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. Moscow Exile says:

    Ye Gods, yet another Latynina MT article in which I find myself almost totally in agreement!

    Do I need to visit a shrink?

    • JLo says:

      I’ve been making a point recently of listening to her weekly Saturday radio show on Ekho. She’s crazy, but definitely not stupid. And she makes some pretty prescient observations when she isn’t obsessing over Putin.

      • yalensis says:

        In this particular case, her position on Cyprus happens to coincide with that of other people who oppose Obama’s neo-liberal globalist policies but who do not necessarily share Latynina’s core (Ayn Randite) ideology. In fact, this particular issue would strangely tend to make bedfellows of people who are usually on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

      • Might it just possibly be that Latynina has an offshore account tucked away in some distant tax haven?

        Incidentally, I do not agree with her. I share the opinions of the Russian and German governments that offshoring is inherently bad and should end.

        PS: My brother who has followed this story more closely than me tells me that though there is no sign of Putin’s mythical money in British Virgin Island accounts, Saakashvili has been discovered to have money there.

  2. yalensis says:

    Liverpool fans celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher:

    • yalensis says:

      Okay, that embedding didn’t work, but basically rowdy fans throughout the entire stadium are chanting: “We’re going to have a party, we’re going to have a party, we’re going to have a party, When Maggie Thatcher dies!”

  3. apc27 says:

    All these Thatcher death celebrations are really becoming not only tiring, but also quite revolting. I do not begrudge the hatred many feel for the woman, but people should at least pretend that they are civilized beings and keep their revulsion for the dead private. I, personally, hated what Yeltsin had done to Russia, the man was a truly disgusting human being, but I accepted the respectful way in which his passing was handled by the Russian state and Russians in general, as far as I know there were no public celebrations of his passing even though Russians had far more right to do that than Liverpool fans. Whatever one may think of Thatcher, she was a giant, that none of the following political midgets were able to match, in many ways she was the last British Prime Minister who actually ran things, albeit in the wrong direction, while all her successors from all parties simply pandered to pressure groups and sold out their own principles left right and center.

    • marknesop says:

      “Whatever one may think of Thatcher, she was a giant, that none of the following political midgets were able to match, in many ways she was the last British Prime Minister who actually ran things, albeit in the wrong direction, while all her successors from all parties simply pandered to pressure groups and sold out their own principles left right and center.”

      And in fact that should stand as her epitaph, while she should consider herself fortunate to get something at the same time so eloquent, and so fair to her. In a way, the celebrations of her death are testament to what the British have become under the rule of successive governments. And, in a way, Thatcher’s gift to her people of their pride back, courtesy of the Falklands invasion – which, as a matter of principle, astounded the world – is analogous to the way Putin has given Russia back its pride. I’m sure there will be celebrations of his death, too, but they won’t be in Russia.

      So, you’re right; enough of the rejoicing over Thatcher’s passing, although we’re agreed many have cause to loathe her.

      • kievite says:

        Mark,

        I totally agree. She is a giant. But she is a giant with huge minus sign. And her beginning like Hitler beginning was about “restoration of pride”, etc. Actually if Hitler would be assassinated in 1938 he probably would be considered one of greatest German statesmen.
        And at the beginning neoliberalism (and she is the person who first implemented neoliberal regime in the country — in this case GB) was a healthy reaction on excessive and stagnant statism. But later development was really ugly. She helped to destroy GB manufacturing and concert it into hollow “world financial center” and rampant speculation and crime as we see today.

        Later it went too far with those jerks from Chicago school (Friedman and Co) and adoption Ann Rand “greed is good” positivism. And when it turned into “Washington consensus” it became a threat to humanity and now should be treated as such.
        She actually outlived the peak of neoliberalism as after 2008 nobody in sound mind can claim that market is self-regulating. It turned out that “free market” naturally evolves into “Socialism for banks” and that neoliberalism proved to be a perfect tool for getting financial oligarchy at the top of power pyramid.
        Low of unintended consequences probably… \
        I just wonder what was the role of MI5 and Thatcher personally in bringing Gorbachov into power in the USSR. I always thought that they have their moles in top echelons of power of CPSU.

        • marknesop says:

          I agree with all of this, and personally believe her to have been a reprehensible, egotistical self-centered creature. But public celebration of her death is in poor taste, and I’m surprised quick criticism of it has not had a dampening effect as it did in Chavez’s case. Because you know the media was ready to go on one big toot of celebration when Chavez died, but such celebration was distinctly muted by rapid criticism.

          • R.C. says:

            I agree that it’s distasteful. I’ve read a few op-eds which criticized her legacy and policies, which is fair game, but the death celebrations are beyond tacky. Interestingly, the obituaries in the mainstream US media are showing the same kind of fawning worship they’ve shown for Gorbachev, but usually always fail to point out that these figures were not popular with their people.

            I don’t agree with the analogy between Thatcher/Putin restoring national pride. Putin restored pride by creating a functioning middle-class, increasing wages & pensions and halting the Oligarchs dominance of Russia’s political/economic life. Thatcher pretty much did the exact opposite. If you have to take a nation to war to restore national pride (the oldest trick in the book), then something smells.

            • marknesop says:

              On reflection, that’s true. And Putin has managed to restore Russian national pride while remaining popular at home and disliked pretty much everywhere else, which again is pretty much the polar opposite of Thatcher.

              I’m not sure why the restraint against speaking ill of the dead persists, but I’ve always felt it was because they have no further hope of making restitution if it should so happen they were a son of a bitch all their lives. Whatever the case, I usually content myself with a remark that I’m not sorry they’re dead. I’ll leave the partying to others.

              • R.C. says:

                That’s true for certain. I guess that goes to show that you can’t have it both ways. This appears to be the modus operandi everywhere for the west, be it Russia, Latin America or the Middle East. A leader has to choose between subservience to London & DC or face isolation, sanctions & regime change. Though I must say, that the hatred for Putin seems more confined to the Anglo-sphere than anywhere else in the world. For example, I doubt the Chinese, Brazilian & Indian populations are anywhere as anti-Putin as the United States and Europe.

                The dislike of Putin has more to do with the efficiency of the western propaganda machine than anything. I’ve had to point out to several friends the list of accomplishments which have occurred under Putin’s rule. They told me they had honestly NEVER heard any of the positive things he’s done (which had they been accomplished by an American head of state, no one would even bother running against him) Ever – not until they met me. The western demonization is so relentless, that several pundits were “angered” over Putin’s reaction to the Femen “protest.” In reality, they were angry that this cheap stunt back-fired and turned into a humorous exercise. After all, they don’t like anything that portrays leaders they dislike as human since so much of their propaganda goes towards painting Putin as a cold, humorless Stalin-like figure. Just Putin’s reaction to the Femen fiasco destroyed the notion that he was this angry fist pounding technocrat.

                • marknesop says:

                  On the Femen breast-flashing incident, here’s my favourite take on it, by a Muslim woman who points out that Muslim women have breasts, too – but they’re not allowed to show them. The overall tone is stop embarrassing real female activists with your titty bump and grind, and my favourite quote is, “What’s that? You want to stop a civil war, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee? Forget working with the trauma-afflicted and building networks and doing the scary work of looking rapists in the face and shouting “enough!” Show us your boobies!”

          • Jen says:

            I deplore the public celebrations of Thatcher’s death myself but in a sense they might be appropriate insomuch as Thatcher’s reign encouraged a self-serving, mean-spirited ethos in which respect for others and a sense of and pride in community died. Thatcher’s policies created a lot of division and perhaps destroyed any sense of togetherness. So in a way the extreme reactions from gushy eulogies to dancing in the streets are all the logical results of the debased culture and values Thatcher’s policies helped to create.

            I grant that Thatcher had her vision of restoring greatness to Britain at a time when the political and economic situation in the late 1970s was stagnant and lacking in ideas; many countries had both high unemployment and inflation, and the Keynesian economic nostrums of the period could deal with either one or the other but not both. Milton Friedman’s monetarism and Friedrich Hayek’s economic neoliberalism seemed attractive alternatives and Thatcher was an enthusiastic convert and proselytiser.

            Australia and New Zealand followed very similar policies of economic and financial deregulation and privatisation of government assets. The difference between us down here and Britain is that during the 1980s we had social democratic or centre-left governments that did deals with the trade unions by which the unions agreed to tamp down demands for better wages and working conditions while the Hawke-Keating Labor government in Australia and David Lange’s Labour government in New Zealand pushed ahead with the “reforms”.

            Another difference is that both governments pursued a consensus style of leadership wherever they could, were against apartheid in South Africa and supported sanctions against that country, and were more or less against nuclear power when it suited, especially if the nuclear power villain was France, as it was at the time because the French were conducting nuclear tests in their Polynesian territories. New Zealand in particular was strongly anti-nuclear and barred nuclear-powered US warships from its territories. On the other hand, Margaret Thatcher seemed to relish being an outsider and having confrontations, and being friends with unsavoury regimes in Chile, South Africa and Indonesia. She appealed to a certain upwardly mobile layer in British society that aspired to status and influence but was denied it by traditional power cliques. Rupert Murdoch was in a similar position of Wild Colonial Boy outsider when he came to Britain in the 1980s and I see that the biggest and most sycophantic press eulogies to the Grantham Godzilla are coming from Murdoch-owned media outlets like Faux News in the US and The (Un)Australian here.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I couldn’t be arsed one way or the other about Thatcher’s death: death comes to us all. I feel rather sorry for her, in a way: she died alone in a hotel, albeit the London Ritz, and had suffered from dementia for several years. Rather sad, actually.

        And I think it’s rather childish partying over her death as well: her death will not undue her legacy.

        I have noted that most, if not all of those that I have seen so far in video clips and news photographs celebrating her death are much too young to remember her ministries. Many of my old workmates – there are very few of them alive now – have emailed me and I them, but none are dancing around drinking champagne – at least, that’s what they’ve told me.

        A thing that bugs me greatly though is this tradition from the Dark Ages that proscribes speaking ill of the dead. As A.C. Grayling writes in today’s Independent “The standard trope is: de mortuis nil nisi bonum – “Of the dead say nothing but good”. Why?”

        This code of behaviour came about when folk believed that the dead – some of them at least – were still with us, watching over us from another dimension, whence they could reach out malevolently if we spoke ill of them.

        My father used to tell me never to fear the dead but be wary of the living.

        I disliked Thatcher intensely and would have told her so to her face if I had ever had the opportunity to do so. It doesn’t matter one jot to her what I say about her now, for she does not exist and those atoms that made up her body will, over the eons, be spread far and wide throughout the cosmos.

        But what of the feelings of her kinfolk, some may ask. Should I not show some respect for their grief?

        For her son?

        He is one tw*t.

        Takes after his mother, I suppose.

    • AK says:

      watches with amusement as people who think history is the result of transpersonal economic forces that determine individual consciousness get hung up on the supposed moral evil of one woman” – a very wise man.

  4. kievite says:

    As A.C. Grayling writes in today’s Independent “The standard trope is: de mortuis nil nisi bonum – “Of the dead say nothing but good”. Why?”

    This code of behavior came about when folk believed that the dead – some of them at least – were still with us, watching over us from another dimension, whence they could reach out malevolently if we spoke ill of them.

    I think that the rational here is different: you need certain time and distance to appraise objectively the achievements of the passed person and can usually say things in the heat of the moment about which you might regret later and that might badly influence your reputation among peers.

    That’s why “to dance on bones” is considered distasteful and it does no matter what religion we are talking about.

    After all politicians are just agents of historical change. They can speed it or slow it down, but that’s it. Like Taleyrand used to say:

    The art of statesmanship is to foresee the inevitable and to expedite its occurrence.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Nay, I’m not having that!

      The aphorism “Don’t speak ill of the dead” was because our forebears were scared shitless of spooks.

      The earliest recorded use of a phrase that urged respect for the dead is the Greek aphorism τὸν τεθνηκóτα μὴ κακολογεῖν (Don’t speak badly a dead man), attributed to Chilon of Sparta (ca. 600 BC), as noted in “Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers” (ca. AD 300), by Diogenes Laërtius.

      This book was translated into Latin in the 15th century, so popularizing the Latin aphorism “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum”.

      I don’t think the ancients were advising against condemnation of the dead for reasons of political prudence.

  5. kievite says:

    An interesting quote from the URL http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/04/10/honoring-the-death-of-a-stateless-bastard/ (URL was found by Misha and referenced above):

    It is appropriate that Margaret Hilda Thatcher is to be given a military funeral, sense of that, as per Smedley Butler, she was a mere Gangster participant in a degenerate racket; the tragedy is that the many of those who shall form the line of the route are unknowing conscripts concerning the manifold forms of War as racket, and will never read Smedley Butler concerning how they have been betrayed, not the least concerning ‘Economic Warfare’?

    In a way, Smedley Butler predicted neoliberalism triumph, and Yeltsin gang members were probably the most capable students, far outpassing GB and US originators. Funny, but Berezovsky private annual Artistic Award which existed from 1992 to 2010 was called Triumph. It was run by Zoya Boguslavsky, the wife of poet Andrey Voznesensky.
    see

    http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A2%D1%80%D0%B8%D1%83%D0%BC%D1%84_(%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%8F)

    • I find it very difficult to write or speak objectively about Thatcher. Whatever else she was, she was someone who provoked strong reactions in people. In my case they were and are overwhelmingly negative. When she was Prime Minister I would have a strong physical reaction whenever she appeared on television and would have to switch the thing off or change channel. Several people I have spoken to have told me the same thing.

      For the record, I do not think she was a giant. One of the reasons I reacted so strongly against her was precisely because I thought and think that this image of her was fundamentally fake and I reacted extremely negatively to the way I felt it was being rammed down my throat even though I completely disagreed with it.

      I am dismayed to see that the same thing is happening again. Though she was and is deeply unpopular (Moscow Exile is absolutely right when he says that like Gorbachev she has always been far more popular abroad than she is in her own country) and though there has been no vote for it in the House of Commons and little support for it in the country, she is being given by stealth what is to all intents and purposes a state funeral with military honours. There is growing anger here about this and I share this anger. Given that this is the work of the government and is being paid for by the taxpayer it seems to me that this is a far more justified subject for criticism than the occasional comments celebrating her death made by a very small number of her critics.

      • yalensis says:

        I totally agree. Thatcher is being rammed down people’s throats as a “giant” and “hero” of the neo-capitalist/imperialist/globalist hegemony. (Like Ronald Reagan.) When you cram something ugly down people’s throats, they react by coughing it back up.
        I do agree it is uncultured to dance on a person’s grave. It would be more dignified to counter the hagiography with trenchant political criticism. But given the current state of education and culture in Great Britain (once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans, thanks to Thatcher and people of her ilk), this is about the best that the mob can do to show their distaste for this pile of horseshit that is being forced on them.
        Given that, I would forgive the mob the show of vulgarity, since it is sincere.

        • kievite says:

          once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans
          What a great definition of neoliberal transformation of the society !

        • Robert says:

          As Tiger says to James Bond in the book (not the film) Dr No, England has become a sick country by any standard. We have all the classic signs of decadence: extreme gap between rich and poor, an obsession with sex, an economy living off past capital based on casino funny money games by spivs rather than productive industry presided over by oligarchs who are quite cynically whipping up hatred and scapegoating downwards as a political strategy. The establishment stinks with fear. An ordinary women member of the public was sent to prison for insulting David Cameron to his face. Civil liberties have been thrown out the window – New Labour tried to pass a law enabling the state to hold terrorist suspect for ninety days without charge as in apartheid South Africa and we are the most heavily surveiled state in Europe with the number of CCTVs making us the most spied on people since East Germany. But private security guards are not always reliable. The powers that be can watch all of us some of the time and some of us all of the time, but they cannot watch all of us all of the time and they know it.

      • kievite says:

        I am dismayed to see that the same thing is happening again. Though she was and is deeply unpopular (Moscow Exile is absolutely right when he says that like Gorbachev she has always been far more popular abroad than she is in her own country)

        Still she was a politician who managed to understand that deregulation is what the elite wants/needs and ram it into the throat of the nation (GB). “Passionaria of privilege” as somebody called her. Reagan did the same to the USA.

        So she was the first politician who implemented neoliberalism in a particular country and I think it is fair to say that she was instrumental in crashing the USSR.

        See her old (March 31, 1987) interview to Soviet TV: http://www.rosbalt.ru/video/2013/04/08/1115201.html

        She understood and implemented a giant neoliberal socio-economical transformation (globalization of capital and goods flows, restoration of privileges of financial oligarchy and redistribution of wealth in the society to the top 0.01%) before other politicians. In this sense she is a giant, evil giant to be exact, but still a giant. The Mother of Neoliberalism as a political doctrine.

        • kirill says:

          I just don’t see evidence of the external take down of the USSR. The USSR degenerated all on its own. It was not even cold war propaganda that destabilized the state with some people power revolution, but corruption at the top (e.g. Gorby) that appears to have arisen from the lust for more material wealth. In spite of all the yammering about how the Party elite had their own stores and vacation spots, this was small potatoes to the loot obtained by the likes of Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky. Gorby was not a reformer, he was a killer.

          • Robert says:

            I think that’s unfair to Gorby. He was a sincere reformer and socialist who wanted to make the system work. What happened in the year 1991 could not have been prevented. The tragic year was 1993 which was the Thermidor counter revolution that put an end to the democratic revolution the process of which began in 1985 with Gorby’s reforms. That was when the scum of Chicagoite neoliberalism raped Russia.

            • kirill says:

              If Gorby was sincere he would not have shut down Gosplan. This was the first shock therapy maneuver. Under Gaidar the shock therapy was taken to its logical conclusion. Gorby’s current alignment with the pro-oligarch neo-liberals aka liberasts exposes him as not being a socialist. A socialist would not support oligarchic capitalism. A socialist would not buy into the BS argument that a weak leader dancing to the tune of oligarch mafiosi is more democratic than a strong elected leader. And strong does not mean strongman as the western media loves to lie.

              Gorby could have used Yugoslavia as a prototype. Russia does not have the ethnic problem but Yugoslavia did have a mixed economy that was a functional. Shock transition to capitalism was a crime against humanity in Russia. If you remove all of the migration from the ex-USSR into Russia, you are left with over 8 million people who died as a direct result of this policy. That’s actually more people than died under Stalin.

              • Robert says:

                Yes I agree. He should have copied Yugoslavia but also gradually allowed some enterprises to leave Gosplan gradually. The condition should have been that those enterprises either remained cooperatives or at the very least had workers representatives on the board of directors. There’s no question that there was a conspiracy to destroy socialism by its enemies abroad and by the enemies within and also that if the USSR had succeeded in moving to the Yugoslave model they might turned the USSR into a superpower with a socialist economy that worked. That would also have immensely strengthed social democracy in the West. But Gorby did succeed in negotiationg an arms reduction treaty with the West that would have enabled the USSR to spend less of the budget on defence and would have enabled it to concentrate on industry.

