Neighbouring Giants Edge Closer

Uncle Volodya says, "The European Union encourages contributions from the rich and votes from the poor under the pretense that it is protecting them from each other."

Uncle Volodya says, “The European Union encourages contributions from the rich and votes from the poor under the pretense that it is protecting them from each other.”

The world is closing in;
did you ever think
that we could be so close
like brothers?
The future’s in the air,
I can feel it everywhere;
blowing with the wind
of change…

Although German metal band The Scorpions’ “Wind of Change” burst on the rock music scene in 1991, and endures today as Germany’s 10th-best-selling single of all time, it was actually written in 1989 by Klaus Meine, the band’s vocalist. The band was visiting Moscow, and the song was written as a celebration of glasnost, and the end of the Cold War. Tensions eased, and Germany and Russia were friends.

What happened?

The still-not-over Cypriot banking crisis and attendant bailout showed a different side of Germany, as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble peevishly insisted depositors bear a share of bailing out the failed banks, Frau Merkel dug in for a tough reelection fight in which bailing out wealthy Russians would be a non-starter, and many of the European Union’s leaders chortled that nobody would get hurt but Russian gangsters, money launderers and crooks. Prior to the implementation of what became known as “The Cyprus Haircut”, officials pretended that a levy of bank depositors was not even on the table. They then used a bank-holiday weekend to strike, without discussing it with Russia at all, while analysts claimed Russia did not intervene because it was too weak.

That narrative seemed to sit well with most of the EU, and popular newspapers such as The Guardian regularly vilify Russia in terms of undisguised loathing. Star turns like Luke Harding and Miriam Elder vie for the title of champion liar, while dissidents both within Russia and without are praised as heroes and misunderstood political geniuses. Favourites like Lev Ponomarev and Lyudmilla Alekseeva can always be relied on for a comment that simultaneously spits at Russia’s feet while longingly crooning a love song to western democracies, and there is a tremendous shopping list of political think-tanks and human-rights organizations – all chattering away while supposedly gasping for breath under the thumb of crackdown-King Putin – in Moscow which will gladly sell out its own government in return for a pat on the head from the regime-changers.

The EU and IMF spent €67.5 Billion to bail out Ireland. Your friend and mine, Wolfgang Schäuble, did argue that Germany hoped this money would not be used to recapitalize the banks, but of course it was and nobody made too much of a fuss. How much Irish bank funding actually came from the Eurozone? About 2%; the rest came from the USA, Britain and offshores: in fact, it was mostly the USA’s subprime meltdown that sent the Irish banks into insolvency. Greece got €110 Billion out of the Eurozone, which it promptly wasted. With moist eyes and spread hands, shamefaced, Greece went back for a second bailout, and got it – another €130 Billion. €78 Billion in rescue loans for Portugal. Up to €100 Billion promised to Spain, directly to the banks. And yet Cyprus’s economy was wrecked and it was destroyed as a tax haven, probably forever, over €17 Billion. Why?

Because it was Russia’s tax haven.

In the USA, the reprehensible Magnitsky Act was passed, allowing Russian officials to be placed on a secret list which would then bar them from entering the USA and render any property they own in the USA susceptible to confiscation by the U.S. government. It was attached to the trade bill which abolished the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which was timely indeed, since the USA would have had to drop the Jackson-Vanik Amendment anyway, under WTO rules. All WTO members must grant all other WTO members Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR), and had the USA kept the Jackson-Vanik Amendment in place, Russia could have used it to apply preferential tariffs on U.S. goods which would have placed American businesses at a disadvantage. But the imperative to retain a stick with which to flog Russia was not to be denied. Russian opposition figures exulted, and promptly began to draw up their own lists of Russian officials in order to lobby U.S. Congresspersons for their inclusion on the Magnitsky List. The passing of the act was met swiftly with bans on importation of American meats, and a law which forbade the adoption of Russian orphans by Americans.

Shortly thereafter, Russian adoptee Maksim Kuzmin (Max Alan Shatto, in the USA) died in the custody of his adoptive parents, Laura and Alan Shatto of Gardendale, Texas. Russian officials were kept at arms-length, and the documentation was not shared with them despite requests for it. They were not allowed to see any of the investigative reports. Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov told reporters the child appeared to have been beaten and that his parents had given him a powerful drug normally prescribed for schizophrenics, and was immediately and loudly denounced as a liar, a buffoon and a lunatic. The injuries on the child’s body were determined by the medical examiner to be just playground scrapes, said American media. It’s easy to say whatever you like when the autopsy report is kept under wraps. However, a few days ago an American paper obtained it under a Freedom of Information application, and released it. Lo and behold, the child’s body was covered with bruises, in some cases bruises on top of older bruises, his rectum was reported to be abnormal in appearance and apparently torn, and he had been prescribed the drug Risperdal, a neuroleptic frequently prescribed for schizophrenia, in a dosage twice what would be appropriate for a teenager between 13 and 17. There was no indication in the reports that the pathologists had found the injuries consistent with self-injury due to a mental condition, but that they had made that diagnosis based on “family history”, meaning that that’s what the parents said. The location of the body beside a swing and slide play set was underlined for emphasis – easy explanation, another unfortunate playground accident; case closed. Meanwhile, the death of Boris Berezovsky in his bathroom, locked from the inside, following the wiping-out of his fortune and the catastrophic loss of a major court case he plainly expected to win inspires a detailed inquest (thanks, Kirill) and no end of slobbering and dark hints in the British press about the likelihood of FSB participation in his demise. No lack of suspicion there – sometimes the British press is like splitting your pants at a party, they’re so embarrassing.

The winds of change appear to offer no promise in that direction, and there are indications Russia realizes it and is resolved to waste no more time upon it.

Newly-minted Chinese President Xi Jinping just wrapped up a visit to Russia – his first visit to any country as head of state (thanks to Ken McCauley for the links and the idea, and to Robert, who came up with it almost simultaneously). China has agreed to buy 24 Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets and 4 Lada Class submarines, China’s biggest defense buy from Russia in a decade.

But there was more, much more. A gas deal that could see China become the single largest importer of Russian gas. An agreement to double oil supplies from Russia as well as handing China’s state oil company a stake in Russia’s oil fields. There was some talk that Russia objected to the deal based on China’s contempt for intellectual property, but in fact Russia and China just concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on patent prosecution and intellectual property in 2012 which suggests greater trust between the two since China was caught copying Russian fighter technology it had purchased from Ukraine. This in turn suggests China is maturing as a trading partner and gaining an understanding of how such relationships work, and while I daresay “China first” is still the official policy, is beginning to grasp that even such a juggernaut cannot stand long without allies.

What might this mean?

In 2011, Russian gas exports demonstrated that its biggest customers by far were Germany (at over 30 Billion Cubic Meters, Bcm) and Ukraine (at over 40 Bcm). Ukraine, of course, sells gas forward to Europe, chiefly Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany and southeastern European countries, which accounts for about 21% of the 150 Bcm Russia supplied Europe in 2010.

China’s appetite could start out absorbing almost a quarter of that amount, and eventually reach almost half, at 60 Bcm annually. Although of course Russia would continue to sell to Europe if it wanted to buy, any haughty noises about not wanting to buy from Russia because of its human-rights abuses or its crackdowns on opposition, or any of the little pet memes the European Union likes to peddle regularly to make itself feel morally superior might be met with a shrug and an “OK; see you around, then”, followed by a diversion of the allegedly-unwanted share to China and other Asian markets. I sincerely hope the EU would posture at that point and gibber about shale gas from Poland making up the difference, I would just love to hear that, because shale gas is another bubble that gas-independence talkers like to hope will float them away to la-la land. Dream on. Normally I am not so vituperative toward the EU, but they really annoyed me with that Cyprus thing.

The visit of the Chinese president was punctuated with Chinese military exercises in the South China Sea, involving some of its newest warships, while Russia staged a rapid-reaction exercise in the Black Sea, ordered by its president as he flew home from a BRICS summit in South Africa; the latter exercise is reported to have involved 30 navy ships and hundreds of armored vehicles. For its part, the BRICS summit reaffirmed the solid partnership that exists between countries that together are driving 50% of the world’s economic growth according to the World Bank, and accounts for 45% of the world’s workforce. The partnership strives for a multipolar world rather than the U.S. vision of a unipolar global order led by the “last remaining superpower”. This year, talks focused on a BRICS development bank which would offer an alternative to the IMF and World Bank, and more trade in local currencies to circumvent the Euro and the Dollar.

Closer strategic ties between China and Russia spell bad news for the western alliance, somewhere down the road. And it didn’t have to be that way. Russia has offered its hand to the west more than once, and had it made known in no uncertain terms that it would never, never be accepted as an equal partner. At best, it might make the status of trusted lackey, provided it continued to reform itself in accordance with western ideation and to “choose” its leaders according to western diktat. It would have to develop a thick hide in order not to become aggrieved by the limitless scorn poured upon it for its “slow progress”, and to say “Yup, yup, I’m a failure” at every juncture so as to cater to the western personal image of infinite superiority and rightness. In short, it could forget about national pride, and learn that when visiting western countries it would be advisable, if asked the origin of the accent, to pretend to be Polish or Czech or something not so permanently tainted as Russian. You don’t have to take my word for it; on the average day, you can find enough examples in The Guardian without even looking any further; despite its loathsome Russophobia and smirking superiority, it is widely read, it’s funny how often that happens.

Regretfully, I think, Russia is drawing away, cutting its ties and abandoning its aspirations for the west’s friendship. Mr. Putin described the Chinese president’s visit as boding “long-term, historic results”. I believe effort will be redoubled to that cause, and that Russia – officially, at least – has decided its future lies with Asia and the BRICS rather than the west.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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1,074 Responses to Neighbouring Giants Edge Closer

  1. kirill says:

    This is a great post. I think the natural gas deals with China are a major disaster for the EU which it is not even aware of. I bet they think they will be powered by windmills and solar in the near future. But without large scale energy storage technology, neither of these alternatives is viable and countries such as Germany are and will continue to use coal and natural gas to provide the bulk of their electrical power (the base load.)

    Looking back at recent events and the last 20 years, it is clear that the west just concluded it won the cold war and proceeded to the triumphalist conquest stage. They never viewed Russia as a partner, it was a defeated enemy that needed to be punished for daring to “threaten” the precious west. Well, now this retarded policy is bringing home the chickens to their roosts. One of these chickens coming home is that Russians have lost respect for the west and its institutions. In 1991 there was some starry eyed delusion about peace-loving democracies out to bring high standards of living. Now the vulture, mass-murdering criminal nature of the western elites is better appreciated. No amount of NGO support and propaganda about Russian election illegitimacy from the west will convince the ordinary Russian that the west only has good intentions and is not out to plunder a weakened Russia.

    The attack on Cyprus does not strike me like some policy aimed at winning the support of ordinary Russians. It’s a petulant attempt to damage Russia’s financial interests and speaks of the west’s impotence when trying to steer Russia into the direction they want it to go, namely to transform into a banana republic sending resources to the west for free (much like Saudi oil, the proceeds of which are quickly re-invested back into western economies and hence a zero price commodity as far as western GDP is concerned) and buying western value added goods. This is the same mercantilism that existed centuries ago at the dawn of the colonial era. But too bad for the west, Russia ain’t no colony and can stand on its own feet.

    • marknesop says:

      I should stress that the decline of the west is not an eventuality I champion – I live here, as do you, and I like where I live. I am not interested in “going Commie” and running off to live in Russia. That should not be interpreted as lack of confidence in Russia, either. I love St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but I would not consider living there. However, I view western decline as inevitable so long as the west continues its militaristic policies of subjugation and random re-ordering of smaller countries to suit its own objectives. That’s not what a military is for – it is to protect the nation in which it arises, and its national interests insofar as they be attacked from without. The western alliance has put all its eggs in the Unipolar World basket, with the USA as the big pole holding up the circus tent. A multipolar world serves smaller interests much better, allowing them to have a more representative voice. And the west’s recent examples of military conquest followed by turning the country over to radical and regressive elements to rule it have been about the most powerful negative example imaginable.

      • kirill says:

        It’s quite clear that this board is not about west bashing. It is about the dark side of the west that is nothing like the image it projects of itself. Since back during the cold war I remember wondering why the USA supported death squad juntas in Latin America instead of actual democracies. Nowhere was there any Stalinist takeover taking place (even Columbia, the closest case is not like Cambodia). Even Chile with Marxist Allende was still a democracy and not a communist dictatorship. Leftists in Argentina were never going to take over and install such a dictatorship either. But both in Chile and the Argentina the US chose to support the fascist dictators who disappeared tens of thousands of people. Organizing unions just like in Canada or the USA became some sort of communist conspiracy when done in Latin America and elsewhere. So it was OK to murder union organizers to save these backward quasi-feudal countries from “communism”. In reality, it was “saving” them from 1st world institutions and practices.

        The west has a long history of treating its own citizens differently from the rest of the world. This does not give western elites a free pass to meddle and undermine independent states, democratic ones at that, supposedly on my behalf. All the talk about globalism and its benefits to the economy. But in Chile, the result of installing Pinochet was severe economic decline that took over 20 years to undo.

  2. JLo says:

    I think, looking back on history, Cyprus will have marked the final straw, and the China summit the first large step, in Russia’s turning from West to East as is written in this post. These events also mark the end of an effective colonization of Russia that began in the 80s and peaked in the 90s. The West’s shrieks will only grow louder as the process becomes more pronounced and they’ve realized how much they lost, without, of course, ever accepting responsibility for the mistakes they made.

    Much work has been done, but much remains. Military reforms and modernization are essential. Neoliberals still run economic policy in Russia and their ranks need to be purged, replaced by those truly committed to modernizing Russia’s industrial base and economy. As it is, there is still fear concerning Russia’s connection to the world’s financial system, even as this system shows its frailty. Hopefully, Cyprus was a real wake up call in that respect and those responsible for Russia being caught in the debacle will be recognized and held accountable.

    • kirill says:

      I think the exit of Kudrin was part of a long overdue purge of the monetarists (it was under Medvedev, but there is too much continuity). Putin had to placate the west by having lots of them around and even having advisers such as Illarionov who were basically Trojan horses during his first term. But the gloves are off now thanks to the west’s open hostility towards Russia.

      Nabiullina will probably do the right things as head of the Central Bank and this is the perfect moment given that inflation has basically normalized at 6% (I do not buy the 2% western inflation claims, they are an obvious lie just based on food price increases where I live).

      I also think Russia should form an offshore on Sakhalin Island that is outright independent from the Russian financial system. It should use whatever money it wants, dollars, euro, etc., and not have to be subject to ruble issues such as domestic inflation. So offering loans at around 3% and not the high rates charged by Russian banks would become realistic. The offshore should be a real tax haven as well.

      • Hunter says:

        While I agree with Ken Macaulay about the principle of offshore banking, the idea of starting an offshore on Sakhalin seems a bit too bold (or rather “risky”) to me. Why put half a million people at risk of severe economic dislocation if things go wrong? If things go wrong then Russia would have to spend a lot of money bailing out the banking sector on Sakhalin.

        IF Russia were to attempt to set up an offshore centre on one of its populated islands, why not start with Russky Island? With a population of about 5,000 then if things go belly-up it would be a very affordable bail-out in per-capita terms (bailing out 5,000 people being a lot cheaper than bailing out 500,000 people). It would also be fairly straightword to organize a plebiscite on the island to determine if the majority (preferably the supermajority) of the island’s residents would be okay with or want their island becoming an offshore financial centre. And Russky Island’s location (in the Sea of Japan (or more broadly in the Pacific); off Vladivostok and close to Japan, South Korea and China) would seem to make ideal as a finance centre.

    • marknesop says:

      Then I consider the post a complete success, because that’s exactly what I was trying to say, in just two paragraphs.

      • The key point to understand about Cyprus is that the EU and the Troika (which includes the IMF in which the US is heavily represented) authorised a raid on private deposits in solvent banks because they believed the biggest holders of those deposits were Russians. In other words they do not respect Russians’ right of private ownership of their own money. If that is not an unfriendly act I do not know what is. If Russia is turning away from the west, why in the light of this consistently unfriendly attitude should anyone be surprised?

        • Dear JLo,

          I suspect that the neo liberals and market fundamentalists have in fact been largely cleared out. It is quite clear that the government is committed to a major defence programme that is explicitly intended to strengthen the industrial base. As for Kirill’s point, my own guess is that with monetary and fiscal policy as tight as it is, all other things being equal inflation will come down sharply in the autumn and may even fall below the Central Bank’s 5-6% target. At that point interest rates will surely come down and we should see start to see industrial growth pick up. In contrast to the period before the financial crisis, this will be happening in a subdued inflationary environment with all the benefits to productivity and competitiveness, which flow from that.

  3. Ken Macaulay says:

    Personally I dislike the idea of offshoring, & believe that the majority of the capital earned in a country should stay in that country. If they attempt to hide it there should be penalties, especially in the case of major enterprises. It might not of been feasible to create & enforce this in the recent past due to West’s immense level of support to anyone who will remove productive capital out of a country & into the western financial world, but even the most dubious kind of oligarch these days is realising that the Western banking system is the worst bet in the world for safekeeping their loot, & I suspect even the Columbian drug cartels will be looking at less crooked options to wash their profits.

    What I would like to see from Russia is something like a resources backed investment bond, perhaps an aggregate basket of major resources – Gold, Oil, Silver, Platinum, Wheat, Timber, etc. – of several different grades; one being a safe haven bond matched to just above inflation for pension funds, etc; & a higher interest version for things like infrastructure investments, etc., where investors may see higher returns but there may be penalties if they fall through (ie. they’ll get their money back but without interest, etc). And on a larger scale, setting up an alternative market for trading in the real economy where this is used as a benchmark & backing to guarantee payments in contracts.
    Something based on stability, guaranteed at the highest level of government, backed by resources, & taking a stand outside the market of casino capitalism would do more to create Russia as a financial centre than anything that caters to the whim of the market, & the time is becoming increasingly ripe for something like this.

    The establishment of the BRICS Business Council, the joint infrastructure projects & the continueing push for long-term economic cooperation at the recent BRICS meeting brings things much closer, but the joint bank seems to be held up by the Chinese wanting to push the Yuan as the new international currency (not going to happen – it will steadily increase in importance but China with its constant shortsighted willingness to push preferential business interests at the forefront of its actions has not done a lot to build long term trust & everyone will look to hedge around it) & many of India’s current political elites deluded love affair with a particular picture of a bright & shining place in the international affairs that US spinmasters sold them while using them like an errand dog & screwing them in the process. Things have been steadily falling apart for the present Indian elites at the top of the tree over the last several years and they are unlikely to last much longer before sanity takes hold & a more capable grouping takes the reins.
    And China seems to have been steadily waking up to the fact that they can only push things so far, & some solid, long term cooperation is now in order.

    If Russia can get something like this off the ground in even a basic format now, the Chinese are likely to come in big & push a variation of it on a much larger scale and this would finally get the BRICS bank off the ground – a basket of resources backing those currencies who wish to be linked to it would be ideal.
    This is ultimately good for Russia as their center would become the basis for trade in in the Euarasian sphere, would link directly into other similar centers avoiding the traps of trading through the dollar, and remove much of the currency & commodity speculation from equation which is possibly Russia’s biggest threat to it’s stability.

    Big dreams perhaps, but I see no other way out of the insanity that is casino capitalism other than the complete collapse of most of world’s economy. We need an alternative financial system desperately, as the Western elites have completely lost the plot & are fast moving into institutional insanity.

    • marknesop says:

      These are some visionary ideas, and I would like to see them become reality; especially the bond issue, which could be sold like a mutual-fund RRSP based on varying degrees of risk; aggressive offering the highest dividends but balanced against the highest volatility. I agree a common currency is probably out of reach, although I thought it was a good idea before the Euro turned into a shit pancake. It’s probably better if the involved countries retain their own currencies, but cooperate to shore up each others economies in crisis; that way they will retain control over their own monetary policy, and not sit back complacently and let some central authority be the banker and do all their thinking for them. That has to be a drain on your national financial awareness, when everybody in your national banking system is either a glorified teller or a would-be strategist who bears no penalty for guessing wrong.

      I also agree the Chinese are looking for respectability after having made some serious mistakes on their way up the financial heap. Once they might have turned to the west for it, but the west has made itself so unappealing and uninspiring of trust that it has lost most of its respectability and certainly has none to give away.

  4. This is indeed another good post Mark.

    The single key event of Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow was surely his visit to the Command Centre of the Russian Armed Forces. If that is not the clearest possible indicator that Russia and China are allies in all but name I do not know what is. To understand the momentous nature of that step try to imagine Washington inviting Putin or Xi Jinping to visit the Pentagon’s War Room.

    The one word of caution I would make is that though there has been much talk in the media (including in the Chinese media) about China buying SU35 fighters and Lada submarines from Russia, I have seen absolutely no confirmation of this from the Russian side. As I understand it the Lada submarine has not even properly finished its development, which has been quite troubled, and exists for the moment only in the form of a single prototype, so claims that Russia is going to sell China four such submarines seem to me somewhat premature.

    Surely far more important than arms sales is the possibility of a gas sale agreement. If that does finally happen then that will seal the relationship in economic terms as nothing else can.

    • kirill says:

      The alleged arms sales are irrelevant compared to the natural gas agreements. These will cause the EU a lot of pain the near future. I highly doubt that the EU will have a nice thick pipe carrying gas from Iran via Turkey to Europe any time soon. Iran produces less than 160 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year even though it has the world’s 2nd largest reserves. It only exported about 10 bcm last year. It has plans to double its production in two years so potentially its exports could balloon to 150 bcm. But I really doubt this ambition will be realized in such a short period and it seems their export target for now is India (

      In contrast, Russia produces 615 bcm and exports over 220 bcm. I suspect that Russia and Iran are going to act in concert to feed the export market. It may be Iranian natural gas that goes to China via Russian pipelines. Of course, this assumes that there will not be a regime change and installation of puppets who will serve their western masters. Even Iraq is showing a lot of independence, so I suspect that such a scenario is not likely to develop. But western sanctions on Iran will delay the development of its export potential.

      • Dear Kirill,

        I totally agree with you. If Russian gas does start to flow to China then that is the real game changer. The sale of two dozen fighter aircraft and a couple of submarines hardly counts.

        • marknesop says:

          To give someone of whom I am not particularly fond his due, the China pipeline was Khodorkovsky’s idea. Mind you, he was going to sell direct, without the state getting anything except the pleasure of his continued presence. But still, time has shown it to have been a sound business decision. And in fact the pipeline has been in operation for over a year; this just represents a deal for more gas.

          • cartman says:

            I wouldn’t give him credit for pointing out the obvious. The only reason it took so long to come up was because Russia (as the USSR) and China were on opposites sides.

          • yalensis says:

            True. Like cartman says, any halfway decent entrepreneur would have seen the opportunity to pipe gas eastwards. Khodorkovsky is/was a talented entrepreneur.

            As Mark points out, Khodorkovsky’s idea of privatization was to take some huge state-owned asset (like the gas and oil) and say, “This all belongs to ME now, and when I die it will belong to my son.”

            Same deal (but on a much smaller scale) with Belykh-Gaidar-Navalny and KirovLes: “We are here to privatize government-owned wealth. This whole forest now belongs to our friend, Petr Ofitserov. Fortunately, we happen to own some stocks in his company.”

            • kirill says:

              Khodorkovsky had full backing in any grabbing from the west. The shrieking in the western media over Russia tearing up the PSA’s made by Yeltsin’s regime revolved around claiming that Russian oil and gas deposits belonged to Exxon, Shell or whatnot. Clearly this is outright rubbish. These corporations got extraction rights and not ownership of the resource. Only the country can own its resources and can levy any fee or tax to it that it wants. It can also unilaterally yank any PSA or extraction rights it chooses at any time.

              The western media does not even report about reality in the west and instead makes noise based on nonsense.

            • marknesop says:

              Partly true; seeing the opportunity is not all of it by any stretch of the imagination. You have to draw up a business plan for how you will make it a reality, pitch your proposal to the receiving end and establish probable market share for your product, and do a cost analysis to ensure the price of doing it is not going to set you back based on what you expect to realize as profit. It’s true any half-bright entrepreneur can see the opportunity, but seeing it is not the same as exploiting it. Khodorkovsky had already made a hell of a good start and the pipeline was under construction; the government merely completed it.

        • SFReader says:

          I disagree. Russian-Chinese military-technical cooperation is of enormous importance.

          If Russia and China become formal allies ready to help each other in military capability, then Russian military-industrial complex can have enormous Chinese industrial potential at its disposal.

          And not even mentioning China’s financial resources. They spent SIX TRILLION DOLLARS on fixed assets investment just last year!

          Russia-China alliance can easily outspend US-NATO in military expenditure both in nominal and physical terms.

    • Jen says:

      Interesting that at roughly the same time (or maybe a bit before) Xi Jinping visited Moscow, almost straight after becoming President of the PRC – and that in itself would say a great deal about the trust that has developed between Russia and China, though the Russians would have known a fair bit about Xi before he became President – the US President was visiting Israel. But we know almost nothing of what Obama actually went there for (though we can certainly guess that a discussion on escalating the war against the Assad government in Syria was uppermost on his agenda) or whether he too was invited to tour IDF headquarters and see US taxpayer money being put to “good” use.

    • marknesop says:

      I think that reports the sale did not take place are based more on supposition than anything else – official protests against it just said “military cooperation and sales were not even discussed during the visit”, but the details for the sale were supposed to have been worked out before the visit. We will see. I am sure Moscow would love to sell that much military hardware, but they likely are wary of giving the Chinese the engine in the SU-35. But were the Chinese to simply buy one and reverse-engineer it as they formerly were wont to do, a pathway to an intellectual-property suit now exists and I believe China has gained a greater understanding of how trade works.

      • Misha says:

        This gentleman is one of the leading if not top American expert on Chinese military matters:

        Several years back, he noted a Russian reluctance in selling its technologically most advanced arms to China.

        Russo-Sino relations are predicated on the pragmatism of having some mutual interests that aren’t exclusively devoted to an opposition of neocon-neolib influenced agendas.

        On the subject of joint defense cooperation, some years back, Felgenhauer (in The Moscow Times) wrote of American intervention that nixed a planned Israeli-Russian-Chinese project to develop a fight plane.

        • Ken Macaulay says:

          Agree that ‘Russo-Sino relations are predicated on pragmatism’ – I’m not familiar with David Shambaugh but he definitely looks worth checking out, but Felgenhauer is an appalling hack who floats between dodgy ‘thinktanks’ with an anti-russian bent. A gossipmonging poser like so many Russia ‘analysts’.

          Dmitry Gorenburg at , & Roger McDermott at are a serious step up, but still have a habit of overgeneralizing & not looking past stereotypes.

          CAST (Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies) & their spinoffs (The Moscow Defence Brief & the BMPD blog ) are by far the best, & I find the forums at KeyPublishing [ ]; & Defence Talk [ ] two of the better general military forums
          – probably known to most people here but I’d thought I’d mention them.

          • Misha says:

            From what I’ve seen, Shambaugh is a step up from the two you mention.

            • Ken Macaulay says:

              Does he publish articles anywhere else, because I could only find one article available from him at that site (big list of books, but I’m a little cash-strapped for the near future).

              • Misha says:

                I don’t offhand know. He was quite impressive in a lengthy panel I saw him on several years ago. Besides exhibiting a good knowledge on defense matters, he’s (if I correctly recall) fluent in the main Chinese dialect used in official Chinese defense articles, which he regularly studies.

                Others aware of him give a nod to my impression.

                • Ken Macaulay says:

                  Thanks. Good western analysts of China have been even rarer than those of Russia in the recent years, even if there has not been the all-encompassing hostility directed there. Will keep my eyes open.

    • Misha says:

      On the matter of symbolism in terms of where one visits, some might recall this situation regarding “Putin’s Russia” and NATO:

      Since then, the relationship doesn’t appear as cheery. There’s still hope for a considerable improvement in Russia-West (particularly Russo-American) ties.

      The discussion of closer Russia-NATO relations has periodically left out the Chinese reaction:

      The reason for this omission is (at least partly) influenced by Russia and NATO having concerns that don’t pertain to China. Somewhat similarly, closer Russo-Sino ties aren’t primarily designed as a middle finger to the West.

  5. Moscow Exile says:

    Gorbachev at a RIANovisti “open discussion”:

    “The authorities have managed to beat down the protest wave but the problems remain. If nothing changes, they will escalate, which means that Russian society will make a new attempt to move to real democracy.”

    So it’s a beating down that has quelled the protest, he says. Sounds similar to what Elder and others of like mind talk ad nauseum about, only they prefer to use the term “crackdown”.

    And Gorbachev talks about democracy.

    That comes from a man who was never democratically elected to any position of government in his life.

    At the same venue, Gorbachev also stated that he did not bring about the demise of the USSR.

    Well of course you didn’t, you old buffer! Everybody knows that Ronald Reagan, ably assisted by Margaret Hilda Thatcher, brought about the downfall of the Evil Empire: just go and ask Yulia at Novaya Gazeta.

    • Why Gorbachev aligns himself today with the liberals who in the 1980s betrayed him so completely is a total mystery to me. An unwillingness to lose the admiration of his western fan club is the probable answer.

      • JLo says:

        Gorbachev is getting old, he’s worried about his legacy and he knows he’s the single most hated individual in his entire country which has to be a major burden because he probably did sincerely intend for his fellow countrymen to have a better life. As a result, he is simply not thinking rationally right now. If he really wanted to help the liberal movement he’d just stay silent.

      • Misha says:

        There’s the presentation of Gorbachev betraying the Soviet liberals of his era, when he essentially went along with seeing his inner circle replaced with folks who then attempted to overthrow him.

        • Ken Macaulay says:

          Gorbachev was apparently polling less that 1% in the only election he ever tried to run for before pulling out. Pretty much says exactly what most Russians think of his competence.
          Personally I’d have a lot more respect for him if after things went south for him in Russia he had stayed & fought for something rather than becoming the West’s favourite pet, living in a mansion provided for him in the US while being dutifully pulled out as a circus act for Western elites & celebrities to feel good about themselves.
          A truly disgusting end for someone who (whatever else you might want to say about him), for a brief moment in time was once one of the worlds great idealists.

          • Misha says:

            During the post-Soviet Yeltsin era, Stephen Cohen and Paul Robeson Jr. pretty much served as pro-Gorbachev advocates. This stance was in part aided by Yeltsin’s shortcomings.

            Some seem to get encouraged by certain perceptions:

            This brings to mind a recent documentary I saw on Curt Flood, who in the 1970s had challenged the way Major League Baseball players were treated. Flood had Arthur Goldberg as his attorney. Goldberg is depicted as a vain man who resigned from the US Supreme Court because he felt a position as US UN ambassador would lead him to becoming a key global difference maker. Others at the time seemed to have high hopes for him as well. After a few years, he left the UN position in disgust. Flood’s case went before the US Supreme Court. Goldberg’s legal representation of Flood is characterized as drop dead awful.

  6. yalensis says:

    Excellent post, Mark. Covers all the major issues of this strategic turn in Russian foreign policy.

    Meanwhile, more info on the Black Sea war games:

    As was noted before, Putin, on his trip back from BRIC summit in S. Africa, phoned Sergei Shoigu from his plane and ordered him to rouse everybody out of bed and start the drill. Shoigu received the order at 4:00 am. Thank goodness he kept his pager on when he went to bed that night.

    In all were involved in the exercise: Around 7,000 servicemen, 30 boats, 250 armored vehicles, 50 artillery (cannons), 20 airplanes and helicopters, Rapid Reaction teams, and special forces.
    Right now the exercise is pretty much over (it was considered a success), and everybody is going back to their bases.
    During the course of the exercise, Russian Black Sea fleet successfully stormed the Crimean town of Theodosia, with air support. [Other articles, not this one, claim the exercise simulated an attack on Turkey by sea.]

    Later, Putin arrived in person to the military poligon in Krasnodarsk to be briefed by Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff. Then he (Putin) flew around the Kuban peninsula in a helicopter, observing from the air, as the big boats (Opps would say “rust buckets”?) arrived from Sevastopol.

    Sergei Shoigu boasted that this surprise drill was way more successful and showed better troop readiness than the previous, unsuccessful, one that happened in February. “That last one sucked,” Shoigu said. “But this time,” he added, “for sure.”

    • Viz the article in the Daily Telegraph of which Moscow Exile gave us a link, which said that Russian naval exercises in the Black Sea (a sea adjoining Russia) are intended as a threat to other countries, I am going to suggest that in future the Russian navy conduct all its exercises on Lake Baikal. That way it cannot be accused of threatening anyone.

      • yalensis says:

        Ha ha! I actually like the idea of scaring Turkey. It would serve them right for all the damage they are doing to Syria.

        • marknesop says:

          If Russia really wanted to scare the Turks, it would start agitating for the PKK to be recognized as the legitimate voice of an independent Kurdistan, insist they be supplied with heavy weapons so as to safeguard democracy, demand Turkey return all confiscated land (no need to be too specific about that) and a humanitarian corridor stretching from Istanbul to Al-Qamishli so that sympathizers and rebels in Istanbul could evacuate Istanbul.

          But the PKK just knocked off hostilities with the Turks this month, after 10 years of undeclared war.

          • Misha says:

            Turkey can play its games with the Crimean Tatars. I understand that there’s some Turkish aid/projects in Crimea, which to me serves as proof of a relatively tolerant region.

            • cartman says:

              They would be messing with Kiev instead of Moscow. Besides, there has never been evidence that Russia helps the PKK in any way, except the deathbed confession of Litvinenko. Turkey and Saudi Arabia – there is plenty of evidence they support terrorism in Russia. They will pay for it one day.

              • Misha says:

                More specifically put, they’d be messing with the pro-Russian element in Ukraine – something which Russian “spin doctor” Sergei Markov overlooked in a News World International bit of his a few years back on the so-called “Orange Revolution”. In that particular segment, Markov’s apprehension with the Orange regime had to do with it provoking (in his view) nationalists in Russia. This isn’t good or accurate propaganda. It conjures up the stereotype of an extremist Russia, while overlooking the pro-Russian factor in Ukraine.

                There’re some nationalist anti-Russian leaning Ukrainians who’d probably side with Turkey in a Russo-Turkish spat, which doesn’t (at least for now) seem to be in the cards. Moscow-Ankara differences over Syria are measured with an understanding of the two nevertheless seeing a basis for decent to good ties concerning other issues.

                At best, Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Cemilev (whose last name is also spelled as Jemilev and Dzhemilev) comes across as someone with sugar coated nationalist instincts:


                The Russian government has been pretty tolerant with Turkey. The Turkish president visited Tatarstan:


                The Russian government shows little if any opposition to Turkey doing cultural and other aid packaging with Tatarstan and Crimea, short of fanning flames.

                True, the claim of Russian government support for the PKK is (put mildly) questionable. Saudi media is quite tolerant of extreme anti-Russian propaganda, with Turkey having that mindset among some in their population.

                • Ken Macaulay says:

                  The Kurds have traditionally been supported by Israel & the US, although both countries have a proven track record of throwing them under the bus when it’s convenient. Israel leads in offering the deepest level of support, importing Kurdish Peshmerga to Palestine/Lebanon several times in the past to use as mercenaries, & have close, long-standing ties with the PKK/PJAK and a number of major Kurkish factions, training up much of the ‘security services’ for the new Kurdish ‘government’ in Iraq..
                  PS. How the various Middle Eastern countries balance their conflicting support for differing factions which seem to completely contradict their positions in other matters is always something that has confounded me. Many of these ‘alliances’ seem utterly bizarre to an outsider.

                • marknesop says:

                  The Kurds have traditionally been supported by Israel & the US, although both countries have a proven track record of throwing them under the bus when it’s convenient.

                  Yes, it always used to make my lip curl when Colin Powell would go on about cruel Saddam, gassing the poor helpless Kurds to prevent their achieving real freedom. Thousands killed, thousands more casualties, to be followed by birth defects and the customary after-effects of chemical attacks. During the Iran-Iraq war, the USA sold weapons to both sides, and most of Saddam’s chemical and biological warfare program was provided to him by the USA. Who was the National Security Advisor when Saddam gassed the Kurds at Halabja? Colin Powell.

                • Misha says:

                  I’m interesting in knowing more about any Israeli support for the PKK. Until the deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations (which seem to be on the mend of late), Israel didn’t seem interested in supporting the PKK. When the Israeli-Turkish relationship deteriorated, some Israelis started to bring up the idea of Israeli support for the PKK – something which Turkey said would be investigated. I’ve come across a claim of an Israeli relationship with a now defunct non-PKK Kurdish group in Iraq.





                  On another point, alliances in that part of the world have been known to shift. Syria militarily intervened in Lebanon against the PLO and in support of the Lebanese Maronites who opposed the PLO. Syria then supported the PLO against the Maronites who opposed the PLO. At the same time, the Maronites haven’t always been unified, in a way that has included some bloody clashes among themselves. In recent years, Maronite leader Michel Aoun has shifted his position on Syria.

          • yalensis says:

            Yeah, the PKK truce was part and parcel of the package that Obama’s new team (Kerry-Hagel) delivered; which also included Netanyahu’s apology to Turkey . This was the result of vigorous diplomacy on the part of the Americans (proving that they CAN do diplomacy when they have the right people in the job) and constitutes a BIG WIN for their side.

            What is supposed to happen next (from American POV) is Turkey, now allied with Israel and Saudi Arabia and fully onboard with The Plan, allowing iself to be used as main launching pad against Syria and then Iran.

            • Misha says:

              A plan which might not work so well. The Saudis and Israelis don’t directly talk to each other. There seems to be enough of an element in Turkey and Israel that’s either apprehensive or outright opposed to getting too muddied in Syria. The follow-up on the recent Obama-Netanyahu meeting includes some consensus that Iran will not be targeted for at least another year – as part of a wait and see decision making stance.

              For what it’s worth, a Fox News talking head Monica Crowley took issue yesterday with a move to topple Assad, given what has happened elsewhere. Crowley acknowledged how Khadafy “graduated” (if you may) from anti-Western terrorism to someone working with the West in opposing anti-Western Sunni extremism.

      • Jen says:

        Dear Alex: If the Russian navy touched even one seal or a sailor fed a fish to one and patted its head on Lake Baikal, the UK media would be apoplectic with rage.

      • marknesop says:

        Because everyone should understand it is not the purpose of military forces to threaten. That’s why U.S. carrier groups stick so close to home.

      • SFReader says:

        Russian Caspian Sea is currently receiving five Gepard class frigates.

        They have interesting armament – 8 long range cruise-missiles capable of striking targets at up to 2600 kilometers.

        This means that Russian frigates from, say, southern part of Caspian sea, can strike any target in the Middle East, from Egypt to Pakistan and as far south as entire Persian Gulf region on a minute’s notice.

        If Russians were to build a lake Baikal flotilla with same frigates, they could threaten Beijing easily…

        • marknesop says:

          That range has to be wrong; the coastal variant of the same missile has a maximum range of 850 km, and even that is just the range at which it will run out of fuel. There’s no way you could get 3 times the propellant in the same-sized missile (which it is), and a coastal battery is not limited by weight to the radar it can use, like a frigate is; the radar is typically at or near the masthead to get the best range, and it can’t be too heavy. The radar for the coastal battery is truck-mounted, and probably has about 4 times the transmitter power.

          Similarly, there’s no use shooting at something you can’t see, and anti-ship missile ranges are usually right around the maximum distance the ship can data-link with its own helicopter, which it needs for third-party targeting. Otherwise it’s limited to onboard sensors, which can’t see much beyond 30 miles because of the curvature of the earth at sea level. There’s no use having a 2,600 km missile on a frigate, because its helicopter couldn’t travel a fraction of that distance and would not be able to report the target from that range even if it could. Most anti-ship missile are capable of less than 100 miles range, and you need a helicopter or another relay to achieve that range because your own sensors can’t see that far. Putting more propellant in to make them go further is impractical because it makes the missile bigger and you can carry less.

          Certainly there are missiles that can go as far and much further, but usually they are not carried on ships. Cruise missiles are an exception, but the Gepard is only a frigate, and doesn’t really have the room for enough different types of missiles to make it multirole; that’s usually for big destroyers and up. American destroyers and cruisers can carry the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM), but that’s not the ship’s role and they are just a bolt-on because the ship has the room and can handle the weight.

          • SFReader says:

            This is not an anti-ship missile. It’s a cruise missile against land targets closely similar to US Tomahawk missile.

            Here is a discussion about the missile.

            Some apparently believe that it’s a ship version of X-55 air-land cruise missile carried by Russian strategic bombers.

