I’m Sorry; We Don’t Accept U.S. Dollars – Have You Any Rupelyuans?

Uncle Volodya says, "I lent a friend of mine $10,000.00 for plastic surgery, and now I don't know what he looks like."

Uncle Volodya says, “I lent a friend of mine $10,000.00 for plastic surgery, and now I don’t know what he looks like.”

For the love of money
People will lie; Lord, they will cheat
For the love of money
People don’t care who they hurt or beat:
For the love of money
A woman will sell her precious body
For a small piece of paper, it carries a lot of weight
call it lean, mean
mean green.

When they released, “For The Love of Money” in 1973, Philadelphia soul group The O’Jays probably were not thinking of anything but a catchy lyric (and what was probably the most infectious bass line of the 1970’s). But pretty much since money was developed as a medium of exchange for goods and services, there have been wars over it and desperate struggles for control of it. Because money is power, and control of it is more power still.

In the case of a couple of wars fought over it recently, money – or control of it – was not the obvious motive. However, it is an astonishing coincidence that in both cases, the national leaders of the countries which were razed announced their intention to make their nations independent of the world’s reserve currency. A campaign of demonization in the press followed, escalating quickly to military intervention which left both these nations in ruins. It hardly needs saying that there was no more talk about abandoning the reserve currency.

Let’s back up a bit, before we get into that, and do a quick review. Following World War II, the victorious allies got together at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, for the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference; 730 delegates from the 44 Allied nations hammered out over a period of days – and signed, on July 22nd, 1944 – an agreement for the rebuilding of the international financial system in which all parties agreed to maintain the exchange rate of their currencies by tying them to the value of the U.S. dollar, which was backed by the Gold Standard. Nixon unilaterally abandoned the Gold Standard in 1971, and the U.S. dollar became a fiat currency; which is to say, one that takes its value from government regulation. Although it remains the world’s reserve currency, other currencies were able to “float” in value against it, and the U.S. government sometimes became irritated at countries which pegged their value to the dollar, such as China.

The USA seems extremely keen on holding on to world reserve currency status for the U.S. dollar. Why? Are there advantages? Well, yes, there are, although this discussion paper by McKinsey & Co. downplays them and suggests they are really not much; MGI estimates that in a normal year, the USA reaps a benefit equal to about 0.3 to 0.5% of its GDP ($40 Billion to $70 billion), and in a “crisis year”, the benefit falls to perhaps $5 Billion to $20 Billion, owing to dollar appreciation as other countries flock to it as a safe haven. But there are other advantages. One is the effective interest-free loan the USA realizes from issuing currency to nonresidents, but that’s pretty puny by big-money standards; about $10 Billion. Another, though, is that the USA can raise capital cheaply by selling large blocks of U.S. Treasury securities to foreign governments and government agencies. While the cash realized from it isn’t huge, it has the effect of depressing the U.S. borrowing rate by 50 to 60 basis points or more.

What would happen, theoretically, if that wasn’t having enough of an effect, and you as the U.S. government started buying huge blocks of U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage notes yourself, to the tune of about $85 Billion per month? What would result – and has resulted – would be a stock market at record highs on a tidal wave of cheap dollars, a rock-bottom interest rate and near-zero inflation. Some people believe that is automatically good, but it’s not and without some inflation it is very difficult to achieve growth; the U.S. economy desperately needs growth. The target inflation rate is about 2%. What do you think would happen if the government’s top money-man announced a forecast end to constant stimulus through this method – not now, but, say, a year from now? Well, I can tell you that, because it happened: the market tanked. A couple of days later, Bernanke reversed himself, because he had to. What happened? The market soared to a dangerous new high on his implied promise that the gravy train of cheap money would just keep on a’ rollin’, for at least as long as it can. But I don’t think I have to tell you the risks inherent in just continuing to print more and more of a fiat currency that, without trust, is just coloured paper.

The U.S. dollar continues to maintain its strength and preeminence – worldwide, really, but it is to Americans that its continued solvency remains the most important – based solely upon faith; on trust that those pieces of paper will be exchangeable for goods and services tomorrow at or close to the same rate they are today, and the dollar remains worth a dollar because the United States government says it is. And one of the ways the United States government protects the credibility of the greenback…is by stomping hard on anyone who tries to get a rival currency off the ground.

Let’s go back for a minute, back to Iraq, 2000. Saddam Hussein announced that Iraq would no longer accept U.S. dollars for oil purchases under the UN oil-for-food program. His reasoning was that Iraq did not want to deal “in the currency of the enemy”. Instead, Iraq would accept only Euros. It would have cost the UN what was described at the time as a small fortune in accounting and paperwork changes – but, more importantly, oil was something the west could not simply announce it would buy elsewhere, and boycott. Remember, this was almost a year before the attacks on the World Trade Center in September, 2001.

What happened? You remember – mostly. You probably did not know at the time, but the clock was ticking on Saddam Hussein well before that, because of Iraq’s oil and Hussein’s unwillingness to do as he was told. Within hours after the attack on New York, Donald Rumsfeld and his merry men were already discussing how they might start a war with Iraq, and just 9 days after 9-11, the Project For A New American Century forwarded a letter to President Bush, in which it argued for “…a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq…even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack…” Check out the list of signatories – a veritable who’s who of neoconservative movers and shakers. Father and son dream team Donald and Robert Kagan, of course. Richard Perle, urban planner and advocate of George Bush Square in Baghdad. Frank Gaffney. Krazy Kolumnist Charles Krauthammer. Mikheil Saakashvili adviser and Georgian government lobbyist Randy Scheunemann. As I live and breathe, our old Russophobic Rogue’s Gallery alumnus, Nicholas Eberstadt, author of the Russian tourist brochure, “Drunken Nation“. Arch-fiend William Kristol, and Norman Podhoretz. Anyway, cue demonization in the press, pounding of the war drum interspersed with weepy renditions of The Young Rascals “People Got to Be Free“, support to the Iraqi opposition, establishment of safe zones, and finally the lunge into full-on undeclared war. Saddam was eventually captured, tried (sort of) and summarily executed by the new hand-picked Iraqi government. The world was made safe again for the world’s reserve currency.

Fast-forward, now, to Libya, 2011. Gaddafi has been pushing for a common African currency, the gold dinar, which will become the only currency African nations will accept for oil purchases. As both a fairly serious, if inefficient oil producer and the owner state of 144 tons of gold, Libya is fairly well-placed to float and back its own currency. Quick as a flash, renouncer of nuclear weaponry and bad-guy-gone-straight Gaddafi is a demon once again, violent suppressor of a peaceful democratic movement of al-Qaeda thugs and flip-flop-wearing warlords who have set up shop in Benghazi. Before you can say, “stick this up your Jamahiriya”, NATO has a no-fly zone established and has embarked on a blur of mission creep that will see it acting as the de facto rebel air force of al Qaeda, Peaceful Benghazi Chapter. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, Tripoli falls, Gaddafi is captured, murdered, and the greenback heaves another sigh of relief. Another crisis averted. Libya’s 144 tons of gold, incidentally, vanishes.

Iran, also, announced a move away from the U.S. dollar, and its intentions to open its own oil bourse, or stock exchange which would take direct payments in international currencies tied to the Euro, not the dollar. Although this site suggests the oil bourse went online in 2008, that’s not exactly correct; some sort of…ummm…accident severed the seabed cables which provided internet service to Iran just as the great day drew near. That couldn’t stall things forever, but in a more decisive move which was allegedly to punish Iran for its depredations against the perennial peaceful opposition, strategically-applied “international pressure” persuaded Brussels to cut Iran out of SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Telecommunication, last year. This, should you wonder, is unprecedented. And while the west has not gone to war against Iran, I don’t think you would find much argument if you suggested it was a western goal, and that Syria was a turnstile on the road to Tehran.

But it must be difficult to start up your own currency, isn’t it?

Apparently not. Although I’m sure this guide is grossly oversimplified, there are – theoretically – only three steps. One, establish something of value to which this currency will be tied. The author suggests gold, and while he points out it could be anything of value, I’m going to say oil. I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice that several nations have already tried to do that, and been whacked like a stool pigeon for their efforts. But I’m pretty confident that wouldn’t happen in this case, because I’m talking about a group that is more or less immune from the threat of military comeuppance – the BRICS. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Step two, think of something to call your currency. I chose the Rupelyuan, an amalgamate of the Ruble, Rupee, Real, Rand and Yuan, but that was just off the top of my head, and I’m open to suggestion.

Three, convince what the author describes as a “critical mass” of people to adopt and trade in your currency. How about all the people who like to use oil, and things that are derived from oil, burn oil as a fuel or are shipped by vehicles which do?

Why now? Well, of course it doesn’t have to be now. But I notice, as I’m sure you did as well, that Russia has just moved into position as the world’s fifth largest economy, displacing Germany. I further notice that 3 of the BRICS are in the top 5, and a fourth is in the top 10; only South Africa has yet to reach that milestone, and China is forecast to move into top spot in the next couple of years.

The top 3 BRICS nations are all nuclear powers. I don’t think the group needs to worry unduly about a western direct military intervention, although at least one (Russia) has been subjected to a barrage of media demonization since…well, since the end of the Cold War, really, allowing only a brief caesura during the golden years when Boris Yeltsin sold the people’s wealth to the oilgarchs, thrashed around privatizing everything his Harvard advisers advised him to, and woke up with a terrible hangover, remembering nothing. The highest BRIC on the totem pole, China, has the world’s largest cash reserves. The Newly-Arrived Number Five has the world’s third-largest cash reserves, and is the world’s biggest oil producer.

This is not new; the BRICS have been talking among themselves for some time about establishing their own Bretton institutions to challenge – and perhaps edge out – the World Bank and the IMF. They have agreed in principle to establish a BRICS Development Bank, targeted at the developing world, with an initial capital startup of $50 Billion.

The next logical step would be the establishment of a common currency, like the Euro, which was also the result of a purely monetary rather than an inherently political union. Would they have any trouble getting people to use it. Gee…I don’t know. There would be resistance. But toward winter, when it started getting cold in Europe…

They might be just bluffing, gathering negotiating weight to argue, as an earlier-cited article suggested, for more say over global monetary policy and the practice of always selecting the leaders of existing global monetary institutions from the same countries.

But then again, they might not.

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777 Responses to I’m Sorry; We Don’t Accept U.S. Dollars – Have You Any Rupelyuans?

  1. reggietcs says:

    Anti-BRIC propaganda…………..

    http://news.yahoo.com/brics-joint-action-g20-summit-may-wishful-thinking-051127041.html

    More of the “capital out flight” nonsense being throttled. As Russia & China become stronger Geo-politically, we’re likely to see more hit pieces like this.

    • Dear Mark,

      An excellent article!

      If reserve currency status meant so little to the US it would not defend it as fiercely as it does.

      It is really interesting to read the McKinsey report since it is a classic example of how to defend the indefensible by arguing the trivial. The report focuses to a degree level on the technical financial benefits of reserve currency status, which are indeed slight, as if that was what was important. It then says briefly and in passing that the US derives some geostrategic benefits from being at the centre of the world financial system and from being able to run a looser monetary policy but goes on to say that this is at the expense of the US’s long term industrial competitiveness. This comment made in passing leaves one breathless. It then reverts to a discussion of the technical financial costs and benefits for the US of having a reserve currency and then talks at length and to little point about the Eurozone.

      This is utterly ridiculous since the whole point of reserve currency status IS that it places the US at the centre of the world financial system and that it allows the US to run a much looser monetary policy that it would otherwise be able to do. Briefly the US is able to expand its economy by running a much looser monetary policy than it would otherwise do precisely because it knows that the effect of any dollar depreciation caused by a looser monetary policy which might otherwise increase the cost of its imports is limited by the fact that the US pays for its imports in dollars. The US is able to do this indefinitely whilst limiting the extent of dollar depreciation because other countries have to prop up the dollar because they need the dollar to retain value if they are to use it to trade not only with the US but with each other. In other words the US is able to export its inflation and run up ever bigger trade deficits in the knowledge that the rest of the world will pay the bill by supporting its currency. The massive dollar hoards that have built up in China and the rest of Asia are a consequence of this.

      The fact that the dollar functions as the world’s reserve currency also gives the US an useful foreign policy advantage. It is able to lock out countries like Cuba, Iran and North Korea from the world financial system by threatening banks even in countries like China and Russia that have financial dealings with those countries. Since even banks in countries like China and Russia have to hold dollars if they are to function internationally within the world financial system this is a massive and effective deterrent against any bank even in China and Russia from having normal financial dealings with countries like Cuba, Iran and North Korea.

      As for the question of whether having reserve currency status ultimately undermines US competitiveness, that is true but completely misses the point because it is of course the choice the US has deliberately made since it prefers to sustain its living standards through looser monetary policy and high deficits by sacrificing competitiveness and having a reserve currency enables it to do this. If the US were to lose its reserve currency status it would not be able to do this, in which case living standards in the US would fall. Nobody knows by how much and it is probably something that is impossible to calculate because no one can say to what extent the US having reserve currency status artificially props up its living standards. However a good guess would be that the decline in living standards if the US were to lose reserve currency status is that it would be very sharp as the cost of imports exploded and as the US finally had to get a grip on its budgetary spending by raising taxes and/or by cutting things like defence spending.

      For what it’s worth I happen to believe that that would in the long run be the best thing that could happen to the US. The US remains an immensely creative society. Were the prop of reserve currency status to be taken away I have no doubt at all that the US would rapidly regain competitiveness and would soon be running surpluses again even if living standards in the meantime took a sharp fall. Moreover the fall in living standards would quickly be made up by well paid jobs in the US’s businesses and industries as they regained competitiveness. The US would become a more equal and more balanced and ultimately perhaps a more healthy and even happy society with the emphasis more on manufacturing and genuine wealth creation as opposed to financial engineering and asset inflation. In fact it would be much more like the US as it was in the period up to about 1970 before the US largely as a consequence of the dollar having reserve currency status acquired its present form. However there is the point because what that would mean is that the US would forfeit its position at the centre of world affairs, which is what the elite in Washington and New York want to defend at all costs.

      As to what form any new BRICS based reserve currency would take, I have already discussed this before. Ultimately the reserve currency the BRICS decide to use is the one China decides on. The only other BRICS economy that might have a say is Russia, which not only runs a surplus but which as the BRICS’s biggest energy producer trades in goods that China needs.

      • Robert says:

        Totally agree with Mark that the BRICS have the potential to challenge the imperial dollar by moving to an alternative monetary system for the trade between themselves and inviting the rest of the world to join.

        One possibility would be for them to return to the scheme proposed by the British economist Keynes at Bretton Woods, a scheme that was rejected by the USA who were determined to put the world on the dollar standard.

        Keynes proposed a new neutral unit of international currency – the “Bancor” – and a new institution to manage it – International Clearing or Currency Union (ICU) All international trade would be measured in Bancors. Exporting would accrue Bancors, importing would expend Bancors. Nations would be expected to maintain, within a small percentage, a zero account with the ICU. Each nation’s Bancor account would be related to its national currency through a fixed but adjustable exchange rate.

        Nations that imported more than they exported, debtor nations, would pay a small interest charge to the Clearing Union on their overdrawn account. This would encourage them to promote exports as well as a marginal currency devaluation. But equally nations that ran an aggressive trade policy and exported more than they imported would also be charged by the Clearing Union for their surplus account. This would encourage them to find ways to spend their excess Bancors back into debtor nations or gradually lose that surplus. These charges were intended not so much as a deterrant or punishment but as a benign feedback mechanism ensuring that over time trade would remain in balance. Instead of Third World debtor countries having brutal structural adjustment programs imposed on them by the US controlled IMF debtor and creditor would be treated almost alike as disturbers of equilibrium. Nor would the Third World depend on dollars to pay for their oil imports.

        Just as there was a fundamental transfer of power from the dying British Empire to the US in the 1940s as the dollar replaced the pound sterling so now the world faces a shift in power from North America to Asia.

        If China eventually succeeds in replacing the dollar with the yuan as the global currency chances are the world will simply be faced with a new Empire that will abuse its power. If the other BRICS persuaded China to sign up to a version of the Keynesian plan the world 88would be liberated from a key weapon of economic imperialism.

      • marknesop says:

        Thanks, Alex! It’s interesting that you tie America’s departure from sensible economic policy to the early 70’s, because that correlates almost exactly to the point at which Nixon elected to stop backing the dollar with gold, and to make it a fiat currency based on its perceived worth by its own printers. Since then, the dollar has stayed alive and often thrived purely on faith. If that faith were shaken hard, I believe the dollar would collapse quite easily.

        • Jen says:

          The story I’ve heard, and I think this has been repeated on a number of websites and blogs, is that when Saddam Hussein switched from trading in US dollars to euros in 2000, initially he was ridiculed but then the euro began to rise in value (almost 25% against the value of the US dollar in 2001) and the value of Iraq’s gold reserves rose astronomically. This encouraged quite a few other major oil exporters to consider using the euro instead of the US dollar and in 2002 Iran adopted the euro to value its central bank reserves. Also in December 2002, North Korea, dropped the dollar and began using the euro for international trade. Interesting that the only thing the Axis of Evil nations had in common then was using the euro to denominate their bank reserves and do all their overseas trading and shopping. At one stage, Venezuela and OPEC also considered switching to euros.

          The interesting thing though is why Tricky Dicky abandoned the gold standard in the first place and by ending the Bretton Woods agreement opened Pandora’s box of financial deregulation, free-floating currencies and neoliberal economics. My understanding is that, among other things, US government spending on the Vietnam War and social programs (the latter for which the spending had been delayed for decades), and the rise of West Germany and Japan as competitors in manufacturing to the US, and the refusal of those two countries to revalue their currencies, put pressure on the Nixon government to abandon Bretton Woods. Also the situation as Alex Mercouris describes above with the use of the US dollar as a global reserve currency and the problems that that policy led to in the 1960s, combined with government military and social spending, was present before Nixon abandoned the gold standard: the situation was known as the Triffin dilemma.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triffin_dilemma

  2. reggietcs says:

    A little off topic, but a little Kabaeva related:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/olympics-fourth-place-medal/low-rent-scandal-hits-levels-rhythmic-gymnastic-judging-215902482.html

    Many of the message board responders seem to consider rhythmic gymnastics more related to dance than gymnastics. I have to be honest that when I viewed Kabaeva’s Athens performance on YouTube, I too thought it has more in common with ballet/dancing than artistic gymnastics. However, unlike many of the posters, I do believe that it should remain an Olympic event.

  3. reggietcs says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with AK’s take on this verdict. It WAS stupid & counter-productive:

    http://darussophile.com/2013/07/18/jailing-navalny-is-stupid/#comments

    I also found Putin’s statement (“we don’t want another 1937″) regarding why the ex-defense minister remains free for more serious crimes a major cop-out. I hope there’s an intervention and that Navalny receives a suspended sentence or some form of community service. For the first time in many a moon, I was reading positive postings towards Russia regarding Snowden – even in British comment sections, now they’ve gone and thrown that good will out of the window.

    • yalensis says:

      Well, I personally don’t believe that Judge Blinov made his decision based on what was most expedient to improve Russia’s image among bloggers worldwide. I think he actually just looked at all the evidence in front of him, and decided that the prosecution had proved their case.

      Which is what he should do. If you’re a judge, you should judge on the evidence and facts, and let the chips fall where they may. Even if everybody screams foul.

      And, just to reiterate, this was a white-collar crime with many interesting twists and turns, and the prosecution case was not a slam dunk either. In some of my previous comments, I pointed out some weaknesses in the prosecution case, and where defense could exploit these weaknesses, which they did — Navalny/Ofitserov had a decent defense team — but in the end it was the telephone/email taps that won the day and proved (pretty much overwhelmingly) that Navalny-Ofitserov colluded to strip KirovLes of product.
      So, what was Blinov supposed to do? Put on his “international relations” hat, and say, “Oh, I better let these guys go, because American and British bloggers were just starting to get to like us more…?”

    • yalensis says:

      P.S.
      AK in his blog makes the same fallacious argument that a lot of people (including myself) made upon first encountering this strange case: How can I steal 16 rubles, pay 14 back, and still be held accountable for the whole 16? Shouldn’t I just be charged with stealing the 2 rubles? Therefore, why wasn’t Navalny charged under Article 160 instead of 165? Like I said, I made that argument myself several times on this blog, until I ran into the answer, and god help me, I can’t find the link now, but it’s there, somewhere in all the trial testimony, I believe it is included in the prosecution summation. (And I promise I will try to find it.)

      It is a bit of a technical loophole, but there is an article of the Russian Federation that states that in the case of embezzlement of government property, the accused is to be charged with the ENTIRE amount that they took. Even if they paid some of it back.
      Therefore the prosecution used this (shall we say “loophole”) to charge Navalny/Ofitserov with the entire 16 million, even though the net theft was only 2 million.

      AK also omits to mention what changed between the two times the Kirov investigators dropped the case (because they knew he dunnit, but didn’t think they had enough evidence to prove it), and this third time, when they crowed: “Yessir, now we can prove it!”
      What changed? Was it Bastrykin’s hurt feelings? Not exactly… it was (drumroll) the emails….. DUH!

      What finally cracked the case open and gave the investigators their confident feeling was hacker Hell’s cracking of Navalny’s emails, and then following that the publication of the email trail between Navalny and Ofiserov. It all starts with that breakthrough. Following that, the prosecution re-opens the case, gets a warrant for Navalny’s laptop, pretends they got the emails from the laptop (instead of from Hell), and… etc etc.

      In concusion, at least two of AK’s arguments contain a logical flaw, and based on that he makes his usual wide-ranging and dogmatic assertions.

      • yalensis says:

        P.P.S. – if you review the chronology, you will see that Hell cracked Navalny’s emails BEFORE Navalny really started going after Bastrykin on his blog. So once again, Navalnyites trying to confuse the timeline with fallacious causality arguments. As in “Navalny calls Bastrykin a Czech spy. Next thing you know, they are dredging up KirovLes again.”

        Fortunately, all this stuff is written down somewhere, so people can check for themselves.
        The correct chronology is:

        (1) Hell cracks Navalny’s google account, publishes his emails for everyone to see;
        (2) Bastrykin harangues his flunkies in the IC, demands re-opening of KirovLes;
        (3) Navalny goes postal on Batrykin on his blog

      • peter says:

        … there is an article of the Russian Federation that states that in the case of embezzlement of government property, the accused is to be charged with the ENTIRE amount that they took.

        При установлении размера, в котором лицом совершены мошенничество, присвоение или растрата, судам надлежит иметь в виду, что хищение имущества с одновременной заменой его менее ценным квалифицируется как хищение в размере стоимости изъятого имущества.

        • yalensis says:

          Oh, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Peter!
          (you are a lovely person, NOT a troll, and I take back all those bad things I said about you before….) :)

          For those not reading Russian, Peter has helpfully linked a decree of the Plenum of Russian Supreme Court from 27 December 2007, here is translation of the key point highlighted by peter in his above comment:

          “In determining the value [of stolen property] by theft or embezzlement, the courts need to take into account that a theft accompanied by a simultaneous substitution with a less valuable [replacement] should be qualified as a theft in the amount of the [original] stolen property.”

          This goes to the point of debating AK’s contention that Navalny/Ofitserov should have been charged under Article 160 and not Article 165. See, we’re all getting our legal education now. I feel like I could apply for my law degree soon.

          • marknesop says:

            That’s better; I’m a little more optimistic about our pilgrimage to the Burgess Shale. I admit I did worry I was going to have to separate you and Peter, and perhaps I would have to carry much of the singing of “The Wheels On The Bus” myself. This is more like it. Also, we have not heard from Giuseppe in a long time; perhaps we should offer his seat to Alex. Then he and Peter can debate points of law and retail principles in real time, which would be most instructive.

      • peter says:

        Damn tags!

        … there is an article of the Russian Federation that states that in the case of embezzlement of government property, the accused is to be charged with the ENTIRE amount that they took.

        При установлении размера, в котором лицом совершены мошенничество, присвоение или растрата, судам надлежит иметь в виду, что хищение имущества с одновременной заменой его менее ценным квалифицируется как хищение в размере стоимости изъятого имущества.

      • marknesop says:

        It does not help that commenters on various blogs attempt to trivialize the issue by overstating it, such as, “Now Navalny has stolen a forest, have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?” Navalny was never accused of stealing any forest, and I would remind readers that the same tactic was used to whitewash Khodorkovsky, to wit, “Khodorkovsky stands accused of stealing his own oil!!!” People would be wise to read the actual charges in detail, and not let the western newspapers do their legal analysis for them. Likewise, it is a mistake to attribute western motives and strategy to the trial and to the judgment. Those who believe the judgment was badly flawed are thinking the same way – the Kremlin has made a big mistake. The Kremlin is not running the case, and it would not matter what the verdict was were that the case. Russia must just plod ahead without listening to the quacking of the west, because there could not be a verdict in the case which would come out with Russia looking good. If Navalny were let off, it would not be “The State Shows Mercy!!!”. It would be, “The state feared to convict Navalny because of his power as the people’s champion!!!” If he is convicted, as he was, the decision was “rigged and made by Putin”. I doubt Putin wastes much time thinking about Navalny.

        The western media would spin the decision negatively for Russia no matter which way it went, and there could be no “good” outcome, so it is best for Russia to not pay any attention to western mainstream analysis – which is geared to a desirable outcome for western objectives and pitched to a western audience, not Russian.

        • reggietcs says:

          Well said Mark!

          They are really getting carried away with the notion that Navalny was freed because the Kremlin “feared protests.” I think the fact that western papers are able to get away with blatant fabrications like this without challenge, says more about the state of western journalism than anything about Russia. 47% of Russians have never even heard of Nalavny, yet westerns papers prattle on as if he’s some sort of existential threat to Putin. Russian polls are the enemy of this western propaganda, which is why we rarely see them referenced.

    • Dear Reggietics,

      I understand the argument but I think it is wrong and misses the point. Firstly it assumes that this was a political trial after all and that it was indeed the Kremlin that initiated it. Perhaps it was but what one would like to see evidence of it. The fact that the only evidence so far provided of this is Markin’s statement, which does not in fact confirm it, is an indication that we are talking not about evidence of something but of assumption and inference.

      At the end of the day Russia either has a functioning legal system or it does not. If it does have a functioning legal system then it cannot treat persons like Navalny more leniently than other persons who have committed the same crimes. That is selectivity on Navalny’s behalf and treats him as someone who is above the law. Quite apart from the fact that such a position is legally unsustainable it is politically disastrous since it means that decisions about who is guilty or innocent in Russia are made on the pages of western newspapers or in Russian streets and not in Russian courts. That is exactly the route back to the 1990s. In the specific case of Navalny it would be especially disastrous since it would mean that the authorities are afraid of him.

      As to the Serdyukov/Vasilieva affair, I will simply say what I have repeatedly said, which is that it is premature to judge an investigation that is on going and which because of the size and complexity of the issues under investigation is probably still in its early stages. There is a compelling reason not to charge Serdyukov at the moment, since the moment he is charged he becomes a suspect and cannot be interviewed in the same way that he can be now. If a decision has already been made to bring no charges in this case then it is difficult to understand why this investigation is going on at all. If the investigation is dropped or closed down then will be the right time to criticise it but until that happens we should reserve judgement on it.

      • reggietcs says:

        Thanks for your response Alexander.

        You wrote a few days ago that one simply couldn’t let Navalny off out of fear that it would make him a martyr because it would place him above the law. No one can logically disagree with this. This fact would undoubtedly and DOES apply to any court in the world that is free and impartial. Also, as you’ve stated, there’s no hard evidence that the Kremlin was directly involved with the case, though the western media is taking it as a “given” (as they always do) without supplying any evidence. Now the morning papers are attempting to spin Navalny’s bail release pending appeal as a “protester demand” which is complete nonsense. Navalny is free for now on appeal because that’s how the legal system works not because the Kremlin is frightened. What nonsense.

        I continue to be impressed with the manner in which the western press can just fabricate stuff like this out of whole cloth. This is nothing but tabloid journalism.

        • yalensis says:

          Navalny and Ofitserov were let out on bail because they have 10 days to appeal Blinov’s guilty verdict. If the verdict is confirmed, then they will go back to jail, and eventually to a colony.

          There is some minor political intrigue surrounding the issue whether Navalny can still run for Mayor even if he is convicted; some legal pundits seem to feel that the mayoral campaign itself will grant him temporary immunity until September. Others say, no. I don’t know which side to believe. Sob’anin himself clearly hopes and wishes that Navalny stays free, because his loss to Sob’anin in the election will give more legitimacy to Sob’anin.
          But Sob’anin’s hopes and wishes will not decide Navalny’s fate. I believe those who see a split in the “elite” between, say, the Sob’aninites and the Sechinites, or whatever, are just indulging themselves in pointless Kremlinology.

      • AK says:

        At the end of the day Russia either has a functioning legal system or it does not.

        I do not believe there has to be any such dichotomy. It is quite possible for a legal system to operate quite normally most of the time, for the majority of cases, but to also likewise be exploitable by exceptionally powerful cliques in select cases. Richard Sakwa in his book The Crisis of Russian Democracy, which I highly recommend if you haven’t read it already, calls it a “dual state.”

        • marknesop says:

          I don’t know – that just sounds like a rationalization to me for why some cases do not turn out the way special interests would like them to turn out. Then they can say, well, because of the dual state sometimes Russia does have the rule of law but in cases like Navalny’s, obviously Putin is involved and so the Kremlin must be afraid of him. It couldn’t be that he was actually guilty, of course. It may be true that Navalny’s case attracted special prosecutorial attention because Navalny keeps shooting his mouth off, and the authorities have already stipulated to that, but that should not lead to an automatic assumption that Navalny is not guilty of any wrongdoing.

        • Dear Anatoly and Peter,

          A system such as the one described would not be a functioning legal system but a dysfunctioning one. It simply is not possible for a legal system to operate normally most of the time and then become abnormal at someone’s order for some of the time and remain functioning. Even in Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany courts dispensed justice most of the time but no one would call their legal system a functioning one.

          The question in this case is whether Navalny should not have been prosecuted despite the evidence against him because he is Aleksei Navalny. If the answer is yes then the Russian legal system is dysfunctional.

          As to what Medvedev said, I think as President he was certainly wrong to say it. Not prosecuting Navalny despite the strength of the case against him would have proved it true.

        • Alex says:

          Is extrajudical executions a sign that there is no functioning legal system? Then Germany certainly had none back in seventies. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Army_Faction#The_.22Death_Night.22
          I am not even mentioning US with it’s “kill anybody” drone programm, NDAA and such.
          So the thing is, a country could have the functioning legal system and still do a lot of things way out what deemed legal.

          • yalensis says:

            The way it is done in America is that after 9/11 they set up 3 parallel branches of government to bypass the Constitution: An untrammelled Executive, which orders the highly illegal stuff like drone killings and PRISM wiretaps, etc. A special court (FISA) which is parallel to the Supreme Court and signs off on the “illegal” stuff, making it legal. And a rubber-stamp Congress which has secretly stipulated in advance that all this illegal stuff is actually okay.

            Meanwhile, the rest of the system functions more or less as it did before, for example, a burglar will still wend his way through the regular police and court system.

      • peter says:

        At the end of the day Russia either has a functioning legal system or it does not.

        It does not, says its own prime minister:

        … Es ist kein Geheimnis, dass wir in diesem Sinne ein schlechtes Erbe übernommen haben. Als Präsident habe ich viel darüber nachgedacht, warum die meisten Urteile, bis zu 95% oder gar 97%, die von unseren Gerichten gefällt werden, Schuldsprüche sind. Warum werden Angeklagte nicht öfter freigesprochen? Ich musste feststellen, dass es sich um ein Problem des politischen und rechtlichen Bewusstseins handelt. Die Richter schämen sich fast, jemanden freizusprechen und dadurch die Ermittlungsbehörden infrage zu stellen. Die Wurzeln dieser Erscheinung stecken in der russischen Geschichte, und zwar in den traurigen Jahren des 20. Jahrhunderts. Erst wenn wir unser Gerichtssystem verändern können, wird es attraktiv, und dann wird unser Rechts- und Justizsystem synchron funktionieren…

        • yalensis says:

          Niemand sollte den Medwedew zu hören, dieser Mann weisst nichts, er ist ein grosser Putz!

          • peter says:

            Putz is Yiddish, not German, you dummkopf!

            • yalensis says:

              Mommy, Mommy, Peter is making fun of me again, make him stop!
              (du Shmendrik…)

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Sehr geehrterYalensis!

                In German, the preposition “zu” does not come before an infinitive governed by a modal auxiliary verb, hence:

                Niemand sollte den Medwedew hören, dieser Mann weisst nichts, er ist ein grosser Putz!

                and not:

                Niemand sollte den Medwedew ZU hören, dieser Mann weisst nichts, er ist ein grosser Putz!

                It’s the same in English, old chap:

                Nobody should listen to Medvedev: this man knows nothing, he is a big poser.

                However, unlike that tongue of “Dichter und Denker”, in my mother tongue, one uses the infinitive with “to” with lexical verbs, e.g. I want to listen to Medvedev.

                There are occasional exceptions to this English rule, e.g. “Help me make it through the night” and “Help me to make it through the night”, where both variants are possible. The verbs “dare” and “need” do this as well, although for me there is a difference in meaning between “He needn’t do it” and “He doesn’t need to do it”.

                Vergessen Sie nicht: wir haben gewisse Mittel, um Sie zum Reden zu bringen!
                :-)

                • yalensis says:

                  Sehr geehrter Moscow Exile:

                  Viele Danken für die Lektion der Grammar. Eine Korrektion: “der Putz” bedeutet nicht “Poser”, er bedeutet “хуй” !

                  “wir haben gewisse Mittel, um Sie zum Reden zu bringen!”
                  Welche Mittel?? Du und welche Armee?

                  mit freundlichen Grüßen… (etc.)

                • peter says:

                  “хуй” !

                  That’s a very insensitive topic to bring up considering Putin’s recent admission to using viagra.

                • marknesop says:

                  Maybe he “feels emasculated by today’s women“. According to increasingly-detailed statistics (ugh), the drug originally formulated for impotence is the choice of younger men who just want to increase their punch in the bedroom. Gosh, the story just a few weeks ago was that Putin wasn’t getting any because he and his wife were quits. Perhaps the relationship was considerably spicier than we were led to believe. Or maybe he’s just not imaginative enough to picture someone else. Anyway, it’s not the harbinger of advancing age and infirmity it once was.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Sehr geehrter Yalensis!

                  Alles Klar! Sie meinten, dass Medwedew eine Schwanze ist.

                  Sie haben gefragt: “Welche Mittel?? Du und welche Armee?”

                  Mit den Streitkräften der Bundesrepublik Deutschlands, aber dieses Mal – No Mr. Nice Guy!!!

                  Mit herzlichen Grüßen aus Moskau!

                  ME
                  :-)

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, Grießbrei – even I knew that. I see crying yourself to sleep in your immediate future.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          “Als Präsident habe ich viel darüber nachgedacht, warum die meisten Urteile, bis zu 95% oder gar 97%, die von unseren Gerichten gefällt werden, Schuldsprüche sind. ”

          [ As President, I have thought a great deal about why most decisions, up to 95 or even 97% of them, that have been given in our courts turn out as verdicts of guilt."]

          Well, if that is the case, I wonder if Medvedev concerns himself likewise over the fact that in 2011 in the USA 93% of criminal cases were returned with a guilty verdict in that 93% of criminal defendants in that year had decided to plead guilty?

          Those American defendants really must have had a guilty conscience when they entered the dock, in that their code of morality forbad them to tell a barefaced lie, or they had been persuaded that it would be in their best interests to plead guilty.

          The second of the previous two suggestions above is, according to available 2011 statistics, what in fact happened, as I have already pointed out in the previous thread, which earlier comment of mine about this matter contains a link to my quoted source.

          As regards the Serdykov case, some people have firm, reliable roofs, others have leaky ones and many have no roofs at all. I have the strong suspicion that Serdyukov is in possession of a roof of the first category; furthermore, one that has been constructed by the firm Medvedev & Partners.

    • marknesop says:

      If Serdyukov is just going to walk away without so much as a slap on the wrist, why is the government continuing to investigate? Were the accusations of wrongdoing thus far winkled out by investigative journalists like Yulia Latynina or Yevgenia Albats? They were not; they were announced as part of the ongoing investigation.

      The case of U.S. Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham was described by the Washington Post as “the most brazen bribery conspiracy in modern congressional history, and ABC News called it “a corruption case with no parallel“. He began accepting bribes to rig defense contracts as early as 2004, and an investigation commenced in 2005. He pleaded guilty to massive fraud and accepting bribes in November of 2005, and was not sentenced – despite having admitted his guilt – for another 6 months. Unless things have changed very recently, Serdyukov continues to maintain there is a reasonable explanation for everything, and has admitted nothing. Therefore a thorough investigation to make connections and establish guilt must be conducted before he can be charged with anything, and until he is charged there is no reason to restrict his freedom. Don’t forget, those who are making smart remarks about him getting away with his crimes would be the first to howl that Russia “needs the rule of law” if he were to be jugged without charge. He also does have his defenders, both in the west and among the western toadies in Russia, who insist he is being pilloried because he recognized that Russian military equipment is clumsy junk, and angered powerful Russian defense oligarchs by buying sleek, sophisticated western-built equipment. Jailing him before he was charged with anything would merely play to such a narrative. Once again, Russia must ignore western mewling and proceed with the investigation in its own way.

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  5. yalensis says:

    Still on KirovLes, this comment is for Alexander Mercouris.
    I promised him a summary, in English, of Blinov’s conviction notes, in the hope that he will write a blog about this verdict.

    Dear Alexander Mercouris:

    As promised here is my English-language summary of the Navalny conviction.
    For my source, I used GAZETA .

    Biases: GAZETA is pro-Navalny and accompanies every statement of Judge Blinov with either a snarky pro-Defense comment, or with sensationalistic chronology of the “massive” pro-Navalny demonstrations taking place worldwide.
    My own bias: I think Navalny is a sleazebag and American spy. But I would have accepted a not-guilty verdict in this trial, because white-collar crimes are so tricky to prove, and the prosecution case was not exactly a slam-dunk. Fortunately, it wasn’t up to me. It was all on that sweet-talking baby-faced Judge Blinov!

    Anyhow…
    I have not yet had time to watch the videotape of the proceedings. I have found in the past that when I watch the tape myself, some of my impressions change, because it is different from just reading a verbal summary that is somebody else’s subjective impression.

    To continue…
    Blinov agreed with prosecution charge that Navalny, on 15 April 2009 organized the signing of the 36 supplementary contracts between VLK (Ofitserov) and KirovLes (Opalev).
    The signing of these 16 contracts led directly to the embezzlement of the 16 million rubles worth of KirovLes product.
    Blinov ruled that the guilt of the defendants was proved by the testimony of Opalev, and that he took Opalev’s word over Navalny’s.
    Blinov ruled that he also believed the testimony of Pavel Smertin, Larisa Bastrygina, and Sergei Sh’erchkov, all witnesses for the prosecution.
    Blinov ruled that he also believed the testimony of Marina Bura (a key witness who is Opalev’s step-daughter, as well as former employee of BOTH KirovLes and VLK). Bura stated on the witness stand that Ofitserov forced Opalev to sign the contracts with VLK. He threatened that if he didn’t sign the contracts, then he (Ofitserov) would have him (Opalev) fired. [yalensis: Bura’s allegation would sound ridiculous were it not for the tapped phone conversation between Ofitserov and Navalny, in which they boast/threaten to do exactly that, and more, to Opalev! – once again, may I stress that the prosecution would not have had a case that passed the threshhold of provability without those famous wiretaps!]
    Blinov ruled that he believed the testimony of the “leskhozy” filial directors who were allegedly forced to do business with VLK. [yalensis: If I may editorialize for a moment, this is the weakest part of the prosecution case, and Blinov should have simply discarded this testimony. Defense rightfully pointed out in their closing arguments that this testimony, without hard numbers, amounts to “odna baba skazala…” Russian proverb, “some old lady said that…” English equivalent would be “a friend told a friend…” in other words, just word of mouth and rumor-mongering….]