                • Robert says:

                  One last point had the USSR survived for another decade and been able to invest more of the budget in developing its computer industry rather than defence that alone would have enabled Gosplan to replace the old paper machine with IT which would have made Gosplan immensely more efficient.

                • Misha says:

                  “Copied Yugoslavia”!?

            • Misha says:

              Robert,

              In retrospect, Gorby played his cards wrong, in the way he purged the more reform minded from top positions, in favor of people who then attempted to overthrow him.

              The Godfather mindset of keeping your enemies close can be successful when properly done. On this point, he seems to have fallen short.

              Gorby ended up displeasing a wide range of the Russian political and Soviet non-Russian political spectrum.

        • Jen says:

          I think Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski did a better job in crashing the Soviet Union by secretly funding the Afghan warlords opposed to the socialist regime in Kabul at the time (late 1970s). The funding began about July 1979: the idea was to provoke the Soviets into sending troops into Afghanistan with the goal of that country becoming the Soviets’ Vietnam by diverting necessary funds and resources away from the Soviet economy and into its military. The US encouraged third parties from other countries to assist the warlords with money and arms and one of these eager beavers who answered the call for help was one Osama bin Laden.

        • Misha says:

          More on Thatcher:

          http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/04/11/thatchers-legacy-and-british-identity/

          Claims the BBC has been soft in covering the nay sayers.

          There’s a propaganda element to giving both sides, in a scenario where one of the sides is getting limited coverage and/or sympathy.

      • apc27 says:

        No comparison can be made in isolation, all is relative and, while Thatcher may not have been a political giant or very popular by international standards, by British standards that’s precisely what she was. I understand that it says less about her and more about the pathetic weak mediocracy that ruled this country after her exit from politics, but still, there was some greatness to that woman, albeit a negative one. All that vitriol poured since she died… I just find it demeaning, but not to her, but to all those openly celebrating the death of another human being and to the country, that seemingly did not have the guts to confront Thatcher about her legacy while she was alive, but instead lowered itself to a vulture like behavior of picking at the corpses and legacies of the dead.

        As I mentioned before, this is not about Thatcher for me. I absolutely hated and despised Yeltsin, my family, like many many other families, suffered a great deal due to his bumbling incompetence and delusional political leadership, but I still would have been appalled if the Russian nation treated him in the same manner Thatcher is being treated at the moment.

        There is something very very wrong with this recent culture of celebrating the deaths of other human beings, for no matter how despicable we may find them, by engaging in such behavior we only lower ourselves and only bring shame on ourselves, since the dead… well the dead certainly don’t care about any of it anymore.

      • Robert says:

        Dear Alex

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/financ…e-of-Margaret-Thatchers-luck.html

        And remember that the Wilson/Callaghan administrations had to use precious funds in getting North Sea oil ready to be exploited, at a time of great austerity, only for Thatcher to reap the benefits of this investment in her first term! Thatcher enjoyed several strokes of extraordinary luck as this throughout her rise to power.

        She was only elected leader of the Tories in 1975 to keep Heath’s choice of successor Willie Whitelaw from winning. Many of the Tory MPs who voted for her believed that she would not be leader for long and that she would be easy to manipulate for their own ends!

        As well as being able to capitalise on the oil revenue mentioned above she also benefited from the stupidity of her opponents – most notably the political fallout of the decision by the ‘Gang of Four’ to split the left vote by leaving Labour to form the SDP. Considering the effects of First Past the Post this decision in itself almost guaranteed Thatcher at the next election. Any doubt about this vanished after the victory against another fool – General Galtieri (although again a large amount of luck enabled Thatcher to win a conflict which was very close run).

        And when taking on the Unions not only did Thatcher get help from key allies who were both ruthless and astute (with Murdoch being the best example) she was lucky enough to be faced by Scargill in the most high risk battle, whose egotism and hubris ensured defeat.

        Yes Thatcher was determined and incredibly focused on defeating socialism and prepared to sacrifice anyone who stood in the way of this goal but without the freakish slices of fortune she would have come unstuck far sooner than she did. In the end she probably believed her own myth as the Iron Lady, and like quite a few demagogues before her, ended in failure by not knowing when to stop.

        Bottom line is that the Right always chooses to ignore the role of luck when it comes to success. They prefer to believe that the successful are rich and powerful because they deserve to be because they have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Equally they choose to believe that the poor are destitute because they are to blame as individuals. The pestilent notion that the lumpen poor are in the gutter primarily because of idleness and lack of character is not only cruel but stupid.

        Whether you are born with the genetic ability to become a successful entrepreneur is as much a matter of luck as being born with a silver spoon in your mouth.

        There used to be a One Nation Tory tradition that was pragmatic and had compassion for the weak. Thatcherite Market Bolshevism killed it off. Entrepreneurs who rise to become members of the one percent should be proud to pay the top rate of income tax. It means you’re a prince.

        • apc27 says:

          All that is true, but Yeltsin and his ilk were much worse and I would still be appalled if their deaths were treated in the same manner.

          This is not about Thatcher, this is about people forgetting what being a civilized person actually entails i.e. dancing on the graves of one’s enemies is something savage Jihadists do. That’s why when so many British people start behaving in the same manner, no matter how righteous their anger may be, it just makes me feel sad.

          • Robert says:

            I don’t disagree but if you treat people like savages then savage behaviour is what you will get. Given the misery and wretchedness in which so many of the British poor are living and the way in which the powers that be have been whipping up class hate downwards it’s not surprising this has happened. What’s left of our welfare system is systematically designed to humiliate and hurt the poor including the sick disabled and mentally ill. I don’t actually believe Thatcher herself would have sanctioned some of the Clinton style welfare reforms that have been imposed on the country first by New Labour trying to appease the Murdoch press demonisng “scroungers” and now by the Tories. Some of the right wing journalists and politicians in British are lower than vermin.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I see Gorbachev has turned down the invitation to Thatcher’s funeral. Yeltsin wouldn’t have done that: any excuse for a piss up.

            • marknesop says:

              Now that’s funny!!! I’ve seen suggestions somewhere that Yeltsin wasn’t really that much of a piss-tank at all, that he suffered from some kind of nerve ailment or something like that, which upset his balance and caused a constant sort of vertigo effect. Anyone else hear that? I notice he found a solution to it, though – dance. He didn’t look too wobbly when he was dancing.

              • Jen says:

                Here’s a link to some of Boris Yeltsin’s finest moments which include:
                - conducting a brass band, dancing the twist and singing out of tune while in Berlin
                - hailing a taxi while clad only in his underwear to order a pizza late at night while visiting Washington DC
                - playing spoons on the bald head of the Kyrgyz President

                http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/4-international-incidents-caused-by-drunk-boris-yeltsin/

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Yeah, it was the Kremlin spin when the drunkard had been performing.

                He was just a country bumpkin, a regional party boss that played at being a populist. I was only on about him the other day to one of my Russian colleagues, and he recalled when Boris was called from the then city of Sverdlov (Ekaterinburg), where he was party general secretary for the Sverdlov Region (strangely enough that region name has not been de-bolshevized; likewise Leningrad Region), in order to troubleshoot in the corrupt Moscow city administration.

                The drunken Boris arrived here and made a big show of travelling around the city on public transport and telling everyone that he would always do so. My colleague said everyone took this for the load of bullshit that it was.

                As an aside, when Boris the Boor was Sverdlovsk general sec, he ordered that the Ipataev house be razed: that was the place where the Romanovs got theirs in 1918.

                As regards Boris being a “xham” (a boor), his boorishness was embarrassing to the
                extreme. I remember when my sovereign, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II (Gawd bless yer, ma’am!) visited Russia and as per custom, she entertained her head-of-state host and his spouse on board the Royal Yacht Britannia (now a floating tourist attraction at Edinburgh’s port, Leith), which was berthed at the still then Leningrad quayside.

                After the royal banquet, Boris staggered down the gangplank with Mrs. Yeltsina and the “yacht” (which was a ship, really) then pulled majestically away from the quayside with a Royal Marines’ Band playing Auld Lang Syne or whatever.

                It was then when a TV journalist approached “The First President of Russia” and asked him what the royal feast had been like, and Boris, pissed as a handcart, slurred into the microphone that it hadn’t been bad, but then leered into the camera with eyes all askew and said loudly “But it wasn’t as good as Russian food!”

                That’s what he thought populism was about. I remember my Russian colleagues at the time (I was a postgrad then at Manchester University) being immensely embarrassed at his boorishness, to say nothing about the total absence of diplomacy on his part.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  That should be “kham” (хам) above.

                  I’m getting my alphabets mixed up!

                • kirill says:

                  But the LA Times called him a “palpable humanitarian” while Putin is a cold-hearted KGB killer. Little details like the fact that Putin was not in that line of work for the KGB do not matter. It looks like it is much better to tap someone from the professional services than regular, corrupt politicians. Yeltsin was the probably close to the worst Russian leader in its history. And most Russians have not forgotten this and so they vote for Putin, who is probably the best Russian leader in its whole history. Naturally, the Russia-hating west spins this as “autocracy”.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Boris the Drunk at his best (or worst):

                  Remember folks, this lovable old rogue brought democracy to Russia and everything was just going hunky-dory until the Evil One ousted him.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  No, that was in 1994 when QEII popped over here to see how I was!

                  I remember watching TV when she visited Stary Angliisky Dvor here in Moscow and the then Moscow mayor, Lyzhkov, dared to touch the Annointed One and the royal flunkies having a seizure over it.

  6. yalensis says:

    This HAS to be an omen from the gods. Probably concerning Navalny (aka “The Big Hamster”).
    It’s the story of the “Christ-Hamster” who was resurrected from the dead on Good Friday! (Big excitement!)

    http://www.dni.ru/society/2013/4/10/251154.html

    SUMMARY
    Lisa and her boyfriend James (in Great Britain) were babysitting a neighbor’s hamster, named Tink. But one day, returning from work, James discovered the hamster dead in his cage.
    They wrapped Tink in a towel and buried him in the flower garden. James had the sad duty of informing the hamster’s owner of his demise.
    Then, on Good Friday, the hamster suddenly showed up, fully resurrected. He had clawed his way out of his little grave and climbed up a drainpipe. The poor little beastie had to spend one very cold night outdoors, huddling for warmth in a feedbag. Fortunately, the next morning he came knocking at the door … no, I lie, he was discovered by Lisa’s dad. The miraculous Christ-Hamster Tink was returned to his owner and was pronounced by the vet fit as a fiddle.
    Turns out, the babysitters overfed Tink and he fell into a deep sleep, which they mistook for death. The veterinarian warned them that this happens a lot with hamsters, and a lazy hamster gets mistook for dead all the time.
    END OF SUMMARY

    (One of the commenters to the article has a more cynical explanation: The theory is that the hamster’s owners was so ticked off and threatened Lisa and James with a lawsuit; on which they rushed to the pet store, bought a similar hamster, and then passed it off as the original…)

  7. Misha says:

    There has been so pooh poohing over Putin’s comments about improving the health of the Russian population, with the suggestion of his going thru the motions, while nothing has been really achieved.

    http://www.interfax.co.uk/russia-news/russians-more-willing-to-exercise-poll/

    http://www.interfax.co.uk/russia-news/life-expectancy-in-moscow-surpasses-certain-eu-states-health-dept/

    Previously noted:

    http://www.eurasiareview.com/06032013-overview-of-the-2014-sochi-winter-olympics-analysis/

    Excerpt –

    “The goal is to see Sochi enhance its standing as a resort for the public and training center for Russia’s best athletes. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that improved sports structures should be undergone for the purpose of improving the overall health of Russia’s population. This advocacy has been followed up on with the approval of a greater anti-smoking law by Russia’s Duma (parliament).”

    ****

    These recent comments by Putin serve as an advocacy to further improve the health of Russia’s population.

  8. kievite says:

    Mark Adomanis about Russian position on Syria

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2013/04/09/is-vladimir-putins-foreign-policy-unpopular-not-so-much/

    This is an argument that you almost always encounter among the most outspoken democratists, that the real reason we have foreign policy disagreements with Russia is not because the United States and Russia have inherently different interests but because Russia is run by a particularly nasty and selfish gang of people who have hijacked the ship of state for their own selfish ends. Although made by Serious people, in Serious publications, writing in sober academic tones, this is actually a remarkably bold, indeed radical, argument. Considering the different positions occupied in the international system by the United States in Russia, considering their different geography, economics, culture, history, and religion, it would be nothing less than a miracle if their interests actually coincided to the degree that Kramer is suggesting.

    … … …

    It’s not exactly shocking, or at least it shouldn’t be, that Russians and Americans see the world very differently, but it’s something to keep in mind the next time someone like Kramer tries to explain all of the “bad” parts of Russian foreign policy by pointing to the personal malevolence of Vladimir Putin.

    • kirill says:

      More Adomanis crap. He attributes to Russia what is actually the US problem. How does this monkey justify the death squad juntas installed by the USA in Latin America after WWII? Sorry but the cold war is a transparent fig leaf. If brutal real politik was practiced then, then why is it now somehow out of the realm of the possible for the USA? The USA is aligning itself with Al Qaeda in Libya, Syria and pretty much the whole middle east. But this induces too much cognitive dissonance so it is fobbed off as a total lie by the lemmings and paid mouthpieces like Adomanis, who spread the myth of the benevolent, democracy-loving USA which never existed as far as its external actions were concerned.

      Russia’s support for Syria is limited to resisting the attempt to seize power by the FSA, which is *not* the legitimate voice of the Syrian people, no matter what all the US and their satrap allied politicians claim. The FSA has zero support from 30% of the population who are not Sunni and it does not have 100% of support from the 70% that are Sunni. Even if it did, there is no simple plurality argument when it applies to religious and ethnic boundaries. NATO and its US master clearly did not apply the simple plurality argument to Serbia when they recognized the partition and independence of Kosovo. So partition of Syria would be the only legitimate policy since the over 30% of its population who are in the cross-hairs of the FSA Salafist jihadis are in much worse shape than the 23% Albanian population of Serbia in 1999.

      Russia is openly calling for reconciliation. The USA is supporting Salfist extremist militants. This is the total opposite of what Adomanis is claiming to to be the reality (i.e. that Russia supports a dictator while the USA supports freedom fighters).

      • marknesop says:

        Actually, the Adomanis piece is largely supportive of Russia, pointing out in a typically humorous way that those who cannot understand Russia are in that position because they insist on attributing to it American values and goals, by whose measure it looks weird and deficient. Viewed from the angle that it wishes to be a great power not so much for the sake of raw power and conquest as for a great power’s voice in the shaping of the world order, it makes a great deal more sense. The statement “…because Russia is run by a particularly nasty and selfish gang of people who have hijacked the ship of state for their own selfish ends” is attributed to the author of the article referenced and to the “Serious People”, rather than reflecting Adomanis’s opinion.

        But of course he spoils a fairly positive piece by getting in a shot at Russia’s “autocratic” government. It’s like he can’t help himself, like a painter who always has to add one brushstroke too many, and mars what might have been a nice picture.

        • kirill says:

          I don’t think that when Adomanis says that the USA and Russia see the world differently he is complementing Russia. He is trotting out the usual BS that Russia’s motives are nefarious or cold-hearted and those of the USA are noble. He is granting his “opponent” with concessions on points of their anti-Russian drivel.

          Adomanis’ job seems to be to create the image that the western media is not all about foaming at the mouth Russia hate. But he is a prop. It would take vastly more Adomanis type commentators in most western media to make this valid. A tiny boutique “let’s not bash Russia like insane monkeys too much” faction in the western MSM is basically irrelevant.

          It is interesting how the so-called state-run media in Russia is not spewing anti-western hate day and day out.

          • Misha says:

            Another eaxmple of an overly-hyped “Russia Hand”.

            The continued propping of some others besides him and simultaneous muting out of others with valid underepresented views is one reason why the coverage continues to lack.

            • I am going to speak up for the “Russia Hand”.

              It seems to me that the correct way to read Adomanis is to accept that his starting position is that of a US liberal. From that stand point Adomanis is by the standard of how other US liberals and the mainstream press in the US generally write about Russia exceptionally balanced and fair. He at least makes an effort to base his comments on fact, which they scarcely ever do, whilst his debunking of some of the more fantastical claims made by the real Russia haters can be masterly.

              That is not of course to say that I agree with him all of the time. How can I when I reject his most basic presumptions? I find his characterisation of Russia as a Latin American dictatorship (though a western liberal commonplace) wrong and even absurd whilst I think his views on Putin and on the Pussy Riot affair (which ultimately derive from the presumption that Russia is a Latin American dictatorship) are completely wrong. However, given how completely Adomanis and I disagree on Adomanis’s most basic presumptions what is surely remarkable and what to my mind speaks very well of Adomanis and of his ultimate integrity as a writer on Russian affairs is that we actually agree on so much. I find that on average I agree with around two thirds to three quarters of what he writes.

              I am afraid that at the moment it is simply utopian to expect a US or western liberal writing in a western mainstream publication like Forbes to share my views on Russia and I don’t expect it. At least with Adomanis (as with Eugene Ivanov) I feel I can have a civilised disagreement when we disagree, or at least I think we would if I could be bothered to comment on his blog, which for reasons of time I don’t.

              • Misha says:

                I will once again stand up for the observation that Adomanis is way over-hyped, relative to the comparatively great talent out there getting the shaft at the more high profile of venues.

                For the purpose of improving the coverage from a reasoned pro-Russian viewpoint, it’s counter-productive to hype Adomanis over the aforementioned others.

              • kirill says:

                I don’t expect there to be any objectivity from the western media. It is an analogue of the North Korean media, a mouthpiece of the western establishment. This western establishment can’t stand the thought that resource and land rich Russia will stand on its own feet. It is most of the way to restoring its superpower state and the endless wishful thinking in the western media trying to paint it as no better than Nigeria just proves my point. As I said, Adomanis is an irrelevant prop whose job is to offer up an excuse that the western media is not completely insane. He does not offend his paymasters and he can be waved around in the face of Russians via translations of his articles. “See, they are not all Russia haters”.

                I used to read antiwar.com. Justin Raimondo produced much more objective analysis than Adomanis.

                • Misha says:

                  I’m not into establishment name dropping screeds along the lines of The Russia Hand. Ditto the faux Russophile activity that essentially plays along with that manner.

                  The reasonably good pro-Russian advocacy not getting the nod is the kind that tends to get the shafted from the likes of JRL. Objectively speaking, talent should be judged by originality and validity of views, along with the ability to defend them.

              • marknesop says:

                “It seems to me that the correct way to read Adomanis is to accept that his starting position is that of a US liberal. ”

                Except for that statement, I agree entirely with your analysis. I am going to suggest that Mark Adomanis’s position on various issues places him firmly in the conservative camp, although – as we have often discussed – “liberal” and “conservative” mean different things in different countries, and Russian “liberals”, for instance, are as like American conservatives as two peas in a pod.

