia has called for the dismissal of Vladimir Pozner from Channel One for his remarks – cheered by the western press, of course – that Raz’s confession was tortured out of him.

    Always plenty of readiness to make a martyr of an opposition figure, no matter what a small-time numpty he might be. It won’t be long until questioning by law enforcement in Russia is a thing of the past, since all one need do is scream in anguish for the cameras, “I was tortured!!!” and the media steamroller will take over. Anything you have confessed to, you will be assumed to be innocent of having done, no matter what the authorities come up with in the way of evidence.

    • yalensis says:

      All it means is that Russian investigators can’t use Raz’s confession. Confessions are bogus anyway. Real evidence is better. Like all the videotapes and phone taps, witnesses, etc. There is tons of legitimate evidence against Raz and the others. They don’t need his confession!

      • marknesop says:

        The evidence won’t matter; both Udaltsov and Raz have kept up a steady drone that the video is faked in its entirety or at least tampered with. Their international supporters, perceiving that Udaltsov is the new triple threat to Putin – even though he can count on only about 500 local spear-carriers – will close ranks and scream that the poor dears are being harassed because the great truth they are about to reveal threatens the Kremlin’s very existence or some such rot, and all the evidence will be presumed to be faked. Why anyone would go to so much trouble to frame an inconsequential banana like Raz or an unimaginative blunt instrument like Udaltsov will not receive the slightest consideration.

        That won’t matter in Russia; the government is certainly not going to let them just walk because of a bunch of Anglospheric caterwauling. But all the tiresome nonsense will start up again, about political pressure and prisoners of conscience and repression and taking it to the European Court of Human Rights and bla bla bla.

        I imagine they will be prosecuted satisfactorily for national purposes, and that the Russian audience will be convinced by the evidence of their guilt. But once again it will be internationally mocked as a purely political prosecution, and Udaltsov will finally achieve the martyr status he craves. Although it shouldn’t bother me, because he’s a political nothing, it does because he’s also such a knob. And Raz is even less significant, but an overnight sensation because the big bad Investigations Service frightened him.

        • I confess that for all his undoubted ability and charisma I find it simply impossible to take Pozner seriously. I remember him vividly from the 1970s and 1980s when he was a quite brilliant and exceptionally persuasive Soviet apologist. Seeing him now argue with equal eloquence the opposite of what he argued then makes my stomach turn. If as he now says he didn’t really believe much of what he was saying so convincingly then how can I believe what he says so convincingly now?

          • yalensis says:

            Pozner is a toad! Always has been a toad. Always will be a toad.

            • cartman says:

              I remember him interviewing Hillary Clinton that one time. Maybe he is expecting a Freedom Defenders Award.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Ioffe mentions her grandmother in her article. Does her grandmother still live in Moscow and if so, why? If Russia is such a shithole, why doesn’t Ioffe take her to the Land of the Free? Ioffe can’t be short of cash, can she?

                And another thing: Ioffe is a Jewess, is she not? Just as Gesssen did, She and her folks left Russsia because of alleged anti-semitism in the land of her birth. If anti-semitism is so rife in the Old Country, why did they leave old granma behind? Is the old woman made of sterner stuff than the emigrant Ioffes are, or is her grandma back in Russia a goy?

                I presume Gessen prefers to live in the land that she openly detests because she is a
                pervert, a masochist who derives great pleasure from the excruciating pain that she has to suffer whilst resident in the Evil Empire.

                As it happens, I am acqainted with several Muscovite Jews here who are doing rather more than tolerantly well in this alleged land of anti-semites. One of them, in fact, who I have been talking to most of this morning, actually emigrated to the USA in the early ’90s. He lived in Seattle. He didn’t like it.

                Oy vey!

                Actually, he’s a decent, likeable bloke: hard working and honest, like the majority of my acquaintances here. And he’s not a white-ribbonist.

                • yalensis says:

                  How could anybody not like Seattle? It’s such a cool city. (I’m not kidding, I have visited Seattle 3 times, and I LOVE it.) Oh well, to each his own.
                  Re. Ioffe’s grandma, well, I guess Granny has to stick it out on her own now in that burning joyless hellhole that is Moscow.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, I have a disagreement going on Adomanis’s blog regarding Russians who come to the USA for purposes other than tourism, and then don’t like it and return to Russia. I maintain they are few, although the guy is making all kinds of dozy generalizations about the USA; the women are fat and ugly, bla, bla – and suggests Americans who come to Russia want to stay while Russians who go to the USA want to leave.

                  The latter category is pretty tiny.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  He told me Seattle and Washington state were fine, it’s just that he couldn’t get a decent job because his English was so bad then. He went over to the USA with his Jewish pal, whose English was much better than his and who is still over there, whereas my acquaintance ended up frying hamburgers in some diner or whatever. Needless to say, he is highly educated – a seismologist or geologist or something like – so he gave up and came back to Mother Russia, got married, started a family etc. He’s now in a lucrative position in a well known oil company here that has just beeen bought up by Rosneft. Better than frying hamburgers all day, I suppose.

                • marknesop says:

                  I don’t recall her mentioning dear old Granny at the time, although she may have, but she certainly raved on at length about the death toll among the elderly. She even did a piece on a Porsche Cayenne painted in the Fire Department’s colours that was apparently a gift to the city from Porsche Russland. But mostly she concentrated on hammering Lushkov. And to his great discredit, he deserved it; his perception of optics was horrible, and he came across as an arrogant pig who is, coincidentally, married to the richest woman in Russia. Although neither is in Russia any more, to the best of my knowledge.

                  It appears to me that both Ioffe and Gessen have this notion that they bear a sacred duty to Jewry to live in Russia (although Ioffe doesn’t now) so as to ruin it from within, to make it pay for the anti-Semitism that threatened their parents and grandparents.I believe Miriam Elder is Jewish as well. Alexander Motyl claims to be imbued with zeal to know more about Russia so that he can rub it out for what it did to Ukrainians.

                  Lucky for America that they weren’t all born African-Americans with a mission to hold the country accountable for what happened a hundred years ago.

                • Misha says:

                  Matter of Jews and Russia was earlier discussed at this blog with the kind of insight/detail that you don’t find from the likes of Ioffe and Adomanis.

  82. Moscow Exile says:

    Having mentioned Eduard Limonov a couple of days back and his distancing from Navalny and the other darlings of the West who are going to lead the oppressed Russian masses to the heady heights of freedom and democracy, I noticed yesterday that he was back in action with about 200 others (Yes TWO HUNDRED! – Tremble ye tyrants!!) at Triumfalnaya Square, because yesterday was the 31st of the month.

    I had forgotten all about that 31st of the month jape, the protest over the breach of article 31 of the Russian constitution that guarantees the right of assembly. Of course, Limonov and others interpret that article as referring to the right of any citizens to assemble anywhere, anytime – just like in the “free West”.

    They chose Triumfalnaya, by the way, because assembling there really causes massive traffic disruption: they have building an underpass there under Moscow’s main drag, Tverskaya St., for years, and I know from first hand experience that Muscovites homeward bound at rush hour, when these protesters try to asemble there, find the ensuing traffic hold-up that these 31-ers cause inexusable. Furthermore, the entrance to Mayakovskaya metro station is right there were the freeedom fighters gather as they try to push their way through the barriers erected around the square: needless to say, the station entrance gets blocked, and folk who want to go home get angry.

    The square, in fact, is cordoned of by barriers because of the construction work, not because the cops don’t want them there; but no matter – the fighters for freedom of assembly always try to enter the construction site, which is what Triumfalnaya mostly is, and duly get arrrested, notwithstanding that their assemblies there are always unsanctioned because – well, it’s a construction site!

    The protestors have been given other venues where they may assemble on the 31st, but no, they demand their “right” to assemble where they will, at Triumfalnaya and nowhere else, where they get arrested and then those who are not arrested can then shout “Down with the police state! Down with Putin!”, as can be heard in the video embedded in the Mokovsky Komsomolets article linked below. There is always a very large number of journalists at Triumfalnaya when this little pantomime takes place at the end of a 31-day month.

    From the article:

    “Strategy-31″ Once Again Ends in Arrests.
    Eduard Limonov and 15 activists land in the paddy wagon.

    The traditional event that takes place on Triumfalnaya Square on the 31st was once again unsanctioned. The organisors had presented an application to City Hall but were refused. Despite the snowy weather, about 200 activists gathered on the cordonned off Triumfalnaya Square.


    Such unbelievable police brutality and further evidence of Putin’s crackdown on the protest movement!

    I wonder if Limonov has been tortured yet?

    • Good God, I had no idea the “Strategy 31″ protests were continuing. If you remember back before 2011 they were the main focus of opposition activity. Since the protest rallies over the last year show that it is perfectly possible to hold a legal demonstration in Russia these “Strategy 31″ protests are totally pointless.

      On the subject of Limonov, it seems to me that he provides further proof that Navalny’s great Coordinating Council has achieved the opposite of what it was intended to do. Instead of uniting the protest movement it is has simply provided a further cause to divide it. Udaltsov is obviously unhappy and Limonov will have nothing to do with it.

      Surely by any logic the really important political news in Russia is the forthcoming Communist Party conference in a few weeks. It bears remembering that the KPRF is by far the biggest opposition party in Russia so what happens to it actually matters. If one believes Medvedev Zyuganov actually won the Presidential election in 1996. In the last parliamentary elections the KPRF not only managed to double its vote but at just under 20% it got a bigger vote than all the other opposition parties combined. If one believes some of the claims made in connection with the claims of election rigging then its actual vote might have been even bigger with up to a quarter of the votes in Moscow. Even though the KPRF’s membership has fallen dramatically since its early 1990s peak it is still greater than the combined number of people who are supposed to have voted in Navalny’s fake internet election. Recently the KPRF has even started to win some support amongst young voters and in the student community. For example whilst I understand that the majority of MGU students voted for Prokhorov I believe that up to a quarter voted for Zyuganov (more than for Putin).