    Anyhoo, plowing on…
    Blinov mentioned the testimony of witnesses Nikita Belykh (for the prosecution), and Maria Gaidar (for the defense).

    Next, after a 10-minute recess, Blinov read out the testimony of accountants, here are some actual hard numbers. Records of payments and other documents proving the financial relationship betweenn KirovLes and VLK.
    Next Judge Blinov reads out some juicy bits from the wiretapped phone conversations and emails.

    Blinov summarizes by stating that Navalny-Ofitserov guilt has been proven. He does not see anything to indicate that the case is politically motivated, as Navalny claims. On the contrary, Blinov says that Navalny’s own words condemn him, and he was not thrilled by Navalny’s claim that Opalev/Bastrygina lied, nor Navalny’s claim that Opalev/Bastrygina/Bura plotted to ruin him.
    Blinov noted pointedly that Navalny/Ofitserov’s use of the pronoun “We” in their emails was quite telling. [I think Blinov is particularly referring to that one email where Navalny says “We will purchase the timber from KirovLes and then resell it to the customers…. etc.”]. According to Blinov, use of pronouns “WE” and “US” proves that Navalny/Ofitserov were in cahoots.

    Blinov concludes that Navalny’s job as “Advisor” to Governor Belykh did not hinder him in the slightest from organizing this crime, and that the defense accusations that this some kind of political show trial, well, they’re just pulling that out of their ass. [yalensis - my words, not Blinov’s]

    Blinov continues on, discreding defense claim that it was all KirovLes fault that lumber did not get delivered on time. Blinov also rejects defense claim that they sometimes purchased lumber (from KirovLes) at above market value.

    Blinov cites the testimony of the auditor Zagoskina, who concluded that the relationship between KirovLes and VLK was unprofitable for KirovLes.

    Blinov rejected defense claims that the “arbitration court” cases between KirovLes and VLK proved there was a valid business relationship between the two companies. [yalensis: I personally thought that this was the strongest point of the defense case, and I applaud defense counsels for stressing this. Namely, the fact that the two companies had several lawsuits against each other in arbitration court in Kirov, and that these cases were settled, to my mind, set a legal precedent to consider VLK a valid actor. Blinov could have used this, had he chosen, regardless of the outcome of these particular arbitrations, to decide that VLK was a legally established entity, by precedent, and not just some skeezy shell company.]
    Moving right along, Blinov also rejects defense contention that defendants did not get one thin dime of profit out of any of this Sturm and Drang, and that this proves their innocence. Philosophically speaking, how can a respectable thief organize this dramatic Walpurgisnacht of forest thievery, and then walk away empty-handed? Article doesn’t say how Blinov refuted this argument, but it does prove that Blinov was paying attention during the Defense 6-hour closing statements. Recall I noted at the time how Blinov was frantically scribbling notes during all defense closings (except for Navalny, whom Blinov ignored glaringly).

    Blinov concludes that Navalny played an active role in setting up the unnecessary shell company, VLK. Navalny, using his official position, issued orders to Opalev to do business with the shell company. This proves that Navalny was the organizer of this criminal enterprise.

    Due to this, Navalny gets a bigger sentence = 5 years in a correctional colony. His sidekick Ofitserov will have to settle for only 4 years.

    Handcuffs are slapped on, and the men are led to the awaiting avtozek.

    THE END
    ….
    (or is it????)

    • Dear Yalensis,

      Thanks immensely for this. I am going to try to find time this weekend to work on a Navalny post. It’s going to be a struggle but one can only try….

      Briefly, there is very little in the Judgment that would come as a surprise to you or me. Briefly Navalny failed to give a simple and straightforward explanation of the facts so not surprisingly Blinov preferred the account given by Opalev, which did. I don’t think any judge in any other country doing his job properly after such a trial would have come to a different view.

      Briefly, on the subject of the Arbitrazh cases, there is some force to what you say. However a contrary argument would be that it refutes a concern I had which I mentioned previously, which is that by not bringing proceedings against VLK, KirovLes might have been deemed to have consented to the results of its dealings with VLK. I suspect this is a point that is going to be touched on appeal. I don’t think it is a key one.

      As to the fact that Navalny and Ofitserov (and Opalev!) did not profit from the theft, this is a red herring. There is no requirement that thieves should actually profit from their theft though Russian law (unlike English law) does require that they should intend to profit by the theft. We know why they did not profit by it in this case, which is that VLK actually failed to make a profit despite the advantage it was given by the discount. For me the weakest part of the prosecution case is not that Navalny, Ofitserov and Opalev did not actually profit from this theft but that there is no evidence that Navalny intended to profit from it. This is obviously not a defence that was available to Ofitserov but I feel that Navalny should have focused his whole defence on it and hammered away at it constantly. He didn’t. Instead he chose to defend everything, which is why the argument got lost. There might still be an appeal brought on this point but I have to say in Britain a Judge has the right to infer an intention from the defendant’s conduct and I doubt there would be an appeal point on this issue in Britain if this case were being tried there.

      • yalensis says:

        Thanks for analysis, Alexander. Briefly on the subject of Opalev:

        (1) I think you are right that Opalev was by far a more believable witness than Navalny. And Blinov obviously came to the same conclusion. Even though Opalev was not so dynamic on the witness stand, and his memory was poor, what you saw was a broken man who told a story of how these rogues coerced him; and his story was completely corrobated by the tapped emails and phone calls. (Once again, without the emails and phone calls, it would have just been “he said” vs “he said”.)
        Opalev’s story in in its simplest, most basic form: This new liberal Governor comes riding into town, bringing with him a team of capitalist hot-shots, who regard men like Opalev as an unnecessary dinosaur. They make it clear to him that they don’t like him, and that he stands in the way of their big plans. One guy (Votinov) says that he will fire Opalev unless the latter gives him a bribe; which Opalev (who is smart but somewhat incompetent and a little bit corrupt) does. Another hotshot (Ofitserov) threatens to have his powerful friend Navalny fire Opalev unless the latter agrees to do business with his shell company. Beset on all sides, Opalev will sell his soul or do anything he has to do, just to keep his job.

        (2) Which leads to my second point, which is that Opalev himself never benefited or even intended to profit from the embezzlement deal. His sole motive was that he wanted to keep his job!

      • yalensis says:

        On the subject of Navalny: He obviously totally blew his own defense, and his blatherings in the courthouse only made Blinov despise him all the more.

        In order to win, like you say, Navalny needed to craft a good story that explained all the known facts, but with a different slant and interpretation. (Kind of like Rashomon.)

        In Navalny’s shoes, I would have hired a good fiction writer (say, Latynina) to write such a story for me. And in fact, Navalny did kind of do this, when he came up with that whopper about how he had recruited Ofitserov to be his spy within KirovLes, and that explains all the cloak and dagger stuff and the late night phone calls, etc. (Obviously Blinov did not buy that story for one second.) But Navalny could have actually come up with something like that, only much better. The problem is that he would have, like you said, had to include in his saga the words, “Boy, was I a screw-up! I simply had no idea how to run a local business, let alone a government agency. My intentions were pure, but I behaved like a moron and ruined everything. My apologies to all concerned”

        This might have worked. Instead, Navalny went with the more narcissistic gambit of: “I did nothing wrong. I was perfect. And everybody else was a crook.”
        Blinov remained unimpressed.

        • yalensis says:

          P.S.
          Obviously Ofitserov intended to profit from the scheme. He may have even felt in his heart that this would be legitimate profit, due him as this brilliant marketing genius and capitalist entrepreneur. Blinov ruled that this profit was NOT legitimate, due to the fact that Ofitserov neve had a right to this product in the first place.

          Blinov ruled that Navalny intended to profit from the scheme. If in fact Navalny did NOT make any money from it, maybe that was just because the scheme failed, or was not given enough time to come to fruition.

    • Dear Misha,

      We are looking at a completely bizarre situation in Moscow in which the authorities are doing everything they can to make it possible for Navalny to stand for election as Mayor and Navalny is doing everything he can to come up with a reason for not doing so. I am sure that the decision to release him pending the outcome of his appeal was made with the specific intention of making it possible for him to continue with his election campaign. He seems however notably unenthusiastic and though he has said he will persist with his campaign he seems to be leaving it open to call for a boycott. I suspect that his conviction will lead to a small surge in his favour but the crowds last night were not large and I suspect than any surge will ebb away.

      Incidentally I am sure Moscow Exile was right and that some of the people protesting last night were looking to provoke the police. Very wisely the authorities and the police refused to be provoked. Imagine the sort of headlines we would have had today if they had been. As it is I gather a decision has been made to call no more demonstrations today. Incidentally I notice that Navalny’s Coordinating Council has disappeared into the mist.

      As for Obama avoiding a meeting with Putin prior to the G20 summit, that is of course different from Obama boycotting the G20 summit itself. As I said before I don’t think there is any possibility of that. If Obama refuses to meet with Putin in Moscow before the G20 summit because of Snowden that is up to him but the only loser from that would be Obama not Putin.

      • PS: I find it totally hilarious that of all the people the Guardian should publish on the subject of Navalny it chose to pick on Khodorkovsky. If I was in charge of the Russian government’s public relations I would draw the Russian people’s attention to the fact that the backer of the Great Anti Corruption Blogger is someone the European Court of Human Rights has said is a multi billion dollar tax evader and criminal.

      • reggietcs says:

        I don’t believe any of these boycott threats will pan out, though we’ll continue to hear rumblings coming from US politicians. The US Olympic Committee swiftly shot down the idea of any boycott of Sochi over Snowden. The G20 is too large and important for the US to skip and I also believe that Obama WILL still meet with Putin regardless of Snowden’s status. If anything, Obama probably would probably like to discuss the Snowden affair in person, since in all likelihood Snowden will have temporary asylum by the time the G20 rolls around.

      • yalensis says:

        Dear Alexander: The theory that Navalny’s release on bail is part of the political intrigue to force him to stand for Mayor is the most plausible one. Especially given that the prosecutor (Bogdanov) who requested Navalny’s bail is one and the same man who, just the previous day, had begged Judge Blinov to lock Navalny behind bars and throw away the key. According to this theory, the Kremlin/Sob’anin clique badly want Navalny to run for Mayor and lose in a spectacular fashion.

        However, there is another theory, somewhat less plausible, but also less Byzantine, and adequately explaining all the facts before us. Namely that Judge Blinov had come to despise Navalny so much during the course of the trial, that he overreached and jailed Navalny too soon, even before the appeal. He should not have done this, since Navalny/Ofitserov had (technically) kept to the terms set them by the court, and therefore deserved to be out on jail during the period of their appeal. The higher court in essence gave Blinov a little slap on his wrist.
        This theory works, and there is no need to explain Bogdanov’s dual attitude. As prosecutor, it was his job at the trial to demand the harshest possible terms: conviction, no bail, hang him high… However, once the verdict was pronounced, Bogdanov, donning the laurels of victory, could now switch roles and now become Mr. Merciful.

        Well, just something to ponder on….

        • Dear Yalensis,

          The mix up over Navalny’s arrest and then release has been explained to me. As I understand it Article 108 of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation requires that a person convicted of embezzlement should remain free until the verdict comes into effect ie. following his appeal.

          What happened was a simple procedural mistake. The Procurator General’s Office in Moscow, which is anxious to give Navalny no argument to take to the European Court of Human Rights, immediately intervened to correct the mistake. Significantly Navalny’s lawyers, who have hardly distinguished themselves in this case, overlooked the mistake and took no steps to protect their client, which was left to the prosecution to do.

          • peter says:

            What happened was a simple procedural mistake.

            You have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about.

            • Dear Peter,

              I am not familiar with the Russian procedural code and I have never pretended to be. As I made clear in my comment I have set out the position as it has been explained to me (by a Russian journalist). Once again you are citing documents in Russian that you know I cannot read. Do you want to tell me what they say? Then I can properly judge whether what the journalist has told me is true.

              • OK I have now obtained a copy of the Russian Criminal Procedural Code and I have read in translation article 108. As always I cannot be sure how up to date or accurate this translation is.

                http://www.imolin.org/doc/amlid/Russian_Federation_Criminal_Procedure_Code.pdf

                From what I can see the position is the same as is applied to all cases involving bail – a person should be granted bail unless there is a good reason not to do so. There being no reason to deny Navalny bail pending his appeal he ought to have been granted it. When the Judge did not grant him bail but had him arrested instead the prosecution intervened to make sure that he did.

                I am not sure how this fundamentally differs from the information the journalist gave me. If Peter can explain I will be interested to know.

          • yalensis says:

            Dear Alexander:
            Peter links to Prosecutor Bogdanov’s petition to the appellate court, with screenshots of the petitions. Bogdanov basically writes the following:

            “(blah blah blah) …
            Not disputing the validity of the verdict [yalensis - I would hope not, since it was HIS verdit!] (…) blah blah blah (…), but Judge Blinov’s ruling about changing their [Navalny/Ofitserov] status from “out on bail” to “under guard” is illegal and contradicts Part I, Article 110 of the Codex… (etc.) ”
            Bogdanov bases this also upon Article 97 and the fact that Navalny/Ofitserov did not break the terms of their bail.
            [Actually, Navalny kind of did, that one time, but let's not quibble...]

            The next document shows the 3 judges of the appellate court satisfying Bogdanov’s petition, writing a letter to Blinov, giviing him a little slap on the wrist, and ordering him to spring the 2 mugs from the tank.

            And you’re correct, Alexander, that Navalny’s own lawyers should have presented this petition, not Bogdanov. What a world we live in! Towards the end, I guess Navalny’s attorneys just gave up and started phoning it in…

            • Dear Yalensis,

              Thanks very much. You have clarified the point better than I could from just reading article 108.

              There has been a recurring history of the European Court of Human Rights criticising the Russian authorities for improperly arresting people or keeping them in custody contrary to their own procedures. This has been the case even in cases like Khodorkovksy’s where the European Court of Human Rights ultimately upheld the proceedings as a whole. The Russian prosecuting authorities have become very sensitive to this problem and in a high profile case like Navalny’s are clearly determined to make sure that no error of this sort that might give Navalny a handle when the case goes to the European Court of Human Rights takes place.

              In other words as I said before this was a procedural mistake, which was corrected immediately by the prosecution despite Navalny’s own lawyers being asleep at the wheel. As such what it does is provide further confirmation of the integrity of the whole process.

              Incidentally if I do manage to complete a post on the Navalny trial I would like to send it to you first to check. Do you mind and if so could you confirm via my email address: alexandermercouris@hotmail.com?

              • yalensis says:

                Dear Alexander:

                Yes, that sounds very plausible, in other words, Blinov made a procedural mistake; which higher judges had to fix quickly or face the wrath of the Europeans. .

                Anyhow, I will try to email you tomorrow. Right now I don’t have an email account of my own, because I am trying to live off the grid. (Yeah, right! As if the NSA doesn’t read all the comments on this blog!)

                But I think I might set up a super-secret google or hotmail account with encrypted email (just kidding, I’ll just set up a regular email account), maybe tomorrow, and send you an email at the address you listed above.. Then you can email me back.
                I am glad you are working on a post about the Navalny verdict, I realize this is hard for you because it’s a really busy time for you. But it’s important to set the record straight about this trial because, lord knows, we’re going to be hearing about it for the next 10 years, just like with Khodorkovsky.

                • Thanks Yalensis. Don’t put yourself to too much trouble. For one thing I am not promising that I’ll be able to finish it.

                • Dear Peter,

                  You are not going to accept this but Yalensis’s translation shows that what happened was most definitely is a procedural mistake that was quickly corrected either because of Reznik’s intervention or because the same error was noticed by the Procurator General’s Office (does Reznik have any actual evidence that it was his advice to the defence lawyers that alerted the prosecutors to the error or is he simply making a guess?). Anyway this was not a mistake about evidence. The fact that it might or might not be unprecedented for the prosecution to intervene in this way is another matter. As I said before I am sure this was done to deprive Navalny of a point he could have made to the European Court of Human Rights when his case eventually goes there as it surely will.

                  As to why you think this puts the defence lawyers in a good light I am not sure. Is it because you think it gave Navalny a publicity boost? If so then I feel it is a heavy price to pay for a day’s publicity stunt that will in a few days be forgotten. When the case goes to the European Court of Human Rights the lawyers (and conceivably Navalny himself) will look either incompetent or manipulative whilst the prosecution will be shown to have acted properly in accordance with the law. How does that help Navalny?

                • Sorry this comment came out in the wrong place in the thread.

            • peter says:

              … Navalny’s own lawyers should have presented this petition, not Bogdanov.

              Генри Резник: «В меня какой-то бес вселился»

              • yalensis says:

                Oooh, interesting intrigue. This looks bad for Ol’ga Mikhailovna (= one of Navalny’s attorneys), makes her look incompetent. A shame, because I actually found her closing summation to be impressive.
                For those not reading Russian, here is a brief summary of the article linked by peter:
                Basically, this guy named Henry Reznik (who the head of the Moscow Attorneys Palace, whatever that is) is the one who responsible for springing Navalny/Ofitserov from the Kirov holding tank.
                Reznik says he phoned Navalny’s lawyers not long after Blinov’s bailiffs had slapped the handcuffs on him and led him away. “Er.. by the way, I think that was incorrect, and you should probably appeal.
                Navalny’s lawyers were just, like, “No, why bother, it’s all hopeless…” (despairing sigh)
                So Reznik was left with no choice except to phone Prosecutor Bogdanov. Bogdanov listened to him and submitted the petition.

                As for Mikhailovna, she initially admitted the conversation with Reznik, then denied it the following day. (Obviously, because it makes her look like an idiot.)

                When Reznik stresses that this situation was an “absolute precedent” in Russian jurispridence, he is not reerring to a defendant being let out on bail after conviction pending appeal; he is referring to the fact that it had to be the PROSECUTION which submitted the appeal.
                – Генри Маркович, вы действительно звонили юристам Навального и говорили, что им обязательно следует ходатайствовать по поводу изменения меры пресечения?

                – Да, это действительно так, я обратился к ним с таким советом.

                – Почему? Вы тогда о чем-то догадывались?

                – Нет, я ничего не знал, меня просто осенило. Знаете, я просто старше. Помните, как Василий Иванович Петьке говорил? «Я, Петька, старше, поэтому ноги грязнее».

                – А насколько распространена практика освобождения из СИЗО приговоренного к заключению до того, как законный приговор вступит в силу?

                – Это вещь довольно редкая, но случающаяся. Вот предоставление ходатайства о смягчении меры пресечения прокуратурой – прецедент, безусловно. А случаи, когда суды после вынесения приговора о заключении обвиняемого не ужесточали ему меру пресечения и не брали под стражу, редко-редко, но встречаются. Не знаю, как с этим в последнее время, но у меня была пара таких случаев в практике.

                (….) – a couple of paragraphs skipped (….)

                – Вас удивило, что адвокаты Навального не прислушались к вашему совету и не захотели подавать обжалование?

                – Они мне и не сказали, что не хотят его подавать. А я односторонне передал им свое мнение, то, что мне казалось важным: пойти и обжаловать меру пресечения. А я понятия не имею, что они дальше решили. Я позвонил. Я старше.

                (….)

                TRANSLATION

                Q: Henry Markovich, did you really phone Navalny’s attorneys and tell them that they need to submit a motion to change the terms [i.e., let him out on bail pending appeal]?

                A: Yes, I actually did do that.
                Q: Why? Did you know something (they didn’t know)?

                A: No, I didn’t know anything. It just dawned on me. I’m just older (and wiser) than them….

                Q: How wide is the practice of letting somebody out on bail pending appeal?
                A: It is fairly rare, but it happens. Now, having PROSECUTION submit the appeal, that is absolutely unprecedented. No doubt about that. ”

                (….) – a couple of paragraphs skipped (….)

                Q: Does it not surprise you that Navalny’s attorneys did not listen to you and did not want to submit the motion for bail?
                A: They came out and told me that they didn’t want to submit it. And I gave them my opinion very forcefully, because it seemed important to me: go and submit the motion for bail! (….)

                END OF TRANSLATION

                Reznik goes on to speculate that once he himself (=Reznik) had takent his initiative, then the prosecution (=Bogdanov) was TOLD to go ahead and do this (by the powers that be), hence there was also an element of political conspiracy involved, as well as incompetence of Navalny’s lawyers. Hence, the two theories do not mutually contradict each other.

                In conclusion: Navalny’s attorneys are either (1) incompetent, or (2) depressed and lacking of motivation, or (3) they wanted him to be an insta-martyr!

                As it turned out, things worked out better for them the other way. Navalny was freed, returned like a hero to Moscow, was greeted by his 20,000 adoring supporters at the train station, a spectacle that was even compared (favorably, by the white-ribbon types) with Yeltsin’s triumphant posing on that tank.

                On the down side: Navalny will now be forced to run for Mayor, and probably will not win, since he “only” has 20K motivated supporters in the Moscow area.

                • peter says:

                  … makes her look incompetent.

                  Nope. Reznik tipped her off that Moscow was going to intervene, and she wisely decided to stand back a bit and enjoy the show. Worked out fine, didn’t it?

                • marknesop says:

                  How did it work out fine? Did it make the Defense look clever and prescient because it did nothing? Did it result in a huge surge in Navalny’s popularity? I don’t see any real upside for the defense except that Navalny is free on appeal, which is thanks to the prosecution and largely negates the fact that he should not have been imprisoned in the first place.

                • peter says:

                  PS You’ve lost a sentence in translation:

                  А случаи, когда суды после вынесения приговора о заключении обвиняемого не ужесточали ему меру пресечения и не брали под стражу, редко-редко, но встречаются…

                • yalensis says:

                  Okay. “And those circumstances when judges after pronouncing a (guilty) verdict (that includes real time) did NOT (subsequently) harshen the conditions of (liberty) and put the (convicted) under guard (immediately) — (such circumstances) are extremely extremely rare, but they DO occur…”

                  That actually makes me feel better about Judge Blinov. So, he didn’t screw up and make a procedural error! Yay, Blinov! He was just doing what all judges do. Once the guilty verdict was pronounced and the mugs were given real time, then it was fully normal to toss them into the slammer pronto.

                  As for Mikhailovna NOT being incompetent… well, maybe. I hope so. I kind of like her. She conducted herself in the courtroom with professional demeanor and gave a decent closing argument. Not sure if I believe her over Reznik, though…

                • Dear Yalensis,

                  It was an error otherwise it would not have been set aside on appeal. The fact that other judges routinely make the same error does not make it any less an error though it does to some extent excuse Blinov. It does not excuse the defence lawyers who failed to bring on their client’s behalf an appeal which we know would have succeeded and which they were advised to bring. Had they done that I think it would have done more for Navalny’s image than what actually happened. Navalny would have been able to say that he had won an appeal against Blinov directly after the Judgment.

                  For what it’s worth this would not have happened in Britain. Here a defendant would certainly be sent to prison following conviction regardless of his right of appeal and the fact that he had previously abided by his bail conditions.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Curiouser and curiouser!

                  I’ve been out of the loop these past 3 days. Having commented on the hamster antics in Moscow last Thursday evening, I headed straight off to my estate way out in the sticks. Having arrived there, I immediately had to set about my country matters. (These rapscallions here would bleed me dry if I allowed them to do so: the layabouts all seem to think that I owe them all a living!) Anyway, it was only a few hours ago that I finally managed to connect with the outside world via Internet and slowly realized what has being going on as regards the Navalny case.

                  I shall return to the capital late tomorrow afternoon, which place, no doubt according to Western media hacks, should be seething with hundreds of thousands of jubilant Navalny hamsters.

                  Moscow Exile,
                  Bolotino,
                  Moscow Region,
                  Russia.

                  circa 1850
                  :-)

                • yalensis says:

                  Dear Moscow Exile:
                  Yes, please do put your country affairs in order as soon as possible (10 lashes each per serf, then hop into your carriage and drive away), so that you can return to the big city and cover THE REVOLUTION for us in real time.
                  I am sure that Moscow is a seething mass of White Ribbons, with angry marches of millions in the streets, just as Navalny predicted. Regime media will attempt to cover this up, so we are all counting on you to give us THE TRUTH.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s great; Navalny announces he will boycott the elections if he is jailed. Perhaps he has a future as a comedian after all, I notice he has been trying harder to be funny. Gee, that looks like his statuesque wife with him.

      I’m sure if the appeal is denied – and Blinov’s sentence stands – just before the election, The Moscow Times and others like it will editorialize that the government was “just playing with Navalny like a cat with a mouse”.

      • reggietcs says:

        He’s married to an amazon?

        • marknesop says:

          No, the western press in Russia has taken a new interest in Navalny’s wife now that Putin no longer has one, because it is a way to contrast Navalny unfavourably with Putin – you know, family man, cute kiddies, adoring wife and all that. Miriam Elder has taken to referring to her as “Navalny’s statuesque wife”, in a fairly obvious ploy to market Navalny as the steady married man that Putin is not.

          • kirill says:

            Russia is not America. This nonsense has no resonance amongst the Russian electorate. Too bad Navalny can’t start going to church regularly since the church is supposed to be an agent of Putin’s “oppression” after the Pussy Riot incident.

        • yalensis says:

          “He’s married to an amazon?”
          Not exactly, Reggie, Navalny is married to a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stepford_Wives&quot; Stepford Wife robot!

          • yalensis says:

            Sorry, put double-quote in wrong place, messed up link:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stepford_Wives

            • yalensis says:

              P.S. they make these lady robots in the basement of the NSA building.
              Viktor Yushchenko had one too.

              • cartman says:

                Saakashvili does to. I’m not sure whether to consider Navalny as Washington’s Chosen One since he has not fallen into a honey trap.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Nay, Sandra Roelof, Mrs. Saakashvili, Is a Dutch robot. She was born in the Netherlands and met the tie- muncher in Strasbourg, when both she and he were attending a human rights course. (What a surprise!) She’s a graduate in modern languages.

                  Then guess what? She turns up in New York to work there for a Dutch legal firm. And then guess what else? Saakashvili is working for a legal firm in NY as well. And then guess again what else? They both attend a course at Columbia University. And then, as man and wife, they set out to make Georgia and the world a better place to live in.

                  What a sweet, sweet story of uncaring endeavour for one’s fellow man and the State Department of the USA!

  6. reggietcs says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/two-u-senators-suggest-moving-g20-russia-over-182729459.html

    Someone writes on the message board to this article:

    “Please stop embarrassing us with these tantrums.”

    Which pretty much sums it up.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s certainly true of Lindsey Graham, who is an embarrassment at the best of times – it’s like he thinks America has this inexhaustible supply of international good will which will never run out no matter how many attacks of petulance the country has, and no matter how many times it insists on having things its way. There is building evidence of a paradigm shift in Russia’s relations with the United States, and that it has largely abandoned efforts to get along in favour of indifference except for the most basic in trade relations. I sense a real change in attitude in the current dialogue, as if Russia is acknowledging that attempting to be flexible was largely wasted effort. I feel pretty confident that swaggering and chest-poking is not going to result in Russia meekly handing Snowden over. And the more America ratchets up its strident demands, sure that if you show the Russkies enough stick they will back down, the more embarrassing the situation will grow for the USA and the worse, consequently, that relations will get.

      Right now, every time Russia does not submit to U.S. demands, politicos like Graham suggest that Russia is “opposing” the U.S. – presumably because the USA owns Ban ki-Moon and the UN always did whatever the USA wanted before, whereas now Russia and China frequently exercise their veto. But that is not really opposition, and I don’t think the USA wants to see real opposition from Russia. I promise people like Graham will recognize if they see it.

  7. Misha says:

    Navlany can look on the bright side by noting that he isn’t running to be mayor of Detriot:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2013/07/2013718221123289215.html

    Talk about urban decay.

  8. Misha says:

    AP keeps on ticking:

    http://austereinsomniac.info/blog/2013/6/24/i-decided-to-share-my-facebook-status.html?currentPage=2#comments

    http://austereinsomniac.info/blog/2013/6/24/i-decided-to-share-my-facebook-status.html?currentPage=3#comments

    Reminded of a PBS NewsHour segment some years back, when a Harvard Ukrainian academic tap danced over an erroneous statement made by Stephen Cohen – a matter relating to how Russia’s image is better servedby not relying on a set group of people over some others, who’re more proficient on a given topic.

  9. Misha says:

    Another Stephen Cohen moment:

    http://rt.com/op-edge/snowden-asylum-us-russia-315/

    Excerpt –

    “SC: There is a very strong anti-Kremlin, anti-Putin, anti-Russian lobby in Washington. That’s why we get propos torus legislations like the Magnitsky act. Congress is prepared to do anything to strike at Russia. Yesterday, for example, one of the senators proposed that the United States boycott the Winter Olympics in Russia in 2014. That won’t happen. But the mere fact that a United States Senator, who is supposed to be a person of wisdom and dignity, would propose such a preposterous thing shows you what kind of congress we are dealing with. I predict, and I think any idiot can predict, I don’t claim great credit for this, that when, and I assume it’s ‘when’, Snowden is given temporary asylum in Moscow, that members of congress, members of any anti-Russian lobbies like Freedom House in the United States and many others, will denounce the Kremlin and demand Obama to do something very bad to Russia. And then Obama will be tested. We will see if he can withstand that or not. That’s why I say, by the way, that I think this is a kind of test, not only of wisdom and leadership of Putin, but the wisdom and leadership of Obama. Mind you, Obama didn’t ask for this crisis. Putin didn’t ask for this. They just got it.”

    ****

    RT can better help offset the aforementioned status quo by doing more when it comes to hosting high profile point-counterpoint exchanges between competent advocates on the subjects at hand.

    In addition, a substantively close/harder look at a news story can be improved upon. An earlier RT exchange with Stephen Cohen didn’t discuss how the Obama administration could’ve quite possibly nixed the Magnitsky Act. The so-called “anti-Russian lobby” has limits and can be successfully countered with good analysis.

    Related pieces:

    http://rt.com/op-edge/magnitsky-lists-stephen-cohen-828/

    http://valdaiclub.com/russia_in_foreign_media/58620.html

    There continues to be evidence of political bias on one hand and cronyism on the other. Consider the number of times that JRL has run the likes of Arutunyan, Guillory, Goble and Adomanis, (among others) over Shamir, the American Institute in Ukraine and yours truly, (among others). Using JRL as a parameter of the best possible analysis is faulty. This piece is a tip of the iceberg of the kind of petty bias that has existed at JRL:

    http://exiledonline.com/quaker-cuts-off-our-johnson/

    As recently noted at this thread: awhile back, Stephen Cohen was essentially tap danced on, over an erroneous comment he made on the PBS NewsHour. In that segment, he said that 20 million ethnic Russians reside in Ukraine. His opposite on that panel made note of that. This example isn’t given to disrespect Dr. Cohen. Rather, it highlights what could be improved upon.

    Likewise with this piece and follow-up discussion to a Voice of Russia panel on Ukraine:

    http://austereinsomniac.info/blog/2013/1/21/ignorance.html

    Another excerpt from the most recent RT feature with Stephen Cohen:

    “RT: If you talk about me and people who have a post-Soviet hunger or a Soviet childhood, these revelations weren’t life changing for us because we suspect surveillance in some form or another. Many of our RT viewers are strongly against any kind of surveillance. Still, I know a lot of Americans who are assaying ‘on this point we are done with the government’. Larry King told me that he is actually siding with the government on surveillance. What do you see around you? Are people still shocked or are they digesting and accepting it in the name of the war on terror?
    SC: Those surveillances are a problem in Russia too and they’ve been for decades. And there is a debate in the Russian media whether the FSB or the Russian intelligence agency is doing too much or too little. Let’s be fair, people in Russia and in the United States are afraid of terrorism. If you asked me, would I allow the United States government to listen to my phone calls and read my e-mail if they are going to prevent my children from being killed in a terrorist explosion in New York City where I live, I would say yes. I would just be a little more careful. This is a major question in times of change. I am old enough to remember the Ellsberg case. When he took the Pentagon papers which documented all the Pentagon and the White House lying about the war in Vietnam, and then The New York Times published them. Then they were published very quickly as a book and Ellsberg was on the radio and on the television as it existed then. And he was out on bail, and famous lawyers came to defend him. In the end he was exonerated in a way. He won in the courts. That in America doesn’t exist anymore. Partly because of what happened in 9/11, partly because we fought so many wars, many Americans are afraid and we’ve become more accustomed decade by decade to this kind of surveillance. The question that Snowden raises, should we become accustomed to it? Is this really a trade-off between our fears and our privacy that we want to make? But I agree with you, the polls have shown that about half of Americans, may be more, were ok with what the government was doing. But when you take a public opinion poll you can get the answer you want by the way you ask the question. If you say in general to Americans, are you prepared to give up all the freedoms that Americans have fought for for 200 years and allow the government to this kind of, possibly illegal surveillance, a majority would say no. But if you ask people, are you prepared to permit this surveillance so you and your children are safe, a majority is going to say yes. It’s in how you ask the question, and you cannot ask the question until you had the national discussion, which we haven’t had, which the government doesn’t want, but Snowden wanted. Until Snowden’s personal drama ends or at least comes down the front page, we are not going to have that discussion in this country.”

    ****

    Snowden has raised the issue of an enhanced intelligence gathering, that has resulted in a good sized bureaucracy, with faults. The latter point can be directed at the intelligence/government apparatus which hired him – followed by his choosing to spill the beans. As suggested by Snowden, many are being monitored by people, who hypothetically at some point, have an advantage to defame others, for reasons having little if anything to do with being an actual threat to the US.

  10. Misha says:

    Re: http://www.oocities.org/mushkah/RussiansHollywood.html c/o http://us-russia.org/1447-russians-in-hollywood-a-historical-chronicle.html

    Excerpt –

    “Karl Malden, the noted character actor, was born Mladen Sekulovich, to Russian parents living in the U.S. His homely looks led him to portray complex working class characters, appearing in ‘On The Waterfront’ (1954), and ‘Baby Doll’ (1956), ‘Gypsy’ (1962). He played General Omar Bradley in “Patton” (1969), and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ (1952).”

    ****

    HE WAS OF SERB BACKGROUND.

    • Jen says:

      Seeing that the article included Karl Malden, Kirk Douglas and a few others born or whose parents and grandparents were born in the so-called Jewish Pale of settlement in the Polish borderlands, I’m surprised it didn’t include Charles Bronson (of Lipka Tatar ancestry; his dad was from Druskininkai which was a Russian-owned Lithuanian town at the time he left) and half-Serb (or Montenegrin) / half-Russian actor Milla Jovovich.

      • Misha says:

        A Serb acquaintance gave me a WTF!? on that piece.

        There’re people of Russian background from Yugoslavia. In the 1970s, Ivan Boldirev was born in Yugoslavia to parents of (if I’m not mistaken) Russian origin. I don’t think that situation is applicable to Malden, who I understand was a mensch.

        Following the Russian Civil War, many Russians found refuge in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

        http://www.russiablog.org/2006/11/how_kosovo_factors_into_russoa.php

        In college, I had an argument with a Polish friend (great guy), on whether Natalie Wood was Russian or Polish. The tiebreaker was a Polish girl with some Russian background (great gal), who confirmed my view.

        Her family was from the Polish part of the Russian Empire, but ROC and ethnic Russian.

      • Misha says:

        Fans of Melrose Place, will remember this Serb-Canadian actress:

        http://www.starpulse.com/Actresses/Davidovich,_Lolita/

        In the 1990s, she attended pro-Serb gatherings, at a time of difficulty for that community in North America and some other areas.

        Karl frequently expressed pride in his Serb heritage. In the movie “Patton”, he played General Omar Bradley. A feature on that movie said that Karl influenced a Serb name mentioned as one of the soldiers. This particular piece added that Karl held Patton responsible for a family relation of his getting wounded. Patton was known as an aggressive tactician.

        I sense he would’ve been a good replacement for either Zhukov or Konev in the Soviet move on Berlin.

        • Jen says:

          Some other actors of Serbian ancestry:
          – Rade Serbedzija, whom I last saw in Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut”: he played a shopkeeper whose daughter (played by Leelee Sobieski) was constantly sleeping around. Serbedzija usually plays lots of small parts in Hollywood films but I recall he had a significant role in a New Zealand film “Broken English” in which he played a Croatian father who disapproves of his daughter’s romance with a Maori boy.
          – the drag queen performer Divine whose mother was from a Serbian family
          – Catherine Oxenberg (soap opera actress who appeared in “Dynasty”) whose mother was Princess Elizabeth of the House of Karadjordjevic.

          In Australia, we have the singer and sometime actress Holly Valance whose father is Serbian (family name is Vukadinovic) and whose mother is related to the British comedian Benny Hill.

          • marknesop says:

            I loved Catherine Oxenburg when she was a big deal on TV; my second wife was fond of “Dynasty” (although, being a native of the UK, she pronounced it “DIN-asty” rather than “DIE – nasty” as we do). I should have known she was a Slav. I once incorrectly thought that all their women were beautiful, which is not the case, but I still believe there are more beauties among Slavic women than any other recognizable type (although all types contain some).

  11. SFReader says:

    I would like to draw your attention to a rather sinister issue of the so called Central Public Health Reference Laboratory located in village of Alexeevka, near Tbilisi, Georgia.

    This facility was built by American investment amounting to over 100 million USD, its main American sponsor is none other as the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. There were numerous reports in Georgian, Russian and even Western press dating from 2004 up to present, that it is, in fact, a biological weapons research facility, a claim which
    was strongly denied by the US authorities.

    Recently, these claims were apparently confirmed by Russian authorities. First by Gennady Onnischenko, Chief Sanitary Inspector of Russia who said that recent outbreak of the African swine plague in Russia’s North Caucasus was caused by this American bio-weapons facility in Tbilisi.

    Then, just yesterday, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that they are very worried about American biological activities near Russian borders.

    These claims (and I presume that Russian authorities can prove them) are a very important matter and I don’t understand why no one is reporting this.

    Essentially, what Russians are saying is that United States of America have launched an attack against Russia with weapons of mass destruction.

    This is an extremely serious matter which potentially could lead to nuclear war between Russia and the United States.

    • Misha says:

      Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

      Any links?

      • SFReader says:

        Кроме того, нет документального подтверждения, что все объекты, находящиеся под юрисдикцией или контролем США, ранее участвовавшие в военных биологических программах, уничтожены или перепрофилированы на мирные цели в соответствии со статьёй II КБТО. Серьезную озабоченность у нас вызывает и биологическая деятельность Минобороны США вблизи российских границ.

        Meanwhile, there is not documentary confirmation that all facilities, which are under jurisdiction or control of the United States and which were earlier involved in the military biological programs, are destroyed or reoriented for peaceful purposes under Article 2 of the Convention of the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons. We also have serious concerns over biological activity of the U.S. Defence Department near the Russian borders

        http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/newsline/44C8A0DBC9AB5BF644257BAD001FAD8F

        Russia’s chief health inspector has said a recent outbreak of African swine fever in Russia had its origin in neighboring Georgia.

        Gennady Onishchenko told Interfax on July 15 that the origin of the outbreak is “an objectively established fact.”

        He also claimed that there is a microbiological laboratory of the U.S. Navy in Georgia that is not under the supervision of the Georgian government.

        He said the United States has spent $350 million on the laboratory, which he said is at a former Soviet base near Tbilisi.

        Onishchenko said Moscow will boost spending in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to “strengthen medical defenses against biological threats.”

        http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-georgia-flu-swine-source/25047002.html

        MOSCOW. Jan 21 (Interfax) – Russian Rospotrebnadzor director and chief sanitary inspector Gennady Onishchenko believes African swine plague came to Russia from Georgia.

        “The so-called African swine plague came to us from Georgia. Unfortunately, it is still there and is inflicting massive economic damage,” Onishchenko told Ekho Moskvy radio on Sunday.

        In April 2012, Onishchenko said African swine plague had been brought to Russia deliberately.

        “It first got into Ossetia and then into the Krasnodar and Stavropol territories. There are indications that this situation was created artificially. It’s economic sabotage. The Krasnodar Territory has not been able to resolve this problem for three years,” he said, adding that there were U.S. military doctors in Georgia.