                Mark has been involved to some degree with writing pretty much all his adult life, and was once a prolific writer for the Harvard Crimson.

                http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2006/4/3/foreign-affairs-david-brooks-is-a/

                Here, for example, he expresses admiration for The New York Times’ David Brooks, who could not be any more conservative if he were to have “I am a Conservative!!” tattooed on his forehead, although in his writing he pretends to a degree of moderation. It also amused me to see Mark pan the idea of education abroad, arguing passionately that sending the best of American minds off to the continent to be distracted by drinking games and Euro-dissipation, was to fail to do one’s bit to keep American colleges in the pole position…just before taking himself off to Oxford to further his own education.

                Now, Mark has expressed dismay at having his former writings for his alma mater thrown up to him in the present, saying that people change, and he’s not the same guy now. And its true that experience broadens the mind, although our core beliefs seldom change. For example, Mark was always interested in demographics, although his conclusions are open to challenge;

                http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2006/12/14/the-coming-fall-what-is-the/

                as here featuring the theme that western collapse is inevitable due to a shrinking population and once the tipping point is reached, that’s all she wrote, Mama. This is a view seldom explored now at The Russia Hand.

                Still, although we seldom agree completely, Mark is far from stupid. Subjects he researches thoroughly rather than proceeding on emotion – as he notoriously did in the Pussy Riot case – are well-presented and generally the conclusions are inescapable; his work on Russian demographics strongly supports the reversal of population decline, although his earlier work (and it is important to remember here that he is a young man, and what seems to him an eternity ago was in real terms just a short time; he was actually still at Harvard in 2006/2007) suggested once the tipping point was reached, the decline was irreversible.

                Every writer has blind spots, and for Mark, it often appears as passionate defense of some behaviour he interprets as an exercise of civil liberties, and which Putin’s autocratic machine is crushing. In Mike’s case, mention of another blogger’s work or even their name reliably triggers a grumpy rejoinder in which dark mutters about JRL and propping and the more high-profile of venues can be counted upon to appear, as he feels his own analysis is slighted in favour of the less worthy.

                My own view is that you can learn something from everyone, no matter how dozy you perceive them to be, because they always know something you don’t. And although I generally disagree with Mark’s views, there is a lot in his posts with which I agree.

                • Misha says:

                  I’m more interested in the actual issues, as opposed to the people who write about them. It’s not so much a case of my being “grumpy”, as some appear to be a bit ass kissing and phony.

                  From a reasoned pro-Russian point of view, there’s good reason to find plenty of fault with the coverage of the former Soviet Union.

                  “The Russia Hand” has written some so-so (at best) commentary that has been noted with detailed follow-up at this thread.

                  Feel free to duck certain pertinent points, while carrying on with the same old, same old.

                • marknesop says:

                  Thanks, Mike; that’s good advice, I’ll do that.

                • Misha says:

                  Mark,

                  I can follow such advice as well by simply ignoring the selectively crony like props of certain individuals.

                  Mark Adomanis hasn’t exhibited some kind of super intellectual knowledge of Russia to be excessively referenced over some others.

                  The desire to seek an improved coverage is better served by promoting those with valid and under-represented points of view.

  9. marknesop says:

    More tit for tat in the Magnitsky Wars, as the U.S. Embassy rejects 80-90% of the Russian applications for the State Department’s Summer Work and Travel Program. The severing of ties goes on apace.

    • Misha says:

      Once again noting that this Saturday is the cutoff for Obama to formally release names on the Magnitsky list.

      It wouldn’t surprise me to find this thread to date having the most in depth analytical discussion on why McFaul is essentially full of it for suggesting that the O admin isn’t really supportive of the Magnitsky bill. (So much for “The Russia Hand” and pretty much most of the other establishment propped sources.)

      The O admin iset the tone with absurd comments from the likes of Victoria Nuland. Recall what she said about Pussy Riot as one example.

    • cartman says:

      Middle class Russians have their money STOLEN by the EU, and now the US is thumbing its nose at the ones who want to visit. Maybe it is time to learn something from all of this.

      • Misha says:

        Without saying such outright, some appear to put a premium on having the freedom to limit others, in a hypocritical manner.

        • Note the sordid comment about Russian students being recruited by mafia families to work as exotic dancers. As if American students didn’t also do that to finance their studies. I don’t know whether any Russian students on this programme did do things like that but the bleak reality of today’s world is that it goes on everywhere.

          Anyway, this is very odd action since it hits at precisely those people (the much overhyped “creative class”) who the US wants to win over to its side.

      • Nah, Russians will never learn. They will continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

        • kirill says:

          You are funny. Some 1000 “students” not getting a precious chance to visit the Godly USA. LOL. They should go to Canada, it is better.

    • Ken Macaulay says:

      Another own goal by the US!
      These US funded programs have been the US’s most successful works in gaining supporters for the US viewpoint in Russia, & a large proportion of those who are advocating US viewpoints in the media or ‘opposition’ were graduates.

  10. yalensis says:

    Navalny’s television interview + Russian transcription with Albats a few days ago (=April 7).
    Recall that Albats is, and has always been, a gushing fan of Navalny’s, so this was a highly friendly interview.

    http://echo.msk.ru/programs/albac/1048044-echo/

    They talk about various things, mostly KirovLes, and also Navalny’s putative presidential ambitions. (He says he wants to run for Prez against Putin in 2018.)
    On KirovLes, Navalny reiterates his defebse that this was a normal business transaction, and alludes to the records of bank payments (from Ofitserov’s VLK to KirovLes) that he linked in his blog. I tried to read those records myself, but had to give up because I don’t understand them. But other commenters have verified that bank payments were made in stages. Recall that VLK concluded a deal with KirovLes for 16 million rubles worth of lumber products. It looks like VLK took the product in stages without pre-payment (I could be wrong about that), then remitted money back to KirovLes after each downstream sale. Eventually the remittances almost equalled the initial price, but with VLK keeping 1 million for salaries and profit margin. So, yes, this WOULD be a normal business transaction IF the initial contract was valid. If I were the prosecution, I would harp on that concept, while the defense will harp on the fact that the money (ultimately received from the downstream customers) DID go back to KirovLes. Navalny hopes that this will mitigate his sentence, and it probably will.

    Navalny’s own prediction: He will be convicted, but get a suspended sentence. That way he gets to keep his freedom, but will be ineligible to run for political office. That outcome is also the best guess of politrash, and I guess myself too. I think I have to give up on my dream of Navalny fleeing to Tallinn (I have money on that bet), because he made it clear to Albats that he will not flee.

    The way she posed the question (quoting Alesandr Morozov) was: Well, shouldn’t all the good and decent people be gathering abroad for that glorious moment when they will return to rule the shards of the fallen empire? Hence, Alexei should take his family and flee abroad.

    (Actual quote:):

    «Нам всем теперь будет лучше, если за рубежом нашей родины будет накапливаться массив образованных, умных и респектабельных соотечественников, которые пригодятся сразу после того, как с ноги падет деревянная колодка. Я хотел бы, чтобы Алексей Навальный взял семью и уехал. Поколенчески время в любом случае на его стороне».

    To which Navalny responds that he is not going to flee abroad.
    To the question, how does he intend to run for Prez if he forbidden to do so because of his (future) criminal record: Navalny replies with a fiery revolutionary speech that one would expect more from Udaltosov:

    The revoluton will sweep away the current government and ruling elite, who usurped power. Navalny believes that the current economic downturn will force the masses out onto the street, they will force Putin to dissolve the Duma, and then Russia will finally have truly free elections, and the new elections will bring the Opposition to power, laying the basis for Navalny himself to run for Prez.

    I am not making this up, here is the actual exchange:


    Е. АЛЬБАЦ – Какие выборы для вас, если вы сами говорите, что если вам дадут условный срок, то таким образом они лишат вас возможности когда-либо избираться.

    А. НАВАЛЬНЫЙ – Ключевое слово «они». Они мне ничего не могут запретить или решить. Вот есть народ РФ. Он здесь все решает. Оттого, что сейчас банда каких-то жуликов временно узурпировала власть, говорит о том, что в этом времени, пока они узурпировали, эти жулики тут могут что-то делать. Наша задача – бандитскую шайку от власти отстранить. Тогда наступит время, не будет никаких «они», а будет закон, право и порядок. Я абсолютно верю, что такие времена наступят.

    Е. АЛЬБАЦ – Каким образом тех, кого называете бандитская шайка, можно отстранить?

    А. НАВАЛЬНЫЙ – Таким образом, как их отстраняли во множестве стран в течение всего срока жизни человечества. Люди выйдут на улицу и вышвырнут их из Кремля. Они сами оттуда сбегут, потому что система перестанет управляться. Мы видим, что экономический рост в России падает. У нас сейчас прогноз Минэкономразвития 2,5%, эти люди завели страну в тупик. Политический, идеологический, экономический, какой угодно. Поэтому они уже из этого тупика Россию не выведут. Но страна-то есть, люди есть. И поэтому рано или поздно этих людей, этих жуликов во власти пинками, так или иначе, погонят.

    Е. АЛЬБАЦ – То есть вы полагаете, что выборы в России возможны только после того, как нынешние правители Кремля покинут офис?

    А. НАВАЛЬНЫЙ – Выборы возможны после того, как мы вынудим либо тех людей, которые сейчас там сидят, либо новых людей, либо сделаем сами реальную политическую реформу и сделаем так, чтобы выборы были честными. Я думаю, что они, наверное, сами в каких-то обстоятельствах, поняв, что еще немножко, порвется этот волосок, и они потеряют и жизнь, и свободу, и капитал, они могут и сами на это пойти. И мы видели, что после первого митинга на Болотной площади, они испугались настолько, что выступили с идеей политической реформы. Конечно, они потом отыграли назад, когда первый испуг прошел. Но они же заявили о политической реформе. Это значит, что они как жулики, но жулики рационально мыслящие, конечно, рассчитывают план Б.

    Е. АЛЬБАЦ – То есть вы допускаете возможность, что Путин может распустить ГД, и объявить новые выборы.

    А. НАВАЛЬНЫЙ – Мы заставим его это сделать. Это все зависит от нас. Мы заставим его это сделать. Если мы будем работать неэффективно, зачем ему это делать. Он будет наслаждаться своими украденными миллиардами и гонять на частном самолете…

    Е. АЛЬБАЦ – Это не люди его заставят.

    А. НАВАЛЬНЫЙ – Ну а кто другой его заставит? У него другого нет. Вот есть мы, нормальные люди, есть Путин, который все понимает, который узурпировал власть. Есть большое количество населения, которое по тем или иным причинам достаточно пассивно. Наша задача и наша ответственность такого прогрессивного класса, кроме нас других нет. Либо мы это сделаем, больше никто другой. Кто? Барак Обама нам поможет? Или всемирное правительство. Нет, всемирное правительство прекрасно себя чувствует, взаимодействуя с Путиным, потому что Путин перегоняет туда свои наворованные миллиарды, и Путин здесь контролирует ядерные ракеты. Ничего другого не интересно Бараку Обаме по большому счету. Есть, конечно, немножко риторики про то, зачем вы обижаете правозащитные организации, но и только.

    To recap: Navalny’s trial starts in 6 days. A very vengeful Bastrykin, whose feelings were hurt by Navalny’s incessant insults, accuses the political giant of embezzling 16 million rubles from a state enterprise. Since Navalny was able to find copies of the receipts, prediction is that he will be convicted, but only get a suspended sentence.

    Then, a couple of years from now, the economic downturn and hardships will force the Russian masses into the streets. The Revolution will bring Navalny to power. The rules will be changed so that a man with a criminal record is allowed to run. This is the Nelson Mandela gambit in action.
    The deluded inhabitants of the evil Matrix will realize that Navalny is THE ONE. It is an important sign that the word “ONE” is an anagram of “NEO”, just like “SELVORIK” is an even better anagram for “KIROVLES”.

    Next, peering into the future like Nostradamus on hashish, I see that it comes to pass that Khodorkovsky, once freed from his cell, will be appointed Navalny’s Prime Minister. Then the twain will fight over the top job. Navalny will dissolve parliament for the third time….

    Still peering into my crystal ball, I see a chubby man dancing away his country’s birthright. Is this just Boris Yeltsin with Navalny’s face photoshopped onto his body? Or is this an image from the murky future? My Oracular powers fade….

    • The Guardian is now giving Navalny publicity for one of his articles. No doubt part of the softening of its readership prior to his trial.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/11/vladimir-putin-alaexei-navalny-corruption

      I doubt that the British public (even Guardian readers) will be much interested in Navalny. He is hardly a well known figure here and he does not provoke the cultural interest people had in Pussy Riot.

      • kirill says:

        It’s kind of hard to spin Navalny as blogger anti-corruption hero when he was part of the system during the KirovLes grifting. But then again the western media turned corrupt accountant Magnitsky into an “anti-corruption lawyer” as if he was some sort of activist who took on corruption cases. I think I am being too generous to the western MSM and their audience. Navalny will become Nelson Mandela whether reality likes it or not.

        • yalensis says:

          Serving time in prison would only make Navalny a “half-Mandela”. To do a “Full Mandela”, he needs to emerge from Prison to Presidency in a single bound. Also known as the “Full Walesa”.
          But I can’t see this happening unless NATO nukes Moscow, crudely speaking.

          • yalensis says:

            Maybe I should have called this a “half-Nelson” and a “full-Nelson” ?

          • Jen says:

            To do a full Mandela, he’d have to spend 26 years in isolation in three different prisons, do a complete degree by correspondence and have a pop song with a cheerful tune written about him with the chorus of girls going “Free-ee … Alexei Navalny!”

            No, that song will never sell unless Simon Cowell promotes it.

      • yalensis says:

        A couple of the Guardian commenters pointed out Navalny’s neo-Nazi ties. Maybe a touch of that is all it takes to chill some of the enthusiasm for him among at least some of the readers.

  11. kirill says:

    http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130411/180588556/Russian-NGOs-Ask-to-Disclose-1-Bln-Foreign-Aid-Recipients.html

    NGO maggots trying to claim that they are poor and destitute. If the government used dirty tricks to obtain information on these 5th column operations, then it is not obliged to reveal these tricks. Then the “N”GOs will change their money shuffling operations.

    It seems to be true that Russia never learns. Don’t waste time proving who got what. Just shut down all the outfits that refuse to abide by the law.

    • Misha says:

      I’m sure that a good number working for them aren’t getting huge salaries. At the same time, they’re (in a number of instances) getting far more than what their political opposites are receiving – publicity included.

      Sarcastically put, given the lack of substantive opportunities offered for folks having a different and valid point of view from theirs.

      • kirill says:

        That is true. They have an advantage from having the whole western propaganda apparatus on their side. But given that they do not have significant grass roots support in Russia, the only policy that has any chance of producing results is to spend money to buy support. Without money these operations are less than useless and $250,000,000 per month is peanuts for the US.

  12. kirill says:

    http://expert.ru/expert/2013/13/russkomu-hajteku-ukazali-na-mesto/

    This is how America engages in free market competition: bans the competition via government action. Note the BS excuse to put the Russian company on the ban list: it sold its wares to military users. Well, golly-gosh-gee-willikers IBM does the same thing. Also note how Russian companies managed to grab 75% of Russia’s market increasing from 10%. Can’t have this now, can we.

    The Americans think they have Russia by the short and curlies when it comes to computers. But Russia has come a long way since the days of the USSR in terms of having chip fabrication capacity. This is also where cooperation with China comes in since China is now one of the main fabrication regions on the planet. Even Intel has a fabrication plant in Dalian.

    Looks like the WTO can be circumvented with national “security” legislation in the USA.

  13. yalensis says:

    Why Navalny will NOT be the Russian Nelson Mandela:

    http://www.rosbalt.ru/generation/2013/04/10/1116134.html

    This is quite a good op-ed. Ivan Grek explains why Navalny will not become the Russian Mandela. Among others, Grek makes one point that is really trenchant:

    Да, “Роспил”, возможно, продолжит работать. Но поскольку эта и другие организации созданы не для реальной борьбы за власть, а, так сказать, “для создания настроения”, они не помогут политзаключенным выбраться из тюрьмы (как не помогли до сих пор) и не превратятся в партию как АНК Манделы.

    That Navalny’s “Rospil” project (that’s the one that digs up corruption in state enterprises – no doubt funded by U.S. State Department) was created, not in order to seize power, but in order to “create a mood”. That’s the best description I have seen for the ultimate purposes of these propaganda projects. “To create a mood.”

    For example, a REAL anti-corruption project would have a positive philosophy, something like: “We love our country and we are not necessarilily opposed to the government, but we will be ruthless in exposing wrong-doing by whomever. We will work hard to improve the situation.”
    Something like Ralph Nader’s movement in the U.S.

    Since we know that Navalny is a revolutionary determined to overthrow the government, then his Rospil project has the philosophy more like, “Nothing can ever be accomplished under the current government. The corruption is endemic and cannot be cured until after the revolution. So we will continue to attack the government, embarrass it abroad, gather the troops, steel them ideologically for the overthrow.”

    Other reason why Navalny is not Mandela: Navalny is not a member even of a serious tiny party, let alone a mass movement. Mandela was a member of the ANC, which was a huge movement, enjoying mass support among the African population, and also forged alliances with other mass parties, such as the South African Communist Party, other progressive white organizations, and many other multi-racial organizations.
    Navalny, by contract, is a member of a 35-person “Coordinating Committee” which consists of bickering and mutually back-stabbing celebrities.

    • Misha says:

      Mandela also lived in an oppressively bigoted state, much unlike Navalny and the Pussy Riot brats.

    • marknesop says:

      I beg to differ. Navalny is even now starting his own tiny party, it will be called the People’s Alliance. It seems likely to me that whoever advised him to announce for the Russian presidency – for the sole reason that it will allow him and the mendacious media to claim his prosecution is political because the Kremlin fears his rising power – suddenly clicked in that he should be the leader (or at least a member) of a political party if he plans to run for president. All of this is just desperate afterthought, throwing sand in the gears to slow down the wheels of justice. Comically, the decision of whether or not the People’s Alliance gets off the ground will not be rendered until well after the trial starts, and by the time it is its leader may well be in jail. That’s forethought for you – if you fail to plan, plan to fail, they say.

      Georgy Bovt says Navalny will get 10 years. I say 3. Wagers?

      • yalensis says:

        I was actually tending to the view that Navalny will just get a suspended sentence. But I think I am evolving on that (as Grek points out, that would be a terrible slap in the face to Bastrykin, and Russian prosecutors don’t usually slap prosecutors in the face). Hence, I will agree with you that 3 years is the most likely sentence.

        P.S. I guess I don’t really understand the law. Because Navalny says he is registering “his” party. But then, further down, it says that the Russian President must be non-partisan:


        Navalny said he intended to become the leader of Russia – according to Russian law, the president must remain non-partisan. Earlier this month, Navalny reiterated that he was determined to run for president, and vowed that his opponents would be imprisoned after his victory.

        How can you register to form a party, but stil be non-partisan?