            • marknesop says:

              That variant is given a range against surface targets, here, of 375 km, or 233 miles. Even that is pretty optimistic, and although I’m not disputing the missile could fly that far – it probably can, there have been considerable advances in propellants – but again, that is so far beyond the range that the ship’s sensors could achieve that you would have to have a satellite feed or an aircraft to get that kind of range. That kind of weapon commonly travels with a task group that includes a carrier, so you can use the carrier’s aircraft to scout ahead of the force for opposition. You can’t just light it off and hope it hits something, because it might, and it probably would not be what you had hoped.

              Just knowing the ship could be carrying something like that is a force multiplier, though. The article specifically mentions it’s the kind of weapon that is normally carried in submarines, so that would be a cruise missile (a ballistic missile would be too big for a ship). And a submarine can’t see far, either; it is typically fed the coordinates of something its masters want it to hit, and then the only piece of information the submarine needs to know with a great deal of precision is where it is. No real reason you couldn’t do the same with a frigate, but it would certainly herald a departure in tactical thought. You can’t hide afterward to escape the consequences of what you did, like a submarine can, either, so you would have to hope the enemy was sufficiently flummoxed by your attack that he could not think about instant retribution.

              But in the event of tension, it would make the enemy have to account for every one of those ships, and to have something close to each one to prevent them launching. That alone would stretch an opponent’s capabilities.

          • SFReader says:

            As for source for 2600 km assertion, here is an interview of admiral Alekminsky, commander of the Caspian flotilla to the “Echo Mosky”.

            С. АЛЕКМИНСКИЙ: Значит… Всё развивается, да? Вот сейчас у нас только в этом году поступил новый корабль «ПАЭКТ11-661 К Дагестан».

            С. БУНТМАН: Сторожевой корабль, да?

            С. АЛЕКМИНСКИЙ: Это ракетный корабль. Это лучший корабль ВМФ. Я вам не утрирую.

            А. ЕРМОЛИН: Из этого класса.

            С. АЛЕКМИНСКИЙ: Вы знаете, нет. Я скажу, что лучший корабль – это не в кавычках, а в том, что он первый в истории подводный корабль, который вооружен новейшим ракетным комплексом «Калибр». Которого нет не на одном ракетном корабле ВМС. В принципе не один надводный корабль сейчас не имеет такой дальней стрельбы, как наш корабль. Он стреляет на две тысячи с лишним километров по береговой цели. И 350 километров по морской цели.


            • SFReader says:

              And elsewhere in the interview he mentions that Caspian flotilla will be getting 2 ships a year armed with these missiles until 2016.

            • Ken Macaulay says:

              On a military forum they said the Caliber-NK unit is a universal launcher which can fire a variety of different missiles, which is why you see the differing ranges reported. One is apparently the Kh-35 anti-ship missile, & the other is likely a variant of the X-55 LACM that SFReader pointed to.

              • kirill says:

                So Wikipedia is missing important information about the Gepard. It makes sense for it to have more than just anti-ship cruise missiles.

              • SFReader says:

                This is getting to become a favorite Russian trick.

                Iskander theater missile system also can launch different missiles. It’s stated range is 500 km (just on the brink of violating 1988 INF treaty), but is well known that Russians have developed and are producing at a rate of dozens a year a certain new missile – R-500, with range of over 2500 km and which can be fired from Iskander system.

                Of course, Russians wouldn’t admit this openly since this is gross violation of Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. In fact, Iskanders armed with R-500 missiles can hit any target in Western Europe.

                So what they are doing is brilliantly simple. They are producing Iskander systems (120 planned until 2020) and simultaneously building and stockpiling R-500 missiles to be uploaded into Iskanders whenever it’s convenient

                All this is openly discussed in Russian internet forums and even penetrated English sites – Wikileaks published a Stratfor email which discussed this topic in detail.

                • marknesop says:

                  It’s startling that there is not more English discussion of this; when a manufacturer made Teflon bullets (Black Talons) that could be fired from a conventional handgun but which would penetrate a ballistic vest (although the Teflon coating actually reduces penetration and it is the hardened core which gives it this ability), it was big news and the rounds were promptly made illegal in many states. But not a murmur about this. Perhaps it would not fit well in the western-technology-triumphant-again narrative.

            • marknesop says:

              Again, possible, and certainly a revolutionary development – but the targeting capability is going to have to advance in lockstep with the missile in order to get the most out of its range. It’s no good having a sealed-beam headlight that can see all the way to Phoenix if the beam is blocked by the first hill. But if I were anywhere within that range, it’d make me nervous, and keeping an enemy too far away to accomplish anything significant is what warfare is all about.

              • Ken Macaulay says:

                The long range surface/air to surface cruise missiles generally use similar targeting to ballistic missiles, ie. TERCOM, satellite postioning, pattern matching TV sensors, etc. – essentially pre-programming the target data before launch (although I think some can be updated after launch.) They don’t rely on radar illumination for targeting.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, the Tomahawk uses DSMAC (Digital Scene Match Area Correlation), and is said to be able to discriminate which window to fly through on a building which matches its stored data. But aside from ICBM’s – which could also at a stretch be said to defend the homeland and keep an enemy at bay through deterrence, while they are launched from the homeland – cruise missiles are the tools of invasion. A cruise missile warhead is typically not big enough to do too much more than take down a large building, and they are typically launched in waves to break enemy resistance by destroying his cities without killing too many of his citizens, often in conjunction with an air campaign which follows right on the heels of the cruise-missile strike, and before the land invasion, if any. Sometimes just a cruise-missile strike is enough to break the enemy’s will.

                  The point, however, is that this is a role the Russian Federation has never sought. All its weapons are geared to repelling an invasion of the homeland, although it does retain a limited power-projection role as all large navies do, and I believe Russia aspires to once again be a large naval power although carriers might not be part of it.

                • SFReader says:

                  There is another point which needs to be mentioned.

                  Since the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1988, Russia lacks intermediate range missiles and is forced to rely on its strategic bombers to repel threats from neighbouring countries.

                  Russian military is unhappy with that. They point out that now DPRK, China, Pakistan, India, Israel, possibly soon Iran, all will have nuclear missiles with range capable of hitting Russian cities.

                  Russia needs something in addition to Bears and Blackjacks to counter this threat.

                  And here the Gepard class frigates come beautifully.

                  8 cruise missiles with nuclear warheads (say, 500kilotons each) on each ship. total of 5 ships bring a capability to strike from Caspian sea at Israel, Pakistan, Iran or any other future nuclear threat from the greater Near East at minute’s notice, serving same role as ballistic missile submarines.

                  And I think there is no violation of any treaty involved

                • marknesop says:

                  That is interesting. If that actually represents Russian intentions, it would be a significant departure in doctrine. I notice a launch from the Caspian would also wrong-foot missile interceptors based in Poland, depending on the target of the launch.

  7. yalensis says:

    More on the topic of Navalny KIROVLES-SELVORIK:

    Recall how a couple of days ago Navalny begged his loyal readers to help him beat the rap on KirovLes by digging through the archives and finding mitigating material. (Something maybe his own laywers should have been doing all along?)
    The call was answered by a professional jurist named Ilya Remeslo, whose conclusions were published on Politrash blog:

    (And then a helpful guest named “gost321” copied and pasted Remeslo’s findings onto the comments page of Navalny’s blog; the one good thing about Navalny is that he never censors any of the comments):

    Here is a summary of Remeslo’s main points.
    Navalny’s defense claims that the VLK- KirovLes transaction was of a non-profit nature. They were just trying to stimulate the local economy of Kirov Province. However, even Navalny’s defense team on Agora (a legal NGO that helps Opps) stipulate that VLK (Ofitserov’s company) was left with a 3.1 million ruble debt to KirovLes after they (VLK) declared bankruptcy. This fact alone proves that the transaction was a for-profit one.
    Remeslo also debunks Navalny’s claim that no monetary damage was inflicted on KirovLes.
    Then he goes into the part where Opalev, acting under Navalny’s influence, on 19 May 2009 issued “Order #76”, forbidding the affiliated leskhozy to conduct their own business. According to Opalev: “Navalny warned me that if I, as general director of the State Forest, refuse to work with the (private company) VLK, then my job would be taken by another candidate.”
    In the end, Remeslo points out, the scheme fell apart before it even got off the ground: “Thus, we are dealing with a crime in its initial stages, which still does not cease to be a crime (because it was nipped in the bud). It failed to become a larger crime only because the players overestimated the power of administrative resources. The ultimate goal was to lay their paws on the entire business of KirovLes, and that would have been some real money.”

    Remeslo concludes by saying that Navalny’s defense team have a well-defined point of view (that no crime took place), but since they cannot back this up with facts, they are appealing to people’s emotions and the power of рукопожатности.

    • yalensis says:

      ADDENDUM: Re-reading Remeslo’s piece and his replies to the incoming comments. (The blog was alive with Politrash/Remeslo supporters and a bunch of Navalny supporters.)

      This is important, because it shows the main prosecution strategy against Navalny. Once he is on the stand, Opalev is going to testify under oath that Navalny coerced him into signing this ludicrous “Order #76″ [ominously sounds like the title of a Tom Clancy novel] which basically ANNULLED all existing contracts between the Kirovles supplier and its distributors and end customers, and thus caused monetary harm to the forestry collective.

      Forget about the 16 million rubles and the endless fruitless debates about whether Navalny stole 16 million or only 3 million. THIS is the heart of the prosecution case against Navalny. According to Order #76, ONLY VLK (=Ofitserov’s dummy company that had, like, 2.5 paid employees) is authorized to sell any lumber being cut down in the entire Kirov forest. Once KirovLes and branches were forbidden to sell lumber, they basically sat idle for a certain period of time, and no money was being made. Except for that one transaction that Ofitserov managed to put together.
      Because Opalev illegally signed Order #76, he is guilty of all the charges (e.g., causing major losses to state property, etc.). But because he was FORCED to sign it (or so he claims), then Opalev’s guilt is mitigated.

      • marknesop says:

        Navalny is, of course, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. However, I would have to say it is not looking good for him, and he may yet have cause to regret his bawling about taking the Kremlin.

        On the bright side, though, he is well on his way to being another celebrated prisoner of conscience. He was starting to get a little chubby anyway; a short spell on a state diet will probably do him good.

        • yalensis says:

          After “gost321″ intervention on Navalny’s blog, some of the hamsters flocked over to politrash blog to try to take on a professional jurist. Their arguments were of the type (which Navalny has also employed): “Well, this is what capitaism is all about. You buy somethiing at one price, and sell it at a higher price.” In the end, all their points refuted, one hamster, like they always do, resorted to empty threats against Remeslo, warning him, “Once we come to power, we will take away your law degree.”

          I am sure Remeslo is shaking in his boots.

          • kirill says:

            I guess they have a different definition of corruption. It’s not corruption when they do it, just when someone they don’t like does it. And these sorts of threats are just precious. Do these monkeys even know what democracy and human rights are? As I have stated a long time ago, these liberast clowns are dangerous and the above shows it.

            • yalensis says:

              Here is the exchange in question:


              Ilya Remeslo (replying to a previous comment):

              Ущерб 16, потому что растрата — это передача имущества, не обязательно с его присвоением. Передано было всего на 16 миллионов.

              Юрий (in reply to Remeslo):

              Дебил ты, а не юрист. Диплома мы тебя лишим в свое время. Недолго осталось…

              And this is Yuri is not just an isolated idiot, if you read Navalny’s blog, a lot of his followers routinely make these kind of threats to those who disagree with them: “After the revolution we’ll do such-and-such to you…” including things like hanging from lampposts, impaling on spikes, and/or sending to the gallows.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Liberal fascists in that if they come to power, these numb skulls wish to exact political revenge against all that opposed them, much as did the Nazi leader dream in his party’s wilderness years. “Heads will roll” was his oft uttered threat. Unfortunately, his party did come to power and he wasn’t, as events proved, making idle threats.

          • marknesop says:

            Juvenile, but the sentiment should be noted whenever liberasts trumpet the inclusiveness of their values; their political platform – such as it is – is nothing of the kind, and those who would not embrace the new order if ever liberals managed to gain power would simply be shunted aside to make room for the true believers. At bottom they are no different than the feebs who populate “Comment is Free”, and who – as soon as the argument begins to slip from their grasp – trot out Old Reliable; “how much is the Kremlin paying you?”, and there is no room in their worldview for those who refuse to shake their pom-poms and go “boola boola” for the new leader.

      • yalensis says:

        On the larger issue of what actually happened out there in Kirov, here is what I think…

        Navalny and his friends (Gaidar, Belykh, Ofitserov, etc.) basically have a Rand Paul philosophy of life: They believe that BIG GOVERNMENT = BAD, and they want to privatize all government-owned resources. They think it was wonderful what Khodorkovsky tried to do with Gazprom, and they wanted to do the same thing, on a much smaller scale, with KirovLes. Their goal, as Remeslo points out, was to privatize the entire forest, which belongs to all the people of the Kirov Province, and turn it into the private property of Petr Ofitserov.

        The way they attempted to do this was not unlike what happened to Khlestakov in Gogol’s play Revizor (The Government Inspector) Navalny arrived in Kirov and found that everybody obeyed his every whim, because of his connections with Belykh and Maria Gaidar. Hence, I can fully believe Opalev when he says he feared for his job if he didn’t do what Navalny-Ofitserov told him to do.

        And everybody who has read Gogol knows what happens at the end of “Revizor”:
        Their schemes foiled, “Khlestakov and Osip depart on a coach driven by the village’s fastest horses…”

        • kirill says:

          These Randroid evangelists are full of shit. In the absence of government you have oligarch feudalism. They can cite no functional example of their utopia. I can use the whole planet to argue against their BS religion. Latin America is a good example: when you have an imbalance between oligarchy and the masses you get fascism and dictatorships. The democratization in the last 30 years has been socialistic from Brazil to Argentina. Venezuela did not pussy foot around the essential need tor government to redistribute the wealth and pull the masses out of poverty. The oligarchs give a rat’s ass about the masses and prefer to see them wallow in misery and “stay in their place”.

          The US and Canada (and of course Europe) are the other religion-destroying counter-examples for the Randroids. All of them have big government redistributing wealth and imposing regulations on the “Atlases”. If you turn back the clock to the late 1800s when the USA was more like Latin America, you saw the excesses and depravity of the Gilded Era oligarchy.

          Navalny and his Randroid friends are a tiny lunatic fringe in Russia. They smell like they float on oligarch money and no sane Russian would view the 1990s and its primitive oligarchic capitalism as some sort of golden era. As exemplified by Khodorkovsky, the oligarchs were above the law and did not think twice about murdering people to get what they wanted. Familiar banana republic barbarism. The societal consensus that formed by the late 1990s, especially after 1998, to put these scumbags in their place and to worry about the interests of the vast majority of Russians is what lead to the arrival of Putin. Putin is popular with voters and the liberasts are not for obvious reasons. Only the propaganda in the western media and the 5th column media sponsored by Randroid interests in Russia paints them as being relevant politically and being the true voice of Russians.

          • R.C. says:

            And I’ve worked to no end to convince the progressives here in America that the Navalny’s & the other “liberals” in Russia are NOT their ideological bedfellows. I’ve talked to some in the occupy movement and told them that the liberast in Russia are really the ideological relatives of Rupert Murdock the Koch Brothers and other media oligarchs they complain about. The western media does not EVER cover what it is all of those protesters in the streets of Moscow actually believe aside from “down with Putin,” so people in the US are conned into expressing support for the phony “pro-democracy” movement in Russia. Pointing out that Russia already has the leader the Russian people ELECTED is stepping on eggshells. They simply don’t want to hear it no matter how much evidence you present them. To them Navalny is the “Erin Brokovich of Russia” weeding out corruption wherever it may rear its ugly head, but it’s never explained why Navalny would like to see a return to the oligarchal rule of the 1990s when corruption was at its zenith.

            • marknesop says:

              “The western media does not EVER cover what it is all of those protesters in the streets of Moscow actually believe aside from “down with Putin,…”

              Probably because that’s as far as their role extends; to shout “Down with Putin” until he’s gone. Then – the dream narrative goes – somebody like Navalny or Nemtsov could be elected, and would ask for western help to get growth started, and the reluctant and uncommitted among the population would come around quickly enough when they saw how much money they were making and how great everything was.

              Nothing like that would happen, of course. If Putin were to be assassinated, or die suddenly by some other manner, and liberals struck quickly and got an election called before ER could come up with a charismatic replacement, it is quite likely the Communists would win since they enjoy about 4 times the support of the liberals. I suppose the argument could be made that all Putin’s voters would go to the liberals, but I just can’t see that happening.

              Something the western press consistently downplays, when discussing the soaring goals and heartbreaking dissident courage of the liberals, is their dismal popularity with the Russian people. Every time they can manage to get 100,000 or so people together, heartbeats quicken in the west and they mutter, “this could be it!!”. No, it couldn’t.

              • R.C. says:

                I’m thinking that if something tragic were to happen to Putin, the closest the liberals would get to the Kremlin would be Medvedev – who would most certainly return to the presidency in Putin’s absence since he’s second to Putin in the polls. The thing is that while Medvedev was president and threw them a few bones, they commonly dismissed him as “Putin’s puppet.” Go figure.

  8. More cloak and dagger stuff from the Guardian on the Peripilichnny death. Mysterious visitors….secret poisons….a rendez vous in Paris…..unkept trysts at the George V (where rooms can cost £4,500 a night – but not all rooms do, did Peripilichnny book himself into such a room?).

    Notice that along the way the Guardian again manages to cast doubt on Berezovsky’s suicide, citing of course his “friends”.

    Notice also the criticism of the police for their “delay” in carrying out toxicological tests – obviously in case they turn out negative.

    I will say one thing for the folks at the Guardian, they sure do have vivid imaginations. Comes from late nights reading lots of thrillers I suppose.

    PS: I have to go on an urgent trip to Germany tomorrow so I may not be around much next week.

    • Actually, having now reread the article more carefully, it’s clear that the toxicological tests on Peripilichnyy have come out negative. However that does not deter our intrepid investigators. If the toxicological tests were negative that cannot be because he died of natural causes. It must be because those wicked people at the FSB have access to mysterious undetectable poisons that leave no trace after three weeks.

      It speaks volumes of the influence that anti Russian elements have in Britain that despite the toxicological tests on Peripilichnyy turning out negative, new toxicological tests have been commissioned. The article says that the police are “exasperated” at the failure of the tests so far to find any traces of what killed him. I would guess that what really exasperates them is having under what looks like overwhelming political and media pressure to waste time looking for what isn’t there.

      • kirill says:

        Here you have a fine specimen of the western schizophrenic reporting on Russia. Russians have super undetectable poisons yet they chose to rub out Litvinenko with Polonium and smeared it all over the place including the flight to Moscow. These clown reporters should listen to themselves. Their lies are getting more and more convoluted.

        • Hunter says:

          It’s just another example of the mental duality at play in the western MSM. I brought up the topic last year here:

          It won’t matter if they listen to themselves, because at this point I’m quite sure that quite a few of these particular reporters do have at least a mild form of schizophrenia. After all how else does one explain these other contradictory fantasies:

          – Russian security organisations like the FSB and Vityaz are alternatively super efficient and sinister or completely incompetent and corrupt as the narrative of the story requires. (Mark pointed this out last year)

          – voters can “slap Putin in the face” while apparently knowingly voting for his “puppet” parties; (I noted this in a BBC story around the time of the Russian elections. Surprisingly these two contradictory themes were found in the same article!)

          – they (western and pro-liberast Russian journalists and protesters) can call for democracy while in essence advocating for minority rule akin to what happened in South Africa and Liberia in the past;

          – Russians (journalists and ordinary citizens) apparently put their lives in danger by openly protesting and writing anti-Putin critiques even though the vast majority of those who do such things never end up in jail or dead;

          – Putin still enjoys the support of the vast majority of Russians but his regime is weak and he could be on his way out because a minority called the “creative class” is opposed to him

          – opposition figures whining that Putin stamps out every flickering spark of free will, yet [being able to] openly call for violent overthrow of the government on a foreign news service (Alex pointed this out last year)

          – Putin being simultaneously strong and weak (because of his strength) and the opposition being weak and strong (and having strength because it is weak) (Alex also pointed out this one last year)

          As I said last year, if Mark was so inclined he could easily do a proper post (or maybe a series of posts which are updated) to show instances of western MSM schizophrenia.

          And those are just a few of the instances of schizophrenia on display about Russia alone. There are potential gold mines of examples regarding places like Egypt, Libya, Iran, China, various other parts of Africa and Asia……

      • Jen says:

        It’s not unusual for people to suddenly collapse and die after even moderately vigorous exercise. There was a woman I used to know when we were children at primary school together who died suddenly and unexpectedly after an exercise class. I don’t think the cause of her death was ever satisfactorily explained. Only if an autopsy had been done would the pathologist know and in a lot of cases such deaths are due to slight heart malformations that would never have been discovered otherwise. The police might just have to record Perepilchnyy’s death as a case of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.

        That’ll get the frustrated novelists at The Guardian to query every case of a small child who’s died from SIDS in Russia or Britain. What?! – the FSB is going after future anti-Putin conspirators?

        • Misha says:

          It’s also not so unusual for people to suddenly collapse in a more resting state.

          Given the reports of a greater number of overweight and under-exercised people, I sense there will be in an increase in this occurrence.

        • yalensis says:

          I have a (female) colleague at work whose husband collapsed and died after a vigorous workout in the gym. He was only in his early 30’s and was very healthy and kept himself in shape. Turns out he had some heart defect that nobody knew about.

    • yalensis says:

      I had to look up the word “supergrass” because I didn’t know that word. Apparently it is British slang for a police informer.

      I notice Guardian leds their piece with a photo of Magnitsky, which might lead the casual reader to think it is a photo of Perepelichnyy. Also, they still call Magnitsky a “lawyer”.

      What a sherpherd’s pie of insinuations this article is!
      A “growing number of people”, including Berezovsky’s girlfriend, are expressing doubts that Boris offed himself.

      Actually, add me to that list. I believe that MI-6 dunnit, and nobody can ever shake me from that opinion.
      Opportunity: This is Mi-6, they can break into his house.
      Motive: Putin’s spokesman, Peskov, said that Boris wanted to come back to Russia and was willing to “put the whole Litvinenko” issue to rest. No better motive for MI-6 to silence him before it came to that.
      Means: This is MI-6. They have their little ways.

      • kirill says:

        But you are applying rationality to your “conspiracy” theory. Western conspiracy theories are outright retarded. Like insinuations of the FSB having super poisons that cannot be detected but still using messy Polonium to off the nobody clown and indirect asset Litvinenko. There is simply no effort to actually produce a “theory”, it’s some bag of brain farts and impulses driven by hate and prejudice.

        • marknesop says:

          Ha, ha!!! You are developing quite a talent for that sort of, “If that’s true, then how do you explain XXX?” argument. And it certainly does smack of dissonance to suggest the FSB has access to undetectable poisons, but that it would use a clanging weathervane pointing straight to assassination like polonium to off Litvinenko.

          But they have an explanation for that, too. Sendin’ a flippin’ message, wun’t they? Which they promptly denied, so what’s the sense of sending a message to tell somebody you were the only one who could have done a thing, then saying you didn’t do it? I mean, isn’t that confusing?

          And confusing Guardian readers is already easy enough.

      • marknesop says:

        The British press, as I implied in the post, is getting embarrassing – what must Russian readers think? I mean, it’s like somebody who expects to be respected for their intelligence and pragmatism arguing the earth is flat. If a meteorite had fallen upon Berezovsky in Oxford Circus and crushed the life out of him front of hundreds of witnesses, The Guardian would slyly imply that the meteorite over Chelyabinsk was a test of a Berezovsky-killing meteorite from the tickle trunk of the FSB. It’s like some kind of delayed-release McCarthyite virus.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Latynina would have certainly said it was the work of the FSB.

          Actually, I’ve not seen her use the term “Chekist” yet. Has anybody noticed how that term has become something of a buzz word amongst younger elements of the white ribbonists and especially amongst the “exiled” residents of Londongrad?

          • yalensis says:

            The term “Chekist” is becoming more popular among dissidents. As usual, Lev Shcharansky (Spiritual Leader of all the dissidents) is in the forefront, always inventing new “winged terms” and reshaping the modern Russian language. Shcharansky uses the term “Chekist” often in conjunction with “sovki” (dullard Soviet types), “nashisty” (Putinites), and others, as in this example (in which he is railing against the renaming of Volgograd to Stalingrad):

            Совки, чекисты, нашисты и чернь дружно празднует в эти дни семьдесят лет со дня гибели Шестой армии II-го Евросоюза, лучшей и отборной армии цивилизованной Европы. Около трехсот тысяч правозащитников, миротворцев и борцов с тоталитарными режимами попало в ловушку КГБ под кованый сапог русского фашизма и империализма. А ведь они просто хотели, чтоб их любили. Германские освободители несли в эту страну свободу, равенство и братство, сжигали деревни, боролись за слезинку ребенка, осуществляли добрые и позитивные массовые люстрации.


            • Moscow Exile says:

              Is this Brighton Beach rabbi right in the head? Is this his idea of irony? Is he suggesting that anybody who opposed the Soviet Union must deserve to have at least a little good said about them?

              “Sovki, Chekists, Nashisti and the rest of the gang will be celebrating during the next few days that it is seventy years since that day when the Sixth Army of the Second European Union perished, which army was the best and most select of civilized Europe. About three hundred thousand defenders of the right, peacekeepers and fighters for totalitarian regimes, had fallen into a KGB trap and were trampled under the boot of Russian fascism and imperialism. But they just wanted to be loved. German liberators brought with them to this country freedom, equality and fraternity; they burned villages, fought for a child’s tears and presented themselves as massive and positive examples of kindness.”

              So they were both as bad as each other? Stalin and Hitler were two sides of the same coin?

              This Russian Jew seems to fail to realize that he and his fellow Jews would have been exterminated by the Nazis simply because of their birth, not because of what they believed in or said or did. Whether bourgeoise or impoverished, right-wing or left-wing politically, blond and blue eyed, fair skinned or hook nosed and swarthy, he, his parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren would have died quite simply because of their “race”.

              Another thing: The “Second European Union” play on the Second Reich I find particularly irritating: all of Europe was not involved in Operation Barbarossa, nor was all of Europe involved in Buonaparte’s invasion of 1812.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                That should be “Third Reich” of course.

              • yalensis says:

                Spoiler Alert: Lev Natanovich Shcharansky is a SATIRIST! A brilliant one too, if a bit ham-fisted. For example, here is his take on Berezovsky’s death:

                Борис Абрамыч Березовский был одной из величайших фигур в лучше периоде России – 1991-1999-м годах. Именно поэтому в глубокую печаль погрузились все честные и порядочные люди, геи и демократические журналисты. Скорбят и Эхо Москвы и телеканал Дождь, скорбит Брайтон Бич и скорбит Торонто. Скорбит КавказЦентр и скорбят ичкерийские борцы за свободу, которые сейчас находятся в ответственной командировке в Сирии. Скорбит британская королева и Доку Умаров в лесах Ичкерии. Скорбит Володя Варфоломеев и Яшин с Кашиным. Скорбят креаклы, хипстеры и правозащитники. Жан-Жак провожает павшего олигарха протяжным гудком. Только совки и быдло не плачут никак.


                (I especially like that bit about the Ichkerian freedom fighters who are currently on assignment in Syria…)

          • yalensis says:

            And still on the topic of Lev Shcharansky, he has made a startling accusation on his latest blogpost: According to Shcharansky, ALL the current dissidents (Navalny, Yashin, Ponomarev, etc.) are actually KGB agents, with the sole exception of Alexander Vladimirovich Sotnik!


            • Moscow Exile says:

              A commentator on Da Russophile was saying that a couple of weeks back. He said that all the oligarchs were “Chekists” as well, that Berezovsky’s institute was chekist , that the looting of the SU was all a chekist plot so as to matamorphise that state into something more suitable to present times.

              You know the scene: “The King is dead! Long live the King!”

            • Misha says:

              The reference to “all” the “dissidents” being “Chekists” is an extreme alternative to such notions as suggesting all the Russian based oligarchs are Jews, which brings to mind this person among others:


              Awhile back, a BBC feature noted that the post-Yeltsin era in Russia has seen a greater social responsibility among the oligarchs.

            • Misha says:

              Lev Shcharansky’s comment reminds me of a UN Security Council debate during one of the Arab-Israeli conflicts, when the Saudi ambassador suddenly went into a tirade about how the USSR was (in his view) a Zionist stooge, as evidenced by its support for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, followed up on the many skilled Soviet citizens who migrated to that entity.

              There’re limits in conversing with idiots, like the one polluting Leos Tomicek’s blog, with inaccurately rehashed claims and insults.

  9. Meanwhile, the sanctification of St. Berezovsky proceeds a pace. Here is a hagiographic interview with his daughter in Alexander Lebedev’s Independent.

    By the way can someone find out whether he really was a member of the Academy of Sciences? If he was why was he never referred to as Academician Berezovsky?

    Incidentally I think a campaign should be started in Russia for the government there to publish Berezovsky’s letter to Putin. In the absence of publication space is being opened for Berezovsky’s supporters to deny the letter was ever written (as his daughter does in her interview). I cannot imagine what the letter could say that would justify publicly withholding it. By refusing to publish it the Russian government is once again letting its critics make the running.

    • Misha says:

      Leave it to Andrei Zolotov’s Polish friend to make this analogy of sorts between Ivan the Terrible era Russian prince Ivan Kurbsky and BB:

      Filed under the country with a long oppressive tradition that has diffculty shaking.

      If I’m not offhand mistaken (colud very well be) and in contrast to what the oD Russia editor wrote, the prince in question fled (as opposed to being formally exiled) to Lithuania (not Poland).

      • Jen says:

        The Wikipedia article on Kurbsky states that he defected to Lithuania in April 1564:

        The article suggests that Kurbsky left Russia in a fit of pique so “fleeing” is perhaps not the right term to describe what he did; self-exile is a better description.

        Apart from that, I’d say Dzieciolowski’s article says more about its author living in the fairy-tale Kingdom of Shrek than it does about the Russian media’s interest in Berezovsky which is perhaps no more and no less than the Western media’s interest.

        • Misha says:

          I sense that Kurbsky knew he might very well run into trouble had he stayed in Russia.

          I’ve no doubt that Dzieciolowski has given a good deal of nod to the likes of Motyl, Umland and Riabchuk at oD, much unlike the substantively reasoned pro-Russian counter to them.

      • yalensis says:

        Prince Kurbsky making the difficult decision to flee to Lithuania, where maybe his knickers wouldn’t be so tight:

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Dear Alexander Mercouris,

      re Berezovsky and the Russian Academy of Sciences

      Berezovsky was a “corresponding member” of the Academy of Sciences. About this, the Russian Wiki is absolutely clear:

      С 1991 года — член-корреспондент Российской академии наук, член Международного научного общества по теории принятия решений, основатель Международного научного фонда.

      [From 1991, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the International Society for Decision Theory, founder of the International Science Foundation.]

      What does “corresponding member” mean?

      Again, from the Russian Wiki:

      Член-корреспонде́нт — член организации учёных — академии наук. В сравнении с академиком является младшей степенью членства.

      [Corresponding Member - a member of an organization of scientists, of the Academy of Science. As compared with an academician, a corresponding member is at a junior stage of membership.]

      However, in the English language Wiki we have under “Academician”:

      “The title Academician denotes a Full Member of an art, literary, or scientific academy. In many countries, it is an honorary title. However, in some other systems, like Academy of Sciences of USSR it gave very real privileges and administrative responsibilities for funding allocation and research priorities…

      “A related title also exists in some countries — a Corresponding Member (French: membre correspondant; Russian: член-корреспондент “chlen-korrespondent”) is a person who is eminent in respect of scientific discoveries and attainments but is not normally resident in the country where the academy is located. Because they are unable to read their communications in person, they have to use “correspondence”. For example, Corresponding Members of the Australian Academy of Science who reside outside of Australia include: Sir David Attenborough (United Kingdom), Rolf M. Zinkernagel (Switzerland), Elizabeth Blackburn (USA) and Gunnar Öquist (Switzerland).”

      Berezovsky became a Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1991, when he was still resident in Russia. He was to continue residing there for more than 10 years. He was unable to defend theses at the Academy not because of foreign residence, but because, I should think, he was too busy with political and criminal skulduggery. I do not think that his thoughts were much concerned with mathematics from 1991 onwards and therefore strongly suspect that the title given to him of “corresponding member” was purely honorific. To say that he was an “Academician” is, in my opinion, stretching it a bit.

      As regards his being a “Член-корреспонде́нт” (Corresponding Member), I for one certainly do not dispute that he certainly was a “член”:

      член (m) [člen]: Penis – “member” (double meaning as in English)

      • Jen says:

        @ Moscow Exile, Alex Mercouris: Woo-hoo, have you ever worked in or seen such offices as these at The Guardian?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Dear Jen,

          I’m so bloody long in the tooth now that I remember when the “Guardian” was the “Manchester Guardian” and had its offices on Deansgate, Manchester, where they probably used that press shown in the linked photograph.

          The “Manchester Guardian” was by far a better newspaper than the present day “Guardian” and the likes of Tin-Tin would have been immediately shown the door after his having been exposed as a plagiarist.

          Until last year, I had been reading the “Guardian” for 47 years, but in the end enough was enough. It had been going down the drain for years before I ditched it, but I hung on out of loyalty. In the end, the likes of Tinsdall and Harding finally ended up driving me to distraction and I just couldn’t take any more.

          It came to a crunch when, after I had yet again lambasted some shite written about Russia in the Guardian, Tin-Tin popped up on CiF in order to voice the opinion that I was employed by the FSB.

          Dumping the Guardian has been the second greatest decision in my life that I have made and which has given me satisfaction and peace of mind.

          The number one successful decision that I have taken in my life was to drop anchor in Russia.

          • apc27 says:

            “Dumping the Guardian has been the second greatest decision in my life that I have made and which has given me satisfaction and peace of mind.

            The number one successful decision that I have taken in my life was to drop anchor in Russia.”

            Better hope Mrs Moscow Exile is not reading this. He he.

            • Misha says:

              To be spun as that decision leading to his contact with Mrs. E.

              • yalensis says:

                Yeah, which also led to their decision to have kids and raise a family. All included in Decision #1…. :)

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Yep, that was my little contribution towards solving the Russian “demographic crisis”. Of course, in that respect, Natalia Vladimirovna contributed far more effort than I did: they even gave her a medal for child number 3.

                  Never gave me nothing.


                • Jen says:

                  This new indignity is on top of the other indignity in which Moscow Exile’s last name is subject to declension according to the rules of Russian grammar but Mrs Moscow Exile’s married surname isn’t.

            • marknesop says:

              I thought that, too. Dennis, you are venturing out on thin ice.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Dennis Dennisovich, if you don’t mind sir!

                Show a little respect to your elders!

                (If I had been born an ethnic Russian (русский), my name and patronymic would have indeed been Денис Денисович as I was named after my father. However, my father was given the Irish double-N spelling of his Christian name off my Irish grandmother. She named him after her brother Dennis, who was lost at sea.)

      • marknesop says:

        Quite often referred to in naval slang as a “dog’s member”, and it is not used in the context of commonality in an exclusive society to which dogs belong.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        No mention of his having been an academician here and no eulogy this.

      • kievite says:

        Moscow Exile,

        You need to understand that the way he got this degree in 1991 was completely corrupt. It used to cost Berezovsky 126 Zhiguli cars. Even his “doctor dissertation” was most probably written for him by somebody whom he paid several thousand rubles (big money at the time).


    • AK says:

      That’s truly hilarious Alex, thanks.

      I don’t fault Liza for placing her father on a pedestal. From the point of view of filial piety it is actually morally correct. However, journalists have no such obligation, to the contrary, their values are supposed to be about impartiality and getting all sides of the story. And here David Hanning fails spectacularly.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Daddy’s girl!

        Even Heinrich Himmler’s daughter Gudrun is recorded as saying something like “I don’t care what they say
        about my father, he was the best daddy ever!”

        Gudrun is still alive and working hard for former party members.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Here’s a report on Gudrun’s stirling work for the party faithful.

          Wonder if she ever visits Riga, Vilnius or Tallinn?

        • AK says:

          Gudrun sounds like an interesting character. Thanks for those links, ME.

          • kirill says:

            They try to make it sound serious. This whole Vlasov thing was nothing but a half-hearted psyop and the interest in it shown late in the game when it was clear that the Reich was losing and badly smacks like an attempt at post-war ass covering. The Reich and Hitler had no interest in liberating Russians from communism. The interest was exterminating the untermenschen Slavs.

            • Misha says:

              *The scholarly study of the topic in question is certainly not an attempt to sugarcoat Nazism.

              This facet includes an acknowledgement of your “late in the game point”, which Goebbels (in his memoirs) acknowledges as foolhardy for the Nazi hierarchy to not have adjusted their views on fully supporting an anti-Stalin Russian entity. Note that the predominately Slavic Slovak, Croat and Bulgarian recognized (by the Nazis) nations were allied with the Nazis, with Bulgaria being an internationally recognized state before WW II.

              Not everyone allied with the Nazis was Nazi – Germans included. The USSR changed after WW II. Who knows for sure what would’ve happened if Nazi Germany was put in a prolonged situation of not gaining either a complete victory or the extreme opposite. A gradual process of brutal bigotry, to a comparatively softer apartheid, to something more tolerant, might’ve played out.

              We’ve retrospection to know what eventually happened, much unlike the folks on the ground at the time, who experienced difficult circumstances.

  10. cartman says:

    On the same topic:

    Why China is going to be No. 2 FOREVER. I mean, they could never duplicate the successes of BANKRUPT exactly. Why do people make these long, linear predictions? 100 years from now Mexico or Brazil could be strong countries in the Americas, although currently they are weak and insignificant. Poor Russia and China are always getting tossed out of the BRICS, although coincidentally they are the only ones that try to defend their interests.

    • kirill says:

      The US is already number 2 in some metrics and at 3rd world levels in other metrics. Since 2000 the US has lost 32% of its manufacturing jobs and this shows not signs of slowing down. Even in the supposedly more socialist Canada we have taxi cab drivers taking home about $65 per day. That would be roughly $8 per hour (assuming 8 hours of work, which it is not). This is in 2013 dollars which are about 50% of 1990 dollars when $8 per hour was considered the minimum wage in Canada. So we have $4 per hour jobs in Canada and I am quite sure it is the same in the USA. So the FP clowns can spare the chauvinist BS. The key is that the USA is sinking and not that China is rising, which it is and quite rapidly.

    • marknesop says:

      It made me laugh a little when the article said other countries want to trade with China, but are wary of its bullying. I guess when the USA takes you to the woodshed, it’s for your own good.

      I remember sailing through Victoria Harbor, entering Hong Kong, and speaking with a senior military officer concerning China’s ambitions for Taiwan. It was his opinion that this ambition was unremarkable, as it is part of China, but that China would have it back within 10 years without firing a shot, because China had offered Taiwan full autonomy and the right of self-government, just like Hong Kong. It would simply come under the umbrella of mainland China. At that time, flights between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland had roughly doubled in a year, and most of the rhetoric between the countries had relaxed to a fairly-comfortable conversation between equals.

      Although this author’s credentials are a little flaky, he or she sums up very well the reality of the relationship, and China’s determined, methodical pursuit of the one-China policy. Although the author is in favour of Taiwan retaining its independence, he or she feels that without the protection of the United States, Taiwan will be absorbed by determined reintegration efforts, although violence is most unlikely. And the United States is just a little busy right now.

      The conversation I had in Victoria Harbour took place in 2008, so the prediction still has about 5 years to run. My money is on him being right.

      • SFReader says:

        Taiwanese public opinion is split in half over this issue. So far the pro-Chinese fraction appears to be in majority, but even they just want continuation of status-quo and are not interested in joining the mainland.

        The Taiwan-Independence folk are somewhat similar to the Ukrainian nationalists. They promote local Taiwanese dialect as opposed to Mandarin Chinese imposed by the KMT and generally aim to create Taiwanese national identity separate from Chinese.

        I am afraid that if China succeeds in forcing Taiwan to join mainland, they’ll get themselves a headache bigger than Tibet….

        • Misha says:

          Quite a scene a few years back, when a Kuomintang delegation was pretty well received in mainland China by the PRC government.

          As has been communicated to me, some on Taiwan seek an independent non-China in name position because of

          – not wanting to be affiliated with the PRC government, despite feeling Chinese
          – seeking their island nation to become more formally accepted in the international community.

          Note the Taiwanese (“Republic of China”) situations with the UN (no delegation) and IOC (competing under the designation of “Chinese Taipei”, under a flag different from the “Republic of China” designation).

        • Jen says:

          Perhaps if Taiwan was promised a special political status similar to what Hong Kong has, with its political, financial and economic systems running parallel with Mainland China’s and a date far off in the future (perhaps after 2050) to integrate Taiwan into Mainland China, reunification might draw more support from native Taiwanese and pro-Chinese factions alike.