        “I don’t understand why military doctors need to be near our borders. Clearly, Georgia is not the reason for that. Georgia only made that possible,” Onishchenko said.

        http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?id=389638

        And the US Army view:

        In August 2004, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency broke ground on the outskirts of Tbilisi, Georgia, to begin construction of a facility that would be known as the Central Public Health Reference Laboratory. Through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, and the Georgian Ministry of Defense, the 8,000-square meter state-of-the-art facility with 2,551 square meters of BSL-2 and -3 laboratory space was officially opened in March 2011, and it will serve as the hub of a proposed research campus to be maintained by the Georgian government.

        “The goal of the U.S. DoD and GoG [Government of Georgia] is to address the threat of infectious diseases at the source with approaches that utilize modern technological developments applied from the rapidly expanding knowledge base in public and animal health. This collaborative effort is meant to reduce the impact of these threats to local communities, the region, and the world,” said Lt. Col. Jamie Blow, director of Overseas Operations for Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, which is a subcommand of the USAMRMC.

        As the lead DoD organization in charge of medical research, the USAMRMC was tasked to establish a new medical research unit at the CPHRL. This tasking was further delegated to WRAIR for development of the initial Implementation Plan for the facility. With subject-matter expertise in areas such as pathogen research, biosecurity, biosurety, and facility operations and maintenance, the USAMRMC will help to train Georgian scientists working at the lab, and it will also serve in an advisory capacity to support the Georgian government in its public health initiatives.

        “When fully operational, the CPHRL will be a state-of-the-art, internationally-certified central reference laboratory and a repository for infectious disease agents unique to the region. The laboratory is a joint human and veterinary public health facility, both with BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratory capabilities, and separate pathogen repositories. The staff at the Georgian facility will be trained to perform diagnostic and confirmatory laboratory tests, epidemiological data analysis, and database management for national human and animal health authorities. It will be the regional focus of the work of the U.S. DoD Threat Agent Detection and Response program, and programs of other international disease surveillance and cooperative research partners. In addition to laboratories, the facility will include office space and host training functions to promote state-of-the-art infectious disease detection and research. The CPHRL is the central component of the overall network of capabilities the U.S. DoD Cooperative Threat Reduction Agency is developing to assist the region in concert with the Georgian Government and international agencies,” said Blow.

        “At this time, DTRA is in the process of fine-tuning the facility to ensure that all of its systems work properly in order to guarantee that it will meet both U.S. and international standards for operations in containment,” she said. “By late 2012 or early 2013, it should be fully functional.”
        ….
        Within the new facility, WRAIR intends to conduct research in wound infection, bacteriophage, and vector borne diseases, as well as enteric diseases, which include bacterial causes such as E. coli, salmonella, and shigella, and viral pathogens such as rotavirus and norovirus.

        Regarding the new lab in Georgia, Gilman said, “We [the USAMRMC] have been a significant factor in helping to develop a long-term friendship in a part of the world where we still need to have some friends. Lt. Col. Jamie Blow is the person that is most responsible for that.”
        http://www.army.mil/article/82553/The_Birth_of_a_Laboratory/

        • Misha says:

          Thanks for the follow-up.

          • SFReader says:

            And final, most scary part

            — guarantee that it will meet both U.S. and international standards for operations in containment—

            What the hell are they trying to contain?

            • yalensis says:

              Well, it says right there in the U.S. army page you linked, that they are “containing” pathogen samples in their repository:

              “When fully operational, the CPHRL will be a state-of-the-art, internationally-certified central reference laboratory and a repository for infectious disease agents unique to the region…

              Sounds like Americans are trying a little experiment to ruin Ossetian and Abkhazian livestock?

        • SFReader says:

          Note key words:

          repository for infectious disease agents
          the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
          the Georgian Ministry of Defense
          Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
          U.S. DoD Threat Agent Detection and Response program
          U.S. DoD Cooperative Threat Reduction Agency
          research in wound infection, bacteriophage, and vector borne diseases
          enteric diseases, which include bacterial causes such as E. coli, salmonella, and shigella, and viral pathogens such as rotavirus and norovirus.

          The involvement of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agency (Nunn-Lugar program) does seem to confirm the view that there was a former Soviet biological weapons facility there.

          Which Americans have appropriated and are currently using (presumably for the same purposes)

        • kirill says:

          The US has been using biological warfare (targeted at agriculture) against the USSR and Cuba for decades. This is the same shite continued to modern Russia. Russia’s agriculture is resurgent and this year Russia imported 1000 times less beef from the USA (http://prodmagazin.ru/2013/07/11/rossiya-v-iyune-snizila-vvoz-svininyi-iz-stran-dalnego-zarubezhya-na-21-govyadinyi-na-27/).

          • Robert says:

            It would be extremely easy for Russia to bring some natural but extremely virulant virus, such as the “foot and mouth” (Aphtae epizooticae) and very easily contaminate US cattle in different locations in the USA. That would be quite a economic disaster so I doubt Uncle Sam will go far with this unless he’s really dumb.

            • kirill says:

              But the fact is that the USA has been using dirty tricks against Cuba and the USSR. I think that the bright lights in the US decider elite think that if there is any retaliation they can dish out real pain. Cuba certainly can’t fight back. And the USSR would have been smeared up and down and was too afraid to retaliate symmetrically. The relationship between Russia and the USA (and its western vassal states) is going off the rails, so dirty tricks are on the menu again.

              I don’t see why this is so implausible. The USA is brazenly trying to destroy the Russian political system using fringe irregulars (who refuse to obey the law and are therefore a type of terrorist/militant). If it can undermine Russia’s food supply it would be directly aiding its own program to create discontent and enable regime change. As with the USSR, Russia has no stomach to retaliate since it is going to lose the propaganda war right off the bat. And Russia is weaker than the USSR.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I had it on good authority several years ago that all the imported beef to Moscow and its environs is Brazilian. The authority that I refer to is the company Maersk.

        • marknesop says:

          This suggests, according to the official literature, that the facility will be a repository for “infectious diseases unique to the region”. How did African swine fever get on that list?

          In fact, there are no known global outbreaks of infectious disease which originated in the Caucasus, to the very best of my knowledge. It is extremely helpful of the United States military to help Georgia study the disease problem it apparently did not have.

          • Jen says:

            Wasn’t there a brief connection between African swine fever and AIDS in the past? I recall that when AIDS first came to attention, Haitians were considered a high-risk group for that disease. This was about the same time (about 1979, I think) that an outbreak of African swine fever hit Haiti and wiped out most of the pigs there. I’m not sure if there really is an etiological connection between the two diseases; it could be the connection came about due to coincidence or because animals carrying one disease or the virus causing it were being used in experiments for the other disease, in a way similar to how some people who received the polio vaccine in the past have contracted a mysterious monkey virus because serum obtained from green vervet monkeys was used to prepare the polio vaccine injections.

  12. AK says:

    BTW, here’s something else for the “it wasn’t political” theorists to chew over: http://avmalgin.livejournal.com/3907254.html

    Out of all convictions on Article 160 in Russia in 2012, a mere 0.9% got 5 years or more. The vast majority (90%>) didn’t go to prison at all.

    • SFReader says:

      I am pretty sure that the 90% of those who didn’t go to prison had admitted their guilt and got a suspended sentence in a special proceeding (особый порядок судебного разбирательства)

      In such special proceeding, defendant accepts his guilt and court doesn’t need to prove anything and instead focuses on defendant’s personality and any possible mitigating circumstances. The sentences are usually light and suspended sentences are frequent (and I suppose, it really makes life easier for judges, prosecutors and lawyers)

      This obviously doesn’t apply to Navalny case since he didn’t admit his crime. Judge Blinov had to either acquit Navalny or give him a real prison sentence.

      • yalensis says:

        Dear SFReader: You make an excellent point. Prosecutor Bogdanov pointed out that Navalny refused to admit his guilt or take any responsibility for what happened. Navalny’s defiance left Blinov with only 2 options: (1) total acquittal/exoneration accompanied by ticker-tape victory parade; or …. Option #2 = real time. Blinov could have given Navalny up to 7 years, so he was actually being merciful in only giving him the p’atiletka.

        Plus, the fact that Navalny had REALLY ticked off Judge Blinov I mean, really ticked him off. Hardly a day in court began without Navalny attacking Blinov’s reputation and demanding that he recuse himself. If a man wants a lighter sentence, then he needs to start by being polite to the Judge. I’m not saying he had to kiss his ass. Just elementary courtesy, that’s all I’m saying.

        • kirill says:

          Once again, Russia really, really, really needs a contempt of court statute. The optics of having the judge ticked off and giving a harsher sentence are bad. But if Blinov had an actual law to apply he could have explicitly added 3-4 years of jail time for Navalny’s brazen contempt. I don’t know why Russia has this retarded tendency not to import the better achievements of western civilization.

          • MilesN says:

            Russian Criminal Code has one (Art. 297, Contempt for Court), but maximum penalty under the article is 6 monts of arrest. This is, for all intents and purpusoses, solitary confinement, or as Code put it “strict isolation from society”. So judge cant slap on several years officially… and trick is, the arrest as kind of punishment is prsent but unusable ( due to network of confinement facilities not being fully deployed yet), which leaves art. 297 only with fines and pro bono work.

    • marknesop says:

      And that means, what? That the offense should have a cookie-cutter punishment in which each transgressor is awarded exactly the same sentence? I don’t remember saying it wasn’t political – Navalny and his hamsters bent strenuous effort both prior to and during the trial to make it political so that they could… well, say it was political. I said that the Russian federal government did not interfere in the conduct of the trial or influence the verdict in any way. I hope we are agreed that judges all over the world are permitted access to a sliding scale of punishment and that the unique circumstances of each case bear directly on the sentence. In the USA, for example, the crime of embezzlement can be aggravated by a number of circumstances, such as if the embezzled property included a stop sign or citrus fruit to the number of 2000 or more pieces (Florida) or an on-duty search and rescue dog (Washington). Additionally, “many states impose harsher penalties when the defendant embezzled from a specially protected class of victims (such as elderly or disabled adults), or when the defendant had a heightened level of trust with the victim (such as when the defendant is a public servant, or bank or insurance company employee)”. Navalny forced himself into an elevated position of not so much trust as fealty by anyone who wished to keep their job, and is heard constantly plotting to fire this employee or that employee based on the degree to which they were interfering with the plan or refusing to tug their forelock to the new master. As others have pointed out, Navalny also finished the entire legal process unrepentant and admitting of no fault whatsoever except being a political opponent of the current government, and idled away his time in court posting to his blog and generally being as non-participative as it is possible to be. I only picked the sentence I thought he was likely to get, not what I thought he should have gotten.

      If anyone can show evidence that the trial or verdict was political in the sense that either were directly steered by the federal government, I would be most interested to see it.

      • yalensis says:

        Hear hear!

        It is true enough that Navalny was selectively prosecuted (because he had made himself into a gadfly), however, the prosecution did not frame Navalny or concoct evidence against him. In his arrogance and incompetence, Navalny handed it all to them on a silver platter. He did it to himself.

        • marknesop says:

          Well, I think what Anatoly is saying is that the sentence was disproportionately harsh because of the political dimension. I don’t think anyone disputes he was guilty, and that the prosecution satisfactorily established it: although it was hardly the ass-kicking the prosecution promised, it was also nothing like the complete exoneration the defense promised.

          I did not see any suggestion that there was government interference at any level, and the judge cut Navalny slack six ways from Sunday in letting blather on about freedom and joy like a a 70’s Valdy tune. Nobody was very surprised to see him get convicted because Blinov’s conviction rate is extremely high, but again that is hardly a shocker and there are many parallels in western law – things that get to the judge usually result in a conviction because otherwise there has been a plea deal prior to that, and it would not reflect very well on any legal system id people who were demonstrably not guilty of anything went all the way to trial just the same.

          As has already been pointed out, the judge tends to come down harder if the prosecution proves you were guilty, but you refuse to admit it and instead blather a lot of political tripe to try and make a martyr of yourself.

          • peter says:

            I don’t think anyone disputes he was guilty…

            In case you haven’t noticed, I do.

            • For once I agree with Peter. There are lots of people who dispute whether Navalny was guilty. I am not one of them. I think he is guilty and has been properly convicted and sentenced. I predict the European Court of Human Rights will take the same view.

              I am trying to write a post on this but it has come at almost the worst possible time this year. In the meantime just quickly:

              1. The point about the sentence is that very few people charged with this sort of offence would plead not guilty and would defend it in the way Navalny has done. I am sure that the vast majority of people charged with this crime in Russia do not defend the charge in the way Navalny did which is why the sentence they receive is so much lower than Navalny’s. There is always a serious penalty for defending a charge of this sort in the way Navalny did. As I have previously said in Britain a first time offender who pleads not guilty but who is convicted of stealing more than £125,000 or of abuse of trust may be sentenced for up to 6 years imprisonment, with the starting point being 3 years. That is exactly in line with the sentences Navalny and Ofitserov got. As everyone knows I think the sentence handed down to Pussy Riot was altogether too harsh. I do not think so in this case. This is an offence involving criminal dishonesty and abuse of trust with the intention to make financial gain at someone else’s expense perpetrated as part of a conspiracy by an individual in a position of authority and trust who refuses to admit his guilt and who has shown persistent disrespect to the Court. If you concede that Navalny is guilty then the sentence is proportionate to the offence, which is why I predicted it.

              2. I do not know why Anatoly puts such emphasis on what Malkin said. I think Malkin’s comments were completely innocuous as well as straightforward and honest. Malkin did not say or come close to saying that an order was given to get Navalny from someone in authority because he was annoyed by Navalny’s political activities. Malkin’s words simply do not bear that interpretation. What Malkin said as I read it was that someone like Navalny who persistently draws attention to himself by his activities is going to draw attention on himself by those activities. It’s the same as with a candidate for political office in the US who is bound to have his past scrutinised. Malkin’s comment was a simple statement of the obvious and I have no doubt that is how the European Court of Human Rights will see it.

              • yalensis says:

                MarKin, actually.
                Anyhow, Markin stated that Navalny had committed a banal and completely ordinary white collar crime, one that occurs literally every day in Russia. And that there are thousands of such cases clogging up the system and waiting to come to trial. And that Navalny, being a celebrity and constantly taunting the authorities, simply got himself jumped to the front of the line. I found Markin’s statement refreshingly honest and candid. He probably shouldn’t have said it, but it wasn’t really that bad, I don’t think.

            • marknesop says:

              Okay, sorry; Peter, Miriam Elder, Yevgenia Albats, Yulia Latynina and Vladimir Ryzhkov dispute that Navalny was guilty of anything. Anatoly Karlin thinks Navalny was probably guilty but he should just have been told to go forth and sin no more rather than actually being punished for it. However, at least Peter of all of these believes Navalny was not guilty because his plans did not come to fruition. Had Navalny fired everyone and made a pile of money, he might have been guilty. But because he did not, his failure as a business tycoon should be punishment enough.

              • kirill says:

                It’s good that monkey such as peter don’t make the decisions in Russia. Perhaps peter would prefer to move to a banana republic and enjoy the “values” he espouses.

              • yalensis says:

                “Navalny was not guilty because his plans did not come to fruition.”

                Yeah, but he would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for those meddling auditors, and their big goofy dog.

              • peter says:

                However, at least Peter of all of these believes Navalny was not guilty because his plans did not come to fruition.

                No, I wasn’t there and so cannot possibly know quite what Navalny’s plans were and how kosher this whole affair really was. All I can do is buy or not buy the prosecution’s story. I don’t — in my opinion, the events as described in the indictment simply don’t fit the definition of embezzlement. Not even close.

                • marknesop says:

                  Okay, that’s certainly your privilege. But it fit according to the judge, which is what’s important, and nobody can say Navalnmy did not get a chance to air his own opinions in court. If he chose to use his time to post pictures of cats to his hamsters, thrilling them with his audacity, derring-do and casual contempt for due process, we can only wonder what plans he has for the making-over of the law in Russia when he is president.

                  According to the American site I posted earlier – reposted here for convenience’s sake – embezzlement in the USA centers around trust. “Embezzlement is one kind of property theft. It occurs when someone who was entrusted to manage or monitor someone else’s money or property steals all or part of that money or property for the taker’s personal gain. The key is that the defendant had legal access to another’s money or property, but not legal ownership of it. Taking the money or property for the defendant’s own gain is stealing; when combined with the fact that this stealing was also a violation of a special position of trust, you have the unique crime of embezzlement.

                  Embezzlement can occur in a variety of circumstances. For example, a bank teller has legal access to client money, and is trusted to handle but not take that money. Officers and employees of companies can also embezzle funds belonging to the company, as can family members caring for a relative, professionals like lawyers or board members who handle client or investor money, or anyone in a position of trust with regard to someone else’s money or property.”

                  The argument continues to be not whether Navalny made a profit, but whether he intended to make a profit, whether he misused funds entrusted to him to do it and whether he misused his position in the company to gain greater control over those funds. The judge believes the prosecution proved that he did all those things, and while I realize Russia is not America, surely America’s laws are not more restrictive than those of Russia, are they?

                • peter says:

                  … when someone who was entrusted to manage or monitor someone else’s money or property steals all or part of that money or property for the taker’s personal gain….

                  Yes, Opalev was entrusted to manage Kirovles’ timber in question — but no, he obviously did not steal all of it, let alone for personal gain. There were some bad business decisions and perhaps corruption — but surely not straightforward stealing as defined by law. Guilty, perhaps — just not “as charged”.

                • marknesop says:

                  You don’t have to actually steal it as defined by law, just misappropriate or misuse it. According to law, you could misappropriate it, sell it for exactly what it was worth and put all the money back in custody of its rightful owners and still have committed the crime of embezzlement if you gained control of the asset by trickery or against the direction of the rightful owner, although it’s hard to believe such a circumstance would result in punishment.

                  Similarly, nobility of motive is irrelevant to the act, as it would have to be to prevent every crook in the land charged with creative accounting from claiming he had stolen millions to build a library for orphans, or an overhead corridor on a busy street so old ladies would not have to cross in traffic. I suppose if you could prove such plans were made in advance in might have a mitigating effect on your sentence, but would be irrelevant to the commission of the crime.

                  The severity of Navalny’s sentence likely has much more to do with his lack of repentance, refusal to acknowledge he did anything wrong and affected boredom during the courtroom proceedings as he postured for his followers than anything else.

                • peter says:

                  You don’t have to actually steal it as defined by law…

                  Yes you do:

                  Статья 160. Присвоение или растрата

                  … растрата, то есть хищение

                  … embezzlement, that is theft

                • marknesop says:

                  What I mean is that yes, you have to take it or – in the case of money – remove it from its owner’s oversight and put it to work, or there would be no crime. I should have been clearer and said you don’t have to actually steal it in the sense that you take it and it is gone forever from the possession of the rightful owner. I mean if you take it and use it to make you money, and then return the temporarily-borrowed balance to the penny, you have still committed a crime if it was done without the owner’s knowledge or permission.

                  This is against the sometimes-expressed sentiment that Navalny couldn’t have been guilty of embezzlement if he didn’t end up with any money.

                • Jen says:

                  The discussion here about Navalny’s plans or what he was thinking when he over-stepped his remit as pro bono advisor to Kirovles begs the question of whether Russian law courts recognise the concept of mens rea, as understood in Anglo-Saxon countries, or something similar. The fact that Navalny helped to set up a shell company to buy timber from Kirovles at a reduced price, sell the timber on to others at the same price that Kirovles would have charged the buyers, and then split the difference with Pyotr Ofitserov, regardless of whether VLK profited from such an arrangement or not, would suggest that Navalny wished to gain a personal benefit. What was then needed was further confirmation and this was supplied by witness testimony and the email and telephone conversations between Navalny and Ofitserov.

                  A parallel might be drawn between this case and the cases of people who plot to kill their spouses or partners and draw up plans with hitmen. The victims escape being killed and the plotters are arrested. Should the plotters then not be charged with attempted murder because their victims are still alive?

                • peter says:

                  What I mean is that yes, you have to take it…

                  Right, and “take it” is something Opalev didn’t do in any shape or form — Bastrykin et al. have initially admitted as much by opting for Article 165, which is, I quote, причинение имущественного ущерба… при отсутствии признаков хищения (infliction of pecuniary damage… in the absence of indicia of theft). What made them make a U-turn and discover extra-large-scale theft where they previously didn’t see any at all? Take your guess:

                  a) They have found the missing smoking gun.

                  b) The very meaning of the word “theft” has changed sometime between 2011 and now.

                  c) They have hired the celebrity barrister Alexander Mercouris to show them the way.

                  d) They are chaotic idiots.

                  e) They got a call from upstairs.

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, I was actually talking about Navalny rather than Opalev, but yes, they are sort of a package deal. So in all their schemes and maneuvers, Navalny and Opalev used their own funds? Did any money ever actually change hands, or was it all just talk? Was any money that was not the property of Opalev and/or Navalny ever used as security to borrow other money? If nobody else’s money was ever put at risk by Navalny and/or Opalev, then it does not sound like embezzlement. But you mentioned earlier that what Navalny and Opalev were perhaps guilty of was “corruption”. How did that occur, if they only ventured their own cash and then either lost money or did not make a profit?

                • yalensis says:

                  Opalev was charged under a lesser statute because (1) he admitted his guilt, and (2) he did not profit or intend to profit (or even have the slightest hope of profitting) from the VLK scheme. Opalev’s sole motivation in participating in the embezzlement conspiracy was that he would get to keep his job.

                  And, as people lhave noted MANY MANY times, the figure of 16 million (plus change) comes from a simple addition (which anybody can do on their calculator) of the sum of the 16 transactions that passed through the hands of the shell company. Unfortunately for Navalny/Ofitserov, this number is on the wrong side of the barrier that divides “petty embezzlement” from “grand embezzlement”, under Russian law.

                • peter says:

                  Opalev was charged under a lesser statute…

                  No, Opalev was convicted under the very same Article 160. The initial case against Navalny (opened in May 2011 and eventually dropped) was under Article 165.

              • AK says:

                Anatoly Karlin thinks Navalny was probably guilty but he should just have been told to go forth and sin no more rather than actually being punished for it.

                That’s not really my position at all.

                I do think that there is a case to answer under Article 165. I do not know if Navalny is guilty or innocent of that. But I see no case under Article 160.

                I am aware of course that Alexander Mercouris begs to differ and as I said several times I respect his legal proficiency and am very eager to read his analysis and perhaps be convinced otherwise. But for now, my outlook is that the conviction as it stands is political, unjust, and wildly excessive.

                It also happens to be exceedingly stupid. According to the latest polls, Navalny’s popularity has practically doubled (from 5% to 9%) in Moscow following his conviction and release. Due congratulations to Blinov and Bastrykin – his greatest supporters!

                • marknesop says:

                  Pardon me for attributing to you an opinion which is not representative: what, then, would have been the ideal punishment? Community service? Really? If Navalny had been ordered to pick up trash along the roadside, he would have had a few hundred of his hamsters helping him and television cameras rolling everywhere. And the linkage of his prosecution as “political” merely plays into the hands of those who advised him to announce for mayor (and president, let’s not forget – ambitious) so that he could claim he was being pursued for his political beliefs. Just like Khodorkovsky, anyone who gains a fair amount of public recognition by whatever means can claim any legal proceedings against him are “politically motivated”, and as the ECHR ruled, that is not grounds to let these people go around committing crimes, safe in the knowledge that they cannot be prosecuted because any such efforts would be “politically motivated”.

                  There is a wide variety of sentencing options, and each case is different. Navalny likely attracted a severe sentence by refusing to acknowledge he had done anything wrong at all, and by daring the authorities to prosecute him because he was squeaky-clean. But if the government bought the “everyone should be sentenced the same” argument, pundits would immediately point to major differences in the circumstances, and the effort to be more fair according to westerners would be billed as a “new wave of authoritarian crackdowns”.

                • AK says:

                  Pardon me for attributing to you an opinion which is not representative: what, then, would have been the ideal punishment?

                  How can one talk about an “ideal punishment” if tried under an inappropriate article? That would be for the judge to decide.

      • kirill says:

        Thanks, Mark, for highlighting the basics of jurisprudence in the west (and around the world). It is standard practice to give out harsher sentences and deny parole if the convicted denies guilt. We have David Milgaard in Canada (wrongly convicted) and other such cases.

        Here is list of factors for sentencing in Canada:

        http://www.lsuc.on.ca/For-Lawyers/Manage-Your-Practice/Practice-Area/Criminal-Law/How-to-Prepare-and-Conduct-a-Sentencing-Hearing-17179868397/

        Brazen contempt of court is not a way to get a reduced sentence. Someone posted somewhere that Reikhanov got a suspended sentence of 5 years for embezzling 376 million rubles, but poor Navalny got a full 5 years for ripping off 16 million. People think that their gut feelings are a substitute for facts. The difference is that Reikhanov was not foaming at the mouth with contempt at the court like wannabe politician Navalny who needs to stroke is gerbil liberast constituents.

        • yalensis says:

          Who is Reikhanov? I never heard of him. .

          • kirill says:

            http://visualrian.ru/en/site/gallery/#930879/context%5Bfeature%5D=80167

            “Iosif Reikhanov, Moscow’s North-Eastern Administrative District former deputy prefect charged with attempted fraud worth 376 million rubles and illegal ammunition possession”

              • I cannot speak about Reikhanov whose case I know nothing about. However remember that in Navalny’s own case Opalev, who the prosecution says was Navalny’s co conspirator, got a suspended sentence. The point is that Opalev pleaded guilty and cooperated with the prosecution and gave evidence against Navalny.

                I just cannot imagine a British court giving a suspended sentence to someone in Navalny’s position. If Navalny persists in his denial then he is also going to put his chances of getting parole (ie. early release) in jeopardy.

                • I have just done a quick check of the Sunday papers here in London. It’s the early editions but so far as I can see not one is editorialising on Navalny. The Zimmerman case and even the Litvinenko inquest continues to draw far more attention. The contrast with the saturation coverage the Pussy Riot case got last summer is striking. The simple fact is Navalny just isn’t big news here. Khodorkovsky got far more attention.

                  Obviously if Navalny does much better in the Moscow mayoral elections than anyone expects then that will change but will the people of Moscow really vote in large numbers for someone as their mayor who they know is going to prison?

          • SFReader says:

            Reikhanov was one of former Moscow mayor Luzhkov’s men. His case was part of Sobyanin’s effort to clean up the mess in Moscow.

            He tried to force a Georgian businessman to give up his business who then made an audio recording of threats received.

            As I understand, the recording on its own wasn’t enough to convict him (bureaucrats can be very vague – even when issuing threats!) and no other evidence was available.

            Why he wasn’t acquitted, I don’t know.

            Well, I can understand the judge somewhat – here was a case of really corrupt official, but unfortunately the evidence was simply insufficient, so maybe the judge decided that a suspended sentence (if the defendant doesn’t appeal) would suffice for justice.

            • MilesN says:

              Factor in as well that it was ATTEMPTED fraud, in contrast with pretty much finished crime of Navalny’s case.

  13. Misha says:

    As a follow-up to Jacob Heilbrunn’s establishment realist piece which took a pot shot at the Ron Paul Institute:

    http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/peace-and-prosperity/2013/july/19/why-is-us-ambassador-mcfaul-sticking-his-nose-into-the-navalny-trial.aspx

    From Heilbrunn’s piece in question:

    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/new-assessment-rand-paul-8726

    Excerpt –

    “But Paul tries to make it clear that he isn’t an isolationist or an extremist. He’s distanced himself from his father: ‘In April,’ Reid writes, ‘the elder Paul founded the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and named Slobodan Milosevic apologists and 9/11 truthers to its board. Rand did not attend the think tank’s opening.”

    *****

    The aforementioned org in question:

    http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/

    Dennis Kucinich doesn’t come across as a so-called Milosevic apologist. Offhand, I suspect that Kucinich isn’t so agreeable with a good portion of Ron Paul’s core economic views. Hence, the above org isn’t so uniform in thinking.

    As for the unnamed “named Slobodan Milosevic apologists”, perhaps this is an inaccurately underhanded reference to John Laughland and Mark Almond.

    I’m reminded of which people from the get go got the casualty figures right on the Bosnian Civil War versus those who didn’t. On the subject of former Yugoslavia, the latter grouping have been more prone to cherry pick certain particulars in a way that misrepresents what actually happened.

    The above National Interest piece comes as no surprise. I recall the author writing this piece:

    http://nationalinterest.org/blog/jacob-heilbrunn/silence-munich-the-olympics-7236
    Excerpt –

    “The Obama administration supports it. So does Mitt Romney. The ‘it’ in question is a moment of silence for the Israeli victims of a Palestinian terrorist organization called Black September at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Eleven members of the Israeli team were murdered. An online petition calling for a minute of silence also exists.

    But IOC president Jacques Rogge sees it differently. He’s adamantly resisting a formal moment of silence at the opening ceremony of the London Games this Friday: ‘We feel that the opening ceremony is an atmosphere that is not fit to remember such a tragic incident.’ When it comes to the Jews, the IOC curls into a fetal ball-as the Boston Globe points out, it has not resisted ceremonies for Bosnia or the victims of 9/11. But Munich is taboo.”

    ****

    I’m not offhand aware of how the IOC held a ceremony for Bosnia. There’s this RFE/RL photo gallery regarding Bosnia and the Olympics (11th of 14 photos, with a pointed omission of not noting Russian athletes among the featured Soviets):

    http://www.rferl.org/media/photogallery/24642976.html

    The photo concerning Bosnia was taken at the 1992 summer Olympics when Yugoslavia (then consisting of Serbia and Montenegro) was hypocritically kept out of that Olympiad. With some understandable disgust, Serbs and Montenegrins saw a Croat team take silver in men’s basketball, with the US finishing first. During this period, Yugoslavia appeared to have the second best men’s basketball team after the US. At the 1992 summer Olympics, Yugoslav teams were banned and individual Yugoslav athletes were made to compete as independent participants, not representing their country. The reason for this was quite hypocritical. Yugoslavia was accused of aiding Serb forces in the Bosnian Civil War, at a time when Croatia was doing the same for their brethren in Bosnia. In addition, the Bosnian Muslim nationalists were the recipients of foreign aid (military and otherwise) from abroad.

    One wonders how multiethnic was the Bosnian 1992 summer Olympic delegation? At the time, I recall the Bosnian UN delegation being almost exclusively Muslim.

    Bosnia continues to fall well short of a unitary mindset:

    http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2012/07/21/the-uncertain-future-of-bosnia/

    Excerpt (from the National Interest piece linked at the very top)-

    “Fear of Arab pressure, even a boycott? The desire to maintain an upbeat tone rather than acknowledge the dark past? Whatever the motive, and nothing has ever been too craven for the IOC in the past, Rogge tried to pacify his critics with a minute-long ceremony at the Olympic Village on Monday a part of something called the Olympic Truce, which, as the Washington Post reports, is a United Nations initiative that calls upon everyone to lay down their arms around the world during the Olympics. (Is Bashar Assad listening?)”

    ****

    Concerning that last particular, there’s another element having to do with the armed anti-Syrian government opposition. On the matter of laying down arms during an Olympiad, one can rhetorically bring this matter up in some other instances, including the Soviets in Afghanistan and the US in Southeast Asia.

  14. Misha says:

    Good points made from someone who has shared Power’s negatively inaccurate views of the mainstream Serb position.

    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/samantha-powers-new-principles-8751?page=1

  15. Robert says:

    Uncle Sam’s latest attempt to turn the screw on Venezuela because of Snowden

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35589.htm

    • reggietcs says:

      Which is why Snowden is safer in Russia than anywhere else. The US has too much power & leverage over smaller Latin American countries for him to ever be safe there.

      • Robert says:

        I fear that’s absolutely right yes. In terms of PR in the global struggle against Uncle Sam’s Big Brother state it would be much better for Snowden to be based in Latin America but in terms of physical safety no question he’s better off in Russia.

    • yalensis says:

      Kerry threatened to ground any Venezuelan aircraft in America’s or any NATO country’s airspace if there is the slightest suspicion that Snowden is using the flight to get to Caracas.

      Does Kerry have the right to speak on behalf of all NATO countries? And direct them how they use their airspace? Just askin’…

      • This is utterly astonishing and in any sane world ought to be the top global news story. The fact that no one is denying it suggests it’s true.

        Now I really know that the US is heading for a fall. A Great Power that behaves in this way over such a minor matter has lost its self confidence and is losing its way. I seem to remember Tolstoy saying somewhere that power and influence are like money in the bank: they can only be drawn on up to a point and should never be squandered or frittered away. This is squandering power and frittering it away.

        I would add that some of this may be bluff. I think it is very unlikely that the European states would willingly impose a blockade of Venezuela on such an issue. Think what would happen to oil prices if they did. I think there might also be quite a sharp domestic reaction in some of them if they did.

        There is no doubt that Snowden is far safer in Russia than he is anywhere else bar possibly China. As I have also said and as some others have said too, his life opportunities in Russia would be several orders of magnitude better than they would be in any South American country even the bigger ones like Argentina and Brazil. Even in Iran the US has enough agents to put him in danger and the US is anyway always threatening to bomb the place. He would presumably also be safe in North Korea but I wouldn’t wish that on him.

        • Jen says:

          Snowden in Iran would be excuse enough for the US to invade the country. The US must fear he has knowledge about the Stuxnet computer virus that derailed the Iranian nuclear power programme a couple of years ago, and which the Iranians might be keen to use to thwart further computer virus attacks. Snowden did say recently that the Stuxnet virus was created by both the US and Israeli governments.

          • marknesop says:

            Well, it’s hard to say what might come next, but according to Greenwald himself, material will be released in the coming days which will be even more explosive than the original disclosure. I can’t think off the top of my head what that might be, but I can imagine it will make the USA even more rabid to get Snowden. He most definitely is safer in Russia than he would be anywhere else except perhaps for China, and Russia need not feel the slightest pang of guilt for keeping him, because the USA keeps doing all the pick-and-shovel work by going all foamy about what they’re going to do to him when they catch him – making the argument for him being a political asylum case owing to the certainty of persecution at home – and then announcing they will not hesitate to stop any commercial transport of any country if they believe he is being carried by it. Therefore he cannot leave. The USA itself imposes the conditions whereby Russia must keep him according to international law, and then makes it impossible for him to depart.

            No doubt there are quite a few members of the American political hierarchy who are well-satisfied that he is in Russia, since it gives them another reason to agitate against the country they hate, while creating a thorny problem for Obama which will likely preclude any possibility of smoothing things over.

        • yalensis says:

          Dear Alexander:
          Some commenters have looked at the map and suggested that Snowden could still make it to Venezuela without passing through NATO airspace. But he would have to fly out of Vladivostok and soar over the Pacific Ocean, avoiding all American air bases. The plane could fly over Nicaragua, in order to cross from Pacific to Atlantic, and avoiding the Panama Canal zone. Once in Atlantic ocean, it could take a southward turn and land in Caracas.

          Meanwhile, Americans threaten Venezuela they will cut off all refined oil products. Even though Venezuela is an oil exporter, apparently they don’t have enough refineries, so they rely on Americans to refine a lot of their oil. I wonder if there is any way around this problem? Maybe Russians/Chinese could build them a bunch of refineries, but probably not in such a short time.

          Yeah, Snowden should probably stay in Russia. But he won’t be completely safe even there, especially not in Moscow, where the Navalnyite sect controls a minimum of 20K devoted followers. Not all of them are American spies, but some of them are. I wouldn’t put it past some white-ribbon “human rights activist” to nab Snowden and deliver him to McFaul. Snowden should watch out for false friends. The ones that will come flocking to him with false smiles (the English-speaking ones) are precisely the ones who might have ties with the American embassy.

          In summary, Snowden would be safest if he settled in a provincial Russian town with a minimum of hamsters. Maybe even in a Cossack area. Or maybe Kirov? He could get a job in the timber-export business. (ha ha!)
          But for starters, Snowden needs to find a Russian tutor. He needs to learn at least the basics of the Russian language and culture, how to read the signs on the storefronts, and just how to get around and stuff like that, and I would also recommend to him that he find a nice Russian girlfriend and settle into a flat together, this will immediately make life more bearable!

          • marknesop says:

            In my experience, unless his Russian girlfriend was also his tutor the relationship would be of little benefit. Having a Russian girlfriend just makes you want to stay home all day, and you don’t care if you see anyone else.

          • reggietcs says:

            If Snowden was somehow delivered to McFaul, then they’d still have to find a way to smuggle him out of the country. I’m of the opinion that the Russian government WILL have Snowden watched while he’s there, even though temporary asylum probably doesn’t include a security detail. I think it’ll have more to do with watching him to see if the US attempts to pull the crap that Yalensis describes, than out of any actual real concern for Snowden’s safety.

            I think the Russian government would LOVE to catch them in the act.

          • Jen says:

            @ yalensis: I thought of the Pacific option myself but flying out of Vladivostok into the North Pacific would take Snowden through South Korean and Japanese airspace and it so happens that Japan is full of US military bases – more so than most other countries – from which planes can take off and intercept Russian flights. Plus the plane flying Snowden must refuel somewhere and the whole of the North Pacific and most countries around it (except the Russian Far East) are captive to the US and dangerous territory for him.

            According to Snowden’s entry on Wikipedia, he grew up in North Carolina, spent part of his life in Maryland, speaks some Mandarin, worked in a military base in Japan and is familiar with Japanese pop culture, having also done some work for an anime company in Japan. He is a student of Buddhism as well. Some place with a good youth culture close to Japan and which receives lots of Chinese and Japanese tourists and business might be an ideal place to live in. Vladivostok might well qualify; I hear it has seven universities and so must attract a lot of young students from all over Russia.

            • marknesop says:

              Vladivostok also does – or did, I’m not sure now – a brisk trade in used Japanese cars. It would probably be simple, after a couple of months, to get Snowden into Japan. However, what then? It’s basically a prefecture of Washington, so far as foreign policy goes, and lousy with American military bases as you suggested. But to live in Vladivostok might be OK.

              Snowden is best off right where he is. Most of the other countries in the world are divided into those who would willingly turn over Snowden for the pat on the head and the foreign-aid dollars which would probably result, and those who would not be able to forestall a drone attack which would kill him or a CIA snatch squad which would abduct him off the street and return him to the USA to stand a very public trial. Russia plainly is not willing to hand him over, the USA dares not come in and take him, and Russia has been provided with all the political and international-law cover it needs thanks to the USA’s belligerence and high-handedness.

              Here’s a novel take on it – Brussels is calling upon Snowden to testify in the European Parliament, in “hearings designed to lead to new data-privacy rules and data-sharing agreements between Europe and the United States.” I certainly hope he will not fall for that transparent ploy. I imagine they would even guarantee his safe return to Russia, because they would say anything to get him to enable his own capture.

            • cartman says:

              Sakhalin and Kamchatka both have unimpeded access to the skies, but the latter is very difficult to reach, and the former requires Russia’s possession of the Kuril Islands. Of course, liberals have been wanting to give these to Japan for no other reason than “good will” which of course is worth nothing in international relations.

            • yalensis says:

              Dear Jen: That’s a good point, so I guess can can cross out “flying out of Vladivostok” as a possibility. I hadn’t realized that Snowden spoke Mandarin or was hip to Asian cultures. Now it’s understandable why he flew to Hong Kong. (But they were not able to keep him.) So, yes, maybe Vladivostok would be a good place for him to settle. If he knows some Mandarin, he might be able to find employment with a Chinese company there. It will take a few years before his Russian gets up to speed, even with a tutor.

      • Misha says:

        There you go:

        http://news.yahoo.com/venezuela-says-ends-efforts-better-u-ties-161917635.html

        Venezuela isn’t Spider and the US government isn’t in as easy a position as Tommy:

        • marknesop says:

          She’s certainly racking up an impressive record of diplomacy so far, isn’t she? In fact, I can’t think of a time outside war when the USA’s relations with the rest of the world have been as dismal as they are now. Nice job with those appointments, President Obama.

          • Misha says:

            She also has a phony side to her as noted by David Rieff in his National Interest article which I posted at this thread. (Not that Rieff is such a geopolitically enlightened source.)

          • yalensis says:

            And Kerry was supposed to be the reasonable one. Now even he is strutting around making threats like one of the mobsters pictured above, as in “You f**ck with us, we shut down your airspace.. Ya punks.”