        • yalensis says:

          typo: Should say “Russian JUDGES don’t usually slap prosecutors in the face”

        • marknesop says:

          Ooooo….that’s a good point, I didn’t see that bit about threatening to imprison his opponents “after his victory”. Brilliant. How would that make him different from them? He just threatened to imprison his opponents to get them out of the way and consolidate his power. But that’s the way he thinks, because he is fixated right now on building a phony picture that he will be imprisoned for political reasons rather than because he’s a crook. Now he can add that he is being imprisoned because his rivals fear prison themselves, at his own cleansing hand. His advisers got to work late, but they are doing a heck of a job.

          I said three years simply because, like it or not, convictions will now be measured against Pussy Riot’s sentence. If Navalny got a suspended sentence, the immediate response would be, what? Singing a little song in church is good for two years, while embezzlement gets a slap on the wrist? So it has to be more severe than their sentence, but not much more so as not to seem disproportionately cruel. Incarceration is supposed to be both a punishment and a deterrent.

          • yalensis says:

            Oh, pooh, Navalny is always threatening to fill the prisons with his opponents after he comes to power. Every time he makes such a threat, Albats has an orgasm.

            • JLo says:

              “Albats has an orgasm.”

              Thanks, I really needed to read something so repulsive on this fine Saturday morning. I’m trying to figure out how to un-visualize this.

              • yalensis says:

                Sorry about that, JLo! You may need to go to your local neurosurgeon and ask him to cut that image out of your brain. How do you think I feel? It was my own sick brain that imagines such horrors.

              • marknesop says:

                Try pretending she’s 22 in the mental picture, instead of 102 or whatever she really is. It’s surprising what some of these people once looked like; I’m sure you were around when we were once discussing the younger Yulia Latynina.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        He’s a Judas who is receipt of 60 pieces of silver from the CIA.

        Off with his head!

        The liberasts on the Russian blogosphere often threaten that heads will roll when they come to power, so why not start the heads rolling now?

        Better still, a good hanging, drawing and quartering would certainly provide shock and awe for the soft-arse, guitar-strumming, garden ring squatters.

        I jest – of course.
        :-)

  14. yalensis says:

    Two years after the “Arab Spring” and all that fresh air in Tahrir Square, Egypt is broke and needs to be bailed out by Qatar. (Because IMF didn’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole, unless Egypt was willing to introduce a Dickensian type austerity that would have made Oliver Twist feel right at home.)

    http://www.dni.ru/economy/2013/4/11/251187.html

    2 billion dollars will be “donated” by Libya, which is in essence under Qatari occupation since the fall of Qaddafi. Supposedly this is an interest-free loan that will come due in 5 years.
    Qatar itself will throw in an additional 3 billion.
    This on top of 5 billion that Qatar already put in earlier.
    Qatar desperate to keep the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt, however their Islamist compadres seem to be a hopelessly ineffective money pit, since they already ripped through the earlier 5 billion without showing any result.

    • kirill says:

      May Qatar choke on it’s “success”.

      • Qatar is overreaching itself. It is a very small country that happens to be exceptionally rich but it does not have the power or the geopolitical weight to leverage the whole Middle East in the way it is trying to do. Sooner of later all of this will catch up with Qatar at which point it will find itself without friends.

        • kirill says:

          Qatar is acting like the bully because it has the “roof” called the USA. The USA has a military base there and Al Jazeera is basically a US project to establish an Arab CNN. It has succeeded and pushes the pro-American line. The initial “anti-Americanism” of Al Jazeera was an obvious ploy that convinced many around the world that this was an independent organization.

          The US “roof” factor was at play during the break up of Yugoslavia and Saakashvili’s adventure into South Ossetia.

          • Jen says:

            Qatar is a minnow between two giants (Iran and Saudi Arabia). Competing with Saudi Arabia’s funding of Salafists by funding the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and other places, and offending Iran for allowing the Syrian opposition to open an embassy in Doha will lead to crisis in Qatar if Iran were to shut down the Straits of Hormuz to block US access to oil and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms in the event of an invasion. What Qatar and Bahrain should have done when they became independent back in the 1970s was to join the UAE. Instead they’re in a position similar to the Baltic states: unnecessarily antagonising nearby powerful neighbours simply because they think the US or the EU will come to their aid if they’re threatened.

            • marknesop says:

              “…unnecessarily antagonising nearby powerful neighbours simply because they think the US or the EU will come to their aid if they’re threatened.”

              Which pretty much sums up the behaviour of Saakashvili’s Georgia as well. He knew full well that Georgia could not be accepted into NATO so long as it has outstanding territorial disputes that introduce ambiguities about its borders, and he gambled that if he got things rolling, the western cavalry would ride to the rescue, leaving him to mop up and toast the newly-reunited Georgia, NATO member in good standing, And what a nightmare that would have been for Russia, not to mention for the west, having to constantly settle down a bellicose Saakashvili constantly daring Russia to make a move which would have to be answered by all of NATO.

              His reasons were different entirely than those of Bahrain and Qatar, whose border disputes are with each other rather than with their powerful neighbours, but the rationale behind their association with great powers far from their lands is the same.

      • marknesop says:

        Let’s raise a glass to that.

  15. Misha says:

    The kind of Russian point of view which is preferred at neolib to neocon to flat out anti-Russian venues:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/04/11/russia_s_olympic_city

    No mention on why some aren’t likely eligible for compensation for home relocation – a matter having to do with (among other things) a squatter status.

    Not one positive noted.

    An example of the kind of objective (not) journalism one is to find.

    At the more high profile of English language venues with an emphasis on Russia, try finding a substantively complete counter to the ongoing slants against the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics.

    In contrast, you bet I don’t care to know much about “The Russia Hand”, while noting such instances as how Paul Goble is disproportionately propped at JRL, – like he’s such a comparatively better source, over some others with valid and under-represented points of view.

    It’s half assed to criticize Goble, without also noting with criticism those propping him. At issue is a kind of lavochka understanding on what can and can’t be said without losing favor.

    Nothing is stopping the Russian government and the more patriotically inclined of Russia’s wealthy to better influence the foreign coverage of Russia – especially in the English language.

  16. Misha says:

    Re: http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/russias-unpopular-intelligentsia-8334

    Article that briefly touches on maters like the Magnitsky bill and the Yeltsin years.

    On such a matter, I find much of the discussion at this venue to be considerably more in depth.

    GRUMP! GRUMP!

    • kirill says:

      The below is not a barb aimed at you. It is aimed at the article you linked.

      “What is the cause of this divide between elites and the average citizen? The first and most obvious explanation is differences in income and education. Pew’s data shows a correlation between income and the importance respondents place on institutions such as a “fair judiciary” or an “uncensored media.” Only 28 percent of those with a “secondary education or less” believe that Russia should rely on a “democratic” system, as compared with 48 percent of those who have at least some university education.”

      Ah I see, it’s the stupid, uneducated bydlo that does not think St. Khodorkovsky and St. Browder and his martyred disciple, Magnitsky, should have been running the show in Russia. The 1990s were just so wonderful.

      I have a physics PhD from a well known Canadian university and I am not a starving artist. So how come I think that the liberasts in Russia are scum? Because they are NOT the intelligentsia. They are a lunatic Randroid fringe who pine for Bolshevik solutions to Russia’s non-existent problems (Russian society and economy do not need any shock therapy, they are developing normally even if it is not fast enough for some). I know members of Russian academia personally and not every last one of them is a liberast. This article is pushing the standard western propaganda about Russia’s political spectrum.

    • kievite says:

      Misha,

      Looks like Michel McFaul strong discagree with the James W. Carden. Specifically he thinks:

      If the economy is improving—the four years since 1999 have seen an average of 5 percent growth per annum—and the “new” middle class shows signs of continued growth, then why are Communist clones surging in popular support? Eventually, survey data will give us real answers. Yet a plausible hypothesis is that the Motherland and the LDPR are not only appealing to former Communist sympathizers, but also to a middle class that has not proved to be such a liberalizing political force after all. Most of Russia’s rising middle class probably gravitated to Putin’s party, Unified Russia—which is not exactly the party of Sakharov. Putin seems to have calculated that a more authoritarian pitch would have widespread appeal. It was notable how insistently Unified Russia played on nationalist and patriotic themes during the campaign, including photos of Stalin in its leaflets and calls for “order” and “strength” as its main goals for a new Russia.

      And a fraction of Russia’s rising middle-class voters seems to have strayed to the more virulent nationalist groups. Perhaps most surprisingly, Motherland finished second behind Putin’s party in both Moscow and St. Petersburg, cities traditionally considered bastions of liberalism and leaders in economic reform. Exit polls conducted by the Russian firm Romir show that Motherland’s voters were more educated, more urban, and richer than the average Communist voter. These same polls show that Zhirinovsky’s biggest support came from 18-to-35-year-olds, the very cohort that is supposed to be saving Russia from its authoritarian past. Middle-class Russians may like Rogozin’s call for “Russia for Russians” (i.e., not for Jews) more than SPS’s slogans about property rights or the pleas of Grigory Yavlinsky’s left-of-center liberal party, Yabloko, to defend human rights. During the campaign, Chubais floated the idea of erecting a “liberal empire” within the former Soviet Union, a feeble attempt to steal some thunder from the resurgent nationalists. It didn’t work. Voters, it appears, may want the empire, but without the liberalism.

      • kirill says:

        This interpretation is so ludicrous that it does not even merit a response. But anyway, the construct “Russian middle class is responding to Putin’s appeal to authoritarianism and nationalism” is a pure lie. The Russian middle class is responding to the professionalism of Putin as the man who gets things done without sending millions to the gulags. It is looney tunes western turds such as McFaul who see this as bad, bad, bad. And I have been listening to the crying about Russians turning to nationalism for 22 years already. Zhirinovsky was being painted as some new Hitler (Godwin’s Law applies to the accusers) already back in the mid 1990s.

        The use of the word liberals to describe the pro-western sycophant fringe in Russia is another big lie. They are not left-of-center, they are Randroid flakes who worship Khodorkovsky and pine for the good old days of the 1990s. These “liberals” have basically nothing in common with the Russian people as a whole and it is not surprising the middle class is not sucking up to them.

        The other big lie in this narrative is that only the liberasts care about property and human rights. This is obvious BS. Give us examples of property rights being undermined by Putin and the political mainstream in Russia. And spare the crap about Pussy Riot being a human rights case. It is a sick joke that Russians don’t care about.

      • Misha says:

        Kievite,

        Regarding that excerpt:

        - I sense that Rogozin would disagree with the characterization of his view on how Russian identity should exist.

        - Offhand, United Russia hasn’t impressed as either having been or turning closer to a softer approach on Stalin. Within that party, I’m sure there’s a range of views to be found on Stalin.

        - Would’ve to get back to you on the depiction of a surging in popularity KPRF. There’s a difference between a brief fluctuating rise over one that might become such over a prolonged period.

        You might be aware of some recent talk of how some in United Russia might break and form another party.

        I’m aware of the recently stated pessimism on the Russian economy that has been making the rounds. I don’t see a massive social upheavel with a Navalny and/or Khodorkovsky leading a popular movement.

  17. I understand Alyokhina of Pussy Riot is now applying for parole. I wonder what the grounds are?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Her grounds?

      She doesn’t like being in prison.

      She’s been trying to get parole for a while now. She’s already been knocked back once because of her bad behaviour: she wouldn’t get up when told. She said that she was so tired that she never heard the morning reveille. I find that hard to imagine. In a slammer – the door is slammed open and your are told to get up in no genteel manner.

      She refused to get up when she was voluntarily in a solitary slammer.

      She’s been in voluntary solitary twice now. By “solitary”, that doesn’t mean she was suffering the punishment usually associated with solitary confinement: her “solitary” was her private room.

      She chose solitary because she wants to be the Greta Garbo of the establishment.

      I read an article a while back in a Russian newspaper (MK), which had an interview with two of Alyeshkina’s fellow inmates who are the two whom she has specifically stated had been giving her a hard time inside and had threatened her.

      Apparently, Alyeshkino had taken it upon herself to educate the bydlo incarcerated in the “gulag”. They’d asked her why she and her “artistic” friends had “performed” in such an obscene and blasphemous manner in the Moscow cathedral. They got the usual shit off her as a reply.

      It turns out that the two who became her arch-enemies are junkies who are repeat offenders (thieves) and who have spent most of their lives inside. They are not kids either: they are middle-aged and are also mothers. They are also believers.

      They got pissed off with Alyeshina telling them how to live (I began to translate the article, but the translation fell by the wayside: I’m just writing what I can remember about the interview). One of them said that Alyeshina chose to be in prison, whereas they didn’t – presumably because they’re junkies, whereas Alyeshina is a bourgeois white-ribbbonist, feminist punk rocker attention seeking prat.

      They (her accusers) also stated that unlike them, Alyeshina is rich and that if she wished, she could get out of nick any time. I presume that they are implying that she could use her money and influence to free herself and possibly that accusation was also a reference to the way she had been allowed her own private quarters whilst in the camp, albeit that the Western media screams “solitary” as though she was sleeping on planks under one army blanket and living on a diet of bread and water.

      Basically, Alyeshina is a poor little rich girl in nick who has got up the lags’ noses with her pomposity and patronizing attitude.

      And now she wants out.

      • Misha says:

        When she gets out, I can see a Freedom House sponsored US Pussy Riot tour, inclusive of an NBC Saturday Night Live appearance, minus group sex and especially obscene words.

        • kirill says:

          The liberast claim is that Pussy Riot did not use a single swear word and said nothing offensive towards Christians. Eventually every western account will claim that PR got put in jail for praying to God to have Putin leave office.

          • Misha says:

            Contrary to what McFaul has now been reported as spinning, the Obama admin encouraged the Magnitsky bill, as evidenced by actions like when the US State Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland referrred to the arrest, trial and imprisonment of Pussy Riot as a threat to artistic freedom.

            I’m willing to believe that not everyone in the O admin is of the same mind on Russia. Nuland is in a mouthpiece position, as opposed to one that should be influencing policy. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a difference now with Kerry in place of H. Clinton as SoS.

            Without knowing too much of Nuland, I sense her upbringing might’ve been influenced by Commentary Magazine, The New Republic and 1970s local New York mass media.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Bennets gives fulsome praise to McFaul in this week’s Moscow News, which article is a reprint of the same that appeared in RIANovosti just in case any one missed it.

              • marknesop says:

                Did Mr. Bennetts not get the memo? America just doesn’t care that much about Russia any more. The world has changed. Jeez, move on.

                http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/31/3316141/us-russia-differences-in-eyes.html

                • kirill says:

                  That’s funny. The USA seems to care a lot about North Korea and Syria. If America did not care about Russia, then its media would not spend so much time focused on it and in a very negative way as if it was some serious threat. Don’t forget that Americans don’t know or care about the rest of the world. Also, the USA would not be spending tens of millions on regime change in Russia. This is just more trash talk from hypocrites.

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, I tended to see it more as an “oh, we’re not really interested, we’re so not into you” just because the plan for Russia has turned out to be such a failure. It’s easier to pretend there never was a plan in the first place.

              • Misha says:

                Another example of Bennetts rehashing a dubious claim without any second guessing of it.

                Note what he says of the US State Dept. opposing the Magnitsky bill, relative to the facts and fact based points brought up at this thread.

                In another instance, Bennetts gave a journalistically lazy “most historians…” bit on the Circassians. “Most historians” as in Oliver Bullough, who made it a point to say that most in the West don’t know much about that particular subject.

                Is it so unreasonable to question the kind of journalists who get promoted at JRL over others with a valid and under-represented point of view?

                You bet that venues like RT and VoR could and should be doing more to counter the negatively inaccurate coverage of Russia at large.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Shit! Shit! Shit! By our Lord’s shit that ain’t true!

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Pussy Riot uncensored:

            Pussy Riot sanitized and dubbed:

            The sanitized version is the one that you will find at ease on the internet. The original version you have to search for.

            They are liars when they say that they did not use bad language in the church and had no intention of offending anyone.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              And in the edited version they use obscene language. So if they say no obscenities were uttered in church, then they are admitting that the words were added after their protest performance, as were the anti-Putin lyrics and “music”, guitar noise and “screeching” that they call singing, together with the mock church choir style harmony at the beginning – all of which, of course, was in no way intended to offend the faithful. And in any case, they said that there were few people in church..

              Yet world wide the media says they sang an anti-Putin hymn IN CHURCH and that their trial was, therefore, a political one.

              Liars, all of them!

            • kirill says:

              Thanks for posting this. The audio quality is very poor and since they are repeating the same word over and over again there isn’t even a “song” or “punk prayer” in there just some din. The security guards should have had tazers then they could have prevented these freaks from staging their show. Also, the vagina thug who is “praying” near the end is doing it in the wrong direction (towards the “pew” section) so she is actually insulting God by waving her ass at Him. Getting up in front of the iconostasis was another insult, it’s not a performance stage and is reserved for the priests.

              Another liberast excuse is that the wrong hooliganism law was applied. Nope, it was the right one which pertains to religious offense.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Sorry about cocking up her name: my last missive was a rush job done before I went to work this morning.

    • yalensis says:

      Americans on List will probably counter: “Hey, who would want to go to Russia anyhow? The place is a shithole!”

      And then realize too late they can’t go to the Winter Olympics to cheer on Lindsey Vaughn and Charlie White.

  18. Misha says:

    Pardon if I repeated the following observation of mine at this venue. (I converse elsewhere and periodically lose track of what was said in which instance. I also knowingly repeat myself at the same venue in reply to ongoing rehashes – something that can benefit readers who weren’t aware of what was said beforehand.)

    Prior to coming under investigation, Browder was known to be pro-Putin. Upon his coming under investigation, I recall one anti-Russian leaning source (who I don’t care to promote) ridicule Browder’s about face stance.

    This situation serves as one debunking example against the notion that being pro-Putin exempts one from getting investigated.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that’s a good point – and it serves to illustrate also that Browder was pro-Putin only for so long as he perceived Putin was as big a crook as Khodorkovsky, whom he specifically mentioned in a derogatory manner which he later tried to take back in his speech before Chatham House, saying that he had been misinformed or had not known enough about the situation. It was fairly clear he had decided to back whoever was likely to win, in which he chose wisely. However, his apprehension that Putin would allow a return to the days of wild-west plundering was a ghastly mistake.

      • Misha says:

        I’m sensing that there might be substanstively more to Browder’s fall from what’s known. Can his situation involve him being simultaneously crooked, while having been targetted by some rivals who aren’t so squeaky clean themselves? The selective manner of what he chooses to comment on is curious.

  19. Evgeny says:

    An interesting observation from the National Post about how did Putin hit Femen’s weak point:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/04/11/matt-gurney-how-vladimir-putin-beat-femen/

    What’s curious is that while it’s pretty obvious, even some folks from the lenta.ru did not seem to get it.

    • yalensis says:

      Ha ha, that’s a really good point! When Putin said “I liked it” and put his thumbs up, he was turning the 2 women into sexual objects and thus defeated their contention that flashing their tits at him was a blow against the patriarchy. Don’t these silly girls ever read Chernyshevsky? The real blow against the patriarchy is to go out there and do some useful work.