          • Misha says:

            Some differences.

            Hong Kong was never really ever treated as an independent nation like Taiwan, AKA Republic of China, which for decades was a permanent UN Security Council member. Regardless of political views, When compared to Taiwan, Hong Kong seems to have a greater percentage of folks (as in the Asian population as opposed to Brits and others), who don’t shun the characterization of themselves as Chinese.

            Since formally becoming a part of the PRC, some have complained about the way Hong Kong has been treated – something which has been picked up in Taiwan.

            On a reference made above about Ukrainian nationalists relative to the descendants of pre-1949 Taiwanese islanders, Russia formally recognizes a separate Ukrainian nation and identity, much unlike how mainland China offcially views Taiwan.

            • SFReader says:

              Hong Kong is also much more culturally successful than Taiwan being a center of world-wide known Cantonese popular culture (in a language very distinct from Mandarin)

              Taiwanese popular culture (mostly in form of TV dramas) on the other hand is entirely based on Mandarin, spoken by minority of island’s population while local dialects are languishing from neglect.

              Hence, Hong Kong would actually have much better claim for being culturally, ethnically and linguistically distinct (and being successful at that!) from mainland than Taiwan.

          • marknesop says:

            Yes, that’s what I was getting at; special political status in which Taiwan would be permitted to keep its own government, have its own flag (as Hong Kong does) and its own armed forces. It would simply be understood to be a part of China, and that if it were invaded from without China would come to its defense. Sort of a reversal of the way it is now, in which the power thought to offer the most threat to it of invasion is China.

            Hong Kong was thought to mark a shift in Chinese strategy, a catch-more-flies-with-honey-than-with-vinegar sort of evolution. Many expected Hong Kong to become, almost overnight, a mirror-image of mainland China. Instead, it has not changed at all; it retains the English names of its streets, its own local governments and – most importantly – nearly all its foreign population and offices of large western and Asian businesses, which were expected to decamp abruptly with the re-Chinafication of Hong Kong.

            This is the approach expected for Taiwan as well. I realize there are many differences between Hong Kong and Taiwan and am not arguing they are the same – I am suggesting China will try the same approach that was so successful with Hong Kong and that this marks a maturing of Chinese nation-building.

      • Hunter says:

        Taiwan as a Special Administrative Region by 2018? Nah, not seeing that.

        A major problem with SAR status is that for the only two examples of it there is a time limitation (50 years); after which there is no certainty that the two systems would be maintained in the one country. For Taiwan perhaps the offer might be of an indefinite SAR status, but the offer of SAR status was first proffered in 1981. Here we are 32 years later and Taiwan is no closer to accepting it. And why should they? They have 22 states recognizing them as the Republic of China. At the moment Taiwan gets all the benefits of being a Taiwan SAR plus the added benefit of official recognition by nearly two dozen states (something which would disappear with SAR status and the disappearance of which is probably necessary before Taiwan seriously considers SAR status).

        Also while everyone is looking at the economic and cultural angle (as well as the political angle from a local autonomy perspective), nobody seems to bear in mind that the United States has a vested interest in ensuring that Taiwan does not accept SAR status because doing so would mean that the People’s Republic of China would have access to Taiwanese military hardware include AH-64E Apache Longbows (Taiwan is due to receive 30 starting in 2014), AH-1W SuperCobras, MD-500 Anti-Submarine Warfare helicopters, UH-60M Black Hawks (China currently uses S-70 Black Hawks but I believe these are civilian versions converted to a military transport role and thus would not necessarily have some of the same sensitive equipment as found on UH-60s), AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, AGM-65 Air to Ground missiles, AIM-92 and FIM-92 Stinger missiles, AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Javelin anti-tank missiles, Hellfire anti-tank missiles, various dock landing ships, P-3C Orion aircraft, E-2 Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning aircraft, F-16s, C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and Patriot Surface to Air missile batteries. Given China’s ability to engineer their own military equipment and the ease of reverse engineering; the US would go ballistic at the prospect of China not only being able to use these weapons systems to design their own indigenous weapons platforms of similar capability, but of being able to use these weapons systems in order to design effective counter-measures to them.

        Thus in one move (obtaining Taiwan’s assent to SAR status) China would:

        – gain a new base from which to be better able to exert control over disputed areas with Japan and in the South China Sea

        – gain access to modern US military hardware and be able to incorporate the design features of this hardware into Chinese hardware

        – be able to develop counter-measures to modern US military equipment, thus giving China the ultimate advantage in the event that a conflict (even one of a limited nature over disputed islands off Japan or in the South China Sea) should develop.

        Before the US would support any Taiwanese government that would accept SAR status we would either need to see the US develop completely new weapons systems to replace all of those listed above (and not sell the new weapons to Taiwan but allow Taiwan to operate these older weapons) OR we would need to see the US buying back or simply destroying all of the key American-made equipment used in Taiwan’s armed forces.

        • marknesop says:

          That’s very interesting about the 50-year thing, I didn’t know that. And it might be true that China would have to sweeten the offer considerably to make it worthwhile, but China is certainly in a position to do that. But in the end, the people of Taiwan are Chinese, and they know this. That is China’s sphere of influence, and the USA would have to do a lot more to establish itself there, like perhaps re-colonize Taiwan with non-Chinese, in order to gain a genuine foothold for its own national interests. Meanwhile, it is a small island surrounded by its dominating neighbour; another similar example is Israel, tiny bastion of America surrounded by interests with which it is incompatible and which resent its position. However, that example is not like the Taiwanese and Chinese, as the Jews and the Arabs are not the same people and it is consequently much more difficult to imagine the latter two living in harmony while the one is pumped up with the latest in U.S. military hardware than it is Taiwan and China.

          That’s a good point, though, about Taiwan’s military. I was given to understand China had offered for Taiwan to maintain its own military forces, which presumably would be comprised of the present systems, although with reunification Taiwan would of course have to come off the U.S. customer list. But I don’t know that for a fact, it’s just something I heard, probably in the same conversation I mentioned. As it stands there is little doubt China could take it if it felt that was necessary, sophisticated military hardware or no, but it does not suit the image China is trying to cultivate at present. Consequently it does not make a very good outpost of western values, because it would be overrun in a day. The west persists, even while being unable to deny China’s emerging economic strength, in regarding its martial strength as consisting of soldiers on bicycles and a few clunky pieces of obsolete Soviet artillery. That, I’m afraid, is not the case.

          • Hunter says:

            It isn’t that Taiwan would not be able to maintain it’s own military forces. It’s that with reunification as a Taiwan SAR, the Taiwanese military command would have to be integrated to some extent into the Chinese military command and the Chinese military (including Chinese military scientists) would have free and open access to Taiwanese military bases and hardware. The problem is not that China might send over 10,000 troops to garrison the island alongside local forces, but that China would send over a few key personnel who would then inspect the Taiwanese military hardware and begin the process of reverse engineering and developing counter-measures to the US military equipment of Taiwan.

            It’s much the same as how the reunification of Germany gave the West access to the Soviet equipment fielded by the former East Germany.

            Here the US would be resolutely opposed to this happening and would pull out all the stops to keep this from happening (putting pressure on Taiwanese leaders through economic and travel measures aimed at the island and it’s residents (e.g. increasing visa refusals from the American Institute in Taiwan (the unofficial embassy), limiting visas for Taiwanese to study in the US, decreased Export-Import Bank financing, decreased access to the US market and a suspension of normal trade relations, etc).

            And China actually isn’t a position to sweeten the offer considerably. Currently Taiwan pretty much enjoys all the benefits of SAR status (complete autonomy in domestic affairs, normalized trade relations with China) without any of the drawbacks (the potential for political interference from China’s leadership despite any SAR Basic Law as seems to have been attempted in Hong Kong at times; the potential for SAR status to be time-limited to 50 years (which it doesn’t have to be, but is so far for Hong Kong and Macau); complete de-recognition by the remaining 22 states which officially recognize it as the Republic of China; the complete loss of unofficial foreign affairs control even with countries that do not recognize it including the USA, Canada, Russia, China, India, Brazil, France, Germany, the UK, Japan, South Korea and about 30 other countries – Taiwan is most likely not going to give up the Republic of China tag and accept SAR status unless all 60-odd countries with which it maintains official or unofficial relations decide to cut all relations with it).

            Really what could China possibly offer?

            – More money? That won’t work because Taiwan is already pretty wealthy.

            -The same SAR status along with additional guarantees for an autonomous Taiwanese military? That’s been the offer for more or less 30 years and the Taiwanese have still not accepted it or been close to even seriously considering it.

            -A guarantee that China won’t invade? Pointless because the Taiwanese already know that it is not in China’s interest to start hostilities unless Taiwan itself provokes those hostilities by declaring itself an independent “Republic of Taiwan” and dropping the “Republic of China” label.

            The situation is unlikely to change until:

            – the 22 states currently recognizing Taiwan switch to recognition of China instead

            – the 40-odd states currently having unofficial relations with Taiwan downgrade these unofficial relations

            – Taiwan experiences economic contraction sufficient to make reunification with China seem attractive, probably starting first with Taiwan ditching the New Taiwan dollar and adopting the PRC yuan.

            – the US develops weapons systems that make all of the modern US weapons operated by Taiwan seem obsolete and does not sell these new weapons systems to Taiwan (thus there will be no problem if China gains access to these older weapons systems since the US would no longer operate them)

            – OR until the communism collapses/ends on the mainland and is replaced by multi-party democracy (in which case the Taiwanese would be willing to reunify with a democratic mainland as there would be no fear that their SAR democracy could be limited for 50 years or 100 years or so).

            • marknesop says:

              Those are all good and thought-provoking points. I doubt the 22 states which recognize Taiwan could be persuaded to renounce their support so long as the USA continues to be the de facto world leader, although its style of “democracy” has taken a few bruises in the last decade. I likewise doubt China is going to become much more democratic in the foreseeable future, and the people are not likely to demand serious political change as long as the Chinese engine of development continues to roar at full throttle. This is the fundamental error western regime-changers cannot seem to grasp – you will never be able to sow popular discontent in a country where the economy is doing well and the standard of living is rising. In such a case, soft power is very unlikely to bring about change and only hard power remains. And nobody in their right mind is going to take on China with hard power, unless in self-defence.

              Although reunification of Taiwan remains a long-term Chinese goal, I don’t believe China is in a terrific hurry for it so long as it is aware it could seize it if it chose, and meanwhile it is a good conundrum on which future nation-builders and diplomats can cut their teeth. I guess much of it depends on for how long the USA is able to maintain its outposts of empire in the face of declining global influence and the re-emergence of a multipolar world. When it no longer is the biggest hat in the ring, perhaps Taiwan – and others – will reconsider their alliances.

  11. Misha says:

    Outstanding insight:

    Somewhat reminded of why I tend not to go to panel discussions. When something purportedly high profile is short of that reality, one might question the basis for giving credibility to such a charade like situation.

    • Ken Macaulay says:

      Great comments on the article. Have Forbes readers suddenly gone sane? Or is this because the article is from someone who’s built up a following writing on the BRICS? Would of expected more loony hate for article that covered Russia remotely favourably on Forbes.

    • kirill says:

      Golos proved squat with its cell phone “exit poll”. Yet another pile of BS from the western media. As for NED being independent of the US government, don’t make me laugh. If RTR is “state” run, then NED is state owned.

  12. kirill says:

    Good to hear that Gazprom is not running scared of the shale (tight) gas “revolution”. Now that Miller has said the obvious he will be attacked without mercy by demented media cum liberast locusts.

  13. Evgeny says:

    Unfortunately, there is a serious problem for deeper relationships with China.

    • kirill says:

      This sounds like “bath salts”. Truly dope for nutjobs making them into animals. The case in Florida of the homeless man having his face being eaten alive comes to mind.

      The problem is that moron addicts will find whatever shit is out there.

    • marknesop says:

      True, but youths who want drugs can always get them from somewhere, and the big suppliers are always looking for markets. If the Chinese were cut out, it’d just be somebody else. Russia would have better luck appealing to the Chinese government for assistance and better enforcement, because Chinese punishment actually is a deterrent, and there can’t be too many repeat offenders.

      This would be a problem of a deeper relationship with anyone, and unfortunately, teens have an invincibility complex that tells them getting hooked is for other people. It’s the same everywhere. Drug dealers should be treated like murderers, in my opinion. Because they are.

  14. Evgeny says:

    It looks like that news did not appear here. But Igor Shuvalov said the Russian state will not help wealthy Russians with accounts in those two banks in Cyprus.—Shuvalov.html

  15. Jen says:

    To all Canadians here: There are reports on the Internet that the Harper government has proposed Cyprus-style “bail-ins” in its proposed budget for 2013. The relevant pages to read are pages 144 – 145 in the Economic Action Plan 2013 which has been submitted to the House of Commons and the paragraph of concern is this one:

    The Government intends to implement a comprehensive risk management
    framework for Canada’s systemically important banks. This framework will
    be consistent with reforms in other countries and key international standards,
    such as the Financial Stability Board’s Key Attributes of Effective Resolution
    Regimes for Financial Institutions, and will work alongside the existing Canadian
    regulatory capital regime. The risk management framework will include the
    following elements:

    – Systemically important banks will face a higher capital requirement,
    as determined by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

    – The Government proposes to implement a “bail-in” regime for
    systemically important banks. This regime will be designed to ensure that,
    in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its
    capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability through the
    very rapid conversion of certain bank liabilities into regulatory capital.
    This will reduce risks for taxpayers. The Government will consult
    stakeholders on how best to implement a bail-in regime in Canada.
    Implementation timelines will allow for a smooth transition for affected
    institutions, investors and other market participants.

    – Systemically important banks will continue to be subject to existing risk
    management requirements, including enhanced supervision and recovery
    and resolution plans.

    This risk management framework will limit the unfair advantage that could
    be gained by Canada’s systemically important banks through the mistaken
    belief by investors and other market participants that these institutions are
    “too big to fail”.

    The key passage is the second point in the list where it says that if a systemically important bank, that is, one whose financial losses could cause a loss of investor confidence in Canada’s financial system and spell trouble for the economy, runs out of capital, the bank can be recapitalised by the rapid of conversion of “certain bank liabilities” into regulatory capital to reduce risks for taxpayers. The passage does not define what is meant by “certain bank liabilities” and there were no footnotes that I could find. Savings deposits are bank liabilities.

    Here’s a link to the budget:

  16. kirill says:

    But I thought it was common knowledge that only “Russian mafia oligarchs” launder money in shady locations like Cyprus and not the squeaky clean, legitimate banks in the USA, Germany, France and UK //sarc. What a sick joke!

  17. Two cents says:

    Something I thought about reading this blog and wrote down. It is pretty rambling:

    I’m Finnish, if that matters for anything. I think there is a really complex geopolitical situation in Europe what with NATO having a large presence and Russia of course. The viewpoint presented in this blog is mostly that NATO is enroaching on Russia’s sovereign power and sovereignty, but I have another one, one in which NATO is a welcome addition to Europe. I’m talking about the Baltic states, Poland, Finland and others here. Most of the people of these countries really, honest to god are okay with being members of NATO and actually prefer this to the idea of having a military alliance with Russia, for example. Let’ say Russia does not want to oppress them anymore, fine, but it is still a situation of a comparatively enormous country trying to assert its control over smaller neighbouring ones.

    I don’t want to say that since you’re Canadian you can’t “know” about what it’s like living with Russia next door. I just think that somebody who lives in a country with which Russia is “equal” may have a hard time realizing how former Eastern Bloc states, for example, view Russia. Not in the sense of not knowing their point of view, but in the sense of really getting their perspective. Maybe Russia has just wanted to be everybody’s friend and just wanted a big group hug for the last few centuries, but it really doesn’t seem like it. From Russia’s perspective it may be like that, but they definitely have no goodwill in most of the countries mentioned above and for good reasons. From the viewpoint of these countries, it is Russia who has tried to suppress their nationalities for centuries, has invaded, plundered and occupied them over and over again and has tried to permanently incorporate them into its former empire.

    Nowadays a lot of this probably comes down to Russia wishing to have a “sphere of influence” around it – Medvedev once said as much, as I recall – but just like Russia strongly deplores America lecturing it about things it should and should not do, a lot of the people of this “near abroad” do not dig the idea all that much. America just may have an imperial presence in Europe with this current state of affairs, but a significant majority of Europeans prefer this to Russia having a bigger presence and I’m one of them. We do not trust Russia and that is not going to go away by Moscow telling us “Well you should”.

    I have a pretty neutral view of Russia but if I had to choose between positive and negative I would probably go with the latter. I try to be open minded about it, but it is really hard to not see most of the things Russia does in its relations with us as neo-imperialistic. Just late last year Russia played geopolitical games with our country by trying to assert that Finland is “dangerous for Russian children” and the reason for this was one particular case of a Russian boy potentially having been taken from his Russian mother by his Finnish father without her consent. Russia violates the country’s airspace a few times a year. Every so often some really ridiculous stuff seems to turn into a really big issue between the two countries and I can assure you that Finland is not interesting in provoking a fight with Russia : )

    Here’s food for thought: I’m not terribly old and I could still probably come to associate myself more with the European Union than Finland if this federalization process continues. If the EU were to federalize to one state, my view of Russia would instantly become a lot more positive. Why should I distrust Russia in any way as an EU citizen? I guess I’m trying to say that a lot really depends on perspective. I think that as long as Europe is made up of these small nation states Russia will have a hard time gaining any sympathy there.

    What does any of this have to do with Russia “turning away” from the West and towards the East? Well, if you find something, let me know.

    This wall of text doesn’t flow nearly as smoothly as I expected when I started writing, but there it is.

    • Misha says:

      What do you think of NATO’s hypocritically and ethically flawed bombing of Yugoslavia?

      The first wave of post-Soviet NATO expansion included a backdrop of anti-Russian propaganda – inclusive of the faulty notion of Russia as an inherent threat.

      Very interesting given the past history of others, including the situation of Germany opposing the Anglo-America in two world wars.

      As for small states being disrespected (besides Yugoslavia in 1999), consider the view expressed by openDemocracy’s Zygmunt Dzieciolowski (noted up this thread) which confuses Lithuanian territory with that of Poland.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      “…it is Russia who has tried to suppress their nationalities for centuries…”

      As regards Finland and the Baltic States, I should rather think that it was Sweden in its attempts to carve out a northern empire that tried to suppress their nationalities for centuries, and as regards the Baltic States in particular, the Germans through their crusading monkish-knightly agency the German Order.

      After the German Order and its Drang nach Osten was well and truly quashed at the Battle of Grunwald/Tannenberg in 1410, it was the Poles that advanced eastwards, occupying Muscovy at the peak of their eastward expansion during the Polish-Russian War 1605-1618, the Poles eventually creating an empire that they called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth” (Królestwo Polskie i Wielkie Księstwo Litewskie), whose shores were washed by the Baltic in the north and the Black Sea in the south.

      Finland was occupied by Imperial Russian in 1809 to become the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. This happened because the King of Sweden at the time was a former French general, Bernardotte, a puppet of the Corsican Buonaparte and who, in 1809, was sitting uncomfortably on the fence as regards his loyalties to his former “emperor”. In occupying Finland in 1809, the Russian Empire was securing its northern flank just in case, and the “just in case” happened in 1812.

      One could even say that the Russian Empire liberated the Finns from the Swedes, who during their “Northern Crusade” had incorporated Finland into the Kingdom of Sweden in the middle of the 13th century. Immediately after the 1917 October Revolution, Finland was granted its independence.

      Of course, many people look back at historical events as though they were looking through a spyglass the wrong way round and only see recent history as being of any great importance whilst the rest is all compressed into the dim, barely discernible and very distant past. For that reason, I should think that many Finns, when considering the history of their land, only see the Winter War of 1939-1940: all the rest is just ”ancient history”.

      However, allow me to put forward what I claim to be an irrefutable fact: in the 300 years since the foundation of the Russian Empire by Tsar Peter I and after the continuation of that empire, as it were, in the shape of the USSR, there have been repeated invasions many times over of that same polity by the armed forces of such countries as Sweden, Poland, France, Austria, Germany, the Kingdom of Sardinia, Hungary, Romania, Italy, Turkey, Great Britain, the United States and Japan.

      And that list is just off the top of my head. Furthermore, during that period the two biggest invasions of Russia were both undeclared aggressive acts undertaken by the French Empire together with its client states and satraps in 1812 and by the Second German Reich and its fascist allies in 1941.

      Yet in the eyes of many, Russia is always the aggressor.

    • kirill says:

      Listing of some tropes is hardly convincing. You raise a strawman about NATO. The posts on this blog have nothing to do with NATO or the concerns of EU member states. The issues covered in this blog are the incessant lying in the western media about Russian domestic affairs. North Korean style propaganda about some Russian autocracy that does not exist and suppression of protests that nobody can identify. The western media consumer is being fed a daily diet of tinfoil hat conspiracy theories (cf. The Guardian and its looney-tunes nonsenses about Berezovsky).

      It is clear that you have not bothered to read this blog at all from the claims in your post. As for the alleged suffering of the Baltic states under the yoke of the USSR. Cry me a river. I know for a fact that they had the highest standard of living in the USSR and did pretty much whatever they pleased. This you call suppression. No, suppression would be if Estonians, Latvians or Lithuanians would be shot dead for speaking back at their Russian overlords. The treatment of the Russian minority in the Baltic statelets today is South African style apartheid that the alleged victims of suppression never experienced under the USSR. The only reason the Baltics were incorporated into the USSR was because of the looming genocidal war from the Nazi hordes. Your homeland was allied with the Nazis and so got the treatment it deserved as well. You all love to see yourselves as big time victims and clip from your history and your minds facts that completely destroy your obscene revisionist narrative.

      I will repeat it again, the Baltics and Finland were allies of the Reich and the Reich had an explicit policy of genocide against Slavs and Russians in particular. The Baltics can keep on parading their SS goons to feel good about themselves and affirm their victimhood via ritual, but Russia will not forget your agenda. This agenda spans a millenium and goes back to the Teutonic Knights and their attempts at conquest. If you think this is irrational, then show me your good will and not your SS parades and your selective clipping of history to paint yourselves the victims of all victims.

    • marknesop says:

      @ Two cents: neutral is good – I’m OK with neutral. And of course it would be unrealistic to expect that a country would go against its genuine best interest; I’m not arguing Finland should become a part of the Russian Federation. However, countries that agree to host an anti-ballistic missile tripwire on behalf of a nation that is half a world away need make no protests to neutrality. I’m not speaking of Finland there, obviously, but of countries like Poland and the Czech Republic. And to be fair to their populations, many ordinary citizens in both countries are against hosting a missile defense system, that is a decision of their governments.

      The Finns seem to have a good thing going, rating at the top of the world for education, business climate, a social contract and civil institutions. I see no reason why it should not carry on as it is doing, as it is apparently doing something right.

      I submit we have learned a lot about the European Union in the last few weeks, and few would disagree the economic aspects of being one under the same currency have been catastrophic. One of the commenters suggested the EU was always meant to be a political union and not an economic one, and that the common currency was only foisted upon the countries to create an interdependence from which there would be no going back – those who created the Euro are said to have bet against its endurance for long. I’m afraid I’m having a hard time seeing how it has drawn the countries together and given them a sense of common identity – the French are no less French, the English no less English (although they did not give up their currency), while the Germans feel like they are constantly opening their wallets to give everyone some of their money just because they don’t have a clue how to build a solid economy.

      Likewise, there was once nothing wrong with NATO, and I sailed under the STANAVFORLANT banner myself more than once. When Russia was the Soviet Union, and had a massive, globally-capable navy, it was wise to keep a careful eye on it as the west and the USSR saw eye-to-eye on few issues, and defense planners think in terms of capabilities, not intentions. So long as the Soviet military could be a serious threat, it made sense to plan for them being just that. However, in the mid-1960’s, Albert Wohlstetter began to build a disproportionately-influential engine of political influence, and conducted briefing after briefing for political movers and shakers and Washington moneymen, in which he greatly exaggerated the Soviet threat, and coined terms like “fail-safe” and “second-strike” to frighten the bejesus out of people with haunting visions of nuclear winter. Declassified Soviet records – as well as Ronald Reagan’s memoirs – now show the Soviets were terrified of the truculent NATO alliance, and feared it would launch a first strike against the Soviet heartland. Eventually, exaggeration of the threat by lobbyists pitching for new weapons systems was used to justify huge outlays in defense funding and a determination to have an unstoppable military, even as the Soviet Union tottered and its military began to crumble.

      Which brings us to now, in which the Russian military is a sliver of its former self – and yet, every time Russia holds a military exercise, it is “a rehearsal for the destruction of the west” and the repudiation of Mom and apple pie.

      That’s the kind of nonsense I would like to see stop. Countries can’t make rational decisions on what is in their best interests when they are stuffed like a Christmas goose with bullshit from morning until night.

      And I second apc27’s comment – thanks for your input and for your compelling argument.

      • kirill says:

        The argument about the euro is bizarre. The EU started of as the EC, which made perfect sense, but somehow morphed into a political union with an extra layer of parasites in Brussels. But that is none of my concern. It’s when these self-anointed guiding lights of humanity start to make military threats and attempts at regime change (decoupled from any large scale local support as typified by Ukraine and Georgia) that I have good reason to care.

        The EU has outed itself as a rabidly anti-Russian entity with its attack on Cyprus (supposedly a member state) under the guise of making the Russian mafia pay. What a load of obscene bollox utterly detached from reality and we have many in the EU actually believing this crap.

        What’s next for the EU elites? Are they going to launch yet another war on Russia after getting their populace all pumped up on self-righteous indignation about some mythical Russian badness?

    • Jen says:

      @ Two Cents: It’s likely that Finnish news media has an axe to grind with respect to Russian-Finnish relations just as the news media in the Anglosphere also demonises Russia and Vladimir Putin whenever the opportunity arises.

      A quick scout around on Wikipedia tells me that Helsingin Sanomat is the biggest circulating newspaper in Finland and that it’s owned by Sanoma Oyj, whose part-owners include the Erkko family who used to own the paper outright. The Erkko family has included politicians as well as publishers and journalists and one member was Finland’s foreign minister in the late 1930s, just before the Winter War, as well as publisher. That Helsingin Sanomat’s owners have been so close to the Finnish government in the past might explain that paper’s anti-Russian stance.

      • kirill says:

        And these sanctimonious hypocrites screech about Russian media freedom. Given the pattern with Murdoch’s papers and pretty much all oligarch media, it is self-evident from the slant that this organization sings the tune selected by its master. It is quite nauseating how much of the EU elites are unrepentant Nazis who still push the same anti-Russian agenda today.

        But I should emphasize that the average western citizen does not share the values of these rotten elites.

      • Misha says:

        Helsingin Sanomat (HS) has ties with The Moscow Times (TMT). A Finnish acquainatance tells me that HS is more critical of Russia than most Finns.

        Under the Russian Empire, Finland was arguably the most autonomous land of 19th century European territories, which eventually became independent.

        Russia has been a historically great power. Great powers have a dominating tendency. Among the great powers, Russia has also faced aggression.

        Contrary to TMTs’ Michael Bohm, I think that most Russians have a mature view of the world – something I can’t say about a good portion of what Bohm has said.

        BTW, an uncle of mine died in the Soviet-Finnish War, as a raw recruit sent to the front lines with hardly any, if any training. My family understood the practical argument for why that war was initiated. None of my family members have any animosity towards the Finns. The disdain is directed at the way the USSR had initially chose to fight that war – apparently not taking the Finns seriously. Around that time, consider the better Soviet military performance against Japan.

        When the USSR broke up, more Russians seemed to be less antagonistic towards NATO than what has become evident. The change in Russian attitudes isn’t because Russians themselves have become more aggressive.

    • kievite says:

      What was funny with Finns is that they managed to rebuilt the country and expand economics due to its special relationship with the USSR (key economic partner) and simultaneously playing their role as bastion against communism pretty skillfully. Brainwashing of the population in anti-Russian mode is nothing special. This is part of the way Finnish elite played the cards when they want to milk two cows. And that explains to me your preference for Nato.

      But you need to understand that now Finland lost its privileged position as Russia key partner (And Finnish depression which started in 1991 was not accidental) and Russia might prefer other partners. That means that economically it might well be squeezed by the same old good Swedes, French and Germans who have larger and more advanced economies. So this anti-Russian brainwashing (which in my book is now equal in intensity to anti-Semitism in some other nations) and which is now part of Finnish national character may at the end backfire badly. Classic blowback I would say.

      Negative feeling are usually reciprocated and Russians now are trying to catch up. All those horrible stories about Finish authorities seizing children from mixed families (typically when Russian woman marry Finnish man) create a certain climate. Some ridiculous saying of Finnish politicians about Russia are widely sited. And scare tourists. And do not create a good business climate for Nokia in Russia. To say the least.

      So the ability to freely hate Russians now has its cost. Sooner or later Finns will understand that.

      Just a thought.

      • Ken Macaulay says:

        There was a book length study a while ago on how Russians were portrayed in the media that focused on Finland (can’t remember the name of it offhand as it was a while ago, but it was a reputable study done by an EU country). It examined a very large sample of popular media & found that essentially all Russian men were portrayed as gangsters & brutal thugs, all russian women as whores.
        Ah, the wonders of a free media!

    • yalensis says:

      Dear Two Cents:
      I have read that most Finns are really good cross-country skiiers. Don’t know if that is a stereotype or not. Do you x-country ski, or maybe downhill ski?

      • Misha says:

        Pretty good, in addition to having utilized that skill in the Soviet-Finnish war:

        At a world class level, Finns have been periodically good in the running distances from 5000 meters to the marathon.

        This hasn’t been so evident of late. Sports like cross country skiing and middle distance to long distance running require a good deal of time and effort. Modernity makes such activity more problematical.

        A legendary New Zealand middle and long distance running coach (Arthur Lydiard) attributed a decline in Finnish middle and long distance running to this factor. I recall him discussing this in his book, which is touched on at this link:

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Strange as may seem, their success at long distance running and cross country skiing notwithstanding, the Finns had in Karelia, Eastern Finland, the highest rate of coronary heart disease mortality in the world.

          Perhaps this sad fact was the result of their eating too much of their tasty butter, which is exported to Russia and is my preferred spread on Russian black bread, and their consumption of far too much “salo” (сало), a habit they no doubt picked up off those vile Russians that live in Russian Karelia.

          The rate of coronary heart disease in Finland has been, I am pleased to say, in decline
          these past 20 years. I should imagine the same is true of the Evil Empire as well.

          • Misha says:

            In his book, Lydiard made the point of noting how many Finns had become more sedentary from previous generations, while enjoying a higher standard of living.

            It has been said that for the first time, the current worldwide situation sees a greater number of deaths attributed to being over-weight than starvation.

            In the US, there’ve been reports that the present generation will not (on average) live longer than the prior one. Many of those living longer are doing so with health problems that essentially get masked with prescription drugs.

            The number of people in the US engaged in regular physical activity has declined on account of working long hours, with insufficient sleep and a so-so to horrendous diet. Under such conditions, it’s difficult to be physically active. The amount of physical fitness time in public schools has significantly declined from the fitness boom era of the 1970s.

            Society is presently structured to encourage world class athletes to workout unlike the rest of the population.

            • Jen says:

              @ ME: I believe the Swedish and Finnish governments started public education programs in the 1970s to encourage people to eat better and to reduce salt consumption. A 20-year study that began in 1972 in North Karelia focused on 14,000 men aged 35 – 64 years who were encouraged to eat more fruit and vegetables and to reduce their salt intake. The results are quoted in this link:


              @ Mischa: Something similar is happening in Australia where the government spends hundreds of millions of dollars on elite sportspeople and the Australian Institute of Sport while local government bodies are closing down public recreational facilities for fear of litigation. Australians are now some of the most obese people in the world.

              According to the article at the link below, Canada spends $200 million on sport a year. In 2012, Canadian elite athletes received $91 million from Own The Podium and Sport Canada.


              Yet obesity rates are apparently at their highest levels ever in Canada:


              • kirill says:

                The fixation on salt is a sad joke. High blood pressure can be induced by improper function of the kidneys thanks to high levels of insulin. Hyperinsulinemia is associated with high carbohydrate (aka sugar since that is how the body sees it and it does not take long to convert) consumption in at least 25% of the population. It eventually leads to Type II diabetes due to beta cell failure on account of toxicity effects of insulin overproduction. Type II diabetes and heart disease are highly correlated due to fundamental biochemical reasons. Following the food pyramid guidelines for a large part of the population results in excessive triglyceride levels in the blood. Triglycerides are converted into VLDL and then into LDL cholesterol. High glucose levels also result in HDL being converted into LDL by the liver.

                The common wisdom that the LDL to HDL ratio is affected by fat consumption is simple nonsense. Eating fat has no impact on cholesterol levels whatsoever. Many of the studies bandied about don’t separate carbohydrates from the analysis. So cholesterol levels will be affected by fatty pastry goods or eating fat with potatoes, which is rather typical. Advertisements for “fat free cookies” are inane. But eating butter and eggs is not bad for you. Eating potatoes, bread, pasta and any other starch and sugar from fruits is also bad for you. That is if you have the wrong genetics to be prone to hyperinsulinemia. The problem is too few insulin receptors in cell walls. So it is harder to regulate blood glucose levels, requiring more insulin than normal. Unfortunately the insulin receptors are not fixed in number and decrease with time when exposed to high insulin levels, leading to a spiral of insulin production.

                • JLo says:

                  Kirill is absolutely right, saturated fat and salt are not the enemies they’ve been made out to be, wheat and sugar are. It’s interesting that the US government started promoting the lipid hypothesis and low fat diets in the late 70s which is exactly when the current obesity epidemic began. So enjoy your butter, eggs and salo, just don’t put it on bread!

                • yalensis says:

                  Kirill and JLo are absolutely right: Obesity is not caused by eating fats like butter, eggs, lard, bacon, etc. In fact a healthy diet should include some animal and milk fats every day.
                  I mildly disagree on the issue of potatoes. I think it has been shown that potatoes are not harmful if eaten in moderation (maybe once a week) and as God intended: baked with the skins on, and slathered in butter and sour cream!

                  P.S. If Finns are dyiing of heart attacks, that is probably because they are NOT out in the fresh air cross-country skiing, but sitting in their rooms playing with their iPads. Come on, you lazy Finns, get out there in the snow and get some exercise! Chop chop!

                • marknesop says:

                  A book which is gaining steadily in popularity among dieters is “Wheat Belly“, which offers a diet that essentially eliminates bread (I guess; I haven’t actually read it). The promotional material suggests many new acolytes will experience significant weight loss in just the first couple of months. However, like all diets, it is a lifetime commitment. But that must have some cultural roots, and it makes me wonder why obesity is not out of control in Russia, in which the traditional meal almost always has bread on the table and in which carbs like bliny, oladi, varenikiy and pasta figure so prominently. There are quite a few Russian women who stick largely to salads, but they are usually young, in their 20’s and 30’s, and carbohydrates are still a big part of the Russian diet. It’s much easier – usually, under normal circumstances – to keep extra weight off when you are young and your metabolism is amped up as high as it is ever going to be.

                  I grew up fearing salt because there is diabetes in my family, and my Mom is diabetic. I’ve learned to pretty much cut it out because salt is present to some degree naturally in many foods, and once I gave up smoking (13 years ago this year), foods began to taste less bland without being liberally salted. But even if it is not as damaging as once thought, salt can be a killer if you overdo. Many national food guides recommend salt substitutes that contain a mix of spices – a lot of Canadian health material recommends Mrs. Dash.

                • JLo says:

                  Wheat Belly is a good start. I switched to a “paleo” style diet some two years ago and was so impressed with the results that nutrition has since become a pet hobby of mine. Essentially, it eliminates any and all grains, sugar and its substitutes, and industrial “vegetable” oils that are high in inflammatory polyunsaturated fat. You eat mainly meat (preferably grass-fed), fish and seafood, eggs, vegetables, nuts and fruit in limited quantities. Dairy is a bit of a grey area depending on how you tolerate it. I go pretty high fat/low carb but this ratio also depends on each individual’s metabolism and physical activity.

                  I’ve found that, much like the way Russia is covered in the West, most conventional wisdom on nutrition is dead wrong and any dissent is roundly quashed. In fact, nutrition is a perfect example of a uniquely pernicious form of American corruption whereby government, the agriculture, medical and pharmaceutical industries collude and conspire to keep people fat, sick and medicated. Of course, the obesity epidemic is multifactorial and it isn’t possible to point to one guilty party or cause.

                  Kirill really seems to know a lot about this and I jive completely with what he writes. The satiation and satiety functions of different macronutrients on metabolism are well studied but, for some reason, not well known. When you consume saturated fat, your satiation lasts much longer. Also, when your metabolism adjusts to burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, you can go longer without eating as you more effortlessly switch to burning your fat stores.

                  As for the Finns, I remember hearing somewhere that there was a connection between their high rates of heart disease and their love of saunas, specifically the ones with electric, not wood burning, heating elements. But, I can’t say anything about the veracity of this claim, I never bothered to study it.

                • kirill says:

                  Of course I do not imply that eating zero carbohydrates is the solution. It has to be done in moderation and coupled with physical activity. One of the critical aspects is satiation. In spite of the routine comparison of fat to carbohydrate molecules “proving” that fat has more calories, this is irrelevant from a macro point of view. Carbohydrates have basically no satiation feedback and many people will eat till their stomach is full (a dangerous thing since the stomach will expand with time and the reason why stomach stapling works, for a while at least.) You will throw up if you eat too much fat. Fat and protein have strong satiation feedbacks.

                  One of the impacts of having insulinemia is the yoyo hunger effect. After a good meal the insulin level goes through the roof and eventually does the job of suppressing blood glucose. But since there is too much (it does not magically disappear when some sugar target is hit) it keeps on driving down the sugar. Low blood sugar translates directly into hunger. So two hours or more after the big meal it is almost like you did not eat anything. This contributes to overeating.

                  As for obesity it is not a 1:1 correlation with Type II diabetes risk. There are many people who are never fat who go on to develop Type II diabetes. It depends on genetics. Insulin is the hormone regulating fat storage and not just blood sugar levels. If the fat cells do not respond to increased insulin levels then there will not be excess fat accumulation.

              • marknesop says:

                Note that the obesity rates in Canada are “self-reported”. Since obesity is both extremely undesirable and people – being people – are good at fooling themselves, chances are the rates are higher than the numbers indicate.

                • Jen says:

                  In addition parents can quite literally not see their children as overweight when they are. Probably because when everyone else around them is chubby, the chubby look becomes the standard by which people judge themselves and children take their cues from that. So it is likely that the rates of childhood obesity might also be under-reported.

                  BTW I hadn’t intended by my earlier comments to suggest that high salt consumption was linked to obesity or the onset of diabetes. I’m aware that it’s the consumption of sugar, sugar substitutes and/or low fat or diet products that often correlates positively with increasing levels of obesity.

                  Also people rationalise their consumption of low fat or diet foods in peculiar ways: they figure that eating low fat items enables them to eat more of that kind of food so they end up eating, say, two helpings of low fat ice-cream instead of one helping of normal ice cream. Same might go for diet drinks with sugar substitutes in them: they’ll drink far more of the diet drink than of the normal drink to feel full.

                • cartman says:

                  I thought it was the switch to corn-derived products, particularly HFCS. In the early 90s soda was mostly sweetened with sugar, but – like the rest of the food industry – they started finding ways to put corn in their products. In 1990, Mississippi was the fattest state in the US and Colorado was the skinniest. That is still true today, except the Colorado of 2013 is fatter than the Mississippi of 1990.

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, that’s quite possible, too – as I say, I haven’t given it a lot of thought. But you’re right that as a sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup is like putting a gun to your head. I remember when I was a kid I used to love corn syrup straight from the can over ice cream; it’s a miracle I am not a diabetic. It’s certainly not healthy, but I think HFCS is more a villain for making the body dependent on sugar than it is a bulk-builder, for which the crown still probably goes to bread.

          • kirill says:

            This decline is likely correlated with alcohol consumption rates.

            • Misha says:

              Very interesting discussion on a topic that’s a global issue.

              On the one hand, I appreciate the ability of the more athletically talented among us, who perform under merit based conditions; much unlike the lavochka (crony) and politically biased situations, pertaining to media and wonk circuit panel like situations.

              Since 1988, Canada has gradually risen among the leading winter Olympic nations. The 1988 Calgary Olympics were positively reviewed, with Canada not standing out in the medals tally. Thereafter, the Canadian winter Olympic performance gradually improved:



              Performance enhancing drugs is a cause of concern. The bottom line is that you’ve to be athletically gifted in the first place. Such stimulants can only do so much. The spooky thing is how Joe and Jane average types are taking them – often under not so well monitored conditions, inclusive of the substances themselves including G-d knows what.