    • Misha says:

      Re: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35589.htm

      The Russian military transport of Snowden (by air and/or sea) makes sense. His staying in Russia is an eyesore for US-Russian relations. Getting him out will not significantly decrease the level of differences. However, it’ll shift the focus of attention on Snowden being elsewhere. The US government manner has given cover for a military transport of Snowden as part of a training exercise.

      • Misha says:

        If accurate as reported, Kerry’s bluster might change, when noting that several Latin American states (not just Venezuela) have taken a clear position on the perception of nations in their region getting bullied.

  16. Robert says:

    Jimmy Carter says America does not have a functioning democracy
    http://www.countercurrents.org/gatto200713.htm

    • kirill says:

      And Carter is right. To think that Putin is invoked as some example of “tyranny” when the US is governed by effectively one party. There is no chance in the USA for candidates not filtered through the machinery of the Democrat and Republican Parties to make it onto the presidential ballot. Yet the USA demands that fringe flakes like Kasparov and later Navalny have access.

      Putin is kept in power by the voters. He does not need to repress anyone to stay in power. This is why Russian opinion polls are systematically ignored by the western media and western governments. These polls completely refute the narrative that these monkeys are trying to foist on the globe.

      • reggietcs says:

        A Spanish poster recently posted this to the Moon of Alabama blog:

        “Navalny is what we call in Spanish a Pendejo; It can mean either slick or stupid. Stupid as in being a patsy or a “do boy”. This is what Navalny is, a verdadero Pendejo! He is America’s Pendejo & he is also a traitor to his country. Russians of the wealthy kind for some reason resent Putin. I do not know why, he has helped the Russians to regain their honor and place amongst the great powers. I dated a rich professional Russian tennis player, definitely upper class. She described herself as a democrat. As in leaning or rather fully supporting Odummy and what she perceived as his policies.”

        “I enumerated his list of broken promises and failures.
        His saving of Wall Street instead of Main Street.
        His utter failure in closing Guantanamo.
        Lack of due process and subsequent murder of American citizens.
        The continuous use of torture.
        His tacit support for the war of aggression in Libya.”

        “She didn’t care and said that it was all the fault of the Republicans. That Obama was the kind of leader Russia needed. I laughed at her. Needless to say, that relationship went no further. This is the type of person who offers support to Navalny. Individuals who are blinded and fooled by the shine and razzle dazzle of Amerika. It happens to many, many people. Until they are stopped by a cop or get a letter from the IRS.”

        • yalensis says:

          Thanks, Reggie, this is fairly perceptive sketch of the type of Russian person who supports Navalny.
          They tend to be the urban yuppie type. Well educated and expecting to get good jobs in the private sector, like business, banking, etc., and especially they are hopeful to get management positions in the oil/gas sectors, which is where the real money is.

          For some reason a lot of these people have gotten it into their heads that their careers are being stifled, that all the good jobs in this sector are going to the children of the Putin clique. To what degree this is an accurate perception, I don’t know. There are certainlyly egregious individual cases of nepotism, with United Russia politicians and their rich-shit kids getting private boarding school educations abroad, lucrative jobs, fancy homes and cars, etc. These cases fill the Navalnyites with rage and envy. Deservedly so. They even make ME angry, and I am fairly philosophical about human folly.

          Anyhow, I have not done (and am not capable to do) scientific statistical analysis how accurate these perceptions are in the aggregate. In other words, are the golden youth truly being cut out of the good jobs in the aggregate, or is it just cases of individual losers who didn’t get the job because of poor test scores? Is the Putin regime truly choking off these deserving youth, or are they just getting undeservedly uppity and inciting each other into malcontented attitude?

          I leave that analysis to sociologists. Suffice it to say that the perception is there, and hence a lot of this “wanna-be golden youth” believe that Putin and his minions stand in their way. Remove him, they say (preferably in a violent cathartic manner, like Gaddafi), and then good things will happen, the door to the Golden Trough will open for them. Navalny embodies these hopes and dreams for them.

          In conclusion, the Navalnyite movement is a class-based movement, based on the urban yuppy bourgeoisie. As Karl Marx once noted (casually and in passing), class relationships determine political ideologies.

          • kirill says:

            This is the same syndrome that afflicted many people under the Soviet system. They were all deprived of millions of dollars due to the system. Of course, this is utter rubbish since their chances of becoming millionaires would be basically nil even in the USA. (Sorry, but the turnover of rich is very, very slow and much of the wealth becomes hereditary and not earned).

            I don’t know what the fuss over rich kids of UR party members is. Are these rich kids taking over key management positions? Does not look like it. So where is the nepotism? And not all UR members are dirt poor workers. A lot of them, like in the US parties, are rich already. That is why the fuss about the recent law on foreign bank accounts and assets. If UR members are siphoning money they are doing it at rates vastly smaller than parasites such as Khodorkovsky. As long as the country develops they can have their loot. British MPs were all making out like thieves in the early days and corruption in the US was rank as well. Where do people get the notion that you can have the perfect system without the associated mentality? It takes decades if not centuries for this social evolution to take place.

            As for the yuppies, it is clear that they want a banana republic where they can loot Russia’s resources to make millions. That is why Khodorkovsky is their hero and they wave pictures of him during their illegal demonstrations. These people are scum. Russia’s resources are owned by the Russian people (the “bydlo” in the eyes of the liberasts) and the extraction of these resources must be done in a way to maximize the benefit to Russians and not some clique like the ones you find in Guatemala or Haiti. Putin is a great leader and UR is doing its job by basically maximizing social benefit from Russia’s resources. They also have created conditions for Russian manufacturing to stay alive and develop. They could have planted their lips on Uncle Sam’s ass and shipped off all the manufacturing to China.

          • marknesop says:

            Perhaps their fury at being cheated of their rightful bliss would be tempered if they looked around to see if the children of the rich are disproportionally favoured everywhere else. Because they are. You won’t have to look far to see the children of the wealthy and politically influential being given a leg up in the world by daddy and mommy. It cracks me up that the white ribbonists believe these situations end at the Russian border. But perhaps they believe if they sell out their country they will be automatically rewarded by the west with riches and privilege. In actual fact, although defectors and informers are go-to sources for quotes and commentary, the country they advocate for never really trusts them.

    • SFReader says:

      This is how reporting on the US should be done…

      Human rights activists say revelations that the US regime has expanded its domestic surveillance program to private phone carriers is more evidence of the North American country’s pivot toward authoritarianism.

      The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported this week that a wing of the country’s feared intelligence and security apparatus ordered major telecommunications companies to hand over data on phone calls made by private citizens.

      “The US leadership in Washington continues to erode basic human rights,” said one activist, who asked to remain anonymous, fearing that speaking out publicly could endanger his organization. “If the US government is unwilling to change course, it’s time the international community considered economic sanctions.”
      ….
      US leader Barack Obama, a former liberal community organizer and the country’s first black president who attracted a wave of support from young voters, rose to power in 2008 promising reform. He was greeted in the United States — a country of about 300 million people — with optimism. But he has since disappointed those supporters, ruling with a sometimes iron fist and continuing, if not expanding, the policies of the country’s former ruler, George W. Bush.

      On a recent visit to the United States by GlobalPost, signs of the increased security apparatus could be found everywhere.

      At all national airports, passengers are now forced to undergo full-body scans before boarding any flights. Small cameras are perched on many street corners, recording the movements and actions of the public. And incessant warnings on public transportation systems encourage citizens to report any “suspicious activity” to authorities.

      Several American villagers interviewed for this story said the ubiquitous government marketing campaign called, “If you see something, say something,” does little to make them feel safer and, in fact, only contributes to a growing mistrust among the general population.

      “I’ve deleted my Facebook account, stopped using email, or visiting websites that might be considered anti-regime,” a resident of the northern city of Boston, a tough-as-nails town synonymous with rebellion, told GlobalPost. It was in Boston that an American militia first rose up against the British empire. “But my phone? How can I stop using my phone? This has gone too far.”

      American dissidents interviewed by GlobalPost inside the United States say surveillance by domestic intelligence agencies is just one part of a seemingly larger effort by the Obama administration to centralize power.
      ….
      Meanwhile, whispering in the streets about what the regime might do next has reached a dull roar. But after a national uprising in 2011 by the leftist Occupy movement ended in evictions, arrests and tear gas, Americans appear hesitant to take their anger into the streets.

      Most major media outlets, which in the United States are largely controlled by politically-connected corporations — many of them, in fact, financially supported Obama’s election — have been relatively quiet on such issues.

      Foreign observers, however, say the recent news about domestic surveillance is spreading wildly in other ways — on Twitter and around the dinner table. They say the news has the potential to spark an uprising — at least among urban, educated elites in the country’s major cities — mirroring those happening now in Turkey and that earlier swept parts of the Arab world.

      One foreign businessman who works closely with the US government on issues of security said he thought Obama was too well-established and had too strong a security force for any challenge to its authority to take hold.
      ….
      In a small, unassuming house near Boston’s bustling seaport, though, supporters of the opposition disagreed, saying the leader had lost “all credibility.” The group said the opposition continued to organize and grow, and that it was just a matter of time before the rest of the American population joined them.

      http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130607/what-if-journalists-covered-us-like-they-cover-world

      • Robert says:

        http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-crisis-of-legitimacy.html

        “Political power’s a remarkable thing. Though Mao Zedong was quite correct to point out that it grows out of the barrel of a gun, it has to be transplanted into more fertile soil in short order or it will soon wither and die. A successful political system of any kind quickly establishes, in the minds of the people it rules, a set of beliefs and attitudes that define the political system as the normal, appropriate, and acceptable form of government for that people. That sense of legitimacy is the foundation on which any enduring government must build, for when people see their government as legitimate, no matter how appalling it appears to outsiders, they will far more often than not put up with its excesses and follow its orders.

        It probably needs to be said here that legitimacy is not a rational matter and has nothing to do with morality or competence; great nations all through history have calmly accepted the legitimacy of governments run by thieves, tyrants, madmen and fools. Still, a government that has long held popular legitimacy can still lose it, and can do so in a remarkably short time. Those of my readers who are old enough to have watched the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellites will recall the speed with which the rulers of several Communist nations saw the entire apparatus of their government dissolve around them as the people they claimed the right to rule stopped cooperating.

        Now of course that sudden collapse of legitimacy was long in preparing. Just as a singer or writer who becomes an overnight success normally gets there after many years of hard work, the implosion of a system of government normally follows many years of bad decisions and unheard warnings, and it’s not too hard in retrospect to trace how simmering unrest eventually rose to a full boil; still, the benefits of hindsight can be misleading, because it’s actually quite rare for anyone to catch on to what’s building in advance.

        It’s all too common for the political class of a troubled nation to lose track of the fact that, after all, its power depends on the willingness of a great many people outside the political class to do what they’re told. In Paris in 1789, in St. Petersburg in 1917, and in a great many other places and times, the people who thought that they held the levers of power and repression discovered to their shock that the only power they actually had was the power to issue orders, and those who were supposed to carry those orders out could, when matters came to a head, decide that their own interests lay elsewhere. In today’s America, equally, it’s not the crisply dressed executives, politicians, and bureaucrats who currently hold power who would be in a position to enforce that power in a crisis; it’s the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, police officers and Homeland Security personnel, who are by and large poorly paid, poorly treated, and poorly equipped, and who have not necessarily been given convincing reasons to support the interests of a political class that most of them privately despise, against the interests of the classes to which they themselves belong.”

      • marknesop says:

        Wow. That looks like one to bookmark; I’m sure the subject will come up occasionally.

        Incidentally, the “If you see something, say something” campaign is a reality, since 2010. However, the guidance covers their asses by instructing that factors like race, ethnicity, religious affiliation or national origin are not on their own enough to report somebody, and that only those activities observed which suggest criminal activity related to terrorism will be shared with “our federal partners”. However, it is a clear effort to bring the public at large into the information-gathering effort by reporting on itself.

  17. I am beginning to get a better sense of the situation with Snowden’s case.

    It seems that the current application is for purely temporary asylum. The reason for that is because that can be processed quickly allowing Snowden to be provided by the Russian authorities with papers so that he can leave the transit zone of the airport and cross the border. Once Snowden has crossed the border the intention is for him to apply for full refugee status. Once that has been obtained the ultimate intention is for him to obtain Russian citizenship, which by the way indicates that he has now accepted that he is going to be in Russia for a long time.

    I doubt that Snowden is seeking Russian citizenship out of any special love for Russia. The point about his obtaining citizenship is that he is then entitled to stay in Russia free of any conditions such as the one Putin has imposed. In other words he would be free to say or do anything he wanted against the US and the Russian authorities would not be able to do anything to prevent him. Given that that surely is his intention I wonder how keen the Russian authorities will be to grant him citizenship?

  18. SFReader says:


    TV documentary on recent war games in Siberia (in Russian, sorry).

    Very impressive

  19. SFReader says:

    Russian demands to close American bio-weapons facility in Tbilisi grow even stronger.

    Moscow, July 20 (Interfax) – The operations of a U.S. biological laboratory in Georgia violate international conventions, pose a threat to Russia and affect the development of economic ties, Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s chief public health official and head of the consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, told Interfax on Saturday.

    “Russia sees this as a direct violation of the BWC [the Biological Weapons Convention]. And this is a powerful offensive potential,” Onishchenko said.

    The U.S. military-biological laboratory is located on the territory of a former Soviet military base outside Tbilisi, he said.

    “With the enlargement of contacts and supplies of wine products, vegetables, and other agricultural products to Russia, our alarm at the presence of a powerful U.S. Navy biological laboratory in Georgia not controlled by Georgian authorities will be increasing,” he said.

    Rospotrebnadzor is delighted to acknowledge positive development of interaction with Georgia toward the restoration of economic ties. The day when a million liters of wine products should be supplied to Russia from Georgia is near. But the factor of the presence of a U.S. Navy military laboratory on Georgian territory will have a dramatically constraining effect,” Onishchenko said.

    “We presume that food products are the most efficient way for hazardous substances to enter a human organism, which could be used deliberately with the purposes of causing damage to health,” he said.

    Onishchenko said earlier that an outbreak of African swine fever in Russia was a planned economic sabotage operation from Georgian territory.

    http://www.interfax.co.uk/ukraine-news/operations-of-u-s-lab-in-georgia-pose-biological-threat-to-russia-watchdog-head-2/

    • marknesop says:

      There’s an object lesson in diplomacy for you. Threaten the host country in the most oblique terms, making it clear whose fault it is and couching it in terms that suggest you would really, really like to import Georgian products, but you can’t because the risk is just too great.

      That’s a lot better, and I suspect it will be more effective, than simply bawling “Close that facility NOW!!!! Do as we say!! Because we are a VERY POWERFUL COUNTRY, and you can’t say No to us!!!”

      • SFReader says:

        More details on US sinister plans in Georgia from local observer

        https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10150518291414238&id=9126189237

      • SFReader says:

        And an official summary

        Georgia acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) on 22 May 1996. There is no evidence to suggest that Tbilisi possesses or is developing biological weapons. During the Soviet era, some vaccine manufacturing facilities in Georgia that were part of the Soviet Anti-Plague system possessed dual-use biological weapons production capabilities. The Biokombinat Production facility, for example, manufactured vaccines for sheep pox, swine plague, and sheep brucellosis, but also doubled as a biological weapons research facility.[18] Under the 30 December 2002 agreement between the United States and Georgia on cooperation in the area of prevention of proliferation of technology, pathogens and expertise related to the development of biological weapons, all dual-use equipment and selected buildings at Biokombinat were eliminated. [20] Also, the U.S. Department of Defense, through its contractor Bechtel National Inc., completed construction of the Epidemiological Monitoring Station at a Ministry of Agriculture laboratory in Tbilisi, and installed the Pathogen Asset Control System at the National Center for Disease Control, which holds Georgia’s collection of especially dangerous pathogens, and the interim Central Reference Laboratory (CRL). [21] As a result of the joint effort between the U.S. DOD and the Georgian Ministry of Defense, the Tbilisi Central Public Reference Laboratory and repository opened in March 2011 to act as a repository for regional pathogens and host infectious disease detection and research training. [22, 23] The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Health Informatics Program, in partnership with the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, also deploys Electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance Systems to monitor biological threats and enhance Georgia’s capacity for quick response to disease outbreaks. [24]
        http://www.nti.org/country-profiles/georgia/

        Again, the key words are:

        part of the Soviet Anti-Plague system
        dual-use biological weapons production capabilities
        doubled as a biological weapons research facility
        collection of especially dangerous pathogens
        repository for regional pathogens
        Pathogen Asset Control System

        • reggietcs says:

          Well, maybe there’s a reason for those large scale drills we witnessed last week. I’m sure the Russians will probably want the facility closed. If not, there’s always this option……….

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_of_All_Bombs

          Naturally, they would have to first clear the facility of any harmful biological agents, since destroying the facility would risk releasing them.

    • yalensis says:

      Official U.S. State Department announcement:

      We are very disappointed by the conviction and sentencing of opposition leader Aleksey Navalniy and his co-defendant, Pyotr Ofitserov, to lengthy prison terms for alleged embezzlement by a court in the city of Kirov. Throughout the case we have expressed our concern about its apparent political motivation. We remain troubled with the failure to respect the rule of law or to ensure the fair trial guarantees required by international law. Mr. Navalniy’s and Mr. Ofitserov’s harsh prison sentences are the latest examples of a disturbing trend in the Russian Federation of legislation, prosecutions, and government actions aimed at suppressing dissent and civil society. We encourage Russia to embrace serious efforts, like Mr. Navalniy’s, to improve government accountability and combat corruption in order to nurture a modern economy.

      We call on the Russian Government to guarantee that individuals can freely exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression and assembly. We urge Russia to ensure conditions for a fair and impartial appeal of the verdict in accordance with the law and its international human rights obligations.

      My suggested tit for tat response of Russian Foreign Ministry:

      We are very disappointed by the acquittal of Florida resident George Zimmerman who racially profiled, and then murdered, an innocent African-American teenager who had not broken any laws.
      Throughout the case we have expressed our concern about its apparent racist intent. We remain troubled with the failure to respect the rule of law or ensure the right to “life and liberty” guaranteed in American Constitution to every citizen, regardless of ethnicity. Mr. Zimmerman’s acquittal by a racially biased jury on the basis of a so-called “Stand your Ground” law is just the latest example of a disturbing trend in American legislation, prosecution, and government actions aimed at targeting and criminalizing African-American males. We encourage America to embrace serious efforts, like those of Trayvon’s family, to improve police accountability and combat racisim in order to nurture a modern economy.

      And P.S. – America, you STILL lynch Negroes….

      • reggietcs says:

        The Russian government should respond in the manner you described and THEN grant Snowden temporary asylum – all within the space of a few hours.

      • marknesop says:

        …and, “Oh, what, now you’re like, ‘we must obey international law’? What happened to that when you were all high-fiving each other over the plan to invade Syria, and then looking at us like we were a cockroach on a wedding cake when we wouldn’t let you do it? Where was your unswerving dedication to international law then? “

  20. reggietcs says:

    Does anyone here know how high Internet penetration is in Russia?

    I keep hearing the “lack of internet access” bandied as an excuse to spin away Navalny’s lack of popularity. I mean geez, I’m just so damn sure that Most Russians are just eager to get back to the good old’ 1990s as Navalny sometimes muses on his blog.

    • yalensis says:

      Polls shows that majority of Russians have internet.
      But not everybody with internet reads blogs. (They might just be shopping online.)
      And not every blogger is necessarily pro-Navalny.
      Quite the contrary, in fact. The best bloggers (aside from Navalny himself) are ANTI-Navalny.

      Americans delude themselves that once everybody in Russia gets Internet, they will join Team Navalny. Because then Russians will be able to bypass “pro-regime” media and learn “the real truth” about the world. Like those Cold War oppressed masses huddled around the radio listening to “Radio Free Europe”.

      But internet itself is neutral, it tells all sides of everything, and allows everybody to pick their team.

    • marknesop says:

      There are a lot of figures available, and I have no idea how scientific they are because I don’t believe Russia monitors its users with the dedication and zeal the USA does – the NSA could likely give you not only a precise figure current to today, but peak usage times and preferred websites. But RiaN did some sort of survey recently and came up with 43% among adult Russians, daily use. Weekly use was a bit higher at around 53%. There’s an interesting graphic included with that site entitled “truth and lies of Russian internet users” which purports to show what topics users either avoid or are likely to lie about – interestingly, the same number (37% of users) allegedly prefer not to discuss religion and politics.

      I used to quote Internet World Stats for that question, but it is getting out of date now and appears not to have been updated since 2010 for Russia, when it was alleged to be 42.8%. Since penetration appears by all other accounts to be growing rapidly, I would suggest that either Internet World Stats was on the high side in 2010, or the results of RiaN’s survey now are on the low side. Whatever the case, it is about half of adults. LR loves to quote internet penetration rate just as she loves to quote any figure she stumbles upon which comes out looking better for the United States than for Russia, so she can ridicule Russia, but she seldom researches it any deeper than that and Russian penetration is actually fairly high and growing.

  21. Misha says:

    No shit Sherlocks.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/leeigel/2013/07/21/u-s-shouldnt-boycott-sochi-olympics-because-of-edward-snowden/

    In this day in age, a welcome to what the likes of Graham and O’Reilly have suggested.

  22. yalensis says:

    To Alexander Mercouris and Peter, continuing above thread on Reznik (thread got messed up):

    Okay, dudes, I believe there is a way to square this circle and resolve this debate, as follows:

    Judge Blinov both DID and DID NOT make a procedural mistake, all at the same time. (This is the Hegelian dialectic in action, not to mention Schrodinger’s cat.)

    Namely: As Reznik remarked, it is normal practice in Russian jurisprudence for a defendant to be remanded to the pokey ASAP right after conviction, IF his sentence included real time. Therefore, Blinov was just doing the normal thing that every Russian trial judge does.

    On the other hand, Blinov’s action contraindicated the federal statute that says convicted criminals should be allowed to roam the pasture free-range on bail pending their appeal, PROVIDED they were out on bail during their trial, AND they did not violate the terms of that bail. Therefore, Blinov was incorrect and overly harsh when he ordered the bailiffs to slap on the handcuffs and frog-march the defendants out of the courtroom.

    As to whether or not Navalny’s attorneys slept through that part of the process where they were supposed to submit the appeal themselves and not wait for some Moscow hotshot or prosecutor to do it for them… well, that depends whose story you believe, Mikhailovna’s or Reznik’s? One of them is lying, but which one…?

    Hm…. I need hard facts to make up my mind. Does anyone happen to have a transcription of the NSA tape of the Reznik-Mikhailovna telephone conversation?

    • SFReader says:

      NSA is most definitely taping conversations of Mr. Reznik since he was first Russian lawyer invited to meet Snowden in Sheremetyevo on July 12th.

      Here he is

      http://www.newstimes.com/news/world/article/Snowden-submits-asylum-request-4667714.php#photo-4906975

      Genri Reznik, a prominent lawyer and head of the Moscow bar association, walks after meeting NSA leader Edward Snowden at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 12, 2013. Edward Snowden plans to seek asylum in Russia, a Parliament member who was among those meeting with the NSA leaker said Friday. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko

    • peter says:

      Judge Blinov both DID and DID NOT…

      There’s an old Russian proverb for that: Закон — что дышло: куда повернёшь — туда и вышло.

      • Sam says:

        I can’t reply under your comment above,so I do it here. Putin did not “admit” to using Viagra at all, you’re grossly misrepresenting what he said. He was advising critics of the russian Universiade team to take some. Here is the full quote: “Вторая часть, она общегуманитарный, что ли, характер носит. К сожалению, в нашей стране всегда были люди, которые в случае каких-то успехов, побед где-то «за бугром», у наших конкурентов, всегда громко щёлкали языками, и щёлкают до сих пор, и говорят: «Ах, какие они молодцы, ну куда же нам с нашей мордой в калашный ряд, – как у нас в народе говорят, – нашим сиротам не до этих высот».А вот когда случаются такие яркие победы, как в вашем случае, начинаются причитания по поводу того, что что-то не так. Вы знаете, так хочется им посоветовать, чтобы они сами занялись спортом, если есть вопросы к здоровью, обратились к доктору. Здесь люди все взрослые, могу сказать, в конце концов, попробовали бы «Виагру», может быть, это поможет, и жизнь наладится, развернётся какими-то красивыми, яркими сторонами, и они увидят будущее.”
        Translation: ” There is also what I suppose you could just call human nature. It’s sad, but there have always been people here ready to start tut-tutting away when they see our rivals’ successes, see them winning abroad, and they shake their heads and say, “What a great job they do. Who do we think we are trying to get into their league?”. And when we do achieve impressive victories such as yours, they start lamenting that something’s not right here. It’s hard not to suggest to them that they take up sport themselves, and if their health prevents them from doing so, they should go see a doctor. If all else fails, maybe they should try Viagra, maybe their lives will improve, take on new, colorful perspectives, and they’ll see the future.”

        • yalensis says:

          Putin is right about this:
          People should take whatever medications or drugs they need to take, if it makes their lives better, happier, and more productive.
          Like, if somebody needs to take Prozac in order to feel happier and more positive, then take the Prozac. If they need the Viagra in order to feel sexier, then take the Viagra. It’s all good.
          I don’t understand this puritanical attitude that some people have: “Oh, you shouldn’t take any medications, you should just be miserable and slowly decay, like God intended…”

        • peter says:

          He [Putin] was advising critics of the russian Universiade team to take some [viagra].

          There’s a proverb for that too: Кто про что, а вшивый про баню.

  23. yalensis says:

    Dear Alexander Mercouris:
    In case you decide to write a post on the KirovLes verdict (which I hope you do)…
    As promised, here is the video of KirovLes final court session, the pronouncing of the verdict. Not that you’ll be able to understand it; even native Russian speakers have to strain their ears to catch verbal meaning in Judge Blinov’s machine-gun-rapid-fire speech, delivered in his guttural V’atka dialect.

    (I hear that after this trial, Blinov is going to switch careers and join a Gilbert & Sullivan troupe as the “patter-song” tenor.)

    .
    The court session lasts just under 4 hours, which mostly consists of Blinov reading out loud the 100-page verdict while everybody in the court is forced to stand and listen.
    Blinov spends a lot of time alluding to the emails and phone taps. He puts a lot of weight on them. He will read some evidence given by a Prosecution witness, and then supplement that with reading from an email or phone call that corroborates what the witness said.
    This confirms what I have been saying all along, namely, the wiretaps were at the root of the successful conviction. Without them, the case would have been purely circumstantial. Defense would have been able to wiggle out of every accusation by making up a counter-narrative to each Prosecution narrative.

    This is why the Defense had battled so ferociously to exclude the wiretaps from evidence. When they lost that ruling, they lost the case.
    Happy is the Prosecutor whose defendants record their plotting and scheming in writing with digital timestamps!

    Anyhow, After reading out the more incriminating of the emails, Judge Blinov states his conclusion that the guilt of the defendants is fully confirmed. This is where he says that he believes Opalev and Bastrygina are telling the truth; that he does not believe Navalny is a “political prisoner”, and that, broadly speaking, he thinks Navalny is full of crap. Blinov disputes Navalny’s claim that Bastrygina had it in for him because he fired her. That’s not true, says Blinov. There is no evidence that Navalny ever accused her of corruption (before this trial), or fired her, and nobody even made that claim before, not even Navalny. He just made that up during the trial, during his cross-examination of Bastrygina.

    At 3:14:00 hours in, Blinov specifically addresses the issue of the “arbitrage” courts and the lawsuits between KirovLes and VLK. Defense pointed to these cases as evidence of the legitimacy of VLK as a real business, and the “civic-legal” nature of the relationship between the two “companies”.

    Blinov refutes this argument with the simple fact of Opalev’s criminal conviction, and the factual ruling that VLK was set up as part of a criminal scheme. According to Blinov, Opalev’s conviction sets a legal precedent (by negating the legitimacy of the relationship) that outweighs the precedent of the arbitrage court rulings. Therefore, the arbitrage rulings themselves are put aside and are moot.
    At 3:17:00 hours in Blinov rattles off that Supreme Court Plenary ruling we were discussing in the above thread (link found by peter), whereby, under circumstances such as this, embezzlement is charged for the full amount embezzled, even if some of it was paid back later; hence the 16 million rubles and some change, which is the exact sum of the 16 transactions that passed through the hands of VLK. And hence the conviction for “embezzlement on a grand scale” instead of “embezzlement on a smallish scale”.

    For dramatic effect, watch the last 7 minutes of the tape, starting at 3:31:56. Blinov finishes reading out his verdict, orders, “TAKE THEM AWAY!”, flounces off the stage like an angry Cardinal Richelieu, and then the coppers lead the prisoners away in handcuffs.

    I realize this is yesterday’s news, and the mugs are out on bail now. But still dramatic to watch!

  24. yalensis says:

    Continuing over-svelte thread above about whether or not Navalny made any profit from the embezzlement scheme:
    Mark wrote: “This is against the sometimes-expressed sentiment that Navalny couldn’t have been guilty of embezzlement if he didn’t end up with any money.”

    I have 2 points to make on that:
    (1) Navalny/Ofitserov, upon setting up the VLK account(s) in the local bank, actually set up 2 accounts, one in rubles, and the second in “hard currency”. There is nothing inherently wrong or illegal with this, it just suggests that they had some plans to convert rubles to dollars. Navalny may have had some future plans to make some money off the scheme and send it away to an offshore to be laundered. Just speculation.
    (2) In the short-term, however, not only was Navalny NOT making any money, he was LOSING money from the scheme, because he had to subsidize Ofitserov’s investment. I just got around (belatedly) to reading Politrash blogpost that was written before the KirovLes verdict. It’s amazing. Apetian cites a couple of hacked emails that I hadn’t seen before, including this one, in which Ofitserov actually SCHNORS money off of Navalny:


    О: По требуемым деньгам нужно будет: ФЗП — 117 00 включая меня. Без меня 72 000 . Теоретически меня можно на следующий месяц задолжать. :) Налог на ФЗП 17000 примерно, более точно после расчета смогу сказать, но размер примерно сохраниться. Разработка стиля нужно сейчас 3000 руб. потому что с имеющимся деревом это смешно, а делать нужно: бланки, визитки, конверты и т.д. но это в принципе задаток, основную сумму можно потом выплатить. Лучше сейчас, чтобы не затягивать. Инет телефон сейчас нужно 3000 руб. Канцтовары 3000 ничего нет. Итого нужно готовить 143 тысячи, если без меня 98 000. Я сейчас жду от Домоффа платеж на 260 тыс. моих в них 13 тыс. еще минус налоги и т.д. Большие заказы пока висят, не знаю успею ли до конца апреля что-то сдвинуть. Скорее нет. Ускорять не получается, потому что цикл отгрузки все равно от недели по ж\д. А авто пока нет. Поэтому работаем и ждем мая.

    О: На зарплату нужно за май- 140 000 рублей. На следующей неделе. Ко мне деньги начнут приходить только во второй половине июня.
    Н: бляяяяя

    TRANSLATION

    Ofitserov:: This is the money that I need: Payroll – 117,00 [sic - should say 117,000], including me. Not including me 72,000. In theory I can defer my (paycheck) to next month. Taxes on paryoll 17,000 approximately. (….) [Ofitserov goes on to list other expenses such as company sign, letterhead, envelopes, etc.] I need (this money) right away. Internet phone 3000 rubles. Office supplies 3000, we have nothing. In sum, we need 143,000. Make that 98,000 without (my salary). I am currently expecting a payment of 260,000 from the home office, my share 13,000 minus taxes, etc. There are some big orders coming up (in the future), but I don’t know if I can expect any (revenues) before the end of April. Probably not. I can’t speed them up, because the freight cycle is a weekly one on the railroad. Therefore we have to keep on working and wait for May. Payroll for May – I need 140,000 rubles. By next week. Revenues won’t be flowing in until the second half of June.

    Navalny: Fuckkkkkkkk!

    END OF TRANSLATION

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. and now it is clear why Ofitserov stayed loyal to Navalny to the end, even though Prosecution offered him a deal for a suspended sentence provided he turn super-grass on Navalny.

      OFITSEROV STILL OWES NAVALNY $$$$$$.

      Depending on how you count the above, Ofitserov owes Navalny either 143,000 rubles or 183,000 rubles. That was Navalny’s investment in VLK. And no, Ofitserov cannot use the excuse that VLK is a Limited Liability Company and went bankrupt, therefore its debts are dissolved. Not true, my friends! Ofitserov himself stated in court, in answer to a question from Judge Blinov, that VLK still exists as a legal entity, with Ofitserov’s brother, Dmitry, as the CEO.

      In conclusion: Ofitserov owes Navalny a lot of money. Governor Belykh also owes Navalny a lot of money (as is deduced from their emals). Navalny has been subsidizing his parasitical friends for many years. Navalny is the true victim in all this!

  25. Moscow Exile says:

    Wonder what the Western chatterboxes will make of this news reported 1 hour ago (22:30 Moscow time) by the Moscow Times?

    Former Tula Governor Sentenced to 9 1/2 Years

    (Wonderful picture in the MT article, by the way. The former president looks like he’s having a staring contest with the bent governor. I wonder who won? I don’t know how that crook – the former governor, I mean – can keep such a straight face.)

    The guilty party took a 40 million ruble ($1.3 million) backhander in return for allocating a plot of land to a hypermarket chain says MT.

    If the Grauniad reports this news, will it say that “it goes without saying” that the charges against the former Tula governor were fabricated?

    The former governor, of course, claims that the charges against him were politically motivated.

    Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?

    I shouldn’t think that this story will be covered in the West though, for clearly the former governor is not a Washington stooge, just a corrupt politician.

    In any case, the Guardian’s leads story today on its on-line front page is that the Duchess of Cambridge has been admitted to maternity hospital after the onset of her labour pains.

    Now THAT’S something worth talking about: rich woman who has never had a job in her life has labour pains!

    The world, I’m sure, is waiting with bated breath as regards the imminent birth of a “royal” baby.

    • marknesop says:

      I imagine if they mention it at all, it will be in the new favoured context of it indicating that corruption in Russia is spiraling out of control. When there were virtually no arrests for this sort of corruption, then Russia had a secret corruption problem. Now that there are a comparatively large number of court cases for corruption, it simply indicates that corruption is getting much worse. The same number of secret corruption incidents is presumed to be still going on, as well as these ones that were so blatant they could not be ignored. Also, the Moscow Times has a big enough stable of columnists that several viewpoints can easily be worked in, the one saying that corruption has reached record levels while another insists these charges against oppositionists like Urlashov are completely fabricated because United Russia wants every seat.

    • yalensis says:

      Suggested name for royal baby: “Parasite”?
      Then when he grows up, he can be King Parasite I.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Actually, the babe may end up as “Queen Parasite I” because they changed the British “constitution” last year, albeit that there isn’t one – at least, not a codified, written one. Despite this fact, some argue that the uncodified nature of the United Kingdom constitution does not mean it should not be characterised as a “constitution”. However, some believe that the absence of an effective separation of powers in the governance of the UK, and the fact that parliamentary sovereignty allows Parliament to overrule fundamental rights, makes this much vaunted British constitution to some extent a “facade” constitution.

        The change in the British constitution that was joyfully welcomed by the ever deferential British public at large concerned the “law” of primogeniture as applied to the eldest born male of the reigning monarch: now the monarch’s eldest born, be it a boy or a girl, shall be the next unelected head of state.

        So who says the UK is not a democracy?

        I think the last change in the “constitution” was when the Lords had their power of blocking commons’ bills removed. That was in 1911.

        The Lords can still cause changes made to bills though, and not a soul votes for those buggers whose bums are seated in the House of Lords!

        Tom Paine, please come back!

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Well I’ll be blowed!

          I’ve just had a look at the latest Russian news before going to bed and there, as the top story of Moskovsky Komsomolets, is the “news” that the Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a boy. It’s the same in Komsomolskaya Pravda. I am truly surprised at this. Nothing about Russia’s “Anointed One”, Navalny, but plenty about the UK’s.

          So after the present head of state has shrugged her mortal coil, her son Charlie will be king, then after him comes Charlie’s eldest boy Billy and then after him this newborn boy.

          And I and 60 million others have no say in this.

          It used to be much more fun when they all started doing each other in like they used to do in order to get the top job. Must have been a wonderful spectator sport watching all those knights hammering away at each other in one of their great dynastical slugfests.

          • yalensis says:

            So, KING Parasite I it is then….

            • Jen says:

              I was going to suggest Cannon Fodder had it been a boy (because he’ll have to serve in the armed forces which by the time he’s grown up will be a combined British-French institution at least) or Clotheshorse Gossip Fodder had it been a girl. So it’s King Cannon Fodder I then …

              • yalensis says:

                I love the bit about how they needed 10 Crown Ministers present in the Delivery Room to verify that said heir, Prince Cannon Fodder, actually emerged from said womb; and then stamped the certificate as chain of evidence and rushed it by carriage to the Royal Castle. So that there would be absolutely NO DOUBT about the legitimacy of the succession.

                Er…. DNA test, anyone?
                (Or is that a sensitive topic, given Prince Harry’s questionable paternity?)

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  They do this because they reckon that when Roman Catholic King James II’s son, James the Old Pretender, was announced as born, the king’s child had in fact been stillborn and another baby had been slipped in to the child bed by means of a bedpan so that the birth of a Catholic son could be announced, thereby disinheriting James II’s Protestant daughter.

                  They being the royal lickspittles that call themselves Ministers of the Crown.

                • Jen says:

                  No, certification from the doctors who did the IVF procedure and the separation of the Y-chromosome sperm from the X-chromosome sperm so that Waity Katey could be impregnated with the right sperm and there would be no further hand-wringing about whether the first-born should automatically be third in line to the throne irrespective of its sex.

                  Didn’t the 10 Crown Ministers have a cameraphone and a Facebook account among them? The NSA surveillance network needs to record the happy event as well!

                • yalensis says:

                  There was a lot of cases of baby-switching going on in those days. For example, it happened to Count di Luna of Aljaferia, in Zaragoza, Spain. The Count’s younger brother was kidnapped from the cradle by a Gypsy woman named Azurcena. Azurcena’s motive was to avenge the death of her mother, whom Count di Luna had burned alive at the steak.
                  Azurcena had a baby of her own, named Manriko, who was around the same age as the kidnapped baby. For a few days she kept both babies lying together in a single bassinet. She liked babies. However, she was so angry at her mom being burned alive that she tossed Count di Luna’s baby into the pyre and burned him alive too, just to get even. Then she suddenly realized: “oops, wrong baby.” She had just grabbed the first one, and well, it’s understandable, all babies look alike, all pink and blubbery, no teeth, no hair…

                  So now Azurcena was left with no other option except to raise Count di Luna’s son as her own. She taught him all the gypsies ways and customs, and everything turned out great.

                  THE END

    • Jen says:

      Her job is being Waity Katey (waiting for the baby, waiting for her hubby while he’s overseas) after the last job she had which was working for her parents’ party supplies business.

  26. Moscow Exile says:

    Journalist Fred Weir’s name crops up occasionally on this site, in that his reports about Russia are often at variance with the opinions held by most who comment on Kremlin Stooge. When taken to task about the nature of his reports, Fred kindly joined in a thread here last year, defending himself by saying that his reports only reflect the opinions of those Russians who are willing to talk to him and that he finds it difficult to get information from the movers and shakers in the Kremlin.

    Well, if his latest (July 22nd 2013) Christian Science Monitor article is anything to go by, some of those people whose opinions concerning Russia he reports include the authors of a letter that they have written in which they criticize the present administration’s (aka “the regime”) alleged abuse of the constitution.

    Weir’s article is entitled: “Russia’s top lawyers sound alarm about government abuse of the Constitution” and has the sub-heading: “A group of Russia’s most prominent lawyers have penned an open letter warning that the country’s constitutional order is under threat from authorities’ abuse of the law”.

    “Top lawyers”?

    Well who are these “lawyers” whose opinion Weir dutifully reports?

    In the letter of protest linked in Weir’s article one can see that its authors roughly consist of 36 academics in jurisprudence, 8 attorneys at law/lawyers, and 3 partners in law firms.