      • marknesop says:

        Note the anger of the FEMEN founding member quoted; “Putin is a bastard”. Translation – I showed Putin my tits, and now he won’t call me.

        • yalensis says:

          She should have spray-painted her phone number across her chest! He wants to call her, but jealous Angela goons spirited the wench away before he could get her number.

    • yalensis says:

      “…Putin, a guy who poses for pictures (while topless himself, no less) of animals he shot…”
      That’s a bit misleading. Makes it sound like Putin hunts and kills animals for sport. He only shoots them with tranquilizer darts and then helps to tag them. All for the cause of ecology. (Supposedly.)

      • peter says:

        … Silvio si infilò il colbacco e i due camminarono nella neve. Parlarono. Progettarono. Stabilirono. Finché d’un tratto passò un’ombra al galoppo. Putin imbracciò il fucile e fece fuoco. Aveva ammazzato un cervo sul colpo. Sfoderò un coltellaccio, aprì il cervo, ne estrasse il cuore e lo donò all’ospite in segno di amicizia fraterna. E si dispiacque nel vedere l’ospite sbiancare e venire giù, come un muro di Pompei. Ma anche questa è una storia che Valentino non racconta.

        • yalensis says:

          Translator, please! This Italian is all Greek to me.
          Okay, here is my best attempt:

          “Silvio cut the kielbasa and shared it with his friends, Parlarona, Progettarono, and Stabilirono. Suddenly they noticed an hombre gallopping by. It was Putin! But he had to run inside and urgently use the bathroom. He was amazed how clean and tidy it was.
          After doing his business in the bathroom, he returned outside to the party, and they decided to join a fraternity. They caroused all night, enjoyed the hosptality, and then they went on an excursion to the see the ruins of Pompei.”

          • astabada says:

            … Silvio si infilò il colbacco e i due camminarono nella neve. Parlarono. Progettarono. Stabilirono. Finché d’un tratto passò un’ombra al galoppo. Putin imbracciò il fucile e fece fuoco. Aveva ammazzato un cervo sul colpo. Sfoderò un coltellaccio, aprì il cervo, ne estrasse il cuore e lo donò all’ospite in segno di amicizia fraterna. E si dispiacque nel vedere l’ospite sbiancare e venire giù, come un muro di Pompei. Ma anche questa è una storia che Valentino non racconta.

            … Silvio [Berlusconi] wore the ushanka and the two went in the snow. They talked. They Planned. They decided. Until suddenly a shadow passed by galloping. Putin took aim with the shotgun and fired. He killed the deer on the spot. He drew a hunting knife, cut the deer open, took the heart and gave it to his guest as a token of eternal friendship. He was really sorry when he saw his guest go pale and faint, like Pompei walls. But this is another story that Valentino does not tell. [This last sentence is a link to an Italian article. The article comes from one of the two most prominent Italian newspapers, which is critical of Putin being pro-NATO.]

            Ne za shto

            • Moscow Exile says:

              So what’s wrong with killing a deer and eating it?

              I love animals: I eat them.

              • yalensis says:

                I eat them too, but I would be too squeamish to cut the heart out!
                BTW, thanks for translation, astabada.

                • marknesop says:

                  Julia Ioffe covered this, way back when the Italian press first came out with the ridiculous story, in her typical Putin-is-so-skeevy-I-just-hate-him style. I meant to mention it earlier, but couldn’t find the article. Here it is.

                  http://themoscowdiaries.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/bambi-slayer/

                  I don’t think anyone took it very seriously – as I mentioned in the comments at the time, the two (Berlusconi and Putin) supposedly went off into the forest alone. Nobody but the two of them knows what actually happened. The narrator of the story was not even present. I find it hard to believe the eyewitness account came from Berlusconi, considering it featured him fainting like Dorothy in the poppy fields of Oz.

                • Jen says:

                  I’ve heard Putin and Berlusconi were pals but suspected the stories are concocted to discredit Putin for being friends with a head of state whose corruption and association with corrupt and corruptive elements are more than supposed. This story about Putin and Berlusconi going into a forest together and Putin going “Have a heart” sounds like an ancient Roman legend with names cut and pasted into it. To cut out a heart to offer it to a friend or lover sounds paganistic and I believe you would need fairly specialised knowledge and experience of hunting animals to know how to do that without making a mess of the rest of the animal.

                • yalensis says:

                  Here is how a black man trains himself to rip somebody’s heart out:

                  Hm… maybe he thinks he is Danny Glover in Predator 2?

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Yeah, it seems that eating offal long ago went out of fashion amongst the chattering classes of the West. I was brought up on liver and kidneys, heart, brains, and tripe. And I knew full well that the animals whose innards I relished had faces, for a sheep’s heads were on sale in butchers’ shops when I was a child – and rabbits, all fluffy and furry and cute and dead.

                  I knew that the meat that I ate had come from living creatures that had legs and tails as well: pigs’ trotters and ox tails were not uncommon sources of nourishment when I was a child, though I should think that the nutritional value in the trotters may have been minimal.

                  Meat products are processed now and offered on sale in sterile, shrink-film wrapped packages so as not to indicate to purchasers their living, breathing bleating, mooing or grunting origin.,

                • yalensis says:

                  Chicken hearts and livers are considered a Jewish delicacy. This is the original of the American Jewish idiom, “What am I? Chopped liver?”

                • Misha says:

                  I’m reading this with a toasted bagel with cream cheese and lox and this morning’s NYT at my side.

                  Such a rootless cosmopolitan.

  20. Misha says:

    Re: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/famed-sexologist-in-israel-to-film-documentary-about-circassians-1.308882

    Just saw this documentary, which is a mix of anti-Russian and pro-Israeli propaganda.

    One glaring and unintended omission is a segment on a teacher from “Caucasia”, who arrives to Israel to teach Circassian culture to Circassian-Israeli students.

  21. kirill says:

    http://en.rian.ru/sports/20130412/180601568/Sochi-2014-Roads-77-Complete—Official.html

    All the shrieking about Russian incompetence. But here we have an example that they are on schedule. They started construction in 2008 so this is a five year project and they are nearly 80% complete after four years. The price tag is $4.9 billion for 41.6 km of new roads, upgraded existing roads and highway tunnels (http://ispank.me/194-sochi-2012-road-tunnels-building.html). I do not see any evidence of corruption in this figure and the completion pace of the project.

  22. Moscow Exile says:

    In today’s Guardian there is a thunderous yarn entitled “Femen activist tells how protest against Putin and Merkel was planned”.

    Golly gosh! One has to give those brave girls a big round of applause for their daring do!

    And the Femen operative who thrills us all with her tale of valour says that the Femen movement is spreading far and wide. However, the Guardian reports:

    “Their plans to set up a branch in the UK have so far been thwarted, she says, by the ease with which protesters can be arrested and banned from protesting. ‘Our challenge in the UK is to find women who are not afraid to be arrested.’”

    Wait! That can’t be right, can it?

    Surely it’s Russia where “the ease with which protesters can be arrested and banned from protesting” is a national scandal, a foul affront against all that is near and dear to what westerners consider “human rights”.

    Typical Guardian typographers, getting everything mixed up like that.

    • kirill says:

      The stated aims of FEMEN are women’s rights and gay rights. Which of these has Putin’s government eroded or not recognized? Is staging an insulting performance inside a church now considered to be women’s rights? Really? Homosexuality in Russia is not illegal and only the pride parades are blocked by various city authorities. Given that conservative nature of Russian society this is nothing over which to scream defamation at Russia and Putin. I have not heard of any gay lynchings in Russia. Pride parades are excessive, in-your-face shows of “force” like the Orange parades in Northern Ireland, so excuse Russia for not having them in every village.

      • kirill says:

        PS. I heard that FEMEN is a Soros project. Must be true since they are clearly a propaganda tool to foist “western values” even where they are not needed.

        • I don’t know what exactly FEMEN are so pleased about. If the protest was targeted at Putin, he has come out of it looking stronger. By contrast the dismay on Merkel’s face is there for everyone to see. As a deeply conservative Christian there is nothing surprising about that. She was bound to be shocked by such a display. Was the purpose of the protest to annoy Merkel? If so then it has succeeded brilliantly though what in that case it’s underlying purpose was completely escapes me.

  23. The unclassified part of the Magnitsky list has now been published. It has only 18 names and none of them are important. Bastrykhin and Chaika are not there

    http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_04_12/Magnitsky-List-release-severe-blow-on-Moscow-US-ties/

    As I understand it there is a classified list as well and it may be that more important people are on that list, but looking at the list of minor and unknown functionaries on this list I cannot help but think that a mountain has moved and produced a mouse. Was it really worth doing all the damage to the US Russian relations that the Magnitsky law has done to produce a list like this? It is hardly likely that any of these people have significant property in the US. Obviously they cannot now travel there, which they might otherwise have wanted to do, but the real offence in all this is that they have in effect been named as guilty persons in respect of a crime the Russian authorities say was never committed. This must cause some of them at least major distress.

    Two names on the list are names to watch. One is Karpov, who is of course in the process of prosecuting a libel case against Browder here in Britain. It will be interesting to see how the administration will respond if he wins the libel case. Will Karpov’s name be removed from the list? The other is the judge who ordered that Magnitsky remain in detention. That is straightforward bullying of a judge for making a judicial decision. If the judge got it wrong then her decision is always subject to appeal and to put her on a list for making a judgment is a gross interference in another country’s legal process. This is so obvious that I would have thought this judge especially has strong grounds to challenge her inclusion in the list if there really is some way to do it.

    The insubstantial contents of the Magnitsky list tend to confirm the view of JLo (and Eugene Ivanov) that the US administration does not agree with the Magnitsky law and is embarrassed by it. Either that or someone has had cold feet and has come to realise that the Magnitsky law is doing more damage than it is worth.

    • kirill says:

      Maybe the US administration is slowly waking up to the reality that Russia is not going to be intimidated and the chances of any colour revolutions are as significant as Navalny winning the presidency in 2018. But I am not so sure, their grip on reality is too tenuous due to the rot of the brain induced by hubris.

      • Dear Kirill,

        Who knows? However I suspect that the predominant mood in official circles in Moscow this evening will be one of pleasure mixed with contempt and even a fair degree of derision. This was going to be the list that named and shamed human rights abusers. It’s difficult to see the outcome as anything other than the US bottling out of it whatever the precise politics behind this decision were. People like Bastrykhin and Chaika who have had cause to be nervous (no one likes to be on this sort of list) must now be feeling exhilarated and that America’s bluff has been called and that the US has in the end proved to be a paper tiger. By contrast the liberals in Russia will be feeling let down and disappointed.

        • R.C. says:

          A Lead balloon if there ever was one.

          I’m sure the US congress will rake Obama over the coals for this.

          I’m now wondering if Russia will even bother to issue a counter list.

          • Misha says:

            RC,

            As reported, Kerry and Lavrov seemed to have a pretty good exchange.

            There’s such a thing as getting sedated by long term BS. Perhaps this has become evident with some in Russia.

            • yalensis says:

              “sedated by long term BS” … that’s pretty funny, Misha!

              • kirill says:

                It’s funny but true. The human brain does not filter out all information that it is exposed to and repeated exposure will “train” it. This is the basis of all propaganda. It takes active effort to fight this brainwashing. Most people are not aware enough to do this and the BS creates their reality framework and the truth becomes a lie via cognitive dissonance.

                Human intelligence leaves a lot to be desired and most humans don’t even really use their intelligence.

                • Misha says:

                  I suspect that all of us at one time or another have been subconsciously duped. This is more likely to happen on subjects that we aren’t so well versed on.

                  Most Americans aren’t neocon or neolib ideologues. Upon being given the whole scoop on Pussy Riot, I’ve yet to find one of these non-neolib-neocon Americans who support Pussy Riot. Some of these Americans were able to figure it out for themselves.

                  The issue of the Magnitsky bill is another matter that involves other variables which aren’t so clear cut without a better overall knowledge of what’s involved.

                  You bet that the O admin could’ve lobbied against the Magnitsky bill, in a way that would’ve resulted in a less enthusiastic Senate vote for it, thereby making it easier for O to veto the bill, which he signed onto.

                  So much for the revisionist history from the likes of Bennetts.

                • marknesop says:

                  The selling of an individual or entity as an inspirational hero for purely cynical purposes is an old and well-practiced duet between government and media; examples abound. The invasion of Kuwait, in which the Kuwaitis were sold as a fiercely-patriotic group of democracy-lovers against whom the brutish forces of Saddam’s dictatorship were arrayed, when in fact Kuwait was never really a democracy since its independence and in which, since 1986, all state power had been vested in the Emir. The Kuwaiti nurse-volunteer who sobbed out the story of Saddam’s thugs tearing babies from incubators at the hospital, but who was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti U.S. Ambassador acting a role planned out for her by American PR firm Hill & Knowlton. Hill & Knowlton did not see any obvious disconnect between packaging the Iraq war as a human-rights crisis (as has been done numerous times since, because the military’s paymasters are suckers for human rights) at the same time they retained the Indonesian government as clients. The Indonesian government, by estimate, had killed about 100,000 inhabitants of East Timor in its violent annexation. The death of Pat Tillman, who was a genuine American hero: an all-American boy who turned down a $3.6 Million pro football contract with the Arizona Cardinals to go to Afghanistan with the Rangers. Tillman was shot by his own troops in a confused firefight in which everyone shot the place up wildly, cueing off whoever opened fire first, although Tillman was shouting his identity and for them to cease fire. The official story was that he was killed by enemy forces in a heroic assault at the head of his men, because the image of American troops as undisciplined and nervous, blazing away at any new sound, would have been unsettling.

                  William Browder, by his own account, was having trouble selling the Sergei Magnitsky, Activist Lawyer And Martyr story. Then he was granted an audience with Senator Ben Cardin, during which he was “unable to maintain his self-control”. Everything else about Bill Browder suggests emotional tears are as foreign to him as feathers to a fish, so he must have been quite carried away by his own fabricated tale. But from there, it was all downhill for the Sergei Magnitsky story; Browder already had the press largely on board thanks to his money and the natural compulsion of the press to believe an upright western businessman – American-born, no less – over a bunch of uncouth Russian barbarians. With political backing in the bag, it was plain sailing.

                  Ask yourself this, though – why did Cardin not commission an investigation into the affair before throwing his weight behind legislation? These are times when the lives of potential candidates for high office are taken apart piece by piece all the way back to high school, searching for any signs of potential embarrassment. Yet the notion that Sergei Magnitsky was the only honest man in a country where everyone associated in any way with finance is a corrupt thief was unquestioningly accepted.

                  Because it furthered other political objectives, and because Jackson-Vanik would be forced out of existence by WTO law, so something prejudicial was needed to replace it. Browder got his way, and everybody was well-satisfied all around. Nobody looked too closely to see if the landmark legislation that suited everyone so well was based on a fabrication. Time to pay the piper. If Browder loses his defamation action, which he is very likely to do, the whole Magnitsky thing will begin to unravel. Not that media will ever say so, and most will never know. But the fact that reluctant caution is already beginning to creep in speaks volumes.

                • kirill says:

                  If the Americans want a punitive law against Russia they can have one. It’s up to Russia to not be leveraged by such stupid pranks. Maybe the expectation in Washington is that Russia is weak and needs the west more than the west needs Russia, but the reality is the exact opposite. As I said elsewhere, hubris rots the brain.

            • Misha says:

              Providing top quality foreign policy, historical, media and sports analysis on a variety of topics.

              The coverage improves by bringing in quality contributors, who by and large haven’t appeared at the more high profile of venues. Political biases and cronyism stand in the way of a fairer/improved situation.

              Homerun hitters can’t hit homeruns sitting on the bench. As Dizzy Dean is quoted as saying: “It aint bragging if you can back it up.”

    • Misha says:

      Hi Alexander,

      If the O admin is so ashamed of the Magnitsky bill, how come it didn’t do anything to discourage it? If anything, the O admin encouraged the Magnitsky bill, as I note above this thread.

      The Russian government is still understandably unhappy about the Magnitsky bill. In addition, the O admin will be spun by a good number in the US as being feeble.

      WAY TO GO!

      BTW, feel free to name drop a great analytical mind that has been under-represented at the more high profile of venues. Such a stance serves to improve the coverage, in place of the existing status quo.

      • JLo says:

        Misha,

        This conversation is getting a bit silly. I don’t think anyone is making a judgment call on Obama’s actions, it’s simply an observation that the Magnitsky Bill makes foreign policy for the US more difficult. As such, O was against it in principle. As to what his administration did or didn’t do to discourage it is something nobody here knows for sure.

        I think it’s important to put the whole thing into perspective. While this is important to us, and we all would have like to seen O do more to fight it, it is just one, relatively small, issue in the larger political landscape. As much as a PITA it might be, it’s unrealistic to think that he would expend any serious political capital on the issue. If you consider that he uses a veto once every two years (effectively never), think how it would look to his opponents if he used it here. So it goes the way politics always does, giving and taking, trying to please everyone and ending up pleasing no one. If someone cares enough they can kick it to the courts and it will be their problem without the political headache.

        In the end, I think it’s pretty clear to anyone with half a brain that this will be a huge own goal for the US and actually strengthen Russia. Any requests to Russia for cooperation with the US in the international arena will be met with a big F U. Antagonism towards the Western-leaning liberals in Russia will only grow stronger. And any chinovnik who doesn’t realize that the US is the enemy will definitely do so now or, frankly, they deserve what they get.

        • Dear JLo,

          I agree with you.

          Whatever the internal politics within the US and whatever temporary embarrassment to the Obama administration this causes, someone somewhere in the US government has had the sense to draw back. This is something that should be unequivocally welcomed. It is entirely a good thing and hopefully we can now begin to move on and draw a line under this idiotic affair.

          I would add that publication of this list of nonentities will sure dampen enthusiasm in Europe for European governments to draw up their own lists. I never thought that very likely if only because of legal problems (I am sure the publication of such a list would be contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights) but the essential point is that if the mighty US was not prepared to go far and publish a list naming big names then it’s scarcely that European governments will now move to publish any sort of list at all.

        • kievite says:

          I don’t think anyone is making a judgment call on Obama’s actions, it’s simply an observation that the Magnitsky Bill makes foreign policy for the US more difficult.

          Why not to make a judgment call. It is always easy, althouth more often then not counterproductive ;-)

          Obama foreign policy including policy toward Russia is direct continuation of Bush II policy. The goal is to create pressue on Russia via superior geostrategic position. And believe me US vassals in Baltic states might jump over their heads to outdo the master to implement Magnistsky law. I already head about some noise that Estonia made.

          Some EU countries might join the circus too because Europe is not far from the status of the USA vassal too. This is plain vanilla demonstration of political power like was the case with Russian high-tech company somebody mentioned here.

          One thing that the USA lawmakers might miscalculate is that this might cost not only Russia, but there will be costs for the USA too. The USA still can afford them, and so far calls the shots as a sole remaining superpower, but situation might gradually change.