              At a young age, I recall being told how many French have diets that (on the whole) aren’t considered to be especially healthy. Vis-à-vis Americans, the difference is in the portions and activity level.

              I haven’t added any sugar or salt to my diet in decades because of:
              – the stated risks, albeit debatable ones as noted above this thread
              – there’s enough natural and/or added salt and sugar in foods as is
              – the stuff I eat is tasty enough

              I try to make healthy junk food choices, in a quest to eat more fruits and vegetables. I figure that pizza is better than doughnuts – milk chocolate better than rock candy – cheeseburgers better than salo.

              Coke/Pepsi is a vice. In the US, the price of Coke/Pepsi has been pretty stable for at least the past 30 years.

              • kirill says:

                Doughnuts from Timmy’s and elsewhere are an atrocity. They use vegetable oil to deep fry them. This oil has the tendency to flip cis bonds into trans bonds under heating and so the doughnuts are laden with trans-fats. Trans-fats have been shown to have negative impacts on the immune system and should be avoided completely. (Some form during frying of eggs but the amounts are much smaller). They should use monosaturated coconut oil in deep friers if they do not want to use animal fats since it lasts much longer and is more resistant to turning into trans-fat.

                The French diet is actually good because they did not buy into the low fat hysteria. They also tend to cook from fresh ingredients and not live off junk food. McDonalds and etc. are poison.

            • yalensis says:

              Are we still talking about Finns? Everybody knows that when it comes to vodka, a Finn can drink even a Russian under the table.

    • a_liberal says:

      “Most of the people of these countries really, honest to god are okay with being members of NATO and actually prefer this to the idea of having a military alliance with Russia, for example.”

      The Soviet Union left Latvia with a population of 2.7 million and zero foreign debt.

      There are now less than two million Latvians, yearly deaths exceed births there by 1.5 to 1, and Latvia pays 30% of their GNP to service her foreign debt.

      And in this dire situation, all they can do is vent spleen at Russia.

    • cartman says:

      I suppose that is why some agreed to host missiles and radar related to the US nuclear arsenal. They must feel safer knowing that – in a nuclear exchange between countries – it is always most prudent to take out the enemy’s eyes and ears, which – in this case – are whole countries in central Europe.

      As for Finland, what’s the point? The majority of your population lives within a geographic area with Russia that would be considered a single metropolitan area in some countries. If there were any nuclear exchange between the US and Russia you would all be dead too. Would an alliance with Finland and NATO prevent the US from retaliating in a nuclear strike? I think Russia would have pushed for that long ago if it was being handed nuclear supremacy on a platter.

      • My clear view when I was in Finland is that there was little in the way of a strong negative view of Russia there.

        On the subject of NATO the comment gets it the wrong way round. The best security for the Baltic countries is to sort out their relationship with Russia. Relying on NATO does not keep Russia at bay. It merely provokes it. When (not if) NATO is gone the Baltic countries will be left to face alone a Russia they have pointlessly antagonised. Depending on NATO (which ultimately means the US) makes no long term sense when it is Russia which is on your doorstep and the US which is far away..

  18. yalensis says:

    In Russian media news:
    Pro-Oppositionist cable TV channel “Dozhd” has temporarily ceased broadcasting, but this is not due to political reasons, just economic.
    Dozhd channel had a contract with Cable TV/broadband provider “ER-Telecom”. This contract expired on March 31, 2013. The provider and the channel have been in negotiations over a new contract, but could not come to an agreement. Therefore, Dozhd is off the air, at least temporarily. Dozhd wants to stay with ER-Telecom, but might have to switch to a different provider.

    • kirill says:

      Cue claims of Putin suppressing opposition media (like Chavez) in 3..2..1..

      • yalensis says:

        Except they’re back on the air today. Looks like they switched to a new provider called RUSSIAN MEGA PACK DISH NETWORK. ER-Telecom dropped them in a contract dispute, but Dozhd channel found a new home with MEGA PACK.

        • kirill says:

          Oh the silly buggers did not stretch out the change over long enough to give time to the western media storm troopers to assault the Russian “regime”. They need better coordination.

          • yalensis says:

            Agreed. In their haste to broadcast their silly shows, Dozhd did not take into account the larger picture!

  19. apc27 says:

    @Two cents, thank you for your comment. These days its really difficult to find someone one can reasonably and courteously disagree with, so once again, thank you.

    As for your arguments, yes, many of them are true, but I for one always thought that Mark in his posts and others in their comments try to present Russia simply as a NORMAL country, rather than a force for good in the world.

    When we discussed Cyprus there were no suggestions that Russia would or should help it out of a goodness of its heart. Everyone agreed that it would and should do it if Cyprus were to make great concessions to see it happen.

    When we discuss the situation in Syria, again, I think most people on this blog agree that Russia does what it does mainly for geopolitical and security, rather than humanitarian reasons. The fact that, despite all the crap about the Arab Spring, these reasons happen to coincide just causes further annoyance with Western actions in the region.

    When I express disgust over British Russia policy, I do not do it because I think that it hurts Russia, I do it because I think that British political elite causes great damage to their own country, my country, selling out its national interests for petty politics and pandering to pressure groups.

    As for Canadians not being able to relate Eastern Europe… hmm… they are one out of only two countries that share an extensive border with the most powerful and overbearing country in the world. So I think seeing Russia trying to create a sphere of influence on its own borders would seem pretty natural to them. After all, they themselves are a part of American sphere of influence and make no mistake if they were to try to reorient their economy, culture or, God forbid, their military towards Russia or China… their independence, democracy, public opinion or human rights would matter very little to the American wrath. And the American reaction in that case would not surprise anyone. Big powers do what big powers do.

    Eastern European countries should bow to the inevitable.Their policies are already defined by Russia, in their opposition, rather than their support of it. However, in not so distant future Russia will become the biggest economy, largest market and an overwhelmingly most powerful military in Europe. It is already its major supplier of raw resources and that dependence will only deepen. All of it would happen way WAY before United Europe comes about. Just like Canada does not really have much choices but to follow the direction set in Washington. Just like China’s neighbors are becoming more and more aware of its wishes and desires. Just like the rest of the South America are finding it increasingly difficult not to follow Brazilian initiatives, Eastern Europe will become a part of Russian sphere of influence. They have little choice in this matter. What they can choose is how that process comes about. At the moment, they, with their NATO membership and antagonistic policies, are choosing the most destructive option and Russia is reacting, at times pettily, often vindictively, but really just like ANY OTHER MAJOR POWER WOULD.

    • kievite says:

      Eastern European countries should bow to the inevitable. Their policies are already defined by Russia, in their opposition, rather than their support of it. However, in not so distant future Russia will become the biggest economy, largest market and an overwhelmingly most powerful military in Europe. It is already its major supplier of raw resources and that dependence will only deepen.

      I am less optimistic then you. G7 with its half-billion of people which is calling all the shots.

      Russia with 141 million people is smaller then Pakistan with 176 millions and Brazil with 196 millions. Old military maxim said that when you have twice advantage in manpower the fate of the battle is sealed if you have equal weapons. And wars are just continuation of politics by other means.

      And military expenditures are essentially channeling wealth into non-productive assets. So this is a double-edge sword. And can further alienate West on which Russia greatly depend and which can squeeze it. Here skillful diplomacy is of paramount important. The problem is that Russia has huge internal problems and unsolved legacy of Yeltsin gang rule. It’s elite is divided between comprador part and nationalistic part. The country is deeply infected with neoliberalism. It simply can’t afford another confrontation now despite all the humiliation West impose on her.

      I think Russia should shrink its geopolitical ambitions for now. And don’t overreact on hostile acts by the West. Cyprus in a larger scheme of things in a minor blow. After all the USSR lost the cold war due to economic problems and Russia after that experienced the second part of this geopolitical catastrophe (Yeltsin gang rule). And the loser pays.

      In this sense I am not so exited about too fast move toward China. It can be counterproductive. China usually is a very tough negotiator as for natural resources prices and tend to exploit very skillfully any resentment of Russia toward West or difficulties with western partners. Long term price compromises that China tried to extract in such cases might backfire.

      I think Russia might be better off balancing China with Japan and Korea, to the extent that is possible.

      • kirill says:

        Sorry, but counting heads is meaningless in the nuclear missile era. It matters for GDP and total defense budget size, but Russia actually has enough critical mass to have a budget sufficient to arm itself. And it has the scientific and technical capacity to develop world class weapons. China has 1.3 billion people, purportedly and average IQ higher than in Russia (according to AK’s blog) with a strong cultural affinity for education, yet it cannot reverse engineer a 1990s jet fighter engine from Russia. The EU has many more people than Russia but is nothing to write home about in terms of military strength. Even their space program is underwhelming compared to Russia.

        The size of the US military budget does not translate into a proportional scaling in weapon systems development. It is being eaten away by extortionate profits. So there is inefficiency in the super-rich and super-advanced west that undermines it.

        Russia’s main problem is its internal political weakness as you note. It cannot engage the west in a confrontation but if the west wants WWIII it will get a doomsday scenario of sufficient caliber. I really don’t understand the anti-Russian propaganda war in the west. I see it serving no purpose unless they actually do want to launch a war on Russia and are conditioning the sheeple to respond in a predictable fashion (i.e. kill the evil them, who is a threat to good us). But they should have launched a war over 10 years ago. This propaganda campaign will not install a new loyal regime in Russia, since it is intellectually insulting to Russians. Cold war freedom propaganda had real traction in the USSR for obvious reasons, but some bleating about autocracy and crackdowns today is simply hilarious. There are just too few liberasts in Russia to take over and the actual free elections in Russia and free press where they can whinge all they want serves and will continue to serve as the ultimate way to keep them irrelevant.

        • kievite says:


          I would not be so quick to discard the difference in population numbers. Not all wars are nuclear :-) Economic war is also a war and here the West is definitely winning. Russia is a weaker economic entity than the USSR in 1990 by many parameters (dramatic shrinking of population due to dissolution of the USSR as well as landmass are not helpful is such competition):

          Отрасли промышленности Изменение в % к январю 1990 г.
          Промышленность в целом -23,1
          Электроэнергетика -11,8
          Топливная, в т.ч.: -4,6
          Нефтедобывающая -6,1
          Газовая 17,8
          Угольная -2,3
          Металлургия -7,0
          Химическая -50,5
          Машиностроение -18,6
          Лесная и деревообрабатывающая -51,0
          Пищевая -13,9
          Легкая -84,2

          Расчеты проведены по данным В.Баранова и В.Бессонова.

          Никаких других слов, кроме «катастрофа», на ум не приходит.
          Нынешний уровень промышленного производства – почти на четверть ниже, чем во времена СССР.
          Единственная отрасль, увеличившая выпуск за прошедшие 23 года и два месяца (на 17,8%), – газовая.
          Все остальные – выпуск сократили.
          Машиностроение – на 18,6%
          Химическая и лесная – наполовину.
          Легкая промышленность как явление фактически перестала существовать.
          Можно приводить разные совершенно разумные аргументы – от необходимости сокращения производства большого количества ненужной, некачественной, неэффективной продукции, производившейся в СССР, до изменения структуры спроса на мировом рынке и экономического чуда в Китая.
          И все же, все же, все же…

 – цинк

          • kirill says:

            Aside from Russia, Ukraine and Belorus I do not see the vast bulk of the USSR as accounting for its GDP. Of course Russia has not recovered yet. It needs another 16 years at least. But the list above is rather suspect. It lists the fuel industry as having declined. This has nothing to do with the breakup of the USSR as of 2013. It is due to oil field depletion and is a geological factor. This metric will continue to be negative and get progressively more negative.

            The other negatives are due to opening the economy to the world and having China, Malaysia, South Asia and etc.sell products in Russia (e.g. clothing) that would be too expensive to produce at home (this applies to light industry in particular). This is the same globalization phenomenon afflicting the west.

            The situation with forestry is a crime and people need to be shot. Selling whole trees abroad is simply criminal. There should only be value added products sold abroad from forestry.

            As usual Russia is being underestimated. I do not see China developing 1st world per capita GDP and standards of living. The implicit assumption in such projections is that resource environment will be the same as to day into the indefinite future. At the same time the standards of living in the west are already slipping and will continue to do so. The GDP numbers cited for the US and the EU are BS. They are based on fudged inflation rates and in the case of the USA a more accurate GDP size is $10 trillion and not $15 trillion.

            How would the GDP weapon be used against Russia? Are foreign powers going to buy up Russian industry and close it? Let’s see them try. The whole post 1998 battle against Russia becoming a banana republic actually means something. Russian politics no longer tolerates rape and pillage like during the 1990s. I do not see this going away. Russia will keep on developing in spite of non-investment and foreign hostility towards it will raise walls to the sort of economic influence you are talking about. At the end of the day, the military is the only real tool of power that can be used against Russia.

            • Misha says:

              Among BRICS, Russia fares well in overall standard of living, to go along with its key natural resources, pretty well educated population and a greater talent than other BRICS in the defense industry and some other areas.

          • SFReader says:

            This is a comparison of production in PHYSICAL terms (изменения физических объемов промышленного производства в России с января 1990 г. по февраль 2013 г.)

            I’d be interested to learn how exactly the United States industrial production would score in such physical terms.

            In some industries, it’s rather easy.

            United States Crude Oil Production (million barrels per day)

            7.355 mbd


            5.644 mbd

            – 23% decline! ;-)))

      • apc27 says:

        There is one very obvious fault in your argument. You presume that G7 acts now and will continue to act in concert. They don’t and most certainly won’t. America has overstretched and is pulling away from Europe. Europe itself is fractured and will become even more so in the future. Furthermore, Russia is not their only challenger seeking to reignite the Great Game and bring back the age of Great Powers. G7 countries, weakened and fractured, also have to fight against the rise of China, growing independence of South America, increasingly volatile and violent Muslim world. You really think that they could manage all that AND keep their spheres of influence intact?

        (By the way I do not really view these developments as necessarily positive. Such tectonic geopolitical shifts rarely occur without great bloodshed.)

        • kievite says:

          There is one very obvious fault in your argument. You presume that G7 acts now and will continue to act in concert.
          You might have a point, but IMHO while fighting internally G7 is able to present united external front against Russia. Moreover, GB is just a US poodle (aka special relationship), Germany and Japan are colonies, Italy is a satellite. So while internally fractured, it is not unrealistic to assume that they definitely can display a united anti-Russian front if Washington command them to do it. Also Russia is a part of world financial system dominated by the USA. And is a recipient of technology. The latter, like in case of the USSR, creates multiple ways to inflict pain. See, for example story with attempts to buy Opel.

        • kirill says:

          The fossil fuel shortage and climate impact on agriculture are two tsunamis that are going to sweep away civilization as we know it. So humanity will engage in one final round of last-man-standing colonialism to “secure its future”. But there is no future to secure in the medium term and by 2050 there will no longer exist conditions for the current economic order and world population size.

          I have read a lot about the oft touted alternative energy and how much wind, solar, tidal and geothermal power there is and how it could easily it will replace fossil fuels. This is complete, deluded nonsense. There is simply not enough conversion and installation happening in the OECD for alternatives to save anyone. The huge annual growth rates can look impressive but they are far from being sufficient to replace enough of the fossil fuel dependence in the next 20 years. Instead we have grotesque predictions of undiscovered discoveries (not a typo) by the IEA saving our asses in the next 20 years. They don’t even try to model these mythical discoveries and just a draw a line by hand ( The EIA is also pulling forecasts out its ass:

          Coal reserves are routinely overestimated and burning coal is the worst that we can do to mess up the climate. Agriculture is a threshold process and even slight precipitation and temperature changes can destroy yields. One of the results of the previous IPCC rounds that did not get any significant media attention was that the majority of the planet’s agricultural zones would be stressed in the next 50 years and longer term. It is not going to be some random case of rainfall shifting, it will be chronic drought regimes:

  20. yalensis says:

    In anthropological news:
    In Northern Italy paleontologists have discovered the remains of a hybrid who was half human and half Neanderthal.
    The skeleton is between 30-40 thousand years old. Study of the DNA shows that the hybrid had a Neanderthal mother and a human father. The hybrid had a chin. (Humans have chins, but Neanderthals do not have chins.)

  21. kievite says:

    Who got money first in Cyprus

    • kirill says:

      Naturally it was the Brits. One thing that is being ignored in the MSM chatter on Cyprus is the total capitulation of the EU in regards to fleecing Russian banks. The first attempt was to grab all the “Russian mafia money” from every bank on the island. But this was flushed down the toilet pronto and they went after the only two banks in Cyprus that server Cyprus itself and not foreign depositors. So they are not even trying to go after the mythical Russian mob money even though that is all they talk about.

      • marknesop says:

        Mmmmm… I see the intention is to recapitalize Bankia, rather than letting it fail. That won’t meet with Herr Schnaublegobble’s approval. Of course, he won’t press the point in this case, whereas in that of Cyprus he was adamant.

        • yalensis says:

          What kind of journalist are you? You keep spelling his name wrong, it’s
          Herr Von Schnauzerschwanzengobble

          (Translates into English as “He who readily gobbles the Schwanz of a Schnauzer”)

          • Jen says:

            Mark, yalensis: Kind sirs, it’s Herr Doktor Wolfgangbuster von Schaubleschwanzenverschlinger if you please.

            “Verschlingen” = “to gobble” in the sense of devouring. No idea if the past tenses change the vowel in the stem to “schlang” and “geschlungen” (err …).

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Meinen Sie, Herr Schäuble ist ein Schwanzlutscher?

              • Jen says:

                We were actually moving towards proving yet again Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies which says that, given enough time in any online discussion, the probability of comparing someone to a known Nazi German politician increases. In the German Finance Minister’s case, we were probably going to call him Schnauschwanzegruber and then Schnauschwanzeschicklgruber.

                Under the same immutable law Angela Merkel would end up as Attila Merkel, Queen of the Huns.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Godwin’s “Law” is nonsensical!

                  Some people are now afraid of making during discussion any reference to the Nazis and their leader for fear of ridicule based on this so-called law when, in fact, reference to Nazi totalitarianism and the political tactics associated therewith are often pertinent.

                  Very many commentators on matters Russian frequently make reference to Stalin, the KGB, Chekists etc. in a very sort period of time – in a much shorter time, I should imagine, than it takes to make reference to Hitler during discussions about other topics. Such a clearly observable phenomenon during discussions about Russia is, however, not deemed to be a natural phenomenon of public discourse, a “law of nature” as it were, such as is the so-called Godwin’s Law.

                  Why not? Why not refer to this constant comparison of the Russian state and its present head of state with the Soviet Union, Stalin, the KGB, the gulags etc. as a law of nature?

                  Why not call it Lucas’ or Harding’s Law?

                • kirill says:

                  Hear! Hear! Godwin’s “Law” is a debating trick designed to shut down your opponent via appeal to fake authority. As you prove in your post, there should be a similar “law” for the knee jerk comparisons to the Stalinists.

                • Misha says:

                  On a somewhat related note, the svidomite regular at Leos Tomicek’s blog used the term “Balck Hundreds”, in reply to comments that refuted negatively inaccurate commentary about pre-1917 Russia.

                  That person later recanted on that characterization, in a way that indirectly acknowledges the kind of deceit which he and some others have exhibited.

            • kirill says:

              Now that is a fitting German name. It has the characteristic super concatenation and consonant stream enough to break the tongue of mere mortals.

            • yalensis says:

              Aha! You forgot the umlaut, Jennifer Smarty Pants!

          • marknesop says:

            I just wing it because I don’t remember how to make Umlats and I’m too lazy to look for his name with the Umlat already in it and copy it every time I want to quote or feature him.

      • kievite says:

        The ‘relative’ innocence of the depositors in Cyprus who saw their savings crushed by the hammer-blow of Germany’s reality last week is, it seems, not the only hardship that the European people are suffering. In Spain, thanks to their FROB restructuring, shareholders and bondholders (including hundreds of thousands of unsophisticated ‘retail’ investors who were sold ‘fail-safe’ and ‘high-return’ investments) face losses (haircuts) from 96% (equity) to 36% (subordinated debt) and 61% (preference shares) following the ‘bailout’ of Spain’s dodgiest cajas (or savings banks).

        As The Economist notes, clients infamously included Alzheimer’s sufferers and at least one customer who signed by dipping a finger in ink; shareholders should know the risks but the vast number of Spaniards who bought preference shares and complex subordinated debt from their cajas often did not. For example, a Madrid court is investigating whether Bankia misled investors: many of the 350,000 retail customers who bought Bankia shares in its €3.1 billion flotation in 2011 have already seen their money go up in smoke.

        Depositors were not impacted by the closings and restructurings, so Spain can argue that they are not Cyprus, but while these investor losses pave the way for bank recapitalizations; they confirm the old adage that there is no such thing as a free lunch (especially in the new normal ZIRP world in which we live).

        • kievite says:

          Also Italian bank Monte dei Paschi’s lost billions:

          It appears, given news from Italy today, that European depositors are increasingly coming to the realization that deposits in their local bank are not ‘safe’ places to put their spare cash, but are in fact loans to extremely leveraged businesses. In a somewhat wishy-washy, ‘hide-the-truth’-like statement on Monte dei Paschi’s website, the CEO admits to, “the withdrawal of several billion in deposits.” Of course, the reasons why these depositors withdrew their capital from the oldest bank in the world will never be known though of course he blames it on “reputational damage” from their derivative cheating scandal. Apparently the fact that this happened to come about six week after said scandal and the bank’s third bailout, and that the prior two bailouts did not result in such an outflow of unsecured liabilities (at least not to the public’s knowledge), was lost on the senior management, as was lost that a far greater catalyst may have been the slightly more troubling events in Cyprus in the second half of March. Unsurprisingly, as Reuters notes, the CEO declined to give a forecast on the level of deposits at the end of the first quarter of 2013; no wonder given the bank just doubled its expectations for bad loans and the ‘Cypriot Solution’ dangling over uninsured depositor hordes

    • marknesop says:

      Interesting. Friends of the new president, eh? It was a surprise to me to see Cypriot utility companies moving their money out, not to mention a Greek oil company.

    • Ken Macaulay says:

      Very interesting – great find kievite.
      Only one Russian name in all the 132 so far, but that one is a beauty.
      Andrey Akimov – Chairman of the Gazprombank Management Board & Member of the Novatek Board of Directors – who zeroed his account taking out over 2 million Euro’s.
      I see management shuffle coming very quickly there, & it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  22. Misha says:

    A sign of South Korea having greater clout, along with the post-Cold War realities evident in China, Russia and the US:

  23. SFReader says:

    Some exclusive info you won’t find in Western media.

    On New Year’s Eve, Russian Navy received double present. Delta IV class ballistic missile submarine “Verkhoturie” has completed overhaul and modernisation and returned to service armed with 16 new Sineva missiles (4 nuclear warheads each). At the same time, new Borey class ballistic missile submarine “Yuri Dolgoruky” entered service armed with 16 Bulava missiles (6 nuclear warheads each, but can carry up to 10 warheads each).

    But this is not all for 2013. Sometime this year, second Borey class ballistic missile submarine “Aleksandr Nevsky” will enter service with another 16 Bulava missiles.

    On the ICBM front, it is reported that plan for 2013 calls for production of 17 RS-24 Yars missiles (at least 4 warheads each). It is assumed that production in 2014 will be another 17 units or more.

    Next year, Russian navy will receive another double present. Yet another Delta IV class ballistic missile submarine “Yekaterinburg” will complete repair and overhaul and return to service with another 16 Sineva missiles. Third Borey class ballistic missile submarine “Vladimir Monomakh” with 16 Bulava missiles is expected to enter service also in 2014.

    Let’s calculate totals. 5 ballistic missile submarines with total of 80 missiles (2*16*4 + 3*16*6=416 warheads) and at least 34 Yars ICBMs (34*4=136 warheads), total 114 missiles with 552 nuclear warheads. If Bulavas are built in 10 MIRV configuration, then the total could reach 744 warheads.

    So, in just two years, Russian nuclear arsenal is to be upgraded with capability to destroy additional 552 (or 744) American cities.

    Wouldn’t the American readers be interested to learn that? Isn’t this a cause for at least slight concern for the US Congress?

    This is no big secret and all of this is easily available in open Russian government sources (and even published on the Internet and translated into English to make jobs of American journalists and spies easier)

    So why the American media doesn’t report this disturbing news and instead misleads American public with phony stories about rusty weapons and decaying Russian military?

    • yalensis says:


    • kirill says:

      To add to this, the first three Borei variants (project 955) have 16 launch tubes, but all the later versions (project 955A, the first of which was laid down last year) have 20 launch tubes. Two project 955A submarines are to be laid down this year.

      • SFReader says:

        What happened last year was “laying down” ceremony, delayed until last June because of price disagreements between shipbuilders and ministry of defense. Jane’s Defense Weekly noticed that the submarine construction appears to be considerably advanced which is not surprising – the work really began in 2009.

        We probably can expect it entering service quite soon – perhaps as early as 2015.

  24. Ken Macaulay says:

    There is a brilliant post by The Rational Pessimist that goes into depth on the breakdown of foreign involvement in Cyprus & the makeup of the Cypriot economy.
    “…According to CYSTAT’s figures, the population of Cyprus in 2011 was 840,000, of which 667,000 were Cypriot (79%). Of the rest, the two largest groups were Greeks (29,000) and Brits (24,000). From all the news reports, one would have expected the Russians to be near the top of the non-resident table as well, but behind the Brits come Romanians (just under 24,000) and Bulgarians (18,000). Next are Filipinos at 9,000 and then Russians at 8,000. Of course, Russians come in many hues; if we lump together all the former Soviet Union countries, including the Baltic states, we get a total of 18,000…”

    This isn’t the banking sector, but as keivite’s earlier post showed, mostly UK, Greek & European companies were the big players in moving cash around out of the big 2 banks.

    What really struck me in this post is the similarities to the Soviet collapse, where all credit mechanisms were effectively frozen after Gorbachev dismantled the Central Planning committee. Cyprus not as extreme a case, but it will still likely be an appalling next decade for the average Cypriot.

    RE: my ealier post in the previous thread on creating a resource based trading mechanism that Mark followed up on, Alexander GOROKHOV from the Strategic Culture Foundation goes into more depth on the same subject that is well worth a read:
    Financial Wars: Attack is the Best Form of Defence

    (feeling quite vindicated all around today!)

    • yalensis says:

      Ken: You SHOULD feel vindicated, you called this whole thing and educated us, thanks!

      Minor point on the British residents of Cyprus, I read that the majority of them were not bankers or wealthy either, just ordinary elderly people who had moved to Cyprus after retiring because cost of living was lower there. I hope they did not all get wiped out in the crash. Some of them might still be okay if their savings were below the limit.

    • marknesop says:

      “What really struck me in this post is the similarities to the Soviet collapse, where all credit mechanisms were effectively frozen after Gorbachev dismantled the Central Planning committee.”

      Don’t forget this happened in the USA as well, in 1933. As soon as FDR took office, in the middle of the Great Depression, he closed all the banks for 7 days to stop people from panicky withdrawals. Had he not done so, the entire financial system might have collapsed.

      Great job, Ken; you were way ahead of the curve on this one.

      • kirill says:

        I think the situation is quite different. Gorby did not stop a bank run, he gave the Soviet economy a coronary with this move. This shows him to be either an idiot or a Trojan horse or both. The correct procedure would be to wind down the command economy keeping the Central Planning committee active to the end. Winding down would involve allowing growth of a private sector. Private does not have to mean oligarch owned, it could mean co-ops and worker owned enterprises. Former state companies and farms could withdraw from the Central Planning domain and try to survive on their own, subject to some rules of engagement with the state system.

        Instead we had shock therapy that wiped out people’s savings and wrecked the economy.

        • marknesop says:

          Oh, yes, the two situations are quite different, and I did not mean to suggest they were similar except for the common element of faith in private bank accounts, and that your money invested in the bank is safe because the bank must do battle on your behalf to protect your investment – that’s their whole reason for being. In principle. In fact, they do not even try, and the level of risk assumed is edging further and further out on the limb all the time as banks fight for decreasing opportunities to make that killer score…with your money. And when they guess wrong, demonstrably the government will now seize your money to recapitalize the bank, after they’ve blown everything they borrowed on bad calls. But both cases cited here have in common that, if the government believes you will do something with your money that puts it out of the government’s reach, just in case it needs to seize it, the government will simply close the banks so you cannot access what belongs to you because you earned it.

          • kievite says:

            government will now seize your money to recapitalize the bank, after they’ve blown everything they borrowed on bad calls.

            You need to understand one simple fact: in all western “democracies” (aka oligarchies or worse, corporate states) when we say government we mean banks and when we say banks we mean government. Very similar to Communist slogan” When we say Lenin we mean the Party, and when we say the Party we mean Lenin ;-)

  25. Ken Macaulay says:

    Another little titbit from the Rational Pessimist – in outstanding loans to the bloated Cypriot Real Estate, Construction & Hotel Chain bubbles, Greece, the UK & Romania follow after Cyprus, with Russia coming in 4th.
    Russia comes in after Cypriots & Greeks in total loans however, much of which looks to be corporate, trade & manufacturing based, with a pretty big consumer credit sector.
    These bubbles, if including the total loans for Real Estate, Construction & Hotel/Catering, only come to a total of around 9 billion, which even in the worst case scenario would still be worth a few billion. Most of the losses were external – gambling on Greek debt by a few well-connected insiders.

  26. SFReader says:

    I’d like to report another interesting development in Russian nuclear rearmament.

    Future composition of Russian ballistic submarine is well known. It is planned that there will be 8 new Borey class submarines by 2020, 6 current Delta IV submarines will remain in service throughout 2020s, 3 current Delta III submarines will be scrapped and possibly 3 Typhoon class submarines as well (but there is still a viable option to rearm them with Bulava missiles and retain in service).

    So in 2020s, there will be 14 Russian ballistic submarines (in the US, probably only about 12 Ohio class submarines will remain in service by that time). This is really ought to be more than sufficient to maintain strategic parity with the US.

    However, Russia is also building 7 Project 885 Yasen class multi-purpose submarines (one is under sea trials, another in construction, five more planned until 2020).

    And once again, it’s the armament which changes the picture. Russians are developing (by some accounts already producing) X-101 (conventional) and X-102 (nuclear) long range cruise missiles for these “multi-purpose” submarines.

    And long range in this case means really long – 5500 kilometers (Russians often understate range of their missiles, so it well may be over 6000 km).

    And each Yasen class submarine can carry 32 X-102 missiles.

    Now, a brief geography lesson. Distance from Murmansk to New York is a bit over 6000 kilometers.

    This essentially means that 7 Yasen class submarines can fire 224 missiles (over a thousand warheads) to targets on US East Coast including New York and Washington from Russian territorial waters in the Barentz sea.

    For all intents and purposes, Yasen class submarines armed with nuclear X-102 missiles are really an equivalent of ballistic missile submarines

    If Russia succeeds in building by 2020 all 8 Boreys, 7 Yasens, maintains 6 Delta IVs and retains 3 Typhoons converted to Bulavas, then we can safely say that Russia has reached nuclear primacy over the US…

    Obviously this is an extremely dangerous policy, but probably there is a method in this madness. It appears that Russians have decided to act as if US ballistic missile defense is a reality and works as advertised, so they are left with just one option – overwhelm American ABM shield with literally thousands of missiles…

    • kirill says:

      But you don’t get thousands of missiles with all these boats and their missile loads. The whole nuclear missile shield smells of the cold war BS about the west having the monopoly on human intelligence. You can tell by the positioning of the elements of this shield in Poland that it cannot even handle the warheads once they are released and is trying to take out the ICBMs during the boost phase when they are much slower. Russia has already deployed actively propelled and guided warheads on their MIRV ICBMs. This is a real counter-measure and has had an impact already.

      The problem with trying to take out Russian ICBMs during the boost phase is that you have to assume your ABM system is immune to attack. There is a time gap between ICBM launch and the ABM response which can be exploited to hit the ABM installations with regional nuclear missiles such as the Iskander. That is why Medvedev deployed it to Kaliningrad. From there it can blow away the Polish installations in a very short period of time. For the ABM systems in Poland to hit Russian ICBMs beyond the Urals is not a trivial task and that is why there is already backpedalling on the deployment in Poland and transition of the land based ABM missiles to be carried by ships. The interceptors are not so big that this cannot be done and nobody cares if your launch tube protrudes above the deck.

      Another way to beat the ABM is to use nuclear missile submarines. In this case it does look like Russia is trying to bypass the ABM “shield”.

    • AK says:

      Incidentally, speaking of nuclear weapons, China has its own solution to US nuclear primacy and its ABM shield.

  27. R.C. says:

    Most of the ABM concepts developed so far simply don’t work. There have been whistle-blowers from the Pentagon and scientists who have worked on these projects who have said that the ABM shield is nothing but a boondoggle. I’ve even heard that the so-called ‘Iron Dome” the Israeli’s use to stop home-made bottle-rockets from the West Bank isn’t as effective as they’ve previously claimed – and that’s against home-made rockets! The same thing happened during the Persian Gulf War when we were fed a daily diet of hype about the then new patriot missile platform. it was later revealed it hit less than 20% of the scuds Iraq launched. To this day, these paltforms continue to struggle with primitive decades old missiles. Common-sense tells me that they would be totally ineffective against the advanced missiles that Russia (or any modern state for that matter) could unleash.

    • SFReader says:

      Russia does have working anti-missile defense system (ABM Moscow) and numerous air-defense/missile defense systems S300/S400/S500 which have successfully intercepted ballistic missiles in the past tests (something Americans can’t repeat at all) .

      Regarding Moscow ABM system, they are armed with nuclear A-135 missiles and recently have been strengthened with additional S400 batteries (also with nuclear warheads).

      They are planned to be upgraded with S500 systems starting this year (with nuclear warheads obviously – this is something Russian military insists on. They believe that true ABM system capable of defending against numerous incoming missiles must always be nuclear. )

      Given S500’s stated range of 500 km, Moscow ABM system automatically becomes missile defense system for entire European Russia.

      And to repeat, currently in Russia there are already hundreds of missiles capable (with record to proof) of intercepting incoming ballistic missiles and warheads.

      American military needs to take this into account when they plan nuclear attack against Russia. Otherwise, the WWIII might end with America obliterated and Russia losing a few Siberian cities… ;-)

      • R.C. says:

        Sorry SF Reader,

        Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but I was referring to the United States ABM schemes, such as the one they want to position in Eastern Europe ( which I think they are now relocating to Alaska) and the various “star wars” schemes we’ve heard about for 20 years. I’m aware that Russia is well ahead of the US in this area and that the s400 is considered the best in the world at what it does.

        • SFReader says:

          I think Americans are making a PR mistake in promoting their ABM system.

          They should have stated from the beginning that Russians have a strong lead in this area and Americans are simply trying to catch up and close dangerous gap in ABM capabilities.

          This would have been entirely true and Russians really couldn’t object to that.

          • kirill says:

            That’s not true. The S-500 does not exist and the A-135 system was allowed for under the ABM treaty. So deploying the ABM components in Poland and the Czech Republic is prima facie a new deployment that shifts the strategic balance. Russia has had to *respond* to the ABM system by going from MIRV to MARV. The poor little defenseless west threatened by the evil Russian bear is such a stale and retarded story.

            • marknesop says:

              “The poor little defenseless west threatened by the evil Russian bear is such a stale and retarded story.”

              Oh, I don’t know. Maybe not, if this is true,


              and the USA will really need 5-7 Ground-Based Interceptors to be confident of killing one Topol-M.

              • kirill says:

                This news story is not really pertinent to my point. It was the USA that decided to undo the strategic balance and threw out the ABM treaty. In the wake of this we had MARVing of Russian ICBMs. It was not the Russians who threw out the ABM treaty and decided to get a strategic advantage.

                These sorts of news stories are basically fluff. It sounds to me like this expert is applying a 1/6 hit probability to the GBIs. Maybe if they are pure kinetic kill then this number is valid. But if they have nuke warheads then it is irrelevant. All they have to do is close enough to it for the detonation to do enough damage and they achieve this even with a 1/6 hit probability (the cross section of the target is small and we are not talking about missing by kilometers). Also, why bring up the Topol-M. The GBI’s are not going to go after the warheads but the flight stage before the MARV release. The Topol-M did not change the strategic balance. The ABM shield did.

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, that’s not exactly what I meant. I was talking about the tone of this piece. Although RiaN could hardly be described as a Kremlin mouthpiece – quite the opposite, in fact – this article is mocking the USA’s ABM capability, and openly suggesting it would not be good enough if push came to shove. That’s a big change from the usual flinching defensiveness we have become accustomed to from Russia. This sounds to me like, if we must have a new cold war, then let’s have it, but don’t say we asked for it. I see more and more signs that, although Russia is not going out of its way to antagonize the USA (which certainly is not true of the reverse relationship), whenever an opportunity comes to withdraw cooperation on anything, Russia is withdrawing it.

                  It also sounds like Russia bragging about its military capability a little bit, instead of apologizing for it.

                  And the GBI cannot be confident of taking out even something the size of a Topol in the midcourse phase, because that is the phase in which it will employ countermeasures to protect itself. Ideally, the GBI would have liked to get them in the boost phase, when they would be most vulnerable and when they would certainly fall back on Russia, but the country is simply too large for that.

      • kirill says:

        Yes, indeed, Russia is not sitting still. The S-500 will have ABM missiles as part of its array. The 53T6 missile will likely be modified for the S-500 as it is 10 meters long with a maximum diameter of 1 meter ( and around 10 tons in weight. The 53T6 was designed in the early 1980s and the solid propellant technology evident, as evident in the Bulava, has come a long way since then. So they could probably design something with a roughly 5 ton weight with similar characteristics.

        It actually makes sense to hit warheads lower in the atmosphere when air drag has slowed them down. But I think a nuclear warhead in the ABM missile is essential. Even if you miss, you still come within less than a couple of meters of the target warhead and a 10 kton detonation will be more than enough to fry the target into uselessness. This is why all the chatter about the US ABM being “kinetic kill” is for the idiot masses. If you can increase your success rate from 60% to 99.9999% then you will do it and the consequences be damned. It is about life and death and not peacetime aesthetics and “morality”.

  28. Ken Macaulay says:

    For something a little lighter – we now have the solution to the banking crisis!
    From Spanish company DES´S, I present:

    • Jen says:

      Americans will want something bigger to stash their guns and assault weapons and to take their bulk. Otherwise I think it’s a great video!

  29. yalensis says:

    This one is on topic (more or less):
    Looks like Russia has changed her mind about allowing NATO to build base in Ulyanovsk. (hallelujah)

    Not in so many words, but reading between the lines it looks like Russia raised the price so much that NATO decided they would rather try their luck with going through Pakistan on the way to their dirty war in Afghanistan..

    (Didn’t the Pakistanis constantly attack NATO troops with terrorist attacks? Oh well, let everybody do what they have to do….)

    • marknesop says:

      Possibly, or possibly that’s just the spin NATO chooses to put on getting kicked out. You know, them being the most powerful military force on the planet, and all. But if my base in Russia were the next logical thing to get the axe, that’s what I’d say, too – hey, I pulled out of the base by my own choice, because you wanted too much money. If we can be serious here, and you could offer to do it for a sensible price, maybe I’d let you have it, but until then, dream on, Russia.

      • yalensis says:

        I like to believe (maybe I am deluding myself) that Russian government was sensitive to the fact that most Russian people were horrified at the idea of having a NATO base on their soil, especially in Lenin’s home town. So maybe, especially with the strategic turn away from West, Putin and the others finally decided, “Okay, Rogozin is right, let’s kick NATO out.” So they told NATO to take a hike, but left them a face-saving cover story?

        • marknesop says:

          Maybe. But the last place to look for the truth these days seems to be the mainstream media, because it often tells whatever story its owners want the audience to hear. RiaN has become almost fawningly pro-American, and RT occasionally pushes a storyline which is anti-government – I suppose they’re both trying for “unbiased reporting”, and want to show how impartial and independent they are. If so, they are wasting their time, because they cannot be sufficiently pro-western to suit the west, which insists there is no free press in Russia (except for the heroic Novaya Gazeta, of course) and the papers and TV all belong to the Kremlin.

    • cartman says:

      They are back to torching NATO trucks. I’m sure these will add up.