    Their letter reads as follows:

    “We, people who are professionally engaged with the law, feel it necessary to state that on the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution the constitutional system of the country is under threat. The basic provisions of the Constitution and, above all, the constitutional character of Russia as a state based on law, have become, in essence, an empty declaration.

    Can the legal nature of the state be spoken of explicitly in terms of a war against the power of the public in the country’s emerging civil society? The word “war” is not a figure of speech, because we cannot help sense the coordinated action of almost all civil authorities, including those whose purpose it is to protect the constitutional and fundamental rights of the individual.
    The legislative work of Parliament has acquired a distinctly prohibitive and repressive character.

    Law enforcement and intelligence agencies – the Investigation Committee, the police, the FSB, the prosecutor’s office – are rude and sometimes even deliberately and cynically violate constitutional and other legal provisions, including fabricating criminal and administrative cases against those who criticize the authorities.

    Finally, the courts – the only authority from whom citizens could expect protection of their rights – “legalize” these violations, bringing biased and often patently unjust convictions on the basis of one-sided, and even falsified evidence.

    In our country the law has been broken on countless occasions, resulting in the further strengthening of an anti-legal tradition, expressed in the saying: “might is right”. Law in its true meaning has vanished as does shagreen leather before our very eyes because of the violation of one of the unshakable principles of law: the equality of all before the law and the courts. And at the same time institutions designed to protect and defend the law have degraded themselves

    We believe it is our professional and civic duty to draw public attention to the danger of the current situation and to publicly declare our opposition to this matter.”

    These people say that they are “professionally engaged with the law”. They are mostly academics, not advocates and not members of the legislature: they mostly give lectures or organize courses on jurisprudence.

    And who’d have thought such a letter from such academics would have appeared at so timely an occasion as the release on bail of the Annointed One?

    Weir has written his article in order to convey to Western readers the opinion of bourgeois academics in jurisprudence at various Moscow institutes together with that of a couple or so attorneys at law and a few partners in law firms. Not exactly the voice of the common man.

    And who’s willing to bet that every one of those who put their signatures to this letter are not hamsters?

    Riding home to Moscow this evening on a packed commuter train, I never noticed one person wearing a white ribbon. In fact, during my lengthy travelling to and fro across this great city, apart from those wearing them at “anti-regime” demonstrations, I’ve only once seen someone sporting such a token of political allegiance.

    Weir insists that his articles only reflect the information that he receives.

    It seems that his sources of information are all pretty much of the same political hue.

    • apc27 says:

      I already tried suggesting at least some expansion of his (very narrow) circle of friends and acquaintances, back when Mr Weir appeared here to defend himself.

      For some reason he found this suggestion to be incredibly offensive.

      How dare anyone say stuff that might actually crash the ridiculous world of delusions, that Mr Weir and his ilk have so dutifully shared with the Western media audiences for decades!!!

    • Misha says:

      Lavochka exists in one form or another. I sense Fred goes an extra yard for some views over others – something akin to the number of times JRL posts the likes of Gessen, Arutunyan, Goble and Guillory (among others) over proficient others.

      They can do that. If you’re reasonably and earnestly pro-Russian, you don’t cover for this status quo and promote the intellectually competent sources getting the shaft.

      • peter says:

        Lavochka exists in one form or another.

        You seem to use this word “lavochka” a lot, may I ask what you mean by it?

        • Misha says:

          Closed shop, crony like, with arguably corrupt, or outrightly corrupt aspects.

          • peter says:

            Well, the definition is not entirely wrong, but the usage is. Лавочка существует так или иначе?? No way.

            • Misha says:

              Several native Russian speakers of high intelligence have said that lavochka can be reasonably used to refer to a crony like situation, along the lines of what has been expressed.

              Not into trivial nitpicking, given the range of other issues to discuss.

              • peter says:

                … lavochka can be reasonably used to refer to a crony like situation…

                Yes it can, just not in the clumsy way you do it. Please leave Russian alone, you have enough problems with your own language.

                • Misha says:

                  Actually asshole, you’re the one exhibiting limits in this instance as well as some others.

                  I noted that two native Russian speakers of high intelligence (who aren’t schmuck trolls like yourself) said that my use of lavochka is appropriate.

                  A Canadian newspaper has a headline that reads of a police officer being put in the penalty box. The article goes onto note that he was put on desk duty, after engaging in some questionable manner. Technically, he wasn’t actually put in a penalty box – which refers to an ice hockey matter. The readership at large is well aware of that aspect.

                  You really are a stupid douchebag.

                • peter says:

                  … said that my use of lavochka is appropriate.

                  They lied. Like I said, don’t try to use foreign words if you struggle even with your own language. What on earth is “a crony like situation”? You seem to be the only one in the world to know.

                • Misha says:

                  You lie like a cowardly cyber kook.

                  In any event, you’re a poor judge, given your considerably weaker prose and intellect.
                  That reality serves to explain your foolishly false characterizations.

  27. kirill says:

    Here is an interesting post from the right-wing, totalitarian-wannabe moderator militaryphotos.net. It was an eye opener for me:

    http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?228272-NSA-Spied-on-European-Union-Offices/page20&s=1e0d2bba10e9e866308eda866405571b
    ———————–

    Originally Posted by JCR View Post

    “No I don’t
    National espionage maybe but:
    1. France will always serve France first, even if it makes no sense.
    The French would rather have the best deck chair on the Titanic than an equal seat in a lifeboat.
    2. Germany is too stupid. Our politicians either seriously believe the US is some sort of benevolent god who has only our best interests at heart (instead of a nation with internal issues, divergent interests and their own troubles) and is never to be criticized or they’re
    bought. Maybe both.”

    Reply by Ύψιλον:

    While I don’t disagree with the general “tone” of your post, France isn’t like that anymore since Sarkozy (and Hollande is almost worse).

    Also, you mentioned the Atlantik Brücke in the context of German politicians and their lack of independence (or was that someone else? not sure)… Well, France has it’s own Atlantik Brücke as well: “The French American Foundation” with it’s leadership wing called the “Young Leaders”. Up until 1 year ago, this organisation was pretty much unknown, now however they have gained some notoriety.

    Why? Because, several members of the current french government are “Young Leaders” notably:

    Najat Vallaud Belkacem (Minister for women’s rights)

    Pierre Moscovici (Minister of economy and finance)

    Marisol Touraine (Minister of social affairs and health)

    Arnaud Montebourg (Minister of industrial renewal)

    Aquilino Morelle (Political advisor to F Hollande)

    and François Hollande himself (!).

    http://www.frenchamerican.org/sites/default/files/documents/media_policy_briefs/french_government_guide_2012.pdf

    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fondation_franco-américaine

    http://www.french-american.org/files…l-fr-81-10.pdf

    http://www.french-american.org/leadership/young-leaders/index.html

    http://www.atlantico.fr/decryptage/gouvernement-hollande-formation-plus-atlantiste-qu-on-pourrait-croire-benjamin-dormann-366638.html

    de Gaulle must be turning in his grave

    ——————–

    De Gaulle is turning in his grave indeed.

    • reggietcs says:

      Eventually, the populace of these once great European powers will tire of their leaders subservience to DC and throw them out on their bums.

  28. Misha says:

    http://rt.com/op-edge/patriarch-georgia-russia-ties-438/

    Excerpt –

    Despite the South Ossetian war of 2008, close religious and human ties remain between Georgia and Russia, Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II told RT. He expressed hope that politicians in the two Orthodox states will “find a way out of the dead end.”
    On Tuesday, the most influential figure in Georgia’s religious, political, and public life is arriving in Moscow to celebrate the 1025th anniversary of the Christianization of Russia. Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II is the only official in Georgia who has kept his ties with Russia. After the August 2008 War, Russia and Georgia severed diplomatic relations. So for the past five years, Patriarch Ilia has been the only Georgian representative to visit Russia. He has met with Patriarch of Moscow Kirill, and even President Putin. Their first meeting took place at the funeral of Patriarch Aleksy II, only four months after the war.

    Patriarch Ilia’s influence in Georgia is unprecedented. Polls conducted by US companies show that his approval rating has never been lower than 92 per cent. Five years ago, the Patriarch personally spoke to Russian military commanders, visiting the war zone to bring out bodies of Georgian soldiers.

    Ahead of his visit to the Russian capital, Patriarch Ilia spoke to RT commentator Nadezhda Kevorkova.

    Russian citizens do not need visas to go to Georgia, but Georgians can only enter Russia if they have a letter of invitation. Several days ago, the administrative border – set unilaterally after the August 2008 war – was moved 300 meters towards Georgia. A fence is currently being built on the site.

    Russia and Georgia have different views on what happened five years ago. Georgia says that Abkhazia and territories around Tskhinval were occupied by Russia. But Russia’s position is that the Georgian army, on Mikhail Saakashvili’s order, attacked South Ossetia, and Russia had to defend the civilians, and then recognize independence of the two republics. The Russian Orthodox Church did not recognize the self-proclaimed independence of the two church communities, staying true to the unity of Orthodox Christians.

    ———————————————————————–

    Other news items:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/business/media/new-leader-for-al-jazeera-america.html?src=busln

    http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2013/07/22/russia-announces-a-naval-buildup-in-the-pacific/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+the-diplomat+%28The+Diplomat+RSS%29

  29. yalensis says:

    Pious Putin praying makes me puke!

    • marknesop says:

      Such intolerance! He’s only lighting a candle to his Mom, or perhaps he’s mourning the death of his marriage. Let the poor man grieve in peace. Or maybe he is understudying for the priesthood for his next act. You don’t buy La Russophobe’s “President for life” silliness, do you? How could you take up a minor role in politics after having run the show? But he’s too active (must be all that Viagra) to just be another doddering old codger feeding the pigeons in the park. Maybe being an Orthodox priest would offer just the right mix of sin and secrets.

      • yalensis says:

        Putin’s Mom sounds like the sneaky type, who disobeys her husband but doesn’t have the guts to defy him openly!
        That’s why Putin grew up to become a sneaky, but proud, KGB Colonel. Ha!

    • Robert says:

      It’s quite possible that Putin in his own way does actually believe in God.

  30. Moscow Exile says:

    This opinion piece concerning the Chosen One is an all time great: “Navalny, the New Sakharov”.

    No surprise that Zigfeld the russophobic yenta doesn’t agree!

    The author of the piece writes: “But in the center of Moscow, where the telephone lines were overloaded and mobile Internet was apparently jammed.”

    Well, apparently, he is wrong about the mobile Internet being jammed: I had no problems with my cell phone that evening and was working only two metro stops down the line from the Manezh and she who must be obeyed was mithering endlessly, as is her wont, on the ‘phone about which train I was taking out of town after I’d finished work at 7 p.m. and giving me orders what to fetch, which orders included that I buy 2 kgs. of pork with which to make shashlyk the next day at the dacha.

    And the author of the opinion piece says that where the hamsters gathered, every motorist sounded his horn. Hardly surprising, considering that members of the Moscow protest community were trying to block the busy junction where Tverskaya St., Mokhovaya St. and Teatralnaya Proezd come together.

    Navalny is a latter-day Sakharov!

    What a laugh!

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I was tempted to flame that one, but it was just too silly. It might have been written by Navalny himself; I can’t think of another person who consistently gets rave reviews for humility and modesty who is actually as stuck on himself as Navalny is. More like “Navalny Is The New Papillon”.

      I loved the bit about analyzing the tone of the “Freedom honks” and deeming them all to be supportive. This might be the moment to introduce speaking car horns to Moscow. If you do not want your vehicle’s signature to be recorded as a vote for Navalny, I recommend the “Get out of the fucking road, you poxy dumbstruck durak” model, special price this week only (after which Navalnymania will be as dead as…well, John Clees’ parrot), 16,000 rubles.

    • yalensis says:

      Once again, we have to rely on LaRussophobe to be the voice of reason on the “Moscow Times” blog. As she debunks the new popular Opp meme that popular protest freed Navalny/Ofitserov:


      It’s true that 3,000 Russians were on the streets of Moscow. It’s also true that 50,000 were invited. It’s ridiculous to suggest that the street demonstrations in any other cities were significant. Mr. Davidoff needs to try to tell the full story.

      Navalnyites and their media outlets (which unfortunately now include ROSBALT and GAZETA) have build themselves a virtual reality in which to dwell.
      But I like that LaRussophobe refuses to drink their Kool-Aid!

      • Misha says:

        Wouldn’t get so gah gah over that, given what’s motivating LR.

        Any expression of pro-Russian sentiment (misguided or otherwise) is likely scorned by he/she/it.

        Let me know when that anonymous entity makes pointed criticism of anti-Russian Baltic and Ukrainian bigots.

  31. Moscow Exile says:

    And here’s another piece of Moscow Times opinion piece nonsense: “The Kremlin Is Split Over Navalny”.

    It’s author states: “Notably, Navalny was convicted on international Nelson Mandela Day.”

    Yeah, and Politkovskaya was murdered on Putin’s birthday.

    Makes you think, doesn’t it?

    • marknesop says:

      They’re trying really hard to make a big deal out of the apparent change of heart whereby Navalny was re-released pending appeal, and that has far more tongues wagging than has the verdict itself, as if Navalny had somehow outsmarted the court and smooth-talked his way free. It is plain the government wants him to run for mayor – if it was not plain by any other factor, it is so by the backpedaling and lowering of expectations by the Navalny “campaign”, who conceived it only to be able to drag out all the “politically motivated” balderdash for his trial.

      Wits like the Moscow Times; pundits are already inventing new excuses, like Sobyanin wants Navalny to run against him so as to thereby pretend it is a real election and to legitimize his vote-rigging. Yes, it will be astonishing when the candidate who is consistently polling far ahead of everyone else wins, and it couldn’t possibly be the choice of the voters; it must be another dirty trick to enslave the long-suffering peasants. Russia should just leave off polling altogether, or at least stop publishing the results, because the western media consistently draws its own conclusions as if polls never happened or as if their results in no way foreshadowed what will happen.

      • Misha says:

        Related to why some in the US have concern about a changed situation:

        http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/22/3514380/univision-snags-no-1-tv-rating.html

      • Moscow Exile says:

        What gets me is that these people seem to believe their country’s own propaganda, which is firmly based on the proposition that the USA’s policy both at home and abroad is to promote “freedom and democracy”.

        This apparent manifest destiny of the USA has replaced its 19th century one of forging an empire from “shining sea to shining sea” – and bugger those who were already resident, be they native Americans or non-Anglos, in this proposed imperial territory that was to be “a shining beacon of light” to the oppressed of the world.

        I always find it hard to believe that US citizens really fall for this crap. I mean, FFS, the founding fathers were slave owners. Thomas Jefferson was a white master, albeit African slaves were called “servants” or “hands” in the US. The woman whom many think became Jefferson’s mistress after his wife’s death was his deceased wife’s half-sister. Only thing was that his alleged mistress was his “servant” as well, and because of the “one drop” rule, she was “black”. I have often wondered why this “one drop” rule never applied to “white blood”? I mean, Jefferson’s alleged mistress had a white father who was, in fact, Jefferson’s father-in-law.

        But to go back to this US “we’re on the side of freedom and democracy” crap, it has always been treated in Europe as just so much cant. When Woodrow Wilson started pontificating with his “Fourteen Points” to the European powers in his attempt to draw the European civil war known at the time as the Great War for Civilisation to a close, the French premier Clemenceau, who, by the way was fluent in English but always said he spoke “American” because he had worked and lived for several years in the US (1865-1869) and whose wife was a US citizen, is alleged to have said:”Le bon Dieu n’avait que dix!” (The good Lord only had ten!).

        In fact, Clemenceau only accepted Wilson’s 14 points because of its 8th proposal: “All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly fifty years, should be righted, in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interest of all”.

        Furthermore, Clemenceau was instrumental in making the Treaty of Versailles different in several respects from Wilson’s altruistic 14 points, most notably in that the victors at Versailles imposed war guilt and swingeing reparations upon the German Empire. This was European Realpolitik in action and not a policy that followed the lofty ideals of a Princeton academic.

        It seems to me, however, that the United States of America also follows Realpolitik, namely feasible policies that further the interests of the USA, whilst at the same time presenting this Realpolitik in the guise of altruistic cant.

        All developed nations follow policies that serve their own interests. Churchill’s oft repeated aphorism broadcast in 1939 that Russia “is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” is seldom given in full. No doubt the British prime minister believed this riddle business, not least because he couldn’t speak Russian and had never lived in Russia: I for my part could say the same about, say,Thailand. However, what Churchill actually said in full in that 1939 radio broadcast about Russia is seldom published: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

        Of course that’s the key!

        And no bullshit about “human rights”, freedom and democracy, pleasant human conditions that these concepts might well be. Full employment, a disposable income, three square meals a day and a roof over one’s head win far more votes than do speeches about “freedom and democracy”. I mean, do you want a meal or do you want to feel free? If you’ve known hunger deprivation? Does freedom give you a full stomach?

        I mean,where can one really find “freedom” and “democracy” in this world?

        Pussy Riot and their spoilt rich kid ilk think “freedom” is “anarchy”. The USA thinks “democracy” is voting every few years for a bunch of extremely rich men to rule over the population.

        Freedom for me is sitting at my dacha in the summer or whenever I want, for that matter, and only having to pay 13% income tax.

        In fact, I’m off there now.

        Toodle pip!
        :-)

        • Misha says:

          In fairness, geopolitical idiocy isn’t relegated to one side of the Atlantic:

          http://juliesthinktank.wordpress.com/

          An admirer of Kamm and Hoare.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Agreed! The political leadership of my home country, for example, still thinks it has a post-imperial world role to play. And it’s an attitude not solely possessed by the “elite”. I remember after I had returned to the UK after having lived and worked in Germany and being asked in a pub by a working class man with whom I had a casual acquaintance what it was like living there. I told him: better standard of living, better work conditions, better worker/management relationship, healthier work environment, more holidays, better wages, better pension scheme, better schools and hospitals, proportional representation in parliament and, therefore, more representative system of democracy and on and on and on.

            He just refused to believe me, adding that everyone knew that the British parliament was the best in the world, as were the British police and justice. And to wind up his argument in defence of the UK, his final flourish was: “And anyway, we won the war!”

            I asked him if he had ever been to Germany. “No”, he answered, “and I don’t want to go there either.”

            He’s probably in a pub right now that is bedecked in red, white and blue and getting pissed out of shape celebrating the birth of the new “royal prince”. Then again, he might well be dead, for working class men seldom live longer than 65 years of age where I come from.

            • Misha says:

              A good portion of the more idiotic of neocon leaning expressed views have come out of the UK.

              At the same time, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing as well as coming in direct contact with the opposite, which keeps me a bit optimistic.

              Not everyone with a soft spot for monarchy are such drips.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Yeah, and pictured in the above linked FP article one can see the same wannabe a yuppie mob of mostly 30-somethings surrounding the Messiah, who is, of course, flanked by his “statuesque wife”.

      Sad that they don’t seem to realize that he’s going to go down.

      • Misha says:

        One on one, relatively well moderated, SW doesn’t get the better of yours truly on the issues that I formally comment on (articles of mine which do get picked up at some relatively prominent venues, not including JRL and US-Russia.org).

        The lavochka mindest is primarily interested in promoting from within a clique, as opposed to sincerely seeking some other material, whose ideas that they suggestively purport to support.

      • Misha says:

        Not that I think its’s so likely: if Navalny was to pull a Barry Rubin (1960s Yippie who crossed over) and join the Russian political establishment, you’d see an increase in criticism of his nationalism.

      • yalensis says:

        The photo of Navalny’s triumphal return, accompanied by “statuesque wife” also includes Navalny’s sidekick Petr Ofitserov, also accompanied by wife. These photos are framed in the American “inauguration” style imagery: President, First Lady, Vice President, Second Lady, all holding fists high in the air and cheered by joyous masses as they declare victory.

        Did I forget to mention that Ofitserov owes Navalny something like 200,000 rubles? That was the start-up capital for VLK which Ofitserov extorted from Navalny after the latter invited him to Kirov to get something going with their “merry scheme”.

  32. yalensis says:

    New poll for Moscow Mayor race , taken over last couple of days among Muscovites. Poll was taken in Moscow 20-21 July. Questioned were 1200 people, with margin of error less than or equal to 3.9%.

    Sob’anin leads the poll, with 54% respondents prepared to vote for him. That rating has been stable for many weeks.
    Coming in second is Alexei Navalny, with 9%. His rating is up a few points since the last poll.
    Over the last few days, due to obvious factors, Navalny’s recognizability quotient has gone up from 71% to 80% (of people who have heard of him).

    In the previous poll, which was taken 9-10 July, 14% of respondents were favorable to Navalny, and 33% unfavorable. In recent poll, this unfavorable rating has gone up from 33% to 39%, while his favorability rating went up from 14% to 17%.

    (Scientific conclusion:
    So, nu, as you get to know Navalny better, some people like him more, and others like him less.)

    My own preferred candidate, Ivan Mel’nikov (KPRF) has also seen a modest improvement in his favorabiity rating, and is now in third place, after Sob’anin and Navalny.
    Coming in fourth is “Yabloko” candidate Sergei Mitrokhin, who only polls at 2%.

    Sociologist Igor Bunin opines that Sob’anin will win resoundedly on the first round. He is not facing any candidates from “Just Russia”, LDPR, or even Prokhorov’s party. So, he has all these electorates in the bag, not to mention United Russia voters.
    According to Bunin, the big battle will be for the Silver Medal, with Navalny (Parnas) and Mel’nikov (Communists) duking it out between themselves.

    The elections will take place on 8 September. I believe it is just a couple of days after that Navalny’s KirovLes appeal is submited to appellate court. Appeal judge will either overrule Blinov, or will send Navalny to a colony for 5 years.

    • marknesop says:

      If it actually does shake out that way – and there’s no reason to believe it will not – the hamsters will be delirious and scream, “Navalny came second!!!!”. The yawning gulf between first and second will be downplayed or ignored altogether, and all Navalny’s votes will be the real thing while Sobyanin only won because the vote (his portion of it only, naturally) was rigged.

      Kind of sad, really, a little like never outgrowing the belief that your parents were going to buy you a pony.

    • kirill says:

      I am disappointed in Muscovites. Having 9% support for Navalny and ahead of the KPRF candidate is a joke. It must be the yuppie oligarch-thief wannabes who are Navalny’s support base. But I doubt that Navalny will get over 10%. I wish that the “third way” was being grabbed by non-compardor elements. This is what should be given Putin worries. UR and “the regime” need to make conditions for another center-left party to succeed. Navalny and the liberasts should not be allowed to corner any discontent vote.

      • marknesop says:

        Putin and United Russia have the strongest vote-getting advantage of all; incumbency which rests on economic success. Russia continues to advance in terms of per-capita GDP and move up the ranks of world economies, be damned to what oil prices are doing and the constant squeaking about all Russia has is energy exports. All other applicants for high-ranking political jobs are unknown quantities with no record of success, and Muscovites are likely no different than anyone else when it comes to taking a gamble when they already have a sure thing. It is much easier to convince people that they are broadly discontented with their leadership when that leadership is failing in its primary duties to the electorate and people actually are broadly discontented. Of course people will say, “I’d like to see this and this and this happen”, but if you express that the price of maybe getting those things to happen – no guarantees except political promises – is letting go of economic performance in exchange for something that might even be better, but also might be much worse and hard to get rid of once established, the choice is much simpler.

  33. Misha says:

    Moscow News PoliSport:

    http://themoscownews.com/talesfromthetribuna/20130723/191790326/Russia-and-the-politics-of-sport.html

    Among other things, reminded of the thunderous ovation the Romanian Olympic delegation received when it entered the LA Coliseum, as part of the opening ceremony of the 1984 summer Olympics.

    Romania didn’t join the other Warsaw Pact countries and some other nations which boycotted that Olympiad. Because of its somewhat independent foreign policy, human rights abuses in Communist Romania had a way of getting downplayed in contrast to some other nations.

    BTW, it’s not so uncommon for the host World University Games nation to field a strong team in contrast to others.

    Ceausescu era Romania serves as one example.

    • Misha says:

      Over the course of numerous Olympics, NBC Sports has had its share of overly partisan moments.

    • Misha says:

      On the mixing of sports and politics, refer to this ESPN depiction of Putin which is arguably bigoted:

      http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x12114h_russian-president-vladimir-putin-espys-2013-awards_school

      Some of the very same people seeing race as a factor in the Zimmerman verdict likely see little if any wrong with this bit.

      For whatever reason, the last part of this skit gets cutoff. The last part includes the depicted Putin saying that:

      – Russia won the Cold War
      – will win the upcoming winter Olympics, with the introduction of such events as cross country drinking and standing in line for toilet paper – the last thought pertaining to the arrogantly ignorant image of a post-Soviet Russia lacking such basics
      – a wink of the eye after saying that Maria Sharapova isn’t a spy.

  34. SFReader says:

    As promised, a spectacular shooting by cruiser “Moskva” in the Atlantic

    She is firing P-1000 “Vulkan” anti-ship missile (range 600-700 km, conventional warhead 500 kg, nuclear warhead 350 kT)

    • reggietcs says:

      Are most of Russia’s naval vessels armed with tactical nuclear weapons? I’m pretty sure most of the US vessels are not as the US doesn’t have many tactical nukes left (having destroyed most of them).

      • SFReader says:

        Not most, of course, but cruiser “Moskva” certainly has them!
        Russia also destroyed most of its older arsenal of tactical nukes (about two thirds), but still has many thousands left (and continues to make new ones)

        • reggietcs says:

          Thanks SFReader!

          I’ve read that the US only has about 500 tactical nukes left and that Russia has around 3,000. Apparently, both countries were supposed to eliminate all tactical nukes since deploying them in battle increased the chances of strategic nuclear weapons being used.

          I also had no idea they were still making new ones! I know Russia has produced new ICBM delivery systems but didn’t know they produced new warheads as well.

          • marknesop says:

            You go, Putin! Vladimir Putin chews out G8 leaders in unambiguous terms, and hopefully the message is clear. The usual offer of cheap mirrors and a few handfuls of beads will not work on these natives, and in order to sell Russia on regime change you are going to have to come up with some much better examples of leadership than the dupes installed in Middle Eastern countries thus far.

            • Jen says:

              Note that Angela Merkel supported Putin’s diatribe which was fully justified. He reads the situation in the Middle East and Africa better than the other politicians at the conference. Britain and France in particular deserved the heavy bollocking.

              • marknesop says:

                Yes, I actually found that story while searching for substantiation of the Putin-Merkel relationship to use in a disagreement I am having with Catherine Fitzpatrick on Global Voices. She suggests it is one of Putin’s goals to destabilize Merkel’s government. Uh huh. One of his biggest supporters, and leader of Russia’s biggest European trading partner. I’m sure it is.

                • Misha says:

                  CF having suggested

                  – that Ivanishvili is a quite likely Russian plant
                  – the Russian government might’ve very well let the Tsarnaevs off to screw the US.

                  Great analytical minds out there getting propped.

          • SFReader says:

            Yes, all new Topol-M, Yars, Bulava, Sineva, Avangard, Ruzbezh, Kh-555 (and probably Iskander-K as well) missiles have to have new nuclear warheads (since warheads from older missiles won’t fit). And as you probably aware, Russia recently switched to MIRVing all their missiles, which means that they are making nuclear warheads by the hundreds.

            Most of them are for strategic ballistic missiles, but some are made for tactical missiles and even bombs.

            • marknesop says:

              Like the USA, Russia has an artillery-shell nuke – a small one – as well. I would like to see all weapons of mass destruction phased out, as they are filthy indiscriminate killers that do not distinguish between soldier and civilian, man and child: it is a fact, however, that countries with a nuclear-weapon capability inspire extra caution among those who would change “the regime”.

              • reggietcs says:

                I agree Mark.

                And that is the bitter irony isn’t it? For all of the US hemming and hawing over WMD, they’re the ones who’ve really fostered an atmosphere where weaker states who find themselves in DC’s cross-hairs have no other real options for defense – because we know the courts don’t work when it comes to the US. DC is also very selective as to who can have them (which should be NO ONE) and turn their heads the other way when an ally like Israel possesses an arsenal and then works to sanction other countries to death for the ‘suspicion” of wanting to have them it doesn’t like, like Iran. Sadly, Pandora’s box has been opened and I don’t believe there’s any going back. The US military is too large and powerful to take on directly and nukes are the only real form of deterrence against US aggression – especially since they only respect international law when it suits them.

          • SFReader says:

            There was no agreement on tactical nukes and Russia certainly would never agree to have one.

            Large arsenal of tactical nukes will be very handy after exchange of strategic nuclear strikes

  35. Moscow Exile says:

    Not long arrived back at the family estate and guess what? Despite my mentioning earlier that during my travels around Moscow and the surrounding countryside I had never seen anyone wearing a white ribbon, lo and behold, there on the seat facing me on the electric train was a hamster leaflet which, at the end of its pro-Navalny/anti-Putin diatribe, urged the reader to pass it on. My travelling companion, a uniformed security guard picked it up first, glanced through it, snorted, and pitched it back onto the seat facing. I’ll copy it out and translate it, but it’ll take a while because I’m tapping this out with one finger on an iPad. Like Navalny, I type with one finger. Unlike Navalny, however, I have a good reason for this: I smashed up my left arm years ago and cannot pronate or supinate it. Anyway, I’ll type it out and do a translation. It’s a darned good yarn! Oh yes, and it’s got the stolen forest meme, as expected.

  36. yalensis says:

    Interesting interview with Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s campaign manager for Moscow Mayor.
    If you recall, Volkov was the internet-savvy “genius” who came up with the idea of the Coordinating Committee, and rigged I mean set up the online voting system that resulted in Navalny being “elected” leader of the Coordinating Committee. But that project was SO-O-O-O-O 2012 – since then the Coordinating Committee has fallen apart, they can’t even get a quorum to come to their meetings, and their treasurer ran off with the loot.

    So they had to trash that idea, instead of making the Revolution via the Internet, they decided to run Navalny as the leader of a REAL political party, by giving him Boris Nemtsov’s rightful place as Parnas candidate; so now, McFaul I mean Volkov has come up with a new idea which is that Navalny WILL win the race for Moscow Mayor. And apres cela, La Revolution.

    This interview is really good, because Volkov does not mince any words. He lays out his strategy, in black and white. for creating colour revolution in Russia, but first starting with Moscow. Recall that Navalny’s campaign slogan is: “We will change Russia, starting with Moscow.”

    So, this is how it works, according to Volkov:
    Between now and election day (September 8), the Navalnyites will run an American-style political campaign: greeting people at the subway, kissing babies, etc. They must, and will, win the election. Those pundits who claim they cannot win … well, after Navalny comes to power, they will be lustrated and hung on hooks. (Not making this up: У нас, конечно же, когда все закончится, будут отдельные люстры со специальными зазубренными крючками для информированных источников, а также политологов. ).

    Another thing that will happen after Navalny comes to power is that anti-Navalny media like “Izvestia” will cease to exist, and only pro-Navalny media will be allowed to exist: «Известия» называют себя СМИ, но ими не являются. Когда Навальный придет к власти, то все СМИ будут СМИ.

    Here is how the Revolution will happen, according to Volkov: After Navalny becomes Mayor, then a situation of dual power will very shortly come into being, with Navalny ruling Moscow except for Putin in the Kremlin.
    The day following Navalny’s victory, somebody will request a permit for a million-person meeting to free political prisoners. Navalny will sign the permission. A million people will descend on the center of Moscow, and the political prisoners will be forcibly freed in this Bastille day type scenario:


    Но если мы победим, то это ведь не история про то, кто будет в мэрии работать. В стране немедленно начнется изменение политической системы. Не может функционировать Россия, как она устроена сейчас, в которой мэр Москвы ― Навальный, а президент ― Владимир Путин. Тут что-то одно. Завтра кто-то подаст заявку на миллионный митинг в поддержку политических заключенных, и мэр Навальный его согласует. И приехали. Там остался один ход к окончанию истории.
    (…)
    Да, это нам абсолютно очевидно. В этом смысле, когда нас ругают, что мы сконцентрировались на мэрской кампании и не заботимся о других вопросах, для нас-то это совершенно ясный момент. Ясно как божий день, что самый быстрый путь к изменению страны и освобождению политзаключенных ― это победа на выборах мэра.

    The other thing that will happen after Navalny’s victory is that the appellate court must reverse Judge Blinov’s conviction. Otherwise, things will get violent and bloody:


    Если Навальный выиграет выборы мэра Москвы, то апелляционный суд внезапно установит, что судья [Ленинского райсуда Кирова Сергей] Блинов ошибся.

    (…)
    Иначе будет революция as it is (как она есть), настоящая, с кровищей.

    Now Volkov is clearly a lunatic, if he believes that things will actually go down this way, with Navalny winning the Mayoral election, and millions upon millions of hamsters storming the Kremlin and freeing “political prisoners”. But it is fairly obvious that all of this nonsense is coming straight from McFaul and the American embassy. They never give up, do they?

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. suggested campaign tactic for anti-Navalny candidates: Publish this Volkov interview as widely as possible. I think majority of Muscovites would be scared shitless at the notion that bloody revolution is being prepared by these clowns, complete with lustrations, hanging on hooks, storming prisons, and mass bloodshed. To some people this might sound like fun; but to most people, not so much.

      P.P.S. If Volkov stormed the Kremlin, he wouldn’t find many political prisoners, unless Putin is keeping a few downin the dungeon. To free Khodorkovsky, for example, he would have to storm the Siberian camps. And I have a feeling he might meet some resistance. From … er… armed guards? police? army? Just sayin’ …

  37. Moscow Exile says:

    Here’s the content of the hamster leaflet that I wrote of above:

    Почему все суды в Кирове не хотели судить Навального?

    Потому что он невиновен. У судей в Кирове есть совесть! Отказывались до слез и угрозы увольнения. Нашли судью Блинова в дремучем районе и перевели в областной город, как награду. Вот и нашлась корзина печенья, более реальная, чем “деньги Госдела”. Начальный, борец с коррупцией и неправосудными расправами, создатель фонда борьбы с коррупцией “РОСПИЛ” выдвинулся на пост мэра Москвы. Начальный постоянно доказывает и показывает с документами, как наша власть ворует у Вас и убивает Вас. Как она ворует голоса на выборах, чтобы оставаться у власти и дальше воровать. За его разоблачения коррупции, по результатом которых несколько депутатов из партии жуликов и воров бежало из ГосДуры, власти мечтали посадить его в тюрьму. 4 года 50 следователей при поддержке ФСБ рыли всю его жизнь с 1-его класса. Что они нашли?
    Посмотрите на этот документ.

    На картинке платежка на сумму 3 миллиона 666 тысяч 666 рублей и 11 копеек в адрес Кировлеса.
    У Навального на 15 000 000 рублей таких платежек, на всю сумму, в “краже” который его обвиняют. Но следствие и прокуратура их не видит в упор, суд получил приказ осудить Навального не взирая на документы, а по телевидению Путин Вам врет, что лично просил, чтобы все было объективно. Начальному не разрешили вызывать ВСЕХ свидетелей защити. Ему отказали в экономической экспертизе, на которой он постоянно настаивает, которая обязана быть в любом деле по экономическим преступлениям. Ее нет, потому что нет преступления! 30 свидетелей обвинения из 32-х показали, что Навальный лес не крал. Двое сами крали, за что получили условный срок и дали показания на Навального.
    Все материалы обвинения Навальный выложил на свой сайт в интернете, чтобы Вы сами могли увидеть виновен он или нет http://navalny.ru/kirovles/ и http://navalny.livejournal.com/, а не слушать вранье первого канала и НТВ.
    Если кратко рассказать об этом деле, Есть организация Кировлес, которая отдает лес, и которой никто платит. Долгов 600 миллионов. Но директор Опалев весь в шоколаде, т.к. Ему заносят за право украсть лес (и потом за это его судят). Навальный советует своему знакомому Офицерову создать фирму , которая будет продавать кировский лес и платить за него. Фирма продает около 5-6% всего леса и деньги за него в Кировлес поступают, но директору Опалеву взяток не дают. Директор Опалев контракт с фирмой Офицерова разрывает, чем показывает, что ни в какой зависимости от Навального не находится. При этом Навальный предлагал губернатору Белову вора Опалева снять и судить, провести аудит Кировлеса и поставить честного человека. Разговоры эти и переписка притянуты за уши следствием, как доказательство сговора, хотя разговоры идут после заключения договора с Кировлесом, который по мнению следствия, был “мошеннический”. Когда проворовавшегося Опалева арестовали и судили, ему дали условный срок с условием, что он даст ложные показания против Навального. У нас Чикатиле дадут условный, лишь бы дал показания на Навального. Со стороны фирма Офицерова вообще нет состава преступления, т.к. есть банковские переводы денег, которых суд не принял во внимание! У власти нет НИЧЕГО, только приказ судье, посадить Навльного.
    Приговор Навальному дан за то, что он сам живет по принципу НЕ ВРАТЬ НЕ ВОРОВАТЬ и требует этого от власти.
    Власть считает этот лозунг экстремистким, т.к. не воровать и врать нам не может, она ради воровства во власть пришла и врет, чтобы у власти остаться.
    Так, как судили Навального, власти будут судить всех вас. Всегда у мелкого чиновника, следователя, полиция найдется интерес в незаконном решении. Сделали с Навальным, сделают и с Вами. Не думайте, что если оппозицию судят по бандитски, то с Вами будут поступать по закону. По бандитски всем проще, кроме Вас!
    Пять лет Навальный разоблачает власть жуликов и воров. Пять лет ожидает ареста, но не меняет своих убеждений.
    Наша власть – это хунта. У Путина есть сто друзей-миллиардеров, которые стали богатыми, когда он назначил их на денежные посты в нефтянке, ЖКХ т т.д. Думаете, такое назначение бывает за “спасибо”? Друзья воруют бюджеты природные богатства страны, но продолжаться это может только пока Путин у власти. Ради власти Путин разрешает губернаторам воровать как хотят, но обеспечить победу партии жуликов и воров на выборах любой ценой. Силовики могут как угодно нас грабить и убивать, лишь бы сажали тех, кто требует от власти не врать и не воровать. Чиновники, прокуроры, судьи, полиции, это ИГО, которое лежит на теле нашей страны и жрет ее поедом. И главарь этого ига – Путин. Навальный пытается законными методами что-то изменить, начать оздоровление страны, но его сажают на 5 лет в тюрьму. Посмотрите на это фото. Алексей Навальный прощается с женой Юлией в зале суда. У Навального двое детей, у второго фигуранта Офицерова пятеро детей. Без всяких доказательств в пропаже 15 млн., их осудили на 5 и 4 года. Так, как стоит за правду Навальный, не стоит ни один Едрос, ЛДПР-овец, или КПРФ-щик. За какие деньги Госдела человек пойдет на это? Так идут только ради своей страны. Так идет лидер нации. Поэтому за него вышло 20 тысяч человек. На путинге перед выборами, на который народ сгоняли палками, Путин просил Вас умереть под Москвой. Вот Вы согласны в тюрьме 1 день сидеть за Путина? За газпромовского Миллера? За РЖД- шного Якунина? За Набиуллину? За Вексельберга? За Кадырова? А Навальный не уехал, не прогнулся, не попросил себе хлебного места, он стоит за правду, за закон, за честность. Навальный, в условиях постоянных обысков, выемок документов, допросов и прочего давления власти, создал такие механизмы влияния на власть, как РОСЯМА, РОСПИЛ, РОСЖКХ, на которые власти должны были ответить внедрение своих сервисов (кроме РОСПИЛ, с коррупцией они не борются). Собрано 100 000 голосов за закон против дорогих авто чинуш. В своем обращении перед приговором Навальный сказал:

    “То есть понятно, что делать, понятно как делать, понятно на что делать. Главное набраться смелости, отбросить лень и делать. Никакого особого руководства и не нужно, на самом деле. Поэтому нашу ситуацию характеризует вот такая картинка.
    Первому страшно, второму – еще страшнее, а потом всем оcтальным, совсем не страшно, легко и гарантирует результат. [The pictures he refers to show: (1) a man with a whip standing in front of a crowd; (2) the man cracks the whip and all in the crowd save one fall to their knees; (3) he cracks the whip again, but some others have stood up alongside the man who remained standing; (4) the whole crowd is standing and the man with the whip is on his knees.] и здесь переходим к главному, ради чего я сел это писать. Общее усилие гарантирует результат, но общее складывается из частного и личного. Это не какой-то сообщающийся сосуд, где вы можете уклониться и посидеть на скамейке, а кто- то сделает работу за вас. Просто поймете: никого кроме вас нет. Никого происходящее в стране и городе не волнует больше, чем вас. Нет удивительных волонтеров, которые приедут, сделают работу за вас. Нет прекрасных перечисляльщиков пятисот рублей, которые накидают денег в тот момент, когда вам лень войти в интернет-банк. Нету тех, кто, как на картинке поднимается за вас. [So why does he use this graphic representation as an example of what to do?] Если вы уж дошли до того, что читаете этот текст, то вы и есть передний край. Нет никого сознательнее, нет никого продвинутее. Нет тех, на кого могут надеяться несчастный, запуганные и одураченные миллионы жителей России. Им повезло в жизни меньшее, чем вам и вы – их надежда. Нет таинственного подполья, листовки которого вы с удивлением обнаружите утром в подъезде. Нет человека, который придет и молча поправить все, про вас кто-то думает как о таком человеке. Никто не в состоянии сопротивляться сильнее вас. Долг перед остальными, если вы его осознали, это такая штука, которую нельзя делегировать кому-то еще. Нет никого, кроме вас. Если вы это читаете, вы и есть сопротивление.” [Oh shit!]