          Impreial policies (and this pure imperial policy with fig leaf of democracy attached) are costly. And in a long run undermine the host as happened with Spain and GB. Timeframe is unclear and this might happen in the next decade or in the next 100 years but time will come when using Vissotsky words “Хочеш друг не хочеш друг, плати по счету”,

          In any case I think Russian goverment now might try to diversify assets from dollar and speed up creation of BRICS bank. I wonder what his endorsement of euro really means. IMHO such a sobering treatment might also push Russian toward more cooperation with China as was suggested by Mark in this post.

          And I think poor McFaul with his now famous quote (below) might slightly suffer too:

          “В случае отказа Путина следовать интересам США, необходимо всячески ослаблять его и в конечном итоге поступить с ним так же, как и с Милошевичем…” – “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” M.MCFAUL, Journal of Democracy Volume 11, Number 3, July 2000 pp. 19-33
          Cited from http://fedorov-selsky.livejournal.com/442064.html

          “In the case of Putin’s refusal to follow the interests of the United States, efforts should be made to weaken him and eventually to treat him similar to Milosevic …” (reverse translation from Russian source). Or as Putin once said “The USA does not need allies, only vassals”

          Actually this an apt description of the US foreign policy toward Russia in just one sentence.

          • kievite says:

            Actually quote above might well be incorrect. I found English quote in discussion that is far less menacing:

            nopy4uk

            Apr. 9th, 2013 06:02 pm (UTC)

            вот абзац из оригинала:
            “Does this latest election represent a fundamental turn away from democratic practices or merely a temporary setback for democratic consolidation in Russia? It is too early to tell. Putin may turn out to be Russia’s Milosevic. Or he may develop into a weak leader presiding over a feudal order, dominated by oligarchs and regional barons, in which the people have little say. Yet it is also possible that he will lead Russia out of its chaotic, revolutionary, and anarchic recent past into a more stable decade of economic growth and political stability — and economic growth and political stability can help consolidate democratic institutions. Thus far, Putin has provided mixed signals about the direction in which he wants to take Russia and has demonstrated a real indifference to democracy. Consequently, the only honest assessment to be made at this stage is that democracy in Russia is not lost, but its future remains uncertain. ”

            Sorry for misinformation…

          • Misha says:

            Kievite,

            McFaul’s track record is something that the likes of Bennetts overlook in their spin of poor Michael being unfairly targetted by the Kremlin controlled media.

          • JLo says:

            “Why not to make a judgment call.”

            Because everyone here, including me, seems to be in agreement on this. Instead of being repetitive on the grand scheme, it’s more interesting to discuss the details of current events so as to try and understand if any changes are afoot, one way or the other. The world moves quickly these days, shifts that once took decades and centuries now take place in months and years.

        • Misha says:

          JLo

          If anything, it’s “silly’ to write as a matter of fact that the O admin (State Dept. in particular) opposed the Magnitsky bill.

          There was no Obama admin PR advocacy against it befoire it as voted on. Instead, we had comments like those from Victoria Nuland, suggesting that the arrest, trial and imprisonment of Pussy Riot is a challenge to artistic expression in Russia.

          • kirill says:

            This is from a country obsessed with Christianity. Basically the Republican Party has been taken over by evangelicals who can’t stop professing their religious preferences. They also pass laws based on Biblical guidance when it comes to climate change. Yet here we have them acting like a bunch of liberals (in the US sense of the word) pushing for “artistic” rights to cause offense to church goers and to trespass on church property. Clearly, the Orthodox Church is considered heretical and these hypocrites don’t even bringing up the obvious violations of the rights of others BY Pussy Riot.

            • Misha says:

              Reminded again of the greater negative RFE/RL coverage of the Russian and Serb Orthodox churches, when compared to what could be said of of the Croat Catholic and Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches, as well as the Vatican in general.

          • JLo says:

            Misha – Go back and read what I wrote. I didn’t mention the O administration’s opposition as a matter of fact, simply that evidence points to this conclusion. You seem like a smart guy, but to think that O would mount a PR campaign against the Magnitsky Bill as a way to express his opposition is incredibly naive. That’s not the way the political process works, not in the US and not anywhere.

            It’s surprising to me that I have to state this explicitly on this forum, but it seems necessary, I guess because people are so used to arguing with others elsewhere. I am not defending O, his administration, or his foreign policy. If I ever had the chance to do so, I’d personally spit in the faces of Victoria Nuland and Michael McFaul (whom I view as an absolute embarrassment and utter failure; his predecessors, whatever their failures, were professional diplomats and it showed). The US political system is dysfunctional and this situation is just another example. Yes, US foreign policy is imperialistic in a way that fits into classic historical patterns. Now that I’ve clarified this, can we move on?

            • Dear JLo,

              I agree with this. I should add that in my opinion if it was anyone’s responsibility to campaign much earlier against the Magnitsky law that should have been not the US administration but the Russian government.

              There’s been discussion about all this on the Ivanov Report, a blog I have criminally neglected of late. The simple fact is that as soon as it became clear that Russia would join the WTO the Russian government should have made a serious effort to reach out to the US business community to spell out the advantages for mutual cooperation. These are potentially enormous. A powerful delegation of Russian business people headed by someone like Shuvalov ought to have gone to the US and an effort to sell Russia should have been made there. I still remember how Deng Xiaoping and the Chinese did exactly that in the late 1970s. There should also have been a concerted attempt made to head off Browder by explaining at a much earlier date the sort of person he actually is and the charges that have been brought against him in Russia. The latter was eventually attempted when a delegation from the Federation Council did go to the US to explain the position about Browder but this happened in the summer of 2012 when Congress was already committed to the Magnitsky law, by which time it was far too late.

              The Russian response both to the Magnitsky law and to the possibilities of WTO entry was far too slow and far too weak. I have already said that where Browder is concerned I think a lot of the trouble is that in 2011 and 2012 senior people in Moscow were all worrying about the tandem switch, the elections and the protest movement and took their eye off that particular ball. I also think that Russia simply doesn’t do lobbying (which is what I am basically talking about) very well, probably because the people in charge of foreign policy like Lavrov despite their many virtues think it is somehow beneath them. The simple fact is that the US political system functions on lobbying and money and if you are not prepared to make your case there then it is unrealistic to expect the administration to put itself out to make it for you. In the absence of a major lobbying effort from Russia it was Browder, the Russophobes and the “democracy promoters” who were left with the field to themselves and who made all the running. That’s how we ended up with the Magnitsky law.

              The point I was trying to make previously by the way is that once Magnitsky law was passed it was simply not an option for Russia to mute its response because Obama and the State Department might have opposed it. That would have been very dangerous and would have been interpreted as weakness.

              • marknesop says:

                You might argue that Russia could have started lobbying against the Magnistky Act a lot earlier, but in fact they did make a fairly concerted effort, nearly 6 months before the new legislation passed its first reading, to present their evidence against Magnitsky and show that he was part of the scheme rather than a whistleblower trying to expose it. No less a worthy than Jamison Firestone, senior partner at Firestone Duncan and Magnitsky’s employer, wrote a triumphant victory piece for The Moscow Times about the senatorial delegation from Russia’s complete failure to get anyone of consequence to even look at the package they had brought with them, and derided it as “just a summary of the case used to arrest Magnitsky”. He also suggested that U.S. political figures were open to new information and “hoping for progress”, when this was not the case at all. Seen here with the accustomed disregard for facts by the resolutely stupid David Satter, Magnitsky – a lawyer, of course – was the employee of an American firm (both Firestone and Browder are British citizens), and the mendacious Russian senators just showed up, a complete surprise to everyone, obviously hoping they could work their duplicitous wiles on innocent and naive American politicians. Senator Ben Cardin, grandson of Russian Jews, flatly refused to meet with them at all.

                • kirill says:

                  This case sums up the climate. There is no room for constructive engagement of the USA by Russia. The US simply does not want any constructive engagement. It wants supplication and failing that, regime change to get quislings who will supplicate. This US policy has been a failure and will continue to be a failure. There is not going to be a phase transition in Russia where all of the sudden Russian will wake up and think “gee, we are such bydlo for ignoring Navalny, Novodvorskaya, and etc.”.

                • marknesop says:

                  I don’t see Putin as being so sappy as to interpret this weak spasm of a Magnitsky List as a peace offering or an admission of overreach. For one thing, this is only the public list, and there is allegedly a “secret” one as well. For another, Putin seems too methodical for that, and to be a leader who considers every angle before committing to a decision, which he then sticks to rather than being dithery and swayed by impulse. I believe he has chosen withdrawal from the U.S. in every practicable form, although trade will likely remain more or less untouched. However, I think the face-to-face stuff is gone for the foreseeable future.

                • Misha says:

                  Re: Comments about Ben Cardin

                  I respectfully emphasize that many of Jewish background with east European roots aren’t anti-Russian. Don Rickles, Bill Crystal, Stephen Cohen and Edward Lozansky (regardless of the disagreements I’ve with the last two), as well as some not as well known others, don’t come across as being anti-Russian.

                  Keeping in mind the mass media views being generally preferred on Russia, inclusive of noting the disconnect between the Ukrainian views typically geting the nod in mass media, in contrast to how most Ukrainians view Russia more positively.

                  The Ioffe/Gessen types hype the image of Russian-Jewish problems in a misinformative way. No need to give them any additional misinformation.

              • JLo says:

                I thought Russia’s response to the publishing of the Magnitsky list with its own anti-Magnitsky list was diplomatic, classy and mature. They said something to the effect of, “we didn’t want this exchange of lists, it wasn’t our initiative, but we are obliged to respond in kind.”

                • marknesop says:

                  According to “What the Papers Say” (which I have to say is a pretty good feature even if I don’t like the host paper), Kommersant featured a story which says the exchange of lists takes place just ahead of the visit of the U.S. National Security Adviser to Moscow. This, the piece’s author speculates, ” may ruin hopes for improvement of Russian-U.S. relations in the foreseeable future”.

                  Who hopes for that? I thought the official U.S. position was “Russia is something that just doesn’t interest us very much any more”. And I haven’t noticed a collapse on Russia’s part since kicking out USAID and withdrawing from joint organizations. Russia was the enemy all through the cold war, and the USA seemed quite comfortable with that arrangement.

                • JLo says:

                  Aside from the media’s well documented cognitive dissonance, does anybody care to speculate on the purpose of Donilon’s visit? I’ve read a number of propositions, none of which strike me as plausible enough to warrant such a high profile trip. I’m talking, of course, not about whatever public declarations will be made afterwards, but the real discussions of importance, about which we will hear nothing.

                • marknesop says:

                  If I had to bet, it’d be this. No word of a lie; after spitting in Russia’s cornflakes pretty much non-stop this year and several before it, America is concerned about its fraternal ex-Soviet comrades in the Russian Far East, and in general, because of the creeping self-insertion of the yellow horde. Speaking of that, there’s a term I have never understood; why are Chinese people called “yellow”. I got to pose with quite a few attractive young ladies and sometimes young couples on the Bund in Shanghai when I visited there in 1998; Canadians in sailor suits were a relative curiosity, and those Chinese mostly were whiter than I am. And of course there is no shortage of Chinese in Victoria; the Chinese population on the west coast of Canada must be approaching parity with Caucasian, and people sometimes jokingly refer to UBC as “University of a Billion Chinese” and to Vancouver as “Hongcouver”. We have local television stations in Chinese (as well as Hindu, there is a large Indian population as well). In short, I live amongst Chinese. And I have yet to see a yellow one.

                  Pardon that digression, it’s just one of those things which has always puzzled me.

                  Anyway, yeah, you can’t make this stuff up. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats (if you could even remember the full name of your group, you’d have little room in your brain for anything else), is concerned that Russia is being “targeted” by China for its own self-interest, and is of the opinion that “The United States and its allies need to provide alternative opportunities to Russia for the development of its Far East territories in order to lessen the threat of Chinese hegemonic ambitions.”

                  Uh huh. What opportunities might those be?

                • Misha says:

                  There will be no new Cold war over the Magnitsky bill.

                  Consider prior instances like Yugo in 1999, Ukraine in 2004 and the former Georgian SSR in 2008.

                  That said, the Magnitsky bill doesn’t help improve Russian-American relations.

                  The Cold war is over unlike some of the Cold War thinong that’s still out there.

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear JLo: I found piece from a couple of months ago , which excludes the possibility that the trip is related to recent events. This piece implies the trip is for the purposes of “containing China” ??

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear Mark: I don’t know either why Chinese people are called “yellow”, because their skin color isn’t really yellow, it’s more like a light tan. Also, “white” people aren’t really white, they’re more like pink. And “black” people aren’t really black, they’re more like brown. Nor are native Americans “red”, although I suppose they get red if they have a sunburn.

                  As to the actual issue: sounds like everybody is agreed that Donilon is going to Russia to try to forge an alliance against China.
                  I don’t see this gambit working, because China has been a good business and trading partner for Russia, and has always treated Russia with respect. Unlike you-know-who..

                • marknesop says:

                  “I don’t see this gambit working, because China has been a good business and trading partner for Russia, and has always treated Russia with respect.”

                  Well, that’s not quite true; the conflicting narratives over the recent arms deal with China were quite believable, because China has shown a complete disregard for intellectual property rights in the past. An example is China’s J-15 fighter, which is a reverse-engineered copy of the Russian SU-33 that China bought from Ukraine. China’s defense is that the exterior is “similar”, but that the systems and electronics are local. In any case, that was likely the basis for Russia’s reluctance to sell them the SU-35 – because the engine is essentially the same one that is in the PAK-FA T-50.

                  However, as discussed, Russia and China now have a patent protection agreement, and prosecution for stealing military technology would now be simpler. But that need not be necessary – Russia was never reluctant to sell to China because of fears its technology would fall into unfriendly hands; it feared China would buy one or two planes, and then just build its own domestic variant. China has plenty of money to pay for new fighters, and a straightforward transaction should not ruffle any feathers on either side. Perhaps an agreement might even be reached for China to build them under license; although that would be bad for Russia’s military aircraft industry, there might be an acceptable trade-off in having the sky black with advanced fighters, in terms of deterrent value. Hard to say; the arms business is tricky.

                  But I completely agree it is comical to see the USA express official concern about Russia hanging out with a bad crowd, after passing the Magnitsky Act in the face of clear Russian resistance, funding the Russian opposition and then muttering darkly about authoritarian crackdowns when its paid agents are kicked out of the country or made to register as foreign agents, and then haughtily dismissing Russia as being “just not that important any more”.

            • Misha says:

              JLo

              Yes we can move on.

              I’m one of the least naive of individuals.

              Pardon me for taking issue with the revisionist crap that the Obama admin has been against the Magnitsky bill.

              Nuland didn’t have to say that the arrest, trial and jailing of Pussy Riot is a threat to artistic freedom in Russia. It wouldn’t have been so off the wall for the O admin to intelligently explain why the Magnitsky bill is faulty and shouldn’t be supported. Had this been done, it stands to reason that the Senate vote would’ve been considerably different, with Obama being better placed to issue a veto if the outcome was still over 50%, but not as overwhelming as what occurred.

              I live in the US and have seen some differences in overall American attitudes towards Russia/Russians. This has to do with the realization that the Cold War is over, inclusive of good numbers of Russians living in the US, who aren’t anti-Russian and aren’t necessarily shy in letting their views be known.

              • Dear Misha.

                I don’t think JLo”s observation is “revisionist”. I had a long discussion about the Magnitsky law back in the spring and summer with Eugene Ivanov on his blog. Eugene’s comments on the Magnitsky law have been nothing short of brilliant. I say this though I often disagree with him on other questions.

                Anyway Eugene was clear way back in the Spring and Summer before the Magnitsky law was passed that the Obama administration was against it. However he made the point that it was politically simply impossible in an election year and with a tight election race for Obama to come out publicly and campaign against the Magnitsky law and that had he tried to do so he would simply have given a free gift to Romney and the Republicans, which he was not going to do. It is simply not realistic to expect that in an election year a US President would take any step that might call into question his own re election out of a desire to improve relations with Russia. To a US President (any US President) the political needs for his own re election will always trump everything else.

                Afterwards when it became clear that the Magnitsky law would pass but when it began to seem that Obama would be re elected, I raised with Eugene the possibility of a Presidential veto. Eugene again was clear that it would simply not happen since the damage to Obama’s already fraught relations with Congress and his own relatively weak political position in the US made that simply impractical. We didn’t even get to the subject of whether Obama’s veto would be overridden since Eugene’s view again was that the issue was simply not important enough for Obama to damage his domestic political position as he would have done by exercising a veto, whether the veto would be overridden or not. In other words Eugene’s point again was that relations with Russia are simply not sufficiently important for a US President to make him willing to sacrifice any part of his position at home.

                Eugene like you also lives in the US and he is active and familiar with politics there. Whether you agree with his analysis or not (I do) the fact is that he was making these points before the Magnitsky law (which he strongly opposed) was passed. Given that he made what were essentially the same points as JLo I do not see that it is possible to make a claim of revisionism here.

                • Misha says:

                  Hi Alexander,

                  I just read your comments above after posting my last set of comments.

                  My point about “revisionist” concerns McFaul’s reported comment on the O admin being against the Magnitsky bill. I presented the fact based reasoning behind taking issue with that view.

                  I’m open to a different take that’s convincing (at least IMO).

                • Misha says:

                  Hi again Alexander,

                  The aforementioed last set of comment of mine is below.

                  It includes a refeence to Chris Matthews.

              • Misha says:

                JLo,

                Not to beat on a dead horse, I understand the idea of Obama having to deal with certain realities.

                I don’t think the situation in the US is as restricted as some suggest.

                Recall one of the Obama-Romney debates, when Obama took the offensive in going after Romney’s Russia bashing. MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews chimed in by chiding Romney for not acknowledging a different Russia.

                These examples give credence to my position that the O admin could’ve launched a good PR blitz against the bill before it was voted on, thereby resulting in a different tally, which in turn would’ve made it easier for Obama to reject it, instead of signing onto it.

                As is, the tyranny of the minority who’re staunchly behind this bill will say he’s soft, with the Russian government not liking the bill’s existence.

                For the betterment of improved US-Russia relations, the O admin should privately acknowledge to the Russian government that they didn’t handle this matter well.

                All things considered the number on the list and those on it are an attempt by the O admin to not further provoke Russia.

                • marknesop says:

                  And what might have been the substantiation for this “PR Blitz” by the Obama administration? The default position was that Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer(and therefore an upholder of the rule of law, which is sadly lacking in Russia, or so the narrative goes) and employee of a western venture-capital firm – and the words “venture-capital firm” have been known to make some American businessmen tear up with patriotic emotion, and when businessmen tear up, wise politicians who depend on campaign funding will sob like babies – was imprisoned for being so audacious as to draw a massive theft of state revenue (tax money) to the attention of state authorities, who (perceiving him to be a likely patsy as well as some kind of goodie-goodie) promptly arrested him for the crime he had so conveniently pointed out. Then he was slapped into pre-trial detention, and – while his former employer who was not actually his employer at all, but someone who employed the firm he worked for – clawed at the gates and pleaded for mercy, the brutal medico-Nazis of Russia’s grey, fungus-encrusted state hospitals – startling reminiscent of the basement in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” – killed him by torture and deliberate neglect.