      The complaints from the party elders about Zyuganov’s strategy of cooperating with the white ribbon opposition have already forced a change of course and a parting of the way with the white ribbon opposition. If Zyuganov is pushed out of the leadership and the KPRF acquires a more dynamic and intelligent leadership or if the KPRF splits creating space for a new left wing opposition movement to emerge that surely is big news. Far bigger news than Navalny’s fake elections to his fake Council or Udaltsov’s fake revolution or Chirikova’s fake environmentalism or Limonov’s fake Strategy 31 protests.

  83. yalensis says:

    Stranded in Manhattan by Hurricane Sandy, and channelling Iakov Smirnov, Julia Ioffe takes the time to praise America and attack Russia:

  84. Moscow Exile says:

    I see Ioffe refers to the Russian federation as “Soviet Russia”.

    She writes about the peat bog fires of two summers ago. She describes her reactions at that time when she was living in Moscow:

    “Should we leave the city? If so, where were the areas clear of smoke? How could we get there, and what was happening with the airports and train stations and roads?”

    Does she really think Russians – and in particular Muscovites, about whom she is writing – had no access to information concerning the smoke; does she really believe that access to such information was denied them?

    As it happens, my family were living in the country when the fires were at their worst: the seat of the conflagration was to the southeast of the city near Domodedovo – that was regularly reported on TV and radio, to say nothing of the Internet and social networks. As it also happens, my family and I were also planning to fly out of Moscow from Domodedovo airport on August 8th.

    Most of that summer the smoke from the turf fires had not reached my dacha territory, which is situated 54 miles to the southwest of the city, because of the prevailing westerlies over Moscow. However, by the end of July the very, very slight winds (for days on end it was often dead calm) had turned easterly and the smoke cloud slowly began creeping westwards from Domodedovo and ever closer to our dacha, something that I witnessed with some concern every evening as I travelled by electric train from Moscow in order to be with my family.

    Flights from Domodedovo were out of the question by the end of July, something that I saw on the TV and radio news and checked on line. There was also advice from doctors on the media concerning protection against health hazards, something that particularly concerned me as one of my daughters suffers from slight asthma.

    As the departure date approached, I told my wife and children to prepare for the worst, that we might not be able to go to the UK that summer to visit my sister and her familly. By that time Domodedovo was completely closed down. The only hope, I told them, was that the wind suddenly change and that its speed increase. This is what eventually happened – on August 8th. I knew it was going to happen late on the 7th because of weather reports on TV. I checked on the Internet and the Domodeva site: all flights on schedule for the next day. During the night of August 7/8 the wind changed and stiffened and we took off from Domodedova airport in bright sunshine.

    What Ioffe says about the former Moscow mayor, however, is true. Luzhkov was intensely disliked by many Muscovites, not least because of the wonderfully lucrative contracts that his wife’s construction firm were awarded by City Hall.

    Of course, corrupt mayors like Luzhkov do not exist in the USA, do they?

    Oh no! I am guilty of whataboutism!!!

    No matter!

    Ioffe just writes shit about Russia: that’s what she’s paid to do.

    • The other point about Luzhkov is that shortly after he lost his job.

      The truth is that if one gets past the propaganda the Russian authorities did as good a job as was humanly possible in the face of both the fires and the Krymsk flood. If there was a Russian equivalent of Ioffe in New York she would no doubt at present be finding lots about the post Sandy rescue and rebuilding effort to carp and complain about.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Only yesterday, though, a white ribbonist with whom I have only recently become acquainted commented upon the effects of the Atlantic hurricane on the east coast of the USA and the resulting loss of life there, saying that if such a natural event had happened in Russia, then far more people would have died. I asked her why she thought that would have been the case. She suddenly ended the conversation, I think because she found herself at a loss to understand why a Westerner hadn’t jumped at the opportunity to join her in a condemnation of Russia.

        She is typical of the white ribbonists that I know: she absolutely loathes her native land and her fellow countrymen. She thinks the West is an earthly paradise and that Russia is a corrupt, third-world authoritarian stae run by bandits; more exactly, that’s what the Western press has led her to believe: she considers the Moscow Times to be a bastion of journalistic objectivity set amidst a Russian language press that acts as government organs.

        This morning, she asked me how I liked the weather. (It was -3C and snowing.) I told her that I was quite accustomed to such weather conditions in November and much lower ones during the winter months; that I had, in fact, been living in Russia for almost 20 years.

        Again, on receiving this information about me, she seemed to be at a loss for words.

        I mean, what kind of freak would choose to live in this dump?

        • marknesop says:

          Why does she stay? Why do any of them stay? It’s not the Soviet Union any more, and leaving the country forever, Lawdy, I’m boun’ fo’ de promised land, is actually quite easy. Mind you, the Land of Milk and Honey has to be willing to take you on the other end – but that shouldn’t be an impediment; after all, they’re overflowing with brotherly love for immigrants, being the ideal homeland and all that. But Russia will not hold you back if you have a visa that says you’re good to go for the USA, Canada or the UK. I presume she already has her application in process, and for their part the Anglosphere is always delighted to bits at the prospect of welcoming another Russian dissident who will blather on about what a disaster the place is, alternating weeping with gratitude and kissing the earth of their new homeland. Makes them feel all superior, you know.

          • The fact is that the Katrina disaster and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill show that not everything goes right in the US. No doubt in Ioffe’s world and that of the oppositionist with whom Moscow Exile has become acquainted those accidents never happened.

            Incidentally if we are going to start assessing countries by the successive of their disaster relief operations (a pretty dubious idea) then no country has shown more success dealing with hurricanes than Cuba.

            • marknesop says:

              True enough. And yet, when Cuba offered to lend that expertise to America following the impact of Hurricane Katrina – not just a symbolic couple of doctors with backpacks, but 1600 medical workers, field hospitals and 83 tons of medical supplies – how did a USA whose government had pledged international aid offers would be free from politics respond?

              The response from official White House spokesman Scott “Fat Scottie” McClellan was, and I quote; “When it comes to Cuba, we have one message for Fidel Castro: He needs to offer the people of Cuba their freedom.”


              • Moscow Exile says:

                When forest fires were raging here the other summer, Latynina did an article condemning Putin as being the cause of the fires (actually, I should imagine that drunken slobs slinging their empty beer and vodka bottles into the undergrowth after their having had a shashlyk picnic and persistent afternoon peak temperatures of +40C for over a month were the more likely cause). And she went on to say that the loss of life and destruction of property, including sometimes whole villages, was the typical result of Russian sloth, incompetence, corruption and drunkenness. I wrote a letter to MT, in which the article had appeared, pointing out that such lage scale forest fires, including destruction of property and loss of life, are not uncommon in southern California, Spain and New South Wales.

                Whataboutism again! I just can’t help it!

                • Going back to Ioffe’s article, notice that she mentions that she and Miriam Elder are friends. Well I can’t say I’m surprised. Birds of a feather flock together.

                • marknesop says:

                  They’re all a little community when they’re all in Moscow, which of course neither Elder or Ioffe are any more. But once Elder, Ioffe, Michael Schwirtz and Charles Clover were all quite chummy. Simon Shuster from Time Magazine, too, likely, although I don’t know that.

                • marknesop says:

                  Latynina is actually a very odd combination – a nutjob who is not interested in hiding her madness from the world, but who – drunken with recognition like the title “hero journalist” and the bestowing of the Defender of Freedom medal from agencies in the USA and its government – is high on attention and craves ever more of it. Whatever she has to say to get it, no price is too high to pay, and she often comes right up to the line of rolling around on the floor and spitting and snapping like a turtle, and screaming, “I hate Russia!!! Hate it!! Hate it!!! Why did I have to be born here?? Why wasn’t I born American??”

                  One day it’ll happen. I hope she’s on a visit to her fantasy homeland when she snaps; then they can put her in Cedars Sinai, and she can spend the rest of her days cutting out little paper Putins with no heads and getting sponge baths from sympathetic attendants. American hospital food is much better, and sometimes they have Jell-O!! Also, America doesn’t care if its political dissidents are crazy – she can write with her own poo for all they care, just as long as she writes what they like to hear – Russia is a dungheap, America is the greatest.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Dear Alexander Mercouris,

                  As regards your “birds of a feather” comment, this not only applies to Western journalists hobknobbing together in Moscow, but also to Russians of like mind concerning all things Russian and who are these journalists’ regular interlocutors.

                  The white-ribbonist in my little anecdote above who, I suspect, was somewhat surprised that I did not join her in a tirade against her native country, spoke to me in English because she wanted to jump aboard the “I hate Russia train” that she believed I was riding through Russia. She was also surprised when I suddenly changed to Russian (when I told her that I had lived here for 20 years) and now seems to keep her disance from me.

                  This happens rather frequently whenever I come across such people. It used to be the same when I frequented the anglophone social network here in Moscow. There are a few sites here that serve to help anglophone expats in Moscow cope with what they consider to be a nightmarish society. Many threads on these sites consist of constant expressions of disgust and loathing from expats and directed at Russia and Russians. (“And he just urinated next to a tree and I noticed he wasn’t circumcised” I well remember a newly arrived United States citizen writing in disgust. She got quite irate when I commented: “So you had time to have a good look then?”) One of the expats on one such site, after reading my defence of Russia and its citizens, stated “You are not an expat!”. Perhaps he thought I was a “Kremlin stooge”?

