Don’t Forget Your Lunch

Uncle Volodya says, "Chavez drank too much. When he gave blood last time, there was an olive in it."

Uncle Volodya says, “Chavez drank too much. When he gave blood last time, there was an olive in it.”

I have been persuaded, because the large number of comments on the last post is causing the post to load slowly, to move on somehow. A “stub” was recommended, which is really just a title page with no content, but I didn’t really want to do that. Still, I need to buy some time while I get the next post together, and I remember I once discussed with Anatoly (we were talking about doing a kind of forum post which would feature, in this case, three authors; Anatoly, somebody else and I, I can’t remember who the third one was now. Anyway, it would be called “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, and each of us would take and defend a different government model. Because it was my idea, I would get to defend Autocracy. It’s actually pretty similar to what happens in discussion groups) the idea of a “Field Trip”. Actually just an extension of what happens when somebody posts a link on the blog, in the case of a field trip we would all go to that blog post, read it and leave our comments there. I thought it would be a good way to promote blog posts that are in the public interest to read, and it would also be a way to express collective displeasure at a particularly ignorant point of view. Of course, if there are a large number of adverse comments the blog author or author of the article is likely to accuse us all of being Kremlin stooges or in the pay of the FSB, but what the hell. I’ve been called worse.

Accordingly, the post I have chosen for our first field trip is crazy Brillo-head Yulia Latynina’s “Warning for Putin in Chavez’s Hospital Stay“, in which she…well, it’s best if you see for yourself. As usual, she opens her mouth, and the bullshit starts to flood out. She mocks and disses Cuban health care just as if she knows what she’s talking about, when in reality it is internationally recognized for its excellent standards, although Cuba is a very poor country. As usual, Latynina’s position is to leave readers wondering if perhaps Chavez might be alive today if only he had not chosen to go with Kommie Health Kare and went to one of those fancy American clinics, where doctors are naturally much smarter just by virtue of being American. Any American feeling down in the dumps, really, on any subject, would be well-advised to spend a half-hour talking with Latynina – she would blow so much sunshine up his ass that he would leave with the ability to fry eggs with the rays shooting out his eyes. Unbelievable.

Anyway, I left a comment there already this afternoon, and although The Moscow Times did not used to permit comments before, it does now. They have actually adopted an enviable format – I’m not quite sure how they do it – which allows the author of the comment only to edit it later if you discover you have made a spelling mistake, something like that. Nobody sees the “edit” command (at the bottom of the comment) except the original author, because obviously if it were available to all, people would alter each other’s comments. Anyway, take a look, see what you think, and if you feel like it, please leave a comment there. Of course you are free to comment here as well. Come on, bring your lunch, and let’s go. I hope you remembered to put on clean underwear; you never know when you might be hit by a bus.

This entry was posted in Corruption, Government, Politics, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Yulya Latynina and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

875 Responses to Don’t Forget Your Lunch

  1. Robert says:

    Meanwhile the new Chinese president, Xi Jinping, makes his first visit abroad and meets with Putin in Moscow. He’s given a tour of the Russian military strategic command centre.
    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2013/03/first-results-from-russia-china.html

    Latest arms deal between Russia and China
    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2013/03/first-results-from-russia-china.html

    It didn’t have to be this way. If the West had treated Russia decently after the collapse of communism and had come up with a Marshall Aid program to finance the transistion to capitalist democracy (as George Soros advised among others) instead of helping the mafia oligarchs loot the country Russia might have become an ally and friend of the United States as Germany did after the war. Now Vladimir Putin is no friend of ours and Russia is in the Chinese camp. Chickens coming home to roost. China and Russia together are potentially a match for NATO.

    • marknesop says:

      You must have missed Ken’s comment on this, but both of you have captured the essence of the next post, which is underway. Indeed, China and Russia as allies should be a matter for western concern, although the USA in particular pooh-poohed the idea of a Chinese threat to their global domination for the longest time despite repeated warnings. Indeed, it did not have to be that way and the west did treat Russia shabbily and continues to do so despite snuggling up to former enemies as if they had always been friends. And indeed, both Russia and China showed little inclination to be more than arms-length business associates, while Russia continued to hope for a western thaw, until very recently, when Russia appeared to just give up and to draw closer to China in the interests of reasonable self-preservation, to look after the interests of its people and to begin drawing away from the west in terms of both friendly relations and commercial reliance on western energy markets.

  2. Ken Macaulay says:

    Another amusing article by John Helmer, this time about the various dodgy goings-on with the Nigerian Navy. Apparently much of the piracy out of the Delta is directly run by this ‘navy’, which is really a protection racket where they own approx. half the pirate ships that they then provide ‘protection’ from for rich western companies through a series of dodgy security companies.
    The Russian angle comes in from a security vessel run by a Moscow based company that provides real security to transport vessels that had been seized recently by the Nigerian ‘navy’, who claimed that the vessel was smuggling weapons. Helmer doesn’t quite say it directly but provides plenty of details that the Nigerians saw this vessel as a threat to their little racket & tried to send a message, and it is backfiring badly – partly because the UK & Russia are standing together on this one, with the UK in mostly due to Lloyds losing big money in insurance claims & is getting extremely sick of the racket.

    The most amusing thing to me in this little saga is how much of a joke it makes of stuff like Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index – Nigeria is ranked at essentially the same level as Russia, but the realities are light years away from each other…

    • Moscow Exile says:

      An old pal of mine works as a chief-fitter for ExxonMobil. Most of the time during his employment with them he has been based in Nigeria. He does a month there, I think, then gets a couple of weeks off in the UK. He is flown into the ExxonMobil compound by helicopter, which is cordoned off by security fences and guards and the Nigerian army. The compound is situated in the Niger delta. He’s sent me pictures taken from the tops of the tanks at the oil farm and from where you can see the abject poverty and filth of an adjacent village on the banks of a sluggish, filthy looking delta stream that flows nearby: the village really does consist of mud huts. Three years ago, however, he was posted to Kazakhstan for one year. No paradise there, of course – the first couple of weeks when he was there the Kazakhs attacked the hired Turkish workers that ExxonMobil had brought in: there was a lot of bloodshed and the Turks were sent home and the locals were hired – but my pal much prefers Kazakhstan, where most of those in his charge were Russians anyway, to Nigeria.

  3. Ken Macaulay says:

    Forgot the actual article – well worth a read:
    Putin takes on Nigeria Navy – By John Helmer
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-01-270313.html

  4. Swoggler says:

    You guys are pretty savvy with the interwebs and with the Russkies…I want to gauge the interest of doing a little crowdsourcing experiment here. A few dozen replies ago someone pointed out, quite correctly, that Medvedev fired a whole bunch of people responsible for Magnitski’s death. Well…where are they now? I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that they are not all pounding the bricks looking for work by day and crying into their cups by night in profound regret over the way they messed up. I’ll wager some crow to be eaten publicly in these comments that some of the older ones retired but that most of them went on to equal or better jobs. Any takers?

    • Dear Swoggler,

      I have no idea what has become of these people. None of them was important or well known and no one would be interested in them were it not for their involvement with Magnitsky. Presumably most them have vanished into deserved obscurity. Since the Investigative Committee has concluded that no crime was committed, it’s not the government’s responsibility to pursue these people or to stand in their way of getting new jobs.

      If you feel that more action should be taken against these people, then the persons to urge such action of are Magnitsky’s family, who could bring a claim in negligence against the prison authorities generally and these individuals in particular for the negligent handling of Magnitsky’s imprisonment, which caused his death. I would very much support such a step, since there would be no better way than a court hearing of establishing what really happened to Magnitsky and of who was responsible for the negligence that caused his death. Unfortunately Magnitsky’s family don’t seem to be willing to take this step, probably because they fear it would undermine their claim that he was tortured and killed. If they don’t do it soon then it may become impossible to do it at all since civil claims for negligence in most jurisdictions and surely also in Russia must be brought within a fairly short time period, which in this case must be running out if it has not already done so.

      • Swoggler says:

        @ Alex. One of the theses of some of those who oppose the Magnitski Bill is that those who were most at fault for the man’s death were fairly punished and therefore the insistence of the West to pursue the matter further is unwarranted.

        My counter thesis is that the non-entities’ punishment (their firing) was for public consumption and didn’t amount to much of a punishment after all. I don’t expect you to be familiar with the fates of these guys. In fact, if you had that information at your fingertips it would go a long way to puncturing my theory.

        I get that “where are they now” is not a common device in Russian journalism. Too bad really…it’s great fun.
        http://www.salon.com/2013/03/01/scooter_libby_can_vote_again/

        • Dear Swoggler,

          I think if you forgive me saying so there is a non sequitur here. The assumption is that there is something the government could or should do to these people beyond firing them despite the fact that they have committed no crime. I don’t see that at all. If no crime was committed there was nothing more the government could or should do. If Magnitsky’s family are not prepared to take a civil case against these people (as they have a right to do) then it is unreasonable to demand that further action be taken by the government against people who have committed no crime and it would be vindictive and a gross violation of their human rights if it did. Remember prison officers may be unlikeable people and may have been personally negligent in this case but they have human rights too.

        • JLo says:

          I haven’t heard anyone here or anywhere else make that argument against the Magnitsky bill. Even the most hardcore posters at this site say quite the opposite, that those who were at fault for Magnitsky’s death should be severely punished and not doing so weakens Russia’s moral position. The arguments against it have to do with the fact that the measures introduced in the bill could be, and were, instituted without a separate law. Passing a law was a violation of due process, diplomatic norms and respect for sovereignty.

          • yalensis says:

            Exactly. Most people who have any familiarity with the Magnitsky case find it disgusting that a prisoner of the state, any prisoner, would be abused and/or neglected by those wardens who are paid to take care of him. There is a moral and ethical sense of outrage. But it quite a leap from that to something like the Magnitsky Bill, which is a cynical attack on Russia’s sovereignty. As to whether or not these meathead turnkeys got somebody else to hire them, I don’t know, they probably did. There are always plenty of jobs for muscular goons, like in the field of private security, or bodyguards, or bouncers at a nightclub.

            • Swoggler says:

              @Alex. Forgive me, but the non sequitur is your assumption that I’m calling for the Russian government to pursue those who were fired with further punishment. I’m not. That would be a violation of their rights under the Russian Constitution.

              My contention is that the fate of the “goons”, as yalensis describes them, and the “severe punishment” that JLo says is their due, is news and is relevant to the Magnitski legislation. Are those who were fired in positions of authority again? If so, how did they get those jobs after being fired by the President of their country for negligence? If they were immediately reintegrated into government work, is that fact relevant to the Magnitski Legislation?

              Well…I’ll take a crack at it anyway. Stay tuned.

              • Dear Swoggler,

                Fair enough! I too would be interested to know what has happened to these people.