                  I’d love to see the preliminary draft of a speech that argued the Magnitsky Law should be watered down or perhaps shelved, against a narrative like that, in a climate in which more than half of the eligible electorate does not vote and the opposing party is legendary for both party discipline and get-out-the-vote techniques. It might as well be headed, “My Farewell Speech”.

                • Misha says:

                  Very easy to have been done.

                  Underscore how the bill in question:

                  - only targets one nation unlike Jackson-Vanik

                  - in post-Soviet times, the situation in Russia has considerably improved in a sea of countries with far worse off human rights records

                  - the claim that Magnitsky was politically murdered is open to reasonable doubt

                  - note the credible claims against ont time Putin supporter Browder and Magnitsky’s activity with him

                  - offer a counter human righrs bill that didn’t single out Russia.

                  In terms of US-Russia relations, I’m sensing that the O admin fell a bit asleep behind the wheel . I also suspect that Nuland has been given a poetic license that she shouldn’t otherwise have in her role as State Dept. spokesperson.

                  Obama stood up to Romney’s Russia bashing during the US presidential debate period.

                  Finally, it’s quite obvious that some others need to be put in high profile slots to cover such issues. The Rusisan government has some influence on this particular.

    • yalensis says:

      Dear Alexander:
      Here is Russia’s reply to the Magnitsky List:

      http://izvestia.ru/news/548557

      Russian govt says they will publish the full anti-Magnitsky List on 13 April. So far it known that the list could run into over 100 individuals. It was leaked that the list will include Senators Benjamin Cardin and Jim McGovern, also members of the Bush administration who are responsible for human rights abuses in Guantanamo and other CIA secret rendition prisons abroad.

      • Dear Yalensis,

        The Russian government has in fact published its list. It has been restricted to 18 names and also does not include anyone important. I gather four of the names on the list are people who were involved in Guantanamo, but the others are various officials who the Russian governments says were involved in persecuting or harassing Russian citizens.

        This seems to me a proportionate response. The US government went beyond the Magnitsky affair in its list by placing on it two low level functionaries who are accused of being accessories to Kadyrov’s alleged crimes. The remaining 16 were all directly involved with Magnitsky. The Russian list balances the inclusion of Kadyrov’s associates on the US list by including four individuals involved with Guantanamo, but otherwise restricts itself to persons who had dealings with Russian citizens, who Russia is of course under a duty to protect.

  24. R.C. says:

    http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130412/180613313/Putin-Medvedev-Release-2012-Incomes.html

    Man, that Putin seems to live frugally for someone with a 40-70 billion dollar fortune! Some land an apartment and count em’ – 3 SUV’s? Wow!

    • kirill says:

      I am not sure that Russia is ready for any military confrontation with the west. So this fleet will not likely save Syria or do much. By 2020 the situation will be different and Russia needs to concentrate on securing its own internal development and not risk it with expendable “assets” abroad. It’s also a two way street, increasing the military presence will give NATO more incentive to boost its own military deployment as well.

      As of now the west has nothing but inane propaganda of its own creation to push at Russia and many in the west see it for the joke that it is. But military threats transform this into an issue of western security. This then becomes much more like the original cold (sometimes hot) war.

    • marknesop says:

      Typical sloppy reporting, though, I’m afraid; the ship in the photo is in fact a UDALOY Class ASW Destroyer, likely the SEVEROMORSK or ADMIRAL PANTELEYEV.

    • SFReader says:

      By my count, there are about 25 major surface combatants in various stages of construction for the Russian Navy, all of them will be ready by 2015-2016.

      11 new frigates, 13 corvettes, 2 helicopter carriers. And each one of them armed with anti-ship missiles capable of sinking entire American carrier strike group….

  25. R.C. says:

    Well, for one, this fleet would need air-cover which it doesn’t presently have. NATO has several airbases in the surrounding Mediterranean including a US aircraft carrier. I don’t think things in the Mediterranean will change until Russia is able to field a new aircraft carrier there – which we know is probably still a decade away and establish a MAJOR naval base similar to what the US has in the Persian Gulf. What this small fleet does offer is some form of deterrence. Yes, Russia is not ready to militarily confront the west, but the west also won’t risk any kind of military provocation over Syria.

  26. yalensis says:

    Minor procedural matter in Navalny KirovLes case: The legal teams for both Navalny and Ofitserov defendants have requested that the trial be moved from Kirov to Moscow:

    http://izvestia.ru/news/548606

    Part I, Article 35 of Russian codexs allows for the trial to be relocated if it is more convenient for everybody concerned. This seems to apply here, so there is a chance the trial will be moved to Moscow. Judge will make a decision on Monday 15 April.

  27. yalensis says:

    More on Navalny case: I found this super-good interview with (Prosecutor) Vladimir Markin:

    http://izvestia.ru/news/548376

    I have personally never seen such frank talk coming from a government official.
    SUMMARY + PARAPHRASE:

    Q: Why did Investigative Committee (IC) get involved in this case, why not just the regular law enforcement agencies?
    Markin: Normally this type of case would not warrant IC involvement.
    Q: Does that mean the case is political?
    Markin: The case itself is routine/criminal. However, Navalny himself is a highly politicized individual. Hence, it serves both his and society’s interests to elevate this case to the leel of the IC.
    Q: Yet if this weren’t Navalny (but some other person), would there even be a case?
    Markin: Maybe, but it certainly wouldn’t have come to trial so quickly. (Courts and investigators are extremely understaffed, and) such cases usually take many years to work their way through the system. However, since this individual strives with all his might to draw attention to himself and taunt the government…
    Q: Why do you think he went out of his way to attract the attention of (Bastrykin’s) IC?
    Markin: We’re not sure. But we suspect that when he went to Yale and attended that seminar which develops political cadres for developing nations — somebody there (at Yale) must have screwed up and mistook Russia for Gruzia.
    Q: But given that he built himself a reputation, maybe it would be best to just leave him alone?
    Markin: Maybe. But it’s our job to bring cases to court if the facts show that the law was broken. If we didn’t, then we would be guilty of political selectiveness. I mean, we take Duma deputies to court. Why give a pass to a street Oppositionist, just because the West is enthralled with him? Maybe that sort of thing would happen in a weak country, but not in Russia. We are a world power, after all.
    Q: What exactly is Navalny accused of?
    Markin:The most banal of crimes. Our jaded investigators see this type of grift literally every day of the week. Using his political influence as Counselor, Navalny forced the Director of a state enterprise to sell lumber at a discounted price, lower than (the market price) by a few million rubles. He (Navalny) didn’t even invent something original. This is all very banal and humdrum stuff.
    Q: But if convicted, won’t Navalny become a martyr for the cause and the Russian Mandela?
    Markin: The people who are egging Navalny on probably hope for this. But remember that Mandela was not imprisoned for misusing power; rather for his struggle against apartheid.
    Q: Could Navalny’s experience in exposing corruption be useful (to society)?
    Markin: Nobody will prevent Navalny from engaging in (such) useful activities (even in prison). Navalny’s efforts (in this regard) have even done some good for society, and this fact could be taken into account as a mitigating factor during his sentencing.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Spot on! This Markin fellow does not beat around the bush. The basket weaver is a paid hireling of a foreign power who has been instructed to sow disaffection in Russia. He should be put on trial for that but it would be, politically and diplomatically, dangerous ground to tread if this were done – not to mention the amassing of sufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt the case for the prosecution in court. Navalny, however, from the point of view of the Russian state, quite obligingly became involved in alleged criminal activities on the side, probably even before he became a foreign agent, his public image of probity and his constant exposure of administrative corrupt practices notwithstanding.

      • yalensis says:

        I love the fact that Markin didn’t dish out a lot of B.S., for example, he could have said, “Justice is completely blind, we don’t give a hoot if it’s a king or a pawn on trial.” And that would have been B.S., and everybody would have known so. The other funny bit, which I didn’t really translate (it was more a paraphrase than an exact translation), is when Markin misspoke (accidentally on purpose) and called Navalny “Banalny”. I have a feeling that “Banalny” will start to spread around the internet after this interview.

        • This is one of the most sensible and (dare I say it) humane comments about a suspect from a prosecutor I have ever read. This Markin comes across as a VERY good prosecutor. To anyone who wants to understand this case this interview should be indispensable reading. Notice specifically the two points he makes:

          1. That this is a completely humdrum case. That is entirely true. I am very pleased to see that the prosecution is not misleading people by pretending that this is somehow major league fraud of the Khodorkovsky/Berezovsky variety because it isn’t. That Markin says this is a good sign of his impartiality and professionalism as a prosecutor; and

          2. That it is Navalny’s own behaviour that has played a big part shaping the direction the case has taken. Again most people who did what Navalny has done would by now have negotiated a plea bargain which because of the humdrum nature of the case would have resulted in nothing more than a suspended sentence. Navalny cannot do that because he is the Great Leader of the Revolution, so he will end up going to prison.

          By the way I also agree with Markin that Navalny will not come out of this a Mandela despite his best efforts and those of his friends.

          • kirill says:

            Point #2 should somehow be hyped before the inevitable western shitstorm arrives onece the Great Leader of the Revolution, Banalny, goes on trial. Much of the Pussy Riot fuss was how their jail sentence was “excessive”.

            Russia needs better or even actual (since I do not think they even exist) contempt of court laws. Pussy Riot would have gotten 2 years in the west for the continuous contempt of court incidents they produced.

            • “Russia needs better or even actual contempt of court laws”.

              Absolutely! I don’t think judges in any other developed country have to put up with the sort of bullying and abuse Russian judges get from defendants and their lawyers in high profile cases.

              • Misha says:

                Should that happen, the spin on that occurrence would present another example of a creeping authoritarian streak.

                • ….and here is Miriam Elder’s entirely predictable take on Navalny’s forthcoming trial, which includes her take on Markin’s interview.

                  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/13/alexei-navalny-trial-russia

                  Notice how she spins those same words of Markin’s that we found most commendable to give them their opposite meaning and to imply that this is a politically motivated case.

                • marknesop says:

                  Pretty comical. It will be even more comical if, after accusing the authorities of “moving” the trial to Kirov to keep reporters from dogging their trail because the case is such a political hot potato, and after said journalists have booked every hotel room in Kirov, the trial is moved to Moscow as reports suggest it will be. Of course, the wonderful thing about being just a spinner instead of a real journalist is that Elder will be able to crow that it was pressure from honest journalists which made Putin move the trial to Moscow. Especially because the move was requested by both Banalny and Ofitserov’s defense teams.

  28. yalensis says:

    For those legal eagles out there who like to pore through 100 pages of legal mumbo jumbo:

    The full prosecution case against the 2 defendants Navalny/Ofitserov has been leaked out onto the Internet, you can find it here on Yandex:

    http://docviewer.yandex.ru/?url=ya-disk-public%3A%2F%2FdPV%2B3hUwzjXG1mjUmlXCY9psbhVkztsOGvN6XF4XKmE%3D&name=%D0%BE%D0%B1%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B5%20%D0%B7%D0%B0%D0%BA%D0%BB%D1%8E%D1%87%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B5.pdf&c=51693a1a09f2

    The prosecution gave the document to Navalny’s defense team as disclosure.
    Navalny himself then posted the document to the internet. A few hours later he pulled it, but politrash had managed to save a copy:

    http://politrash.ru/955/

    • SFReader says:

      I looked at the prosecution case. It’s overwhelming…

      Witness testimony of dozens of people including current and present management of Kirovles, managers of its branches, companies who bought timber from VLK who testified that they were forced by Opalev, Ofitserov and Navalny to sign contracts under disadvantageous terms. Navalny was present in most meetings and was introduced as a representative of Kirov Region Administration.

      There is a letter signed by Advisor of the Governor of Kirov Region Navalny to company called Solikamskbumprom saying that VLK Ltd is “a selected bona fide and efficient organization” and official distributor of Kirovles capable of supplying 50 thousand cubic meters of timber.

      There is a technical evidence of hundreds of calls and SMS messages between Navalny and Ofitserov in 2009.

      There are wiretapped telephone call recordings between Navalny and Ofitserov obtained by Kirov Region FSB as a result of court order which allows their use in court proceedings.

      There is an expert analysis of recordings which concludes that relationship between Navalny and Ofitserov is a relationship between boss and subordinate.

      Finally there is computer seized from Navalny following a search order which contains emails between Navalny and Ofitserov (the very ones we saw and discussed many months ago). It turns out that they were not hacked at all, but legitimately seized by law enforcement officers and will be used in court as evidence.

      • yalensis says:

        “There are wiretapped telephone call recordings between Navalny and Ofitserov obtained by Kirov Region FSB as a result of court order which allows their use in court proceedings.
        And it turns out this court order came about due to complaints pouring into the Kirov FSB from officials and auditors of KirovLes. INCLUDING the much-maligned auditor Larisa Gennadievna, whom Navalny refers to as a c*nt. She tried to blow the whistle on all this nonsense at an early stage. Likewise the auditor Arzamastsev. Larisa was dressed down and disciplined by Opalev, along with Belykh. That is when she appealed over their heads to the FSB. All this stream of complaints induced an investigation on the part of the local FSB, which led to the wiretaps. However, Belykh still had powerful mojo, and nothing came of any of this until Bastrykin re-opened the investigation in 2011.

    • marknesop says:

      Boy, Navalny really believes in taking justice to the people, doesn’t he? What was he, again – a farmer? Oh, that’s right; a lawyer. Hard to believe.

      He’s too smart to put it to a simple Roman vote – thumbs up, or down. Because he knows what it would be.

      • This is fascinating. If there are lots of witnesses I suspect even Navalny’s publicity machine is going to struggle to explain all this away.

        One of the fundamental questions I have about this case is that no one has explained to me what Navalny’s actual role in the Kirov Region was? The way I have understood it, he was supposed to be a pro bono adviser to Belykh. Since Navalny is a lawyer presumably he was giving Belykh pro bono legal advice. In the English speaking world the words “pro bono” are almost invariably linked to the provision of free legal advice.

        Regardless, what on earth was Navalny doing getting himself mixed up to this extent in the Kirov Region’s timber industry? What does he know about the timber industry that would entitle him to become involved in it? I seem to remember that it was suggested that Belykh authorised him to reorganise the Kirov Region’s timber industry but given Navalny’s total lack of experience in this field and his lack of any formal position in the Kirov Region government this seems to me even by the standards of Russian liberal politics impossibly farfetched. If Belykh really did authorise Navalny to reorganise the timber industry (as opposed to, for example, giving advice about how to do it) then Belykh is a total incompetent and should be summarily dismissed from his post.

        Frankly, I can’t but think (especially in the light of Markin’s comments) that Navalny capitalised on the ignorance of Russian timber industry officials in a poor provincial region far from Moscow of what a pro bono adviser is to misrepresent himself as someone big and important and close to the boss (Ie. Belykh). If so, then it says a great deal for Russia that it looks as if people in the Kirov Region were not fooled or, if they were, they were not fooled for very long. Anyway it seems to me that that’s how Navalny was able to lean on everyone to fix contracts in his favour. I say “in his favour” because I have abandoned my theory that it was Ofitserov who was manipulating Navalny. Based on what Yalensis and SFReader says is the prosecution case, it looks like Ofitserov was simply Navalny’s frontman.

        • yalensis says:

          Supposedly Belykh brought Navalny to Kirov, not for his legal skills, but for his business skills. In order to shake things up and bring the timber industry out of its “clunky” soviet past into the “modern” capitalist era. It was basically an ideological project to start the process of privatization of a state collective, using Ofitserov as their catspaw.
          (And personally, I do believe that Ofitserov is innocent of wrongdoing.)
          .
          As for Navalny’s experience in timber? Well, his family does have a business that makes cute animals from wicker. Wicker is a kind of tree, right? So, he knows something about trees, I guess.

          And I think you are dead on that the local “rubes” in sleepy old Kirov were not quite as rubish as Navalny thought they would be, since they caught onto his scheme pretty quickly and ended up running him out of town on a rail.

          • Dear Yalensis,

            In which case all I can say is that if Belykh put a total novice like Navalny in charge of reorganising the timber industry then Belykh is an idiot and deserves the sack. I still find that difficult to believe. Is that what Belykh is saying or is it what Navalny as part of his defence is saying?

            • yalensis says:

              Dear Alexander: As far as I know, Belykh is not saying anything about any of this.
              As to Navalny, this is how he answered Albats’ question as to why he agreed to work for Belykh without pay:


              Е. АЛЬБАЦ – Хорошо. Я хочу все-таки немножко покопаться во всей этой истории. Потому что я полностью прочитала предыдущее дело, которое было закрыто, я никак не могу понять искренне, как бы я вам ни относилась, каким образом суд собирается все это доказывать. Но прежде у меня несколько к вам вопросов. Скажите, пожалуйста, вы поехали в Киров, когда Белых Никита после проигрыша СПС на выборах 2007 года через какое-то время они партию практически закрыли, потом появилось странное образование «Правое дело», что-то в этом роде. И Белых был назначен губернатором Кировской области. И он повез туда, поехал, как говорил со своей командой. В частности Мария Гайдар и вы туда с ним поехали. Вот для вас был какой аргумент ехать в Кировскую область. Зачем вы туда поехали?

              А. НАВАЛЬНЫЙ – Интересно. Посмотреть, как все устроено. Помочь с чем-то, тогда Белых меня приглашал для того, чтобы я занимался вопросами повышения прозрачности управления госсобственностью. Я занимался и до сих пор занимаюсь процессами по защите прав миноритарных акционеров, крупнейший миноритарный акционер в Кировской области это сама Кировская область. Которая владеет кучей предприятий…


              TRANSLATION

              Albats: [....] Tell me, please, you went to Kirov when Belykh Nikita, after (his party) SPS lost the 2007 election, after a certain amount of time his party was closed down, then a new organization appear “Just Cause”, something like that. And Belykh was appointed Governator of the Kirov Province. And he took his own team in with him, Maria Gaidar, and you. Why did you go there?

              Navalny: Interesting question. I wanted to see how everything worked. To help in any way I could. Belykh invited me there to deal with questions of raising the transparency level of regulating state property. I occupied myself then, as I occupy myself now, with defending the rights of minority stakeholders, and the largest minority stakeholder in the Kirov Province is the Kirov Province itself. which owns a heap of enterprises…

              END OF TRANSLATION

              My personal take on this, which I have expressed before: I believe that Belykh-Gaidar-Navalny undertook an ideological crusade, using Kirov as their template (because that was where one of their gang actually was put in power) to privatize state enterprises. Because they are Randites, they hate all forms of socialism, and that is what they think should happen everywhere. I think their goal was to put KirovLes out of business and replace it with a flourishing capitalist timber business that was the private property of one man (=Ofitserov).
              Their plan was thwarted by the local officials, whom I am sure they see as crusty old sovki.