      • yalensis says:

        I should not have referred to Pakistani “terrorists” attacking NATO troops. I only slipped up and called them “terrorists” because they are jihadists and hence heavily disliked by me. I have my own personal “journalistic” standard: Somebody is only a terrorist if they knowingly attack non-military targets (like subways, shopping malls, schools, theaters, nightclubs, etc.). Those who attack military objects (even if they are really awful people like jihadists) are not terrorists, in my book. The targets are legitimate in this context, since there is a war. Hence, these Pakistanis who are attacking NATO trucks are not terrorists, they are “militants” or “insurgents”.
        By my own personal definition, the 9/11 attack against the World Trade Center was a disgusting act of “terrorism”, however, the same-day attack on the Pentagon was not. Because in a war, the Pentagon would be a legitimate military target. (Regardless of the fact that some ordinary people working there would also get hurt.)
        That’s my basic definition. Some grey areas, to be sure…

    • kirill says:

      The timing of this announcement indicates to me that there was a tit for tat for the Cyprus financial nuke. The hate propaganda and attempt to rob Russian depositors of billions does not deserve a reward, it deserves a punishment. NATO can count its pennies in Pakistan.

    • marknesop says:

      Good God, that’s ignorant. Almost everything in it is wrong, he continues to repeat the discredited claim that Putin has lots of money stashed offshore with the sly aside “Whistle-blowers would have us believe…” and to hammer on the discordant note that Russians had more money in Cyprus than anyone else. More nonsense about capital flight, capped by the ludicrous suggestion that Putin allowed Cyprus to be wrecked – I’m surprised he didn’t go so far as to say Putin was seen driving the truck with the wrecking ball dangling from it – so as to force Russian money back home. Where he can steal more of it, no doubt. This actually sets a new benchmark in ignorance.

      I sometimes think many in the west would have been much happier if Putin had turned out to be a weak and ineffectual leader, and the oligarchs had been allowed to run Russia in their flamboyant wild-west borderline-mafia style. Sympathy for Khodorkovsky obviously runs deep, even though the ECHR could not declare him innocent and in fact said there was substance to the charges against him.

      An acquaintance of mine died last year, and his wife – who I actually knew quite a bit better than I did him, she’s my wife’s best friend – gave me some of his books that she did not want. A lot are political memoirs (Bill Clinton) and those of talk-show hosts and journalists – Mike Wallace, Dick Cavett, Walter Cronkite. I’m currently reading the Walter Cronkite book, and in it he bemoans the erosion of standards since he began as a cub reporter on a city paper, when the editor would call the reporter to his desk to ensure he had spelled “Smyth” with a “y” on purpose or that amounts he had cited were correct to the penny. According to Cronkite – and I’d have to check to see when he wrote it, but it would be a few years ago – there is no check or rein on news reporters any more, and there is no difference between actual stories and the opinion columns. That’s the single biggest reason newspapers are staggering and flailing, and why more people now get their news from blogs.

      • R.C. says:

        I agree Mark.

        Even more appaling is the fact that they can continue throwing stuff like ‘Putin’s stash” out there without any evidence to back it up. Most surprising is when they’re challenged on their source (s) or evidence for the claim, they ATTACK YOU. In the old days this would be shunned and derided as intellectually lazy to attack someone for requesting evidence. Now it seems perfectly acceptable to personally attack someone who challenges dubious claims that are widely held and repeated. I’ve seen Stephen Cohen attacked over at The Nation in the message boards below his columns because he calls the reporting on Russia infantile and irresponsible tabloid journalism – and it is. It has nothing to do with being “pro-Putin” but everything to do with a journalists responsibility to engage in honest responsible journalism & discourse. It’s still beguiling that after the Reuters, Forbes & Al Jazeera exposes debunking the mythology surrounding Putin’s “wealth,” this meme continues to be repeated as fact. There’s also a strong (I think VERY likely) possiblity that those journalists spouting it KNOW it isn’t true but do it anyway, which makes the whole matter downright malicious. But hey! They did it with Iraq in 2003 and now they’re doing it with Syria. When our journalists have become nothing but pigeon carriers for those in power, then we’re really screwed.

        • yalensis says:

          When so-called “journalists” repeat lies that have been debunked and they KNOW are untrue, the logical explanation is that those “journalists” are actually paid agents of their nation’s intelligence services.

        • Misha says:

          Mind you that Stephen Cohen has had his mainstreaming for the elitny moments (as has been previously noted), thereby serving as one of numerous examples to responsibly advocate an across the board shakeup; in terms of some of the sources regularly getting the nod over others, with valid and undrer-represented points of view.

    • yalensis says:

      I think Freddy Weir is actually on the mark with this one. Behind the scenes there is still a power struggle going on between Putin vs. Medvedev and his liberal minions. Putin sees the writing on the wall, that the liberals have dwindling support, not to mention that all the corruption scandals really have given UR a reputation for being a bunch of crooks.
      So, now is the time to sideline the liberals and corruptionists. But doing it in a smooth way, not something crude like a big party purge of United Russia. Putin’s solution is way slicker than that: he simply builds a new party/coalition with the people that he likes, and hence makes UR a minority party in the next election. It’s a process, it can’t be done all at once. I am continuously amazed by Putin’s political savvy.

      • JLo says:

        Perhaps, but all he really did was rehash the obvious, admit neither he nor anyone else knows what’s really going on, and added his usual anti-Putin, Russophobic spin. Not a whole lot of value added.

      • kirill says:

        I do not believe any major Russian party would be immune to the instances of corruption similar to ER. It is pure propaganda to paint these instances as defining the whole character of ER and to claim that it is irredeemable and needs to be dropped. It would make much more sense to purge ER of rotten apples than to start from scratch. Such instability only serves the interests of western Russia haters. They will accuse even a party of angels and saints of been evil if it is in Russia. The attack on ER lacks substantiation: how many members are truly corrupt? This is the same propaganda ploy as used to smear Russia as an autocracy because Pussy Riot get jail time and there was a scuffle during one of the demonstrations last year. (By this measure, the US is a totalitarian hell hole given its treatment of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators).

      • Misha says:

        Medvedev with a somewhat related view on what United Russia should concern itself with:

    • marknesop says:

      They still could only get barely 40% of people – according to the ubiquitous Levada poll – to associate ER with “the party of crooks and thieves” (I hesitate to correct Fred, because he doesn’t like it) after hardly an English article goes by without the author mentioning it, along with the assurance that the phrase – coined by Alexei Navalny, popular whistle-blowing human-rights-activist lawyer, we usually hear – is on everyone’s lips in Russia. I guess fewer Russians read English than I thought. I’d like to know just how much western money was thrown into popularizing that phrase and trying to make it catch on, like an advertising jingle. In any case, a lot more westerners know it than do Russians, because it is mostly restricted to Navalny’s circle of hamsters and wooden-heads. But let Fred dream.

      • kirill says:

        The problem is that western deciders do not understand the Russian mind. Russians may actually believe that ER is the party of “crooks and thieves” but they then proceed to put it into context. Who will take over? Will we get the roaring 1990s back again? ER corruption must be limited as it is rather clear that Putin is not the head crook (show me the money). As they say, the fish rots from the head, but the head is not rotten.

        Meanwhile, the propaganda brigades in the west are expecting Russians to bounce like a rubber ball to every bit of spin and smear that can be thrown at any element of Russian government and society. Russians just don’t react this way, unlike perhaps westerners.

        • Misha says:

          Excellent TV series, which does a great job at capturing the 1960s NYC corporate scene.

          As a tot, I’ve fond memories of going to work with the old man. Some individuality was allowed up to a point, in what was a strong corporate background.

      • Misha says:

        Perhaps RT will have Fred on again for another soft segment that doesn’t challenge the issues raised at this venue.

  30. Moscow Exile says:

    At last spring has sprung here! For the first time since November the average daytime temperature is now above zero degrees Celsius (plus 1 Celsius now at 09:00) and the snow, 25 inches of which fell in Moscow only last Monday, April 1st, has begun to thaw – and it’s hell!

    It’s the same every spring of course: the snow melts and Russia turns into a quagmire. But soon enough it will be plus 20 degrees Celsius, the dacha season will soon start and everyone will be full of the joys of – well, spring. We, my family and I usually set off for our dacha for the first time each year during the May holidays, which this year have been extended, and it will no doubt be warm, green clean and pleasant at my little acre. A little late, when the schools finish for summer, we decamp there en-masse for the three summer months.

    But hold! There is much grumbling to be heard! Enter wailing and gnashing of teeth, Elder of the Guardian, who takes today as her theme to denigrate the Evil Empire “Why Spring in Moscow is Utter Hell”.

    To save myself time, I can no better sum up my feelings than repeat what commentator Beckow (often accused of being an FSB hireling if I remember rightly) has posted at the foot of Elder’s tirade against the Russians and their spring:

    “A classical soft propaganda piece. Ms. Elder managed to work into the article Putin, corruption, wars (maybe those pesky Russians only prevailed because of the weather?), army maneuvers, lots of mud, and the words “utter hell” linked with Russia. All that is missing is a silly dry cleaning story.

    The article could be a test case of how to write a demonizing article about an enemy by mostly using weather allusions. If Russia annoys Ms. Elder so much why is she staying there? In all big cities, those who want to find squalor, potholes, and lots of mud, will find it. It is there, it is pretty much everywhere. There are mud hills behind Rio beaches, swamps in Tokyo, smelly compost heaps in Berlin, steaming sewers in New York. The world can be a very dirty, unpleasant place. But why go so far to look for it? Why obsess about it?”

    And immediately following Bescow’s comment there comes one from a well known Russophobic commentator to any Guardian article on Russia and the Russians, “anotherusernametaken”, who states:

    “Outside of war zones I don’t think there is anywhere on the planet I’d like to visit less than Russia.”

    Well, Mr “anotherusernametaken”, thank you for informing us of your dislike of Russia; howevever, I’m quite sure your absence from that monstrous region will not be much grieved by its inhabitants. Enjoy your life in Misty Albion, where it’ll probably be pissing it down with rain right now and will continue to do so throughout spring and summer and autumn and winter, with maybe a 4 mm deposit of snow added in December, which will no doubt bring Heathrow and the rest of the UK to a grinding halt.

    • marknesop says:

      I am ashamed, a bit, of the tiny thrill of guilty pleasure I get from telling you that it reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit here in Victoria during the Easter weekend, and stayed warm and T-shirt-sunny all the 4-day weekend.

      But that turned out to be short-lived, as today it went back to the glowering gloom typical of this time of year in this region. Still not cold, though, and we had very little real cold all winter.

      Maybe Miriam would like to come for a visit. We have really good dry cleaners.

    • yalensis says:

      Beckow’s comment about the Elder piece being a “classic of soft propaganda” is right on target. “Soft propaganda” is more insidious than “hard propaganda” in a way. In the hands of a master, “soft propaganda” uses literary devices to create an impressionistic aura (of bleakness and evil) that affects the reader on a subconscious level. Having said that, Elder is not very good at either hard or soft propaganda, because she is simply not a very good writer.

    • Misha says:

      Her native NY hasn’t had such great weather of late, inclusive of potholes and periodically inefficient efficient public services.

      This includes last week’s LIRR train derailment, which backed up rush hour traffic, on a service, which becomes increasingly more expensive.

      That aside, NYC and its surrounding suburbs offer a good deal of joy, which a misinformative hack could ignore. Such get rewarded when covering other places, as part of a profession with corrupt aspects – as evidenced by some of the folks who do and don’t get propped.

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    The latest utterance of Cassandra Latynina as expressed at the end of her latest rant in today’s Moscow Times:

    “… Russians should understand that they are living on a powder keg and that within two to three years, the intractable shortcomings of this regime will lead to either the widespread bankruptcy of vital industries or a precipitous devaluation of the ruble. Obviously, the government will ultimately choose devaluation.”

    The end is nigh!

    • yalensis says:

      Her solution to the problems: Shut down the regulatory agencies! Too much government regulation of business! The job-creators need to be given a free hand!

      She and Rand Paul are soul-siblings.

    • marknesop says:

      Doing her bit for her western masters to try and force the tipover of her own currency. What a piece of work. No wonder she has so much time to devote to writing – it’s not like she has any friends. I am pretty confident this dead-cert prediction will have the same outcome as the one that Putin would “re-invade” Georgia as soon as the inauguration dust settled. She must be snorting exhaust fumes from that secret rocket the government recently tested over Chelyabinsk.

    • kirill says:

      She and her ilk are truly certifiable. This is pure wishful thinking and she is hoping that it comes true. Last time I checked journalism was not about writing about the fantasies of the journalist but the reporting of facts and construction of stories relevant to the real world. If this bimbo has a case she should go ahead and present it. Nothing she writes provides any evidence of the looming collapse.

      In fact, the current inflation rate in Russia indicates that the first phase of the transition after the end of communism is over. Now the Russian economy is operating in a normal regime and it is up to the Central Bank and the MinFin to do their jobs and not stifle growth through application of retarded monetarist “theory”.

  32. yalensis says:

    In KIROVLES news:

    Navalny announced on his blog that his case will begin in court on April 17.

    The case/hearing/trial, whatever it is, will take place in the “Leninski” regional court in the city of Kirov, he published the information about the court’s hours and location:

    I guess Navalny is hoping that his supporters will flock there to support him. Maybe they will, I don’t know. If the trial was to take place in Moscow, he would probably get a lot of supporters, but Kirov is kind of out there in the boondocks.

  33. yalensis says:

    Actual event: At a party commemmorating 20th anniversary of “Novaya Gazeta”, dissident journalist Evgenia Markovna Albats had her iPad stolen from her purse. All of the people at the party were dissidents and Opps!

    Based on this event, Lev Sh’aransky wrote this satirical piece in his blog:

    Everybody suspected that the Kremlin was behind this theft. By stealing Evgenia’s iPad, the thieves have beheaded the entire Opposition.
    Others see the “invisible hand of the market” at work here, because the iPad passed into the hands of [somebody better equipped to own it].
    The Brighton Beach intelligentsia was roused into action. Freedom House quickly issued a grant to investigate the crime. A brainstorming session took place in the cafe “Matr’oshka”. In the best tradition of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, it was decided to organize a masked ball and recreate the scene of the crime.
    Suspicion fell upon Mikhail Gorbachov, aka Mikhail the Liberator. It is known that Gorbachov is broke, having spent all of that Nobel Prize money that he won for dissolving the Evil Empire. So they wouldn’t put it past him to expropriate somebody else’s iPad. Under questioning, the former President of Mordor became nervous but swore by the State Department that he had not stolen the iPad.
    The Brighton Beach crowd then learned that none other than Lekhaim Navalny had received an invite to the masked ball. It is no secret that Evegenia Markovna is soft on the young Oppositionist, and Navalny was always her favorite protege. Eventually these two entered into an unnatural sexual union. Based on this, Navalny was able to get close to Albats and, when she wasn’t looking, slipped the iPad out of the purse of his vaginal patron.
    In this matter, the Brighton Beach intelligentsia solved the crime in a very brilliant manner.

  34. Moscow Exile says:

    The shit’s certainly going to hit the fan again with this news of yet another case concerning the abuse in Texas of yet more adopted Russian children.

    • marknesop says:

      Perhaps it will be augmented by this story, which originally appeared in the Moscow Times although I can’t find it there now;

      A Russian youth adopted by American parents returned on his own to Russia (with some financial help from his adoptive father) to stay with his grandmother after living for several months in a drain pipe in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, because of difficulties between he and his adoptive mother.

      To be fair to the couple, the teenager wanted the couple to take in his friend who had been kicked out of his own home, and I would not have done that, either. Teenagers are kind of a cross to bear, and I would not hold it against the American couple for saying “No”. However, I’d like to believe I would not permit the boy to live in the drain pipe and steal from the neighbours, either – I would have sought community help and advice, or sent him back to Russia much earlier. Or perhaps the police, depending on when he turned 18, as he now is.

    • Jen says:

      It’ll be interesting to see more details of this case and another case mentioned in the article, in particular any that suggest the adoptive parents of the two girls and the boy before them adopted the children through the same agency or agencies that arranged the adoptions of Maxim Kuzmin and his brother Kirill, and of the child or children in the third Texan case.

  35. kirill says:

    “Gazprom (OGZPY) is valued at less than $100 billion for the first time since 2009 as concern Vladimir Putin’s natural gas producer is being mismanaged fuels a rout in its shares.”

    What a piece of excrement journalist. This Halia Pavliva sounds like a liberast with an axe to grind. Why is an article about the share prices of Gazprom yapping about Putin? This article utterly fails to make the case the that Gazprom is badly mismanaged. Stock prices are due to the perceptions of lemmings who think that the TI “Corruption Perceptions Index” is an objective metric of corruption in Russia and not a circular joke that claims Nigeria and Russia have similar corruption levels.

    This article makes a non sequitur comparison to Ecopetrol of Columbia, which pays out 80% of its net income on dividends whereas Gazprom pays out 25%. Oversight has nothing to do with Gazprom’s performance. It is the MSM generated hysteria about shale gas that is being used to pretend that Gazprom’s production is no longer important. Soon everyone and his dog in NATO will be producing shale gas from their backyards and the era of “energy freedom” will be upon the self-anointed angels of humanity.

    • marknesop says:

      Do they refer to Exxon-Mobil as “Barack Obama’s petroleum producer”?

      • Gazprom is ridiculously underpriced. This is not because it is badly managed. There is no evidence it is bad at doing its core function: extracting gas and transporting it over immense distances to its customers. The financial analysts in the article who criticise its poor management are of course almost certainly utterly incapable of administering such a vast and complex undertaking.

        The reason Gazprom is underpriced is because all Russian industrial companies are and will continue to be so long as they have to rely on western markets to price the because Russian financial markets are too weak to support Russian valuations

        • kirill says:

          A good reason not to have its shares traded in western markets. Gazprom does not need an IPO to raise cash. It’s profits and revenue are vast and sufficient for its development plans and capital renewal.

          The pricing of Gazprom shares also proves that the so-called market is a fiction. It is driven by perceptions and likely a few key players such as pension funds. So some pension fund moron decides that a company making vast revenues and profits is not worth anything because it is in Russia and he read in the precious MSM that fracked tight gas will lead to a new era of massive gas production in the west. That this moron doesn’t even know about the failure of attempts by Exxon to extract tight gas in Poland will of course not help the undervaluation.

          Frankly, the west does not deserve access to Russian blue chip companies. And Russia should not depend on the western casino financial system that is now completely detached from reality.

          • Dear Kirill,

            One should add to your catalogue of Gazprom’s “sins” its “failure” (or refusal) to declare a dividend. To a western pension fund (especially an Anglo American pension fund) that is a terrible thing. To their mind it is far more important to declare a dividend than to deliver gas.

            • Misha says:


              You might be familiar with US based ERISA, DEFRA, TEFRA, REA US enacted legalese.

              There was a time when 100% employer contribution defined benefit pension plans were quite evident.

          • JLo says:

            I think it can be argued that Gazprom is fairly valued by the market in the sense that it is not a purely commercial entity and, as such, deserves something of a valuation discount. Among other things, Gazprom is used as a source of funding for social projects (Sochi Olympics, etc.), as well as a political and geopolitical tool. Neither of these are probably in the financial interests of the company itself.

            To be clear, I’m not making an argument that there is anything wrong with this. Indeed, expecting commercial structures to act in national interests is nothing new, it’s a model that has been in use in S. Korea, for example, for many years. However, as an investor, if you have the choice to invest in a company that operates solely for the financial interests of its shareholders that’s probably where you are going to invest.

            Gazprom is something of a ministry mixed with a company. Having its shares publicly traded probably doesn’t provide a whole lot of utility but it’s too late now to reverse that course. Taking it “private” would be expensive and, ultimately, a waste of money. Also, it should be said that there are definitely problems with the way the company is run despite quite a bit of progress over the last decade in cleaning it up. Money flows are indeed stolen via kickbacks and crony deals.

  36. Ken Macaulay says:

    If you thought Cyprus was bad, the excellent Ellen Browne has an article of what is floating around in the US regarding bank defaults. No real surprises to anyone who has been following the ongoing neoliberal crusade, but Browne lays it out explicity.
    Essentially, speculators in derivatives are now the senior insured creditors – everyone else is f*cked. No protection at all…
    …”No exception is indicated for ”insured deposits” in the US, meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive….”
    As to how much may have to be paid out to those “senior creditors” before anyone else gets a look in.
    “…… Bank of America’s holding company … held almost $75 trillion of derivatives at the end of June. …. That compares with JPMorgan’s deposit-taking entity, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, which contained 99 percent of the New York-based firm’s $79 trillion of notional derivatives, the OCC data show….”
    As a number of previous looks into the books of BoA , if even their is even the slightest shock to the vast amount of tax payer money constantly flowing into to prop it up, it will collapse in a spectacular fashion. It ratio of non-perforforming loans is vast, its management is a farce, & lives in a bubble of short-sighted greed.
    Total derivatives/CDS/& other financial instruments of the major US banks vastly outsize the world GDP by several orders of magnitude, let alone the US.
    To say this won’t end well really is the understatement of this century…

    It can happen here – By Ellen Brown

    In regards to the US spreading this neoliberal ‘philosophy’ around the world, Nile Bowie has a good article on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), a vast collection of corporate wet dreams rolled into one giant package, which I imagine most have heard a bit about here. This obscenity was cooked up between corporate lobbyists & various corrupt congress stooges in backdoor meetings before being packaged and pushed across the world by US embassies & pressure groups.
    Bowie gives a solid update of what is currently known about it:
    Neoliberal Overload – by NILE BOWIE

    And here’s a couple of articles on the UK, that great paragon & lecturer of ‘good governance’ to the world, & in particularly Russia:

    Eric Pickles condemns ‘under-the counter pay-offs’ as £14m bill for gagging orders for 5,000 axed civil servants is revealed

    It’s a stunt! Iain Duncan Smith dismisses demands to live on £53 a week

    Hopefully the whole lot of these scum end up being the first against the wall when the revolution finally comes…
    (Hitchhikers reference, not marxist by the way)

    • kirill says:

      As one can tell from the reporting on Russian corruption in the western MSM, there is no actual evidence that it is grotesque in comparison to the holy west. It is obvious that it is nothing like in Nigeria and India so the TI corruption index can be flushed down the toilet. So a huge number of stories that invoke this index can be flushed as well. The rest fail miserably at quantifying Russian corruption. All I hear is brazen, foaming at the mouth inanity such as that the Sochi Olympics and the Russky Island bridge are 60-100% corruption. This is not quantification, this is a joke like the claim that Putin has billions of dollars worth of secret assets (supposedly Putin owns RossNeft, LOL). The same goes for ER and bureaucratic corruption, give us some numbers and real examples. Instead the western MSM spreads rumour and innuendo.

      I will repeat what I have posted before, if Russian corruption is so bad then how come various public works projects get finished in reasonable periods of time and with budgets not ballooning by astronomical amounts. This is a global constraint on all corruption solutions (to use mathematical jargon). You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I heard a complaint that some stadium in St. Petersburg is way over budget, but when I checked it was no worse than SkyDome (now Rogers Center) in Toronto, Canada. St. Petersburg and Moscow (and many other Russian cities) are building subway stations at a regular clip that I can only dream of in Canada. I see no evidence of public works projects taking forever to finish like in India. I have been there myself and can tell that highway and railway projects proceed at a glacial pace. (There are counter-examples such as subway construction in New Delhi, but that does not detract from my point). Since the TI index compares Russia to Nigeria, how about public works in Nigeria? They are much worse than in India.

    • Ken Macaulay says:

      From what I have been gathering, the ‘Nationalists’ of this stripe’s base constituency has been steadily shrinking after it was ‘discovered’ that their popularity was massively overblown in importance in the first place. Don’t see them factoring in the Kremlin’s decisions much at all these days.

      • Misha says:

        As is, reasonably pro-Russian views are limited at some venues including VoR and RT.

        Like I’ve been saying, its’s no small wonder why the coverage continues to lack.

  37. cartman says:

    Adding Patrice Lumumba to their total, MI6 seems to be in the lead in extrajudicial murders.

  38. apc27 says:

    Mark Adomanis in his latest article makes an interesting point regarding Putin’s decision to order all state employees to close down all of their foreign bank accounts. (Before Misha starts complaining about promotion of unworthy sources, no, I do not agree with Mark, nor do I really care about his article, but he raised the point I wish to mention and it would be wrong for me not to say where I got it from.)

    Mark does not like the law because, if successful, it will naturally increase the power of the state vis-a-vis elites, since it would bring under state’s influence something the elites hold most sacred — their own pockets. That would make it easier for the state to behave in an authoritative manner without being held to account.

    That is all true.

    The question is, HOW else could the struggle against corruption possibly succeed? The state must have the power to tell bureaucrats “stop stealing” AND get them to listen or… or there is simply no point to that struggle in the first place. Of course, Western countries have not only hard coercive methods to hold their bureaucrats in check, but also soft ones: civil conscience, traditions, legal ways of doing business. It took them decades and centuries to get there. How else, without the threat of harsh sanctions, could Russia even hope to embark on this road?

    How could the fight against corruption even begin, without strengthening the role of the state vis-a-vis the elites?

    I find this question interesting, because if Putin is being serious about lowering corruption, that is the future dynamic. He must find the way to get bureaucrats to listen, when he tells them to stop stealing. If he does finds such a way, he would automatically become more powerful. I can already see it: Putin fails to deal with corruption — he is a corrupt and failed autocrat. Putin succeeds in dealing with corruption — he is a bloody dictator, craving yet more power.

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

    • Misha says:

      Overhyped is a more accurate characterization – with a follow-up note on how (for example) someone with a primary concentration in economics and demographics might not be so adept in others areas like the analysis of foreign policy, media, sports and historical issues.

      • Dear Ken,

        You touch on a very serious point.

        The Russian authorities constantly get criticised for their corruption or their tolerance of corruption. However whenever they take action to root out corruption, be it to arrest Khodorkovsky, or to try to arrest Berezovsky or Borodin, or to crack down on state officials owning foreign bank accounts, it always gets represented in the west as confirming the country’s drift to authoritarianism and dictatorship. The fact the Russian people overwhelmingly support these moves seems to have no bearing on the issue.

        • apc27 says:

          The way these actions are twisted in the media is incredibly annoying, but a more fundamental question is of greater interest to me. Is it at all possible for the Russian state to fight corruption, without becoming more powerful in the process? Adomanis, with all his complaints, acted as if there was. Yet, when I try to imagine such a scenario, nothing come to mind. Can anyone posting here think of a scenario where the corruption was lowered, yet state’s influence remained the same?

          • yalensis says:

            I can think of only one such scenario:

            Jesus descends on a cloud to rule the world!

            Bad, dishonest, crooked people are sent to Hell and punished.
            Good, honest, decent people (like all of us) are rewarded with cash bonuses.

            Jesus then rules forever. Although I suppose that could be spun as an increase in state power, since Jesus would be an absolute monarch. (No more elections.)

          • marknesop says:

            “Can anyone posting here think of a scenario where the corruption was lowered, yet state’s influence remained the same?”

            A doughty challenge indeed; not off the top of my head, I would have to research it a little. But generally, humanity being comprised of the flawed creatures we are, people will maneuver for personal advantage rather than investing lifelong effort in leveling the playing field. The big game-changer in Russia, I think, is the seductive playing upon the elites by western sources, which flatters them and calls them true Russian patriots, investing their endless complaining and carping with nobility and purpose. The elite who are conceited about their intellectual capacity or their expertise in a certain subject (the Moscow School of Higher Economics comes immediately to mind, and not in a good way, since so many of its gilded scions have a clangingly wrong economic prediction somewhere in the closet) would be the easiest to manage in the event of a liberal national takeover; they could be given a research position that was essentially meaningless but greatly talked about, and would putter about happily in their graphs and charts forever, while the New Order remade the political landscape. The tough ones to manage would be the economic elite, of which Boris Nemtsov is a peripheral example. While not tremendously rich, he is extremely well-off and not particularly intellectual; he and his type crave power for its own sake, and there is always the danger of them going off the reservation because they got an idea in their heads that they were unwilling to drop under pressure from their foreign coaches.

    • yalensis says:

      Dear apc: I think it is quite reasonable for a government (any government) to pass rules about its own employees and their conduct. From what I understand, ordinary citizens would not be prohibited necessarily from having foreign bank accounts; nor would the government employees be prohibited once they had left government service.
      Even some private companies have “codes of conduct”. For example, an employee might have to sign an agreement that they would not own a stake in a rival company. Such rules differ from company to company; and nation to nation. An employee who broke the rules would not be arrested (because it’s not a crime), but they would lose their job.
      In summary, I think it is reasonable and necessary for the Russian government to impose this rule on its employees. Due to some things that have happened in the past, and the situation that Russia is in at the current time.

      • Jen says:

        To me it seems reasonable for governments to restrict its employees, especially senior employees, and politicians from owning more than a certain amount of property overseas and/or investing more than a specified level of funds overseas in a given period. Depending on the employee or politician’s position, there can be an issue of a conflict of interest (in a situation, say, where a public servant in defence owns shares in an overseas company manufacturing weapons), the official may be avoiding tax or working a taxation loophole, or be involved in activities that could be construed as treasonous.

        Even when the public official has invested all his/her funds in the home country, s/he still has to publicly declare financial and other interests before parliament or its equivalent. In Australia we have had cases where federal and state government officials and politicians have not fully declared all financial interests when elected or promoted and when such cases occur, they are always reported in the news.

    • kirill says:

      I am not impressed with his reasoning. He is trying to paint the application of reasonable laws as some sinister consolidation of power. The underlying premise is that the Russian government is not controlled by the people and is some sort of absolute power. This is the standard trope about Russia being an autocracy and Putin being basically a tyrant. None of the people making such accusations have ever proven them. None of the presidential elections has been stolen by Putin and he gets solid majorities thanks to his real, as verified by opinion polls, popularity. The trope that Russians do not hear the voice of the oppositionists is BS as well. Adomanis does not have to repeat these tropes explicitly. He just invokes them implicitly.

      Do RICO laws in the USA imply that the US federal government has too much power? This is a serious counter question to Adomanis and pretty much destroys his “logic”. Here in Ontario, Canada, we had the Mike Harris Conservative regime during the 1990s. He foisted the so-called “common sense revolution” on the province even though his popular vote count was under 45%. This neocon revanche undid all the institutional lessons of the Great Depression. For example he downloaded the welfare burden back onto the municipalities. During the Depression this burden bankrupted many municipalities. He actually shifted the property tax burden for education onto the city of Toronto, which now subsidizes the rest of the province. Again, education is a provincial responsibility and this scheme is obscene. He also forcefully amalgamated many municipalities. No politician would have gotten away with this dictatorial BS in America (for example there is no rush to amalgamate the greater Boston area). The punchline is that the Liberals who took over after Harris did not undo a single one of these ridiculous Harris alterations. So my throwback at Adomanis would be that I am basically living in a dictatorship in Canada, both at the provincial and federal levels, since it there is a one way street in terms of business and government agendas and it makes a rat’s ass worth of difference which major party is in power, they all act as one party.

  39. Misha says:

    Classic anti-Russian propaganda, with an arrogantly ignorant and inaccurate presentation:

    Based on the above, Frum would look quite foolish, when matched against a competently reasoned pro-Russian advocate.


    This previously mentioned TV series is still going:

    A follow-up on it:

    • Dear Misha,

      I find the comments in the Daily Beast indicative in so many ways.

      Firstly, as anyone with any background in academic history knows, the country that most mythologises its own history is not Russia but the US. Secondly as anyone with contacts with Russians knows, as a nation they are intensely historically conscious and have no single view of their own history.

      The real problem for the west is not that Russians forget or mythologise their history but that they resist the (false) narrative of their history the west wants to force on them. In my experience the single thing that identifies a Russian as a liberal is precisely that he or she is someone who (unlike most Russians) accepts the western view of Russia and its history.

      • Misha says:

        Hi Alexander,

        I respectfully caution on that characterization of Russians with a generally text book liberal bent, that shouldn’t be confused with the kind being regularly promoted in Western mass media.

        David Frum is quite wrong in what he has written. I’d like to see venues such as RT and VoR would call him out with an open invite, inclusive of having a quality opposite to him, who isn’t part of the JRL promoted lavochka circuit.

        i wish the same for other major outlets including the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera.

  40. yalensis says:

    Another useful post on Politrash. He published a piece by a legal expert named Yan Strigov, who is impartial in this case.
    Strigov lays out pretty well both prosecution and defense positions, using only official documents (and not the busted emails). Here is translation of the Prosecution case, I’ll do the Defense in a later comment, when I have more time:


    The case for the Prosecution:
    – Between December 2008 – January 2009 Kirov Governator Nikita Belykh meets with representatives of the largest enterprises in the province. Present at these meetings is Opalev, General Director of the KirovLes state collective forest. Belykh introduces these bigshots to his new team of “unpaid advisors”, including Navalny. Who, by the way, did not actually receive his formal appointment until 21 May 2009.
    – In February 2009 Navalny and Ofitserov take a trip to the KirovLes head office, Navalny introduces Opalev and Ofitserov, and asks Opalev to give Ofitserov access to the company structure, the assortment of products, and “other necessary information”. [Opalev] complies. [in original there is typo, it says "Ofitserov complies".]
    – In February-March 2009, in the headquarters of the provincial government, Navalny informs Opalev that Ofitserov will create an enterprise to perform middleman services with the lumber products cut down and re-worked by the KirovLes collective. “With the goal of improving the handling of the assets that have been entrusted to Opalev.” Opalev agrees.
    – 18 March 2009 (the company) VLK is registered, its sole proprietor and General Director is Ofitserov.
    – March – April 2009, Ofitserov has put together a distribution contract between VLK and KirovLes and has signed it on behalf of VLK.
    – 15 April 2009 Opalev signs the contract on behalf of the supplier. At this time Opalev is receiving “verbal negative feedback” from his workers and staff.
    – According to the supply contract, KirovLes is supposed to deliver the product to the shippers indicated in the appendix of the contract. Meanwhile, Navalny, Opalev and Ofitserov “knew full well” that VLK was going to pay for the product at a “discounted rate” compared to that which KirovLes could have received from its customers without the intermediary of VLK. The whole point of the exercise was to create civil and legal obligations for KirovLes in regard to VLK, supposedly on the basis of a for-profit relationship between supplier and shipper; but in reality the product was going to be shipped without any actual distribution services provided by VLK.
    – Between 15 April and 13 July, the contract (between VLK and KirovLes) was amended 36 times. The price (for VLK to pay) was “intentionally lowered without any respect for economic necessity, by comparison with the price that KirovLes could have gotten from competing entities other than VLK”. Meanwhile, Ofitserov has concluded some contracts with end-customers.
    – 19 May 1009 Opalev issued “Order #76″, “On the situation of realizing lumber production”. By this order, the Forestry Collective farms (“leskhozy”) under the KirovLes entity were forbidden to conclude their own supply contracts. [yalensis note: This order #76 is the key to the whole case, iMHO.]
    – In all, the amount of lumber shipped was 10084,277 куб.м. леса на сумму 16 165 826,65 руб.
    – In the course of 2009 VLK received from end-customers 16 003 880,28 руб.

    “In this manner, acting together with Navalny, the organizer and leader of the criminal act, and also with Ofitserov, he, Opalev, misused his official position as General Director and illegally made use of resources entrusted to him but not belonging to him, namely the lumber production of KirovLes, in the amount of [repeat the numbers above for cubic meters of wood and 16 million rubles] , in other words, embezzlement on a grand scale, to serve the interests of third parties, who also participated as co-conspirators in the crime, namely VLK, which caused this economic damage to the state entity KirovLes.”


    Next: Still from Strigov’s post, I’ll translate the case for the defense, when I have more free time.
    In the meantime, mark my words that this 16 million rubles thing is just fluff, and that the real meat of the prosecution case is this Order #76.

  41. kirill says:–Kudrin.html

    “Russia must cut its enormous social spending and increase the pension age, no matter how unpopular these measures may be, he said.

    The Russian government should also cut its enormous defense spending, Kudrin said.

    “Last year, the total spend on the army and law-enforcement bodies increased by more than 700 billion rubles [$23 billion] and this year it is planned to grow by another 700 billion rubles,” Kudrin said.

    This is the money which the government could not find to build roads, but has spent on the forces, he said.”

    What a monetarist loon. He keeps on harping about roads as if none are being built. Perhaps he can do a Google search and read about the St. Petersburg KAD, etc.

    1) Russia’s spending on social programs and pensions is small and nothing like it is in the west per capita. So this is a total canard but the routine target of monetarists.

    2) Russia’s defense spending is at 3% of GDP. US is spending 6% of GDP (assuming it really is $15 trillion and not $10 trillion which it most likely is, then the USA is spending 10%). Put a sock in it, Kudrin.

    3) They need to find all of Kudrin’s acolytes and fire them ASAP. These nutbars will damage Russia’s economy with their insane theories.

    • Ken Macaulay says:

      Possibly Medvedev’s best decision was in getting rid of this jerk. Kind of gives me a warm & fuzzy feeling towards Medvedev & the thought that I may of underestimated him.
      Amusingly enough, the market’s still loves him, & there was a lot of pro-Kudrin support for his appointment as central bank governor from the western financial press – says about everything you need to know as far as I’m concerned.
      Kudrin may of played a useful role when Russia’s financial system was still stabilizing, but that time has clearly passed. Time he went into private business & left the countries policies to people who still have something to offer.

      Hopefully, Sergei Glazyev’s time is coming (thanks to JLo for the reminder on him.) He is currently a senior presidential advisor, looked like he was being seriously considered as Central bank chairman but hopefully was passed over due to something bigger coming in the near future. He was a major player in the formation of the Customs Union, & probably the most potent adversary to the neo-liberals in Russia.

      Home site:

      Glazyev Calls for Accelerated “De-offshorization” of Russian Economy

      A Genocide – Russia and the New World Order (downloadable ebook)

    • marknesop says:

      Kudrin has also allied himself with the liberals and environmental rock stars like Chirikova, who made her bones with the supporters of the liberal cause by opposing the new road through the Khimki Forest. A similar effort opposed the new road in Zhukovsky, which connected the city with a free economic zone; “They came like locusts,” said Antonina, a local drug store worker who regularly joined the camp with relatives. “We woke up, and there was no forest anymore.” In fact, 8% of the forest was cut down to accommodate the road, and the road-building company agreed to compensate the city $5.4 million for the felled trees.

      Working from this set of facts, we can deduce (1) road-building is acceptable only in areas where roads already exist, or (2) roads built where roads do not already exist must be subject to veto by environmentalists and liberals, and (3) meanwhile liberal politicians will reap a double PR bonus, bitching about no roads being built because all the money is being squandered on useless military hardware or stolen by corrupt politicians, while taking up the cause of those who oppose the building of roads. Also known as the having-your-cake-and-eating-it defense.

    • apc27 says:

      Kudrin, like Serdyukov, was a useful, if deeply flawed, instrument under very specific conditions: making sure that reserves were accumulated and not stolen and that budget, under no circumstances, was to go into the red. He accomplished that task rather well, even though he did turn out to be useless in most other areas. Once his main purpose was fulfilled he, once again like Serdyukov, was discarded like a dead weight that he was. The man is clearly competent in certain very limited areas, why media constantly presumes that that competence must necessarily spread to other, often completely unrelated topics, is completely beyond me.

      • marknesop says:

        Kudrin made the leap to greatness when he quit in a fury, supposedly because he found the “tandem switch” abhorrent. This made him a demigod in western eyes – dissing Russia, and with principles, too!!! There is every possibility his pique sprung from learning that he himself would not be Prime Minister, a post he was said to covet. And then, since nobody in Russia appeared to be too heartbroken about his departure – while he was not tired of the political scene, far from it – and the west offered a comforting shoulder upon which he could cry to his heart’s content and flattered him with puff pieces which suggested that Kudrin was the glue that held a shaky Russian Federation together and now it must surely perish…he made his choice. I imagine he regrets it now, since he has slid back amongst the nobodies again; but, like the once-popular saying went – sucks to be you.

  42. kirill says:

    Liberast scum with their smear campaign. Every last one of them should be charged with defamation and be subject to hefty fines. These vermin need to be coerced to be civilized. Their natural propensity is to act like barbarians. That is why the west loves them so much.

  43. Moscow Exile says:

    RIAN has a story today about accusations that have apparently “gone viral” in the Russian “blogosphere” that some busy little white ribbonist bees claim to have unearthed concerning evidence of plagiarism in the PhD dissertation defended by Russian State Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, Pavel Astakhov, whom RIAN describes as “the Kremlin’s child rights ombudsman” – in other words: he’s an agent of the Evil Empire.

    Astakhov denies these accusations.

    The terminology used by RIAN in describing Astrakhov’s alma mater is also interesting, namely that the ombudsman is a “graduate of the Dzerzhinsky Higher School of the KGB, the Soviet spy agency”.

    I wonder how RIAN would choose to describe the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence?

    Who the bloody hell does RIAN work for?