    [Thus spake the Messiah. This is the word of The Lord!]

    Власть недавно приняла новый антиконституционный закон, по которому осужденный никогда не может быть избран в органы власти. (Выбирать и быть вырванным, говорит конституция.)
    Если Навальный будет осужден и снят с выборов (сейчас будут апелляции), то выборы мэра Москвы надо бойкотировать. Это не выборы, это назначение вора главарем воров. Сейчас Навальный продолжает борьбу , читаете его программу на его сайте в интернете и голосуйте за него. У Вас же есть интернет, есть у друзей, есть на работе, читаете, смотрите документы, думайте самостоятельно. Помните, телевидение Вам про Навального врет.
    Посмотрите, как поступают воры со своими коллегами-хоэяйственниками, когда скрыть воровство невозможно:
    Чиновники администрацииВладивостока получили условный сроки за хищение из городского бюджета более 150 млн рублей. Чиновники условно осудили за гибель 23 стариков. Столичный чиновник получил условный срок за хищение 376 миллионов. Экс-чиновнику дали условный срок за хищение 15 миллиардов рублей. “Высокие” орлонские чиновники получили условный срок за растрату 20 млн рублей. В Петербурге чиновник, украдший на дорожных работах 8 млн рублей, получил условный срок. Тульский чиновник отделался условным срокам за хищение 26 миллионов рублей. Мурманский чиновник получил условный срок. (Чиновник нанес бюджету ущерб на сумму свыше 80 млн рублей.) Вам нужны такие “хоэяйственники” в мэрах Москвы?
    Покажите эту листовку на работе, знакомым, семье. Скопируйте, если сможете и раздайтесь. Положите в курилке, на чайном столе, хоть в туалете. Достаточно 1-2 в день.
    Вы сами хотите, чтобы власть жила по закону НЕ ВРАТЬ, НЕ ВОРОВАТЬ! Власть не хочет? Заставим!!!

    • yalensis says:

      Sounds like the typical Hamster Hysteria. [Hey, there's a good name for a rock band!]

      I read Navalny’s blog a lot, and one of his many “projects” (he is a busy beaver) is to get his hamsters to paste up and spread these leaflets. However, recently he has switched the Moscow hamsters to building these campaign “cubes” near the Moscow subway entrances. On his blog Navalny advertises daily training seminars for hamsters how to go about building and staffing these cubes. It’s all the classic Gene Sharp colour revolution stuff: look young and pleasant, dress nice, smile a lot, sound reasonable, etc..

      (Which somewhat contradicts the hysterical tinfoil tone of the leaflets, but that’s a separate project.)

      Poor Navalny, McFaul is running him ragged, won’t give him a single day off between now and La Revolution on September 8.

  38. Moscow Exile says:

    I’ll translate the above as soon as I can, but I’m out in the sticks at the moment, am using an iPad, and the Internet connection is very iffy. Don’t know why this happens: I need only to walk about 400 yards through the surrounding forest and the Internet works perfectly.

    Reading the above leaflet, I got the impressionthat it had been written by some school leaver or possibly some undergraduate bourgeois, whose powers of argument are limited. From the very beginning the hamster asks, “Why don’t all the judges in Kirov want to judge Navalny? Because he’s innocent. The judges have a conscience.” And the hamster goes on emotionally, offering no evidence to support his assertation of his hero’s innocence. He writes of tears and threats and of stealing a forest and ridicules provincial backwater Kirov and its provincial judge Blinov, making me suspect that the writer is a typical Muscovite white-ribbonist bourgeois brat who doesn’t know his arse from his elbow and who thinks that Pussy Riot are punk rock feminist musicians.

    The thoughts of the Chosen One as given in the leaflet also, in my opinion, make interesting reading: he talks like a preacher and offers no policies. In fact, I think the relationship between hand clapping, Jesus-is-a-coming rapturous congregations and their evangelical preachers such as Billy Graham and the mostly 30-something bourgeois Western yuppie wannabes in Moscow and the Messiah, Navalny of Washington, who will lead them to the Promised Land where one can make money hand over fist, is somewhat similar.

  39. yalensis says:

    Oooooh, this is interesting!
    IZVESTIA (Navalny’s bête noir – recall that in the Volkov interview, linked above,Navalny/Volkov say they hate IZVESTIA so much that they will shut it down once they come to power) reports on 2 other criminal cases being currently investigated against Navalny: (1) the Oleg Navalny “going postal” case, and (2) the case of Navalny allegedly embezzling 100 million rubles from the “Union of Right Forces” political party.

    A whole 14-man team of Investigative Committee spends every moment of their working day investigating and prosecuting Navalny-related cases. (Hey they have to earn a living too, I guess you could call Navalny a “job creator”.) Anyhow, after their fist-pumping victory with the KirovLes conviction, they are now going at these 2 other cases and trying for a TRIFECTA.

    Now, here is the interesting part: I was aware of, and following, both other Navalny cases, but one thing even I did not know is that our good friend Petr Ofitserov is also involved in the “Union of Right Forces” case, and looks forward to a likely conviction. Which would add several more years to the 4 years he already got for KirovLes.

    Because, let’s face it, 100 million rubles is a lot more than just 16 million. In fact, it is [let me get out my calculator...] 6.25 times as much. Here is what IZVESTIA has to say about Ofitserov’s role in this caper:


    По версии следствия, в 2007 году Навальный и Офицеров, возглавляя компанию «Аллект», по договоренности с политической партией «Союз правых сил» получил 100 млн рублей на проведение рекламной кампании. Однако сам Навальный якобы перевел деньги на счета фирм-однодневок, не предоставив следствию никаких доказательств оказания услуг партии СПС. Для следствия это дело будет непростым: прошло уже достаточно времени с момента самого события, «Аллект» уже ликвидирован, а СПС был распущен.

    TRANSLATION

    According to the investigators: In 2007 Navalny and Ofitserov, while heading up the company “Allekt”, signed an agreement with the political party “Union of Right Forces”, by which they received 100 million rubles to carry out a publicity campaign. However, Navalny himself allegedly transferred the money to accounts belonging to fly-by-night companies, and could not prove to the investigators that he had performed a single service to the URF party. For the investigators, this was a tough case: a lot has time has passed since the events, “Allekt” no longer exists, and neither does URF.

    END OF TRANSLATION

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, LR frequently refers to the Kremlin’s having 2 more cases in reserve with which to hammer Navalny if the first one fails to put him away for long enough, although she is generally not sympathetic to Navalny. I say “generally”, because on occasion she goes into bizarre rants about Martin Luther King and Indira Ghandi, in which Navalny figures favourably. When all you care about is redirecting the argument, that makes perfect sense.

      Although the “Allekt” case does pose some challenges in terms of reconstruction of events after all this time and the defunct status or several organizations now, I have the sense that if it is meticulously reconstructed, this will be the hammer that pounds Navalny into the dirt. There was a verifiable (presumably) sum of money for which the contracted service allegedly was not received, and either the money was legitimately spent or it was not; simple, cut and dried. There will be no seeking avail in mockery about stealing forests or any of that guff.

      As an aside, this would be an opportune moment for Navalny’s sometime nemesis, Nikita Belykh, to smoke Navalny with a variety of colourful recollections, since he led the party at the time. I notice Boris Nemtsov – in his customary careful fashion – has announced he will not avail himself of the opportunity to re-assume the crown of opposition by stabbing Navalny.

      http://www.kasparov.com/boris-nemtsov-sets-the-record-straight-on-new-navalny-charges/

      I got a little chuckle out of the description of the Union of Right Forces’ current status as “debunked”, when they obviously meant “defunct”, as the two have very different meanings.

      As usual, when the opposition starts bleating about “politically motivated” and “ridiculous charges”, it probably means there is something there. If the government really had no case at all, the opposition would let them flounder about trying to come up with proof, and revel in their eventual ignominious embarrassment.

  40. Patrick Armstrong says:

    I have a request to make of the commentors on this website. The Kremlin Stooge dominates the English language Russosphere discussion by several orders of magnitude. For example, Mark Chapman’s article taking apart Anders Ǻslund’s latest utterance attracted over 1600 comments. These covered what he wrote but also discussed the Navalniy trial, LNG supplies outside of Russia, shale gas, Syria, Obama, Russian oil reserves and many other things.
    BUT this mass of intelligent and knowledgeable comment is hard for the rest of us to follow; good points are buried in the threads and aren’t easily searchable.
    So, I appeal to all of you commentators: don’t you think it would be good to centralise all your high-class thoughts and knowledge at a single location that’s easy to search?
    Anatoly Karlin has gone to the trouble to create a site – The Russia Debate – which allows these valuable opinions, facts, thoughts and discussions to be filed away neatly according to subject. Karlin has set up the means to gather and organise our collective wisdom.
    So, Mark Chapman, here is my request: sent your commenters over to Karlin’s site, not because you love him, but for the common cause.

    • marknesop says:

      But I do love him!! He is a fractious sort and tends to fly off at tangents, but undeniably smart and perceptive as well as a fine analytical mind. Hear that, ladies and gentlemen? Please repair frequently to The Russia Debate to see if we can get it going as it was intended to be. I realize the forum here is a loose format and the discussion goes where it will, and there you would have to confine yourselves to the subject, but there are some standout commenters here who closely follow Russian politics and whom I know have plenty of wisdom to offer. I know every day is an education for me, and it obviously is not much work for you because you are bursting to air your outrage or amusement as the case may be. Please take a few minutes to get familiar with the forum, and add your contributions!

      Thanks very much, Patrick, for the kind words, I appreciate them.

      • Patrick Armstrong says:

        Thank you Mark for your agreement — your excellent essays, after all, are the reason why you have attracted a comment volume that far exceeds that of the rest of us put together.
        I assume that all of us in the Russosphere believe that, eventually, fact and reality will win out against the persistent anti-Russian bias of the Western MSM and governments. (Not that we can point to much evidence that that is true.)
        In any event, The Russia Debate (http://russiadebate.com/) would give a forum to collect the better informed views that our group has.
        In this respect I have been very impressed with the amount of information on the Navalniy trial that your commenters have produced and it would be a great pity if it were lost. A data dump by Yalensis, Moscow Exile at The Russia Debate would be something worth having as a venue to refer people to.
        I believe that the essence of our effort is to make people, fed the standard line, to realise that Russian reality is more complicated and the Navalniy case is a perfect illustration of that more complicated reality.

        • marknesop says:

          Thank you again, Patrick, for your kindness. I completely agree that the debate on Russia is an uphill battle against a determined enemy which has adopted reactionary and provocative reporting as its standard and whose always-on-the-attack tactics force the reasonable, by default, on to the defensive.

          A perfect example is the hysterical reporting which deliberately mischaracterizes the recent Russian law on “homosexual propaganda” directed at minor children as a law against being homosexual, and warns that gay Olympic athletes will be arrested by Russian authorities.

          http://www.sportsgrid.com/media/russia-2014-olympics-anti-gay-laws/

          The west has discovered a heretofore-untapped reservoir of piety on the subject of homosexuals, and feels it sets such a positive example that it is in a position to lecture Russia – where homosexuality was legal for 10 years before it was legal America-wide, forced into that acceptance by the grotesque murder of Matthew Shepard.

          • cartman says:

            The greatest hypocrisy is in the UK, which quite blatantly sides with ANYONE who has a falling out with the Kremlin.

            Do you remember this? Thank you Mayor Luzhkov

            I think this is a useful counterpoint to all the “boycott Sochi” propaganda emanating especially from that country. Homophobic Luzhkov, his wife, and their cronies were give exile in England right after he was sacked for corruption. “His” banker was given asylum, and promptly bought the most expensive home in Britain’s history.

    • Misha says:

      Not into lavochka, as well as back stabbing manner. Respect should be a two way street.

    • AK says:

      First of all, thanks for this Patrick. Really appreciated.

      Just to clarify, I have no personal stake in The Russia Debate’s success or failure. To the contrary, if activity there remains low, I will just have to shut it down because as it is it is just a drain on money (hosting) and time (mostly, the need to delete spam comments).

      A forum is undoubtedly better in terms of publicism than a 1,500 comment thread. That said, I appreciate that many “Russia watchers” do it not so much for publicism as for intellectual stimulation and the feeling of community they get from it – whether it be with the tight-knit group of commentators here, or what I like to call the “SWP Hive,” or other “lavochki” as Averko calls them. (Incidentally, an open forum like The Russia Debate is pretty much the exact opposite of a lavochka as Averko conceives of it).

      So it’s perfectly understandable if most of the commentators here and elsewhere prefer to carry on their discussions at their respective blogs/comment threads/Twitter feeds as opposed to a forum. To be honest, perhaps an English-language forum isn’t even workable for Russian politics in principle, because most of the people active in it are either (1) careerists/journalists, (2) academics, or (3) very much either anti-Putin or pro-Putin. Still, there’s a good month or two to prove me wrong.

      • Misha says:

        In reply to Karlin, it’s lavochka like for a set group to go out of their way to promote each other, while sumultaneously downplaying the competent input of others.

        • peter says:

          … it’s lavochka like…

          *facepalm*

        • Patrick Armstrong says:

          Who’s “downplaying the competent input of others”? Not I: I’m gobsmacked by the quality and knowledge demonstrated by the comments here. And no trolls either. The quality could not be higher: I don’t know of higher-quality comments section on any blog.
          But here’s my point: some guy who has read the Western MSM coverage of the Navalniy trial tells me that it proves Putin is a swine and that Russia is the Eternal Enemy. If I could say to him: go to RD and read what Yalensis and Moscow Exile have to say and then come back and tell me that you still think you have a clue about what’s going on; there is a slight (non-zero) chance that he would actually do so. But if I tell him to sort through the last 1000 comments on the Kremlin Stooge and fish out the Navalniy trial comments, you know full well that he won’t bother. The name of the blog itself will put him off – he’s already conditioned to believe that anyone who disagrees with the Economist/WaPo/standard line is on Putin’s payroll.
          My concern is that our descendants are going to have another Cold War because they will be suckered into believing the unending, and mostly unchallenged, BS about Russia. None of us wants this: it’s not as if the last Cold War was so boffo that we want another one.
          I believe that most of us are naïve enough to believe that better information will prevail against the anti-Russia propaganda spewed out in the MSM.(Hah hah! I toiled away in the bowels of the Canadian government for decades trying to convince people that Russia is more complicated and nuanced than they hear on the nightly news. Can’t point to much success. (maybe a tiny bit. But mostly in the Gorbachev years, actually.) But that doesn’t mean that one last push won’t work. In any case, in retirement, it’s better than drinking and daytime TV).
          That’s all there is to my request: let’s collect this “competent input of others” in one easily searchable spot that we can send people to. So cross-post if that makes you happy: Mark has earned his pre-eminent position as the Comment King but let’s not bury the value. Cross-post for the sake of the future.
          Otherwise, why do we bother to spend all this time doing this? Putin certainly isn’t paying us and the personal satisfaction is pretty transitory.

          • yalensis says:

            I’m gobsmacked by the quality and knowledge demonstrated by the comments here. And no trolls either.

            Well, there is ONE troll … But even he provides solid research…

          • Misha says:

            The competent input of others is definitely getting the shaft at US-Russia.org, VoR, the WRF, JRL, Russia: Other Points of View and RT, among other venues.

            Specifically put: the issue of who is and isn’t prone to getting column and/or panelist slots.

            For good reason, some aren’t willing to play a secondary role.

    • AK says:

      Okay, I’ve substantially reworked The Russia Debate.

      It’s much simpler now with no subforums. It will also keep going, at least for now and as long as some discussions continue there.

    • Misha says:

      More on the Svoboda myth making:

      http://newsru.com/religy/24jul2013/1025.html

      Telling Putin and Patriarch Kirill to “stay away from someone else’s holiday” (sic) – the 1025 celebration of the Baptism of Rus, because (as they spin) “Muscovy” and Russians, are akin to the Mongol Golden Horde and have NO relationship to Slavs or Kiev, having “as much in common with these elements as with the Chinese Wall”. Interestingly, they ignore Belarus, whose president is also planning to attend.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I remember reading either on Austere Insomniac or Da Russophile that genetically Russians are most closely related to Poles, whereas amongst the Ukrainians there is present a Turkic genetic footprint, so to speak. Hardly surprising when one remembers that the seaboard and much of the hinterland of the present day Ukraine was under Ottoman suzerainty or that of its satrap, the Tatar horde in the Crimea.

        This “Scratch a Russian and you’ll find a Tatar” aphorism that Ukrainian anti-Russian nationalists and others apparently believe in is a myth. Goebbels used to do the same, portraying the Russians as a a Slavic/Mongol-Tatar horde, complete with Emperor Ming of the planet Mong “Asiatic” features (i.e. “slitty-eyed yellow devils”) dedicated to the overthrow of Western Christianity and order by means of their atheistic communist dogma.

        This idea still persists amongst many Westerners, even though many Russians are like my children, having a pale complexion, blond hair and blue eyes.

        • cartman says:

          If Mark ever wants to change the name of this blog, can I suggest “A Storm of Mongols”?

          • cartman says:

            Or Nigeria with Snow. Let’s not leave out the politically correct racists. (I think this one was from Mr. in-your-face-scan Sergei Brin.)

        • Moscow Exile says:

          The 2012 Russian film “The Horde” (Орда) caused some criticism in that it was claimed that the Mongol-Tatar horde that subjugated large parts of Asia and the Eurasian borderland that we now know as European Russia and the Ukraine were a bloodthirsty mob of uncivilized savages. Here’s a trailer of the film:

          Below the clip on You Tube, one comment clearly comes from a thoughtful and sensitive film critic and reads as follows:

          Нормальный фильм, а те кто обижает его идите нахуй…

          My sentiments exactly, old chap!
          :-)

          RFE/RL has done a piece on this as well, entitled: “In Russia, ‘Horde’ Blockbuster Drawing Tatar Objections”.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I should have written “in that it was claimed that the Mongol-Tatar horde that subjugated large parts of Asia and the Eurasian borderland that we now know as European Russia and the Ukraine had been represented as a bloodthirsty mob of uncivilized savages”.

          • yalensis says:

            I didn’t see the movie so I don’t know, but looks like the Mongols employed mimes who do magic tricks?
            Or is that Temudjan in white make-up?

        • Misha says:

          Moscow Exile,

          Regarding Poles, Russian and Ukrainians, be careful about loose claims of such studies. Specifically, on how the science is conducted. Ukraine has its share of not so Slavic looking folks (for lack of a better category) identifying themselves as ethnic Ukrainian. Recall the origin of the name Ruslan discussed at this thread and the number of people with Ukrainian surnames who’ve that name as well. Likewise with Russians.

          In the roughly mid-13th centrury, Kiev was pretty much destroyed by who? Many of its inhabitants went north to where? The Rus entity that lasted from roughly the 9th to mid-13th century experienced a good deal of back and forth travel among people of a related background. This happened thereafter over an extended period as well.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I knew an old woman who was called Traktorina. She was definitely a Slav: lived in the Voronezh oblast’. I reckon she must have been born when the first “tractor stations” were being set up on the state farms.

            • yalensis says:

              The name “Traktorina” is derived from proto-Slavic *tъrk which is cognate with English “trek”, as in “Star Trek”.
              The proto-Russian variant is Torok (a very common name in some villages), whereas the South Slavic/Old Church Slavonic variant is Trak. The addition of the infix “-tor-‘” and the suffix “-ina” are just later additions, which mean nothing.
              Traktorina’s name proves that South Slavic tribes had settled in the Voronezh region around this time.
              Or, it could also be cognate with the word “Turk”, which would prove that Turkic tribes had settled in this area too…..
              ;)

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Sehr interessant, aber dumm!


                :-)

                My first Moscow landlady was called Revolyutsia. The neighbours called her Lyutsia and I thought that meant Lucy until she told me otherwise after I had told her that she had an English name. That came about because she kept on asking me why I had a Russian name (Денис). I insisted that it wasn’t, and in the end I told her that she too had an English name, which led her into her revealing her full moniker to me.

        • Jen says:

          The Turkic genetic footprint might also have come from the Khazars whose territory centred around the lower reaches of the Volga river emptying into the Caspian Sea and overlapped with what is now eastern Ukraine a millennium ago. Their kingdom attracted people from Anatolia and parts of the northern Middle East in part because they adopted Judaism as their state religion. A study by Dr Eran Elhaik at the John Hopkins School of Public Health published online this year demonstrated that eastern European Ashkenazic Jews have genetic links with peoples of the Caucasus region, Turkey and northern areas of the Middle East where Kurdish people live.
          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130116195333.htm

        • AK says:

          Here are a couple of relevant articles on the topic:

          * http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2253976/
          * http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2008/01/russian-y-chromosomes.html

          Ukrainians, Poles, and southern/central Great Russians are pretty much indistinguishable from each other genetically. The northern Russians (who had admixture with Finno-Ugric tribes) are, however.

  41. Misha says:

    Yeah right!

    http://russialist.org/ukraine-offers-more-reasons-for-optimism-than-russia-does-shevtsova-says

    Thereby explaining why per capita wise more Ukrainian citizens seem to have a positive view of Russia than Russian citizens of Ukraine.

    The regional differences point is due in good part to the historical dynamic of Ukraine having a history of separation from each other.

    In actuality, the writing a history matter concerns fiction. Likewise with the notion that Russia doesn’t treat Ukraine as an independent state.

  42. reggietcs says:

    A terminally stupid article from our friends over at the Christian Science Monitor. They pose (rhetorically) the question: will life will be “better” for Snowden in Russia as a dissident? and THEN the article proceeds to compare it to….The Soviet Union. They bring up the lives of past dissidents in THE SOVIET UNION on how they “faded into obscurity.” An article so agenda driven that it’s comical.

    http://news.yahoo.com/edward-snowden-still-stuck-airport-life-russia-better-165743267.html

  43. cartman says:

    Why does Novaya Gazeta and the Guardian insist that her children should be allowed to select jurors? I doubt any of their names are listed in the parties of this case.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2013/jul/24/anna-politkovskaya-russia

    • marknesop says:

      Apparently in Russian jury trials – which are infrequent – the plaintiffs are permitted to participate in the jury selection process. However, notifying the plaintiffs is considered satisfaction of the requirement, and the Politkovskaya family’s charge that the government and the legal system deliberately chose a date when they and their lawyer would be out of the country sounds a little hollow to me – what could be more important than the trial of their mother’s murderers?

      I note that the Politkovskaya family also opposed and boycotted the trial of Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov – the former Moscow cop who struck a plea deal in which he admitted assisting the murder by tracking and reporting Politkovskaya’s movements (which likely followed a simple pattern, since she had no reason to imagine she was the subject of a pending contract hit) and supplying the triggerman with the gun – which netted him an 11-year prison term and a 3-million ruble fine. At the time, the family opposed the procedure on the grounds that the arrangement struck with Pavlyuchenkov “would not help to find the masterminds of the killing.”

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/12/14/russia-journalist-conviction.html?cmp=rss

      Now here we are, and the killers are about to go on trial, and the Politkovskaya family does not like that, either. It’s hard for me to conclude otherwise than that what they fear is their mother’s ceasing to be a symbol of whatever it is she’s a symbol of, and fading into obscurity once justice is deemed to have been done. At present, Anna Politkovskaya is all of a piece with the Russian human-rights cause, and a frequent cudgel with which the west beats Russia for its perceived slackness in addressing crimes against human rights. If her murderers were to be successfully prosecuted, the case would be deemed to be closed, and moreover, the family does not seem to be especially concerned about finding “the masterminds” unless they are the “right” masterminds, meaning unless it can be laid at Putin’s door – in his plea deal, Pavlyuchenkov fingered Boris Berezovsky and Akhmed Zakayev, but the Politkovskaya family (and their lawyer, to whom they seem to be joined at the hip) promptly pooh-poohed the very idea.

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/07/24/politkovskaya-trial-russia.html

      It seems to me the Politkovskaya children, whether through their own personal convictions or through persuasion, are part and parcel of the liberal white-ribbon movement (if for no other reason, because Russian causes are of absolutely no interest to the west unless liberals are somehow involved) and will not hear of a trial unless they get to select the jury themselves and the murderer Putin is convicted of his bloody crimes.

      Then again, it might be the alleged high acquittal rate of Russian jury trials that bothers them.

      http://www.bu.edu/phpbin/news-cms/news/?dept=732&id=55374

      See how it works? When it’s Navalny on trial, the liberals bemoan the judge’s high conviction rate, and suggest nobody gets off. When it’s Anna Politkovskaya’s murderers in the dock and the Chief Alleged Murderer is not Putin, the liberals fuss that too many accused people get off.

      • cartman says:

        I thought it was the state charging these men. The family could only participate as witnesses. No doubt they will never shut up about it and say how they were so wronged by their own decision to boycott this.

        • marknesop says:

          Well, of course it is the state charging them, but apparently the plaintiffs are allowed to participate in jury selection. I’m not sure to what extent, I’d have to get into the actual statute for that, perhaps Peter can help. However, just off the top of my head I will suggest that “participate” means “be present at”, because if jury selection in Russia follows a voir-dire format with challenges as does western law, family members would in no way be equipped to participate actively and their personal prejudices and emotions might lead to many potential jurors being disqualified for no reason other than that the family didn’t like the cut of their jib. If I’m right, though, and family members take no active part other than sitting and watching, then it can make no great difference to jury selection whether they are there or not; it’s just a courtesy extended by the state.

          It is in the Politkovskaya family’s interests that her murder never be solved – nothing will bring her back, and her martyr status will inevitably fade away with a successful conviction. Therefore, I believe they are just stalling.

          • marknesop says:

            Still not there yet, I don’t think, but this reference provides a definition of the “aggrieved party”,

            http://www.russian-offences-code.com/SectionIV/Chapter25.html

            and specifies that a trial of an “administrative offense” shall be conducted with the participation of the aggrieved party. However, in their absence, evidence of proper notification (to prove they were given the opportunity) is deemed sufficient.

            Is a murder case still an “administrative offense”? I’m afraid I don’t know.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Is a murder case still an “administrative offense”?

              I should hardly think so.

              See: Code Of Administrative Offences Of The Russian Federation

              According to the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, “An administrative offense differs from a crime by the lesser degree of social danger”.

              See: Administrative Offense.

              So if a Moscow cop catches you relieving yourself out of sight and in the dark behind a tree because you’ve been knocking back beer all evening, that’s an administrative offence (“committing a public nuisance” in English legal jargon) and you get fined. It’s happened to me, though I wasn’t charged; I just got ticked off there and then and told that I was committing an administrative offence, section so-and-so, subsection so-and-so, paragraphs etc., etc.

              But if you turn round and flatten the cop, that’s not an administrative offence,I should think: that’s assaulting a law officer, and you get sent to a colony.

              • marknesop says:

                Yes, I thought it did not sound like an administrative offense but did not have the time then to look it up. I was more interested in the provision that the aggrieved party can take part in the trial, and the extent to which they can do that, which I still don’t know.

              • yalensis says:

                Did you continue to relieve yourself against that poor tree while the cop was writing out your ticket?

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  I wasn’t arrested or charged. The cops always let me off here, don’t know why: it must be my natural charm. Either that, or they think I’m a retard.

                • marknesop says:

                  I bet they can tell you’re a foreigner – no matter how good you get with the language, there are always subtle nuances only native speakers get, and they’re probably afraid if they run you in the rattle, your country will lodge an official protest.

                  Same with me with French in Quebec; as soon as I start speaking, the other party switches to English (if they can) because they know immediately I’m not French.

                  All of that is based on the premise that there was some conversation exchanged between you and the police officer, because one man peeing against a tree is pretty much like another anywhere in the world.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  I said nothing to him, just zipped up my fly and let him read the riot act. He then turned on his heels and stomped off. When I do speak to the natives, they usually take me for a Baltic States citizen, usually a Latvian, but once I was thought to be a Bulgarian, and on another occasion a Serb, and once someone even thought I was a Pole. Oh yeah,and there was an old ratbag in a local shop who once thought I was a Swede. My wife heard her complaining about “that bloody Swede that throws beer bottles everywhere”, which caused a kerfuffle in the gastronom when she realized the old dragon was going on about me, regardless of the fact that I haven’t touched alcohol for years.

                  When, many years ago, I used to smoke and drink, a cop car pulled up where I was sitting on a bench puffing away at my pipe. It was during a cold spell – minus 27C (-17F) -and the cops thought it was a highly suspicious thing to do because nobody else was hanging around the street in such a temperature. It was during a bright, clear January afternoon. I remember it well. So one of the cops said to me: “Why are you sitting outside in the street smoking?” and I just answered: “Because my wife won’t let me smoke in the flat”, which creased them. They couldn’t stop chuckling even as they buggered off.

                  Like I said, it must be my charm.

  44. reggietcs says:

    Dunkerley’s latest article on Litvinenko:

    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Litvinenko-Massive-Media-by-William-Dunkerley-130723-377.html

    Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo’s opinion of the Litvinenko craze:

    “I won’t go into the long list of incidents in recent years, but one, the Litvinenko affair, was such an egregious and obviously trumped up campaign of vilification aimed at Russia, that I doubt it would’ve been taken seriously by anyone if its target had been any country.”

  45. yalensis says:

    More Navalny gossip .

    Now that he is running an American-style political campaign for Mayor, ironically Navalny is facing an American-type political problem: some people (in this case, his own SUPPORTERS) digging up old, racist remarks he made some years ago. This caused a stir even on the pro-Navalny radio show Ekho .

    Basically, the scandal is that some years years ago, Navalny was heard making racist statements about “Gryzuni”, which is the Russian derogatory word for Gruzians; and also unflattering epithets about Azerbaidjani, whom he referred to as “chernozhopy” (literally “black asses”), which is the standard Russian insult for Caucasians and equivalent to unauthorized use of the N-word in American politics.

    Recall that Navalny was, and still is, a member of a “ziggy” (neo-Nazi, white-supremacist) faction, although now that he is more respectable he is trying to distance himself a bit from the more extreme of the so-called “nationalists” Some of whom think he is selling out because his platform does not include immediate arrest and expulsion of all Caucasian migrants from Moscow.

    Anyhow the VZGLIAD expose goes into an incident that was witnessed by a couple of people back a few years ago when Navalny was active in the “Yabloko” party.

    Aider Mudjabaev, assistant editor of Moskovskii Komsomolets asked Navalny in an open letter if it was true that he cussed out an Azerbaijani girl (named Saadat Kadyrova), called her a “chernozhopaya” to her face, and ordered her to hie herself back to the bazaar.

    Now, there were witnesses to this incident, so Navalny should not really deny it, he should admit it, apologize, and move on. Instead, being Navalny, he LIES HIS GUTS OUT. No, he retorted, this incident never happened. And yet there were 2 witnesses: Yabloko leader Engelina Tareeva, and the victim herself, Saadat Kadyrova, who also worked as an activist in the Yabloko party.

    Witnesses at the time confirm that Navalny’s antipathy towards Caucasians runs so deep (as a little boy he was probably beat up bya Caucasian echen bully) that he even took Russia’s side against Gruzia in the 2008 war, a position that shocked his liberal pro-Saakashvili friends!

    • Misha says:

      Among Russian nationalists, Georgians haven’t been generally seen as negative in contrast to some other Caucasus based peoples.

      Georgians were more intertwined with the upper portions of Imperial Russian and Soviet societies than some others. In Russia, the crime problem involving people of Caucasus background isn’t often associated with Georgians.

      At 37, Navalny doesn’t seem as likely to change some of his views as someone 10-12 years his junior.

      Prior to the Soviet breakup: among Russians, were Ossetians and Abkhaz seen as more preferable than Georgians? I’m sensing that many Russians and Georgians aren’t so hateful towards each other as some might think. A poll conducted after the 2008 war indicates that Russians are the most popular group among Georgians. The Russian and Georgian Orthodox churches are on very good terms with each other.

  46. Moscow Exile says:

    Head-banger Latynina in today’s MT: “Kremlin Sadists Are Torturing Navalny”.

    “The real reason Navalny was released was to torture him.

    The entire decision-making process in Russia is paralyzed. Putin alone makes all the major decisions, and nobody but Putin had the authority to release Navalny. Putin has always humiliated his worst enemies and rivals. And once they are properly humiliated, it is easier to remove them from the picture forever.”

    She gets paid for writing stuff such as this.

    Gets awards for it as well.

  47. Misha says:

    An example of Russia bashing:

    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/kerry-go-fix-karabakh-8765

    Russia is portrayed as encouraging trouble in Nagorno-Karabakh unlike the US. Not that the US should be especially faulted on that issue. Neither should Russia. Nagorno-Karabakh is essentially a dispute between the Azeris and Armenians.

    It has been announced that Putin plans on visiting Azerbaijan:

    http://en.apa.az/news/196720

    Meantime the above linked National Interest article is light on offering a doable settlement.

    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/04/settling-the-dispute-over-nagorno-karabakh-averko.php

    Azerbaijan and Armenia don’t seem like they’d be so willing to accept a settlement where their respective position loses Nagorno-Karabakh.

    With the idea of a compromise in mind, perhaps a unique situation can be arranged, with Nagorno-Karabakh simultaneously recognized as a part of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The conditions worked out under this hypothetical agreement would concern the return of refugees and the finer points on how Nagorno-Karabakh would be administered.

    • Misha says:

      The aforementioned National Interest article doesn’t mention that Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Organization (CSTO) like Russia and unlike Azerbaijan. Has the CSTO shunned Azerbaijan, or is it more a matter of the reverse?

      • Misha says:

        Doubt has been raised on the CSTO aiding Armenia in a conflict with Azerbaijan:

        http://www.eurasianet.org/node/63541

        http://news.az/articles/karabakh/37717

      • Jen says:

        @ Misha: You might like to read these articles about Azerbaijan’s connections with Israel and Turkey. Azerbaijan began forging closer ties with Israel about, or even before, it became independent in 1991.
        http://www.meforum.org/987/israel-and-azerbaijans-furtive-embrace
        http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Israel-officials-confirm-16b-Azeri-defense-deal

        It may be that if the CSTO offered membership to Azerbaijan, the latter was compelled to reject it if only because of recent past history in which it developed closer ties to Israel and Turkey. IMO it would have been better for the Azeris to have accepted membership if it had been offered so that at least the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and the associated refugee crises for both Armenia and Azerbaijan could be raised in a diplomatic forum with possible third party mediators available. Also the CSTO could have offered some protection against Iranian influence if that’s what Azerbaijan fears the most.

        • Misha says:

          Jen,

          An Al Jazeera feature noted that when Turkish-Israeli relations soured over a boat incident, the Israelis started to cozy up a bit with Armenia.

          This is a murky situation. When the Soviet Union broke up, it was assumed that Azerbaijan would move fully in a Turkish direction. That hasn’t happened to the degree that some expected. Although in CSTO, Armenia has participated in military related matters that involve NATO.

          Azerbaijan has he resources to upgrade its military capability with increased arms purchases. At the same time, I don’t sense any power encouraging them to take a stab at taking Nagorno-Karabakh.

          • Jen says:

            My understanding is that Israel needs Turkey as a military ally and friend to supply fresh water. Israel imports 50 million cubic metres of water from Turkey a year at 0.24 per cubic metre for about 1 billion cubic metres under a 20-year agreement signed in 2004. The cost doesn’t include transport.
            http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=777228

            This means that to be on Turkey’s good side, Israel must either stay neutral or not support Armenia’s claim to the term “holocaust” to describe the Turkish genocide of Armenians during the First World War. Of course, there are Israelis who argue that the Israeli government should recognise that the genocide did occur and it’s significant that after the Mavi Marmara incident when Israeli commandos killed a number of Turkish citizens (including one teenager who was also a US citizen), the Israeli government and media began paying more attention to the 1915 genocide and its victims.

            • Misha says:

              As well as taking a more critical look at Turkey’s position on the the Kurds and northern Cyprus, while showing a greater interest in understanding the position of Greece and the internationally recognized Cypriot government.

              Benny Morris exhibited this attitude in The National Interest.

  48. yalensis says:

    EXTRY! EXTRY!

    Hacker Hell claims to have found Navalny money in American bank accounts!

    I can’t find the original link, I checked Hell’s Torquemada blog, but it’s not there. (All I saw was a disgusting gloatatory blog in which Hell celebrates Navalny’s arrest last week and calls for him to be violently raped in prison– well, nu, that’s Hell for you, the guy is a genius but he is also sick in the head, what can I say?)

    Anyhow, Izvestia says Hell published this info on his “microblog” – does that mean Twitter??

    To continue, Izvestia claims that Hell published hacked emails (still from that same period of the original hack, 2010 – 2011) between Navalny and his wife, showing that the pair had accounts in Bank of America. The info showed up in a “Bank of America alert” email that was sent to the email address that Hell had hacked, that’s how Hell found out about it. (Maybe the email alert said: “Warning! Your email password has been compromised!”)

    To continue, Hacker told Izvestia that Navalny opened an account at Bank of America in August 2010, and his wife opened a separate account one month later. They presumably opened the accounts because Navalny was studying at Yale and it goes without saying that they needed checking accounts that they could access from the New Haven area , and it turns out there is one right in the center of downtown New Haven.

    [This info about the New haven bank branch comes from me, and not the original Izvestia article - yalensis]

    However, the problem is, according to Hell, that the pair never actually closed the accounts, even after they moved back to Russia. This will be investigated by the Moscow Election Committee, because it is forbidden (according to a law passed just last month) for a Moscow Mayor candidate to have any accounts in foreign banks. Plus, Navalny did not declare these accounts in his application to participate in the election. (When you are supposed to declare your assets and show your tax returns, etc.)

    In conclusion, IF the information turns out to be true; IF Navalny has a foreign bank account; and IF he omitted to declare this in his application, then he will be excluded from the Mayoral race.

    BTW this is the exact reason why Prokhorov decided not to enter the Mayor race. Prokhorov has so many foreign bank accounts that he can’t swing a dead cat witout hitting one of them. And when he looked into his own soul, he just couldn’t find it within himself to shut them all down, in return for a longshot at the Mayor’s office. As Jesus once remarked, “it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to thread a needle.” Or something like that….

  49. Moscow Exile says:

    Something that I have witnessed earlier today and have not seen reported in the russophobic Western press, nor do I expect it to be: Earlier today I was working at UniCredit Bank HQ, situated near the Crimea Bridge on the embankment of the Moscow river. When I reached the embankment I saw that there were cops everywhere and cordons set up and traffic being diverted. At first I thought there was going to take place a mass hamster meeting, as the foot of the bridge has been designated as one of the so-called Hyde Parks in Moscow. I headed off along the embankment towards the bank, keeping behind metal cordon barriers. Food kiosks and portable toilets everywhere and crowds. The crowds got denser and then I could go no further. Suddenly I realised what I had come across.