                • Dear Yalensis,

                  Thanks for this very helpful translation.

                  Navalny’s comments are consistent with his having been an unpaid legal adviser. He clearly was not authorised to reorganise the Kirov Region’s timber industry. If he had been he would have said so. Reorganising the timber industry self evidently went far beyond his mandate. That in itself is an important point and I expect it will feature in the case.

                  Incidentally, I find it hilarious that Navalny should brazenly talk of protecting the rights of minority shareholders when he appears to have been pressuring KirovLes into agreeing to sell its timber at a discount. If that is how Navalny went about protecting the interests of the shareholders of KirovLes (ie. the Kirov Region) then he has a very peculiar idea of how to protect shareholders’ interests.

                  The reality was of course exactly as you say. They were all out on their ideological crusade to convert the Kirov Region to Randroid capitalism whilst fleecing the stupid provincials along the way. Fortunately the stupid provincials turned out to be not so stupid. Perhaps Navalny has seen too many performances of The Government Inspector.

            • SFReader says:

              There is a testimony of Governor Belykh in the case.

              He says that he appointed Navalny as an advisor to help organize state procurement, analyze corruption and evaluate corruption among state officials and efficiency of management of the state property. In the first half of 2009, Governor Belykh asked Navalny to study efficiency of timber industry of Kirov Region including finances of the state-owned company Kirovles. For this purpose, Navalny was officially included in the government working group on timber industry.

              • yalensis says:

                Thanks for reading the case, SFReader! One question, will Belykh be testifying for the prosecution, or for the defense?

                • Thanks indeed SF Reader!

                  So it’s now clear: Navalny was a consultant and an adviser. He was NOT a manager or an executive and he had no management role. He was not authorised to reorganise the timber industry. He was instructed to carry out a study of it. I am going to guess that in a poor region like the Kirov Region the timber industry is a major player in the local economy and a significant employer.

                  That is exactly the role that one would assume of an unpaid adviser. Navalny had no authority to become involved in the timber industry in the way that he did and if he misused his connection to Belykh to do so then this should be an important factor in his trial.

                  @ Yalensis, to answer the question you have addressed to SFReader, I would be surprised given Navalny’s status as Belykh’s adviser if Belykh is not called as a witness, deeply embarrassing to Belykh and to his liberal friends though that will be of course.

          • marknesop says:

            Wicker is actually a grass. Unless it’s made of rattan, which is a vine.

            • yalensis says:

              Well, it’s still a plant, so close enough!

              • marknesop says:

                I’m sure that’s payback for something, I just can’t remember what.

                • yalensis says:

                  Ha ha! Not at all, Kemo Sabe! It’s just that grass and trees are both plants, both make chrolophyll, etc. Therefore, since Navalny is an expert on wicker, he would most certainly be qualified to manage large state forest reserves, no?

                • marknesop says:

                  That’s a bit of a stretch. In fact, Navalny was such a failure at wicker he was forced to become a lawyer. But what I meant was that I was sure I was paying you back for something by pointing out that wicker is not made from trees. I just can’t recall what it was.

                • Jen says:

                  Like the Hitler comment which stopped a comments thread dead in its tracks way up earlier?

                • marknesop says:

                  Ha, ha!! No, it wasn’t that, but I wish I had thought of it, I could have said; “You know who else was a wicker expert???” No, it was something he corrected me on, and he was right, which is insufferable.

                • yalensis says:

                  I know the feeling. They say “revenge is a dish best served cold”, but sometimes if you wait too long, you forget what exactly it was you were avenging!

  29. yalensis says:

    The prosecution case against Navalny includes an optical disc of wiretapped phone conversations. The ever-helpful Politrash provides transcripts of tapped phone conversations between Navalny and Ofitserov (same link as above comment).

    In the transcripts M1=Ofitserov and M2=Navalny.

    I don’t have time to translate any of this right now (maybe later, if I see something particulary piquant), but SPOILER ALERT: There is a heck of a lot of cussin’ going on in these tapes. Right out of the box, his first conversation with Mr. Sparkly Pants, Navalny unleashes a string of curses that would make a sailor blush, and even refers to a lady official from KirovLes (a certain Larisa Gennadievna) as a c*nt.
    Navalny’s biggest ire is reserved for the auditor Arzamastsev, whom he calls a “tuporyluyu babu” (don’t even know how to render that in English). Navalny lashes out at all those who are thwarting his scheme. All this to counteract defense claim that Navalny had nothing to do with Ofitserov’s company and was not in any way involved in this business venture!

    • yalensis says:

      Interesting tidbit in Tape #2: Opalev’s daughter briefly got a job working as a clerk in Ofitserov’s office. Navalny is worried about that, but Ofitserov assures him it was all above-board, she had a contract, he paid her, she paid taxes, etc. In other words, did not pay her under the table.

      • marknesop says:

        President Banalny worried about that, but thought G-Mail was an uncrackable security program??? I’m starting to wonder what kind of lawyer he was. Was he a veterinary lawyer, or something, like Ace Ventura the Pet Detective?

    • Moscow Exile says:

      This apparent sex maniac who clearly suffers from Tourette’s syndrome explains for those interested what тупорылые бабы.are:

    • kirill says:

      Typical criminal mentality. And the west wants this freak to be Russia’s leader. I guess as long as he sends ethnic Russians to gulags and lets the west siphon Russian resources for free he will be much adored in the west. This is why Russians should treat the west as their mortal enemy.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s certainly no way for the future President of the Russian Federation to talk. Those who blushed when Putin uttered that line about “wiping them out in the outhouse” would topple over in a dead faint if they heard President Banalny holding forth in his obvious comfort zone. Perhaps his prison term could include some lessons in diplomatic speech and to approach every conversation as if it were likely to be overheard and perhaps recorded.

  30. Misha says:

    Re: http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/10/denying-genocide-wont-promote-reconciliation

    The event in question is something that obviously contrasts from the factually challenged commentary of the above referenced author.

    Not surprisingly, an Al Jazeera telecast on the event in question uncritically featured Richard Dicker, in what was a biased piece of journalism.

    Someone briefly replies to Dicker’s article with the following:

    “Dicker doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. Nikolic hasn’t even been a member of the radical party since 2005. The Radicals don’t occupy a single seat in the Serbian national assembly and Vuk Jeremic is a member of the Democratic Party which has never formed a government with the radicals. The fact that a clueless idiot like Dicker occupies such a prominent position in HRW tells you how seriously one should take HRW’s findings and reports.”

    ****

    From a reliable source, I’ve been informed that the event went well. Lewis MacKenzie, John Laughland and Wesley Clark were among the speakers.

      • kirill says:

        The ongoing abuse of Serbia by the NATO empire should be an issue for Russia in how it deals with this empire. It should never forget that NATO attacked Serbs with relish and as a proxy for the much hated Russians they could not touch, in spite of winning the cold war.

        • Misha says:

          I’ve likened the Serbs to miniature Russians, who can get trampled on unlike the big kahuna.

          Keeping in mind the alliance system during two world wars.

          Regarding Russian-West relations, I mention the last point with the idea that better times from the present is possible.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Serbs were certainly regarded as a rogue nation in pre-WWI Europe, the black propaganda against them mostly orchestrated by the Austrian-Hungarian authorities, not least because the wicked Serbs were regicides. The Austrians, of course, felt that the Serbs were elbowing into what they perceived to be their own sphere of influence, namely the Balkans, where the power of the moribund Ottoman Empire had been visibly waning in the previous century despite the horrific coercive measures that the Ottomans undertook there in order to keep their Christian subjects in line. The Austrians believed that the Serbs were responsible for organizing terrorism against Austrian rule and officials in areas of the Balkans already annexed by the Kaiserlich und Königlich Habsburg empire – and they were right! But whether Serb pan-slavic nationalists had the official backing of the Serbian authorities was another matter. In any case, the parallels between the reviled Serbs and the Russians are obvious: regicides, revolutionaries, terrorists, Orthodox Christians, Cyrillic alphabet… In short, the Serbs were and are a thoroughly degenerate band of reprobates that should be kept at arm’s length.

            • Misha says:

              The anti-Habsburg activity was by no means an exclusive Serb monopoly. Among these elements, Serbia was looked up to as an independent nation, which stood up to foreign domination.

              You might be familar with the WW I era Habsburg run Talerhof concentration camp, whose prisoners were overwhelmingly non-Serb Slavs, suspected of pro-Russian sentiment.

              The subject of this article was an anti-Russian/anti-Serb advocate:

              http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2011/07/18/otto-von-habsburgs-ambiguous-legacy/

              Some years earlier, I recall OvH stating anti-Russian barbs on Bill Buckley’s PBS aired Firing Line.

              I recall him spewing

        • kievite says:

          The ongoing abuse of Serbia by the NATO empire should be an issue for Russia in how it deals with this empire. It should never forget that NATO attacked Serbs with relish and as a proxy for the much hated Russians they could not touch, in spite of winning the cold war.
          And it is. And I agree that the reasons to attack Serbia and staging “White revolution” in Russia are identical. This is a start of preemptive wars for opening markets in countries which were not “freingly enough” toward the USA. So Serbia started the line of “market opening” interversions which continued in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, Syria. And similar line of color revolutions such as Georgia, Serbia, Ukraine, and now Russia. As FcFaul noted:

          ”This unconstrained Russian state also has destroyed Western wealth  and discouraged investment by arbitrarily enforcing environmental regulations against foreign oil investors, shutting out foreign partners in the development of the Shtokman gas field, and denying a visa to the largest portfolio investor in Russia, British citizen William Browder.” – M. McFaul, May 17, 2007 House Committee on International Relations, Russia Rebuilding the Iron Curtain.

          So it’s just business, nothing personal. Imperial ambitions have their own logic…

          • kirill says:

            Yes, and Russians should be totally cold hearted about dealing with US meddling. The west loves to yap about human rights and its precious values. But its policy in Russia was genocidal. The shock therapy policies were guided by US advisers to the Russian government, which was composed of quislings from Gorbachev until Putin took ever (actually Primakov paved the way). This policy led directly to the deaths of millions of Russians and the collapse in longevity to 58 years for males. My values and I suspect those of most Russians is to not regard this as some act of God and inevitability. It was pure criminal policy foisted on Russia to serve American economic interests. The US is still meddling and supporting butcher-wannabes like Navalny. Naturally, it is always about “human rights and democracy” as it was in Chile and Argentina during the 1970s.

            • kirill says:

              PS. Given the blood libel and genocide that the US perpetrated through its agents against Russia I fully support the termination of US agents on Russian soil. If some collection of gulag operator dreamers has a chance to take over they should be departed forcefully to the next life. For now, a soft approach to these maggots (who worship the good old 1990s and the death of millions of Russians) is preferable. But this is not some academic exercise for Russia, it is about life and death. The right to life comes before everything else, especially some economic interests of foreign powers and their quislings.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              “After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.”

              Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States of America 1923-1929.

          • marknesop says:

            Wow. There’s some good stuff in there. How, by all that is holy, did McFaul ever think he was going to overcome a record like that with his “Muskoka Morning I Love Russia” video? Maybe he believes all that stuff about 67% of Russians being wide-hipped grannies who watch state TV all day, and that Putin only allows “Barney and Friends” to get past the internet censors. He certainly seems to be operating under the illusion that nobody in Russia can read English or use Google.

            Maybe that would make a good post. Want to collaborate on it? Or write it yourself? I could edit it a little for the English, although yours is already good. It sounds like there is more there.

    • Misha says:

      CORRECTION – Wesley Clark didn’t attended the aforementioned discussion.

  31. kirill says:

    http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130413/180624197/Arrests-as-Russian-Nationalists-Hold-Day-of-Rage.html

    I bet there will be no moaning about repression of “the opposition” and “dissidents” in this case. But this also shows that Russian authorities are not targeting the western-sponsored 5th column for repression. Protesters that get out line get smacked down as they should.

  32. R.C. says:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/vladimir-putin-claims-earned-187-173112274.html

    Not a SINGLE shred of evdence produced in the article for any of these long debunked rumors. What the hell happened to practicing journalism? This is nothing but a blatant piece of propaganda which makes no attempt to find if there’s an ounce of truth to any of these “rumors.” How can they get away with such wildly irresponsible “journalism?.” The large assets that Putin has access to belongs to the Russian state. using the logic of this article, then Camp David, Air Force One & The White House are all the personal property of Obama.

    What nonsense.

    What a silly piece of infantile propaganda.

    • marknesop says:

      Not to mention the fact that Obama’s wealth was in no way earned as a politician – most American political heavyweights come from the privileged class and have considerable personal wealth before becoming involved in politics rather than as a result of it. Mitt Romney could afford to finance his own campaign while running for President non-stop for 8 years. The Bushes are millionaires, so are the Clintons, and the Kennedys were. But the article seems to allude that Obama somehow stole that money while he was president.

      You get a good feel for the intellectual capacity of the readers from the comments as well. It’s an eye-opener on why it is so easy to fool them over and over with basically the same old bag of tricks. Because they believe whatever they’re told.

      • R.C. says:

        “You get a good feel for the intellectual capacity of the readers from the comments as well. It’s an eye-opener on why it is so easy to fool them over and over with basically the same old bag of tricks. Because they believe whatever they’re told.”

        What I find most disturbing Mark, is the blatant transparency of the propaganda. That article makes no claim to be providing objective information, yet the comments to the article are full of responders taking it as fact. When I responded and stated that the article provided no evidence to see if the “rumors” were based in any kind of fact, I received a ‘thumbs down” from commenters. Seriously? what’s wrong with facts? it’s no wonder the American public has lost control of its government – they’ve become a nation of brainwashed buffons who believe all of the lies peddled to them absent any kind of skepticism. The bitter irony is that it’s press parades around (as this article does) pointing fingers elsewhere while their own society rots away.

        The wake-up call for me (as far as the common American mind goes) was when I saw how easily the media and public bought the Colin Powell demo at the UN in 2003 to support the now spurious claims against Iraq. You had the arab delegation laughing at the blatantly bogus Arabic accent of the “Iraqi General” purportedly telling another military official where to move the WMD. Instead of the press wondering why the Arab delegation was laughing, nearly every paper launched an attack against them instead of asking the obvious question: Why were you laughing? Powell’s presentation would’ve been thrown out of any court, yet we had nearly every mainstream American paper claiming that Powell provided a “slam-dunk” with his phony presentation and that anyone who thought otherwise was ‘drinking Saddam’s kool-aid.” Powell now considers this the low-point of his career

        Someone was drinking the kool-aid alright…………..

        • Dear RC,

          As you absolutely rightly say an article that makes the most extraordinary allegations without a scintilla of evidence to support them.

          For the record, Putin has never claimed that he lives frugally. I doubt that Russians would be very impressed if he did. The point is that as Mark says the property he uses as President belongs not to him but to Russia.

          • R.C. says:

            Whatever he does will be scrutinized by the west to no end. If foreign leaders come to stay in historic palaces – it’s a problem, if Putin were to instead shove them in a local Holiday Inn (or whatever the Russian equivalent is) then they would make fun of Russia and label it a “laughing stock.”

            Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

            • marknesop says:

              They do, in fact, have Holiday Inns in Moscow. As well as Radissons, Sheratons and Best Westerns.

              But you’re correct – the default is to look for something that can be either held up as criminal, or reviled and scorned. There don’t seem to be any other choices. If Putin were to have, say, retained a charming little house which once belonged to his grandmother, which was modest but centrally located, and was in the habit of putting up foreign guests and dignitaries there in reasonable style at no cost whatsoever to the state – it would simply not be reported at all, because it would not fit into either narrative.

        • JLo says:

          I’m constantly amazed by Americans’ world views when I go back and visit. It makes me feel sometimes like I’m visiting the Twilight Zone or other such alternative reality. Everything is viewed though the right/left political prism and any issue seems to split down these lines. Yet, when speaking of the world, there is an incredible lack of plurality and diversity — there’s a strict company line and everybody toes it (I would have probably used “tows” before, but I learned on this forum that that term is the incorrect one – thanks Mark!). I guess the one exception would be Israel, but that’s because it’s essentially an extension of the US and an issue that is easily split along left/right lines.

            • marknesop says:

              That is stupid. However, in the spirit of competition, I offer this delight from Vladimir Kara-Murza.

              • Misha says:

                These idiothons can have a numbing effect on the brain – something that touches on the earlier raised (at this thread) point about how it’s possible to get sedated by prolonged BS.

                Reading too much ….., … and …..among others, while not concentrating more on the valid and under-represented views, is on par with a diet consisting mostly of junk food.

              • cartman says:

                No one talks about the “economic miracle” of Nizhny Novgorod. Everyone thinks Nemtsov’s rule there was a disaster.

                • A British friend of mine spent several months in Nizhny Novgorod shortly after Nemtsov ceased to be the local nabob there, The place was run down and bankrupt and people were still spitting blood when his name came up. Obviously the miracle passed them by.

                • marknesop says:

                  This quotation – allegedly from Nemtsov, and from an article on the privatization of architecture in Nizhny Novgorod during his gubernatorial stint – might be illuminating: “My main merit obviously consist in not having interfered”. It refers to Nemtsov’s not having imposed building regulations. But there still might be some credit due in not sticking one’s hand in so as not to muck up a good thing.

                • marknesop says:

                  Oh, wait; there might actually be some serious pushback to the “Economic Miracle of Nizhny Novgorod” narrative. It appears Nemtsov did not escape The eXile’s beady eye.

                • marknesop says:

                  I wish I had more evidence of that, because most accounts will go no further than suggesting critics of Nemtsov’s policies as governor found his methods “authoritarian”. I’ve heard allusions before that he didn’t do anywhere near the great job he likes to brag on, but he does quote hard figures about raising the local economy dramatically as compared to other regions. Unless those are lies, he pretty much has a right to claim credit.

  33. AK says:

    @Mark,

    Instead of working on new posts, even when you don’t feel like it, there is another way to maintain a discussion forum of sorts in the comments by way of so-called Open Threads (like I do here).

    Not my wish of course to tell you what to do on your own blog. But my browser stutters when opening this thread, and I have a pretty good computer; I shudder to think what it must be like on older systems. In any case once comments exceed 500 or so I find it increasingly unrealistic to keep track of them or meaningfully contribute. I suspect some of the other commentators here might feel the same way.

  34. yalensis says:

    Ivanishvili delivers a new “slap in the face” to Saakashvili:

    http://izvestia.ru/news/548555

    26 May is “Independence Day” in Gruzia. In the past, Saakashvili has milked this event for all it’s worth, having a big military parade, greeting the troops, having the troops pay homage to him (as their Commander in Chief).

    So, Saak was looking forward nostalgically to the event this year, this would be his last parade before he finally leaves office. He couldn’t wait to see the troops saluting and praising him.

    Then Ivanishvili’s party “Gruzian Dream” decided to cancel the military parade this year. Instead of the parade, there will be some other types of celebrations, not involving Saakashvili.

    So, Saak will have to leave office without having enjoyed that final little treat.

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