                The one observation I would make viz Yalensis’s comments is that the Russian authorities do not accept that Magnitsky was physically mistreated. They attribute the bruises on him to the attempts that were made to restrain him when he was in the paroxysm that led to his death. Whether or not one believes that (I basically do since I have come across things like that myself though I am perfectly open to looking at any evidence that says the opposite), if that is what the Russian authorities think then the persons responsible for Magnitsky’s death were not his guards. The individuals who were to blame where those in the prison administration and in particular the medical officers (especially those in the Butyrka prison) who did not provide him with the treatment he needed.

                • kirill says:

                  Another issue pertinent to this whole discussion is that the USA has had its share of similar incidents and worse in its prison system. Yet somehow when it comes to Russia this grants the US special moral authority to pass extra-territorial laws aimed at coercing Russia’s judicial system.

                  Russia needs to pass a proper anti-Magnitsky law designed to combat foreign meddling. Any assistance or backing from the US to various 5th columnists in Russia should be specifically targeted. The USA is clearly not showing any good will towards Russia. So all this “human rights” BS is a fig leaf over malicious meddling. How about the human rights of Maxim? Oh, that’s right, Russians don’t have any rights since they are untermenschen.

                • yalensis says:

                  Clarification: the reason I called the guards “goons” is because of those photos of Magnitsky wrist bruising. To me that shows cruel and improper use of restraints. To be sure, those photos came from the Browder website, a source I implicity distrust.
                  Having said that, I agree with Alexander that the truly guilty parties are the prison officials and medical officers, not the rank and file types.
                  Having said that, Magnitsky was a Russian citizen, and his fate is none of the business of hypocritical Americans who pretend to care about other people’s human rights and who themselves run the most brutal prison system in the world.

              • JLo says:

                The non-sequitur is that the only thing relevant to the Magnitsky legislation is that nothing is relevant to the Magnitsky legislation. Even if those responsible for his death formed the new National Security Council in Russia, it’s still none of America’s business. I’m not sure what’s so difficult to grasp about this.

                • Swoggler says:

                  Fair enough…we don’t have to factor the American legislation or moralizing into the examination at all. In fact, if I recall the details correctly, Medvedev made sure to note that these guys were fired for reasons completely unrelated to Magnitski’s death. He cited something along the lines of “chronic problems in their departments” or some such. Dima brought the pink slip down hard on those guys without pesky Yankee input! So yeah…let’s look at them purely through the lens of Russians doling out justice to Russians.

                • May I just take this opportunity to say that I totally agree with the point Mark, JLo and Yalensis make, about Magnitsky’s death being a purely Russian issue and not in any way one that justifies US legislation.

                  I have been arguing this point now for months so I am beginning to become tired of doing so. Briefly, the Magnitsky law offends against every legal principle I know of. It purports to legislate about a crime supposedly committed in Russia by Russian citizens against another Russian citizen in a way that grossly infringes Russian sovereignty and were the US has no legal interest or jurisdiction. It presumes the guilt of individuals who may be innocent in a case where the Russian authorities say no crime was even committed. It pronounces on the guilt of those individuals in a way that requires the US Congress and the US government in breach of the doctrine of the separation of powers to assume the functions of a court.

                  If the US government does not want particular Russian individuals to visit the US or to open bank accounts there or to own property there, then by mere exercise of its state sovereignty it can ensure that none of these things happen. Preventing these things from happening absolutely does not require legislation and certainly not legislation that so grossly violates basic legal principles and norms.

              • Jen says:

                @ Swoggler: You would have to establish which of the medical staff, the prison wardens and security or the administrators running the prison should bear most of the responsibility for Magnitsky’s death. According to what I’ve seen on the Internet about his case, the immediate cause of death was sudden heart failure which can be brought about by shock which itself might have been caused by low blood pressure as a result of severe bleeding that pancreatitis (which Magnitsky had) can cause.
                http://www.emedicinehealth.com/pancreatitis/page3_em.htm#pancreatitis_symptoms

                According to this NYT article, Magnitsky had been transferred to a clinic hours before he died, was showing signs of psychosis and was put in isolation.
                http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/03/world/europe/03moscow.html?_r=0

                If Magnitsky had to be carried to the clinic, he would have been put on his back on a stretcher and the emedicinhealth.com link mentions that during an acute pancreatitis attack, the abdominal pain feels worse if the sufferer is lain down in his back. Combined with psychosis, this might suggest Magnitsky struggling with the prison guards who might then have put him on the stretcher and handcuffed him to it.

                • Swoggler says:

                  Mmm…no…you need to go back and read my original post on this. I’ll be happy to play the “Magnitski whodunit” sometime later but I can only take on so many avocational research projects at a time. I want to examine the fate of those who were fired (not tried) by President Medvedev for negligence at the time the Magniski affair was blowing up in the Russian media.

                  I want to see what this purely Russian vignette in the Magnitski saga resulted in. The guys Medvedev fired weren’t on any Browder film or mentioned anyplace else that I know of. They were identified and fired by Russians only. Sure Medvedev said their canning was not in any way an attempt to mollify the outrage swirling around at the time…but he had to say that…

                  Now if you’re contending that those who were fired (I really need to invent a name for this group…calling them “those guys” is uninspried) should have had their day in court…maybe they should have. But their firing was good enough for Medvedev so he, at least, disagreed. My examination won’t be to look for those who bear the most responsibility for Magnitski’s death…that’s a separate issue…I just want to see what happened to those who were actually fired.

                  I’m not sure why this is so hard to grasp

  5. yalensis says:

    Continuing above thread (it was getting too skinny up there) between Jen and MoscowExile concerning vocative case endings in Slavic languages.
    Linguist to linguist, I have to agree with MoscowExile that the frequency or dying out of various case endings has nothing to do with social issues or family structures of the time. People have to speak the language they have to speak, and they have to obey the rules of grammar, regardless what type of society they live in.
    (Don’t even get me started on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which most modern linguists regard as bogus!)

    Anyhow, Jen: it may be the case that men in a patriarchal society do not talk much to women, but they would still have reason to address feminine nouns, for example in this verse from the Russian national epic “Slovo of Polku Igoreve” (“The Lay of Igor’s Regiment”), where the bard addresses the Russian land “herself” (which is a feminine noun):

    О Руская земле! Уже за шеломянемъ еси!

    “O Russian Land! Thou art already behind the hill…” (’cause the regiment is moving South, into Polovetskian-held territories).

    http://nevmenandr.net/slovo/trans.php?it=a1

    So, if you were speaking to any feminine noun (earth, river, willow tree, etc.) you would use the vocative case.

    Also, Igor DOES talk to his beloved wife, Yaroslavna, quite a lot. She, in turn, spends most of her time loitering about on the town wall of Putivl, crying and wailing her heart-rending plaints.

    On different topic, here is a beautiful example of use of the dual case, this is Prince Sv’atoslav mentally rebuking his two sons, Igor and Vsevolod:

    «О, моя сыновчя, Игорю и Всеволоде! Рано еста начала Половецкую землю мечи цвѣлити, а себѣ славы искати. Нъ нечестно одолѣсте, нечестно бо кровь поганую проліясте. Ваю храбрая сердца въ жестоцемъ харалузѣ скована, а въ буести закалена. Се ли створисте моей сребреней сѣдинѣ!

    “O my [two] sons, Igor and Vsevolod! You [two] were too quick to go to war against the Polovetskian land, seeking glory for your [two] selves….” (he goes on to lament that his two sons were utterly crushed in battle against the Polovtsi)

    There is no way to render this dual subtlety into English. New Yorkers say “youse” and Texans say y’all, but in both cases it is the “you plural”, which could be 2 people or could be 10 people. The closest would be to say, “The two of yuz”. Don’t know Australian dialect, any duals or plurals?

    Note the completely different noun and verb endings when speaking of TWO things or people. It would have been the same if Sv’atoslav was talking to a pair of sticks, he still would have no choice except to use the dual declension.

    In summary, the reason that case endings change or even wither away and die have nothing to do with society and generally occur for 2 purely technical reasons:
    (1) phonetic sound changes which give rise to morphophonemic shifts; and
    (2) assimilation of other peoples who have to learn the new language when they are already adults and cannot handle excessive grammatical complexitieis; this results in simplification of the grammar, for example, 7 cases might dwindle down to 3 cases, like in German.

    • yalensis says:

      Yaroslavna’s plaint. (She misses her hubby Prince Igor, who is being held captive by the enemy Khan):

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Point 2 is why the case endings began to fall into disuse in Old English. It always used to be said that the Norman-French influence post-1066 caused English to change from a synthetic to an analytic language. However, that transformation had long been underway before William the Bastard set foot on English soil. The English and Old Norse tongues were mutually understandably to the Descendents of Vikings and, as the case may be, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians etc., who together comprised the Angelcynn, as the Old English collectively called themselves. The two languages were linguistically closer than are, for example, present day Belorussian and Russian. However, the case endings were very different. The “Anglo-Saxons”, and “Danes”, contrary to what many are led to believe, we’re not constantly at each others’ throats: they co-existed by and large. However, as a result of the necessity for social intercourse, the case endings of their languages began to fall into disuse and prepositions began to take over the function of case endings – and the declension of Old English nouns was nightmarishly complex! This dropping of case endings first began in the north. All of the north of England had become “Danelaw” as had most of the midlands. In fact, in my northern English dialect, words of Old Norse origin are still commonplace: they don’t say “kids” where I come from, but “bairns”.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        This bloody stupid iPad keeps correcting what it’s programmed to recognize as errors. For example, it keeps on changing “were” into “we’re”!!

        • marknesop says:

          I fixed it. And I thought “bairns” was Scots.

          There are entire daily calendars out entitled, “Damn You, Autocorrect!!”, each day featuring something rude or embarrassing that autocorrect has done that the sender did not catch in time. Here’s a sample – some of them make me weak. “What’d you get Mom for her birthday?” “I got her a cock book”.

          • yalensis says:

            “On this date in 1759, just fifteen years after the disastrous crushing of the Jacobite rebellion on Culloden Moor, a wee bairn cried for the first time in in a poor house about three kilometers south of Ayr, Scotland. The parents welcomed their new son, who was to be the first of seven children. William Burness and Agnes Brown Burness had no way of knowing their newborn son would become one of the towering giants of literature. Not just in Scotland, but his birth would be celebrated around the globe more than two centuries later.

            On this night, all over the world, parties and dinners are being held to celebrate the life well lived and the genius behind some of the most memorable poems ever written. But these poems and songs do not only celebrate the romantic ideas of a genius poet, they celebrate the idiomatic language of a poor but dignified people.”

            They are talking about the poet Robert Burns, of course, who started his life as a “wee bairn”.

            http://www.dailykos.com/rss/tag:Burns%20Supper.xml

            • marknesop says:

              My second wife’s mother was from Ayr. Well, County Ayreshire. Coylton, to be exact, about 5 miles south of Ayr. She always spoke of it – longingly, I thought – as “Robbie Burns country”.