                  Apart from shocked and disgusted expats’ contributions, these sights are also frequented by Russians who want to practice English and, mostly, slag off Russia. I stopped frequenting these sites long before the white-ribbon concept was dreamt up, but I daresay those Russians that still visit such “exile” sites are mostly white

                  Those Russians with whom I start to converse in Russian because they open their
                  conversations with me in their mother tongue are usually not white ribbonists and not bourgeois: they are mostly working class and are often my fellow travellers on the local trains. Whenever they ask me where I am from, they show great interest when I answer them always with the added information concerning how long I have lived here. They usually show their pleasure on learning that I am married to one of their fellow countrymen, have three children off her and have chosen to be “Russian”. They almost always seem to be patriotic, albeit not always wildly enthusiastic about their government; they are never, in my experience, white-ribbonists.

                  These are the people with whom the Elders and the Hardings and the Ioffes of this world do not converse: they hobknob with white ribbonists who feed on them and their points of view, thereby and fortifying these Western journalists’ fixed notions about Russia; hence the distorted feedback concerning Russia in these journalists’ articles, namely that Russia is seething with massive civil unrest.

            • yalensis says:

              This is true. The Cuban government has hurricane relief down to an art. Nobody shows more concern for the individual citizen and his safety then Cuba.
              As for Ioffe’s beloved USA, objectively, FEMA and federal government have done a pretty good job this time around with Hurricane Sandy. The main problem in America is not lack of caring or insufficient communication, but rather serious decay of infrastructure. The main reason so many citizens are left without electricity (even in areas not affected by the flooding) is because of infrastructure issues: decaying power grid, electrical lines strung over trees, very vulnerable to wind. All of this is fixable, but requires money and organization.

              • cartman says:

                Every disaster is a learning experience, but the US does not have preparedness down pat. That is why so many died in Hurricane Katrina. What Ioffe does not realize is that three weeks later another powerful hurricane was aimed at Texas, and so many were afraid of the destruction of Katrina that they all took to the road to get out:


                What happened is that millions were huddled on one side of the highway. It took the governor TWO days to implement contraflow, which means that all lanes on both sides of the road would be open to people who are evacuating. Why did they take so long when they could have instantly doubled the capacity? Over 100 people died from the evacuation, because so many cars broke down and people fell to heatstroke.

                But yes, Cuba (and Taiwan and Japan and China and Vietnam and the Philippines) are all better prepared than the United States for storms that are larger and stronger than this.

  85. Moscow Exile says:

    Why doesn’t Russia fight back?

    The Russian state seems to lie supine whilst bile is spewed out against the country and its head of state by the foreign press. This site and a handful of others such as Anatole Karlin’s are like voices crying out in the wilderness against the lies and calumnies that one daily reads in the western press about all things Russian.

    The other day, a duma deputy called upon Vladimir Pozner to apologise for this comment of his that appeared on Channel 1 TV last Sunday:

    In today’s Moscow Times there appeared this story concerning the deputy’s demand for an apology:

    Pozner is now lauded in the western media for the content of the above broadcasted comment and nary a word is said about the fact that for years Pozner, on his own admittance, accepted payment to broadcast lies about the Soviet Union: he is a self confessed propagandist. Now, however, this self-confessed liar, a person who earned a living by telling what he knew to be lies and, therefore, a professional liar, is now the hero of the western media; this man of hardly impeccable principles says what the West wants to hear: that there are no fair courts in Russia and that “oppositionists” are being prosecuted KGB style.

    This question that I posed above concerning the apparent inertia of the Russian state in responding to orchestrated criticism from the West – more exactly, from the anglosphere – was also asked by Aleksei Pankin in a recent interview with William Dunkerly:

    Why doesn’t the “Evil Empire” strike back?

    • marknesop says:

      I presume that is a rhetorical question, as I’m sure you know as well as I do that the western media is constantly probing for sore spots, and whenever it finds one the journalists tumble gleefully over one another in their eagerness to get in on the action. Anyone who is able to provoke a response from “neo-Soviet Mordor” is regarded as a hero, and doubtless promotions are based on less.

      Consider, for example, the excitement generated when Mirian Elder’s trying-for-world-weary-but-sounding -hysterical-and-bitchy article about the tribulations of getting dry cleaning done in Moscow actually received a response from Putin’s spokesman.*&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1&redir_esc=&ei=556SUIfaC-Hk2AXfvYDwDQ

      Let’s look at one of them. Why, as I live and breathe, if it isn’t Ms. Elder herself,

      and as we see here, responding to her nonsense only provides her a springboard for more nonsense, in which she can capture the direction of the conversation and leap from dry cleaning to Anna Politkovskaya, of all things. While accusing the Russian government’s spokesman of “whataboutism”, thereby offering us a valuable insight that Politkovskaya may have been murdered by a Moscow dry cleaner.

      Some days ago, the Forbes Magazine’s inspirational quote was a simple gem from George Bernard Shaw; “Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn”. Testify, George. Responding to the doglike yapping of the western press merely encourages its journalists to strut and preen for one another, because a response is considered to be vindication of the opinion expressed. A non-response can indicate a lot of things, but it mostly comes across as the allegation being too stupid to rate a response, exactly as it should.

      Especially since it’s clear the Anglosphere (including Canada, as it granted citizenship to a waster like Peter Verzilov) will embrace like a brother or sister any degenerate, parasite, criminal or windbag who shows willingness to corroborate its insecurities, paranoia and deliberate obfuscations against countries with whom it is in ideological opposition. Not only Russia, although that country seems to come in for the worst criticism in exchange for the least provocation; Iran also is regularly demonized, and has in common with Russia the fact that any response by the Iranian government is immediately seized upon as a tapestry of lies and received with broad mockery. Ditto Syria and the Assad government.

      Not only is it better to say nothing, it is pretty much the only sensible choice.

    • Dear Moscow Exile,

      About Pozner it’s exactly as you say. Here we have Pozner comparing what happened to Razvozzhaev with the way the KGB used to extort false confessions from people. He says this without a blush even though when the KGB was in fact extorting false confessions from people he was busy defending the government it served. It really does make my stomach turn.

      • Dear Mark,

        Here I am afraid I don’t agree with you. I don’t think maintaining a dignified silence is a viable strategy in the modern world. If one allows vicious calumnies to go unanswered then they simply circulate unchecked. Worse still the tale grows with the telling. On the specific subject of Miriam Elder and her preposterous laundry I think Peskov’s mistake was that he was far too polite. He should not have hesitated to say that her article was an example of bad and prejudiced reporting and that a journalist who devotes a whole article to a small matter of her laundry is abusing her position and not doing her job.

        The stories about Putin’s wealth are a further case in point. As soon as they began to circulate in the western media Putin should have sued in defamation. The stories are completely unsubstantiated and the the magazines and newspapers that published them would have been forced by their lawyers and insurers to withdraw them and offer apologies. Apparently he didn’t because he thought it beneath his dignity. The result is that the stories continue to circulate to the point that someone like Luke Harding is able repeat them in my presence.

        • kirill says:

          I don’t think any official pronouncement from Russia will reach western media consumers without being butchered of its content and wrapped in anti-Russian propaganda excrement. Has a single proper translation of the Vagina Thugs (sorry Pussy Riot) spew at the cathedral been conveyed via any western media outlet?

          By not saying a thing the Russian government deprives the western hate media its bread and butter. As they say, don’t feed the troll. The west is continuously trolling Russia. The main thing is for the Russian media and Russian pundits to tear these journos and their Russian sycophants a new one every time they excrete another turd of wisdom. Really, it should be independent analysts and observers who should be doing the responding and not the Russian government. This is how the west does it.

          • yalensis says:

            I agree with Alex and kirill. I’ve been saying for a while that Russian journalists should blast Western societies, with true but one-sided exposees, in an orgy of what-aboutism tit-for-tat. Every slanted Russphobic piece (like Ioffe’s) should be answered with an equal but opposite blast of slanted propaganda so ferocious that eventually Western shillls will cry uncle and demand a truce!

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, that’d be fine, but not Putin himself, or any elected official. For starters, they’re not very good at it, they just kind of flail feebly at the story, and the gleeful journalist is presented with a juicy follow-up without having to do any work. Elected officials are bound by so many rules of conduct, and also have their whole party to think of. If they happen to belong to the ruling party, they have the heads of state to keep in mind, whom they may implicate with their own remarks. Journalists are free agents and can often say whatever they like with only the loosest implied linkage to their country of origin, and often write for a different paper. Miriam Elder, for example, writes for a British paper, but she is an American. Incidentally, you don’t see her bitching that you can’t get a good hot dog in London, do you? And I somehow doubt the London climate is an improvement on Moscow. That’s when she’s there, of course; perhaps she just files her stories from New York. For all she really knows about Russia, she could be writing from Botswana.

              And the Russian response should be on a local level. New York should be lousy with RT reporters, who would rebroadcast every juicy political scandal irrespective of party on a broad front, with plenty of ersatz shock – this would never happen in Russia. That would leave Americans scrambling to respond with outraged whataboutism. Most of the western journalists who take cheap shots at Russia are in Moscow, except Alexei Beyer, who thinks it’s enough to have been from there a decade or so ago. Very few Russian reporters who rebut western criticism are actually in the west. That would serve a dual purpose; if they got thrown out of the country, the Russian press could expound on the theme that if you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.

            • Misha says:


              It’s better to succeed in a clean way. This can be done.