    Today is the 1,025th anniversary of the founding of Christianity in Rus’ and there is now taking part a special service in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. The crowd consisted of the faithful – young and old, men and women: the females were all wearing head scarves, long dresses, and had their arms and upper body covered.

    And not a bourgeois hamster in sight.

    Western journalists are always quick off the mark to report large gatherings of people in Moscow, but there was not a Western journalist or camera crew to be seen. And if there were a Western journalist there, I wonder what sort of response he would have expected if he had asked any of those Orthodox faithful folk what they thought of the world renowned so-called punk rock feminist musicians that performed a “gig” in the cathedral that they were queuing up to enter?

    By the way, when I was there at 11:30, the end of the queue was about three-quarters of a mile from the cathedral.

    Of course, the hamsters would call those faithful whom I witnessed this morning “bydlo”.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And I’ve just been to the same workplace again,finishing my job there at 19:30. The queue was still there and the tail end of it was still at the same place as it was this morning. People were still joining it as I set off home.

      As I said earlier, the cathedral is situated a good three-quarters of a mile from the end of the queue. That means, taking into consideration that the queue is 3 yards wide, the area covered by the queuing people is (1320 x 3) square yards, namely 3,960 square yards at least, for at the cathedral the queue no doubt winds to and fro in the grounds of the edifice before the faithful are allowed access to the building.

      The queue is also dense, and even approximating at 4 persons per square yard, that gives a total of 15,840 people standing there at any one time during a period of eight and a half hours today. The queue was advancing slowly as I witnessed it today at 11:00 and at 19:00, and so even if one considers that people took 2 hours to advance from the end of the queue to the cathedral, then I reckon there must have been about 100,000 people demonstrating their faith in Moscow today. However, it seems that for Western newspapers at least, this manifestation of faith by at a very conservative estimate 100,000 people is of little interest because none of them have been screeching “Shit, shit, shit of Our Lord!” and “Mother of God, drive Putin out of Russia!”

  50. Aleks says:

    Not good news from the ECHR on Khodorkovsky:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23447134

    BBC spinning: Mixed European Court ruling in Russia Khodorkovsky case

    The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russian officials violated the rights of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, but the court rejected his claim that his trial was political.

    The judges said Khodorkovsky’s rights were breached because he was sent to a penal colony far from Moscow, and because among other things the defence was not allowed to bring its own experts as witnesses.

    But the court said that the trial judge was not biased, and that Khodorkovsky may well have been guilty of tax evasion.

    The ECHR ruling in 2011 related to the start of legal proceedings against Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, whereas Thursday’s ruling concerned their criminal prosecution, which resulted in them being found guilty of large-scale tax evasion and fraud in 2005.

    ECHR: Chamber judgment concerning the Russian Federation
    Press release:
    http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng-press/pages/search.aspx?i=003-4445086-5349135

    In Russian:
    http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng-press/pages/search.aspx?i=003-4445090-5349141

    What a blow (not a job) for his supporters.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      According to the Moscow Times: “Making Khodorkovsky serve his prison term in a far-off penal colony was found to have been a violation of his family rights, as it makes visits from relatives very difficult”.

      I thought all that was part of the punishment, namely separation of the guilty party from society, which includes his family.

      Perhaps the ECHR considers being imprisoned in itself as an act against a person’s “family rights” which are all part and parcel of one’s human rights?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I’m bloody sick of the crap that is constantly spewed out by the EU and the ECHR.

        This is what the court said about the Khodorkovsky trial:

        “The court was prepared to admit that some government officials had their own reasons to push for the applicants’ prosecution. However, it was insufficient to conclude that the applicants would not have been convicted otherwise.”

        Sheer bloody doubletalk!

        The “applicants” are Khodorkovsky and Lebedev.

        So the EHCR has found that there might have been political grounds among some government officials for prosecuting Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, but whether there were such political grounds for the prosecution or not, the court believes that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev would have been convicted.

        In other words, there was sufficient evidence presented to prove their criminal guilt, regardless of any possible political motivations that might have existed in making the prosecution.

        In other words, their conviction was sound.

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, and in other places the verdict was not so obviously designed to obfuscate. It said that Khodorkovsky had a point when he said he was being persecuted politically because of his agitation for the opposition, but that on the other hand, anyone who behaved as he did would be able to claim the same, therefore he was nothing special. Oh, and that just because he had established himself as an adversary of the government was not reason enough to let him away with criminal behaviour. A lesson Navalny will likely soon learn, and it is plain he does not know it yet or that old, “I want to run for president, therefore anyone who tries to get legal on me is doing it for political reasons” dodge would never have been attempted.

          • Aleks says:

            Well, there’s a big and fundamental reforms coming to the ECHR as it is years behind in cases. Crazy Russians have brought thousands of complaints for just about anything (“It’s not fair!”) and proposal are to strictly limit the cases that get sent or are accepted. Unfortunately this probably means loaded russian gangsters, sorry ‘Buiznismen’ will still make it. Navalny?

            ECHR reform page:

            http://www.coe.int/t/DGHL/STANDARDSETTING/CDDH/REFORMECHR/

            The Beeb on reform:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17748313

            Those principles mean giving national courts more freedom to deal with human rights cases and to interpret the European Convention as they see fit.

            Another amendment will tighten the ECHR’s admissibility criteria, so that more trivial cases can be rejected.

            Claimants will have four months rather than the current six to lodge a case with the ECHR, once they have exhausted legal options in the national courts.

            But the court recognises that more action is needed to tackle the backlog. Russia is the biggest single source of cases.

            • Let us be absolutely clear, the ECHR decision is a severe and final defeat for Khodorkovsky on the tax evasion charge. The ECHR said that there were no grounds to consider that the case against him was politically motivated or that the Judge who tried him was independent and impartial so that his trial was basically fair. The ECHR also said that the case against Khodorkovsky has a “healthy core” ie. that he is guilty.

              There is no doubt the Russian authorities in their anxiety to secure a conviction cut corners in Khodorkovsky’s case and this has resulted in them losing procedural points when the case came to the ECHR. The true weight the ECHR places on these procedural errors is shown by the compensation they awarded Khodorkovsky and Lebedev for the harm they suffered because of them: just 10,000 euros in Khodorkovsky’s case and nothing in Lebedev’s case.

              We should not let the spin operation conducted by Khodorkovsky and his lawyers and media supporters confuse us about the truth of this result. Khodorkovsky has become adept at using procedural wins to spin defeats into victories, which is what is happening in this case. Given what has been written and said about this case this outcome is a resounding win for Russia. That is why people like Ludmilla Alekseeva are furious and have denounced the ECHR’s decision as cowardly.

              • marknesop says:

                The west enjoys its best successes against the Russian judicial process when it simply refuses to hear or entertain any of its evidence, as was the response to the Russian senatorial delegation which attempted to head off passage of the Magnitsky Act.

      • AK says:

        Meh… this is the same court that considers restrictions on prisoners voting and deporting Islamic terrorists to be human rights violations.

  51. reggietcs says:

    Can you believe this propaganda? The writer attempts to paint Moscow as a giant slum. Some of the people responding to the article identify it as a propaganda piece, while others are apparently suckered by it and chime in with the usual “America is the best place to live” meme.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/one-paragraph-sums-edward-snowden-164958582.html

    • marknesop says:

      That’s just Julia Ioffe; a Russian who booked out of Russia when she was a child for the good old U.S. of A. Now she spends all her time shilling for America and spitting on Russia – nothing it does pleases her. She used to live in Moscow, but only as an expat and now I believe she has gone back to New York. She has a great deal of credibility with Americans because she is a Russian, but she has no more in common with modern Russia than chocolate mousse has with a sledgehammer. She and “Moscow Miriam” Elder are like two peas in a pod.

      The USA is a great, beautiful and wonderful country. But there are places in it that would make the Soviet postmodern buildings Ioffe describes look like palaces, places no Russian who was not destitute would live in. The persistent picture of America in the mind’s eye is one where you can be anything, where you can come in a bare-assed immigrant, make a fortune on the stock market and be farting through silk in less than 10 years. That happened just often enough in the tumultuous 1920’s and 1940’s to become The American Dream, but the sad fact is that those who begin their lives with nothing will likely end it with not much more, and poverty in America is actually growing to the point where statisticians have to fudge their numbers and redesignate thresholds to make it look like something else. That doesn’t mean America is dying, and it might well recover, but right now it is decidedly stalled and slipping backwards.

      According to Ioffe, everything in America is either shining towers of glass and steel, or endless billowing fields of golden wheat, while everything in Russia is filthy and stinks of despair. That mental image is now so firmly ingrained that nothing will shift it, and all the Russians with whom she remains on civil terms are liberals who hope she can get them a slice of the red-white-and-blue apple pie, too.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        There is a common factor that Ioffe and Elder and others of their ilk, such as “native Muscovite” Bayer of the Moscow Times and Maria Gessen, all share: a commonality that many fear to name lest they be accused of that heinous crime “anti-semitism”.

        They are all of the Jewish diaspora that emanated from Imperial Russia or the Soviet Union and they have, therefore, a Jewish emigrant’s axe to grind.

        Their attitude often reminds me of that which “Irish-Americans” have towards the British – more specifically, the English – albeit that most of them have never set foot in the Emerald Isle – they all having had passed down to them through the generations tales of how the English oppressed the Irish race.

        And it goes without saying (as a Guardian editorial would say) that all Russians are notoriously anti-Semitic and are ready to launch a pogrom at a moment’s notice.

        • Misha says:

          Not all folks of Jewish background are like that. Keep in mind the kind of Ukrainian views typically getting the nod.

          Recall “The Russia Hand” starting off with a snide delivery of how it’s not anti-Russian to note that Russia has a long history of anti-Semitism. Pretty rich coming from someone of Lithuanian background. As a tribesman, the Lithuanians don’t come across as being more tolerant of Jews than Russians – not that I’m looking to collectively stereotype Lithuanians. Russia didn’t have an Inquisition or Holocaust. Post-Soviet Russia has had more prime ministers of Jewish background than American presidents and vice presidents over a lengthier span.

          Ioffe comes across as a good to great technical writer, which shouldn’t be confused with being a good to great intellect, who can do well when intellectually challenged. So much for the (lack of) culture exhibited by those promoting her over some others, with valid and underrepresented points of view.

        • Misha says:

          As some relatively well known examples, there’s Lozansky and S. Cohen, who’re not quite like the folks ME brings up. (Not that these two gentlemen should be the exclusive go to ball carriers on that and some other issues.)

          Granted, that S. Cohen suggested (in an MT article of his) that Khodor couldn’t become Russian prez on account of a Jewish background. Utter horseshit (on that suggestion), S. Cohen is nevertheless comparitively fairer than Gessen, Ioffe and Elder.

          • Misha says:

            Also recall an Israeli foreign policy hand (by the name of Gisin, whose name I might’ve misspelled) say on RT that his distant family relations left a pretty good life in the east Ukrainian area of the Russian Empire. There’re other such examples.

            I’ve heard that Solzh’s book on Jewry is pretty good and politically incorrect – perhaps explaining why it hasn’t made it in the West, unlike some of his other works.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            But I did not say that all people of Jewish ancestry are vehemently anti-Russian, did I?

            What I said was that “Ioffe and Elder and others of their ilk”, meaning other people of like mind such as they, “such as ‘native Muscovite’ Bayer of the Moscow Times and Maria Gessen” all share a commonality in that they are members of the Jewish diaspora whose antecedents fled the Russian Empire or who themselves together with their families left the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

            I am acquainted with and also work with several Jewish Russian citizens here in Moscow who seem more than content with their predicament in the Evil Empire; furthermore, I consider S.Cohen, for example, as no exception to a rule that some may mistakenly think I am attempting to lay down here concerning the Jewish diaspora that has emanated from the Russian Empire/USSR, namely that all its members are so inherently and vehemently anti-Russian as to classify them as racists, rather do I consider Cohen et al as exceptions that prove any such a wrongly perceived rule.

            However, I find it hardly surprising that the notorious US citizen infamous for her endless racist comments concerning ALL Russians and her negative opinions concerning ALL things Russian has chosen to give her name as Zigfeld, which may, indeed, be her real name.

            On the other hand, owing to the fact that her anti-Russian comments are always so outrageous, it has also crossed my mind that the so-called Zigfeld, although almost pathologically Russophobic, is not of Jewish ancestry and may have, in fact, chosen such a psuedonym in order to engender antagonism towards Russian Jews who have emigrated to the USA.

            Too Machiavellian by far, some may believe, but not impossible when one considers the number of Jew-baiting, neo-Nazi websites that have been set up in the USA.

            • marknesop says:

              I hadn’t thought of that, and would certainly would not give her credit for such foresight. I continue to believe it’s a pseudonym, since she otherwise takes great pains to conceal her identity and she would have been run to earth long since if it were her real name. In any case, you’re right – I purposely avoided mentioning that both Miriam Elder and Julia Ioffe are Jewish, as are Masha Gessen and her virulently-Russophobic brother, Keith. As is, of course, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and as are Mikhail Fridman, Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska. As is, incidentally, little-known oligarch Leonid Nezlin, whom I believe remains the major stockholder in Yukos, as it was to him Khodorkovsky hastily bequeathed his 60% stake on the eve of departing to the slammer. Not likely to matter now, since the company was broken up and sold, but I can’t help wondering what plans might be hatched by Khodorkovsky and Nezlin when they get their heads together after the former finishes paying his debt to society.

              It’s perfectly true that not all Jews are Russophobes, but it would be only political correctness which could inspire a failure to notice the dominance of Russian Jews in the Russophobic press. It is what it is.

              • yalensis says:

                And speaking of Russophobic Jews, here is …[drumroll]… Ariel Cohen – TADA!

                Ariel giving pretty good account of Russian military machismo. But not without that naughty, sneaky, pot-stirring, trouble-making insinuation about Russia being scared of China, so fortifying their mutual border out of fear of the yellow menance. As if.

                Ariel probably doesn’t even believe it himself that there is any real geo-strategic conflict between Russia and China, he is either indulging in wishful thinking or (like I said) just trying to stir up trouble.

                • Misha says:

                  If I’m not mistaken, AC is from Crimea. He doesn’t seem to say anything negative about pro-Bandera Orange types.

                  I understand that he did take issue with Pipes by not sympathizing with the Chechen separatist side.

              • Misha says:

                On some other points raised, there’re a good number of Jews in US mass media – an observaton made by my journalism professor Gerald Eshkenazi, a long time NYT sports columnist – far from a “self hater”.

                We know how mass media slants. So, it should come as no surprise to see a good number of anti-Russian leaning views, whether from Jews or non-Jews.

                Recall a neocon leaning Jew by the name of Ethan Burger who would say some provocative things at JRL promoted gigs. Heard he hailed from Long Island, circa 1960s thru 1970s and perhaps beyond. From that time period, I’m well familiar with the neocon-neolib leaning stuff that was said about Russia in that area.

                True pro-Russian advocates don’t promote someone like Burger over yours truly.

              • PvMikhail says:

                I have talked about anti-Russian jews for years including anti-national jews in general. They are everywhere in Eastern Europe, weakening the respective states’ image and self-confidence. Sorry, I don’t like to say “I told you”, but: I told you.

      • AK says:

        Incidentally, Miriam Elder is leaving Russia to work with Buzzfeed.

        Hip hip hooray!

        • marknesop says:

          She wasn’t actually physically present in Russia anyway, was she? I mean, when she was writing for The Guardian, I understood her to be headquartered in London, and I don’t think she’s been in Russia for some time. Does her move to BuzzFeed mean she will be leaving her anti-Russian tirades behind? I hope so, but I’m not optimistic. Still, you’re right that any change is a potential plus.

          • Sam says:

            No, she was in Moscow this whole time ( and all in all 7 years I think). She left on Sunday.

            • marknesop says:

              Really? Thanks for that, I was under the impression all her rubbish for The Guardian was written from the UK. Good riddance; Ioffe is no longer there either. Of course, it is perfectly possible to pen the most stupefying rubbish about Russia from elsewhere, as witnessed by twin nutjobs Luke Harding and “native Muscovite” Alexey Bayer.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Tin-Tin of the Grauniad lived in the so-called Artists’ Village near the Sokol metro station, Moscow. This place is really weird because when you enter it from the north Moscow suburbia that surrounds it, you feel like you’ve just entered dacha-land way beyond the city limits: there are tree lined streets with wooden houses built country dacha style and with big gardens. Stalin had the place built for the capital’s artistic community. It’s an “elite” area now. I shudder to think what the rent was like that the Guardian was willing to pay for its man in Moscow during his residence here.
                I remember when the daring, investigative Tin-Tin did a story wherein he described his meeting with some big noise (can’t remember who now) in the Hotel Metropole, if I’m not mistaken. The Metropole is a Jugendstil pre – 1917 Revolution pile situated near the Bolshoi Theatre which was much favoured by the elite at the turn of the 20th century. It eventually fell into disrepair by the time the USSR was ready to fold up, but was restored to its former glory some 15 years ago. It was there, in the Metropole restaurant, that our daring Moscow journalist held his interview. And he began his story about this meeting with a description of the no doubt extremely expensive repast that was laid before him, falling into what I can only describes as “Michelin Guide” mode.
                It was about this time that a mass brawl took place on Red Square between football supporters and Caucasian immigrants after one of the football fans’ colleagues had been murdered in an altercation a few days before with some Chechens. After the Red Square incident had taken place, there were a couple of further very small confrontations reported as having occurred in outlying districts but which were rapidly dealt with by the police. The dedicated Tin-Tin went full steam ahead though, reporting to his Guardian readers that the whole of Moscow was being subjected to a night of the long knives style terror operation undertaken by vengeful, nationalistic, racist Moscow xenophobic Russian skinheads.
                I got so incensed by this fantasy that he was peddling to his British readership that I invited him to meet me downtown and take me to the scenes of these disturbances that he had reported. As it happens, another exile in Moscow, and not British either, did the same. Nether he nor I received a reply from the journalist against whom, he claims, the whole mafia state that is Russia later targeted its attention.

                • marknesop says:

                  He didn’t live in one of those dacha-style houses, did he? I’m curious, because his stupid book, “Mafia State” describes his spider-senses tingling upon returning home one day, and he searched the place to find the FSB had left him a message – a horse’s head in his bed. No, sorry, different story; no, they had allegedly left his son’s bedroom window open. You know – keep quiet, Harding, or out the window the kiddie goes. I mean, what other interpretation of an open window in a child’s room could there be?

                  Thing is, it should have been immediately obvious that his child would no suffer much injury in a fall from the window of a dacha.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  During his residence here, he might have lived in a Moscow apartment block as well – a really tall one to which the FSB paid visits and left the window open and a sex manual on his bedside table – either before or after he lived in the “village”. He was here for a few years, and before that he was in Germany. He wrote crappy articles about Germany and the Germans as well and got place names wrongly spelt. The spelling errors, however, may have been typical Grauniad cock-ups.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, I remember one of his German articles, in which he characterized the older people in Germany as too nosy and intrusive for their own good because a couple of old women had admonished him that his child was not properly dressed for the weather and that the food he was apparently enjoying (potato chips) was unhealthy for a child. I imagine that sort of grandmotherly advice is available without much prompting all over the world, and it seems unfortunately typical of Harding everywhere he goes that he never has a clue what to write about; therefore – fancying himself a portrait-artist of human nature – he focuses on the superficial in a snide and contemptuous way. If I were not so lazy, I would look up that article and then search for momentous events which were either fully formed or taking shape in the same region at the same time, to highlight what a dozy ponce Harding is for beaking off about how people irritate him just by being alive.

                • cartman says:

                  Either the Guardian sets its staff up with swanky residences, or Tintin is a trust fund baby. I don’t think Moscow Miriam had the same privileges, unless she blew the budget sending her dry cleaning all the way to New York. This could partly explain why the paper’s finances are in the toilet – corruption.

                • Misha says:

                  Reminded of JRL propped Julian Evans.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            She was in Moscow for ages, waiting for her laundry at a typically clapped out and run down Russian laundry which was all too typically incompetently run and managed by a moronic, corrupt management that hired inept and boorish staff, wasn’t she?

            • marknesop says:

              Well, she flies to the United States to get her dry-cleaning done, where it only takes five minutes. I guess considering the Moscow dry cleaners charge half your wages, balanced against airfare from Moscow to New York, it probably comes out about even, and you get to deal with nice, smiling Americans instead of those surly, stinky Russians.

        • cartman says:

          I hope they pay as much as the Huffington Post.

          It looks like a real step down. It’s like saying you work for reddit.

          • yalensis says:

            Her writing was starting to get better, though…

            • yalensis says:

              I say that as an ex-literature major….

              • yalensis says:

                Speaking of literature, Edward Snowden’s attorney says he is starting to plow through “Crime and Punishment”. I wonder if it is the Constance Garnett translation?
                He needs to start learning more about Russian culture, I guess.
                If it were me, I wouldn’t start him off with Dostoevsky, though, that’s a bit heavy, and Snowden’s life is depressing enough, we don’t want him falling under the Dostoevsky spell and committing suicide inside that capsule room.
                I would have started him with Ilf and Petrov, ’cause they’re funny.

        • Jen says:

          @ AK: Miriam Elder will be working with THE Buzzfeed news website that posts pages of miniature pig and corgis-as-superheroes photographs?
          http://www.buzzfeed.com/meganm15/irrefutable-proof-that-corgis-are-actually-secretl-3f0z

  52. yalensis says:

    <a href="http://rapsinews.com/judicial_news/20130725/268321822.html&quot;?This is interesting: Samutsevich is trying to offload her rotten lawyers, Feygin, Polozov, and Volkova.

    I guess I don’t understand the law, why can’t she just fire these shysters? What’s the deal here, does anybody understand this?

    • marknesop says:

      I believe I do – she is not trying to fire them, she is trying to have them disbarred from practicing law. That’s what “stricken off the roll” means. Disbarred.

      • yalensis says:

        Wow! In that case, I wish her success.

        • marknesop says:

          Indeed, but I highly doubt anything like that will happen. The Ministry to which such things would eventually be brought for arbitration would be on the horns of a dilemma – the chance to get rid of 3 opposition-sycophantic attorneys who were, coincidentally, not very good at their profession, but at the cost of granting the application of a skanky balaclava-sporting anarchist Pussy Rioter, in an action which would be seized upon tiresomely by the western press as evidence of what clout Pussy Riot wields in Russia. Not to mention the essential rightness of their “punk prayer”, which would be rehashed ad infinitum in the western media, which merely needs a whiff of sweaty balaclava to go through the whole process again as if it were all new.

          Put me down for No, they will not be disbarred, although they probably are richly deserving of such a punishment.

  53. cartman says:

    Senator Lindsey Graham is trying to get sanctions on Russia.

    I found this little flyer from an important US corporation trying to get back into the Russian market.

    As a result of U.S. unilateral sanctions imposed in the early 1980s:
    • Japanese competitors displaced Caterpillar’s 85% market share in the Soviet Union.
    • 12,000 man-years of work was transferred from Illinois to Japan.
    • Caterpillar and other U.S. exporters were tainted as unreliable suppliers.
    • And the Soviets completed their pipeline ahead of schedule.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Virtually all the heavy plant at construction sites that I see around Moscow are of British (JCB) or Japanese or German manufacture. And both in Moscow and the countryside, all the tractors that I see are from Belorussia. I see train loads of these Belorussian tractors heading for Moscow everyday along the main Moscow-Smolensk-Minsk-Warsaw-Berlin line that passes close by my dacha and going in the opposite direction, every day I see train after train of oil bowsers.

  54. yalensis says:

    News flash! Petr Ofitserov is full of crap.
    Here is Navalny’s co-conspirator doing his “Aw shucks I’m just an honest businessman,” stand-up routine for his fans at ROSBALT.

    I can’t believe I used to buy Ofitserov’s bullshit. I watched him on video as he stood in front of Judge Blinov, looked the good judge right in the eye, and lied his guts out. That touching story about how he “heeded the call” of Governor Nikita Belykh, who summoned all honest entrepreneurs to flock to Kirov to develop the province. How he (Ofitserov) flocked to Kirov and received wisdom from that magical taxi driver, who advised him to “Get involved in the timber business.” How he just happened to run into his old friend, Alexei Navalny, who also just happened to be in Kirov, and …. etc etc

    Meanwhile, anybody who has read the Hell-hacked emails knows what actually happened, beyond a shadow of a doubt:

    (1) Upon arriving in Kirov, Navalny summoned his old buddy and fellow con-man(they did the 100-million ruble URF caper together some years earlier) to Kirov, to engage in a “merry scheme” of timber-reselling.
    (2) Ofitserov heeded Navalny’s summons and arrived in Kirov. Whereupon immediately making it clear to Navalny that he expected the latter (Navalny) to fund the enterprise and provide the start-up capital, to the tune of 180,000 rubles, just for the first few months. To which extortion, Navalny’s response was “Aw fuckkk!” But still paid up.
    (3) In return, Navalny bossed Ofitserov around and treated him like his man Friday. Ordered him to buy the throw-away SIM phone and deliver it to him in working order, not in a box. (Yeah, like “how about you do some actual work for all that dough I gave you.”)

    Everybody knows the end of this merry saga. Judge Blinov saw through their lies and bullshit and gave the correct verdict for both of these grifters.

  55. Misha says:

    Regarding why Snowden’s claims are of no great shock to me:

    http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/07/25/american-liberty-in-need-of-renovation.html

    Prior history, plus advanced technology and a certain mindset developed after 9/11.

    Point-counterpoint on Snowden:

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russia-slams-us-pressure-over-snowden/483643.html

    ———————————

    Kerry indicates that a settlement of the Syrian civil war by military means isn’t likely, with Russia saying that a meeting with the anti-Syrian government opposition shouldn’t be equated with recognizing them as the sole legitimate representative of Syria:

    http://rt.com/news/syria-rebels-us-weapons-617/

    ———————————

    Moscow Exile,

    I shared your thoughts with some others on the observance you recently mentioned. Someone responded as follows:

    “I am a witness to that big line. I stood in line for 3-4 hours last week to get a chance to venerate the Cross of St. Andrew the Apostle the First called during the 1025 year anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. The line has been full all week and the people in line are just ordinary people, families, young and old. The numbers each day are larger than the demonstrations for Navalny and others like Pussy Riot.

    Another thing missed by the Western Media was the number of people that demonstrated in Defense of Faith at Christ the Savior Cathedral during the Pussy Riot scandal last year. I personally attended the gathering which undisputedly attracted more people than any anti-Putin or other demonstration can gather up.”

    ———————————

    Defense news item:

    http://en.rian.ru/military_news/20130726/182434723/New-Russian-Attack-Sub-to-Have-Advanced-Sensors.html

  56. yalensis says:

    In a part of Aleppo, Syria that they control, Al Qaeda is organizing ice cream parties for children .

    Hey, this changes my mind about them completely. I used to think that Al Qaeda was the bad guy. But now….

  57. yalensis says:

    Al Qaeda war against Syria spilling over into Iraq. Pepe Escobar explains the connection between the recent Abu Ghraib jailbreak and the Syria war. The escaped Al Qaeda militants, estimated at 1,000 expert terrorist soldiers, now on their way to Syria to kill Alawites, Christians and Shiites.

    Good as they are (militarily), hopefully these Salafist extremists will come up against the superior might of the Syrian army.

  58. SFReader says:

    Russian Northern Fleet is joining the fun. Its commander admiral Korolev has said that they are planning soon two Arctic expeditions. First group of Northern Fleet ships will travel to the Frantz Josef Land (located at 80 degrees north latitude – I don’t think it was ever visited by surface naval ships).

    The second “ship strike group” led by Kirov class battle-cruiser “Peter the Great” will visit “eastern waters of Arctic ocean”.

    You probably don’t know (since Western press failed to report this), but in August-September of 2012, battle-cruiser “Peter the Great” has sailed across the ice-free summer Arctic ocean all the way to New Siberian islands. Many Russian naval observers speculated at the time that battle-cruiser “Peter the Great” intends to cross the Bering strait and sail into the Pacific.

    This time they really might pull this off….

    • marknesop says:

      Symbolic, indeed, as the New Siberian Islands are the Russian terminus of the Lomonosov Ridge, which was discovered by Russian scientists (obviously, from its name) and forms a subsurface land bridge across the resource-rich Arctic which has led to disagreements on how far offshore the territorial limits of Canada and Russia might be extended.

      This is all part and parcel of Russia’s declared intention to maintain a muscular presence in the Arctic, which some call the last frontier. Anatoly and I discussed this at length both here and in other venues before, and were roundly mocked for our contention that great riches lie in the Arctic with the incredulous, “How are they expected to be recovered??” There are ways, and both countries are experienced although Russia may have the edge there. In any case, it is evident Russia is not going to be an absentee landowner.

    • yalensis says:

      This is interesting. Poll shows that the more Russians who learn actual details of the KirovLes case, the more they realize that there is some “there” there, as Bill Clinton might say.
      I think a lot of the credit goes to Prosecution, who put together a quite extensive case against the defendants; and also to Judge Blinov, who did a terrific job judging the case, iMHO.

      • R.C. says:

        I also think that the mayoral race “bump” Navalny received in the polls is temporary due to all of the press coverage he’s received within the last week or so – and as we see from the Levada poll, it probably won’t work out well for him in the end. However, the more Russians find out who he actually is and what he actually represents, the more likely he’ll end up settling somewhere in the 5% range. I know he’s supposed to have most of his popularity in Moscow, but seriously, can anyone be considered “popular” by any stretch if they poll in the single digits? The western media loves to trumpet him as the “leading opposition figure” when there are several figures who poll higher than him on national level. Navalny is the “leading opposition figure” whom the west would like to install as their stooge – that’s what Navalny REALLY is.

      • marknesop says:

        I was interested to see in the same source that Snowden has won Germany’s Whistleblower Award, and a prize of 3000 Euros. That certainly looks like disapproval in concert with Lindsey Graham’s bluster about sanctions. Not.

  59. yalensis says:

    Extra special treat for the Putin Fanboy Club, here is your hero kissing a fish !

    A pike, to be specific. A monstrous pike, weighing 20 kilograms. Watch the video to see Putin reeling it in and wrestling with it before his native guide finally cuts the hook out of the creature’s gills. Then Putin holds it up for the camera and gives the fish a little peck on the mouth.

    ROSBALT is anti-Putin, it goes without saying, it makes fun of the Russian President for his squeamishness and cowardice. (Intimidated by the thrashing fish.). Opps will be running this video for years to come. And just like they show the video of Putin kissing that baby on his tum-tum to prove that he is a paedophile, I suppose they will show this video of him kissing the fish, to prove that he is into bestiality.

    P.S. the reporters asked him afterwards what he did with the pike, and he said he turned it into delicious fillets. People can read into that whatever they please.

    • marknesop says:

      Pike is indeed delicious, one of the best table fish there is. But it would take a dedicated professional to fillet one, because they are horribly bony. Their skeleton has as much in common with a snake as it does a fish, and indeed they are known as “slough snakes” in some states.

      He doesn’t appear squeamish or scared to me; he just looks cautious to ensure he will not get the hook of his own lure in his thumb while the thing is thrashing around. There aren’t too many things harder to remove from your hand than a barbed hook – lends you a real sense of sympathy for the fish.

    • R.C. says:

      I’ve always wondered why Putin’s “adventures” are such a source of ridicule by the opps and the western media. How are Putin’s exploits any different than Obama playing basketball, Bill Clinton playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show or George Bush going quail hunting? Let’s not forget the ultimate American alpha-male Teddy “Rough rider” Roosevelt, whose macho exploits would certainly shame Putin, but naturally, most Americans today have no clue who he was. That they can draw conclusions on Putin based on this says more about them than Putin.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        It’s yet another case of Western double standards. When Putin first had a photoshoot with his shirt off, the ball started rolling in the West and has never stopped in its endless ridicule of the Russian head of state’s publicity stunts. However, at about the same time when Putin’s shirtless photos appeared, Obama took a shirtless stroll along some beach and photos of his doing so were also published. Ridicule? None at all, just rapturous declarations of how fit he looked for a man of his age. That was the line the Grauniad took, whilst almost in the same breath mocking Putin, who doesn’t smoke and drink, by the way.
        Is Obama still trying to quit smoking? I read he was a heavy smoker. If he does still smoke, his PR team certainly makes sure he’s never seen with a cigarette in his mouth. Personally, I couldn’t care less how many cigarettes Obama smokes a day – or, if he drinks, how many Martinis or whatever he knocks back daily, for that matter. However, I’m sure that if Putin were ever seen smoking or drinking in public there would be no end of criticism from the Western media, despite the fact than that when Yeltsin was often seen drunk in public the West simply presented this as evidence of that drunken criminal being a man of the people who liked a drink just like the rest of his fellow citizens citizens did and that he was certainly no scheming Kremlin apparatchik, just a lovable old drunken provincial rogue with a heart of gold.

        • marknesop says:

          Oh, I don’t know. Bush on his bike – on which the center of gravity was apparently never the same from one ride to the next – came in for a fair bit of ridicule.

          While researching stories of Bush falling off his bike (there were many, as well as extra credit for falling off his Segway), I actually came across a Bush joke I had never heard before. When asked for his impressions of his first hundred days in office, Bush responded, “Has it been a year already?”

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I can’t recall these Bush incidents. All these things must have happened before I went online and began web surfing about 10 years ago. Before that, my only news source was
            here, though I did on a few occasions try to I tried to tune into the BBC World Service radio transmissions, but gave it up as a bad job.

        • yalensis says:

          I would make more of a point that Putin actually kissed the fish on the mouth. So, he is perfectly okay with man on fish action, but won’t allow gay parades?

          • yalensis says:

            Leviticus 20:15
            “If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal. If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

            Repent ye sinners who snog with fish!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      I’ve just been watching the 9 o’clock news on TV this Saturday morning and the end story was about Putin’s “мини-отпуск” (mini-holiday) to the Tyva Republic, which is in southeast Siberia and borders onto Mongolia and the Altai Republic to the south. Tyva is very isolated. The Russian president was there with his prime minister and defence minister. According to the Rossiya24 TV channel report that I watched, the territory surrounding the lake where Putin landed a 21 kilogramme pike is mountainous, heavily forested and totally devoid of human habitation: for that reason, the place is crawling with wild life. In the feature you could see Putin and chums observing great huge elk, I think, drinking at the lake edge, and there were big cats there as well – they looked like a Siberian version of a mountain lion to me. Putin landed loads of large perch as well, but the prize catch was the pike, of course. “It’s a crocodile!” said his fishing guide as it was landed. And regardless of whatever mockery ROSBALT makes of Putin’s alleged squeamishness and cowardice, the president didn’t seem in any way shy to me: in fact, I thought he was foolishly reckless, in that as soon as the netted fish was landed, he put his hand straight into the landing net so as to catch his prey by the gills, and his guide cried out in alarm, “Watch out! It’ll bite.” Putin then pulled his hand away, but then tried to get hold of the pike again, as did his experienced guide, but this time taking considerable more care. Using a pair of pliers, the guide got the spinner out of the pike’s jaws, Putin lifted the beast up by its gills, looked at the camera – he was obviously pleased as Punch with his catch – then turned his head in order to give it a quick peck on its cheek. And that was that.

      When we catch pike so big in England, we usually put a spring loaded pike gag into its mouth so as to avoid being bitten – and they can bite! I remember one that 50 years ago dwelt in a big lake right near my old house in England: it killed a swan. This pike attack was witnessed by many and photographs of the incident appeared in our local newspaper. From that same lake a 23.5 pound pike was later landed, which might have been the fish that had killed the swan. That pike was the local record holder when I left my old neck of the woods, but it was only half the size of the one that Putin caught the other day.

      I’ve eaten pike on several occasions and it is tasty: I’ve eaten it back in England; I’ve eaten it here and in the Ukraine; and I’ve eaten it in Sweden. In Sweden it was I who caught the devoured fish and served by my Swedish hostess as fishballs. I reckon she must have parboiled the fish first, then picked off its flesh, which she then mixed with flour and herbs, then rolled out inton bite-size balls before cooking them in the fish bouillon that she had and in which she then served them. I cannot imagine eating pike whole, though, whether steamed in a fish kettle or baked: it’d be like trying to eat a pin cushion, I should think.

      Putin fanboy.

      • marknesop says:

        That’s just Surkov propaganda. The other fishermen are using the time-honoured and permissible gambit of extending the fish toward the cameraman at arms length so as to make theirs look bigger. I do the same, which leads people to ask how I could hold up a trout with one arm when its head is twice as big as mine in the picture. I tell them it’s all about staying in shape.

        Actually, it looks like what happened is Putin’s fish is weighed in pounds but mislabeled kilograms, while the other two weights are correct. Something like 21 pounds looks about right, there is no way that fish is 46 pounds; in fact, it would be only 2 ounces under the world record. He’d have to hold it at shoulder height, and still the tail would drag on the ground. As described here, a 40-inch (in overall length) pike with a girth of 22 inches (slightly thicker than normal proportions) would weigh about 19 and a half pounds. That looks about right for Putin’s fish.

        • yalensis says:

          Or it could be that Putin’s pike is very muscular. (Muscle weighs more than fat.)

          Those other fishes in the picture could be all fatty and blubbery, they were probably lazy and out of shape, whereas Putin’s fish trained and worked out every day, that’s why he was so heavy, albeit lean.

        • yalensis says:

          Krylov’s fable about the Swan, the Pike, and the Crawfish (crab?) :


          Лебедь, Щука и Рак

          Когда в товарищах согласья нет,
          На лад их дело не пойдет,
          И выйдет из него не дело, только мука.

          ____________

          Однажды Лебедь, Рак, да Щука
          Везти с поклажей воз взялись,
          И вместе трое все в него впряглись;
          Из кожи лезут вон, а возу все нет ходу!
          Поклажа бы для них казалась и легка:
          Да Лебедь рвётся в облака,
          Рак пятится назад, а Щука тянет в воду.
          Кто виноват из них, кто прав, — судить не нам;
          Да только воз и ныне там.

          Here is an English translation of the poem – it’s better in Russia, but whatever…


          Swan, Pike And Crawfish

          When partners can’t agree
          Their dealings come to naught
          And trouble is their labor’s only fruit.
          ____________

          Once Crawfish, Swan and Pike
          Set out to pull a loaded cart,
          And all together settled in the traces;
          They pulled with all their might, but still the cart refused to budge!
          The load it seemed was not too much for them:
          Yet Crawfish scrambled backwards,
          Swan strained up skywards, Pike pulled toward the sea.
          Who’s guilty here and who is right is
          not for us to say-
          But anyway the cart’s still there today.

          Ivan Andreevich Krylov

  60. yalensis says:

    I “reported” before that Navalny is running an American-style political campaign for Mayor.
    And sure enough, American-style, Navalny is flooding the campaign with millions of rubles, in an attempt to buy his way into office. Navalny himself brags that he has collected over 5.5 million rubes in the course of a single day. Yandex/Paypal accounts were set up by Navalny’s associates Vladimir Ashurkov and (?) L’askin (don’t know his first name or who he is).

    Money has been pouring into these funds from business and oligarchic interests. Navalny’s campaign manager, Leonid Volkov, on an episode of the reality show “Srok” bragged about Navalny’s support among “big business” and how they were helping to fund Navalny’s Mayoral race as Step #1 in the Oligarchic Revolution, see this comment and link on Navalny’s blog for the Volkov interview.

    Meanwhile, another anti-Navalny commenter posted this quote from Ashurkov’s Facebook revealing how he (Ashurkov) is bending campaign funding laws to pour all this money into Navalny’s campaign. Very American-style, no?

    PARTIAL TRANSLATION OF ASHURKOV’S appeal for money

    Friends! After Alexei Navalny’s miraculous “deus ex machina” liberation, his electoral campaign continues….(…)

    It is obvious that (our) campaign needs significant resources. At the same time, the law sharply limits the possibilities of raising (money) for the election campaign. Only electronic (no cash) bank transfer to an account in SberBank, with very firm rules about the designation of the funds (….)
    This is doable for most people, but we would like to widen the possibilities for our donors, by allowing them to (make donations) via bank card (….) the most convenient method for this is the Yandex “basket”. Hence, we thought up the project “Credit on Trust” [?] which allows us to achieve this while staying within the formal limits of the law… (…)
    I personally contributed one million rubles (maximum allowed by a physical person) (….)