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that’s the same story Kirill linked earlier. This seems to be of a pattern for the white-ribbonists, and was long before the white-ribbon campaign (the snow revolution, ha, ha, good times); as soon as an ER politician – or of the ruling party if it is other than liberals – attains any degree of international attention, start digging into his educational records and see if you can find something to use as a charge that he is a duplicitous shitheel. You will recall the same charges of extensive plagiarism were leveled at Putin. For the record, there are only so many ways you can say, “A lake is a largeish body of fresh water surrounded by land, usually fed by a fresh-water source such as a stream or spring and with an outlet so that flow takes place”, and not everyone who repeats the definition but alters the order of the words is a plagiarist; pure thought – especially in fields that study events that have already occurred- which is entirely new is as rare as pretty nymphomaniacs.

      • Kudrin’s comments are the sort that when i read them make me want to throw up my hands in despair.

        How can anyone seriously say that a country with a balanced budget and microscopic public debt cannot afford decent pensions and social spending? Surely it is not necessary to spell out that cutting both would lead to a fall in demand, unbalancing the economy and quite possibly triggering a recession? As for pouring money into road construction at the expense of the defence industries, that rewards the least technically advanced (and most corrupt) sector of the manufacturing economy at the expense of its most advanced one. As a comment it is also unfair since as Kirill says infrastructure spending has increase and there are ambitious plans to increase it further.

        However what is strangest about Kudrin’s comments is that they show that he thinks the main driver of economic growth is still budgetary policy. Basically what he wants is for the government to boost state investment in the economy by cutting back on investment in things he sees as superfluous. Though Kudrin presents himself as a forward thinker his comments expose him as someone who still thinks like a Soviet style Central Planner.

        • kirill says:

          Kudrin is acting like the typical liberast wrecker (I use this 1930s Stalinist term deliberately). They are not giving honest, well-meaning advice, they are undermining Russia for whatever personal reasons they have. The whole roads blabbing by Kudrin is obvious populist BS. It has been the common “wisdom” since the days of the USSR that Russia had a deficit of roads. The excuse was that it stalls enemy advances. That was actually true during WWII but it did not stop the Nazis (oops there goes Godwin’s Law again). But by the 1970s it was no longer an advantage but a liability. But today the Road network in Russia has greatly expanded and I have not seen any analysis showing that there is not enough to the point of detriment to the economy.

          So it is clear that Kudrin is not making a sophisticated economics policy argument. He is raising a straw man and then tearing it down. This straw man is no relevant for Russia today. As has been already pointed by Mark, there is a ludicrous contradiction when it comes to roads. The liberasts routinely attack infrastructure projects such as the Russky Island bridge and the roads and rail lines to Sochi. Yet they do not offer any evidence of gross overspending or that these projects are white elephants. The Russky Island bridge makes perfect sense for the future growth of Vladivostok, just look at the geography with Google Earth. It is irrelevant that there is no established development on the island.

        • marknesop says:

          Particularly when it was Kudrin himself who argued bitterly against raising wages and pensions in 2005, when Fradkov wanted to double public sector pay and pensions by 2008, saying, “”The government is making stupid mistakes. I am responsible -just as all government members are. That means I was not able to convince the government to do the right thing.” Yet in 2011, Kudrin was a believer in the social safety net, you’d better know, and announced it was an example of “the government correcting its mistakes”. Which it never actually made, no thanks to Kudrin the Chameleon.

    • kirill says:

      It’s funny just what sort of PhD he would have graduating from such a school. This piece of RIAN excrement does not even bother to tell us where he went to get his PhD, just that he got it in Russia in 2006. What a stupid joke RIAN is.

      Astakhov pretty much demolishes the liberast claim when he says his PhD work is based on his Masters from the University of Pittsburg. I know full well that a Masters is not a PhD (I have a PhD after all) but the Pittsburg program sounds like it is a full Masters, which you have to defend before a committee.

      And what are the qualifications of Parkhomenko? Does he have a law degree. I bet this moron looked at the references section and saw a whole bunch of citations and exclaimed to himself that 80% of the work is unoriginal since he is citing other papers. Then he proceeded to twist the act of citation as the act of plagiarism.

      This is a typical western media hate campaign I can’t find any link to his blog or his analysis. We just have to take this scumbag’s word for it.

      Does anyone have a link to the blog of this liberast monkey?

    • Ken Macaulay says:

      RIAN seems to of been heavily infected by the vast western ‘exchange’ program industry, which brought over large numbers of Russians to attend Western institutions and financed ‘institutes’ & ‘training’ programs locally to ‘promote standards & values’.
      There obviously needs to be a major cleanup as what they are promoting simply isn’t what the average reader wants when they visit RIAN. The most popular stories are always on the latest Russian military hardware, some sports, & the odd political story where people are obviously looking for the genuine Russian view, which is not what these idiots are giving.
      All they’re doing is driving people away to other venues, mostly RT or VoR.

      As for RT, they seem to work by throwing the camera to a bunch of random outside the mainstream commentators that have achieved some visibility on issues, & then see what sticks.
      A little hit or miss, but quite like that as an alternative these days & they are having some justified, major success across world viewerships, from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the America’s. (need to find some better presenters though – there is a couple of good ones, but a few too many ‘bimbo’ types, especially in the US arm. Alyona Minkovski was one of their best & was a big loss, but she should be regretting the move now. She had one of the popular shows around & now is doing mostly filler for HuffPo that no-one sees.

      • Misha says:

        Your overview of RIAN is pretty much in line with what what some others besides myself have expressed. The joint RIAN-Independent Media (Moscow Times) project with the now defunct Russia Profile serves as an example. Though RIAN owned, The MT folks were greatly involved in that project (especially in its inception), on the basis that they had better English language mass media experience. Of course, this includes English language mass media biases as well.

        Via someone who had been a major player in Moscow based English language mass media, I was informed that RIAN had an English language mass media influence before Russia Profile’s existence.

        Among other issues, this piece concerns the founding editor of Russia Profile who has previously been with TMT, in addition to a Western mass media upbringing:

        Among other things, this piece answers Andrei Zolotov’s article, which as promoted by “Russia: Other Points of View” ( ):

        Excerpt –

        Excerpt –

        “Historical and geopolitical topics are instances where Russia frequently gets inaccurately depicted. Some influential Russian circles appear to pay greater attention to other issues.
        Andrei Zolotov is an adviser to RIAN’s chief editor and founding editor of RIAN affiliated Russia Profile (RP). In a New York Times (NYT) article of his, there is mention of a Russian government official taking issue with an RP selection of commentary. Since its inception, RP does not appear to have shied away from running opinions which are critical of the Russian government. On a RIAN aired show, Zolotov uncritically refers to openDemocracy (oD) as a ‘very respected London based internet magazine’.”

        Unlike JRL and ROPV, the following venues were among those which carried the above Eurasia Review article:

        Note how Zolotov suggests that he’s a hero journalist standing up to an overbearing Kremlin hack.

        Minkovski had her fans and detractors while at RT. Her apparent successor is (comparatively speaking) not (IMO) such a considerable notch behind, if even behind. Then again, I haven’t really followed either of them too much. RT isn’t carried by the major Long Island cable and satellite TV providers. I don’t watch much TV news when I’m on the internet. If RT was available in my market on TV, I’d watch it more.

        VoR has room for improvement. Along with some other people, I took issue with the way one of its panels was run:

        The English language coverage of Russia includes political biases against Russia (on one end) and a crony element on the other.

        • Ken Macaulay says:

          Good analysis – thanks for the more indepth view.

          • Misha says:

            You’re welcome.

            Perhaps some day soon, there will be more of this kind of analysis in high profile situations.

            The skirting around and outright pandering to an imperfect status quo isn’t the best route to take for improving the coverage.

  44. Moscow Exile says:

    Another gem from a leading light of the the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. In today’s MT, one of that august body’s professors considers the dictatorial characteristics of the Evil One and how he has entrenched himself into a permanent position as authoritarian leader of an authoritarian state.

    In “A Dictator’s Guide on Ruling for Life”, Professor Zakharov of HSE states:

    “The surprise dismissal of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in November and the campaign to force out a handful of State Duma deputies serves as a reminder that nobody is irreplaceable. The systemic corruption, including that in the courts and law enforcement agencies, acts as a means of rewarding loyalty, while the growing wave of political repression intimidates potential opponents of the regime”.

    Hang on! Did the proffesor say “The surprise dismissal of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov” and then continue about “systemic corruption” being used “as a means of rewarding loyalty”?

    I gather then that the learned professor is unaware of the nature of the accusations that have been made against the former Minister of Defence, which accusations have led to his dismissal from office.

    And the desk-bound warrior professor ends his piece with a rousing call to arms:

    “If Putin refuses to stop down willingly, society’s main task will be to try to evict him peacefully and through constitutional means. To accomplish that, a great many Russians will have to band together in a display of mutual trust, civic responsibility and personal courage”.

    Quite! And a great many more Russian citizens need to band together than the much less than 1% of the population that has so far shown any inclination to do so.

    Either that, or they do what citizen Navalny wishes: Aux armes, citoyens! Le jour de gloire est arrivé! Aux barricades!

    • kirill says:

      These think tanks are propaganda units. Their function is to produce “reports” and “papers” that offer the western and Russian propaganda storm troopers ammunition (i.e talking points and lies via authority).

      I see no evidence that the propaganda war is being won by the west. This is not a surprise since it is basically brow beating Russians that they are stupid cattle who vote for the wrong leader, so-called tyrant Putin. Must be the first time in history that a tyrant gets voted into office on a regular basis. In complete contempt of Godwin’s BS “Law”, I will compare the situation to Hitler’s Reich. Hitler only squeaked into power via a minority and then established a dictatorship. But Putin has to listen to blood libel day and day out for actually being popular and elected on three occasions. The same blood libel was hurled at Chavez, the Canadian Press service called him a communist tyrant.

      I think there are too many in the western elites (the ones that actually own the MSM and give it its marching orders, the BBC and CBC public news services then have to goosestep to the same tune or else be shut down for producing too much cognitive dissonance) who think they won the propaganda war against the USSR. Even though they had actual leverage points back then, it still collapsed from its own internal rot. But today these elites and their storm troopers have nothing to latch onto. Plagiarized PhD theses, palaces owned by Putin, Putin’s tens of billions of secret money that no one can identify, and so on ad nauseam. This is rubbish and the average Russian is not responding to it.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        It’s funny, but one of the biggest lies about Putin that has been bandied about the “Russian blogosphere” for a long while now but one that the Western MSM dare not touch with a bargepole for fear of being in breach of PC is the accusation that the Russian President is a paederast – literally.

        • Dear Moscow Exile,

          If Putin is a dictator in the way the article says Moscow Times would not be publishing such an article and Professor Zakharov would be out of a job, if not worse.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Dear Alexander Merrcouris,

            In this respect, a comment made by a Russian reader (the wrong usage of articles therein is a dead give away of this) to an article in today’s MT concerning that great defender of democracy Western style (well for part of his life, anyway), the French/US/Russian citizen Pozner, has given notice that the MT salad days of 22 years may soon be drawing to a close:

            “Next week State Duma is going to publish the law that would forbid foreigners to work in mass media, if they discredit Russian government. They plan to name this law “Pozner law”. So, I worry what will happen with “The Moscow Times”? Who knows limits of this discredit?”

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I should really correct what I wrote above. Paederasty is a crime and it is certainly not PC to defend paederasty. But what I meant to say was that many in the Russian blogosphere use that term in the Russian manner in describing the Russian head of state and meaning “male homosexual”; Putin’s enemies also accuse him of paederasty in the literal sense of the word.

          • kirill says:

            They have to engage in mental contortions to validate the rubbish they spew. They are also hoping there will be enough suckers in Russia who will think that this is really the case. I doubt anyone with access to the internet and the TV will believe that the western media is so soft and gentle.

            • marknesop says:

              Well, according to Konstantin Sonin, a daily newspaper in Moscow must be anti-Putin and anti-government, because it is “simple arithmetic”; if you do not cater to the anti-government sentiment, which prevails in most Muscovites, your paper will not sell well and nobody wants to advertise – which is where the real revenue is – in a paper that nobody reads.

              I doubt I will be the only one to notice the irony of that article appearing in a paper which has a small print run and is a giveaway in restaurants, bus and railway stations and business centers.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                I often think that the most widely read newspaper in Moscow is the one called “Metro”. Needless to say, it’s a freebie published by the Moscow V.I.Lenin Metropolitan Railway. They hand it out – no, hold copies out – at the top of escalators, and few refuse to take one.

                I have to say though that it is years since I saw anyone reading “MT” on the metro, likewise Russian language publications. I’ve never seen anyone reading “Novaya Gazeta”, though I do occasionally see folk reading “Moskovsky Komsomolets” or “Moskovskaya Pravda”. In the ’90s, “Argumenty i Fakti” was extremely popular: for a while it was the biggest selling paper in Russia.

                The top and bottom of it is that few Russians read newspapers now: no bugger reads or listens to Latynina; better said, the numbers that do so are statistically insignificant. I reckon the same must have held true for Politkovskaya as well.

                I have worked at TNK-BP (now Rosneft) head offices for 7 years now and at the entrance hall each morning I pass piles of “FT” and “Vedomosti” on special stands. Those piles are barely diminished at the end of each day.

                Interesting main story on the front page of that inserted above “Metro”. Must be about hockey. And there’s another thing: I see more people – all men – reading a newspaper called “Sport” on the metro, which paper is totally devoted to sport – mostly hockey and football, but it does have a rugby section as well.

                That may not be so obvious, namely “Sport” is about sport, for some British readers because there used to be two awful, misogynistic rags in the UK called the “Daily Sport” and the “Sunday Sport”, which were full of pictures of near naked girls and salacious stories together with some stupid ones, such as “B52 Bomber Found On Moon” and “Hitler Was A Woman”.

                There you are!

                Godwin’s Law proven again!


                • Misha says:

                  In the US, sports journalism seems to be of an arguably better quality, as well as being generally more earnest and less restrictive than some other instances, like the coverage of the former Communist bloc.

                  That said, I think the American sports TV station ESPN could consider adding ESPN Soap to cover such matters as the personal lives of athletes – given the periodic emphasis placed on that subject. As is, ESPN has several different channels which concentrate on different aspects of sports.

                • marknesop says:

                  I think my favourite is the “Weekly World News“, a cheap pulp tabloid sold at supermarket checkouts here and presumably in the USA. They had a great story a few years ago about Iraq attacking shoreside towns on the Great Lakes using midget submarines, which was hilarious enough since there was no explanation how they got there from Iraq – presumably they sneaked through the locks system undetected,. But the cover photo was a Russian navy TYPHOON Class boomer, more than 570 feet long and displacing almost 25,000 tons surfaced, which it is hard to imagine it not being pretty much all the time in the Great Lakes. Ooooo…stealthy. But the one I thought of immediately was “2006 Ford Pickup Found Floating in Space – And It’s Still Running!!!” leaving even laymen bemused as to how an oxygen-dependent engine could be running in a zero-oxygen environment.

                  I never thought to check if either of those stories were under Yulia Latynina’s byline – perhaps I should have. Her story about the Chelyabinsk Secret Government Rocket wouldn’t have looked a bit out of place.

        • Ken Macaulay says:

          Apparently Litvinenko published accusations that Putin was a paederast, or atleast hinted very strongly about it in one his books read by the usual faithful dozen or so readers (in this case an actual child molester – he found the actions of Putin in greeting a young boy handed to him by his mother at a political rally verrry suspicious).
          Wasn’t one of the faithful few who read anything he wrote, but do remember it being quoted by a few people.

          • marknesop says:

            In fact, every single accusation suggesting Putin is a pederast can be traced to that moment, that incident. The blogosphere roared to life when that happened – now there was something new about Putin!!!

            Putin kissed the boy on his stomach. Maybe he was motivated to blow in his belly the way you do to a baby to make them laugh, I don’t know. But if Putin were actually a closet pedophile, it is absolutely inconceivable he could have concealed it all these years with never a whisper, under the eyes of possibly the most stringent scrutiny on the planet. The janitor who cleans his office would have found some pictures, or some parent would have a complaint, something. And then, after successfully hiding it all these years, he blows it by “coming out” in public at a parade or public reception or whatever the hell the occasion was, I forget. Does that make any sense at all?

            Sure. In the same world where he also killed Anna Politkovskaya, Litvinenko and Berezovsky, as well as steering the verdicts against the Pussy Riot girls in secret while saying the opposite in public, and fabricating evidence against Magnitsky and Khodorkovsky. When does he find time to work? I guess Russia just kind of runs itself.

          • kirill says:

            The reaction to this incident says more about all the “concerned” than about Putin. What he did was hardly sexual abuse. It is more akin to kissing a child on the forehead. It is only in the sexually insecure west that this act resulted in woodies. Russia has a different culture: when two grown Russian men kiss each other on the cheek as a greeting they do not get hardons. It did not cross Putin’s mind that what he did was a sexual act or an attack on the boy. Perhaps Putin is not really Sauron.

            • yalensis says:

              I agree. The kiss on the tum-tum was completely innocent. Kids are like cute puppies, you see one, and you want to just tickle them and ruffle their hair.

              • yalensis says:

                Plus, the mom was standing right there, along with a thousand other people. If Putin were really a predator, he would not do it in front of the mom.

      • marknesop says:

        I think Godwin’s law is misunderstood – it merely remarks on the phenomenon that the longer a discussion goes on and the more desperate one side’s position becomes, the greater the likelihood the side that is losing will invoke Hitler or Naziism as a means of shutting down the argument. The principle is frequently invoked deliberately for amusement, such as – in a parallel discussion going on – “Oh, yeah? Well, you know who else ate a lot of bread? HITLER!!!”, or just a one-word comment, “Hitler!!!” when someone feels the thread has dragged on for too long without any visible resolution. Godwin, if there ever was a Godwin, does not imply any support for Naziism or for the tactic of using the specter of it to throttle argument – he or she merely remarks that people with little imagination or who cannot countenance losing an argument reserve the Hitler card for occasions when they cannot achieve their aim by other means. The weaker the argument, the sooner it is likely to come out, so Godwin’s law serves a useful purpose as a metric to how bankrupt some argumentative positions are.

        • Misha says:

          As I think you’ll agree, sometimes the the mention of Nazi Germany isn’t so off base, with users of that term periodically not being on the winning side of the given discussion – in contrast to their own impressions.

          Reminded somewhat of how “whataboutism” gets used:

          • marknesop says:

            I certainly do; mention of Nazi Germany is not at all out of place in a discussion of Nazi Germany, or indeed in a discussion of German history in general. It is out of place when it is used – as La Russophobe frequently does – in a totally unrelated discussion to squash argument, as if everything must go silent as soon as Hitler’s name is mentioned. As I believe I mentioned before, Time Magazine was within a whisker of featuring Hitler on the cover of its Millennium edition, Most Important Figure of the Century.

            • Misha says:

              In contrast to that example (concerning a cowardly feeble minded source, who punked out of a live one hour BBC World Service panel discussion), the mention of Nazi Germany isn’t so out of place when discussing instances like the format of the Captive Nations Committee and how some Croats behaved during WW II, as well as some present day soft pedalling of that past.

        • yalensis says:

          That’s ridiculous. It sounds like something Hitler would say.

        • Misha says:

          In actuality, one of the more idiotic of Godwin’s Law matter concerns how some suggest Milosevic as a kind of modern day Hitler, with Serbs at large portrayed as having Nazi attitudes.

          • kirill says:

            Another case of the western MSM presenting a propaganda narrative completely detached from reality. In particular, how Milosevic’s speech in Kosovo during the late 1980s was completely distorted. It was not some ethnic rant against Albanians. It was a rant against ethnic nationalism.

            We now have all the usual suspects bleating about Berezovsky having been offed. Well, in my view Milosevic was offed for sure. His defense at the Hague kangaroo court was proving to be too uncomfortable. Who would want to off a bankrupt ex-billionaire? Out of vendetta? Why not off Albright then? That would be an accomplishment I would applaud.

            • Misha says:

              As referenced below, “The Russia Hand” mentioned Milosevic in a way that was intended to speak positively of Yeltsin:


              Also mentioned (in a hyperlink in the above linked piece) is the mischaracterization of Milosevic’s 1989 address at Kosovo Polje:


              “The Russia Hand” doesn’t note that Kravchuk in Ukraine wasn’t as provocative as Tudjman, Izetbegovic and the KLA. Ukraine was an area that had the potential for some heightened violence, as I recall Dmitri Simes noting. The most violent of post-Soviet conflicts (over Nagorno-Karabakh) didn’t directly involve Russia.

              The situations in Latvia and Estonia didn’t prove as violent as what occurred in the Serb inhabited areas in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia’s Communist drawn boundaries. It’s questionable to claim that this contrast was the result of Yeltsin being more peaceful (as suggested) than Milosevic. Recall Yeltsin firing on a parliament, much unlike what occurred during a noticeable anti-Yugo government demo between the end of the Bosnian Civil War and the NATO bombing of Yugo.

              Yeltsin was involved in a bloody conflict in Chechnya. The NYTs’ Steven Erlangar pointedly said that Yugo activity in Kosovo wasn’t noticeably more violent than Russian activity in Chechnya. This is said without overlooking the aspect of KLA and foreign supported pro-Chechen nationalist terrorism.

            • yalensis says:

              Berezovsky did not off himself, IMHO. He was down, but not out. A guy with his Falstaffian self-love and zesf for life?… It hadn’t yet come to that. He had one card left to play…
              The smoking gun is the letter to Putin. Feeling unsafe in this suddenly hostile environment, Berezovsky swallowed his pride and appealed to Putin. As dowry for his safe return, he offered to dish out all the dirt on the Litvinenko affair. He would have pointed the finger at MI-5. Brit spooks couldn’t allow this to happen, so MI-6 offed him, using a classical “locked room” gambit borrowed from a Sherlock Holmes story.

              • marknesop says:

                What is it with this “locked room” foolishness? To begin with, the world has only the bodyguard’s word that the room was ever locked in the first place, so the first person being grilled for a mistake should be him, since he could easily have killed Berezovsky himself, kicked the door open and said it was locked as an explanation for not checking earlier. Also explains his fingerprints on the doorknob, although that would likely be dismissed as routine anyway. Next, anyone who killed him needed only to have pushed in the door handle and closed the door behind him to leave a dead Berezovsky in a locked room – bathroom locks typically function so that the knob will not turn only from the outside, and it is perfectly possible to close a bathroom door after locking it.

                They should be checking to see who knew Berezovsky sent a letter to Putin, and the only thing that suggests there ever was one is the vociferous shouting from the western side that there never was one. That might be because they want to automatically discredit anything that might be in it. But honestly, I don’t know why they don’t just find some patsy to step up and say “I killed Litvinenko”, give him a couple of months of community service and be done with it.

                I don’t subscribe to the “Berezovsky was murdered” theory simply because anyone with half a brain trying to portray it as a simple suicide would have done a much better job. Only an impulsive idiot would have introduced all the inconsistencies which have the press gabbling and give Tin-Tin more column inches. Hey, guys; look at this – I went out for a drive with my completely trustworthy friend who would never grass me up and corroborates my story word-for-word, and when I came back at around 10:21 AM, the boss was hanging from the closet rod in his bedroom by a stout piece of rope which would easily bear his weight; the remaining rope from the coil is in the garage, and the knife that made the cut is lying on the kitchen counter with Berezovsky’s prints on it and no others. A kicked-over chair was on the floor in the middle of the bedroom. Sure looks like a suicide to me.

                • Misha says:

                  “Brooks was here”.

                  “So was Red”.

                  “Get busy living or get busy dying”.

                • yalensis says:

                  Those are good points. You have convinced me that The Bodyguard dunnit.
                  (On the orders of MI-6, it goes without saying.)
                  I did find it suspicious initially that the bodyguard said he hadn’t seen his master for a couple of days, and then finally went looking for him in the bathroom.
                  MI-6 obviously planted one of their agents to be the bodyguard.

  45. Robert says:

    Archdruid John Michael Greer describes Americanism as a civil religion that could be in decline just as Communism was. Defines the Ayn Rayn cult as an antireligion basically the converse of communism with the values inverted.

    • kirill says:

      The conversion of Trotskyists (whatever that means) into neocons in the USA says something about the mental pathology of such people. I think it is some strain of xenophobe that has a compulsion to control the world and its inhabitants. All the ideology is a fig leaf on the mental disorder.

      • kievite says:

        Neoliberalism can probably be called “Trotskyism for rich”. Proved to be tremendous potent ideological weapon that completely dominated the ideological scene from, say, 1970th to, say 2008.

  46. Misha says:

    This should be a great happening:

    No politically correct Sonoma Sate University administrative hacks to influence a cancellation, based on a faulty accounting of history and flawed ethics.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      The writing’s clearly on the wall for Putin.

      He must really be in dire straits now.

      I’ll get my coat.

    • Jen says:

      Someone’s gone gaga enough for Julian Assange that she’s had her photo taken with him:

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that is a pity; he’s a great guitarist with a unique style. However, he’s getting on a bit, and maybe it would be best for his health if he just stayed home anyway. When musicians let themselves get embroiled in popular political causes I find it hard to ever take them seriously again, because they have revealed that politics is more important to them than music, particularly when the triggering event is so far from the way it’s portrayed.

      I was surprised to find Russia such a great place to see rock acts live that I would have killed for in my youth; Deep Purple, Nazareth…the last time I was in Vladivostok there was a huge billboard advertising Nazareth, and Dan McCafferty looked quite a bit like a shar-pei with the remnants of a rocker haircut. Well, I’ll be able to see them here in July if I like; they will play the Royal Theatre.

      In the interests of promoting local talent, here’s one of my favourite blues guitarists; this is Colin James, from Vancouver, British Columbia.

      • Jen says:

        In Australia one of the ministers in Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government is the former rock musician Peter Garrett who used to sing for Midnight Oil. Midnight Oil made a name for themselves in the 1980s playing hard rock with a social conscience, campaigning against nuclear energy and uranium mining, and calling public attention to discrimination against Aboriginal people and their Third World living conditions. In 2004 Garrett joined the Australian Labor Party and entered Federal politics by winning the seat of Kingsford Smith in southern Sydney. Since then he’s held portfolios in the arts, environment, heritage and education but his credibility has plummeted as he renounced many if not most opinions and positions he had on uranium mining, environmental protection and assisting indigenous Australians in education. He’s seen as a back-flipper and sell-out who’s allowed himself to be brainwashed by internal ALP politics.

        Not many people in Australia are aware that Garrett actually had a very privileged upbringing in Sydney: he grew up in Wahroonga which has been a wealthy Sydney suburb for as long as I can remember and he attended Barker College which is a private boys’ school from kindergarten to Year 10 and co-educational in Years 11 and 12. Barker College is not quite as posh as some other private schools in northern Sydney (the poshest boys’ school is Knox Grammar, actor Hugh Jackman’s old school) but it’s fairly expensive and academic. Garrett is also a born-again Christian with quite conservative attitudes (he opposes abortion) and for many years was head of the Australian Conservation Foundation which tends to defer to big business if the interests of big business clash with those of the environment.

        • marknesop says:

          Just goes to show you never really know who people are, dunnit? I remember Midnight Oil well; a band I was working with at the time tried out “Beds Are Burning”, but we never performed it because nobody could sing it like Garrett. Like most people, I imagine, I didn’t look too deeply into it and just assumed that was the band’s actual beliefs. But I’ve often been told far more honest, motivated-by-decency people go into politics than ever come out of it, and that the political system is weighted to find any shred of conceit or corruption you might have and then play upon it until it defines you.

          • Jen says:

            I started to have doubts about Garrett’s motivations and sincerity when he left the Nuclear Disarmament Party, joined Peace and Nuclear Disarmament Action (PANDA) and then decamped for the ALP in circumstances that smell of being a stunt. There was an upcoming Federal election in 2004, the ALP member for Kingsford Smith electorate was retiring the same year, the local ALP branch was preparing for someone else to replace that person to stand for election and then all of a sudden the Federal Party invites Garrett to join. He does so and is promptly shoved into standing for that electorate. He wins the seat and from then on he is a loyal supporter of ALP policies.

            Both the NDP and PANDA no longer exist. The NDP was deregistered as a party in 2009 and it’s possible that Garrett’s behaviour in the NDP and PANDA, and leaving those groups when he did (in circumstances that suggest he loves media attention and public adoration but isn’t suited for the responsibilities that go with being a leader), weakened the NDP enormously. I accept that once upon a time he was politically naive and had to learn about the hustling that goes on in politics (and especially in Australian party politics which is often about which faction in which party is on top) but after nearly 30 years as an activist in music, single-issue politics and being involved in internal party politics, he should have learned by now if he is cut out for that life, which I think he is not.

            • marknesop says:

              A very astute analysis, and likely spot on. I just remember an older contemporary of mine explaining his views on life over the course of the years we worked together; he’s dead now – unfortunately, as he was a great sage with a sly delivery that made everything sound like a wicked secret. His theory of politics was that maybe as much as 40% of newly-elected representatives went into the job basically honest, and meaning to do a good job for the folks back home who had elected them. There might be an early probe to test their mettle, and see what they were made of. If you resisted it, he said, you would find yourself sitting in your office rearranging the pencils beside your blotter in neat rows, and then start to miss meetings because nobody told you they were going on. You would just be cut right out of the loop, and would begin to tell yourself that if you didn’t get to play you could not change anything. If it went the other way, you might be invited to vote for a member’s bill, even though you were hesitant because you thought it was contrary to what your electorate would support. But you would be reassured that when your bill came up, you would have earned reciprocal support. So you vote for the bill you didn’t believe in, and it passes, and before you know it you’re making deals all over the place and dirty as muck. Sort of a “The Rake’s Progress” view of creeping corruption.

              He had an even more interesting theory regarding violence against women, in which he believed it lay entirely in the power of women to breed that violent gene out of the human race in an eyeblink, genealogically speaking – say a couple of generations. All they would need to do is marry the shy class nerd with the plastic pen protector in his breast pocket, the timid smile and the thick glasses. He would never raise a hand to his wife, be grateful forever for his good fortune and would be a sterling example to his children, and eventually that violent impulse would be unlearned and gone. But noooooo, he said – women fancy the football hero, the muscle-bound jock type, the bad boy on his motorcycle with the air of simmering, barely-contained ass-kicking. Of course they don’t want him to come across the kitchen table at them…but they like to know he could; lends the spice if danger to the relationship, and the satisfaction of having tamed – more or less – something wild.

              I don’t know how popular that theory would be with women, but I certainly found it thought-provoking. On reflection, it did seem to me that most of the girls I dared to imagine would be mine one day all thought the tough guys in the next class up were “dreamy” and had little interest in anyone their own age, never mind looking like they were auditioning for a play about 14-year-old bank clerks. I suppose you could become more invested in that theory if you were the nerd than if you were the bad boy on the motorcycle.

  47. kievite says:

    Все кто без белой ленты – скот. Цитаты известных либерастов

    Цитаты известных либералов

    Михаил Берг: “Давайте все договоримся с ходу – надеюсь, согласится большинство, – что быдло не относится к народу и крайне редко видело его”

    Геннадий Гудков: “Потому что на Болотной собирались ГРАЖДАНЕ и за ИДЕЮ,а в Лужниках ХОЛОПЫ и по разнарядке! И холуйские подпевалы как Вы!”

    Крылов: “Официальный протекторат США был бы существенным повышением нынешнего статуса Эрефии (которая является колонией Запада в целом, причём безо всяких обязательств со стороны Запада). Но, боюсь, официальный протекторат нам не светит. Так что придётся делать национальную революцию и требовать статуса, сравнимого с восточноевропейским.”

    Андрей Мальгин: “Страна действительно разделилась на две части. С одной стороны – поганые совки. Поставь такого в любом месте земного шара в любую толпу, сразу узнаешь: совок. Не затеряется. С другой стороны: люди с чувством собственного достоинства и со следами интеллекта на лице. Цивилизованные люди. Как до сих пор эти две России уживались друг с другом, совершенно непонятно. И как они в дальнейшем будут уживаться?”

    Дмитрий Быков: “В стадионную чашу залили компот, где Лубянка и Нижний Тагил, Где намешаны жажда плетей, и злость, и нужда.”

    Ольга Романова: “Поняла, почему орки называют нас оранжевыми.”

    Ольга Романова: “Рабочекрестьянская закваска нашего общества – такое болото, что оно способно утянуть на дно тысячу воздушных и прекраснодушных Болотных. Пролетарская, провинциальная, бюджетная Россия ненавидит и не доверяет российской городской интеллигенции и в гробу видит всех этих умников в очках с непонятной речью и противно-трусливой вежливостью. Она ненавидит их и боится как заокеанских пиндосов, как шакалов у заморских посольств, как главных врагов всей своей жизни.”

    Ольга Романова: “Пэтэушная братия”

    Ольга Романова: “Не могу попасть на собственную лекцию в Стрелке. Кропоткинская перекрыта – молебен у них, у блядей.”

    Владимир Варфоломеев: “Речь надо вести о ликвидации путинской социальной базы, то есть 40-50 миллионов граждан, которые его поддерживают в любом случае.”

    Виктор Шендерович: “участники митингов: вассалы. Те кого автобусами, и шантажом, и за бабки”

    Юлия Латынина: “Было 2 митинга, свободных людей и анчоусов. И должна сказать, что стратегия Кремля победила – анчоусов было больше. Анчоусов в России оказалось больше, чем свободных людей. И хотя они заявили о себе достаточно сильно, результат матча на 15% в пользу анчоусов.”

    Анастасия Удальцова: “подростковые рыла”

    Ирина Ясина: “все кто не с белой лентой – скот, который согнали”

    Олег Козырев: “массы согнанных подневольных”

    Ксения Ларина: “продающие, прожирающие, пропивающие, просирающие свою страну за копейки и объедки”

    Ольга Бакушинская: “такой генетический материал, который останется после уезда лучших”

    Юрий Суетов: “Единственное, что показал путинг, это что быдло реально существует и его больше нормальных людей.”

    Андрей Мальгин: “Рабов и быдла все равно больше… на Поклонной была шайка дебилов…Это очень послушное, бого-начальнико-боязненное стадо… Жаль этих людей. Убогие. Печально…Жертвы зомбоящика”

    Борис Немцов: “Я предлагаю отныне всех участников прокремлевских движений именовать не иначе как кремлевские петушки. Коротко и ясно”

    Ольга Андронова: “То, что Россия страна сплошного сюрреализма, думаю ощущают многие, за исключением отмороженного стада путинойдов, которые говорят об обратном.”

    Евгения Чирикова: “Российские люди во многом похожи на крупный рогатый скот.”

    Леонид Мартынюк: “Как-то, вот, такое впечатление, что доверенные лица Путина не ходят на путинги с быдлом.”

    Альфред Кох: “русский мужчина – самый мерзкий, самый отвратительный и самый никчемный типа мужчины на Земле.”

    Юлия Латынина: “Избиратель Путина является люмпеном, и избиратель Путина является быдлом”

    Рустем Адагамов: “Это говнонаселение готово мать родную продать за поганые 750 рублей. :-(”

    Ксения Собчак: “Люблю евреев, потому что все русские – быдло”

    Анатолий Чубайс: “Что вы волнуетесь за этих людей? Ну, вымрет тридцать миллионов. Они не вписались в рынок. Не думайте об этом – новые вырастут”

    Анатолий Чубайс: “Я перечитал всего Достоевского, и теперь к этому человеку не чувствую ничего, кроме физической ненависти. Когда я вижу в его книгах мысли, что русский народ – народ особый, богоизбранный, мне хочется порвать его на куски”

    Валерия Новодворская: “Русских нельзя с правами пускать в европейскую цивилизацию их положили у параши, и правильно сделали”. “Жалкие, несостоятельные в духовном плане, трусливые спят у параши и никаких прав не имеют. Если таким давать права, понизится общий уровень человечества”

    Валерия Новодворская: “Например, меня совершенно не волнует, сколько ракет выпустит демократическая Америка по недемократическому Ираку. По мне, чем больше, тем лучше. Так же, как меня совершенно не ужасает неприятность, приключившаяся с Хиросимой и Нагасаки”.

    Валерия Новодворская: “Почему это в Америке индейцы не заявляют о своем суверенитете? Видно, в свое время белые поселенцы над ними хорошо поработали. А мы, наверное, в XVII-XVIII вв. что-то со своими “ныне дикими тунгусами” не доделали”. “Вот свобода Чечни меня волнует. Чечня – это красиво, это смело, это благородно”.

    Валерия Новодворская: “Апартеид – нормальная вещь”. “Гражданские права существуют для людей просвещенных, сытых, благовоспитанных и уравновешенных”. “Так что апартеид – это правда, а какие-то всеобщие права человека – ложь”.

    Валерия Новодворская: “Я лично правами человека накушалась досыта. Некогда и мы (!), и ЦРУ (!), и США (!) использовали эту идею как таран для уничтожения коммунистического режима и развала СССР. Эта идея отслужила свое и хватит врать про права человека и про правозащитников”

    Валерия Новодворская: “Россия – это не только страна дураков, но и страна хамов… И вообще с 1917 года нами правили хамы в смазных сапогах.”

    Валерия Новодворская: “Нас ни разу как следует не разбили. Вдребезги, как Гитлера.”

    Валерия Новодворская: “В России всё растекается и свисает, как макароны с ложки. Шестая часть суши была заселена беспозвоночной протоплазмой.”

    Валерия Новодворская: “Я никогда не праздную 9 Мая и никому не советую этого делать… все прогрессивное человечество, если и хочет, то скромненько и без особого шика что-то празднует. А устраивать такие парады, как у нас, могут только законченные лузеры, продувшие все остальное, которым нужен миф, доказывающий им самим, что они еще что-то значат”

    Валерия Новодворская: “Если Россия погибнет, вообще, в принципе я лично роптать не буду”

    Альфред Кох: “Я думаю, для того чтобы отобрать у нас атомное оружие, достаточно парашютно-десантной дивизии. Однажды высадить и забрать все эти ракеты к чертовой матери”. “Россия никому не нужна (смеется), не нужна Россия никому (смеется), как вы не поймете! Я не понимаю, чего такого особого в России?”

    Константин Боровой: “При обсуждении вопроса об ущемлении прав русских в Прибалтике, Константин Натанович занял откровенно человеконенавистническую позицию нацистов, одобрил марши эссесовцев в Риге, прикрываясь свободой выбора и либеральными ценностями. По ходу дискуссии Боровой обвинил высшее руководство страны в государственном антисемитизме и назвал Нобелевского лауреата писателя А. И. Солженицына “русским фашистом”.
    во время записи телепрограммы “Двое против одного””

    Михаил Ходорковский: “…у такого государства стыдно не украсть”

    Михаил Ходорковский: “Коррупция началась с нас, на нас она и должна закончиться”

    Михаил Ходорковский: “Наше отношение к властям? Еще несколько месяцев назад мы считали за благо власть, которая не мешала бы нам, предпринимателям. В этом отношении идеальным правителем был Михаил Горбачев. На том этапе нашего развития этого было достаточно. Теперь, когда предпринимательский класс набрал силу и процесс этот остановить уже невозможно, меняется и наше отношение к власти. Нейтралитета по отношению к нам уже недостаточно. Необходима реализация принципа: кто платит, тот и заказывает музыку”

    Владимир Буковский: “Закаев в интервью изданию Le Figaro назвал Буковского в числе тех, кто составляет “лондонскую группировку Березовского”. “Теперь, после смерти Саши (Литвиненко) , нас осталось пятеро – слишком мало, чтобы дестабилизировать ситуацию в России”, – добавил Закаев

    Владимир Буковский: “Пора выбросить понятие “сферы российского влияния” из политического словаря.
    Российские войска должны (?!) уйти с Северного Кавказа”

    Валерий Панюшкин: “Всем на свете стало бы легче, если бы русская нация прекратилась. Самим русским стало бы легче, если бы завтра не надо было больше складывать собою национальное государство, а можно было бы превратиться в малый народ наподобие води, хантов или аварцев…

    Я русский, но я всерьез думаю, что логика, которой руководствуется сейчас мой народ, сродни логике бешеной собаки. Бешеная собака смертельно больна, ей осталось жить три — максимум семь дней. Но она об этом не догадывается. Она бежит, сама не зная куда, характерной рваной побежкой, исходит ядовитой слюной и набрасывается на всякого встречного. При этом собака очень мучается, и мучения ее окончатся, когда ее пристрелят”

    Юлия Латынина: “Я, например, пытаюсь в качестве мысленного эксперимента представить себе Россию, которая развалится на части…
    Допустим, Владивосток, или Самара, или Сочи отпали. И в таком случае звонили бы мы во Владивосток, и там бы нам рассказывали: «Слушайте, у нас во Владивостоке так хорошо, у нас отменили запретительные пошлины на иномарки, у нас всё нормально стало с экспортом рыбы, у нас теперь таможня не требует выгружать ее на причал перед тем, как экспортировать. У нас всё нормально стало с экспортом леса».
    Или мы бы звонили в Сочи, и нам говорили: «У нас так хорошо. У нас больше из Имеретинской долины не выселяют людей, которые там долго жили. У нас больше не затевается чудовищных проектов, которые формально должны осчастливить зрителей Олимпиады, а реально сводятся к бесконечному повышению цен в Сочи и к тому, что Сочи не трансформируется в нормальный курортный город.”