            • moscowexile says:

              “Bairns” is commonplace in parts of northern England as well. Scots English (also known as “Lallands”) as spoken in the Scottish Lowlands, is a northern English dialect stemming from Old English, which used to be called “Anglo-Saxon” but is now named more correctly as “Old English”. However, it would be even more correct to call the northern dialects of Old English as spoken in the Old English kingdom of Northumbria as “Anglo-Norse”. The Kingdom of Northumbria originally included all of Lowland Scotland and was given to a Scots king by a Northumbrian king as part of his daughter’s dowry when she wed him.

              In parts of northern England, streams are called “becks (cf. “Bach” in German), hills and mountains are called “fells (cf. Felsen (rocks) in Ger.), the suffix “-thorpe” is used for many places (cf. “Dorf” (village) in Ger.), the lakes have the suffix “-mere” (cf. “Meer” in Ger.) or “-water”, e.g. in the English Lake District there is no stretch of water called “lake”, although visitors from the south say “Lake Windermere”, and there are more place names with the Norse ending “-by” in the old Danelaw than there are in all Scandinavia, indicating the extent of Norse settlement in large parts of England that were under Danish control. The result of all this is not only dialectical: present day Northern English accents are living evidence of the effect of Old Norse on Old English in parts of England.

              And where I lived, boys and girls are “lads and lassies”. In fact, where I come from, calling a boy a “girl”, implies that he is useless and weak, and this was the meaning of “girl” in Middle English (see Chaucer); until quite modern times, “girls” in English were “maidens” (cf “Mädchen in Ger.)

      • Moscow Exile says:

        That bloody iPad again! Without my noticing, it so-called corrected “bairns” to barns.

        I’ve just typed this on my PC and it hasn’t attempted to “correct” bairns.

  6. marknesop says:

    @ Swoggler; here are a few things I picked up in the autopsy report, as well as a comment on the validity of contentions that rough handling to make the child cough up the carrot he was choking on might be to blame.

    “One should bear in mind that in injury-related fatalities, the differentiation between death due to “true” accidental causes, preventable death due to a momentary lapse in supervision and preventable death due to “true” neglect will demand a comprehensive investigation of the circumstances. ” The World Health Organization.

    Both reports (Ector County and Tarrant County) remark that the rectum is abnormal, being linear and, according to Tarrant County, apparently torn. Is a 3-year-old supposed to have done this to himself?

    Alan Shatto reported the child had “begun to have behavioural problems at home.” This contradicts the suggestion that behavioural problems originated from his treatment in Russia.

    Alan Shatto reported the child was prescribed Risperdal at 1mg. According to medical health recommendations,

    http://schizophrenia.emedtv.com/risperdal/risperdal-dosage.html

    the dosage for children aged 13 to 17 years old is only .5 mg daily.

    Alan Shatto advised that there had to be something medically wrong with the child in order for them to be free for adoption. What???

    The child had a history of holding his breath until he passed out, and she still thought it was OK to leave him and go inside the house?

    The statement that they installed video cameras because he would get out of bed at night and hit “Christopher” sounds like a prepared explanation for bruises on the other child. Especially since they appeared taken aback at the question why there were no recordings, and said it was just a camera hooked up to a monitor; no recording capability. That, however, would be what you would do if you were innocent, too, because it would never occur to you to provide an alibi. But what good would that do? Did somebody stay up all night to watch the monitor?

    Maksim’s clothing did not have any grass or dirt on it from lying on the ground. This could happen if it was very dry, but less likely if he had fallen from the slide.

    Tarrant county describes a mark near the boy’s genitals as a “hicky”, which is a suction mark rather than a bruise and quite distinguishable from one. Tarrant county reports the rectum appears to be “ripped”. Did he give himself a hicky near his genitals and rip his own rectum in his orgy of self-destructive behaviour? If the doctor saw him twice and the second time he was much more heavily bruised, did that not indicate his situation was worsening rather than improving?

    Tarrant County reports, on autopsy, “No histopathology demonstrated on complete microscopic examination”. Damage from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is pathologically detectable and evident even when the classic alteration of facial features is absent. There is no indication here that Maksim Kuzmin suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472723/

    The diagnosis of self-injury is not supported by the nature of the injuries so much as it is simply accepted because that was the adoptive parents’ story.

    The autopsy report mentions some abrasions and scratches being covered with eschar; this commonly results from a burn injury or a wound that has become infected, and is different from scabbing.

    The toxicology tests did not include Neuroleptics, of which Risperdal is an example.

    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/815881-overview

    Mean peak plasma concentration of Risperdal is reached within about an hour. All the tests were done using blood samples from the aorta. This is less important, as Alan Shatto admitted the child was given Risperdal in a concentration twice what was appropriate for a teenager.

    The occasion when Laura Shatto had allegedly to use the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a piece of carrot from the boy’s throat was on the 18th – it is inconceivable that, if she had accidentally ruptured an abdominal artery in incorrectly or too vigorously applying emergency first aid, the boy could have bled internally for 4 days and still been playing happily with no evident signs of distress before keeling over and dying in the few minutes she was absent. And it is unlikely he died earlier, as the body was still warm and without rigor mortis, although livor was present. This can take place in as little as 20 minutes, although it may not be observable in infants at all owing to less muscle mass. The most reliable indicator there was the warmth of the body.

    • kirill says:

      They did not proceed with a criminal investigation even with this autopsy report? Wow, talk about politically motivated. In the US it’s the DA who decides what is done and not the evidence. Here we have a clear case of sexual abuse and a clear case on the DA bending to political pressure.

      • marknesop says:

        A particularly energetic commenter on the Moscow Times site argued angrily with me that the reason Maksim’s body was sent 300 or so miles away to Fort Worth for the autopsy was because Ector County has no facilities to carry out autopsies, and that’s the way it’s always done. That’s a lie.

        • Misha says:

          Angrily wrong or a calculated liar expressing anger?

          ——————-

          ow the JRL promoted Paul Goble presented the position of the Russian language in Ukraine:

          http://georgiandaily.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14097&Itemid=67

          Some follow-up on that whataboutism:

          http://www.eurasiareview.com/17122010-russia-ukraine-whataboutism/

          From the American Institute in Ukraine, here’s a just released piece on the subject from a venue that doesn’t appear to be JRL correct:

          http://aminuk.org/index.php?idmenu=12&idsubmenu=355&language=en

          The coverage improves by challenging questionable aspects of the existing status quo, inclusive of seeking the quality input of sources that don’t appear to be getting the nod at the more high profile of venues.

        • yalensis says:

          Which brings us back to the contention that this was a case of “high politics” that had to be decided by the big boys in the big city. Because the local Ector M.E. might have actually ruled on the facts of the tiny corpse lying in front of him instead of agreeing to a cover-up. Despite Swoggler’s earlier claim that the Texan state officials would have loved to go rogue and stick it to the federal government. Not to favor the Russians they wouldn’t.

          Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, ultra-Russophile pundits have been claiming for years that Americans take their children only in order to sexually abuse and/or harvest their organs. That is clearly a stereotype. But in the case of Maxim, maybe sexual abuse did actually happen? That would actually explain everything. Including all the behavioral issues.
          Which would have brought me back to my earlier theory about a sexual predator in the neighborhood who just happened by that day, except that could only explain Maxim’s sudden death, and not the whole timeline of abuse which apparently started the day he arrived in his new so-called “family”.

          Any doctors or nurses out there? Does anyone know, is there any other logical reason why a 3-year-old would have a torn rectum? Are we actually talking anal rape here? Or is there some other possible, maybe innocent, cause, like toilet functions or difficult bowel movements?

          (Going back to the toilet theme, sorry, but this IS the story of a 3-year-old who was being potty-trained at the time, and apparently not having an easy time of it.)

          • Swoggler says:

            Again, I don’t see a rural Texas law enforcement operation letting a baby rapist/murderer walk free to stick it to a bunch of irrelevant far-away Russkies. If there had been a chance to prosecute, I’ll bet they would have gone for it.

            I’ll admit I don’t know medical terminology as well as Mark seems to. I had no idea that it was impossible to do the damage to the kid I envisioned using the Heimlich…I’ll take Mark’s word for it. The nitty gritty medical detail of the autopsy report escapes me. If the anal rape and molestation is as obvious as you’re implying…where’s the Level 10 freak-out from other pathologists/police/district attorneys? Maybe they’re all in on the cover-up too!

            Speaking of 3rd party freak-outs, I see another job for the intrepid cub reporters of RT here. If the autopsy and investigation were done improperly this should be the easist thing in the world for reporters to uncover. Was this autopsy done differently than others? Why? What’s the usual procedure? Does the the autopsy report differ from other, similar cases? How so? Is it shorter/longer, use different doctors/facilities? If the Feds put undue pressure on the doctors, where is that reflected in the report? Comparison to baseline…is anyone trying to establish one? Investigative journalism needs some investigation…I hope some is in process.

            I’ve reluctantly walked away from my initial “he fell off a swing” theory and dies from FAS-related complications because the autopsy just doesn’t back that up. Mark shot down my Heimlich theory. And the extra data about the “cameras to nowhere” is more than odd. It’s not enough to get me into the “shadowy government conspiracy” camp…but it is enough for me to hope that authorities are doing a full medical and psychological workup on the surviving brother and his adoptive parents.

            • yalensis says:

              The bit about the cameras actually doesn’t bother me. A lot of modern parents monitor their babies with Big-Brother type cameras and other devices. And I could actually believe that Maxim might have taken some jabs at his younger brother. Normal sibling jealousy. And especially if he was being abused himself, which would give him added incentive to act out against a smaller child.

              • marknesop says:

                I don’t think so. Plenty of parents use a baby monitor, yes, which likely would have been more practical than video cameras as it is unlikely the younger child would have laid there getting hit and not made some sound of protest, which a baby monitor would pick up while a video camera would not, unless you were watching it, while baby monitors are made to alert you if you are sleeping. But Maksim sounds like a demon-child – he was responsible for covering himself in bruises, giving himself a hematoma (collection of blood outside a blood vessel, often resulting from an injury) in his eye, trying to tear off his own penis and scratching himself all over, and when he wasn’t busy tuning up on himself, he was beating his brother…and the Shattos thought they could handle it with just Mr. Shatto taking a half-day off from work from time to time? They had ample opportunity to observe him in the orphanage and the home of the host family – was he foaming and gobbling and banging his head off the walls then? If so, it staggers the imagination that they would have taken him. If not, why did it start when they got him home? Mrs. Shatto swears she walked in on the host mother – with whom Mr. Shatto reported Laura “didn’t get along” – to find her playing with his penis. But he was apparently sitting there passively allowing her to do it (if it happened at all, which I doubt very much) rather than “throwing a fit” as he would do when Laura took him to the bathroom, while he was OK with his adoptive father doing it.