    END OF TRANSLATION

    In conclusion, the oligarchic forces which stand behind Navalny are really ramping up their game right now, and pouring huge money into his campaign. Well, they figure, it worked for Barack Obama, so maybe it will work for Alexei Navalny!

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. clarification on what Navalny is requesting (it isn’t that clear, and I only got this after reading some more of the comments): He is asking his hamsters to send their (more modest) donations into the Yandex accounts of Ashurkov and L’askin, to compensate these big spenders for the money they shelled out in the past couple of days. So, for example, Ashurkov donated a million rubles, and so did L’askin, whoever he is.
      Now it is up to the hamsters to compensate them for their largesse. So, for example, if one milion hamsters donated one ruble each, then that would add to one million rubles. Assuming my math is correct.
      Yeah, like there’s that many hamsters in the world! In reality, there are only approximately 20,000 hamsters in all of Moscow. And most of them are not going to cough up any money or go to the trouble of wrestling with Yandex transactions.
      In conclusion, it is dubious that Ashurkov/L’askin will get their money back from the hamsters. And most of the money they contributed has already been spent on Navalny’s advertising expenses. (Not to mention, Volkov’s salary.)

      • yalensis says:

        I also forgot to mention: Navalny’s posse are saying that it is really tough to make campaign donations in the proper way, via SberBank, so much red tape and so time-consuming that it deters most people from trying. Whereas transerring money via Yandex is supposedly much easier. (I wouldn’t know; I don’t use Yandex.)

        Hence, McFaul I mean Navalny came up with this great idea of getting these rich donors to make big lump donations via SberBank, and now the smaller hamster-donors are asked to transfer cash back to the big donors via Yandex.

        What will be the result? Will they be able to raise the money?
        I don’t know. There is an old Russian proverb that when you try to shear a hamster, you get a lot of squeaking, but very little wool….

      • Jen says:

        Is there a possibility that the company or the guys who run Yandex might discover how Navalny’s support network plans to manipulate its payment facilities and either find ways of blocking them legally or monitor them?

        • yalensis says:

          Russian election laws are a complicated web. Navalny/Volkov are quite open about the fact that they are trying to get around election laws and limits on campaign funding while staying within the letter of the law. Basically, I think this is just a way for these wealthy donors to pour tons of money into the Navalny campaign while allowing him to claim, and make a face-saving declaration, that his campaign is actually financed by a multitude of small donors.

          For Navalny, this is all of a piece with everything that he does. For example, under the (admittedly arcane) election laws of Moscow, he was not able to scrounge up enough signatures on his own (of regional deputies) to get on the ballot. He came up with a fourth of the signatures that he needed, and then incumbent mayor Sob’anin (United Russia) magnanimously supplied him with the rest of the necessary signatures and got him on the ballot. Instead of thanking Sob’anin for the help, Navalny blustered and blew a lot of hot air, claiming that this was all the result of his massive support among the people.

          Similarly, when the Russian Bar Association and even Prosecutor Bogdanov (who had just successfully convicted Navalny of a felony) lended a helping hand to spring him out on jail during his appeal – did Navalny bow humbly and thank them? No! He blustered and blew hot air, and claimed that it was the throngs of millions in the streets who had successfully carried him on their shoulders out of that dreadful Bastille.

          Similarly, left to his own devices, Navalny would only be able to raise a fraction of the money that he needs to run his campaign. So a couple of rich oligarchs helpfully step up to the plate and write him some thick checks. So, once again, Navalny has to bluster, and “well, my hamsters will pay you back, so I am not beholden…”

          The reality is that those two donors will never see that money again. But they probably knew that. (Or have a deal with McFaul to get some of it back later, under the table and highly laundered.)

          Sorry, Jen, I didn’t answer your actual question. I don’t really know the answer. Anti-Navalny bloggers are calling for Navalny to disclose every Yandex transaction that goes into these accounts. And I am sure the Investigatiave Committee is keeping a close eye on all these shenanigans.

          • marknesop says:

            “And I am sure the Investigative Committee is keeping a close eye on all these shenanigans.”

            As well they might. I’m sure I don’t have to point out that this is a great way to funnel money to Navalny that he can later use for other political activities, under the guise of “campaign funds” – I’m sure potential donors realize the hopelessness of Navalny actually being voted in, and for his own part the hero likely has stars in his eyes caused by his strong showing as “virtual Mayor of Moscow” in that madcap computer vote years ago. Naturally if the voting were restricted to Navalny’s hamsters and nobody else, he would likely win. It might be a good idea to keep an eye on the finances of his above-named associates as well. Certainly no problem justifying that kind of snooping – if a maverick American politician had announced his threat to take the White House by mob if his demands were not met, he wouldn’t be able to pick up a phone anywhere in the world without the NSA scribbling notes.

          • Jen says:

            I thought perhaps the owners of Yandex might either monitor the inflows into Navalny’s accounts or request the Investigative Committee or an independent auditor to monitor them.

            I’d expect Navalny and all other candidates would be required by law to disclose all online transactions that exceed a certain amount but Navalny’s supporters could simply invent a multitude of false IDs behind which to send a mountain-load of tiny amounts. The flows of traffic into his Yandex accounts, any trends in the flows and where they are coming from need to be monitored as well.

    • marknesop says:

      It is going to be Russia’s fate for as long as Putin is in the big chair to have to fight off colour revolution after colour revolution. However, if serious money is spent on Navalny and he still flops – as he will, there is as much chance of Justin Bieber becoming lead singer of Slipknot as there is of Navalny becoming mayor of Moscow – perhaps people will be a little more careful with their investments next time. Still, (sadly) there is always money from somewhere for colour revolutions. And the money won’t be totally wasted: once again, we will be treated to blurry video of some guy doing something, and power of suggestion will do the rest when the world is told it is vote-rigging for Sobyanin. Once again we will hear the tale of the rubes who, all unknowing, walked up to some hamster volunteers and asked where they go to get paid for voting for Sobyanin. Every passing bus will bring a chorus of “carousel voting!!!”. This will serve to bolster the image of Russia as a corrupt hellhole totally owned by the government, where a straight guy who just wants to send all the black-asses back to the Caucasus and then cut it loose just can’t get a fair shot.

  61. Misha says:

    Reminded of the comparative lack of pro-Russian and pro-Serb folks (whether of Russian or Serb background or not) in American mass media, who express their sentiment.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/26/another-journalist-with-children-in-the-israeli-military/

  62. Aleks says:

    Re earlier comments on russian jews’ (Gesen, Eldar, Ioffe) hate of Russia:
    https://marknesop.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/im-sorry-we-dont-accept-u-s-dollars-have-you-any-rupelyuans/#comment-36206

    I came across this by accident in by Vox Tablet:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/podcasts/138356/the-children-of-refuseniks-report-from-the-frontlines-of-putin%e2%80%99s-russia

    The Children of Refuseniks Report From the Frontlines of Putin’s Russia

    Journalists Masha Gessen, Miriam Elder, and Michael Idov talk about a changing Russia and their place in it…

    In today’s Vox Tablet, contributor Julia Barton speaks to each of them about why they’ve chosen to live and work in the place from which their parents fled, what they want their readers to understand about life and politics in Russia, and what sort of future they see there, for themselves and for the country. [Running time: 14:00.]

    • Misha says:

      Thanks.

      Will gladly read a brief summation of that discussion. I’m not going out of my way to listen in.

      Idov is another person who I’m not impressed with, when it comes to intellectually taking a stand in a challenged situation, minus hack trolling.

      Tablet has a Judeocentric way of looking at things. Unlike Commentary, they’re willing to give somone like Norman Finkelstein a fair hearing.

  63. yalensis says:

    Navalny KirovLes technical development:
    Yesterday (Friday 26 July) Navalny’s attorney Vadim Kobzev informed the press that he had submitted paperwork to Kirov regional court, with the official appeal of Navalny’s conviction in KirovLes case.

    Technically Navalny had 10 days to submit his appeal (of Judge Blinov’s sentence) to the higher court. The conviction occurred on July 18, so the deadline was met with 2 days to spare. Attaboy, Kobzev!

    Next step is for the regional appellate court to go over the entire case with a fine tooth comb, review Judge Blinov’s verdict, and either uphold or overturn. I cannot find anywhere if there is a deadline for this. Most pieces say the appeal process could take months. In the meantime, Navalny/Ofitserov are out on bail and allowed to roam the pasture free range.

    (I saw one comment on a blog advising them to just go to the colony and get it over with. The sooner they start their sentence, the sooner they can come out.)

  64. Misha says:

    Re: http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-russia-kievan-rus-putin/25057758.html

    Excerpt –

    “Together with Russian state media, he has also pointedly referred to the celebration as the Christianization of ‘Rus’ — omitting the traditional reference to Kyiv, the former capital of Kievan Rus and the site where Grand Prince Vladimir ordered the Orthodox baptism of his kingdom in 988.

    *****

    The entity in question referred to itself as “Rus”. “Kievan Rus” is a latter day applied term.

  65. Misha says:

    matter that was brought up at this venue is mentioned in this piece:

    http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/07/27/russia-reaffirms-recognition-of-south-ossetia-and-abkhazia.html

    Excerpt –

    The US conducts biological activities along the Russian border. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs comment points out that «there is no documentary evidence that all the site under United States’ jurisdiction or control, which earlier participated in military biological programmes, have been destroyed or diverted to peaceful purposes pursuant to BTWC Article II. We are also seriously concerned with biological activities of the U.S. Department of Defence near Russian borders». It’s an open secret what kind of activities the National Public Health Reference Laboratory in Tbilisi, Georgia, is involved in. South Ossetia has reported that Georgia works on animal as well as human hostile viruses. (8) The last time serous meningitis came from the southern part of Russia. Gennady Onishenko, Russian chief health physician, said in this connection that a microbiology laboratory of the U.S. Navy continues to work in Georgia. Russian Rospotrebnadzor (the service for the oversight of consumer protection and welfare), believes the laboratory’s activities cause African swine fever which hits the bordering parts of Russia’s territory annually since 2007. This year the virus has struck 13 Russian regions, including those of Krasnodar, Rostov, Volgograd, Smolensk, Belgorod, as well as the vicinities of Moscow. According to Onishenko, the US has spent $350 million to create the naval research facility. Russia takes corresponding steps to counter the threat, including the acquisition of special equipment for South Ossetia and Abkhazia to monitor the environment and respond to emerging threats.

    • R.C. says:

      If Russia is serious about countering the threat, they’ll eventually have to destroy those labs in Georgia with airstrikes – especially after they’ve repeatedly raised the issue with the Georgian government to no avail. The US would not tolerate this for a second if it were the reverse and the Russians were operating a similar lab in Toronto or Vancouver.

      This is really the only way to make certain the threat as been eradicated.

      • marknesop says:

        Unfortunately, doing anything so overt would damage the Ivanishvili government beyond repair, shred budding re-establishment of the Georgia/Russia relationship and re-enable the pro-Saakashvili/pro-Western faction in Georgia. The Georgia border is extremely porous, and I’m sure if the USA were confronted by a similar problem they would find a way to insert a team who looked and sounded just like locals (child’s play in this particular instance, when there are probably many of Georgian descent serving in the Russian military) who would burn the facility to the ground in such a manner that it looked enough like an accident to provide Ivanishvili with political cover. Of course there would be an outcry and a great deal of finger-pointing, but it would die down quite quickly except among the fanatics, whose honesty is severely compromised already. No such cover would be afforded by wiping the place out with an airstrike, while such a move would invite a large and even more destabilizing buildup in Georgia of the U.S. military.

        Likely the continued development of the facility in plain view is prefaced on the knowledge that Russia is a silent supporter of the Ivanishvili government, and is in its own way an invitation to attack it. Such an attack would serve a dual agenda – getting rid of Ivanishvili (whose “cozying up to the Russians” would be blamed) and providing a convenient excuse for another American military buildup, since the facility is owned by a branch of the U.S. government.

        • yalensis says:

          In retrospect Russia should have bombed this facility during the 5-day war in 2008. They could have gotte away with it, so many other things going on, the fog of war, etc etc.

          Now it’s a bit late for that. Besides, if you were going to bomb a facility like that, you would first have to (1) make sure it was evacuated first, and (2) make sure all the germs were secured first so the bombing wouldn’t unleash them. So, it would be best to send a commando team in first to secure everything.

          At some point, however, this facility will have to be removed. It presents too much of a danger to the local populations and wildlife.

          • marknesop says:

            That’s why burning it makes sense. None of the pathogens would be likely to survive that, yet it could be made to appear an accident. Of course a way would have to be devised to get all the people out; you don’t want any deaths.

    • marknesop says:

      Wow. That is an ass-kicker, isn’t it? I don’t know that a better summation will be produced anywhere, in any language.

      • yalensis says:

        I just read it and I am floored. You could knock me over with a feather. It’s just that good. Mercouris covered every single freaking point, zooming in on all the core issues, and it all makes sense.
        And this, given that we know how fiendishly busy Alexander was and didn’t have time to do it. I feel bad for bugging him about it, but I am glad I did, because the result is awesome!

        5 thumbs up.

        • Gosh guys thanks, but I can say again I couldn’t have done it without your help and Yalensis it was you who did all the heavy lifting.

          • yalensis says:

            Aw shucks, Alexander, you make me blush!

            P.S. I like your comment to Peter about the Walmart analogy. An even more precise analogy would be this: Peter walks into the local Walmart, tells the store manager that he has been sent by Sam Walton to whip the store into shape. The next day he brings in his good friend, Mark Chapman, whom he introduces as a marketing consultant. Mark, he says, is going to set up a distribution network and sell Walmart stuff over the internet. The store manager will sell them the goods at half price, Mark will re-sell product over the internet at full price, and the three of them will split the profit.

            The store manager balks at the idea, he doesn’t think it sounds legal. So Peter threatens him: “You got a nice store here, be a shame if something was to happen to it.” Peter tells the guy he is close friends wtih Sam Walton, Sam will fire his ass if he doesn’t do what he is told. The store manager turns into a bowl of jelly.

            In conclusion, Mark and Peter are such scoundrels, one wonders how could they even think up such a scheme??

            • marknesop says:

              You don’t dare put me away, because I…umm…I want to run for Prime Minister of Canada!!! There, if you prosecute me, it’s all politically motivated. WalMart was a failure when Peter and I took it on, out of the goodness of our hearts and out of a desire to see the locals benefit. Oh, and the Chinese, of course, who make everything WalMart sells. You know nothing about how free enterprise works, we could have been contenders, but you ruined everything just as it was starting to take off. Peter and I never made a kopek out of the deal, so there. And if you do imprison me, which you dare not but just if you do, a million people will come into the street and demand you free me, because freedom and democracy will be in that prison cell with me, for I am the people’s champion. Take that to the hospital, black-ass.

  66. Misha says:

    Don’t be fooled by the title of this piece:

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/07/27/205795904/when-it-comes-to-extraditions-russia-often-cooperates

    ———————————————————–

    As stated, Babich says that Putin clearly dislikes Snowden:

    http://www.npr.org/2013/07/27/205946133/public-opinion-may-give-russia-an-edge-in-snowden-case

    I previously expressed the view that a part of Putin is probably not so comfy with Snowden’s whistleblowing.

    Babich goes onto say what I expressed about the problem for Obama if Snowden is still in Russia during the upcoming G-20 meeting.

    ———————————————————–

    No reference to “Kievan Rus” in this piece:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/world/europe/putin-in-ukraine-to-celebrate-a-christian-anniversary.html?_r=0

    ———————————————————–

    NBC getting pressured:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/27/nbc-criticized-for-broadcasting-anti-lgbt-russias-2014-winter-olympics/

    I don’t offhand recall NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics reporting on human rights issues in China.

    • R.C. says:

      This LGBT push is really starting to get on my nerves. What gives? It’s cynically being used to pester Russia about something that the US and many other western countries are still grappling with. Gay marriage is only legal in 13 US states and nearly half the country is still opposed to gay marriage. This is nothing more than a twisted ploy to find another excuse to stage a boycott of the games. Employing this logic, you could literally boycott ANY country for some domestic position that some group may find offensive. It doesn’t help that this whole “ant-gay rights bill” is being intentionally misreported in the western press anyway by leaving the mistaken belief that the bill criminalizes homosexuality and will not allow gay athletes to perform at Sochi.

      • Misha says:

        Willingly or not, perhaps this chap will somehow get involved:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Weir

        For years, there’ve been efforts to get formal LGBT participation in NY’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade:

        http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/03/leading_nyc_mayoral_contender.html

        I understand this has been true in Boston as well.

        The NY version of that parade has included a Jewish contingent marching with green yarmulkes.

        LGBT people of Irish background want to be part of a process that has come to express a pride in a national identity.

        I’d like to think that there will be LGBT Russians who will say nyet to a Sochi winter Olympic boycott.

      • yalensis says:

        American figure skater Johnny Weir agrees that a Sochi boycott is a bad idea. Weir is both openly gay and also a Russophile (a nuance that this particular piece does not mention). Weir studied Russian, respects Russian culture, and for years trained with a Russian coach. I share Weir’s disappointment in the recent legislation and other moves against gays, which assign them pariah status and will surely lead to more religious fundamentalism, intolerance, violence and public disorder. Instead of alienating friends like Weir, Russia should hold him up as an example of foreign gays who respect Russia. (Tchaikovsky is an example of a Russian homosexual who was also fiercely patriotic.)

        Russian gays are adopting a wrong tactic when they align with Europe and Russia’s enemies and don white ribbons, etc. This is one of the reasons why the majority of Russians are turning agianst them. (Another reason being basic ignorance about the nuances of human sexuality.) To achieve eventual acceptance Russian gays need to take a step back from politics and start working to promote basic ideas of tolerance. As R.C. notes, gays are cynically being used by Western interests, who don’t give a damn about them, just see them as another hammer with which to beat Russia.

        • Misha says:

          My intuition kicked in again.

          • yalensis says:

            Recall that in earlier years Weir came in for some savage criticism in American press. Not for being gay, but for being pro-Russian. One time, while training at a Russian ice rink, Johnny was given a T-shirt by his Russian skater friends, the T-shirt said CCCP (=USSR). Johnny wore the T-shirt proudly until he was hounded by American press, who questioned his patriotism. He had to go on the defensive and try to prove that he was an American patriot and not a commie traitor.
            Now these same jackals are trying to back Weir into a corner again, trying to force him to come out for a boycott on the gay issue. Johnny is trying to resist the hysteria as best he can, but unfortunately the recent homophobic actions of the Russian government are only feeding red meat to Russophobes of various stripes in the West.

            • Misha says:

              Between now and February, something especially dramatic will have to happen if any noticeable boycott of the Sochi winter Olympics is to take place.

              http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_07_18/Snowden-ridicules-Sen-Grahams-proposal-to-boycott-Sochi-Olympics-4340/

              Excerpt –

              “In 1980, the US and 64 other countries boycotted the Summer Olympic Games in Moscow to protest the alleged invasion of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The Soviet Union paid back by boycotting the Los Angeles Olympics four years later, alongside with 13 member states of the Warsaw Pact. These events took their toll on the Games and twice deprived the world of the spectacular standoff that its two long-time favourites, namely the US and the USSR, could have offered to the expecting audience.”

              ****

              There were more than 13 countries boycotting the 1984 summer Olympics. Romania was the lone Warsaw Pact country not boycotting that Olympiad. Not understood on the stated number “13 member states of the Warsaw Pact”.

              • marknesop says:

                For one thing, we don’t know what Snowden is actually saying via twitter; newspapers could report most anything and Snowden is not going to rebut it. I find it hard to believe he is actually taunting Graham like that, referring to him as a “degenerate”. That is possibly embellished just to goad a western audience.

                That aside, the strongest argument against the USA boycotting the games is that they would likely stand alone in doing so. The USA cannot count on a broad coalition in this, because many allies are miffed at the news that American intelligence services are collecting phone and internet data on their citizens, with the cooperation of the big American browser engines. Snowden is not looked upon with the hatred and spite outside the USA that is expressed within it. The USA would look foolish and petulant if it were the only country to not show up.

                • Misha says:

                  That piece came from VoR with a repost at US-Russia.org.

                  Two venues which would improve upon the pro-Rusian position with the added competent input of some others.

                • yalensis says:

                  I googled “Is Lindsay Graham a degenerate?” and came up with this Neo-Nazi website which claims Graham likes to entertain nude young males in his hotel room.
                  Don’t know how much credence to place in the ravings of neo-Nazis, however there are other sources such as this one , which claim that Graham, like many powerful U.S. senators, is a closet gay.
                  That may be what Snowden was referring to in his tweet, if indeed that was Snowden. Which it could have been. .

                • marknesop says:

                  I don’t think there’s anything “closet” about it; Graham is widely known to be gay, and as some of his Republican colleagues have remarked, perhaps that was in the cards as soon as his parents named him “Lindsey”.

                  I certainly hope Snowden did not say that; he had better start acting hero-like, or he is going to start losing international support. It doesn’t take much, just a couple of careless – and offensive – remarks.

                • yalensis says:

                  Nobody really knows anything about Snowden’s politics or attitudes on social issues.

                  I did find this interview with Snowden’s father. The dad comes off as a very reasonable man who cares about his son and is appalled by the Obama administration’s trashing of the American Constitution.
                  As for Senator Graham being openly gay, I didn’t know that. If Snowden called him a “degenerate”, maybe he was just referring to his bunga-bunga parties with nude male strippers in the Israeli hotel rooms.

                • marknesop says:

                  I didn’t say Graham is openly gay, just that he is known to be gay. Graham himself denies it, and in fact this is the first I have ever heard of him being caught in anything like a compromising situation. Also, you have to count at least half of the accusations from Republicans that Graham is gay as springing from fury at his voting record, which sometimes displeases them. In the end, though, a denial of being homosexual from a Republican means nothing, since there is a lengthy list of those who have publicly taken virulent anti-gay positions only to be found in somewhat more cuddly positions with another of their own gender somewhat later.

                • Jen says:

                  Dick Cheney is known to support same-sex marriage and I believe he has done so for a long time since his daughter Lyn came out as a lesbian. His voting record while in Congress didn’t always reflect his support for gay rights.

                  Also entertaining nude young males, especially if they are teenagers, isn’t evidence of homosexual tendencies in itself if it’s one occurrence or a few. That behaviour could also be an expression of a power fantasy involving suppressed rage at a parent or other significant authority figure or other emotion that some politicians and other men in positions of power might have, depending on their backgrounds.

                • marknesop says:

                  When John Kerry, failed presidential candidate, mentioned Cheney’s support of gay rights and that his daughter was a lesbian, the reaction from the Cheneys was as if he had just outed her, and nobody knew. Mrs. Cheney (Lynne; his lesbian daughter is Mary) was choleric with rage and referred to him as “despicable”.

                  A strange reaction considering Lynne Cheney herself is the author of “Sisters”, a spicy romance novel constructed on a lesbian theme.

        • Dear Yalensis,

          “Russia’s gays are adopting a wrong tactic when they align with Europe and Russia’s enemies and don white ribbons etc.”

          I totally agree. Until a few years ago gay rights in Russia were making quiet progress in a society that remains strongly hostile to the whole concept. This is now being put at risk by the aggressive actions of some gay activists and the equally aggressive support for them in the west. All this is doing is provoking a backlash. In the light of this aligning with the west is an unbelievably foolish idea.

          The best thing supporters of gay rights can do in Russia is go about their ordinary lives confronting prejudice when they meet it. This is not an easy thing to do but over time it is the best and most effective way to turn opinion round. It is what turned opinion round in the west where opinion in my lifetime was every bit as hostile to gay rights as it is now in Russia. As for the west, what it should do is leave alone. Calls for boycotts simply confirms the identification of gays with the west and makes gays even more unpopular with most Russians than they already are.

          As for the boycott of Stolichnaya, what makes that especially silly is that it is not even distilled in Russia. It is actually distilled in Latvia though it does source Russian products.

          • marknesop says:

            Say, Alex – I meant to ask you; how did your television appearance go? Is there a clip of it anywhere?

            • Dear Mark,

              The simple answer is I don’t know. They have sent me a link but I haven’t yet found the time/screwed up the courage to look at it. They can’t have been unhappy because a week later they asked me for an interview on Snowden but I was so busy I had to turn it down.

              What I would say is that it was totally unscripted, happened in a studio on a boat, there was no screen to look at but only a camera, the earphone until just before the broadcast was constantly falling out (I have unusually small ears apparently) and the sound was constantly getting interrupted before the broadcast. Fortunately the problems with the earphone and the sound were resolved before the interview started. One thing that was not resolved was that they plonked a water glass in front of me presumably as a prop. I asked them to remove it in case I knocked it over by mistake whilst I was speaking. Despite my asking them to do this at least five times they didn’t do it. The combination of that with the problems with the sound and the earphone did make me nervous. I hope I wasn’t sounding pompous and looking reptilian as I sometimes do.

              The one thing I would say is that I got the impression that the interviewer was surprised by the brevity of my answers. As I couldn’t see him that might not of course be true. He did mispronounce my name but then everyone does.

              Anyway as I said they can’t have been too unhappy if they wanted me to broadcast again a week later.

              After I’ve finally screwed up the courage to watch it I’ll post the link here.

          • yalensis says:

            I didn’t know Stoli was distilled in Latvia.
            God, that would make a boycott even worse, then. Latvia isn’t doing too well right now, they need every buck they can get.

            • cartman says:

              Yuri Shefler may have Purchased the Malibu Estate for $75 million

              He’s the guy who sold himself Stoli for $300,000. NY judges have consistently held up his rights to the trademark, so he has consistently held the Western market for Stoli through Pernod Ricard. I don’t know how many homes and yachts he needs, but he has a lot.

              Also, according to ru-mafia he is gay himself:

              “Containers with cocaine in Kamaz trucks moved to the head office of “Beltechexport” via
              route Slutsk-Minsk passing military checkpoint. On route these trucks were not guarded cause of possibility of information leak, but the Security Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus blocked all entrances and exits to the highway and highway Slutsk-Minsk itself by conspiracy process as training anxiety courses. On the Beltechexport base cocaine was sent to Latvia, via pass made by organized group: Viktor Sheiman, Leonid Rozhetsky (American businessman and millionaire of Russian origin), Mikhail Koluzhny (the son of former Russian ambassador in Latvia Viktor Koluzhny) and Yuri Shefler (the owner of SPI Group). By the way, (Igor) Yusufov had intimate relations with all of mentioned above. This group sometimes called as “Elite” of gay society.”

              Rozhetsky is the lawyer who disappeared in Latvia a few years ago. He was supposedly part of this cartel to smuggle cocaine into the Russian Federation.

  67. SFReader says:

    BREAKING NEWS!

    Cruiser “Moskva” in the Atlantic, in a region known as Bermuda triangle, has found an abandoned ship – yacht owned by Norwegian called Gunnar Egil Myrhe.

    Russian marines have boarded the yacht and found no people on board and no signs of crime or anything which could have explained what happened to the yacht owner or passengers (if any were present).

    Few hours before sighting, crew of carrier “Moskva” has witnessed a rare natural (or perhaps unnatural phenomen) – flashes of light on the horizon resembling lightning, but no sounds of thunder.

    Russian defense channel “Zvezda” has a TV crew aboard cruiser “Moskva” who were first journalist to report this news.

    • marknesop says:

      There has been a general fatigue with the spooky goings-on in the Bermuda Triangle over the last decade, and a tendency to regard them with weary skepticism; this is likely to stir them up again. They got some good footage, it should be useful for analysis. So far as I saw they handled the search of the boat and the preservation of evidence very professionally as well, which will go far toward ruling out certain fates for the unfortunate owner, at least, although we may never learn what did happen to him. Interesting; except for some sloppiness with the sheets and sails lying in the water – suggesting the boat weathered a storm that the owner did not, and he may simply have been struck by the swinging boom and knocked over the side – the boat looks in very good shape.

      In the “suggested” clips that always come up at the end of play, there was this very good one of the Russian and Chinese fleets exercising together; it closes with a very nice shot of VARYAG passing the ship which has the TV crew aboard – I believe it is MARSHAL SHAPOSHNIKOV. These are units of the PacFlt, based out of Vladivostok, and I know them well. ADMIRAL PANTELYEV was part of the 2012 RIMPAC exercises with the western navies off Hawaii; she, like ADMIRAL VINOGRADOV and SHAPOSHNIKOV, is a UDALOY Class ASW Destroyer. Beautiful ships, and very impressive also are the new Chinese designs. I was aboard one of the earlier “modern” Chinese frigates, the WUXI, and her construction and design were frankly terrible. It is apparent the Chinese have leaned a great deal since then.

      • yalensis says:

        There is nothing spooky about Bermuda Triangle, it is just an area fraught with currents and storms. Was Gunnar sailing alone on his yacht in a storm? Unfortunately, I think your theory is right that the poor guy just got banged around and knocked overboard by a swinging boom. Now he is resting in Davy Jones Locker.

  68. marknesop says:

    Political dynamite. Those opposed to the bland official version of events have been searching for literally years for evidence that Saakashvili’s government was arming and equipping Chechen radicals, and this just might be the thin edge of the wedge.

    • yalensis says:

      “Nanuashvili’s report indicates the existence of a secret programme, run by officials of Georgia’s previous UNM government, to arm and train Chechen and Islamist militants.”

      If it was so secret, then how come everybody knew about it?

      • yalensis says:

        In other news:
        Bear Spokesman Bearashvili confirms what many people have long suspected: that bears do indeed s**t in the woods!

    • Jen says:

      This could either be an example of a false flag attack, in which responsibility for the Chechen attack on Georgian sovereignty might be blamed on Russian incompetence or on Kadyrov’s Mafia godfather tendencies (real or supposed) in order to pressure the Georgian government to spend more on defence perhaps, or a training session that went wrong.

      Incidentally in April this year Akhmad Zakayev said on Georgian radio that Mikheil Saakashvili’s government had been training and arming a group of Chechen rebels for some time with the intention of sending them into Russia in 2012.
      http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_04_26/213348947/

  69. http://en.rian.ru/crime/20130728/182463709/Russian-Cop-Attacked-by-20-25-People-to-Undergo-Brain-Surgery.html

    Let me guess. Those 20-25 people who attacked the police are Chechens or other Caucasus Muslims.

    • marknesop says:

      Is there anything in the article which suggests that? Is western Moscow a hotbed of Chechen militant activity?

    • SFReader says:

      Here is a video of the incident – they are certainly from Caucasus, but I don’t know their nationality (there are dozens of ethnic groups in Caucasus).

      Gandhian pacifism and non-resistance demonstrated by Moscow police in this incident is utterly bewildering to anyone familiar with typical behavior of cops in Western countries.

      In America, they would be shot or tasered or at the very least summarily arrested (and promptly sentenced to several years in prison, I am sure)

      • yalensis says:

        Is the rapist’s wife the woman in green dress who is speaking on the pink cellphone?
        Probably all members of the same extended family…

      • yalensis says:

        More info about Dagestanian guy who beat up cop.
        He was accused of raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl. Cops came to arrest him. He plus relatives resisted arrest and beat up cop quite severely.

        Now Dagestanian guy is claiming that he never raped the girl in the first place. He tried to rape her, but didn’t succeed:

        “I only fondled her. She was wearing black jeans, I took them off. She screamed. I couldn’t get it up (after that), and I didn’t rape her.”

        Oh, and turns out that lady in green who helped beat up the cop is the sister of the wannabe rapist. She has been arrested too.

      • Yes, Russian Slavs are a bunch of pansies and this is why a much smaller group of Caucasus Muslims are able to terrorize them and boss them around.

        • And the Russian police will most likely just release all those Dagestani thugs even if that beaten Russian policeman was seriously injured. Why? Because Putin government fears that it bringing these people to justice will anger the Caucasus Muslims and cause even more violence.

          I have a feeling that Putin’s eventual downfall will be because of the Caucasus Muslims. Many ordinary Russians already think that the government and the police are not doing enough to protect them from these thugs.

          • marknesop says:

            Gee, Karl; Muslims work you into quite a state, don’t they? Be careful not to get any of that on you, it looks like foam – it might stain.

            I keep telling you; Russia must either make its peace with the Muslims, or go in with the iron fist and smash everything to rubble and enslave them. Which is the more politically palatable, do you think? There are no other options, because cutting them loose and giving them their own Islamic republic will result only in the radical border being moved that much closer. If the world has learned anything about radical fundamentalists, it is that they will not be satisfied if you get sick of fighting them and just let them have the land they were fighting over. They will feel it is their duty to liberate all their brother Muslims still in Russian lands. The west thinks it could solve this problem easily, because it has nothing to compare it with. The British have the IRA, but Ireland has been fairly quiet for a long time. The USA has the poor Mexicans trying to sneak in to get jobs, and even that is portrayed as an invading horde which needs a huge border-patrol presence to keep it under control. The USA would be at its wits end in a week if it bordered on the Caucasus republics.

            Additionally, the Caucasus region is heavily subsidized by Moscow, and dropping the subsidy would mean crushing poverty. And in that funny way things are perceived in the world, that would be Russia’s fault, so the Muslims would have to fight Russia to get back what they used to get for free. Meanwhile the west would beat a steady drum about Russian repression of the Caucasians, and a steady stream of accounts of atrocities committed against the peaceful people of the Caucasus would flow from rags like Novaya Gazeta and the Moscow Times and the New Times.

            It’s much easier – and cheaper in the long run – to try and get along. I’m sure that doesn’t suit the way you’d do it, Dr. Exterminato, but fortunately you are not running the Russian Federation.

  70. Misha says:

    One sided documentary on the Crimean Tatars:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2012/05/2012517132318999379.html

    Suggests that they were in Crimea before the Rus Slavs (folks related to modern day Russians and Ukrainians). No mention of the Crimean Tatar Khanate slave trade. Heavy emphasis on how Russia “conquered” Crimea in the late 1700s.

    This doc does note that Crimean government affiliated TV has done shows on the plight of the Tatars. After being deported, a good number of them have returned with a memorial noting their deportation.

    • kirill says:

      The British, the French and later the Americans conquered North America. Drove the indigenous population into reservation ghettos and to this day denies aboriginals the treaty rights they signed supposedly in good faith. I would say Tatars have had it much easier. If they got the North American treatment, there would be less than 10% of them left and they would have a snowball’s chance in Hell reclaiming any land.

      • Misha says:

        Less lavochka (cronyism) and a greater inclusion of competent pro-Russian advocacy, which has (by and large) been shunned at the more high profile of venues will better counter the existing status quo.

        The likes of VoR and RT have yet to go full throttle. Others like JRL and TMT shouldn’t be directly or indirectly influencing who does and doesn’t get propped elsewhere.

      • Misha says:

        Re: http://ruvr.co.uk/2013_07_29/The-Russian-Orthodox-Church-part-of-Russias-DNA/

        Excerpt –

        “In 988 AD, in the ancient city of Chersonesos (on the outskirts of present-day Sevastopol, Crimea), Prince Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus was baptised into the Orthodox faith. When the Russian state began to expand in size, adherents to the Orthodox faith naturally increased, too.”

        ****

        Relates to the point about how the Tatars weren’t in Crimea before the Rus Slavs (the ancestors of Rusians, Ukrainians and Belarusians) as has been erroneously suggested, along with ignoring the slave trade of the Crimean Tatar Khanate – matters omitted in the above referenced Al Jazeera feature.

  71. Moscow Exile says:

    A worldwide homosexual nightclub/bar ban on imported Russian vodka is underway, according to an article in today’s Grauniad entitled: “No equal rights, no vodka nights: gay clubs boycott Russian imports”.

    In the article there appear the usual misstatements concerning “gay rights” in Russia:

    “The boycott comes in the wake of an increasingly aggressive crackdown on gay rights in Russia, including a controversial law signed last month by President Putin that banned the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships to children…”

    “… gay Russians live in fear of the authorities, and those authorities have hardened their resolve to criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people…”

    What exactly are these “rights” that Russian homosexuals are in possession of? Is it a “right” to display in mass demonstrations one’s sexual preferences in public?

    Are homosexual activities between consenting adults criminal acts in Russia?

    If not, are attempts really underway to criminalize such acts?

    Most importantly in my opinion, no matter what Western homosexual rights activists may think of the situation concerning “Russian queers and their allies”, the vast majority of Russian citizens have little or no sympathy for said “queers and their allies” in their claim that they have a right to demonstrate publicly their homosexuality in “gay parades”.

    My sister’s family lives in Manchester, UK, and last week, my niece sent me a link to an article concerning a petition organized by some Manchester homosexuals that Manchester city council sever its links with St.Petersburg because of the claim that “anti-gay legislation is making a rapid comeback” there.

    Manchester was “twinned” with the “Hero City” Leningrad during WWII and I should imagine that the “Manchester St Petersburg Friendship Society” (obviously Kremlin Stooges!) would be none too pleased with this petition made by some members of Manchester’s homosexual “community”.

    I wonder if any of the members of the Manchester St Petersburg Friendship Society feel that their right of freedom of association is being infringed upon as a result of the actions of a small number of their homosexual fellow Mancunians’ petition?

    It strikes me that these homosexual campaigners’ action against the importation of Russian vodka into the West have forgotten one major fact: the vast majority of Westerners, as elsewhere, are not homosexual and that when it comes to drinking vodka, very few of those Western heterosexuals who prefer to drink the real MacCoy would very likely show little inclination to abandon their favourite tipple in order to support a minority that is always,it seems, demanding special privileges.

    If Western homosexuals don’t like Russian vodka because they believe that Russians are homophobes – even thought they can’t help feeling that way because that was how they were born, as homosexuals are so fond of saying about themselves – then nobody is forcing them to drink it: they can always drink “Smirnoff” instead of “Смирновъ”.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s ridiculous – there’s no vodka in a Singapore Sling.

      Seriously, homosexuals perceive this as the new cause celebre, and also (wrongly) that the world is with them in unprecedented support. They know better than to bask in it – they must seize it and use it as an issue to crusade for more gay rights and protections. Gay activists are just like any other activists, and they know you must strike while the iron is hot.

      How far do you think a gay initiative to have more “access” to underage minors would fly in England? In fact, if the gays were not afraid to know the truth – or too cynical to care – their activists would be suggesting to municipal and federal politicians where they live that the very best way to shame the Russians would be to pass new laws in their own countries which would enshrine homosexuality as a completely natural and even desirable activity. I can promise you the response would dispel any illusions they might have about a rainbow wave of worldwide love for homosexuality.

      Newspapers are just jumping on the rainbow bandwagon because it is another opportunity to cast Russia as savage and barbaric, and really who would care if Russia relented and homosexuals were rutting in the streets of Moscow, unconcerned for the outrage of the straight majority? Just as long as they can preach tolerance and brotherly love at home, while keeping the gays firmly in line.

      In 2010, homophobic hate crime was on the rise across the United Kingdom. Has something happened to turn it into Poofterville since then? I doubt it.

      But the little corner of the UK you cited is not alone – far from it. Vancouver bars are doing the same, boycotting Russian vodka, based on the entirely wrongheaded information that Russia has passed laws forbidding “the promotion of homosexuality”. Don’t even read the comments, the oafish stupidity of my countrymen is just too sad – says one, “Vodka is a significant export for Russia. Hell, it’s practically replaced their currency in many parts of their economy. Even school teachers have been paid in vodka when there’s no money to pay them. A global boycott on Russian vodka would have a major impact on their economy.” He is apparently from the British Columbia Institute of Technology – I pray he’s just a student, there’s still time for him to learn. I badly wanted to leave a stinging rebuttal, but the new “thing” seems to be you have to log in to your Facebook account to comment. I did that once before, not because I was interested in Facebook, but just because I had to comment on the remarkable ignorance on show on that particular occasion, and again, you had to be on Facebook to comment. So I signed up. The comment was deleted in less than a half-hour, and I was inundated over the next few days with requests to “friend up” with people I hadn’t heard of for years. Rather than insult them, I just deleted the account; once bitten, twice shy.

      Oh, look. American gay bars are boycotting Russian vodka, too. Isn’t that cute? They want to support their gay Russia