        • marknesop says:

          Ooooooo….Alex. Maybe you didn’t hear about the crackdowns and repressions of the opposition on this site, but I’m afraid I don’t allow disagreement. Kindly present yourself at the curb in front of your building – yes, I know just where you are, you are in a building – and in 20 minutes a black G-Reg Peugot will arrive to collect you. I hope you’re not allergic to wool, because they’ll have to put a balaclava over your head. Fortunately, it’s shaped like a head already. Then it’s the basement for you, my lad, where some gentlemen who smell of formaldehyde and rubber gloves will ask you, “Is it safe?” No, no, sorry, that’s a film I was thinking of. No, they’ll shout at you; things like, “Yah boo!!! You Greek curly-hair!! I don’t even like squid, so what do you think about that!!!???” and you’ll crack like Raz.

          Seriously, I’m afraid I have to remain unconvinced that what Peskov did was an improvement on silence. I’d agree that he could have done better by responding with weary amusement, and perhaps some gentle mockery, perhaps could have introduced some of the stupider things Ms. Elder has said over the years – God knows, there are plenty. But even that last might have been too much, because it would suggest the government reads and remembers her bibble-babble. Instead, he chose the very worst course of action – totally unrelated whataboutism that handed her the next storyline on a silver platter. It didn’t matter that she straightaway launched into her own whataboutism by making the story about Politkovskaya and every other pet peeve she has regarding Russia – journalists are allowed to go walkabout as they please, and its only the subjects of their grilling who are restricted to the topic and limited to yes/no answers. It was a total disaster, and I think most will agree he should have just kept silent, given what he did and what he might have done.

          The circumstance in The Economist was quite a bit different; it was not Putin who held their feet to the fire, it was Timchenko. The magazine always knew the charges were shaky, but felt quite safe that Putin would never challenge them. However, they realized immediately that Timchenko not only would pursue the lawsuit, but that he had the connections and the money to wipe the magazine out of existence. And that might be a valid course of action; Putin could arrange situations whereby he appeared to be conspiring with prominent oligarchs to discredit or suppress the opposition, and then when Novaya Gazeta or the Moscow Times took the bait, the oligarch could launch a lawsuit for enormous damages and pursue it until the papers were exhausted and begging for clemency. But elected officials very rarely conduct their own defense; when they do, they either bolster the appearance of their own guilt or make a complete hash of it. The papers constantly carp about Putin anyway, but if he complained about it the stories would quadruple, and few would be sympathetic while nearly all would have a field day shouting that he was a liar.

          Criticism of Putin is supposed to bring instant death, but in reality journalists know they are perfectly safe reviling him in print, and there is an eager market for everything they write. Complaining or attempting to rebut would simply make their work easier, which is why he chooses the opposite tack, like offering Gessen her job back. There’s an example of the best possible tactic, and she just sounded like an asshole in the way she dealt with it.

    • Misha says:

      Some of what’s said in that feature with WD aren’t quite right. More will be formally provided.

  86. kirill says:

    “Georgia Links Russia Ties to ‘Territorial Issue’”

    No it is up to Russia to decide whether to restore ties to this delinquent statelet. Pretentious chihuahua that leeched off of Russia for a couple of centuries. Take your fake wine and handful of bay leaves and shove them, twerps.

    • marknesop says:

      Although the sole commenter to that article got a little carried away, he or she was right that the statement in question was mostly for domestic consumption. Ivanishvili has to look committed to restoration of “Georgian territorial integrity” (whatever that means, since the commenter is also correct that both breakaway republics were de facto independent for many years before the conflict in 2008, and have no interest in a reunion under the Georgian flag), as well as to European integration and NATO membership, regardless what he actually believes, while he is getting a fragile government off the ground – doubtless with plenty of sabotage from Saakashvili.

      The greatest opposition to reintegration of the republics with Georgia will come from the republics themselves, not from Russia, and Ivanishvili will be wise to just talk about it for now rather than trying to do it. I’m sure he could smooth things out to the extent that relations could become a lot more friendly, but I doubt either republic is interested in bowing its head in fealty to Georgian sovereignty.

      • yalensis says:

        From what I understand, Ivanishvili’s plan is to start improving peaceful relations on the ground between the different sets of ethnic groups: more cultural contacts, trade, etc. This is already going on anyhow, but will certainly improve even more once you have the violent trouble-making Merabishvilis out of the way.
        The conceit is that once the ethnic minorities stop being afraid of Kartvelian violence, then they will want to come back into the fold. Highly dubious. The Abkhazians actually want to be completely independent nation (including independent from Russia); and the Ossetians desperately want to be a Russian province.

        • The problem with the Georgian elite is that it continues to think it can both have its cake and eat it as well. It wants the full restoration of economic and cultural links with Russia (essential if Georgia’s economy is to have a real chance at prosperity) but at the same time it still wants to join the EU and NATO and it still wants Russia to “hand Abkhazia and South Ossetia” back. Moreover it fantasises that it can get Russia to agree to all this simply by being more polite to it but refuses to restore diplomatic relations with Russia until it gets what it wants.

          This is a totally unrealistic policy. A more realistic policy would be for Georgia to resume diplomatic relations with Russia immediately, confirm that the policy of NATO membership is being abandoned (NATO membership isn’t going to happen anyway any time soon and confers no benefit on Georgia if it happened), rejoin the CIS as Lukashenko amongst others is urging it to do, and carry out a major reassessment of its EU policy to determine (1) whether there is in fact any realistic of Georgia joining the EU any time soon and (2) whether it would in fact benefit Georgia economically if it did given that Georgia’s major market and source of investment must logically be Russia. As for Abkhazia and South Ossetia it should talking to them to see what sort of modus vivendi is possible concentrating in the first instance on issues like return or compensation for refugees whilst the vexed question of sovereignty is put aside.

          The only thing I would say is that one hopes that the leadership of the Georgian government is more realistic than it pretends and that it says what it is saying because it feels that the Georgian people are not yet ready to face the truth and need more time to prepare for it. If that is the calculation then the results of the recent election suggest that they underestimate the good sense of the Georgian people and misunderstand their priorities. In the meantime the leadership of the new government also need to understand that time is not on Georgia’s side and that without an urgent rapprochement with Russia the Georgian economy is at serious risk. Saakashvili was able to hold things together despite losing the Russian market because of the huge amount of money he was able to attract to Georgia during his rule. If that flow of money stops or starts going into reverse now that he is going Georgia with its big foreign debt and its large trade deficit could quickly find itself in crisis with its currency coming under pressure.

          • marknesop says:

            I generally agree wholeheartedly; however, I would just take issue with one small point: “Saakashvili was able to hold things together despite losing the Russian market because of the huge amount of money he was able to attract to Georgia during his rule.”

            In fact, Saakashvili more than quadrupled Georgia’s long-term external debt between 2007 and 2008, and it rose every year thereafter while he was President.

   (Georgia’s info is on page 146)

            I don’t know if you can accurately term that “attracting money”, but the myth persists that the west – pardon me, the Anglosphere – threw money at Georgia because it loved Saakashvili. Not exactly. Foreign Direct Investment under Saakashvili was horrible, and it was plain the image of eager investors flocking to Georgia existed only in Saakashvili’s dreams and speeches. The USA gave Georgia lots of lolly in terms of military aid and the like, and there were some development grants and that sort of thing. But – just like Ukraine under Yushchenko – the pattern was get a liberal leader on the throne, and break out the IMF/World Bank chequebook for huge loans. As I’ve said before, it was supposed to generate employment, and it’s not the lending agencies’ fault it didn’t work; basically, it was a sound plan.

            The huge cash flows during Saakashvili’s reign were not money attracted by him, but money borrowed by him, and unless Georgia under Ivanishvili can negotiate debt forgiveness (which it will probably not even try), that’s money for which Georgians are still on the hook, and will be for a long, long time unless heretofore-unimagined revenue streams are generated. Saakashvili reckoned to make it back on tourism, and to that end he threw most of it into vanity projects like bridges and infrastructure improvements, as well as forecasting tourism inflows in his speeches that promised to more than double the population during high season. For various reasons, that never happened.

            • Dear Mark,

              You are absolutely right. Basically what Saakashvili was able to do was get his friends in the west to lend him lots of money. This was how Saakashvili was able to pay his police and bureaucracy and meet pension payments and such like as well as fund his pet building projects like the Presidential Palace in Tbilisi (I have heard the locals call it “Caligula’s Palace”) and the infamous city on the swamp. I gather that a lot of it also went on an arms buying spree. I suspect also that increasing amounts of borrowed money are being used to pay the interest on earlier loans.

              The problem is that with Georgia running a trade deficit it is difficult to see how without borrowing still more money it is going to cover its budget and pay back these loans. If with Saakashvili gone noone is prepared to lend Georgia the money Georgia is going to have to find a way of paying off the money by itself. Trading with Russia is the logical answer which is doubtless one reason why there’s all the talk of resuming trade and economic links with Russia. The trouble is the Georgian elite seems unwilling to accept the political sacrifices this requires.

              • marknesop says:

                Well, again I would qualify that slightly; it’s likely not so much that Saakashvili was able to persuade his western friends to lend him lots of money, and there is every possibility that it was Saakashvili who was persuaded this was the smart way to get his new Georgia up and running. In the way I picture it, the loans were his western advisers’ idea.

                After all, is there a quicker way to subordinate a country and hijack its decision-making apparatus than to take control of its economy? This is exactly what happened in Ukraine – Yushchenko signed on for huge loans, and when the jobs didn’t take off as planned, he asked for another big bailout. What happened? It was denied, on the grounds that he had failed to implement promised austerity measures. If they were trying to get him re-elected, they had a hell of a funny way of showing it, because few leaders get elected on an austerity platform – there’s just something about having your nose rubbed in poverty that the electorate doesn’t like. Whatever the case, the fact remains that the IMF and the World Bank essentially took over Ukraine as a wholly-owned subsidiary, and Yushchenko was reduced – for all to see – as a quivering supplicant to them. For some reason, possibly because he was such a charming crook, the western financial collective never did that to Saakashvili. Maybe they were afraid he would attack them in their sleep, or something. But something Ukraine and Georgia share, besides colour revolutions, is that a huge share of their GDP – something like 70% – is vested in private enterprises owned by its oligarchy. Tymoshenko is one of them, for Ukraine.

                Georgia’s economy is almost exclusively agrarian, outside of tourism, which failed to pull Saakashvili’s bollocks out of the fire. An agrarian business relationship requires a close market, as produce doesn’t stay fresh long unless you invest a lot of money in refrigerated air transport, and nearby Europe has agricultural subsidies up the yingyang to protect its own industry. Russia really is the only game in town, and the sooner Euro-giddy Georgians realize it, the better. Their choice is to diversify away from an agrarian economy, which would leave them playing catch-up in an increasingly polarizing world.

          • yalensis says:

            On the topic of (Saakashvili + Money), I saw this piece today:


            Summary: Ivanishvili’s new government is trying to take away Saak’s personal airplane and also kick him out of his presidential mansion.
            [Everybody knows that for years Saak has been using the Gruzian government as his personal piggybank. He is exactly the kind of wantonly corrupt tyrant that Opps claim Putin is.]
            Saak’s private plane costs $485,000 (American dollars) per month, for routine maintenance. (The buying price of the plane itself is estimated to be $56 million, and is said to include a James Bond type catapult, in case Russkies try to shoot it down.)
            New defense minister Irakly Alasania (who hates Saak’s guts) wants to take away Saak’s plane and use the money to pay for the army’s needs instead. Article mentions that Ksenia Sobchak has been treated to a ride on Saak’s plane, one day they flew together from Tbilisi to Batumi.
            Ivanishvili also told Saak he wants to kick him out of presidential mansion; the electrical bills alone cost $484,000 (per month).
            Saak’s spokesperson said, no, he won’t leave his mansion, he’s still Prez and he intends to live there. So I guess we will have to see if Ivanishvili can pry the dictator out with a crowbar.

            • marknesop says:

              There must be some mistake. Even if you left all the lights on 24 hours a day and all the refrigerator doors open, you couldn’t run up an electrical bill of almost a half-million per month. That’s just frankly impossible – what could you do to waste that much electricity?

              The airplane maintenance costs, I buy. Depending on how much it’s used, of course.

              • yalensis says:

                I double-checked article:

                “Очень большие расходы для обслуживания дворца президента. Пока еще разбираемся, какие были расходы на его финансирование. 800 тысяч лари (около 484 тысяч долларов) идет только на оплату электроэнергии президентского дворца”, – заявил премьер после заседания правительства.

                Hm… well, they don’t actually say “per month”, maybe they mean “annually” ?
                I just assumed “monthlY’, because article begins with discussion of monthly airplane charges. So I assumed somebody was analyzing monthly expenses and trying to find ways to economize.
                Problem occurs when small country with small budget has ruler with big fat head who wants to live same lifestyle as ruler of big, wealthy country.

                • marknesop says:

                  Oh, I wouldn’t dispute his extravagance, that is a matter of record. But there has to be some parity in the world for costs of various benchmark goods and services, and I can’t think what you could do with electricity to make it cost that much, not off a regular household’s needs – not even a mansion. Unless perhaps the basement is dedicated to a big shop full of chop saws for cutting up his victims, and 500 deep freezers to store them.
                  Unlikely. Anyway, electrical costs on that scale would have become a news item a long time ago, and in a country that suffers from frequent service interruptions I would be surprised if Saakashvili’s pad were not served by its own generators.

              • Hunter says:

                Well if that $484,000 was the annual figure then the monthly figure would be $40,333.33. That’s still an incredible bill but I suppose it might be possible.

          • Misha says:

            The Georgians answer by noting the many countries (practically all) not recognizing Abkhaz and South Ossetian independence.

            With Taiwan-(mainland) China as a reference, Russo-Georgian relations can noticeably improve even with a major difference, that might very well linger on for quite a period of time.

          • Hunter says:

            Given that perhaps the Georgian electorate might still be attached to the idea of EU and NATO membership a more practical approach would be to resume diplomatic relations with Russia but publicly lodge regular complaints about Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (just something symbolic; do NOT publicly confirm the abandonment of joining NATO but instead simply stop speaking about it (that way no other party can accuse them (with proof) of abandoning a policy that many Georgians agree with) but instead start referring to more cooperation with NATO on technical matters and IF pressed on the issue state that NATO membership is a long-term goal but the government wants to resolve the issues over Abkhazia and South Ossetia before joining NATO since NATO membership is unrealistic as long as the issue of the two breakaway republics remains unresolved (note: resolve the issues could mean anything from eventually accepting their independence to being able to successfully convince them to rejoin peacefully); rejoin the CIS and sign on to the CIS Free Trade deal BUT make a big deal that Georgia will not join the CSTO, Eurasian Economic Community, or the Customs Union (again, something to keep the electorate from being too disturbed) and then carry out a major reassessment of Georgia’s EU policy as you suggested but additionally determining if (3) if there is any prospect of Georgia joining the EU alongside other former Soviet countries mainly as a bloc so as not to disrupt Georgia’s markets and if not if there is any chance of the CIS countries (perhaps together in the Eurasian Union) joining the EEA instead of fully joining the EU.

            • yalensis says:

              Wow! That’s very good, @hunter. You show a benign Machiavellian streak.

            • marknesop says:

              I never really thought about it that way, but you’re right – although NATO membership is not possible while unresolved territorial disputes remain unresolved, I guess I never thought about them being resolved by Georgia’s simply letting them go. Viewed from that angle, Georgia is just as much to blame for its ineligibility for NATO membership as is Russia, since the independence bid of the two republics had little to do with either country (except that they did not want to be part of Georgia).

              Georgia’s insistence that the two territories must be reunited under the Georgian flag tends to obscure the fact that simply accepting their current status would also resolve the problem.

              • yalensis says:

                From a psychological POV, Gruzia obviously needs to accept the reality of the divorce, write off the property, and then get on with her life.
                But the problem is this: Even if she wanted to, Gruzia is not at liberty to simply recognize Abkhazian/South Ossetian independence and then get on with her life. American/NATO won’t let her. They want Gruzia in NATO, but they want the artificially expanded version of Gruzia. Reasons: Abkhazia’s strategic location. South Ossetia, on the other hand, doesn’t look like such great shakes, but it too controls a strategic object: the southern port of the Roki Tunnel. NATO wants all that stuff. For military-strategic reasons, obviously, and also to control the (future?) pipeline.

              • Hunter says:

                Exactly, but Georgia wants to have its cake and eat it too. Eventually it will probably find out that one almost never gets to do that.

  87. AK says:

    Mark, congrats, your “Bolotnaya Politburo” idea seems to have been stolen by Komsomolskaya Pravda! :)))

    • AK says:

      Let’s look at an example; this weekend’s grimacing failure on the part of what Pavel Danilin first referred to as “The Bolotnaya Politburo

      Oh wait, you borrowed it from KP in the first place. Sorry. That’s what I get for commenting on an article several weeks after reading it! ;)

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Nay, it was KP’s idea to start with. I translated the article a while back and posted it here a couple of threads go. It was a long spoof article giving character sketches of the proposed Bolotnaya Politburo members.

  88. Moscow Exile says:

    Dear Ak,

    Sorrry! No need to have made my last messsage. I see you have found the original posting.

    Tolokonnikova as Ideology Secretary tickled me.

  89. yalensis says:

    “Clinton calls for overhaul of Syrian opposition”:
    Clinton is currently in Zagreb, she has decided to fire the current Syrian Opps and build a new one.
    Next week she is supposed to fly to Qatar to get cracking on the Syrian regime-change project. Current lot of Opps were not able to overthrow Assad, so they are going to try for Take #2. Some people (like long-term armchair emigres) will be fired, others demoted. “There has to be a representation of those who are in the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom.”
    “Clinton’s comments represented a clear break with the Syrian National Council (SNC), a largely foreign-based group which has been among the most vocal proponents of international intervention in the Syrian conflict.”
    Translation: Bigger role and more shadow-cabinet posts for the jihadist militants who are doing the actual fighting. (=Same guys who killed her ambassador in Benghazi??)

    • marknesop says:

      Isn’t the Syrian opposition supposed to be a totally spontaneous grass-roots network that sprang up, yearning to be free, out of Assad’s repressions? How do you fire a group that was not assembled to your directions?

      Oh, wait…..

      • Dear Mark,

        “Isn’t the Syrian opposition supposed to be a totally spontaneous grass-roots network…?”

        As we see that myth is disintegrating. It is clear that Hillary Clinton and the other authors of the Syrian regime change strategy grossly underestimated the resilience of the Syrian regime and its army and completely miscalculated the international opposition to their venture. However instead of cutting their losses they do what all bad gamblers do, which is up their stake by becoming ever more deeply and transparently involved.

        • marknesop says:

          I believe that in political parlance which was adopted directly from street dice games, that is known as “doubling down”, and it bears fruit just about as often as you would expect. There are rich gamblers who got rich by gambling, but I bet you could get all of them in the world in a good-sized room, while it would require a fairly ambitious city to hold all those ruined by gambling.

        • yalensis says:

          You got to know when to hold ‘em,
          Know when to fold ‘em,
          Know when to walk away,
          Know when to run….

        • AK says:

          They are indeed on tilt.

  90. yalensis says:

    Suggested way for Russian media to counteract Julia Ioffe’s propagnda (her continuing to slime Russia for Moscow fires and Krymsk, etc.) Show these images, for example:

  91. Moscow Exile says:

    Quite! And when Latynina the other year was lambasting the Russian government in general and Vladimir Putin in particular about the forest fires that caused a great deal of damage to and destruction of property, as well as loss of life, she said that such things only happened in third world countries and by any yardstick Russia most definitely belonged to that category. I wonder then, on the evidence presented in the above report from Staten Island, how she would classify the United States of America?

    • Misha says:

      In the best interests of journalism, it continues to be a great travesty that her likes get proppsed on such a regular basis.

      I say that across the board – when RT is screwy, as well as those unfairly criticizing it.

      As for Hurricane Sandy, there has been a pretty good rapid response in a number of instances. Kudos to the out of state professionals who flew in. The ones serving as backup to the Long Island Power Authority have been exemplary.

    • yalensis says:

      Unfortunately, USA already exhibits several attributes of being a Third World country, namely: under-served underclass (such as these working class families on Staten Island), wide income discrepancies, high level of debt, frayed infrastructure, oligarchic government, etc etc. The loss of life and property in this latest natural disaster have been higher than they needed to be. Where were the backup generators? Where were the pumps? etc etc…Not to detract anything from the heroic responders and rescuers who did everything they were supposed to do.

      • Misha says:

        Valid points that relate elsewhere.

        • yalensis says:

          One way in which America is definitely superior to Russia:
          After Krymsk flooding, the afflicted areas were swarmed by White-Ribbon Opps “volunteers” (actually sent there by their American grant-funders) for the purpose of making propaganda hay (like spreading false rumors about the oficials deliberately flooding the town, etc.) while pretending to be “helping” the local residents. Most of these volunteers had no actual skills or credentials in any disaster activity. They were neither firemen nor engineers. Just idiots tying up the roads and getting in the way of the real relief workers.
          In America, analogous would be, say, Tea Baggers, swarming onto the New Jersey shore to lambast Obama and FEMA, etc. However, this didn’t happen. Maybe because Americans have more self-respect than Russians? Maybe because Russian government does not allocate grant money to American dissidents?

          • ” Maybe because Americans have more self-respect than Russians?”
            Americans are generally a lot more patriotic than Russians and less likely to betray their own country for money than Russians. This is especially true for white anglo-saxon Americans. One of Russia’s biggest weakness is the lack of patriotism, cohesion and loyality among general population.

            • Misha says:

              That thought came up before in another thread at this blog.

              Russian patriotism is underestimated on account of what does and doesn’t get typically promoted at the more high profile of venues.

              In case you didn’t see this:


              A reasonable idea if properly implemented, in terms of promoting a responsibly intelligent patriotism (minus chauvinism), that has an eye for biased commentary against Russia/Russians and the ability to successfully answer back.

              Putin recently reached out to Masha Gessen. In terms of the above project, he’d do better by reaching out to some others.

              An example of biased commentary against Russia:


              An example of the opposite, inclusive of a relative objectivity:


              Among some others, kudos to the George Mason University affiliated History News Network for picking up the last linked piece unlike….

              It’s no small wonder why the coverage of Russia continues to lack among the more high profile of venues

              • AK says:

                The founder of the site you choose to criticize above on the basis of one article there once invited you to a conference, with expenses (presumably) paid. Not very charitable of you.

                • Misha says:

                  You’re wrong in your characterization, which comes as no great surprise.

                  That invite was initiated by someone else whose org had been very much involved with the conference in question. The expenses you mention were paid by that org.

                  That particular sponsor lauded my performance there to some others including some key folks like the gentleman you mention. Some others did likewise.

                  Meantime, it’s not so “charitable” for a “Russophile” to present a negatively inaccurate characterization of a quality pro-Russian advocate.

            • marknesop says:

              This is one of your favourite themes. Do you have anything to support it? Is there anything that supports a contention that excessive patriotism makes you less likely to betray your country? Especially considering a common tactic of intelligence services is to convince subjects they are helping their country by supplying certain information, particularly when there is a leader in charge the subject feels is taking the country in the wrong direction.

              And money does not really seem to be much of a factor. Canadian naval officer Delisle confessed to having betrayed his country for about $3000,00 per month, which would have been less than his regular salary. Robert Hanssen betrayed the United States for money – and he worked for the FBI; I imagine he came up with some very juicy information – but it was a very small amount considering the value of what he had to sell. Mostly it seems to be the excitement of living a double life, and Americans are no less susceptible to seeking thrills than anyone else.

            • yalensis says:

              @karlhoushofer: Any statistical proof for your contention that white ango-saxon Americans are more patriotic than, say, African-Americans?
              No? I didn’t think so, because your statement is obviously bullshit.

              • AK says:

                Where is the statistical evidence to the contrary?

                • marknesop says:

                  I don’t imagine there is any statistical evidence, because the two qualities mentioned have no causative relationship. It’s like saying people who are fond of sweet peppers are more likely to be cruel to animals. Not everything is provable through statistics – however, although Karl keeps throwing that one out there, trying to get a rise, it is one of those statements that has no supporting evidence of any kind. It’s just his opinion. As such, he’s certainly entitled to it, but such an opinion is kind of a null if no evidence can be offered to either support or refute it.

                • yalensis says:

                  It is the job of the person who makes such an extraordinary assertion (that white anglo-saxon Americans are more patriotic than non-white anglo-saxon Americans) to provide the evidence for that assertion. If he can prove that statement with, say, scientific polling data, then I will accept it as true. Otherwise I don’t see any reason to believe it, because it goes against my own experiences with various types of Americans. But it doesn’t surprise me to see you jumping in to troll this thread. After all, “Ворон ворону глаз не выклюет…”

                • AK says:

                  Well, speaking of polls, it’s not an opinion, but a fact.

                  It’s also pretty obvious to anyone who lives in the real world, though I acknowledge that PC blinders can prevent one from noticing such things.

                  I say that as someone who is an entirely disinterested observer with obviously zero relations to US patriotism and its representatives.

                • marknesop says:

                  How do you and karl get from here to Russians are more likely to betray their country for money because Americans are more patriotic? Americans are patriotic, and it’s a fact? Whoopty doo. I don’t recall ever contesting that. There are some interesting factoids in there about patriotism as a function of gender, but Americans have reverence for flag and country rubbed into their skin as babies. I still don’t see anything in that study, PC blinders or otherwise, that suggests Russians are more likely to betray their country for money because they are less patriotic, nor in fact do I see anything in this study which claims Americans are more patriotic than Russians. Just that they are “very patriotic” as compared to other Americans.

                  Addendum: I see you are replying to Yalensis’s comment, and indeed it seems he left himself open by suggesting there is nothing which suggests Americans of different racial origins are any more patriotic, while there does seem to be evidence that suggests just that. Poll evidence, anyway, which asks Americans to rate themselves. I don’t know how scientific that is, but it’s not the same as there being no evidence at all. However, I maintain that there is no evidfence to support a conclusion that Russians are mlore likely to betray their country because they are less patriotic, or even that they are less patriotic in the first place.

                • yalensis says:

                  All that is visible to me on the link is this:
                  “Public opinion 2005 Alec Gallup. Frank Newport. Race, Gender, Age Affect Patriotism. Some Americans are more likely than others to express high levels of patriotism. Eighty percent of whites say they are extremely or very patriotic, while only…
                  No preview available for this page. Buy this book.”

                  Fine. Not willing to buy the book, but intuiting the rest of that missing sentence, I suppose that does prove that American non-whites are less patriotic than whites. Or at least they were back in 2005. (That was after Hurricane Katrina and before the 2008 election.)
                  P.S. I don’t necessarily regard patriotism as a good quality. It all depends on the context.

                • yalensis says:

                  @mark: It’s true I left myself open to refutation on that racial angle, but that’s because @karl brought up the issue of the American white anglo-saxons, as a positive example of people who don’t take money to betray their country. My hackles always go up when I suspect somebody is dissing African-Americans, because defending people of African heritage happens to be one of my favorite causes. A cause that Karlin mockingly dismisses as “PC”. (Anybody who defends Africans is pathetically PC, in Karlin’s world view. You are only a cool person if you dump on them without abandon.) So, in other words, just to clarify, Karlin was calling me PC, not you, although things can get a bit confusing in these skinny threads, and especially when some people are speaking dog whistle.
                  Also, I still don’t think the Gallup poll proves anything, but at least it’s slightly better than a naked assertion.
                  In any case, to date this @karl has only spoken on blogs in brief blasts of enigmatic dog whistles. I have a suspicion about what his ideology is, because I read a lot of similar b.s. in comments on Russian blogs. However, I can’t be sure since, again, he only speaks in dog whistles. For all I know, @karl is a sociology graduate student making an abstract scholarly point about demographics and patriotic attitudes? On the other hand, he could be a raving skinhead. Or maybe something in between? He is a mystery….

                • marknesop says:

                  He comes across to me as someone much like our previous colleague AJ – somebody who has a treasured viewpoint that he likes to put out there to start an argument. That’s not the first time I’ve seen him offer that Russians are just tumbling over one another to betray their country for money because they are not patriotic like Americans.