                The “host family” think was only a short bridge between the orphanage and taking the child home to the United States. Even if the woman of the house were some kind of pervert – and I notice it’s always someone else is to blame – Maksim was not with them long enough to have built up some kind of phobia about being touched by women from such a short exposure. I wouldn’t say impossible, I’m just looking at probabilities based on common sense. If Maksim turned into a Tasmanian devil whenever the lady from the host family touched him or tried to make him go anywhere, I’m sure Laura Shatto would have seized on it as an explanation – instead, she cooked up this molestation story just to explain the marks on and around his penis. It does nothing to explain his other injuries, and relies on Maksim just sitting there quietly letting the woman play with him, so that Laura Shatto walked in on them by surprise.

                The whole story stinks, and sounds as if they made up a cover story which had to be constantly modified on the fly to address new lines of questioning. But there was plainly zero interest in pursuing any sort of investigation, and the outcome was always going to be boy crazy, parents innocent, nothing to see here, return to your homes.

            • marknesop says:

              I don’t know medical terminology at all; well, no more than the average layman – that’s all Google’s work. And I would not say too-vigorous application of the Heimlich maneuver could not have done the damage to the mesentery; perhaps it could, although it would need to be pretty vigorous. What I said was that the choking incident occurred on the 18th, and he died on the 21st. He would therefore have had to be bleeding internally for 3 days, and what I am saying is that it is not possible such a circumstance would not be noticeable for that length of time. According to Laura Shatto, there were a few odd things, like his lack of appetite and not wanting to get out of bed, but she said the boys were playing together when she went inside, and he was unresponsive when she came out. If there was not a mark on the child otherwise, it might be believable, but given the fact that he was bruised over his whole body, including in areas it would be difficult for him to reach such as his back, it would raise anyone’s suspicions. Many of the bruises were on top of older bruises as well, suggesting a constant pattern of injury. Were that so, anyone but an idiot would take the child to a doctor. I would also like to point out again that his bruises and cuts were not “consistent with self-injury”; the parents got that story in early, and everyone afterward just accepted it as fact. This is clear in the autopsy report.

              My position has not changed; although your theory is still very much a possibility, I am saying that given all the same circumstances but subtracting the child’s country of origin, the fact that it was an international adoption and the political dimension including the adoption ban, any society would immediately suspect abuse. In this case, we are asked to rule that out because the adoptive parents are Americans and nice people. That’s not good enough for me, and I would say the same if they were Canadian.

          • kirill says:

            You are missing the all important detail that it was deformed from its typical shape and not just torn. This is slow-acting muscle and such deformation indicates routine penetration of an object (dick) big enough to cause the distension. It is also physically impossible for Maxim to have given himself a hickey on his penis and at the same time indicates to me (maybe I am wrong) that it was someone close to him who was sexually abusing him.

            Regardless of all the posturing and anti-Russian BS, this autopsy report is more than enough cause for a criminal investigation. Even Berezovsky is getting an inquest into his death in a locked room.

            • marknesop says:

              That is an excellent point about the Berezovsky inquest. However, as I mentioned elsewhere, although the rectum – which is just the terminus of the anus – appeared torn to the examiner at Tarrant county, the anus appeared normal which suggests minimal penetration or something fairly slim.

              There was a case in Halifax when I lived there – horrible, I can hardly bear to speak of it now. A child, Teddy something, was killed by the boyfriend of his day babysitter, a girl named Colleen Gotschall. The father and the child lived alone, I don’t know what happened to the mother; I consciously avoided exploring for details because it was so sickening. Anyway, he died of a head injury when the boyfriend – who was apparently there frequently while the girl was supposed to be looking after the child – whomped him one and he hit his head. It turned out that was a mercy, because the girl was an active participant in his torment. His feet were badly burned, and her story was that she had been running him a bath and had gone to answer the phone; when she came back, he was standing in the scalding water. How likely is that? It seems clear she had stood him in it to punish him for something, or just for the rush of torturing someone helpless. He was also bruised and knocked about, and he would have been too little to speak for himself, like Maksim. They had amused themselves by sticking the handle of a wooden spoon in his rectum. His entire short life must have been one of misery and torment, and adults who indulge in such sick pleasures are not fit for rehabilitation. They should just be killed. And I hope that’s what happened to that pair, although I don’t even remember the verdict.

          • SFReader says:

            Read Laura Shatto’s account again and noticed something unusual

            he woke up around 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and did not want to go to the restroom with her….

            He began throwing a fit as she took him to the toilet, she said in the report, and went back to bed…. Max Shatto was in a poor mood….

            Max Shatto was still in bed, and then woke both of them up around 3 p.m. to take them to the toilet….

            She tried to give both boys a snack, Laura Shatto said in the report, which Max Shatto declined. Laura Shatto said that was unusual….

            Both boys watched TV for a while until she took them outside around 4 p.m. to play on the swingset, Laura Shatto said in the report, although Max Shatto was quiet and swaying from side to side, which she said was a way he often soothed himself along with sucking his thumb and rocking his head….

            She went inside to the restroom, Laura Shatto said in the report, and when she returned she found Max Shatto laying on his back unresponsive near the swings.

            What if Max was suffering from internal bleeding (that abdominal laceration thing) all day long?

            That would explain his “poor mood”.

            • yalensis says:

              That’s a good theory, SFReader. The fatal abdominal injury could have occurred between 8:00 and 9:00 am, during that incident when he was “throwing a fit” as Laura tried to take him to the restroom. He could have been slowly bleeding out all day and eventually died.

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, there were a few odd signs, but I’m saying he could not have suffered internal bleeding for 3 days and shown no more sign than that, but then taken a dramatic turn for the worse just in the couple of minutes she was conveniently absent to use the bathroom. The story just does not add up. He supposedly suffered the choking incident on the 18th, and died on the 21st.

            • marknesop says:

              What if Max was suffering from internal bleeding (that abdominal laceration thing) all day long?

              That would explain his “poor mood”.

              It would if it happened that day. But the most likely triggering event was the choking incident and the Heimlich maneuver, three days before, unless rough handling was customary in the family. If he was bleeding into the peritoneum – which was affected according to the autopsy report, there was evidence of a good deal of internal bleeding – he would have been in intense pain and would have screamed at any touch, probably long before 3 days and I doubt he would have lived that long.

              Once again, not making any specific accusations, but just looking at common human behaviour – if your child appears to be suffering severe complications as the result of a genuine accident, such as incorrect application of the Heimlich maneuver or a fall, you take them to the doctor right away; why wouldn’t you? It wasn’t your fault. On the other hand, if you kick or hit your child and they seem to be in a bad way because of it, you would be more likely to delay doing anything about it and hope it corrected itself, because you would fear questioning.

              While we’re on that subject, does it seem weird to you that the child arrived at the hospital without any family member accompanying? The firefighters who responded said they took Maksim, unresponsive, to the hospital, and that Laura Shatto had gone back inside the house, saying she would be along in a minute.

              Yes. The report says the child arrived by ambulance at 17:31, and was pronounced dead at 17:43. The investigator arrived on-scene at 18:05. The investigator carries out a preliminary examination, during which she notes the opening of the rectum is linear and appears to have been altered in some way. She asks if it is normal and is told by medical staff that it is not. She completes her preliminary examination, taking notes and photographs, and then goes to the family consultation room, where only Alan Shatto is present. He was contacted at work by Laura, and likely went straight to the hospital.

              At some point Laura Shatto arrived, but remained in the lobby rather than coming into the family room. She did not stay at home to allow the search of the home, because nobody was there yet; the investigator obtained permission to do a search from Alan Shatto during the interview. Because of the profusion of injuries to the child’s back and hard-to-reach places for self-injury although Alan Shatto said they only spanked the children lightly on the backs of their legs for discipline, I am immediately suspicious that Laura Shatto did not drop everything and head for the hospital, but remained at home. Although I imagine it was to call her husband, it looks more like taking advantage of an opportunity to go over a quick cover story, and I note Laura Shatto was the only “witness” to the sexual molestation incident as well as the choking-on-a-carrot incident in which she had to use the Heimlich maneuver; Mr. Shatto was told that by her but was not present.

              I believe I am correct in saying these circumstances would shout child-abuse to any investigators as well as any readership. It is not surprising that this is still widely believed in spite of denials, and I am more sure than ever based on the autopsy report. They are covering up, and the authorities – both local and federal – are letting them because a child-abuse death of a Russian adoptee so soon after the implementation of the adoption ban would be explosive.

              • yalensis says:

                My “slow bleed” theory would require that the death blow occurred on the morning of Maxim’s death, the bleeding only lasted a few hours, and that the Heimlich incident of 3 days earlier either did not actually happen, or was irrelevant.
                When Maxim refused to go to the bathroom with her that morning, Laura probably punched or kicked him, and then sent him back to bed.

          • marknesop says:

            I would say doubtful. Although both agencies remarked that the rectum was abnormal – which could have been some kind of birth defect except that Tarrant County said it also appeared torn – the report assessed the anus as grossly normal. That would seem to suggest that whatever caused the injury did not penetrate very far. And it’s just possible he did it himself, from the standpoint that he could reach. But the sheer scale of his injuries suggests otherwise. Really he could have done it all himself, except the hicky. That’s the fly in the ointment.

            I think his adoptive parent abused and killed him. But either way, that little boy had a life of hell and even if his adoptive parent(s) did not kill him, they must have observed increasing distress and did nothing about it. The doctor who examined him said he was much worse the second time. If your child is covered with wounds and bruises, just trying to deal with it yourself – assuming the whole thing was innocent and the child was to blame – you have to know the way you are handling it is not working. To the lawyer’s statement that the Shattos had no idea what they were confronting, I say bullshit. Alan Shatto said that the children had to have some medical defect or they could not adopt them, which I found very hard to believe in the first place, but if he was banging his head on hard objects they would have noticed either at the orphanage or in the home of the host family, which suggests it was not happening before.

            Now that the autopsy report is out, I will be very surprised if there is not a call for the investigation to be reopened. A story featuring a Russian child arriving dead at a Russian hospital would bring shrieks of “child abuse!!!” and there is no way an American audience would accept official assurances that the child had done it himself and the parents deserved only sympathy and consolation. We will see. There is more to this story.

            As far as the “big city” goes, it occurred to me that if Ector County has an airport (it does), it would be too easy for some enterprising reporter to ascertain who flew in to Ector county during the days immediately following the death up until the decision was announced. It would be harder at a bigger airport. But due to the political implications of the case I am confident it was federally managed and not just left to the locals. It would be in most any country in the same circumstances.

            Also, just to introduce a ghoulish coincidence; Michelle Cavett, who left a scathing comment on the original article in support of Laura Shatto, includes Laura Shatto as one of her Facebook friends. By an amazing coincidence, Facebook was still running on my computer when I clicked on her name, because some friends had been visiting and the wife was showing me their holiday photos on her Facebook page. She did not log out. So I was able to see Michelle Cavett’s page; I can’t now, because I closed Facebook and I do not have an account myself. Michelle Cavett works at the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency.

            • yalensis says:

              Yeah, I noticed that right under Michelle’s avatar it says, “Works at Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency”. This is unfortunate, because I am sure it will engender excess conspiracy theories.