    Лев Пономарев: “Конопляный марш и гей-парад должны быть разрешены… «Люди с демократическими взглядами и высокой степенью гражданской активности всегда найдут в себе силы и мужество поддерживать несогласных, в том числе – сторонников легализации конопли и проведения гей-парадов”…/266763-parad-0

    Лев Пономарев:”…я считаю, что сама по себе тема легализации легких наркотиков вполне приемлема для российского общества… Поэтому мое мнение таково: молодые люди имеют право на такие демонстрации, митинги и «конопляные марши», чтобы привлечь внимание к этой проблеме.”…omarevkonopl/56

    Лев Пономарев: “Русский фашизм – это не надуманное явление, он укоренен в сознании населения.”

    Ксения Собчак: “”Сначала 1917 год, потом сразу 1937-й. Два подряд уничтожения элиты привели к тому, что Россия стала страной генетического отребья. Я бы вообще запретила эту страну. Единственная здесь для меня отдушина – это картинные галереи. И цирк.”

    Татьяна Толстая: “Страна не такова, чтобы ей соответствовать!.. Ее надо тащить за собой, дуру толстожопую, косную! Вот сейчас, может, руководство пытается соответствовать, быть таким же бл…ским, как народ, тупым, как народ, таким же отсталым, как народ”

    Юрий Гусаков: “Страну населяет звероподобный сброд, которому просто нельзя давать возможность свободно выбирать. Этот сброд должен мычать в стойле, а не ломиться грязными копытами в мой уютный кондиционированный офис. Для этого и придуманы «Наши», «Молодогварейцы» и прочий быдлоюгенд. Разве не понятно, что при свободных выборах и равном доступе к СМИ победят как минимум ДПНИ и прочие коричневые? Валить из страны надо не сейчас, когда «Наши» и прочие суверенные дол…бы строем ходят. Валить отсюда надо именно когда всезвероподобной массе, когда этим животным позволят избрать себе достойную их власть.
    Вот тогда я первый в американское посольство ломанусь. А сейчас всё прекрасно – бабки зарабатывать можно, в ЖЖ лаять на Кремль можно, летать куда угодно можно. И не надо ребенку еврейскую фамилию на русскую менять, чтоб он в МГУ поступил. Сейчас полная свобода”

    Игорь Юргенс (Институт современного развития): “Какие там инновации, какая индустрия! Судьба России – вывозить нефть и другое сырьё! Забудьте об остальном!”

    Игорь Юргенс (Институт современного развития): “России мешают русские – основная масса наших соотечественников живёт в прошлом веке и развиваться не хочет… Русские еще очень архаичны. В российском менталитете общность выше чем личность… Большая часть ( народа ) находится в частичной деквалификации… Другая часть – общая деградация”

    Владимир Познер: “Я думаю, что одна из величайших трагедий для России – принятие православия… Я считаю, что православие явилось тяжелой ношей для России”

    Владимир Познер: “От марихуаны, как справедливо отмечают многие специалисты, никакой беды вообще нет. И ее, конечно, нужно легализовать. Но я иду дальше, чем голландское правительство, я считаю, что легализовать нужно все наркотики. Если мы сделаем так, что любой наркотик можно будет купить в аптеке “за три копейки”, то тем самым выбьем из-под ног наркомафии экономический фундамент”

    Владимир Познер: “Я не русский человек, это не моя Родина, я здесь не вырос, я не чувствую себя здесь полностью дома”

    • kirill says:

      Words the western media consumer will never hear. What is Posner doing in Russia if he does not feel fully at home there and it is not his homeland? He basically declared himself to be a foreign agent. The rest are the usual suspects including full blown loons like Novodvorskaya. She should bugger off to the west along with Posner.

      The mentality of these people is quite something. They hate the country they live in and most of its people with a passion. In spite of my criticisms I do not hate Canada and do not consider myself to be some sort of crusader dissident. This has nothing to do with Canada’s standard of living. How can you hate all the people around you? Most people in most places are normal and not zombies out to get you. This mentality smacks of schizophrenia to me.

    • marknesop says:

      Malgin’s comment in particular is explosive, inflammatory – I didn’t get the context of where he was saying this, but if it was in a public forum I would be surprised if he did not need a police escort to get out safely. Big-headed “revolutionaries” like this, with their sneering condescension for the sweaty mob who are not born the sons of academicians or music prodigies or billionaires, are the perfect echo of Latynina’s elitist dribblings about poor people always fucking up the vote, and that things would go so much better if the vote was distributed based on an income cutoff or by having to pass an examination to ensure nobody without a college education or a personal fortune would be allowed to vote. What a condescending swine – no wonder the west goes gaga over the elites. Any time they are interested in moving to the west, they should be encouraged to go. Just please not Canada – we already made Porky Pete Verzilov a citizen, and I imagine we will all be doing penance for that for years already.

    • yalensis says:

      Wow! Good link and great quotes.

      Idea: All these supermen should follow the advice of their idol (=Ayn Rand) and do a Galt. Find an island somewhere and LEAVE THE REST OF US ANCHOVIES ALONE!!!

  48. R.C. says:

    Have any of these British “Human rights sympathizers” come to the aid of Julian Assange on their own turf? These US/UK musicians have a knack for ignoring transgressions on their own soil while pointing fingers elsewhere.

  49. yalensis says:

    On KIROVLES (continued)…
    Okay, so the Prosecution has rested its case, and now ‘tis time for Navanly’s Defense Team (which is being provided by Agora, which probably means Khrunova?) to refute Bastrykin’s base and ridiculous charges:

    1. The delivery contract was concluded and not disputed. KirovLes (at one point) did attempt to break out of the contract, but then changed its mind.
    2. VLK (=Ofitserov’s company) paid KirovLes for production and transport services to the tune of 13 705 599,14 руб, as was confirmed in the ledger accounts and by copies of the receipts. Of all the agreements concluded by VLK, only 6 were with former contractors of KirovLes (difference in price was 589 110,87 руб), and 10 were with brand new (obtained by VLK) customers; hence, VLK actually INCREASED the market share of KirovLes. Moreoever, VLK did not pay out anything to Ofitserov except for his salary, and Navalny did not get a dime..
    3. The scope of sales to VLK during the period in question constituted only 5% of KirovLes sales; meanwhile, the forestry collectives (leskhozy) continued to conclude contracts with other entitites and deliver to them product.
    4. VLK simply owes KirovLes some money, to the tune of 3 123 069,67 руб. On 19 October 2011 KirovLes filed for bankruptcy; the Acting Director [he who replaced Opalev] indicated that the bankruptcy was not premature or fictitous; and nothing suspicious was discovered (about this bankruptcy).
    5. Parties are free to set prices for product. Average margin was 7.4% [yalensis: Wow!], the price (set by VLK) was economically sound. It would be incorrect to talk about an unfounded or unnatually discounted price.

    “In conclusion, Your Honor [hiking up suspenders], what we see here is the distinct ABSENCE of any signs of criminality, to wit:
    -Illegality: Everything happened based on a legal contract, and the obligations were confirmed by the Arbitrage court, hence the relationship (between KirovLes and VLK) was proved to be a civil-legal one, and not a pretend one.
    -Non-compensation: The lumber product was paid for by VLK, according to the terms of the contract.
    -Commission of economic harm to the owner, because the product was paid for at the going price, KirovLes was given new markets and new contractors.
    -Self-serving motive and goal. Neither Navalny nor Opalev nor Ofitserov personally ever received a dime from any of the above.” [yalensis: Yeah, but not for lack of trying!]

    Yalensis note: On #3 above, this indicates to me that Opalev’s notorious Order #76 was being blatantly disobeyed by his downstream minions!

    • Dear Yalensis,

      Once again thank you for so carefully and thoroughly translating all this material.

      The case looks to me very straightforward. What we have here is a classic collusive arrangement whereby three individuals (Navalny, Ofitserov and Opalev) arrange for one (Ofitserov) to be provided at a non commercial discount with timber produced by a business purportedly administered by one of the others (Opalev). This arrangement was clearly intended to benefit Ofitserov and on the face of it, it does not look at all like a proper commercial arm’s length transaction. What appears to me to be the single most incriminating fact is that it turns out that Navalny, Ofitserov and Opalev met before Ofitserov set his company up and after they had come to whatever arrangement they made with each other. Whilst it is not fully conclusive this fact is certainly suggestive.

      The best way for me to explain this case would be by reverting to my previous example of the theft of a Cadillac. If Kirill (who happens a friend of the CEO of General Motors) and I visit a Cadillac showroom and I drive off with a $50,000 Cadillac for which I have paid just $500 because of a private arrangement I have come to with Kirill’s help with the showroom’s general manager, then I have stolen from the showroom a $50,000 Cadillac (not, let me stress, $49,500 – the 3 million rouble question is a complete red herring). The general manager and Kirill are also guilty of the theft even if they have not personally benefitted from it, though the general manager might have grounds in mitigation by saying that he was put under pressure by Kirill, who is a friend of his ultimate boss.

      Having said this, it has to be said that Navalny does have a possible defence here. That defence is not any of the points made presumably by Strigov (who I suspect is rather more pro Navalny than he is letting on). It is for example wholly irrelevant whether KirovLes was at the same time trading with other customers or that its dealings with Ofitserov accounted for just 5% of its total transactions. It is also wholly irrelevant that KirovLes eventually went bankrupt for unconnected reasons. It is probably not even especially important from a legal point of view that the price paid for the timber by Ofitserov was in the end close to the commercial price, since the issue ultimately is the nature of the agreement between KirovLes and Ofitserov rather than the price paid for the timber (and here you are right to draw attention to Opalev’s order). Rather Navalny’s defence has to be that he believed himself to be acting merely as an innocent middleman in what he thought (and had good reason to believe) was a bona fide commercial transaction.

      Speaking as someone who has experience of acting as a middleman between parties agreeing commercial contracts I have to say (as I believe I have said before) that this looks to me a difficult defence to run. Navalny’s extraordinary behaviour (his encrypting of his email conversations with Ofitserov and his flight from the Kirov Region when questions started to be asked of him) makes it more difficult still. However difficult is not the same as impossible, though he will need very good lawyers to pull it off. I am glad by the way that Agora is defending him and that he is not being defended by the Volkova/Feigin axis. That hopefully means that we will get an orderly and properly conducted trial.

      PS: In case Peter jumps on me, I am genuinely undecided about this one. On the one hand Navalny comes across to me as an arrogant fool rather than a hardened fraudster. I think he is someone who could be manipulated and I think it is possible that Ofitserov was manipulating him and that he did not fully understand the illegality of what he was doing. Some of Ofitserov’s emails to Navalny do look to me rather manipulative. Against that is the fact that Navalny is a lawyer, that he encrypted his emails to Ofitserov and that he fled from the Kirov Region when what was going on was discovered.

      • yalensis says:

        Dear Alexander: Thank you for your comment, I appreciate it!

        I agree with you that Navalny has that possible defense to use (that he was duped by Ofitserov), but he is not using it, instead he is harping on the 3 million rubles, and that this was some kind of normal business transaction. He is also harping on his own grievances against the government and how Bastrykin is unfairly persecuting him, yada yada.

        Also, you are probably right that Strigov is showing too many cards. For example, Strigov explicity stated that he was only going to use official documents, plus the bookeeping documents provided by Navalny to delve into the facts of the case. He said he was not going to use any busted emails, because that was all unofficial and probably suspect. He would have a point if the busted emails were to be disallowed in evidence by the judge. I don’t know at this point what is their status, but I suspect the judge WILL allow the hacked emails, since it was not the government who hacked them, but a private individual (supposedly).
        Also, in addition to the hacked emails there are various other forms of (what we programmers refer to as) “metadata”, i.e., wiretaps and other sources of information that go beyond the official documents and receipts and so on. The prosecution may have this metadata to offer, and the judge may be lenient in allowing it. (Remember that in Russia prosecution gets more leeway than maybe in Common Law countries.)

        My own opinions on this case are evolving too. I am really starting to think that Navalny did not set out to embezzle money. I think he was acting on ideological principles (=wanting to privatize government wealth, just like his hero, Gaidar). I am thinking that Opalev was the actual guilty party, although Opalev did not seem to have benefitted from any of this either. The Defense is probably telling the truth when they claim that nobody made a single dime from this huge farce!

        • Dear Yalensis,

          Navalny is going to find it very difficult to run with the argument that this was a bona fide commercial transaction not only because it doesn’t actually look like one but because one of the parties to it (Opalev) says it wasn’t and has actually pleaded guilty on that basis.

          Here we see the trap Navalny has set himself and fallen into. I strongly suspect that the reason he cannot bring himself to say that he was duped by Ofitserov and quite probably by Opalev is because if he did he would have to admit he was a fool. The Great Leader of the White Ribbon Opposition, the Robespierre of the “creative class”, the man who single handed will sweep Putin and his corrupt regime away, cannot tell his followers he is actually an idiot. Thus the absurd heroic pose about being the persecuted victim of Bastrykhin’s Terror.

          Having said this, Navalny does not come across to me as being of the stuff of martyrs. I would not be surprised if as the case proceeds Navalny’s defence evolves with it.

          • yalensis says:

            I am still irrationally sympathetic to Ofitserov. When I was researching my blogpost on KirovLes last year, I read all of Ofitserov’s blogposts as background material. He came across to me as a sunny, positive personality. For example, in one post or Twitter, he said something like, “It is pouring with rain today in Kirov. Oh, how I love the rain! And what a magnificent city Kirov is!” Something like that. He always had something positive to say about every situation. That’s why I compared him with Andrey Stoltz in Goncharov’s “Oblomov”. Everybody else is gloom and laziness, and wallowing in the past glories, and Ofitserov is, like, “Come on, everybody, let’s whip this forest into shape!”

        • marknesop says:

          Let us not forget also that when the news first broke that Navalny would be charged with wrongdoing in this case, he swaggered about and made a lot of contemptuous remarks about was this the best the government could cook up against him, what ridiculous charges, embellished with all kinds of absurd examples of what he might be accused of next. In this manner, he incurred the dislike of the prosecutor, who now has every reason to want to nail Navalny’s hide to the courthouse door. What he could have done was appear honestly puzzled, make public statements that he was sure there was no wrongdoing, and reconfirm his willingness to cooperate with the investigation which he was sure would be over quickly and exonerate him completely. Where a lawyer – supposedly – learned that it was an effective technique to prejudice the court against you, I can’t imagine. Now, although his hamsters probably believe he’s going to pull off some F. Lee Bailey sleight-of-hand and confound his tormentors – and they will be gobsmacked when he is found guilty – about half the group he might have won to his side with measured, dignified protestations of innocence probably would be glad to see his cocky ass in jail.

          • yalensis says:

            That’s exactly right. Based on just the facts alone, Navalny should not receive anythiing more serious than a suspended sentence, or at the most maybe a couple of years of time.
            That would be if he had behaved himself and comported himself in a professional manner. “Hey, I’m a lawyer too, I offer my full cooperation to the investigation.”
            Instead, not only did he swagger around and “incur the dislike of the prosecutor”, but he made it way personal. Day after day on his blog he accused Bastrykin of being a foreign agent, a spy for the Czech Republic, a corrupt crook, even a murderer. He made it so personal that one cannot even blame Bastrykin for wanting to throw the book at this gadfly.

            • Dear Mark and Yalensis,

              That is exactly correct. To be frank, if Navalny had responded in the way Mark suggests I strongly suspect no charges would have been brought against him at all. Though the fact that he did not make money out of this affair is not proof of innocence it still shows that Navalny is hardly a major league crook and in most countries the prosecution would probably feel that pressing charges was simply not worthwhile.

              Unfortunately “cooperating with the investigation” is simply not the White Ribbon style. Here again we see the disastrous effect of the hyper politicisation of everything in Russia, which results when an opposition in a democracy pretends it is living in a dictatorship.

      • SFReader says:

        Navalny’s defense appears to rely on total denial of any links with VLK.

        He admits being an aquiantaince of Ofitserov, but claims that he was not involved in his business at all.

        As for emails, he apparently hopes that they would not be presented as evidence in court (being illegally obtained by computer hacking etc)

        But I suspect prosecution has testimony of Opalev and probably some more witnesses that say otherwise and probably doesn’t need these emails anyway

        • If Navalny’s defence is that he was not really involved in the transaction at all, then that is the defence that he was merely the innocent middleman.

          The devil is in the detail and much will depend on what the paperwork says and what actually agreed between Navalny, Opalev and Ofitserov. On the face of it the defence has two obvious problems:

          1. Opalev disputes it and he should know. However the defence could point out that Opalev has a vested interest in implicating Navalny as a friend of Belykh in order to excuse his own involvement and lessen his sentence; and

          2. It simply is not consistent with the emails that passed between Navalny and Ofitserov. To my mind these clearly show a partnership between the two.

          As to whether the emails are admissible as evidence at the trial, the short answer is I don’t know. What is admissible evidence and what is not varies greatly from country to country. In Britain even illegally obtained evidence is generally admissible and I have no doubt the emails would be produced to the Court if the trial were happening here. The prosecution is also usually able to show the Court even inadmissible evidence to prove that the defendant is lying when he makes his defence. What the law on admissibility of evidence is in Russia I don’t know.

      • marknesop says:

        “…media-savvy supporters who are in tune with the emerging zeitgeist and adept at seizing control of the narrative”. God, give me strength.

        Let’s see them seize control of this narrative. There are only so many ways you can spin, “the Big Hamster is going to jail” so that it sounds like a great victory. But it’s a no-lose situation at REF/RL; if by some miracle Navalny were acquitted, they would strut from now until the end of time, bellowing, “Who da MAN??? Sho NUFF!!”. If, as is likely to happen, he is convicted and sentenced to make little rocks out of big rocks, the narrative will be that he had a breathtaking future as president of the Russian Federation, but the Evil One had him put away. Gone but not forgotten – let us now light a candle for our hero, gone from the charts but not from our hearts.

        Lily Tomlin was right. No matter how cynical you get, you can never keep up.

  50. Ken Macaulay says:

    Ah, the great defenders of human rights & defenders of liberty that are the UK & US. Here’s the latest little piece of some their actions that are finally being uncovered in Iraq:

    “Camp Nama: British Personnel Reveal Horrors of Secret US Base in Baghdad…
    • Iraqi prisoners being held for prolonged periods in cells the size of large dog kennels.
    • Prisoners being subjected to electric shocks.
    • Prisoners being routinely hooded.
    • Inmates being taken into a sound-proofed shipping container for interrogation, and emerging in a state of physical distress.
    …detainees were subject to “beatings, exposure to extreme cold, threats of death, humiliation and various forms of psychological abuse or torture” at the JOC. The New York Times has reported that prisoners were beaten with rifle butts and had paintball guns fired at them for target practice…
    …”They were being given electric shocks from cattle prods and their heads were being held under the water in the swimming pool….”
    “simply sweeping under the carpet the apparent evidence of direct British service involvement with delivery to gross mistreatment amounting to torture involving hundreds if not thousands of people”.

    It has longed ceased to amaze me that the largest perpetrator & exporter of torture (the US), along with it’s close allies, are essentially in partnership with many the most brutal regimes in the world, and still regards itself as the ‘defender of human rights & liberty’, with a vast army of ‘sincere’, dedicated, proselytizers who still truly ‘believe’ – inspite of information like coming out over & over & over again.
    I just regard it as a mental disease these days, & hope there is a cure that doesn’t require permanent committal to a Mental Hospital…

    • R.C. says: has a good article up today on PEN and the co-opting of the Human Rights industry by the US to antagonize governments who oppose it.


      “Before working at State, (Susan) Nossel worked at Human Rights Watch, which has come under increasing criticism for its distorted accounts of the Chavez government in Venezuela and other official enemies of the US. And before that she worked at the UN under Richard Holbrooke as the Clintons masterminded the bombing of Yugoslavia and pushed NATO eastward in violation of assurances given by Reagan to Gorbachev.

      Here we behold a revolving door between government and human rights NGOs, much like the one connecting the Pentagon and defense contractors or between regulatory agencies and the corporate entities they are to regulate. Nossel is clearly aware of the use that the U.S. government can make of organizations like PEN, writing in her 2004 “Smart Power” essay that “that the United States’ own hand is not always its best tool: U.S. interests are furthered by enlisting others on behalf of U.S. goals.” In what sense can PEN claim to be a “non-governmental organization” with Nossel in charge? In what sense can PEN claim to protect writers from the state with someone in charge who has been a frequent and unapologetic presence in the corridors of power?

      Today a search on the PEN, America, web site readily yields entries for Pussy Riot, Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaobo, but nothing is to be found for “Bradley Manning “or “Julian Assange”! That in itself speaks volumes about Nossel’s PEN. As Chomsky and others have often pointed out, the primary duty of intellectuals is to critique their own ruling elite. After all, we can most affect our own rulers and it is their actions we are most responsible for. And that is what requires genuine courage. Criticizing elites in countries that are America’s official enemies is an easy and secure career path.”

  51. Ken Macaulay says:

    Another piece to add to the hypocricy, this time about offshore banking. As anyone who follows modern finance knows, Cyprus was strictly small time & quite conventional in regards to being an offshore destination.
    Time to take a glimpse at the professionals:

    “Leaks reveal secrets of the rich who hide cash offshore
    …Millions of internal records have leaked from Britain’s offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world, from presidents to plutocrats, the daughter of a notorious dictator and a British millionaire accused of concealing assets from his ex-wife.
    The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (£21tn) stashed in overseas havens….”

    There apparently has been a major investigation involving teams of journalists that have been building a picture of the offshore banking industry, & they appear to have done a hell of job. I’m not sure what I’m most pleased at – that such an investigation has taken place & done such a good job, or that there is still enough genuine investigative reporters left to do such a thing!

    Anyway, with “more than 200 gigabytes, covering more than a decade of financial information about the global transactions of BVI private incorporation agencies…” still to go through, there will a lot of revelations to come.

    • SFReader says:

      Don’t be so naive. It’s pretty obvious that this much data can only be produced by a government agency tasked with collecting such information.

      Looks like a leak from a British intelligence agency

      • Ken Macaulay says:

        I tend to have very little sympathy for the view that every major piece of information that comes out is the result of the machinations of all-powerful secret elites – it cheapens the real capacities of people actually doing real work & massively overstates the capabilities of these ‘elites’, who in general are simply not that competent in anything outside a very narrow bubble, as they have shown over & over again.

        While such leaking can be used as a weapon, this much attention on neo-liberal elite’s favourite home’s away from home’s does not look good for them, & I will be judging what comes out on it’s merits.
        It will also likely play strongly into Putin’s plans to de-offshore the economy & force money back into the real economy.

        • SFReader says:

          2.5 million emails, transactions data for 130 thousand people?

          This is impossible (not even mentioning clearly illegal) for any journalist or even a group of journalists.

          While we do know that certain western intelligence services regularly monitor emails and indeed have a technical capability to build up a database of millions of stolen emails…

          I have no idea who organized the leak, the only thing I am saying that collection of this data was clearly a work of a government intelligence agency.

          It may have been stolen from them or maybe some good-meaning spy decided to enlighten the people of what their elites are doing…

  52. yalensis says:


    Recall that Navalny’s hearing begins on Wed. 17 April in a Kirov court. So I am sure many of us will be following the hearing and the legal back and forth. Should be interesting. Strigov’s piece in Politrash, as I linked above contains a decent summary of the respective prosecution and defense positions, which I translated in my above comments.

    I conclude by summarizing Strigov’s conclusions. Strigov is politically neutral, he is not a pro-Navalny fanatic. On Politrash, he duels a bit with Remeslo in the comments section. Remeslo is also a legal expert, but is definitely on the anti-Navalny side of the ledger. Remeslo says that yes, definitely, Navalny organized a criminal conspiracy that ended up embezling 16 million rubles from KirovLes. (Their ambitions were way bigger than that, but that was all they got in the end.)

    Strigov, on the other hand, is somewhat to the pro-Navalny side of the ledger, as he concludes that Navalny is not guilty of the biggest charge against him. Strigov is basically an adherent of the “3-million-ruble” theory which contends that, at most, Navalny-Ofitserov stole 3 million, not the full 15 million. Hence, worse case, they should be charged under Article 165, and not Article 160. The difference involves dollar amounts and corresponding prison time.

    This is a very fine legal point, getting right into the guts of Russian law (all law, in fact), and the niceties of such definitions as “theft” (“khish’enie”) and embezzlement (“rastrata”). For example: many commenters posed the hypothetical question, What if I took something that did not really belong to me, but then I went back and paid for it? Most people would say that is still theft. Yeah, but then, what if I had a contract in my pocket that said I had a deal with the other party to buy what I took? Yeah, but what if that contract itself was improperly put together? And so on.

    Personally, I would cut through all the 3-million vs. 16-million fluff, I think this is just stuff that the prosecution is throwing out there to get the maximum number of charges and the maximum possible prison time. To me, the heart of the matter is the issue of Opalev issuing “Order #76″ which ordered the downstream forest collectives to null and void all their existing contracts and do business only with Ofitserov’s dummy distribution company. (Which, I repeat, owned no trucks or anything at all, and only had 2 employees: Ofitserov himself and one wizened bookkeeper.)

    According to Strigov, the Defense counters that no harm was actually done, because the collectives ignored Opalev’s directive and continued to do business as before. Is this a valid legal defense? I don’t know.

    I personally lean to Remeslo’s side of the debate. But that’s obvious, because I have my own ideological preferences. I am ideologically opposed to privatization (at least the way these Gaidar-types do it), and KirovLes was obviously an attempt on the part of Belykh-Navalny (who are both proteges of Gaidar) to ram privatization down people’s throats in the Kirov province. Using Ofitserov as their tool. (Ofitserov was supposed to become the local Khodorkovsky of the Forest.)

    That’s why I believe that Order #76 was wrong and illegal, and that Opalev should be punished for it (unless he can prove that he was coerced into signing it, in which case the guilt goes all the way up to Belykh). However, the Prosecution is throwing a lot of other charges into the mix too, like the 16 rubles and so on. So, in a way, I guess, they are scapegoating Navalny because they can’t get to Belykh?

    • Dear Yalensis,

      To answer some of the hypothetical questions you raise, if I have a fraudulently obtained contract that purports to allow me to take something, then I have definitely committed a theft when I take it. In fact since there is an element of deception the theft is made more serious. Of course if there is a genuine agreement or contract that allows me to take something then there is no theft when I take it.

      If I purport to pay later for something I have stolen, I have still committed a theft when I stole it. The fact that I chose to pay for it later does not change the fact that I stole it when I did (though it would reduce my sentence). I might though have a defence if I always intended to pay the proper price for it when I took it, if I sincerely believed when I took it that I was buying it and that I had (or would have) the owner’s permission to take it.

      Criminal cases often revolve around these rather philosophical questions. That is why at a high level criminal law is more difficult to practise than commercial law (at least in my opinion).

      As I said before, the key to this case is the nature of the arrangement that Ofitserov, Opalev and Navalny came to between them. Opalev says it was not a bona fide commercial transaction and on the face of it, it doesn’t look like one. However Navalny would still have a defence if he genuinely thought it was one. What is Ofitserov saying?

      • yalensis says:

        Ofitserov is saying: “Hey, this is how capitalism works, dudes: You buy low and you sell high. Suck it up and get with the program.”

        Plus: “I have FIVE KIDS! Please don’t send me to jail!!! WAAAAAAAAAH!”

        • So Ofitserov is saying that this was a bona fide commercial transaction. That is going to be a difficult defence to run given Opalev’s evidence. Having said that, realistically what choice does Ofitserov have? Unlike Navalny he cannot claim he was a middleman so his only defence is that the transaction was bona fide.

          • yalensis says:

            In honesty, I don’t know what Ofitserov is saying. I don’t think he is saying anything. (Smart guy, unlike Navalny, he is staying mum.)

            In past years, Ofitserov used to be active on the internet; however, he has not sent a Tweet since August 2011, or posted a blog since September 2011. Both tweets and blogs concern Ofitserov’s actual business, which is organizing webinars for entrepreneurs. He stopped tweeing and blogging when KirovLes started to dominate his life.

            Before all this happened, Ofitserov was an apparently successful businessman, he used to travel all around the world deliving seminars and webinars on “how to increase your market share”, stuff like that.

            All we really know about his legal strategy for KirovLes is that he is upset and wants to get back to his real life. We hear from Navalny that Ofitserov has five kids and has decided to cooperate with the prosecution rather than go to jail. So I am guessing some kind of deal for a suspended sentence. I am guessing that he will admit that some kind of crime took place, and then throw everything onto Navalny, as the ringleader.

            • yalensis says:

              P.S. Navalny himself has explained several times (most recently in the Dozhd interview) how he and Ofitserov hooked up. According to Navalny, the two men had known each other for many many years, and used to belong to the same political party. (I think that must have been “Yabloko”.) It is Navalny who says that Ofitserov has done no wrong, it was a legitimate business transaction, etc. Navalny also says (maybe this shows a bit of remorse) that all of Ofitserov’s misfortunes came about due to his (Ofitserov’s) connections to himself (=Navalny). This is probably a true statement.

  53. kirill says:

    I hear Navalny is going to try to run for president (in five years?). Anyone with such a scandal to his name as KirovLes would have no chance to win or even be nominated by a party to run in the west. The Clintons had Whitewater but they did not get the taint from it that Navalny has. Whitewater was a campaign issue. Is KirovLes going to be Navalny’s ticket to the presidency in the mirror universe politics of Russia?

    • Dear Kirill,

      If Navalny does run for President the latest opinion poll from Levada suggests he won’t get very far. Ignore the headline from Johnson’s Russia List which is completely misleading and which misrepresents the original title given to the article by Interfax, from where the article is borrowed. What the opinion poll shows is that as ever more Russians learn about Navalny so the percentage amongst those who know him who dislike and mistrust him increases whilst the percentage of Russians who support Navalny even amongst those who know him is very small. Navalny is obviously one of those individuals who provokes strong feelings and they are overwhelmingly negative.

      • marknesop says:

        I completely agree, and suggest the original title was more along the lines of “More Russian People Get Wise to Navalny”. I would further guess this is just a desperate lunge to get his ambition on the books before he gets sent down the river, at which point it will be claimed Putin has just jailed Russia’s next president because he fears him so much that he had to get him out of the way. I base this on the vagueness of his announcement – I will use Russia’s natural resources to make life better for the people. Really? Isn’t…uhh…the current leader doing that? None of the usual twaddle about oodles more freedom for all, just a quick plug – I’m running for president. Get ready for double happiness.

        • yalensis says:

          He also says (at the beginning of Part I of interview) that Putin HAS to resort to convicting him on these bogus charges, because a convicted felon would not be allowed to run for President.
          His otherwise sympathetic Dz’adko interviewers are taken aback and ask him if he has a “megalomania complex” maybe.

          • marknesop says:

            Yes, as I said earlier, although it was before I read your comment. I see we are of the same mind on this, and it is a last-minute attempt to throw enough sand in the prosecutor’s eyes that he will have to go slowly, during which time something may come up. So goes the thinking when you have nothing else left.

            You know who else will not be able to run for President of the Russian Federation? HITLER!!!!

            • Here is an Interfax report of yet another opinion poll that also seems to show overwhelming hostility to Navalny following his Drozhd TV interview.


              The interesting thing about this opinion poll is that it appears to have been carried out by an internet portal rather than by one of the important polling agencies. That may make it less reliable but if the sample was internet users and was carried out over the internet (which is what one would presume from an opinion poll carried out by an internet portal on 5th April 2013 – ie. too soon after the interview for polling to have been done by normal methods) then its results are even worse for Navalny since given that he first became known as an anti corruption blogger one would presume that he would have more support amongst Russian internet users than amongst the wider population.

              Of course it is possible that the people who run this internet portal are hostile to Navalny and that the poll was rigged against him, but its results are too close to those of the Levada poll to make that seem likely. The more reasonable conclusion seems to me to be the one I came to after the Levada poll: the more people see of Navalny the less they like him.

              • marknesop says:

                It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Navalny’s biggest base of support is the western media, which would never have to live under President Navalny and is therefore pushing the idea to serve the interests of a group other than Russians. I think we can say that is glaringly obvious to regular readers here, but the limit on what the general western audience will swallow is surprisingly high, and a surprising amount in the Anglosphere still believes in the image of Navalny the anti-corruption blogger and whistleblower. Strangely, if he had stuck to the anti-corruption theme and not fallen for the lure of big politics and getting outside his comfort zone, he probably would be a great deal more popular than he is now; his ranting about taking the Kremlin drove the hamsters wild, but it alienated a lot of others.

                Interestingly, the west’s continued loyalty to Navalny also suggests there is nobody more appealing even on the horizon. Which in turn suggests the Robin Hoodski who will lead the commoners to victory over the corrupt kleptocrats currently running the country has yet to appear on the western radar.

                • Dear Mark,

                  I agree with all that you say. Navalny would certainly be far more popular, in fact he probably would be genuinely popular, if he had stuck to being an anti corruption blogger. The same surely is equally true of Chirikova. She might today be genuinely popular if she’d remained an environmental activist. I have always felt that the interest Russians have in environmental issues is one that is consistently underestimated.

                  The trouble is that I doubt that sticking to anti corruption blogging or environmental activism was for Navalny or Chirikova ever a real possibility. Certainly in Navalny’s case and I am afraid I now think in Chirikova’s case their respective campaigns about corruption and the environment look increasingly like means they used to gain credibility in preparation for a bigger political role. That I suspect is how most Russians see them which is why they are now so unpopular.

            • yalensis says:

              Here are the legal requirements for running for President of the Russian Federation:

              1.) Must be a Russian citizen and NO DUAL CITIZENSHIP allowed (so Hitler is not eligible, because he was only a German citizen.)
              2.) Must have resided in Russia for at least the past 10 years. (Ditto for Hitler, he only visited Russia once and did not actually reside there. Might also rule Navalny out because of his 6-month stint in USA? Not sure about that last one…)
              3.) Nobody with a criminal record is allowed to run. (This would rule Hitler out too, because I believe he had served jail time in Munich for that putsch attempt. Navalny, on
              the other hand, does not have a criminal record … YET … heh heh)

              • Jen says:

                Now those legal requirements are interesting. In the Baltic countries, there must be no similar legal requirements for running for President because in 1998, Vaira Vike-Freiburga went to live in Latvia after leaving Canada and the following year she became President of the country. (A more creepy note: she studied experimental psychology at McGill University in the 1960s, at the very place and time the infamous Dr Ewan Cameron was carrying out MK-ULTRA experiments on human guinea pigs with electro-shock “therapies” and drug treatments.) Valdas Adamkus became President of Lithuania in 1998 despite not meeting minimum residency requirements previously (but a court later ruled he could still run for presidency) after arriving in the country from the US in 1997. The fact that quite a few politicians in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have lived and worked overseas, often in EU countries or the US, and might have little or no accurate knowledge of the countries they’re meant to be serving and of their countries’ post-WW2 histories must have a strong negative influence on the Baltic states’ outlook and relationship with Russia.

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear Jen: The Americans do that a lot, they nurture people in exile for years and even decades, waiting until it is time to move them back to their homeland to rule the roost. With Ukraine, of course, it was Yushchenko and his American wife, who was a State Department official. Same deal with Syria, they have some guy who has lived in Texas most of his life, and he is just waiting in the wings until they overthrow Assad, then he is supposed to fly back in and become President of Syria.

                • Misha says:

                  As a “melting pot” country, it’s perfectly understandable to see a good number of American based people proceed to play roles in countries where they’re descended from.

                  Machiavellian wise, this aspect is something that American geo-strategists can’t overlook Likewise with American domestic politics.

                  For years, a pre-req for becoming NYC mayor has been to make pointed comments in support of Israel and against the Brit military presence in Ireland.

                  In the Bronx and Westchester areas, past and present elected officials take strident pro-Kosovo independence stands.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Dear Jen,

                  As regards Adamkus of Lithuania, he was, furthermore, the last European head of state to hold office who had served in the armed forces of the Third Reich.

                  According to Wiki, as a “young man” he fought against the Soviet occupiers of his homeland in 1940.

                  He was 14 years old in 1940. His father was a senior officer in the Lithuanian air force.

                  What apologists for the Baltic states often fail to concede is that in the inter-war years those bastions of democracy that they claim Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were, were, in fact, fascistic states largely controlled by the military. The same held true for Poland and Finland – the result, some say, of the post-war failure of capitalism and the new nationalism in liberated from ante-bellum empire constituent nationalities, which was all part of Wilson’s plan for “peace” in Europe.

                  Adamkus’ father was part of this Lithuanian fascistic, nationalistic military elite and a founder of the Lithuanian air force. Adamkus senior and his family no doubt welcomed the fascist liberators from the Soviet yoke, only to exit post haste to dear Nazi Germany when the wicked Soviets returned.

                  The fact that the Adamkus family were devout Roman Catholics no doubt played no small part in their Weltausschauung. It is no surprise, therefore, that the Adamkus family moved to deeply reactionary, Roman Catholic Bavaria, which part of Germany, together with Roman Catholic and reactionary Austria, was the the breeding ground of Nazidom.

                  In Nazi Germany, the young Adamkus continued his education and graduated from Munich university. Clearly, the student Adamkus was no member of the ant-Nazi “White Rose” movement that was based at Munich university, for the young Adamkus joined and served in the Luftwaffe, presumably to liberate his motherland from the wicked Reds.

                  At the end of the hostilities, Adamkus, however, wended his way to the USA (surprise, surprise), where he lived until his installation in the late 90s of the last century into the newly liberated from the Soviet yoke Lithuanian nation.

                  I remember how, at the time, there were a few muted complaints from his fellow countrymen that Adamkus’ command of his mother tongue left much to be desired.

                  (Please note: I have not mentioned that Austrian whose paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Maria Anna Schicklgruber.)

                • Misha says:

                  Consider some of those who’ve been excommunicated unlike (if I’m not mistaken) Hitler.

                  Once again noting the negative RFE/RL articles on the Russian and Serb Orthodox churches – much unlike how the Vatican is covered at that venue.

                  The preceding comments are made without meaning to be disrespectful to the earnest Catholics out there. I know some of them who’ve agreed with these thoughts.

              • marknesop says:

                Although “Must be alive” is not specifically mentioned, I am going to suggest it is at least implied, and that was my major disqualifier for Hitler. Unless you are among those who believe he evaded capture by a clever ruse and has been Lo these many years hiding as a gardener in Bognor Regis.

                I will be electronically unavailable for a couple of days, back Sunday. I look forward to catching up – be good to each other!

                • yalensis says:

                  Okay, here are the official requirements as laid out by Russian Constitution (this link is a tad out of date, because the term is now 6 years, not 4, but the rest is still the same):

                  The constitution sets few requirements for presidential elections, deferring in many matters to other provisions established by law. The presidential term is set at four years, and the president may serve only two terms. A candidate for president must be a citizen of Russia, at least thirty-five years of age, and a resident of the country for at least ten years.


                  In conclusion, there is a minimum age requirement (=35), but no maximum, and it doesn’t say that the candidate has to be alive. So, technically, a zombie could run, or even a corpse, so long as it was over 35 when it died.

                • marknesop says:

                  I yield to your expertise in constitutional interpretation.

                • Jen says:

                  Any allowance for people kept in cryogenic suspension chambers?

                • marknesop says:

                  Oh, come on!!! I draw the line at Michael Jackson being president of the Russian Federation. He doesn’t look remotely Slavic.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  I often tell my Russian colleagues here that, theoretically, I could stand for the Russian presidency. They laugh scornfully at this suggestion. They don’t know their constitution: the only disqualifier as regards my becoming Russian president is my nationality, and it would be no great task for me to become a Russian citizen in view of the fact that I have lived here for 20 years and also have a full residency permit as a foreign citizen.

                  Arnold Schwarzeneger couldn’t have stood for the US presidency though – and there was talk of him doing so – because, although having dual Austrian-US nationality, he wasn’t born in the USA.

                  Actually, there may be a disqualifier that applies to me: I have a criminal record. However, the convictions that I have were all in the UK and when I applied for a full residency permit I had to present the bureaucrats here with a statement from the British consulate that I was “clean”.

                  The British consul here did just that, stating that as far as records show, I have no criminal record, adding that in any case it was not British policy to release such statements of criminality about its citizens. That addendum made me smile at the time, for if the Russian consul in London made a similar reply to a similar request concerning a Russian citizen in the UK, the British would no doubt be up in arms about the “Mafia State” protecting its ne’er-do-wells.