                  Well, looking at it that way, most Russian defectors who eagerly betray their country for money actually become patriotic Americans. We know quite a few of them, in fact; Julia Ioffe and Alexei Beyer, to name two. Ioffe goes weak at the knees when she’s back in the bosom of wonderful America, out of reach of Putin’s scaly tentacles. Yulia Latynina, although she still lives in Russia the great majority of the time, is as patriotic an American as you can find, even decorated by the United States government for her yeoman service in spreading American values.

                  So in a way, Karl is both right, and wrong. Unless a study is conducted which compares the “patriotism” (itself an undefined quantity) of Russians against the patriotism of Americans using a standard common to both – which does not include simply asking people “do you believe you are a little bit patriotic, very very patriotic or insanely patriotic” since it samples only how they feel at the moment they were asked the question and does not incorporate patriotic activities or behaviors – there is nothing to support his contention that a lack of patriotism has a direct link to betrayal of your country for money. However, those Russians we know who do betray their country for money have become hyperpatriots for America, although I wouldn’t say it casts them in a very good light.

                • Misha says:

                  Paul Mooney is a comedic offset to anti-Black sentiment, in addition to the previously linked at this blog Dave Chappelle.

                  Karl comes across as someone who is perhaps greatly influenced by the kind of Russians typically getting high profile treatment.

                  An intelligent and ethically reasoned patriotism exhibits the ability to effectively answer inaccurate biases against the given people/country in question. Among the more earnest of Russians and non-Russian Russophiles, there’s a yearning to know more about certain aspects of Russian history which haven’t been so objectively covered.

                • AK says:

                  As regards yalensis’ angry claims, I consider it PC when people lie in defending Blacks (yes, Blacks, not “of African heritage” – what ridiculous PS-speak), against overwhelming statistical evidence to the contrary. It is like trying to argue that a big percentage of Russians aren’t alcoholics or that their elections aren’t falsified or that they don’t tend to low have future time orientations and a high propensity for corruption.

          • Misha says:

            Sometimes the personal biases (which we all have to one degree or another) can get in the way of overlooking certain particulars.

            I’m reminded how a Fox News segment was inaccurately portrayed by some as an attempt to censor a pro-Russian view regarding the 2008 war in the former Georgian SSR.

            Concerning Sandy: compared to the last major storm in its area, Nassau County might prove to have reacted better in per capita terms terms of restoring power – no small achievement given the extensive property damage this time around.

            If I correctly offhand recall, Staten Island and some other NY metro areas weren’t as hit as hard as Nassau in the last major storm. There’s a learning curve process involved with such experiences.

            In process of considering a FEMA claim on a couple of strorm related damages.

            On the Russian government point: they’ve spending time and money on related matters. The issue remains how that effort can be improved upon.

          • kirill says:

            The white ribbonist liberasts are the very caricature that they project onto others. What sort of moron does what you describe? They don’t even have such inanity in the west. Whom are the liberasts emulating? North Korea?

          • AK says:

            The risk of arrest for such activities may also play a part.

  92. Moscow Exile says:

    An interesting piece of news from the UK:

    McShane is the main Westminster Russophobe shill. He was born as Denis Matyjaszek – enough said:


    He thinks Russia is a mafa state full of corrupt politicians.

    • “He thinks Russia is a mafia state full of corrupt politicians”.

      The irony of that is exquisite. By the way he’s now resigned (after Labour told him to).

    • Robert says:

      Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. He epitomised everything that is wrong about New Labour. He also called for Russia to be expelled from the ECHR because of Pussy Riot. As if expelling Russia from the ECHR would do anything for human rights in that country. Moron.

      • marknesop says:

        Too right, but this sort of politician is fond of the dramatic gesture, the repudiating glove to the face, the “Honour must be satisfied, Sir”. Another cut from the same cloth is Foreign Secretary William Hague, with his histrionics over the poor Syrian opposition and how the Anglosphere must march over there straightaway; shoulder to shoulder, my boys, and we’ll show these Arabs the best of British pluck, and put those nice al Qaeda gentlemen into power for the glory of Britain.

        Perhaps coincidentally, Hague’s department is also in hot water this week, on their part for spending £10,000.00 of the taxpayers’ money to get Albert, an anaconda who was a present thought to have originated in Guyana, re-stuffed when he was discovered to have fallen into disrepair. As expenditures of taxpayers’ money go, £10,000.00 probably isn’t that much even in a UK under the most severe austerity budget since the war. However, the attitude of the Ministry’s spokesman when it was pointed out that the FO is a government office and not a Natural History museum speaks volumes about the entitlement felt by the tony prats who get into government and then stay there a lifetime – “We will not be constricted, nor will we scale back, in our dedication to preserve this historic national treasure”. Constricted? Scale back? Dear me, what a comic, and his prop only cost the taxpayer ten thousand quid.

        • Robert says:

          In an ideal world both Hague and MacShane would be stuffed and exhibited in a museum. I would pay good money to see that.

          Both are hardcore neocons skilled in wrapping up the neocon agenda in politically correct bull.

        • AK says:

          This is just nitpicking.. I see nothing wrong that with modest expenditure.

          • marknesop says:

            I believe I did say that it was not a significant amount. What annoyed me – and, I should think, British taxpayers – was the attitude of the Foreign Office. At a time when the British government keeps squawking that the people must tighten their belts and everything is about doing more with less, it should be hard for the FO to justify spending that kind of money on sprucing up a dead snake which was a gift from a country which doesn’t exist any more. Instead, it was the occasion for comic puns about snakes, with no evidence of remorse whatever. I find it hard to believe the job would have gone ahead if the staff had been told they’d have to pay for it out of their own pockets.

            • yalensis says:

              Oh! I just got that joke about “not being constricted”. Anaconda … constricted … haha!

              • marknesop says:

                And “we will not SCALE back”. Get it? Ha ha.

                • yalensis says:

                  Ooo I missed that one too, forgot the second meaning of “scale”. Now I get it! Haha, that’s so funny I forgot to laugh!
                  Okay, let me try to think of one. How about “We will FORK out as much money as is needed to fix the snake…”
                  Fork? as in forked tongue?
                  Oh, never mind!

                • marknesop says:

                  That was actually quite funny, I’m surprised they missed that one. Maybe it’s not a common British colloquialism.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Ironic indeed when the UK Tory government is putting the squeeze on public spending.

    • AK says:

      Yes, MacShame certainly did kill irony.

  93. Moscow Exile says:

    What a load of vile filth is this Feigin, one of the Pussy Riot defence lawyers!

    The shit has really hit the fan as regards this bastard who stood outside the courthouse where the PR trial took place, waxing lyrically about honour and human rights and all that is as sweet and honest as mom’s apple pie:



    Pussy Riot Supporters Arguing over Brand

    Ekaterina Samusevich has demanded that Mark Feigin, the lawyer who defended them, reject the right to use the trademark “Pussy Riot”.

    The situation around the so-called group Pussy Riot is more reminiscent of the well-known example of spiders in a jar. [The struggle for power is often known metaphorically in Russian “spiders in a jar” – ME.] Having been released from prison, Ekaterina Samusevich has demanded that Mark Feigin, the lawyer who defended them, reject the right to use the trademark “Pussy Riot”.

    It is now widely known that the film company “Web-Bio” has decided to privatize the group’s name, which film company belongs to (what a surprise!) Feigin’s spouse, Natalia Kharitonova. The application for registration was filed in April, just a month after the lovers of folk dancing in cathedrals had been locked up. If you believe this information, then whilst some with lawyers strenuously portrayed them as “martyrs”, others have tried to get a bit rich by promoting a “brand” so as to give the hooligans the status of political prisoners.

    The very same Feigin all day Friday assured on his Twitter account that he and his wife are honest people, that it is all slander, that there is no money involved and that there have been no talks with any one about making a film about the “pussies” and that it was clear to him who had put forward this idea and why, hinting that the person who actually had a hand in this matter could be the Peter Verzilov, the husband of that person now in prison in Mordovia, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and that it was thanks only to him, Feigin, that the brand had been rescued from Verzilov.

    However, according to the U.S. patent and Trademark Office, the main function of which is “industrial and technological progress in the United States and the strengthening of the national economy”, the owner of the trade mark “Pussy Riot” is a certain “Kinokompania WEB-BIO, LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY RUSSIAN FED. 119034 Ostozhenka St. 27 b, apartment 2, apartment 9, Moscow, RUSSIAN FED. 0.” and it is this company that owns the rights to the sale of goods and services under the brand name “Pussy Riot”, namely CD-drives, pens, greeting cards, clothing, panties, Swimsuits, alcohol, vibrators, condoms, pornodisks, TV, cosmetics, Fireworks, cigarettes, beer, mineral water, etc.

    As the saying goes, nothing personal, just business…

    • As you say the shit really is hitting the fan. I predict that before long it will be all out war. If so it will be interesting to see how Miriam Elder explains it.

      • Misha says:

        It’d be even more “interesting” to see ME replaced with a different and reasoned take on such matter.

        Some people continue to get propped, despite a track record of (put mildly) questionable reporting/commentary.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m tempted to laugh, because in a just world (which, admittedly, exists only as a concept) the worst thing that could happen would be for The Pussies to become rich and famous as a result of their disgusting performance. However, on reflection, this is exactly the way it should shake out, and everybody should be happy. Unless The Pussies are wavering on their committment to an anarchist’s lifestyle, money and fame are anathema to them; no self-respecting anarchist has any use for either. At the same time, Feigin’s corporate coup d’etat provides the perfect inspiration for a future Pussy Art Collective event – they can hang themselves on his front lawn, or something. I hope he has a tree, or at least a lamppost.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Feigin’s manoeuvrings so as to cash in on PR’s new found fame have been suspected for a long time; after all, he filed his PR patent application in April, only one month after his clients had been put on remand pending trial. That’s why at the PR trial there were ardent supporters of theirs waving placards showing Feigin and others of the defence team in a not too favourable light. Feigin was depicted with the statue of the goddess justice at one side and swag bags stuffed with US dollars at the other. When I first saw these people demonstrating, I thought they were anti-PR because of their depiction of the PR defence; they were not. As I said, they were pro-PR and anti-PR defence team. And tht’s what started the rift. And that slimy, wriggling Verzilov is involved as well, hence the saintly Tolokonnikova’s letter disassociating herself from “Pete the Pedo”, which Pete was last seen traipsing around the US and Europe earning an honest buck with his toddler daughter in tow.

    • kirill says:

      More, more! This two bit hustling is just the thing for the Vagina Thugs to self-smear and be forgotten much faster.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Yep! They’re going to make a film about PR:

        It’s going to be called: “Show Trial – The Story of Pussy Riot”.

        Now I wonder who’s financing it?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          And the sooner they get rid of that little closet Liberal shit Medvedev the better:

          RT should employ a native English speaker as proof reader as well. What Medvedev said should have been translated into English thus: “If I had been a judge, I would not have jailed Pussy riot” or “If I were a judge, I would not have jailed Pussy Riot”

          He IS NOT a judge and Pussy Riot ARE in jail now because a judge has jailed them.

          • yalensis says:

            Yeah, this past week Medvedev has been in true liberal form. When that little shit is not busy defending Pussy Riot, he has been back on his old hobbyhorse of trying to lustrate Stalin:

            “They never tekrarlanmamak between the pages of the history of chronic remain”in the evaluation of the Russian Prime Minister,”because to fight against one’s own people is very great crime.” said.

            Stalin did some bad things, but he never tekrarlanmamak’ed anyone, I assure you!


            • Moscow Exile says:

              Another severe case of proof reader absence.

              Why for they not chek dikternary?

              ( tekrarlanmamak – Turkish: “to not come round”)

            • Misha says:

              Medvedev reminds me a bit of the “liberal with sanity” line that Koch has used to describe himself.

              On Al Jazeera this morning (North American time), an excerpt shows Medvedev expressing disgust with Pussy Riot’s manner, coupled with his belief that they should be let out.

              Have no problems denouncing Stalin’s brutal and counter-productive manner. At the same time: for accuracy sake, such criticism should be accurate.

              Medevedev will really lose me when he starts carring on like James Brooke on Lend Lease and other instances like the stanard line concerning Molotov-Ribbentrop.

            • AK says:

              What exactly did Medvedev do wrong? He strongly criticized PR’s actions, but disagreed with the 2 year prison sentence. How is that different from my stance, or that of Alex Mercouris?

              And what, exactly, is wrong with being an anti-Stalinist? Only foaming at the mouth Kurginyanites see that as a character defect.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                I cannot imagine the prime minister of the UK, for example, commenting likewise on what he thought to be a too severe conviction of a British criminal court.

                • AK says:

                  Obama quite visibly took a stance on the Trayvon Martin case, and that was even before the judicial proceedings got started.

              • marknesop says:

                I don’t really think he did anything wrong; his interviewers just asked their questions in such a way that they pried out that quote, and then led with it as if it broadly represents Medvedev’s views. I see no indication that it does; he said it was a matter for the courts and that attribution of musical talent to the band is doing them a favour they don’t really deserve.

          • marknesop says:

            True, but the press also looks to have cherry-picked his entire conversation for that single quote which appears to approve of the “girls”, the poor waifs who are in fact old enough to be mothers in a country where there is no shortage of women who are expected to assume the responsibilities of looking after a family at their age. There was nothing else Medvedev said which could remotely have been construed as supportive – they are not musicians, have not produced some revered work of art and their further incarceration is a matter for the courts. It seems to be a game the press plays, trying to tease a statement out that can be framed out of context to make it seem to mean something far from its original intent. This happens everywhere there are reporters, not just in Russia by any stretch of the imagination, but I am surprised to see RT playing it to western advantage. Or perhaps they imagine they are being “controversial”. Whatever the reason, it just makes Medvedev look disloyal, but part of that is his own fault. He should practice looking in the mirror and saying, “It is what it is”.

            The whole question is stupid anyhow, and RT is trying to milk excitement and freshness from a dry bone. Russians who despise Pussy Riot as a symbol of encroaching western decadence are not going to change their minds, and westerners who heartily approve of their behavior as long as they are stirring up some trouble in Russia are not going to switch sides, either. “Scoops” like these are not changing any minds at all.

            • Misha says:

              Without doing a comparison of this particular news item, the aforementioned Al Jazeera (AJ) segment is probably one of the better of the English language mass media influenced coverage.

              The byline leading to the AJ segment simply said something like: Medevdev supports PR’s release. The actual segment gave a complete overview of what Medvedev said.

              RT has done some good and not so good segments. I’m all for a constructive criticism of RT and the rest of media.

              • “ is that different from….Alex Mercouris’s (stance)”?

                It isn’t and now that the trial is over Medvedev like Putin is entitled to give his view, which is all he has done. As Mark says Medvedev did not support what Pussy Riot did and nor did he argue that what they did was not a crime. Medvedev’s position is therefore completely different from that of Pussy Riot’s supporters who either deny that any crime was committed at all or seek to trivialise it by saying it was merely a minor admininstrative offence.

                As for Britain, politicians including Prime Ministers have been known to comment on sentences hough this is usually done indirectly through the Home Secretary. So illiberal has the atmosphere on law and order become here that when they do make such comments it is almost always to demand more severe sentences than the Courts have imposed. The exception tends to be in cases of burglary when the house owner has shot and either killled or injured the burglar. In cases where this results in the house owner receiving a prison sentence (for using excessive force) the complaint from the politicians is invariably that the sentence is too severe.

        • Misha says:

          Wouldn’t surprise if the same folks who (awhile back) were involved with doing a planned movie on Viktor and Katernya Y, shortly after the so-called Orange Revolution.

          Dunno whatever happened to that project, that could very well have been ditched – something which might happen with this PR movie – given the BS factor, that some in the West (including Ed Koch) haven’t bought into.

        • cartman says:

          I think the film will be in English, so maybe they are just trying to cash in on the fame. Nothing in their catalog looks particularly high budget, and most of it looks like British Orientalist garbage.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Will they do the communal shag in a museum scene, I wonder, or will they just do a potrayal of a normal but quite naive yet amazingly inelligent girl from the sticks who throws her philosophy studies at MGU in order to fight against the oppressive tyranny from which she yearns to be free…and she meets this scoundrel from Canada who makes her do rude things in public…and the climax is her wonderful address to the court where she appeals for decency and humanity from the stony faced judge before being dragged off in chains to a gulag situated on the permafrost tundra of Mordavia, which is in Siberia?…

            And who will play the lead role?

            Madonna made to look almost 40 years younger with the aid of computer graphics?

            • marknesop says:

              I can’t wait for the church scene. They’ll probably come in and wait quietly to be recognized, at which point they will ask politely if it would be OK for them to go up and shake their booties on the altar, and obtain smiling permission. Cut to Patriarch Kirill on the phone, saying “Vova – they’re here”.

    • AK says:

      Yes, I saw and RTed a similar story in Kommersant. Even the typical liberal commentators there were in a bit of an uproar.

  94. Here is a brave piece by Mary Dejevsky in the Independent fighting back after the satirical magazine Private Eye attacked her for meeting Putin with other journalists as part of the Valdai Forum.

    Good for her!

    • Misha says:

      A good number downplay the not so soft on Putin folks who attend that gathering, which would qualitatively improve with the presence of some others.

    • kirill says:

      As usual no western journalist or pundit can get by without trotting out the usual “Putin is bad” BS. She has to prove her anti-Putin credentials. In the real world, people without anti-Russian agendas can actually be pro-Putin.

      • Misha says:

        Usually, a severe crock will eventually be taken as such one way or another. The positive sentiment accorded to Saakashvili dwindled.

        I see signs of hope of things improving for Russia’s image. There’re some hindering aspects which are worth discussing at higher levels, for those truly seeking a better coverage. These thoughts relate to something that’s under consideration for a more formal release.

      • Misha says:

        The way some use “brave” is overly selective, given what some others have done.

        This point touches on the kind of throw a bone approach that has been evident among the more sympathetic to Putin/Russia commentary, which gets placed at the more high profile of English language media venues.

        An example being something along the linies of: yes, Russia is …. (standard set of tabloid like cliche talking points), followed by: but…..

    • AK says:

      Thanks for the link!

  95. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, Litvinenko inquest getting ready to open in London:

    Coroner says he will look into the following 7 possibilities:

    По заявлению коронера, в ходе судебных заседаний будут исследованы следующие вопросы:
    1. Виновно ли российское государство в смерти Литвиненко?
    2. Причастны ли к отравлению Литвиненко Андрей Луговой и Дмитрий Ковтун?
    3. Мог ли быть Борис Березовский связан со смертью Литвиненко?
    4. Какую роль могла сыграть мафия?
    5. Какова роль итальянца Марио Скарамеллы, встречавшегося с Литвиненко в день, когда его предположительно отравили полонием?
    6. Не было ли произошедшее несчастным случаем?
    7. Не покончил ли Литвиненко с собой?

    1. Rus. Government dunnit?
    2. Lugovoi/Kovtun dunnit?
    3. Boris Berezozvsky dunnit?
    4. Mafia dunnit?
    5. Mario Scaramelli dunnit?
    6. Was accident?
    7. Was suicide?