              But I do like your theory that Obama’s federales flew into Ector and pulled rank. To take over this hot-potato case. And I like to believe that the Texans fought back against this intrusion by leaking the autopsy results.

              • kirill says:

                This is how the real world works and not in the manner of the childish fairy tales being fed to the gullible western public on a daily basis. I would say that a lot of what people see in Russia as deviating from western norms has more to do with those norms being delusions and less to do with Russian abnormality. Specifically the economic policy of Russia. It was clear by the late 1990s that the Harvard Boy’s theories of economics were complete rubbish and you need an actual hand to make the capitalist system work, not some invisible one that comes out of the background noise all on its own. And miracle of miracles, Russia’s economy began to recover and people’s wages went up by a factor of 10 in dollar terms.

  7. marknesop says:

    North Korea seems to be heating up. Rhetorically, at least. Meanwhile North Korea, Iran and Syria block the International Arms Control Treaty, saying it leaves open loopholes for arming rebel groups. They were able to do so because of the consensus rule insisted upon by the United States, which wanted to use it to block any agreement it perceives as infringing on the right of the people to bear arms; a politically sensitive subject in the USA (meaning unpalatable to the NRA).

  8. kirill says:

    http://www.nr2.ru/kiev/421823.html

    Ukraine is making a big show of not buying Russian gas since $430 per thousand cubic meters is pure Moskal extortion. Well, the oligarch Firtash has set up Ostchem Gas Trading to buy (the same) gas elsewhere. In February of 2013 this middle man operation bought 2.4 billion cubic meters of gas and Naftogaz only bought 0.4 billion cubic meters from Gazprom. Last year Naftogaz bought 3.1 billion cubic meters from Gazprom. In the above article you see how Firtash is selling gas for $1058 per thousand cubic meters to certain customers.

    Yes, Ukraine has freed itself from Gazprom and is now being ass raped by Firtash. But, hey, he’s Ukraine’s bastard and not some cursed Moskal bent on oppressing Ukraine.

    Maybe Firtash lost some money in Cyprus.

    • marknesop says:

      It’d be worth it for Ukraine to pay a bit more for a couple of years if it was reviving Ukraine’s own industry, or going into infrastructure. But it’s not; so far as I know, Ukraine has very little gas of its own, although it likely has large deposits of shale if it chose to look. The point is that it’s just some oligarch, buying low and selling high as oligarchs and opportunists have done time out of mind. It’s not benefiting Ukraine in any material way. Down the road they will have nothing to show for having spent more money.

      • Dear Kirill and Mark,

        I know that the Ukraine is saying that they didn’t buy any Russian gas this March. I am frankly sceptical. It all seems to me part of the foolish poker game with Russia that Yanukovitch and Azarov are playing. This touched absurdity when Azarov a few days ago accused Svoboda and the rest of the opposition of being agents of Russia because they oppose fracking and when he said that the Ukraine could not join the Customs Union because it would have to leave the WTO if it did so. Presumably Azarov is unaware of the fact that Russia is a member of the WTO.

        The latest opinion polls in the Ukraine show that support for the Customs Union is now level with support for the EU. On the assumption that the people who support the Customs Union are predominantly the people in the eastern and southern Ukraine who form Yanukovitch’s political base, he is now acting against the wishes of his own supporters. Meanwhile his government announced today that there will be no gas price increases for Ukrainian residential users even though the EU has made it a condition for its agreeing to an Association Agreement that the Ukraine accepts the IMF’s terms,, which require the lifting of subsidies to Ukrainian residential users. Medvedev for his part has made clear Russia’s position that the Ukraine is either a member of the Customs Union or it is not and cannot be both inside and outside the Customs Union at the same time as Yanukovitch appears to want.

        I presume that Yanukovitch is playing these elaborate games for reasons of domestic politics, which frankly I cannot fathom. Given the byzantine nature of Ukrainian politics perhaps that is not so surprising but in the meantime I suspect that everyone’s patience with him is wearing thin. He also runs the very real risk like most people who try to play others off against each other of pissing off everybody and of making everybody his enemies.

        • Misha says:

          Re: The latest opinion polls in the Ukraine show that support for the Customs Union is now level with support for the EU.”

          ****

          Throughout the post-Soviet era, numerous polls have put overall public opinion in Ukraine as favoring closer Russo-Ukrainian ties either on par or greater than having closer relations with the West.

          The simultaneous desire to be on good terms with Russia and the West should come as no surprise. Russia would also like to have better and closer relations with the West, without an ermphasis placed on adhering to neocon-neolib slants.

      • kirill says:

        Indeed, I have no problem with Ukraine shopping around or doing whatever suits its true economic interests. But here we have a clear case of “cutting off your nose to spite your face”. Ukraine is still paying no less than $430 per tcm in this scheme and is likely paying more. So why all the yapping at Russia to sell them gas for less? There are no suppliers in Europe who are selling it for $200 per tcm or some other lower price. If Ukraine had a case against Russia and Gazprom then it would be presenting it and I do not see any evidence of them making a case.

  9. Ken Macaulay says:

    More seeping out about the Cyprus debacle & what caused it, which is pretty much what every now days should expect with a couple of interesting twists.
    A small group of insiders at the top of each of the major banks engaged in massive speculation on mostly Greek debt for which they were making enormous profits & now the whole country is on the hook for their gambling debts. The interesting parts come from European regulators, who, almost right up to the collapse were saying everything was wonderful at the banks, as well as both banks advertising to some investors as of late 2011 that they had NO exposure to Greek debt at all while senior management was still gorging on them (Laiki PR report posted earlier).
    What is interesting to me in this is it seems the banks depositors & shareholders would have a very good case against both the European regulators & the banks for compensation for any losses suffered.
    The banks might be essentially insolvent now, but the ECB certainly isn’t. Are we likely to see a flood of compensation cases against the ECB for presenting false & misleading statements to investors & depositors that directly contributed to their losses, as there seems to be an enormous amount of documented evidence that that is exactly what happened. And for Laiki, it seems like there is a good case for charging a number of their investment people with fraud.

    RE: the larger picture, yet another blatant example on why retail & investment banks must be seperated, as people have been saying for years. The fact that yet another very small group of well-connected insiders have destroyed a country, made massive profits doing so, & have so far away with it makes any pretence the West has to rule of law an absolute joke. Truly disgusting, & STILL not likely to change any soon.

    Is The Collapse Of Cyprus Due To This Man?
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-03-28/collapse-cyprus-due-man
    Greek Bets Sank Top Lenders
    “…Both Cypriot banks passed Europe-wide stress tests in 2010, relieving them of pressure to change course. They passed again in 2011.
    “Their regulator was clearly signaling it was OK to go on” expanding in Greece, said Christine Johnson, a bond-fund manager at Old Mutual Global Investors in London, referring to Cyprus’s central bank and European banking regulators.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323501004578386762342123182.html

    • Dear Ken,

      This is a very interesting set of articles.

      I would add that over the course of last week I was told by a Cypriot businessman that there were already criminal investigations underway involving Laiki. I don’t know anything more about that.

      On the general point about lax European regulation, what I will say is this. My father, who is a very well connected man in Greece and who has significant contacts with the European Commission, was warning European officials for years that corruption was getting out of hand and that the figures the government was publishing should be treated with skepticism. I know of other people in Greece who were giving the same warnings. I cannot say the same about Cyprus because I don’t know the situation there so well, but the facts seem to speak for themselves.

  10. Evgeny says:

    Interesting paper by former British Ambassador in Russia Andrew Woods:

    http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Russia%20and%20Eurasia/0313pp_wood.pdf

    What’s the most basic problem with it? In my view, relationships between countries are to some degree like relationships between persons. And isn’t it clear, that to achieve good relationships with your neighbour you shouldn’t meddle with his affairs (even with the best intentions) — otherwise it would only produce irritation.

    The positive part is, that Russia has always evolved in the situation of the outside pressure. And such naive attempts to contain Russia (“[Russia] does not have the ability or right to reincarnate that archaic ambition of being a great power”) are an excellent cause for the mobilization of the internal resources.

    • Evgeny says:

      Actually, there’s a wonderfully pathetic line from the Soviet sci-fi movie “Kin-dza-dza” that I recalled while reading the sentence about Russia not having the right to do something: “and an ecilop doesn’t have the right to beat me during the night… never.”

      It’s just a so clear-cut case of pants differentiation by colour.
      http://tinyurl.com/mra293

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    In praise of Ambassador McFaul, who “has been demonized by state-run media and pro-Kremlin officials since his arrival in the Russian capital a little over a year ago”.

    And who says so?

    RIANovisti no less.

    • kirill says:

      Imagine the White House heaping praise on a foreign ambassador who hosted and showed open and strong support from fringe US political elements. Perhaps some militas, various anti-system parties and movements that don’t even make it to the ballot box because of the Democrat-Republican election committee mafia.

      English RIAN needs to be shut down. There is enough 5th column propaganda already and Russian taxpayers don’t need to pay for it.

      • Swoggler says:

        Piffle. You want to know how the US would react if the Russian government was spending tens of millions of dollars in America to get organizations to see things their way? Here you go. http://www.propublica.org/article/from-russia-with-pr-ketchum-cnbc

        How is the US reacting to this unconscionable breach of their sovereignty and meddling? I’m sure sunglass-wearing goons are descending on CNBC, Huffington, and Ketchum now waving the FARA statutes in front of them. Except…oops…nope. Nobody cares. Ketchum filled out its little federal form that said it got way overpaid in 2012 to place couple of poorly written op-eds. The feds react by shrugging their shoulders and filing the paper away.

        If Russia spent three/five/ten times as much promoting their interests in the US as the US is giving out in Russia…the only people who’d be mad are fringers who weren’t on the gravy train. America’s got lots of kooks…some of them are really well funded. We pretty much ignore them and happily let them spend their money. Russia should give it a try. It’s relaxing.

        You guys are pros at excoriating the various kooks doing business in Russia these days. Do you really that they will ever be anything more than kooks? If Strategy 31 had millions of dollars to play with…they’d still only get 30-40 people to show up to get bopped on the head at Triumphalnaya.

        • marknesop says:

          And that, to you, is pretty much the same thing as Russia bringing American political dissidents to Russia to study in a Russian university to destabilize government, paying American groups to write position papers on repression of blacks in America during slavery and encouraging political unrest in America? I’m sure I can find you examples of each, if you are interested. I doubt very much that reports in Russia revealing an American PR agency was behind glowing reports of investment opportunities in America would raise an eyebrow.

          • Swoggler says:

            The same way I doubt that any of the NGOs being investigated are any kind of threat to the Russian government. Did you see the GOLOS website during the elections? I don’t know how much the American government paid them for that but they should get their money back. I’ve never seen a more poorly moderated, buggy “interactive” map. And these guys…THESE GUYS… are going to bring the Putin regime down? It is to laugh.

            OK… cards on the table…I’m trying to make a living here in Russia. I do pretty well for a Yankee because I’ve been here for a while and I have good contacts and know “when to fold ’em”. When the Russians trot out this heavy-handed nonsense…it’s hard for me to do what I do. I’m a good salesman but even I find it hard to pitch, “Look, they’re just repressing some harmless crazies…nothing to do with us…yeah they’re a little suspicious of Americans right now but it’s just a phase…this’ll all blow over after they’ve made an example of some harmless troublemakers. I promise your money is much better spent here that in India or Brazil.”

            They counter with (and I got this today at dinner), “well…if the troublemakers are so harmless why are they getting crushed? Is the government nervous about something?”

            I try to explain that there’s no way an Arab Spring/Color Revolution scenario works here for a variety of reasons…but actions speak louder than words sometimes.

            • Dear Swoggler,

              See my comment below.

              It is completely irrelevant whether Golos & co pose any threat to the Russian government. The point is that no government anywhere can sit back and do nothing if its domestic enemies obtain foreign funding whilst saying they want to overthrow it. The same point holds about the various Communist groups the USSR used to fund in the US during the Cold War. None of them posed any threat to the US government but the US government could not afford to ignore them even if in the 1950s it went completely overboard in the way it dealt with them (in a way incidentally that Russia’s government has not).

              I think a measure of proportion is needed here. All the Russian government is asking NGOs that receive foreign funding and which engage in political activity to do is register as foreign agents. That is not an excessive or unreasonable demand. If they do it then they can continue as before. If they don’t want to register as foreign agents, then they can continue the same activity but obtain their funding in Russia.

            • Misha says:

              Going back to Chile during Allende’s presidency and in other instances elsewhere before, the issue of on the ground subversion to topple internationally recognized governments has been quite real and sometimes successful.

              Somewhat related to this thought is when JRL promoted Anders Aslund’s call to topple the “Putin regime” with a street power movement. Aslund said this when he was still at Carnegie. Blasting him alone is half assed, given JRL’s promoton of that piece, as it shuns considerably more intelligent advocacy.

              Ekho Moskvy, Novaya Gazeta, The Moscow Times and other such entities in Russia don’t appear to be under the threat of getting neutered.

              The Russian government has a good PR case for the NGO inspection process. The problem in seeing this thru is having:

              – good go to sources to communicate this view
              – seeing this position picked up well in Western mass media.

        • Dear Swoggler,

          I don’t think the comparison you are making is a valid one. None of the organisations you refer to are NGOs. One of them (Ketchum) is a public relations firm. There is absolutely nothing in the Russian legislation that I can see that would prevent the US government or US private individuals from hiring a Russian public relations company (I presume there are such things) to place advertisements in Russian newspapers promoting the US or from hiring Russian writers to write well about the US in Russian newspapers.

          The cause of the trouble is US funding of Russian NGOs that are involved in anti government activity in Russia. What makes this especially toxic is that many of the individuals who work in these NGOs and in the Russian non system opposition (which the Russian authorities with good cause believe obtains much of its funding from the US through US funded NGOs) with the active encouragement of certain highly placed US publicists and politicians, deny the legitimacy of the Russian government and seek to overthrow it. If Russia were funding agencies or individuals in the US who sought to overthrow the US government (as Russia did during the Cold War) then I have absolutely no doubt that the US authorities would react firmly and proportionately as the Russian government is now doing and it would be acting entirely within its rights when it did so.

          • Swoggler says:

            See my comment above.

            I counter again with the demonstrable harmlessness and stupidity of the non-systemic opposition in Russia. Dokku Umarov these guys are not. They squabble amongst themselves, hold workshops, give press briefings, and put up websites so bad that I would fire entire IT departments in retribution.

            If there were such a pack of losers in the US receiving funding from Russia and saying all sorts of unkind things about the president and his illegitimate and illegal actions, well heck…he gets that every day from internal enemies who want to cast down all his works.

            I don’t deny that the NGOs America favors in Russia are not Putin’s pals…but I stand at issue with the idea that they represent anything more than a notional threat to the country. Ignore them and they’ll collapse under their own ineptitude…stuff like what’s happening now turns them into cause celebes.

            See Pussy Riot…

            • Dear Swoggler,

              I think I have already answered this point. See my comment above.

              • kirill says:

                This whole Swoggler troll fest can be boiled down to: Russia bad, America good. In other words a total waste of time where the obvious has to be “proven” over and over like in the case of global warming deniers who stick their fingers in their ears and keep on repeating the same BS over and over.

                • Misha says:

                  The bottom line is that the likes of Pussy Right (PR) aren’t being “suppressed”. In actuality, some of the closer examples of suppression are the politically incorrect ones not getting highlighted.

                  PR are so-so talented (at best) street performers who sought to make a splash by violating the sanctity of a church which had been suppressed in another era. They chose to disrespect norms in a legally challenged way. Up to their provocactive act in chapel, they were quite free to perform – as evidenced by the RFE/RL and BBC coverage given to them.

            • kirill says:

              NYPD respect for the media:

              http://www.nytexaminer.com/2011/12/occupy-wall-street-shocking-video-of-nypd-prohibiting-ny-times-from-taking-photos/

              NYPD arrests on church property even though supposedly the church is not pressing charges:

              http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/11/occupy-wall-street-trinity-churc-trial

              http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/06/eight_occupy_wa.php

              (And to think evil Putler’s Russia they get 15 days if they do much more than enter church property and not the church itself).

              More NYPD fun:

              http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2011/09/observations-of-a-jailed-journalist/

              http://eastvillage.thelocal.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/video-reporter-for-the-local-is-arrested-during-occupy-wall-street-clearing/

              But, hey, in Russia this is evil tyrant Putin cracking down on dissent. Even though I can’t find any examples like this really. The routine in Russia is for the so-called non-system opposition to block MAJOR intersections causing traffic mayhem and not some side streets.

              Some more:

              http://stpeteforpeace.org/occupyarrests.sources.html

              Looks like there are police arresting protesters in every crack.

              http://www.salon.com/2012/02/02/occupy_oakland_protesters_denied_medication_in_jail/

              Time for Russia to pass a Magnitsky Act clone.

              http://palmdesert.patch.com/articles/if-convicted-occupy-protesters-could-spend-180-days-in-jail

              So resisting police gets you more jail time in the USA, but in Russia protestors who bite police officers (Kasparov) get off without any jail time. Oh the totalitarian misery that is Putler’s Russia.

              How come I did not hear any fuss about this case in South Korea:

              http://regtremblay.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/jeju-protester-given-18-month-jail-sentence/

              Puss Riot broke the law on numerous occasions and then denied they violated any laws by trespassing into the Cathedral and shouting obsceneties against the Virgin Mary and God and making a loud racket with taped music to their air guitar “act”, i.e. disturbing the peace. They got 2 years for their attitude. Just like in the US, criminals who deny their crime do not get parole and leniency. If Pussy Riot admitted they committed a crime they would have been out in six months.

            • kievite says:

              Swoggler,

              I don’t deny that the NGOs America favors in Russia are not Putin’s pals…but I stand at issue with the idea that they represent anything more than a notional threat to the country. Ignore them and they’ll collapse under their own ineptitude…stuff like what’s happening now turns them into cause celebes.

              I think you are completely misunderstanding the situation. They are a grave threat. Those NGOs are the key nodes of the network of neoliberal influence in Russia, financing, organizing and inspiring what can be called “globalization fifth column”. So they are growing new Gaydars-Chubais style turn-coats, who would sell all Russia assets to West for peanuts just to get their 5% commission. And if you think about it, they all are financed with money that western corporation got from Russia during Yeltsin gang rape, so in a way they are all criminal enterprises which use laundered Russian money for anti-Russian activities and should be treated as such😉

              Politically they are important and sophisticated brain centers for those who wish the return of Yeltsin gang. Ukraine color revolution had shown the whole world hat happens if NGOs have a free ride in the country. I would suggest that the main mistake with respect of “political” NGOs is trying half-measures. It’s better to deal them once harshly, then to endure each time propagandist attack from Western MSM accusing the “evil regime” in attaching “free press”, “democracy”, you name it. So adoption of an exact of more strict version of “Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938” is a must. Unfortunately my impression is that the Russian law was a washed downed version of this key US law.
              I would also prefer for Russians to adopt a law which put neoliberalism an the same legal spot as Wahhabism, as both are dangerous cults😉. No question about it. And they should add all major propagandists of neoliberalism including Harvard and Chicago “professors” of this flavor to Dima Yakovlev’s “person non grata” list.
              The key problem is that Russian now has many dependencies to Western economies and financial institutions and as such it need to play a very careful game, as those neolibs can do a lot of damage.
              I hope that triumphal conquest by neoliberalism of xUSSR space is in the past. At least I hope so. Those jerks should remember unforgettable W. Bush

              “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” —President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

            • cartman says:

              Ask anyone if they think NGOs are the operated by the CIA and MI6, and they will tell you “Without a doubt”. Why are they so incredulous when they are told to be transparent? That should be a GOOD thing. The FSB would actually know more about this than you.

              Yes they have shit websites, but that is probably because the locals they hire do not believe in anything on the tin. Leave the razzle dazzle to their handlers. (See Pussy Riot.)

            • Evgeny says:

              Swoggler:

              “I don’t deny that the NGOs America favors in Russia are not Putin’s pals…but I stand at issue with the idea that they represent anything more than a notional threat to the country. Ignore them and they’ll collapse under their own ineptitude…stuff like what’s happening now turns them into cause celebes.”

              There’s the tangible harm done by the America’s support of the liberal opposition in Russia. By supporting the most ridiculous and uncapable actors, America prevents the emergence of the real Russian liberal opposition, that would be respected among the Russian society and excercise political influence.

              I guess that’s because the United States isn’t genuinely interested in the democracy in Russia; all what it wants is a sort of a tool to excercise political pressure on Russia (yes, I know it’s not what American officials SAY, so please do not provide insightful quotations and so on, but it’s how the U.S. ACT).

              • Misha says:

                The last paragraph is a great summation of what has been evident.

                Such thinking has a relationship with what was evident during the Cold War period, when the US Congress formally approved the anti-Russian Captive Nations Committee lobbied Captive Nations Week, recognizing every Communist country as captive (some Nazi creations included) with the exception of Russia, which was historically depicted as evil.

                http://www.russiablog.org/2006/04/yuschenkos_wife_and_the_ugly_h.php

              • marknesop says:

                If the press regarded them as the useless flailing inepts you do, there perhaps would not be any problem, but they don’t – they continuously elevate them to Livingstonian bringers of light to the savages, and get all sparkly-eyed about freedom and democracy whenever they talk about them, just as if there was none before they came. And I’m not kidding about NGO’s paid and steered to keep Russia’s grim past in the public eye; some NGO’s are paid to make documentaries about Stalin, all the while the west is clacking that Russians love Stalin and cannot let go of his hideous legacy.

  12. Moscow Exile says:

    Elder and Harding going great guns again in today’s Guardian:

    “Russia’s relations with the west have plummeted since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency last year amid unprecedented protests. A sustained crackdown against his critics – including the jailing of protesters, new laws limiting free speech and a recent raid on international human rights groups – has prompted growing criticism from European capitals…

    “In his third term, Putin has unleashed a relentless campaign to silence his critics, and a simultaneous foreign policy attacking the west. Those two vectors came together this week, when Russian prosecutors and tax officials raided dozens of non-governmental groups around the country, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and two German NGOs. The inspectors appeared to be particularly tough on the German funds – the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in St Petersburg, allied to Merkel’s CDU party, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Moscow, linked to Germany’s Social Democrats – confiscating computers and documents”

    • kirill says:

      North Korean style propaganda is all the rage in the west today. This piece avoids dealing with the uncomfortable facts that these “NGOs” are not being terminated and it is they that deliberately precipitated the raids by not registering according to the Russian law. Obviously since these NGOs feel Russian law, written by Russian untermenschen living in mud huts, does not apply to civilized specimens such as themselves.

      • kirill says:

        I forgot to add that brazen disregard for the law in the west means that the law will come crashing down on you like a ton of bricks. Breaking the law is a crime and gets its own punishment. Your feelings about whether the law applies to you or not are not relevant.

        • kievite says:

          Kirill,
          disregard for the law in the west means that the law will come crashing down on you like a ton of bricks

          Actually weight of individual bricks can vary.

          Money speak pretty loud in the interpretation of the common laws. The joke is that you do not go to jail until you still have a lot of money.

          Similarly, in questions related to “national security” weight of the bricks is doubled or tripled. And this situation is fully applicable to FARA:

          FARA Frequently-Asked Questions
          FARA is short for the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended, 22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq
          What is the purpose of FARA?
          The purpose of FARA is to insure that the U.S. Government and the people of the United States are informed of the source of information (propaganda) and the identity of persons attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy, and laws. In 1938, FARA was Congress’ response to the large number of German propaganda agents in the pre-WWII U.S..
          Are foreign governments the only foreign principals?
          No. The term also includes foreign political parties, a person or organization outside the United States, except U.S. citizens, and any entity organized under the laws of a foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign country.
          How does the Act work?
          1.The Act requires every agent of a foreign principal, not otherwise exempt, to register with the Department of Justice and file forms outlining its agreements with, income from, and expenditures on behalf of the foreign principal. These forms are public records and must be supplemented every six months.
          2.The Act also requires that informational materials (formerly propaganda) be labeled with a conspicuous statement that the information is disseminated by the agents on behalf of the foreign principal. The agent must provide copies of such materials to the Attorney General.
          3.Any agent testifying before a committee of Congress must furnish the committee with a copy of his most recent registration statement.
          4.The agent must keep records of all his activities and permit the Attorney General to inspect them.
          When does one register?

          One must register within ten days of agreeing to become an agent and before performing any activities for the foreign principal.

          • kirill says:

            FARA is all the evidence one needs to put the “debate” about the Russian “crackdown” to rest. Also, why is it OK for these “human rights” NGOs to flout Russian law? If they are so squeaky clean and honest purveyors of goodness then registering according to the requirements of the law would not be an issue. Instead they stage this theater in concert with foreign media and governments. So they damn themselves by their own actions.

            I fully agree with your suggestion to introduce a tougher FARA tailored to Russian realities and to apply it without politically motivated breaks. All these self-described do-gooders should pack their bags and go to New York and stage their meddling from there. In particular, it should be highly illegal to stage impromptu exit poll counts such as perpetrated by Golos with its moronic cell phone ballot count restricted to Moscow alone, which it used to smear the election. This is the same shtick used in 2004 by US, British and Canadian embassies to claim that Yuschenko was robbed of the vote. They just hired some people to “sample” opinions outside polling stations and of course the methodology and sampling bias were used to twist the narrative in their favour.

            If Texas officials threaten to ban foreign observers from approaching polling stations within 100 yards, then the US and its NATO minions have no moral authority to scream about some alleged illegitimacy of the Russian presidential elections. The western media devotes reams of attention to Pussy Riot, but somehow manages not to quote a single opinion poll in Russia when covering the elections. An obvious ploy, since then some loon “protesting” somewhere is the “voice of the Russian people”. And said loon can be bought with 10 bucks by these NGOs.

    • marknesop says:

      It’s just all buzzwords – relations plummeted…Vladimir Putin…unprecedented protest…crackdowns…raids…silencing critics…. After a while the mind of the reader just goes into neutral and just registers a reassuring “bip” every time it scans over one of those hot-button words or phrases.

      I don’t notice any silencing of the critics at all, do you? If anything, they seem to be going into overdrive.

      • Dear Mark,

        Viz what Luke Harding and Miriam Elder are saying, I agree with all your points. The one interesting thing is what Miriam Elder says about the alarm tensions with Russia are starting to cause to the German business community. If that is true then given the extent to which the CDU/CSU are beholden to the German business community I would not expect tensions to the extent that they exist to last for very long.

        Incidentally I am becoming completely bored with the endless recycling of the story of Merkel and Putin’s dog. Obviously what happened was simply a mistake. There is no evidence that Putin was trying to intimidate Merkel (how would that work?) or that Merkel bears Putin a grudge over the incident (she would be unfit to be Germany’s Chancellor if she did) and it really is tiresome of Miriam Elder for the umpteenth time to revive this incident.

  13. Misha says:

    With JRL propping, he continues his emphasis on Russian nationalists:

    http://russialist.org/russian-nationalists-gathering-strength-moscow-expert-says

    The above is more evenly cloaked than this one:

    http://russialist.org/russian-nationalism-far-more-terrible-than-non-russian-extremism-novocherkassk-scholar-says/

    Are we supposed to believe that Paul Goble is just trying to be an earnest messenger, with no agenda? A rhetorically put question that leads to what JRL chooses to promote and not promote.

    Goble can answer by noting on the ground Russian sources, which in actuality serves as further proof that negatively inaccurate views of Russia/Russians aren’t being suppressed in Russia as some suggest. Comparatively speaking, the greater suppression is the one against reasonably pro-Russian views among some influential elements in and out of Russia.

  14. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, on the Naval Front: Russian Black Sea fleet is conducting a “surprise” military exercise. Soldiers and officers were recalled from their leaves. (Quite a lot of soldiers were out on leave.) The surprise drill started Thursday night when the alarms went off in headquarters of the Black Sea fleet (i.e., Sevastopol), the 11th brigade of anti-submarine boats, and the 197th brigade of amphibious landing boats, and also the naval base at Novorossiisk.

    http://izvestia.ru/news/547687

    Article says exercise is directed at anti-submarine practice against Turkey and NATO. (I didn’t know that Turkey had submarines.)

    • kirill says:

      It has diesel-electrics made by Germany (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_submarines_of_the_Turkish_Navy). These are quite serious naval assets.

      Good to see Putin doing his job. But Izvestia tends to be sensationalist so we do not know the real objective. I think the more important objective is to fix all the problems arising from nearly 20 years of decline. Buying equipment is not enough.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The exercise was reported a couple of days back in MK and KP. Seems like the Evil Tyrant just called a surprise exercise in order to keep his matelots on their toes, and I don’t blame him. It’s like one of those fire-drill surprises in office blocks than can be such a pain in the arse at the time but are, nevertheless, absolutely necessary.

        Of course, the Western press reports this naval exercise as though it were an all out mobilization of Russian forces against the freedom and democracy loving “international community”.

        In 2006, US marines landed in Feodosia in the Crimea, ostensibly to do a joint exercise with Ukrainian forces there.

        The Feodosians, or whatever the locals are called, were rather none too pleased with having the US military landing at their city and protested about it. and blockaded the unloading of a US military supply vessel.

        No accusations of US “sabre rattling” about all of this at the time from the West of course.

        • Misha says:

          Some spun the protest to that 2006 venture as the work of extremists.

          In contrast to the Feodosians, some apparently think it’s more okay for the nationalist leaning anti-Russian elements from other parts of Ukraine to go to Crimea and lobby their views, which include their common cause with anti-Russian leaning Tatar nationalist elements.

          http://www.eurasiareview.com/13102010-beyond-the-edward-lucas-peter-hitchens-exchange-on-russia-and-ukraine/

        • marknesop says:

          It’s like you are reading the next post before it’s even done. There’s no such thing as the element of surprise with you guys around. Indeed, yes, there were near-simultaneous naval exercises right after the Chinese president’s visit, although not joint in the sense that they were inter-related or even in the same region, and indeed the cloven-hoofed progeny of St. Petersburg is reputed to have just ordered up the exercise by phone from the plane on his way back from the BRICS shindig. Hopefully I will have it finished in the next couple of hours.

          • Misha says:

            Then again, there’s little if any element of surprise on what the likes of The Moscow Times (TMT) will promote.

            I recall one recent title, which I correctly suspected to be an Aslund article. After making a point about how TMT will let some air out of the tires, it ran a commentary by Andrei Tsygankov – not bad, but not one that substatively rocks the boat like….

            IMO, the key to good analysis is originality. If you can’t develop something completely new, at least add on to what has been said, instead of rehashing

    • Misha says:

      Before the agreement for an extended Russian naval lease in Crimea, there was the stated advocacy of support for the Russian fleet to leave that region:

      http://www.russiablog.org/2008/05/russian_federation_situation_r.php

      NOT ME!

  15. moscowexile says:

    Just take a look at all the huffing and puffing in the UK Telegraph comments to that paper’s story on the Black Sea Fleet exercise.

    Here’s my favourite so far:

    “I’m surprised that no one has picked up on the fact that the only reason that Assad in Syria is still there murdering thousand after thousands of Syrian is because his tyrannical regime is being fully supported and supplied by the Russian Baltic fleet as using Syrian ports.”

    Silly bugger! How does he think units of the Baltic Fleet can get past the might of the Royal Navy after entering the North Sea, to say nothing of sailing through the Straits of Gibraltar past Britain’s European colony in Spain?

    Oh, I know! They must be sailing by way of the Northern Passage.

    After leaving the Baltic through the Skagerak, they sail north, go by Norway’s North Cape and enter the Arctic Ocean, whence they chug to the Pacific, refuel at Vladivostok, then press onwards past Malaya, thence across the Indian Ocean, enter the Red Sea and reach the Mediterranean by way of the Suez Canal.

    Oh, and I do declare! In the very first comment the term “rust bucket” is used to describe Russian vessels!

    What unbearable smugness these armchair warriors have when discussing the Russian armed forces, and what ignorance too!

    • kirill says:

      Aside from the inanity you describe, the “concern” for thousands of “Syrians” is so much BS as well. The ones doing the killing and dying are foreign jihadis and the some tiny fraction of the Syrian population that has joined them in fighting a war. This is the typical wailing from NATzO pundits about foreign civilians they are actually helping to murder by supporting militants. Supposedly 70,000 have died but as usual we have no identification of how many are actual civilians and not combatants KIA and how many are from pro-Assad forces. We just have to believe that they are all innocent civilians due to the feigned concern.

    • marknesop says:

      Such is the effect of years of jingoism and conditioning by the popular press. How quickly Britain appears to have forgotten having its face rubbed in the dirt by Iran. As I live and breathe, is that Leading Seaman Faye Turney wearing a headscarf in the photo?

      A lot of questions were asked after that incident, such as why was the boarding party so far from their ship (HMS CORNWALL) and why was it not able to come to their defense, plus a lot of ridiculous best-of-British-pluck nonsense about rules of engagement preventing them from opening fire until it was too late. The truth is the entire team became complacent from repeated boring uneventful boardings, and that happens to everybody. When the British boat came around the disengaged side of the ship to be boarded, out of the view of CORNWALL, there was a boat manned by the IRGN sitting right there waiting for them, and resistance would just have thrown away their lives for nothing – an action I notice that British journalists consistently argue for when they themselves bear no risk; God, they’re so brave, why isn’t there a Journalist’s Battalion to lead Britain’s forces into battle? The troops would be inspired by their reckless courage, and the enemy would flee shrieking before their ferocity!

      Meanwhile, spanking-new HMS ASTUTE is described as having “a V-8 engine with a Morris Minor gearbox”, and as “slow, leaky and rusty“. I’m not surprised, you don’t get much for £9.75bn these days. To be fair, first-of-class almost always experience problems as theories translate to capabilities, or fail to do so. That’s when you want to discover problems – not like the example of the ill-starred American F-35, simultaneously in development and series production, which has seen more than a billion dollars spent in costly retrofits to already-delivered aircraft and the costs mushroom from around $70 million per airframe to well over $125 million. Not to mention the drastic cut in operations and capabilities implied by the sequestration, which will see two entire carrier groups laid up indefinitely. That’s what you get when you decide to have a tax cut for the rich while funding two expensive wars on credit. I notice the first comment makes reference to, yes, you guessed it – the rust-bucket Soviet navy. Which the commenter argues the USN is becoming.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The very small seaman in the picture is the then 20-year old Royal Navy Able Seaman Arthur Batchelor, who complained in the UK that the suits that the Iranians had given them to wear in the happy release photograph were “tacky” and that the CDs and DVD that they were also given as presents did not work. He complained bitterly about his iPod not being returned.

        What was he doing carrying an iPod whilst a member of a boarding party? Surely cutlasses and boarding pikes would have been more appropriate?

        Leading Seaperson Turney moaned about the fact that her job was driving a boat and that she shouldn’t have been expected to do anything more than that.

        They all performed well and smiled and waved as ordered by the Iranians except the glum looking ones, who were Royal Marines. The really glum looking one, if I remember rightly, was their officer.

        But the Iranians really dropped a bollock in not realizing who the happy chappy with the beaming smile in the centre was, for surely that is none other than HRH Prince William the Duke of Cambridge?

        He must have been seconded that day day when he played the role of being a member of a boarding party, for he, like his dad, has a different service uniform for every day of
        the year.

        • marknesop says:

          That do look like Prince William, dunnit? But it’s not, of course. Had that happened, the affair would have taken on entirely a different dimension.

          I can speak only for our own boarding parties, but they take nothing with them of a personal nature. Pikes and cutlasses have given way to the Sig-Sauer and the Heckler & Koch MP5. No rank badges, either.

          The British boarding party just got caught in a bad situation, is all, and the article correctly points out that they are trained to respond less in the old name-rank-serial-number fashion because if you are taken prisoner by stateless forces such as terrorists, they will just shoot you and be done with it – they are signally unimpressed with stoicism.

  16. kirill says:

    The western propaganda war against Russia is effective even on skeptics such as myself. My brain did not even register how absurd the accusation of “autocracy” is. So in the USA and Canada, leaders who promise some token tax cuts (e.g. Harper and no more than $300) get elected and in the case of Canada can keep on being re-elected indefinitely. But in Russia, Putin is a tyrant because the electorate keeps on voting for him after his policies delivered a TEN-FOLD wage increase and a 13% flat tax that western right-wingers can only dream about. The obscenity of the western propaganda narrative on Russia is so intense it overwhelms rational thought.

    The western media systematically avoids covering Russian opinion polls and why Russians may actually want to vote for Putin. Instead they feed the western media consumer a steady stream of BS such as the story about the “crackdown” on the NGOs (i.e. they have implicitly redefined the meaning of the word crackdown) and wailing about the plight of Pussy Riot. None of this has any substance and in the case of Magnitsky they are outright lying about who he was and what he did. He was no lawyer and he was no whistleblower since accusing your jailers from a prison cell is not whistleblowing. Whistleblowing means you have inside information and it is obvious that this Browder minion had no inside information on the Moscow police.

    • Misha says:

      In some instances, this is true among the court appointed of alternative (when compared to Lucas) views on Russia, as evidened by what “The Russia Hand” has said about Gessen, the Russian foreign ministry, Jewry and Pussy Riot.

      The “raids” on NGOs is a more recent example of skewed coverage.

      • kirill says:

        http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130330/180346679/Putin-Orders-Allocating-75-Mln-for-Socially-Oriented-NGOs.html

        The above is a good response. Spending money on Russian NGOs will help crowd out US sponsored 5th column operations. But Putin should have left this to the Duma to announce and this should have been done much earlier.

        • Misha says:

          Hopefully, it’s money well spent, as opposed to crony appointments that sacrifice a better product.

          Re: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_27/Berezovsky-s-murder-grave-suspicions-instead-of-evidence-again-164/

          Excerpt –

          “In Russia, overzealous anti-Berezovsky conspiracy theorists are adding their part to the confusion. The Mail reported that former politician Sergei Markov said “the tycoon was assassinated because he knew too much about Western plots to undermine Putin and planned to trade this knowledge for a return to Russia.”

          ****

          I concur. Assuming Markov is correctly and completely quoted, he should’ve emphasized a “perhaps” opening to rhetorically emphasize a counter view.

          Over the course of time, some of Markov’s comments have been reasonably second guessed in his role as “spin doctor” – a matter having to do with improving Russia’s image.

          Less lavochka can make a difference.

        • Misha says:

          An excerpt from the RIAN link that Kirill provided:

          “On Thursday, President Putin warned the Kremlin’s human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin that the raids should be monitored to ensure there were no “excesses” by the officials carrying out spot checks of NGOs.”

        • marknesop says:

          Agreed to all. Putin is a bit of a megalomaniac, and his “I am Russia” thing is sometimes a little out of hand; letting the Duma be more proactive would lessen the impression that Putin makes all the decisions, and of course he could not have made this one on his own. But he needs to highlight the role of his advisers more.

          Absolutely it is a good decision, and it will be made a better one if he selects certain western NGO’s which are not hotbeds of liberal activism, but are in Russia to do good work – and there are many such, often associated with a particular branch of medical research – and favours them with grants and attention to their recommendations. I absolutely do not support the notion of just kicking them all out willy-nilly, and there is no need for most of them to leave or be the subject of harsh discipline – the great majority can discipline themselves quite well and should have no need to fear intrusive inspections. As always, it is the squeaky wheel which gets the grease with the Anglospheric press, and NGO’s which constantly inveigle against the Russian government and make a lot of noise about crackdowns and repression get most of the attention as well as the money.

  17. Moscow Exile says:

    They’ve scratched a line in the dirt!

    This announcement was posted this afternoon (Saturday, 30th March)by the Foreign Ministry:

    “Statement by A.K.Lukashevicha, spokesman for the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, in connection with the reaction of the U.S. State Department to the checking of NGO activities in Russia
    613-30-03-2013

    We view the declaration made by the official representative of the State Department, Victoria Nuland, that the United States, bypassing Russian law, will continue financing individual NGOs within Russia via intermediaries in third countries as blatant interference in our internal affairs. In reality this amounts to the direct instigation of known non-governmental and voluntary organizations to break the law relating to non-profit organizations in the Russian Federation.

    It would, however, be impossible not to describe the remarks made by V. Nuland as other than cynical and provocative when she compares routine inspections of non-commercial organizations as “witch hunts”. We realize that the reasons for this disappointing reaction have been brought about by the overlapping channels of financial support “friendly” to Washington after the closure of organizations in Russia that act for the U.S. Agency for International Development and a ban on the funding of political activities from abroad.

    Without any doubt whatsoever, any outside attempts at influencing the internal processes in our country and the development of its civil society are doomed to failure.”

    • kirill says:

      The correct response is for the Duma to pass a law making what Nuland describes a serious crime in Russia. So anyone or any group partaking in this operation (a racket by RICO standards if there ever was one) would be subject to serious jail time and financial penalties. It’s not for the US to organize Russia’s civil society. All that claim to be the advocates of civil society and human rights should be looking for money from Russian sources. But since they have little actual support amongst Russians (since Russians have sussed them out as 5th columnists) they depend on foreign meddlers for support.

      • marknesop says:

        There’s nothing wrong with civil society per se. But it must work with government in good faith, and there must be two-way communication, rather than civil society taking for granted that their role is to act in conflict with government and strive to undermine it. Modern institutions are tremendously selfish, and none seems to understand any others very well. Civil society is taught by western regime-changers to assume the government is too corrupt to be a partner, and that negotiation with it is fruitless. At the same time, it is fed unrealistic goals, such as getting the worker paid like a manager while he works less hours. The employer would like him to work for next to nothing, and until midnight. There is a common ground, but both sides must negotiate in good faith.

    • moscowexile says:

      And it’s not Mrs. Lukashevicha, as I mistakenly wrote above, it’s Mr. Lukashevich.

      I forgot to delete the masculine genitive singular case ending “-a” tagged onto his family name as it is in opposition to “of representative of the Foreign Ministry” and therefore has the same case as “representative”, namely genitive singular.
      🙂

    • marknesop says:

      Transgressors, take heed!!

      To be fair, these organizations had 8 months to get their act together and obey the properly-enacted laws of their host country. They let crazy Lyudmilla Alekseeva act as their point, and blat loudly about her intention to disobey the law “because it is illegitimate”. I wonder if she imagines it is left up to citizens to interpret the law in the revered west, and to obey only those they regard as legitimate. Anyway, the rest just lay low and waited to see what would happen. When nothing did, they stirred themselves and began to beat on the pots and pans again and take up their old chorus of “Putin the Oppressor”, because they perceived the government did not have the will to enforce the law. I am curious if anyone is keeping score of the western misjudgements made during Putin’s leadership, but it must be quite a few. Chalk up another one. And naturally this would not be the expectation in the west, and a foreign NGO which declared its intention to ignore the laws of the host country and subsequently refused to do as directed would be the subject of exactly the same intervention by the host government. Only the host country’s press would not portray it as a “raid” or a “witch hunt” or a “crackdown”. Because it would not be. Neither is it here.

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