                • JLo says:

                  You had mentioned in another post about your record and I was curious how that didn’t create an obstacle when you got your residency permit. That was awfully nice of your government to present a “clean” record. I had to send my fingerprints to the FBI for this “spravka”, it was a very involved process. Fortunately for me, I don’t have an arrest record. This isn’t to say I never committed a crime, I just never got caught.

                • Moscow Exile says:


                  In any case, I was a political prisoner in the UK.

                  In actual fact, they, the OVIR people, tried to make me get a “postil” or whatever – a document verifying a document. I can’t recall what its name is, and I do know fellow UK citizens who have done just that: they’ve gone to London in order to get a statement off the central criminal records place there saying that they are clean and then, having received that, they’ve had to go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to get this “postil” thing. As I said, the British consulate here just gave me a standard letter signed by the consul saying that they were not aware of any criminal activity on my part.

                  Jolly decent of them, what?

                  They still charged me £20 for it though.

                  When I gave this letter to the OVIR director at Taganka, she was happy enough with it.

    • yalensis says:

      Kirill and Mercouris:
      Just by coincidence, I read an interesting piece today on Navalny’s declaration that he wants to run for President:

      A couple of summary points from the article, then a bit of speculation from Yours Truly:
      1.) Navalny declared in his interview (on a talkshow on the cable channel Dozhd) that he wants to run for President “of that country”. Russian blogosphere lit up with people commenting that he said “that country” (for Russia) instead of “my country”. Author of DNI piece (Elena Kalashnikova) points out that it is common for the white-ribbon Opps types to refer to Russia as “that” and Russians as “they”, instead of “our” or “we”. Like, their actual countries are something else (Israel? America? Galt-Land?)
      2.) A second point is that in his interview Navalny mentioned Estonia as an example of an advanced civilized country that Russia should emulate, and would emulate, under his Presidency.
      3.) Kalashnikova goes on to speculate with her theory that Navalny’s announcement (that he wants to run for Prez) is designed to give him extra weight in the West, on the eve of his trial for KirovLes. Western media are now free to scribble that a “Russian politician and possible Presidential candidate” is being repressed by the Putin regime. Obviously, Putin is terrified that Navalny will take his job, so he has to send him up to the gulag!
      4.) As final point, in line with Mercouris comment, Kalashnikova points out that Navalny’s overall popularity rating is quite low. One year ago Levada conducted a poll asking if people would vote for a Navalny presidency, and 6% said yes. The same poll conducted THIS year pulled in only 1%. Obviously, the KirovLes case and other scandals have worked to depress Navalny’s popularity rating.

      Okay, so much for Kalashnikova, now here is MY unbounded speculation:
      I believe that Navalny gave the interview for a different reason than what Kalashnikova speculated. I mean, maybe for her reason, too. But think about it: Navalny is stuck in Moscow, he cannot leave the country, he used to be able to travel to Spain or Philippines to meet with his CIA handler. Now he can’t go anywhere. His flat is bugged, his office is bugged, his email is busted, FSB agents follow him everywhere he goes. There is no way for him to meet with his handler. Maybe they could try to meet in a Moscow cafe, but they would probably be spotted by the tails. And that hollowed-out rock-drop doesn’t work any more.

      It follows from this logically that Navalny has only ONE method of communicating with his CIA handler: out in the open, in cleartext (such as television interviews), using coded language.
      Hence, the reason Navalny mentioned “Estonia” in the interview, is because “Estonia” is code for “GET ME OUT OF HERE BEFORE THEY SEND ME UP THE RIVER!!!”

      Reason being, pindosi have a safe house waiting for him in Tallinn!
      Hence, the Dozhd interview involved Navalny signalling to the Americans that he is ready to flee North, to the Finnish border, and on to the safe house. Next: It is the job of the Americans to signal back to him (somehow) that everything is ready for him, and it is time to take a powder!

  54. kirill says:

    Incredible. Some 654 NGOs got a billion dollars from abroad in the 4 months following the adoption of the FARA-style registration law. Nobody can claim this is honest grass roots activity. This is indeed a criminal western enterprise designed to foist regime change on Russia.

    Russia should start shutting them down and not wasting time registering them. A US style law is not enough. Nobody is sending billions of dollars to finance sedition in the US so it can pretend to be all about “democracy”. But if some hostile state started doing what is being done to Russia, then you would see a quick response to suppress such activity.

    • marknesop says:

      That interview is worthy of full translation by a capable Russian speaker, for people who do not read Russian, because it was clear to me that Vladimir Putin dominated throughout and he made a number of excellent points that you will not see anywhere in expressions of western thought on the same issues. It deserves a full post on its own.

      On NGO’s, to which you have already alluded and in addition to the amount received that you cited, Mr. Putin pointed out that the Russian Federation has two NGO’s operating in the west; one in Paris, and one in the USA. Two. Balanced against more than 650 in Russia just counting those who qualify for the Foreign Agent label by virtue of being funded from abroad. He also points out that the voluminous documents the USA requires to be completed by the single Russian NGO in the USA originate with Counterintelligence, not the State Department.

      On Cyprus, Mr. Putin points out that Russia did not create Cyprus as a tax haven – it merely used it for that purpose, but it was set up by the Eurozone. He went on to suggest the shenanigans in Cyprus do not damage Russia in the least, but that they undermine the credibility of banking in the Eurozone as a whole.

      As to Russia’s financial system and the implication that Russians are motivated by a mistrust of Russian banks to put their money in offshores, Mr. Putin points to the fact that not one Russian bank collapsed in the global financial crisis of 2008/09. What happened in the USA (he didn’t suggest that, I am)? Should the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers be taken as a warning of the instability in the American financial system?

      To the suggestion that Russia is supplying weapons to Assad, he puts the rejoinder that weapons transfers by legitimate governments to legitimate governments are not currently restricted; there is no embargo in place. However, he calls attention to the 3.5 thousand tons of weapons and ammunition recently gifted to the opposition – a mercenary force – by its western backers.

      His German host appeared to have gone into it with a “just watch this” attitude, in which he intended to outmaneuver Putin by asking him difficult questions that would have him either squirming with embarrassment or purple with rage in minutes. Nothing like that appears to have happened, and his German questioner merely looked like a prick trying for a “gotcha” situation. That did not reflect very well on Germany, in my opinion.

      • kirill says:

        Very good distillation of the interview. I was too lazy to produce one.

        I should add that back in the 1930s and 1940s the whole “NGO” concept as a tool of state power was not fully evolved. So I doubt the Nazis were such a big threat in the USA via some foreign agent agitation. There were too many home grown Nazis in love with eugenics already. So I think that FARA type legislation is not sufficient for modern state meddling. The whole registration should be replaced with an outright ban. Direct and indirect funneling of money into Russia to feed schizophrenics like the liberasts is not acceptable. Grass roots should be about local support and not whoring for foreign powers.

        The optics of an outright ban would be not much different from the current registration law. The amount shrieking in the western media is at saturation level already so there is simply no benefit of being soft.

      • kievite says:

        His German host appeared to have gone into it with a “just watch this” attitude, in which he intended to outmaneuver Putin by asking him difficult questions that would have him either squirming with embarrassment or purple with rage in minutes. Nothing like that appears to have happened, and his German questioner merely looked like a prick trying for a “gotcha” situation. That did not reflect very well on Germany, in my opinion.
        From reading interview I have an impression that Jörg Schönenborn has been doomed from the beginning as he had a pretty rigid agenda with a large set of questions (Searches of NGO, Cyprus, democracy in Russia, economic cooperation, Putin after-presidential term plans, etc) for a short interview and he can’t deviate too much from the script. That created great difficulties for him as when replies went into unpredicted territory and Putin scored points he was simply forced to switch to the next question leaving territory to Putin. Putin demonstrated top level skills in how he “on the fly” dealt with very difficult and slightly embarrassing “Medvedev’s quote.”

        Here is the translation:

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: Good evening, Mr President,

        Germany and Russia enjoy special relationship and, economically speaking, they are a good match. However, there exist certain difficulties from the political viewpoint. Quite a number of Germans keep track of the raids in the Russian offices of German funds with great concern. The Russian public must be frightened. Why do you act like this?

        PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: It is you who are scaring the German public instead. There is nothing like this going on here, do not scare the public, please. The media should cover the events objectively. And what does it mean, objectively? The new law adopted late last year in Russia stipulates that non-governmental organisations engaged in Russia’s internal political processes and sponsored from abroad must be registered as foreign agents, that is organisations which participate in our country’s political life at the expense of foreign countries. This is not an innovation in international politics. A similar law has been in force in the Unites States since 1938.

        If you have any additional questions, I would be pleased to answer them in order to clarify the situation to you and your or, in this case, our viewers.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: Mr President, I am not aware of any similar confiscations or raids carried out in the United States. In our opinion, the term ‘foreign agent’, as these organisations are to be called, sounds something like cold war.

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: Then let me explain. First of all, the United States adopted a similar law, which has been in effect ever since. And our, Russian, organisations have followed the same practice that was established in that country decades ago.

        I am going to show you a paper in which, not long ago, the United States Department of Justice requested a non-governmental organisation to submit documents confirming that its activities were to be financed from abroad; the list is very long.

        We have adopted a similar law that prohibits nothing; let me stress it, the law does not prohibit anything, nor does it limit or close down anything. Organisations financed from abroad are not forbidden to carry out any type of activities, including internal political activity. The only thing we want to know is who receives the money and where it goes. I repeat: the law is not some sort of innovation of our own.

        Why do we consider it so important today? What do you think is the number of Russia-sponsored non-governmental organisations functioning in Europe? Any ideas?

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: I am afraid I cannot assess the situation, Mr President.

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let me tell you. One such organisation operates in Paris, another one – in North America, it is registered in the USA. And this is it. There are only two of them – one in the United States and another one in Europe.

        There are 654 non-governmental organisations operating in the Russian Federation, which are funded, as it has turned out, from abroad. 654 organisations make quite a network nationwide, the Russian regions included.

        Over the four months alone that followed the adoption of the law in question, the accounts of these organisations augmented by… How much money do you think they received? You can hardly imagine; I did not know the figure myself: 28.3 billion rubles, which is almost $1 billion. 855 million rubles via diplomatic missions.

        These organisations are engaged in internal political activity. Should not our society be informed of who gets the money and for what purposes?

        I would also like to stress – and I want you to know this, I want people in Europe, including Germany, to know this – that nobody bans these organisations from carrying out their activities. We only ask them to admit: “Yes, we are engaged in political activities, and we are funded from abroad.” The public has the right to know this.

        There is no need to scare anyone saying that people here get rounded up, arrested, have their property confiscated, although confiscations could be a reasonable thing if those people break the law. Some administrative sanctions are envisaged in these cases, but I think all this falls under rules commonly accepted in a civilised society.

        Now let us look at the documents that our organisations in the US are required to provide. Note who asks for these documents, signed at the bottom of the page. The Counterespionage Section. Not the Office of Attorney General, but the Counterespionage Section of the US Department of Justice. This is an official document that the organisation received. And note the number of questions they pose. Is this democratic?

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: Mr President, we will examine this document. I do not know if any such searches took place in the US.

        I would like to ask you once again: we understand democracy as the coexistence of the state and opposition. Political competition is an integral part of it. Does Russia need a strong opposition?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: Certainly. We do need it to say the least. I believe that without competition no development in either economy, or in politics is possible today, and we want to ensure this development for our country and our people. Without this competition we would not be able to make effective, sound and justified decisions. Which is why we will undoubtedly strive to make the competition a cornerstone of every sphere of our society’s life, including politics.

        But this does not mean that opposition should be financed from abroad, don’t you think? Or do you have a different opinion?

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: Does this imply that the opposition can freely participate in demonstrations?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: Absolutely, as long as they abide by the law. There are certain rules that provide for various forms of political activity. Voting means publicly expressing your opinion, as does participating in demonstrations. There is law. Good or bad, it can be changed democratically, but it must be abided by. Ordnung muss sein. It is a well-known rule. It is universal and applicable in any country. There must be order, and there must be no chaos. Northern Africa is a vivid example of what chaos leads to. Does anybody want that?

        As for the activities of the opposition, I would like to draw your attention to the following fact. Just recently, a political party was required to have at least 50 thousand members to be registered. We have radically reduced this number: now one only needs 500 members to register a party and engage in legal political activities. 37 parties have already been registered, and, I think, several dozen more have filed their applications. This is how it is going to be, we will encourage this political competition.

        We have changed the procedure for the election of members of the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, the Federation Council; now they are elected by secret ballot by citizens of corresponding regions. By the way, I do not think that the upper chamber of the German Parliament is elected this way: if I am not mistaken, its members are elected by their respective landtags.

        In this regard, we have gone further; I refer to the election of heads of the Russian regions that I reintroduced. We have returned to direct voting by secret ballot. Germany elects heads of its regions through landtags. Many of our political actors thought that we should go back to forming the Parliament through a mixed election system with simple majority rule nominations and strict party-list nominations. We have arrived at this mixed system, so we are moving, we are looking for those forms of our society’s political organisation that would be most suitable for us at this stage and would satisfy the requirements and aspirations of our people. This, of course, concerns political parties as well. Naturally, we want competition.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: You are going to Germany for a major trade fair. The economic relations between our countries are important for you, I believe. Are you worried that the issues we have just discussed may cast a shadow over your visit?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, on the contrary, I am very glad about it. And I am glad about our today’s interview too because this gives us an opportunity to clarify the situation, to explain what is actually happening and what guides us. Now, what was your first question? About searches and arrests. What searches? What arrests? Who has been arrested? Can you give me at least one name? This is not true. Don’t make anything up.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: I didn’t say anything about arrests. I spoke about searches.

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: It sounds alarmist: “Hey everyone! Look! Terrible things are happening here!” Well, yes, there is the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation that is obliged to ensure that the laws adopted in the Russian Federation are respected. And all the citizens, all organisations, all individuals and legal entities operating in Russia must take this into account and have due respect for Russian law.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: What are you expecting from your visit to Germany in terms of economy? I assume you are going to encourage the Germans to invest. What exactly are you expecting?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: Russia and Germany are very important partners for each other. This is really so. The EU countries and the EU itself are our major commercial partners. They account for over 50 percent of our turnover. Well, the figure can fluctuate a bit: a little over 50, a little under 50 percent due to the economic difficulties faced by the Eurozone and the EU. It is under 50 at the moment, I believe, but it is still a lot. In absolute numbers it amounts to over $430‑450 billion. We are EU’s third major commercial partner after the US and China, and the difference is not very big. If our total turnover with Europe amounts to some $430-450 billion, the turnover with the US is a little over $600 billion and $550 billion with China. So as you can see, not that big of a difference.

        Germany is our primary European partner. Our turnover amounts to $74 billion and it continues to grow no matter what difficulties there might be. To make it clear for both Russian and German citizens, I need to say that these are not just numbers; there are jobs behind these numbers, there are cutting edge technology behind them, moving in both directions.

        By the way, as far as Germany is concerned, the trade pattern is not only in line with its economic capabilities but also in line with its interests since the emphasis in trade and economic cooperation with Germany is put on the industrial production. And behind this – let me stress this once again – there are thousands if not tens of thousands of jobs, and the incomes of Russian and German families. Besides, Russia supplies 40 percent of all natural gas and 30 percent of all oil consumption in Germany.

        We are expanding our cooperation in high technology sectors, aviation, engineering, including transport engineering, nanotechnologies, and next-generation physics engineering. This is a very diverse, interesting and promising cooperation.

        Germany is one of our major investors with $25 billion in accumulated investments. Last year alone their amount increased by as much as $7.2 billion. This means that Germany invests rather actively in the Russian economy. I would like to stress again that all this is important, interesting and promising.

        We are going to have six pavilions [at the trade fair], large ones. We are all united by a single slogan – the industrial production, in which Germany has always been strong, and which is of interest to us. Over a hundred large Russian companies will be exhibiting in those pavilions.

        I invite you and all our friends in Germany to visit the 2013 Hannover Messe and Russia’s pavilions there.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: You’ve spoken about 27 billion of German direct investment in Russia. I would now like to touch upon the Cyprus issue. A lot of Germans realised for the first time how much Russian money is there in Cypriot banks and are now wondering why German businesses have to make investments while you pull your money out of Russia?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: Don’t you see all the absurdity of your question? Just please don’t get me wrong. What does Russia have to do with Russian investors in one of the EU countries? The more you “pinch” foreign investors in the financial institutions of your countries, the better for us because the affected, offended and frightened (not all of them but many) should, so we hope, come to our financial institutions and keep their money in our banks.

        Why, at some point, many Russian investors moved their funds to zones such as Cyprus? Because, frankly speaking, they did not feel they could rely on the Russian financial system. And, indeed, it was not reliable. Just recall the year 1998 – an economic collapse, or the year 2000 (and that was already our common problem) – again there were widespread fears regarding the future of the financial system. But in 2008, when the new crisis hit, we not only managed to preserve the integrity of our financial system, we strengthened it without letting a single financial institution collapse. There were problems, of course, but we did not allow any of the financial institutions to abandon their customers. Of course, people went through a lot of hardships during the crisis but we arranged the work of our banking system in a way that made it possible not only to support but also to strengthen it while taking some measures to carefully restructure it, again in order to strengthen it. And I hope that people today will understand that.

        Forfeiture of investors’ funds, including of Russian origin, wherever it happens, in Cyprus or in other places, undermines credibility of the banking system of the entire Eurozone.

        Now regarding the issue of whether to provide support or not and who is to blame. Is that fair, that people invested their funds, merely deposited their money with banks without breaking any laws, whether the laws of Cyprus or those of the European Union, just to see 60 percent of their deposits forfeited? They did not violate any rules. As to the allegations that Cyprus was, as they say in the financial community, a laundry for dirty money, they have to be supported with hard facts. One of the basic rules that we all are supposed to know and observe is the rule of the presumption of innocence. A person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. How can we ignore that? How can we accuse all people concerned of being crooks? Then anybody can be declared a crook.

        Did we create that offshore zone? No, we didn’t. It was the European Union that created it. Or, rather, it was created by the Cyprus authorities with the connivance of the European Union. And is it the only such zone created by countries of the European Union? Are we not aware of offshore island zones in Great Britain or of other such zones? They do exist. If you consider such zones a bad thing, then close them. Why do you shift responsibility for all problems that have arisen in Cyprus to investors irrespective of their nationality (British, Russian, French or whatever else).

        I have met with senior officials of the European Commission. We have very good personal relations, though we disagree on many issues. Is it Russia’s fault that Cyprus is now facing problems? Indeed, incoming investors are a positive factor as they support the banking system and the entire economy of the host country with their funds and their trust.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: You are angry that the European Union did not ask you for help and that many Russian nationals were affected, are you?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: Of course, not. On the contrary I am even glad, to some extent, because the events have shown how risky and insecure investments in Western financial institutions can be. By the way, our tax regime in that context is also more favourable than yours. The income tax rate for natural persons in Russia is only 13 percent. What about Germany? How much do you pay?

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: It would be great if we paid only 13 percent. Of course, it would be great. Fight against tax increases is a hot topic during the election campaign.

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: So, fight for tax cuts.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: Mr President, I would like to touch upon the issue of euro. You spoke about the European financial system. Russia holds more than 40 percent of its currency reserves in euro, which makes you keenly interested in euro. Do you still trust euro?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, I would like to say it outright: yes, we trust euro. We also trust the economic policy of major European countries, including, in the first place, the economic policy of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. We are fully aware of various opinions on that issue, including on aspects, such as economic development, maintenance of economic growth and ensuring monetary stability. I agree with the opinion that, before pumping liquidity, it is necessary to address the root causes of crises.

        But I wouldn’t like to go into detail now and discuss the issue that has no direct bearing on us as that is the prerogative of the leaders of the European countries themselves.

        However, judging by what we hear and see, what our colleagues are doing in the leading economies of the Eurozone, what the European Commission itself is doing, – and I would like to repeat that we do not agree on many issues and we do argue – we believe that fundamentally they are moving in the right direction. It gives us confidence that we have made the right choice having decided to keep such a large share of our gold and currency reserves, of our reserves in general in the European currency. I am confident that if the situation continues to develop the same way, our colleagues and friends in Europe will overcome the difficulties they are facing today.

        And our reserves are rather substantial: the Central Bank reserves worth $534 billion, another $89 billion representing one of the Russian Government’s reserve funds, another $87 billion (a third fund) representing the second government fund, the National Welfare Fund. So, this is a rather substantial amount of money.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: Mr President, our time is almost up, but I would like to draw your attention to another crisis area that raises great concerns in Germany – that is Syria. Hundreds of people die there every day. Your stance and the stance of the West in the UN Security Council obviously differed.

        I would like to ask you the following. How do you see the opportunities for stopping the bloodshed? What are the Russian authorities doing, what is the Russian Government doing to finally put an end to this bloodshed?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think that we should seek an immediate cessation of hostilities, of shelling from both sides, and a cessation of arms supplies.

        We often hear: “Russia is supplying arms to Assad.” First of all, there are no bans on arms supplies to incumbent legitimate governments. Secondly, only recently the opposition has received 3.5 tons of arms and munitions through the airports near Syria. This is the information published by the American media, I believe, by The New York Times. It has to be stopped.

        However, – I would like to stress once again and I believe it is extremely important, – there is international law. There are international legal norms stating that it is inadmissible to supply arms to the armed groups that strive to destabilise the situation in a certain country with the use of arms. Such norms exist and they remain in force; nobody abolished them. So, when they say that Assad is fighting against his own people, we need to remember that this is the armed part of the opposition. What is going on is a massacre, this is a disaster, a catastrophe. It has to be stopped. It is necessary to bring all the warring parties to the negotiation table. I believe that this is the first step that has to be done, and then it is necessary to elaborate further steps during a discussion, which is important in our view.

        I have already said it in public and I would like to tell you this, so that your viewers also know about our real position. We do not think that Assad should leave today, as our partners suggest. In this case, tomorrow we will have to decide what to do and where to go. We have done it in many countries. To be precise, our Western partners have. And it is unclear where Libya will go. In fact, it has already split into three parts. We do not want to have the situation of the same difficulty as we still have in Iraq. We do not want to have the situation of the same difficulty as in Yemen, and so on.

        Therefore, we believe that it is necessary to bring everyone to the negotiation table so that all warring parties could reach an agreement on how their interests will be protected and in which way they will participate in the future governance of the country. And then they will work together on the implementation of this plan with due guarantees of the international community.

        By the way, at the recent forum in Geneva (a few months ago) an agreement was reached on this issue, but later our Western partners unfortunately went back on these agreements. We believe that it is necessary to work hard and search for mutually acceptable solutions.

        Recently, we have received Mr Hollande, President of the French Republic. I think he has some interesting ideas that can be implemented, but it requires some diplomatic work. We are ready to support these ideas. We need to try and put them into practice.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: Mr President, at the end of our interview I would like to go back to the topic that we have started with. Democracy is a very controversial issue. I would like to quote your Prime Minister. Mr Medvedev said that the democratic changes in Russia can be assessed only in 100 years. In our view, this is not very ambitious.

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: It may be a translation issue. Could you tell me again what he said exactly?

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: In essence, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that “development of democracy in Russia can be assessed no earlier than in 100 years.” My question is whether there are truly no ambitions about it.

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: To be honest, I have not seen or heard of Prime Minister saying that, and it is always necessary to consider the context which I am lacking now.

        It is obvious that we have made a decisive choice for democracy and we cannot imagine any other way of development. It is also obvious that certain standards used in some countries are difficult to implement or apply elsewhere. I think it is quite clear. We need to develop tools based on the fundamental principles of democracy that would allow for the vast majority of people in our country to influence domestic and foreign policy. It is the majority that must have such an influence, but the majority should also respect the opinion of the minority and consider it. If our domestic policy and public institutions are fully based on such fundamental principles, then it seems to me, we will be able to talk about the success of democracy in Russia. Nevertheless, it is obviously the path that Russia has chosen, the path that it follows. Just compare the situation in the Soviet Union and in modern Russia in terms of development of economy, political sphere, and all other areas associated with democracy. There is a very significant difference. It took other countries 200, 300, 400 years to achieve this goal. Do you expect us to cover this distance within two decades? Of course, we are gradually taking all the necessary steps. We know our destination, and will not abandon this path.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: In conclusion, I shall try to ask you a personal question.

        You were President for eight years, and then you became Prime Minister. You will be President for the next six years. Do you have a personal plan? Do you want to be President as long as you are elected? Or may be you have some plans about your life afterwards?

        VLADIMIR PUTIN: Every normal person tries to look some distance ahead. Moreover, I am far from being the longest serving politician. There are people in leading positions in European politics who have worked there much longer than me, both in Europe and in North America, Canada actually. However, I do expect that after my retirement from political life and public service I will have an opportunity to busy myself with other things and challenges. I like jurisprudence and literature, and I do hope I will have a chance to occupy myself with these without any link to my public service duties. May be, I will look into other issues. It can be social life, sports, etc.

        JÖRG SCHÖNENBORN: Thank you very much for the interview, Mr President.

        • kievite says:

          Sorry, I forgot to mention that the translation is not my, Tt is from

          • Dear Kievite,

            I don’t know whether you remember the discussion we had last year about the cost to the west of funding the protest movement. On the strength of the money poured into NGOs in the four months after the NGO law was passed it looks like we both grossly underestimated the amounts involved. $1 billion in four months is quite simply a staggering sum even if some of this money is being used for legitimate purposes and even if we assume that there was a one off surge of money into Russia before the NGO law came fully into force. It shows the sheer scale of the effort and the strength of the commitment to it especially when there is so little to show for it. The latter by the way leads me to think that without it the White Ribbon opposition would not even exist and that if the western money tap was turned off Navalny, Chirikova, Udaltsov & Co would simply vanish as public figures.

            Incidentally the fact that Putin was able to quote this figure (which no one has disputed) shows that since the NGO law came into force someone (and it can only be the FSB) is now keeping tabs on what is going on. That in a way is reassuring. What is not reassuring is that apparently no one was doing it before. I don’t know what I find more alarming: that the White Ribbon opposition is being bankrolled by the west on this scale or that by his own admission until a few weeks ago not even Putin knew about it.

            • yalensis says:

              Yeah, miraculously Putin suddenly got wise to what was going on. People in the blogosphere have been warning for years about these NGO’s and their relentless attempts to induce colour revolutions. But those people who sounded the alarm were treated like Cassandras.
              [Recall that Cassandra is the one who warned the Trojans not to let that wooden horse inside their walls, but nobody listened to her because the city elders thought she was being overly paranoid.]

              • Dear Yalensis,

                This is especially extraordinary given that I read somewhere that it was unofficially admitted that the “tulip revolution” in Kyrghyzia (remember that?) cost the US $250 million. If the US was spending that sort of money in a destitute country like Kyrghyzia then the cost of sustaining an opposition movement in an immeasurably larger, richer and more sophisticated country like Russia would have had to have been many orders of magnitude greater.

                • kirill says:

                  These political money flows should be regulated to the hilt. Either banned or required to go into a fund managed by the state to be dished out to NGOs operating in Russia subject to some rules. Russia should not surrender to the BS narratives imposed on it by various malicious people. It is quite legitimate to suppress the funding of seditionists. It is not different from suppressing organized crime and has absolutely nothing to do with democracy. These liberast scumbags living off of western coin don’t even try to convince the Russian people of the merits of their Randroid “democracy”, they just sneer at the bydlo from not falling for their BS. It is obscene for these scumbags to get vast quantities of money to engage in this abuse. They and their foreign money should be shipped off abroad. To paraphrase Posner, Russia is not their homeland and they do not feel fully at home there. So they should bugger off to their promised land in the west.

              • marknesop says:

                Curiously enough – and an excellent example of the duality Hunter often speaks of which is a regular feature of discussion focused on Russia – La Russophobe has taken a totally different tack lately on this issue, in the Moscow Times; now Amnesty International and the Carnegie Moscow Center are weak, tremulous victims who cannot possibly harm the powerful Russian state. Burdening them with unannounced inspections – regularly referred to as “raids” in the English-speaking press – is akin to kicking a helpless puppy, and just an expression of gratuitous cruelty since they obviously present no threat to Putin’s supremacy.

                I’m sure I’m not alone in remembering a completely different tone last year, when Amnesty International and its western brethren were putting the blocks to Putin six ways from Sunday and forcing concessions from him in a blur of building momentum that suggested the white ribbonists were “shaping the narrative”. Now that they are faced with toeing the line and tacitly admitting they are less powerful in Russia than the head of state, or being unceremoniously booted out of the country, things have taken on quite a different appearance. Now Putin is committing the moral equivalent of purse-snatching from the elderly, since it is apparent he intends to enforce the law without fear or favour after a grace period, which many wasted in strutting and bragging, convinced it was all talk and that Putin would do nothing.

            • kievite says:

              When you have an oil rich county that has nuclear arsenal, you can’t bomb it like Iraq. But you can bomb it with dollar crates, which are another weapon of mass destruction. This was the template used during the collapse of the USSR when wads of cash were injected in nationalistic organization of any sort and this nationalism simply had blown multinational country into peaces. Of cause this was not a single reason for the USSR collapse but the template was definitely the same: injection of huge amount of cash to fund the opposition.

        • Jen says:

          Reading the interview, I see the interviewer is trying to bait Putin but Putin appears to guess that the interviewer’s questions are loaded and designed to push him into a corner so he goes on the attack by agreeing with the interviewer at times and leading him on. The interviewer ends up getting lost and can’t find weak points in Putin’s agreement that he can press him on. Even where Putin admits that he can’t answer the question on Medvedev’s statement, the interviewer loses the opportunity to ask Putin further and Putin just pulls the interview his way and runs off with it.

          It really does look as if the interviewer has either failed to prepare for the interview by doing some basic research on Putin as an interviewee, like watching past interviews, or has swallowed the propaganda about Mafia State Russia so much that when Putin answers his questions, his mind goes completely blank at the complex picture Putin gives and he can only respond robotically.

          • Dear Jen,

            I am absolutely sure you are right and that the interviewer did come to the interview believing in the “Mafia State” thesis. The result is that when Putin continuously came up with answers that did not correspond to this thesis he was left floundering. The most painful moment was when Putin produced paperwork showing how the US authorities deal with foreign agents. It is clear that this was not something the interviewer was aware of. I predict we will be hearing the cry of “whataboutism” about this before very long.

            An iron rule when it comes to interviewing Putin is that an interviewer needs to be extremely well prepared. As everybody should know by now, Putin is always exceptionally well briefed and comes to meetings whether with journalists, foreign leaders or his own officials with all the facts at his fingertips. Treating him as if he was an Al Capone character is the worst possible mistake one can make. It is possible to disagree with Putin and survive but one should be very well prepared if one is to have any chance of doing so

            • yalensis says:

              Yeah, I agree the interviewer probably thought that Putin was just like Al Capone. So he thought Putin would be completely flustered by his “clever” questions, and eventually just fly into a rage and start hitting everybody with a baseball bat.

            • Jen says:

              Dear Alex: The interview also reflects badly on many Western politicians and how well they prepare for interviews and discussions.

              The TV show “Q&A” (the Australian version of “Question Time”) has seen its ratings slide over the past couple of years because politicians appearing on the show simply quote and repeat information fed them by party spin doctors or departmental bureaucrats in answer to questions. Everyone watching them can see this but the politicians get away with it because the format of the show doesn’t permit very deep discussion and questioning. I suspect most audience questions are vetted in advance and the show makes a big deal out of displaying Twitter feeds at the bottom of the screen and accepting the odd question or two from TV viewers who email during the live broadcasts.

        • cartman says:

          The arms are coming from Croatia, where it is illegal for the state to do so, and their EU accession should be stopped. Of course, people complain that EU and eurozone accession rules are being violated only after the fact.

      • yalensis says:

        Mark: I found an English transcription/translation of the interview. I only skimmed it, so I don’t know how good the translation is:

  55. yalensis says:

    And back to Navalny: Here is the live interview about KirovLes case on the Dz’adko Brothers show on Dozhd:

  56. kirill says:

    A rebuttal piece to a hit piece from The Economist. There is some sort of campaign to smear and eventually break up Gazprom. The Economist was a cold war propaganda rag and openly supported the Nicaraguan Contras, so-called freedom fighters that could not even live together with the rest of Nicaragua in an enclave(s). It is keeping the cold war alive long after communism has died. It is basically a mouthpiece of western Randroid elites.

    • For once a good article about Gazprom. As I said before, the reality is that it seems to be good at what it does, which is extract gas and deliver it to its customers.

      I would add that when someone like Miller says that shale gas is a bubble that will burst soon, that is something people should take note of. Obviously Gazprom has an interest in the success or failure of shale gas, but there is no one out there who knows and understands the natural gas industry better than Gazprom’s chief. If the various financial analysts who are currently promoting the shale gas “revolution” for all its worth were doing their job properly they would be reporting and discussing Miller’s comment (which should be the talk of the hour) if only to rebut it. Instead they completely ignore it, which to my mind is a further indicator that the whole shale gas community is losing touch with reality.

      Incidentally I understand that Gazprom has also queried the Ukraine’s decision to buy more of its gas on the European spot market and has said that this might turn out to be more expensive than buying gas from Gazprom.

      • peter says:

        … when someone like Miller says…

        June 10 (Bloomberg) — OAO Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural-gas company, expects oil prices to reach $250 a barrel in the “foreseeable future” as competition for energy resources increases, Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said…

        State-run Gazprom plans to have a $1 trillion market value as early as 2015, Miller said…

        • Dear Peter,

          I was careful not to say that Miller is right. What I said (and I stand by it) is that when the chief of the world’s largest natural gas company says shale gas is a bubble the financial analysts in the industry should discuss what he says if only to prove him wrong. They could validly in that case point to predictions he made in the past about the price of gas and the size of his company that have turned out to be wrong. By contrast entirely disregarding his statements withholds from market players information they need to base their decisions. This is all the more important because one suspects that part of the reason (though obviously not the whole reason) why the price of gas is lower than Miller predicted and why Gazprom is currently valued at so much less than he expected is because of expectations caused by the shale gas revolution that may if he is right turn out to be false.

          • kirill says:

            Even though you did not say Miller was right, all available evidence indicates that he is indeed correct in his assessment. I will offer Exxon’s failure in Poland as Exhibit A. Not only is there not that much tight gas in shale deposits, by definition, it is not pure methane either. In the case of Poland it was heavily contaminated by nitrogen at levels where it is not economical to separate the CH4.

            As for the shale gas boosters, they are shysters. This is not hyperbole. People trying to claim that shale gas wells perform like conventional gas wells are liars. Per well productivity from fracked shale deposits is vastly smaller than from conventional wells. These wells deplete at rates that require 40% annual replacement by further drilling. The whole point of fracking is to create pathways for trapped (“tight”) gas in the very small pore spaces in shale to travel to the well bore. In a conventional gas deposit the sedimentary rock is very porous and the gas flows from a large area towards well bore as it is pressurized. (A sizeable amount is left behind in conventional deposits after the pressure drops too low.) In shale there is pressurization as well but not some extra special, super duper pressure that packs as much gas as in conventional deposits in to the same volume of rock. There is much less gas and this gas is much harder to extract since fracking can never break up the shale so extensively that whatever gas is there flows as freely as through sandstone.

            The problem is that the average media consumer hears about some “new” technology and thinks that we have solved our problems with ingenuity. This is not how the world works. Fracking is not new and it was not used 40 years ago because the economics are the pits. It costs a lot of money to drill extra wells and it costs a lot of money to frack. That it is being used now indicates that conventional production has failed to deliver. This also why Miller need not be worried even if some sizable amount is extracted from millions of fracked wells for some period of time. The market for gas is not shrinking.

            • Dear Kirill,

              Let me make it absolutely clear that I too believe shale gas is a bubble. In fact I believe I was one of the first people to use the expression “bubble” in connection with shale gas. I am not however a scientist and my opinion (which until you explained the economics of it was based on cynicism derived from long experience of other bubbles) therefore counts for very little. Your opinion being that of a scientist counts for very much more. The opinion of Miller being that of the chief of the word’s largest natural gas company ought in any sane world to echo across the whole industry. It is a further sign that we are dealing with a bubble that it does not, since it is an infallible indicator of bubbles that they ignore whilst they are underway evidence that contradicts their own illusory conception of reality.

              • kirill says:

                Sorry if I sounded like I was preaching to the choir. But the routine dismissal of Miller’s statement as “sour grapes” is just a grotesque distortion of reality and pure wishful thinking. My opinion is based on reading about the issues with fracking and professional certification is really not required to debunk a lot of the hysteria about tight gas extraction. I am not even bringing up the nightmare of ground water contamination, which is a massive failure of this industry all by itself.

                • yalensis says:

                  Not to mention earthquakes and sink holes as additional side effects of fracking.

                • PvMikhail says:

                  The joke is, that in MSc I had a course called “Energy economics” and after class I asked my professor about Polish-Galician shale gas deposits, and shale gas in general. He told me, that the technology has huge problems including the ones you have already mentioned: drinking water, seismic problems, economics. But journalists and “experts” doesn’t care about professor’s opinions as long as they contradict with the mission of anti-Gazprom (anti-Russian) propaganda.

  57. Dear Kovane,

    If you are out there, I am now back from Germany. After some thought I decided to speak to my father about Ilyas Mercouri. My father is very protective of my aunt’s memory but on this occasion he took it quite calmly. He too is certain that Ilyas Mercouri is not a member of our family and is not related to my aunt.

    I would like to contact Ilyas Mercouri if only to clear this matter up. My father has also expressed an interest in doing so. At the same time I don’t want to cause Ilyas Mercouris (whoever he really is) unnecessary trouble and embarrassment since so long as he does what he is doing in Russia no real harm is done. In Greece it would be another matter.

    PS: I should say that in Greece, where in contrast to Russia my aunt is well known, we have had a lot of trouble with impostors who claimed to be related to her.

    PPS: As I think I have said, I have reread your two Magnitsky posts. I know a lot more about the Magnitsky affair now than I did when I first read them so I was able to understand them better now than when I read them before. Your posts were even better than I remembered and remain the best single explanation of the Magnitsky affair.

  58. Misha says:

    On par for openDemocracy (more like openHypocrisy):–-putative-policy

    Among other things, there’s a brief mention of the NGO issue in Russia.

    • kirill says:

      $250,000,000 per month is at levels close to that given for cancer research in the USA:

      The amount of money being dished out to the NGOs operating in Russia is massive. Compare to foreign aid:

      Nowhere is “civil society” support at levels running into the billions of dollars per year. This level of support is for military and economic development for obvious reasons. Just how much money does an NGO need to run a website, pay some staff and “spread the word”?

      • Misha says:

        Money better spent on other matters.

        This observation challenges the professional livelihood of a good number, thereby explaining what they choose to highlight and downplay.

      • kievite says:

        Carthago delenda est ;-)

        is a Latin oratorical phrase which was in popular use in the Roman Republic in the 2nd Century BC during the latter years of the Punic Wars against Carthage, by the party urging a foreign policy which sought to eliminate any further threat to the Roman Republic from its ancient rival Carthage, which had been defeated twice before and had a tendency after each defeat to rapidly rebuild its strength. The phrase was most famously uttered frequently and persistently almost to the point of absurdity by the Roman senator Cato the Elder (234-149 BC), as a part of his speeches.

        • kirill says:

          Yes. The Romans spread salt into the fields of Carthage to kill their food supply. I guess the modern day Romans want to do the same thing. Except that Russia is not really and analogue to Carthage and it has not been losing to various onslaughts from the west.

          • kievite says:


            Except that Russia is not really an analogue to Carthage and it has not been losing to various onslaughts from the west.

            I think you are wrong. 1991 was a geostrategic defeat. Not only neoliberalism defeated socialism (Triumphal march of neoliberalism in Eastern Europe actually preceded the collapse of the USSR). Dissolution of the USSR was a huge defeat for Russia too and as a result Russia got comprador government with drunkard Yeltsin and his gang as a gift and has their industrial output dropped bigger then during worst days of WWII. Millions went into abject poverty. It was a colonial administration much like in occupied Japan.
            Millions of Russians had found themselves as a “second rate citizens” in newly formed republics. And they have found themselves non-citizens (aliens) in Baltic states. Is not this a defeat?

        • Moscow Exile says:


          To continue with the classical Latin theme, the above phrase would be appropriate for Russians
          when considering the “gifts” of freedom, democracy and human rights ostensibly being offered
          them by the West through the agency of NGOs.

          These above Latin words were given by Virgil in his Aeneid to the Trojan priest Laocoön, who uttered them after having been informed of the Greek “gift” of the Trojan Horse: “I fear the Greeks, even when they are bearing gifts!”

          More appropriately, one would better say in this day and age: TIMEO PINDOSOS ET DONA FERENTES!

          • yalensis says: