Under New Management – A Progress Report on Ivanishvili’s Georgia

Uncle Volodya says, "Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. but if you must be without one, be without the strategy."

Uncle Volodya says, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. but if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”

The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. The show goes on because it’s time
Lorne Michaels

On October 1st, 2012, it was time. And the show went on. The increasingly-autocratic and dysfunctional government of Mikheil Saakashvili was swept away by the giddy tide of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s cobbled-together coalition, Georgian Dream.

You might say this emphatic rejection of the ruling party, Saakashvili’s United National Movement, and the thrusting into the ring of Georgia’s prodigal son and allegedly-eccentric billionaire – Bidzina Ivanishvili – was greeted in the west with the enthusiastic welcome normally reserved for a turd in the punch bowl, or a cockroach on a wedding cake. The west, not to put too fine a point on it, doted on the Columbia-educated, multilingual Georgian president (which he still is, until this October) as one of its own; a bold reformer and tireless advocate for western-style democracy – a fiction kept breathing by regular infusions of Georgian-taxpayer money to western lobbyists and PR firms, who sang the saccharine praises of Saakashvili the west loved to hear.

So says Lincoln Mitchell, in his punchy “What’s Next For Georgia? The End of the Rose Revolution“. My favourite outtake from this piece is, “Thus, this election did not end the Rose Revolution, because the Rose Revolution was already over. Rather, it defeated a regime that had used the imagery of the Rose Revolution to stay in power.” Amen, Mr. Mitchell. Full disclosure; Lincoln Mitchell was an “informal adviser” to the Georgian Dream party in the last election.

To the great surprise of no one, articles quickly proliferated which suggested Ivanishvili was a Russian stooge. Yulia Latynina – living proof of the chestnut that the wise speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something – cast Ivanishvili as “Georgia”s Chavez” (Hugo Chavez had died recently at the time, and our Yulia went on a bit of a Chavez bender for a couple of weeks). According to her, Ivanishvili would “destroy the state machinery that President Mikheil Saakashvili created that had done such a good job of serving peoples’ interests”, and had better get busy thinking up a distraction so Georgians would not remember his “grossly exaggerated campaign promises”. Julia Ioffe, like many western sources, focused on his reclusivness, his outsize home and his zoo of exotic animals to portray him as a kind of semi-political Michael Jackson.

Georgia under Ivanishvili presents the west with a dilemma – it wants Georgia and Georgians to succeed, of course, but it wants that to happen under a leader it controls, or one who by his own proclivities identifies as one with the western reformers. The last thing the west wants for Georgia is for it to drift back into Russia’s orbit. Consequently, Bidzina Ivanishvili is about as popular as a tax hike with most of the west, which paints a picture of him as a bumbling loser whose victory was beginner’s luck on an almost unbelievable scale, an anomaly that would soon be put right once Georgians realized he was just some kind of charming nut, and begged for Saakashvili to restore the normal functioning of government.

Well, let’s drop in on Ivanishvili, shall we? See how he’s really doing.

A good place to start might be with Georgia’s economic indicators. It’s a bit early to expect Ivanishvili to have turned everything around, for better or for worse, but let’s take a look. The currency is stable. GDP is up sharply, as is per-capita GDP – the latter has risen to double the average. GDP adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is also up. Growth is down, which is worrisome, but it’s still early in the year.

Employment and wages are both up steeply, while unemployment is headed back down after a steady climb. The average is a shameful 13.47%, and that’s the rate the previous government would acknowledge; it was likely a good deal higher. Getting people back to work should be a priority, and it looks like it is.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) looks like it has leveled off, and both the GDP deflator and inflation are down. Interest rates are headed down.

Trade is a little worrying; the trade balance is a bit more negative than the last measurement, and much worse than the average; Georgia imported considerably more than it imported since the last measurement. However, Ivanishvili has made restoration of friendly trading relations with Russia a priority, and for its own part, Russia’s membership in the WTO restricts it from discriminating against Georgia in trade relations. Russia is a major market for Georgian goods, as the economy is heavily agrarian. A return of Georgian wines and mineral water to Russian markets – any time now, it was scheduled to take place this spring – will also be a boost to the economy. Meanwhile, both exports and imports are satisfyingly up by more than double the average.

Government debt to GDP is down, while government spending is up. The government budget is less of GDP than the last measurement, and far less than what has become the average. Industrial production is way down, but it is measured annually, and this is still early in the year. Consumer spending is up sharply.

Unless Saakashvili has completely reversed his previous economic performance and this is all his doing – doubtful – Ivanishvili appears to be doing pretty well, and efforts by outsiders to turn the Georgian people against him appear to have been of little avail.

Encouraging, too, has been his insistence on trimming the President’s expenses, taking away one of the two jets reserved for his use and directing the exterior lights that illuminate the presidential palace at night be turned off to save money. This might seem like mean-spirited squabbling until you consider it costs Georgians nearly $85,000 USD per day to maintain the office of the President in the style to which he has become accustomed, in a country where pensions for ordinary Georgians are $60 USD per month.

Recent polls suggest Ivanishvili and Georgian Dream remain strongly popular, while the best Saakashvili can muster is about 10,000 people to hear him rave about what a great opposition leader he is. Even though the author of the latter piece points out that much of the “crowd” – like the White Ribbon Protests in Russia – is comprised of “chronic protesters” who will come out for anything as long as it’s a protest, he still chides Ivanishvili for revealing that Saakashvili spent public funds to take lavish vacations and buy luxurious gifts. Arresting UNM officials and initiating investigations into Saakashvili’s closest allies is also apparently childish and unseemly in a democratic leader, despite the numerous criminal scandals that erupted in the latter days of Saakashvili’s reign.

Don’t look there for values, Mr. Ivanishvili.

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514 Responses to Under New Management – A Progress Report on Ivanishvili’s Georgia

  1. Misha says:

    Re: http://rt.com/usa/boston-bomber-confession-boat-375/

    How well founded is the above report? Upon quick glance, RT seems the prime if not exclusive venue which first ran the claim that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote that the bombing was a revenge to US policy abroad.

    If the report is true, chalk up another contrast to the blame Russia spin suggested by F. Gaffney, Remnick and Rojansky.

    If not, RT should make note for improvement sake. At Global Voices, a former AEI staffer reported on how the RT CEO responded to a phony Tweet that claimed to be Michael McFaul.

  2. Moscow Exile says:

    And now for an insight into the mind of a white-ribbonist, from a revealing article from the pen of an artistic type who pours forth a load of …well, I shall leave it to you, dear readers, to make your own judgement.

    From today’s Russian edition of Moscow News: “The Anatomy of context” by Dmitri Bykov:


    The Anatomy of Context

    Just about the same thing has happened to the Russian opposition as has happened to the Russian intelligentsia: it has been accused of every mortal sin; but without it, one cannot live.

    The opposition has become just a little bit more like Alla Pugacheva, who is hated so much – yet without her it is inconceivable that one can live one’s life: without her there would be no New Year.

    Let’s agree that there is no opposition in Russia and that there has never been one. It has lost everything that it could lose; it has degenerated into buffoonery; it has compromised itself (in the eyes of the Patriots) by socializing with the liberals and (in the eyes of liberals) with the left; it did not offer a coherent programme and a specific plan of action; it did not find a common language with the people, with the authorities, with the West and with patriots. It has no goals, objectives and principles. We are agreed: it has been forgotten and buried and its inscription written. An opposition that blows neither hot nor cold insofar as it now has completely different problems.

    Perhaps it would be easier to accept that it does not exist and never has, and then the provocations such as “Anatomy of Protest”, the harassment, the defamation and the professional restrictions would at last cease: there can be no reactions to nothing. But of Russia’s columnists, ranging from the completely incorruptible to those who are mostly concerned about seeking sponsors, such as Leonid Radzikhovsky, who touchingly combines wise scepticism with teenage angst and lots of BLOCK CAPITALS, – what are they all going to do?

    What will happen to Arkady Mamontov and other such members of the powers that be? Finally, what will become of those with the most power, those that have neither thought up a slogan for the immediate future nor a programme – apart from fighting the opposition? What will live on in literature – for in all of the new Russian novels, from realism to fantasy – the white ribbon movement has become a common thread? What can be generally spoken of in Russian, apart from the opposition – and spies?

    Just about the same thing has happened to the Russian opposition as has happened to the Russian intelligentsia: it has been accused of every mortal sin; but without it, one cannot live, because there is nothing else. The proletariat and the peasantry have long turned into something completely different – and partly, by the way, in the same way as the intelligentsia has – and there they are, and you can throw them around as though they were dead bodies. To be honest, it is about the same situation as regards God. They have all said twenty times over that He does not exist, that His existence cannot be proven, that He alone was to blame; as a result , the expression: “There is no God” has been transformed into the formulaic expression: “There is nothing but God”.

    The intelligentsia, for all its notorious shirking of physical labour, has long fed Russia, has provided it with its defences and all that it possesses and with which it has been able to compete. The beginning and end of all this is the culture of the physical sciences. The opposition is the only theme of Russian conversations, because there is nothing more to talk about. There is nothing easier than to exclude it from the political field, to destroy it morally and physically, to stop constantly being reminded of it, thereby inflating its rating. But here is the rub: there is no programme for the reaction, apart from repression; therefore, the opposition is as necessary as is air. You can make any conflicting claims, especially when you consider that there are no rights and opportunities in this opposition that are primordial. In the era of this said reaction, the oppositionists and intellectuals time and again have been guilty of everything: this has been said outside, but not in their homes; they have no humility; they did not set off for the Kremlin – if they had done so the opposition would have been blamed for leading its supporters to the slaughter.

    But insofar as the dominant content of the era has been the violence targeted at them – which, by the way, touches upon individual civil servants, anti-regime activists, “back-to-the-soil” activists, radicals, elderly non-conformists and the Kremlin “young guard” – then to finally bury the opposition would be inconceivable, even if it ardently wished that this be done. Surkov has gone into retirement? It was he who supported the opposition, not otherwise. Check out “RUSNANO”? This Chubais fellow under the wing of and in participation with U.S. intelligence has cultivated the opposition. Summer promises to be a hot one? The opposition is at hand!

    In modern Russia people say what they want about anything – from the “Eurovision” song contest to the Rosbank scandal – but just wonder about the opposition: it is either abused in queues or praised in the kitchen.

    Such excessive attention can in no way be combined with incessant talk of wretchedness, nullity and security. If there were no opposition, as God was, it too would have been invented. Another thing is that our understanding of the opposition is at the same approximate and superficial, just as are our opinions about God: judging the opposition movement by what is said in abundance from meeting podiums is as mistaken as using icons to make judgements about God. God is everywhere: He is in the air – and the opposition is also everywhere; God is what emerges from our thirst to understand, to ask, to thank, and even to break into anger, and to dump any guilt – and the opposition has exactly the same mission. Atheists are kicking God just as they can break icons, having been bullied by Scripture – thus they do more for faith than does the most zealous preacher: there is no fighting with those who are not there.

    God does not exist, but He will: Gorky proposed that we should be God-builders. There is no opposition, but there is a flurry of vilification; there are cries of horror; there is praise of its never tiring power to create – and as a result it becomes truly ubiquitous: any provincial student, any vendor, any taxi driver asks “When will it all end?” The whole thing is so enormous – and that includes the money that has been spent -, an array of modern Russian ideology, all the propaganda, all the fire and brimstone and utopia is hung on to by a handful of showmen who are not capable of doing anything, of writers and leftists. In this sense, the opposition is even a bit similar to Alla Pugacheva, who is hated so much – yet without her it is inconceivable that one can live one’s life: without her there would be no New Year.

    Alla Pugacheva is also similar to God, a myth that has become out of date, but without whom the world would collapse. There will be no ethical or aesthetic criteria, or even gossip. However, as Brodsky observed: the only interesting things are gossip and metaphysics; in fact, they are one and the same.

    As God left the clouds and turned into an idea, the opposition has gone from the street (there is very little of it left) and turned into total suspense, anger, and a secret malevolence. And the louder the assurances are that the situation is almost pre-crisis again – so audible is the laughter of the population in response to any power realities. The louder and clumsier the anti-religious propaganda, the more united are the ranks of the true believers. The more poisonous the slander of specific individuals, the more impersonal and massive, is the deeply malevolent and catacombed opposition that knows what its future will be.

    Of course, this hidden opposition is not particularly favoured by me, because it has for the time being no responsibilities and has a big zero coming from it. But then the eternal reproach concerning God’s existence is that nobody has seen Him, and yet any doubt of His presence is almost impossible for any sensitive person.

    People talk about football, are only interested in God and perplexed by Chesterton. In modern Russia people say what they want about anything – from the “Eurovision” song contest to the Rosbank scandal – but just wonder about the opposition: it is either abused in queues or praised in the kitchen.

    “God is objective reality given us by our senses”, said Petsukh. There is no arguing about that. The opposition today is the only reality given us by our senses. All the rest is a fiction. And the louder the authorities stamp their feet, the more certain is that reality – the only thing that is contained within our huge country, it seemingly having lost its other brands, compromised its reason and eaten up all its resources.

    “Either there is no God, or everything is God”, Tolstoy wrote shortly before his death. And those six words, in my opinion are the best he wrote.

    End of translation

    And Putin trembles on reading the words of such an erudite thinker.

    • yalensis says:

      Is like the mad ramblings of a lunatic..

    • marknesop says:

      Well, he had me at “…it has degenerated into buffonery”, but then he got all stream-of-consciousness beat poet after that and it kind of fell apart.

      I think most of us can agree that Russia needs a responsible – and loyal – political opposition. But even though Bykov is being sarcastic and looking for sympathy when he goes on and on about how reviled the opposition is, there is truth in his sarcastic critique – the opposition does not have a plan, at least not one they have chosen to announce, if they dislike being suspected of sucking up to the west they have only themselves to blame – because they take western money – and their whole political philosophy consists of making a cacaphony of outrage at every single thing Putin says or does. That’s not an opposition, it’s a peanut gallery of hecklers.

      And you can gauge its true effectiveness from Putin’s earnestness when he says in speeches how important it is for the country’s democracy that it have an effective opposition. Obviously, it is bothering him not one bit in the course of his doing pretty much whatever he likes, and it probably is extremely fortunate that he is mostly responsible rather than the despot the McOpposition says he is. If there were a real political opposition holding his feet to the fire, you can bet he would not be piously sermonizing about how urgently the country needed a good strong opposition.

      But the duties and responsibilities of the loyal opposition are largely lost on modern established democracies as well, and opposition politicians are too busy nitpicking and playing gotcha! to give much thought to their real job. This highways bill, now; nobody disagrees that the country needs more roads, and improvements to the existing roads are urgent. But why does it cost so much? And why is the CEO of the company that won the bulk of the contracts the President’s uncle? This is effective opposition work, not, “Highways?? We don’t need highways, Putin is just being ridiculous and corrupt, And besides, everybody knows he owns 75% of Gunvor. And he’s a pedophile”.

      • Speaking strictly for myself, I can quite happily imagine a world without Alla Pugacheva.

        • marknesop says:

          Well, I agree the New Year performances would lack something without her, she is something of a tradition at those. Other than that occasion, I don’t really ever think of her.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            I do, whenever I see a black bin bag.

            She was good in her day, though:

            • marknesop says:

              I think a lot of women – and perhaps some gay men – dislike her because she was regularly able to attract desirable younger partners despite never having been strikingly good-looking even when she was in her prime. Most of the group already mentioned would love to be able to do the same, and would roundly deny any wrong in it were they able to do so. Alla Pugacheva is a good singer, but rarely achieved true greatness even at her best, yet her music has acquired a mythic power directly associated with the Russian soul nonetheless, which is why she remains an icon.

              And I pay the west no attention when it makes crude comments about Pugacheva, as they could all be turned into mockery simply by mentioning non-singing singers like Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice, yodeling wierdos like Slim Whitman, pretenders to talent they do not have like flute-playing Katy Perry and national embarrassments like Britney Spears.

    • AK says:

      Finally posted! Sorry it took me a while.

  3. yalensis says:

    Speaking of the Brothers Tsarnaev, this seems pretty explosive:


    According to this, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was close friends with a guy named Musa Hadjimuradov, who just happens to be the former bodyguard of Akhmed Zakaev, the Chechen version of Osama bin Laden, who found sanctuary in, and is still being protected by, Great Britain.

    The Chechen terrorist leader Zakaev lives in London, and the Brits refuse to extradite him back to Russia. Zakaev’s former bodyguard, Hadjimuradov, likewise found sanctuary, but in his case in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, whiether he moved in 2004, claiming status as a refugee. (Recall that Tsarnaev family also moved to USA claiming refugee status with some kind of sob story about oppression of Chechens, or whatever. Then, instead of being grateful to their new homeland, they set off bombs and blew people’s legs off.)

    Manchester New Hampshire police confirmed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev met with Hadjimuradov a few weeks before the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. While in New Hampshire, Tsarnaev carried out several tasks, including meeting with Hadjimuradov, and also buying fireworks. (To use to stuff his bombs, in order to blow people’s legs off.)

    American FBI has searched Hadjimuradov’s house, taken his hard drives and DNA samples, etc. Will be interesting to see if they decide to prosecute this putrid terrorist hack.

    • Misha says:

      If I’m not mistaken, the chap in question denies talking about and supporting terrorism to TT. The neocon/neolib propped Chechen separatists have been careful in dis-associating themselves from what the Tsarnaevs did.

      Not totally sure as I caught the news bit in question on the fly – to use ice hockey terminology.

    • Jen says:

      There was also some news flying around in the blogosphere about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife Katherine Russell and her family connections to the Skull and Bones Society at Yale University: the same society that had the two George Bushes and John Kerry as members.

      • yalensis says:

        Ha! That’s a pretty decent conspiracy theory. Although I am not convinced that just having dear old Grandpa being in Skull & Bones member necessarily classifies the granddaughter as a CIA handler. Enticing as it is to see the seed of such a proud forefather donning hijab and becoming Stepford Wife of Wahhabist loser.

        I am more inclined to write this coincidence up to the rubric “It’s a small world”.

        Although I am still generally agnostic about this, and to me the most suspicious part of all is that “naked man” video which CLEARLY shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev unarmed and unwounded (and unclothed), getting into a police car BEFORE he was supposedly gunned down in a high-speed chase.
        If that isn’t a conspiracy, I don’t know what is.
        Although I suppose even that doesn’t prove that Tamerlan was a CIA agent, just that the cops killed him a little prematurely, and then had to cover that up by concocting the whole “chase” scenario?

  4. yalensis says:

    And also on the topic of Brits sheltering completely undeserving criminals:


    According to this, British coroner Robert Owen has declined to draw any legal conclusions from the Litvinenko autopsy, on the grounds that he was not provided with all the data, due to government secrets act.

    Not quite sure how to read this. Sounds like Brits have decided not to charge any Russians, or Russian government, with Litvinenko death? I wonder if there will be an official apology forthcoming for all the wild accusations made over the past few years….? (I’m joking, of course.)

    • cartman says:

      Tintin made sure to remind everyone through his headline that Hague was just trying to preserver the trade relationship between Russia and the UK. (Never mind the fact that they do not have a trade relationship, except the property buyers in Surrey and the visitors to their Hogwarts schools.)

      • yalensis says:

        Ha ha! Yes, it is very clear, according to Mr. Rin-Tin-Tin that the pussy-whipped Hague-Cameron clique are intent on appeasing Vladimir Putin. Not unlike similar appeasement that took place at Munich.
        Goldfarb absolutely furious about this dastardly cover-up on the part of the British coroner: “They [Hague and Cameron] appear more concerned about chemical weapons in Syria than polonium spread around the streets of London.” Well said, Sir!

        The sense of moral outrage is palpable.

        • Dear Yalensis and Cartman,

          My very clear view is that the Coroner’s decision should be seen as an anti Russia action. It has been Russia that has been consistently calling for maximum transparency in this case and the British who have been resisting it. Once I would never have expected to see the day when Russia stood for openness and Britain for secrecy.

          See my discussion of this question on the Russian Debate.


        • marknesop says:

          In fact, this is the only somewhat-less-than-honourable exit the court could take without handing an outright defeat to the Berzovsky-loved-Litvinenko-Putin-poisoned-him crowd, so they should shut their mouths and know when they are well-off. Beginning to believe your own bullshit is the departure point from reality.

          • Dear Mark,

            This is exactly the point. If the British cannot make public the “evidence” they say they have against Lugovoi and Kovtun and Russia then they should drop the charges they have brought against Lugovoi and Kovtun and stop publicly accusing Russia. Actually they should never have brought charges against Lugovoi and Kovtun in the first place. Lugovoi made that point back in February when he stormed out of the inquest when it first began to seem as if the “evidence” would be excluded. Of course the “crime” (if that is what it was) would then be formally unsolved but there are always at any times scores of cases where the authorities know, or they think know, who the perpetrator is but where because of problems with the evidence charges cannot be brought. The point is that it is wrong in that case to bring them.

            Of course what “evidence” the British actually have is an entirely different matter. As I say in my article, the one thing we know about “evidence” that comes from the British intelligence service is that it has been repeatedly shown to be unreliable. The most famous recent case was over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction but the ludicrous and utterly discredited claims against Zatuliveter are perhaps a more appropriate example.

            As for the Berezovsky/Goldfarb gang, in my opinion Berezovsky was (amongst many other things) a British intelligence agent, just as Litvinenko was.. The stories they were circulating were therefore in a sense also stories put about by the British. As I also say in my article, it is surely no accident that one of the effects of the closing down of the inquest is that the 60 volumes of evidence produced to the inquest by the Russian Investigative Committee can now be disregarded.

            • cartman says:

              They get to continue making insinuations without presenting any evidence, and – as a bonus – they get to blame nasty Russia for the coverup. If Hague did not approve of this then Harding would get sued for libel, at the very least. The work of perfidious Albion, indeed.

  5. yalensis says:

    NOTE: Navalny KirovLes trial resumes on Monday. I am going to finish up my summary of the prosecution indictment before then, so that everybody is geared up and intelligent. After my note, below, which takes us through page 89, there are only about 10 pages to go!



    With the juicy evidence out of the way (=the tapped telephone conversations), all that remains is the boring details of the physical evidence.

    The indictment continues with meta-data about the meta-data: namely, a physical description of the audio discs that were taken; expert opinions (=testimony of 2 different technical experts) on the authenticity of the tapes and identification of the voices, etc. The experts also testify to the actual semantic meanings of the tapped conversations and the intentions of the conversants.

    Prosecution indictment concludes that the conversations prove a “close friendship” relationship between Navalny and Ofitserov. Semantic analysis also reveals that Navalny is the leader in this relationship; and Ofitserov the follower. Navalny becomes most animated when discussing issues of KirovLes and his defense of Ofitserov’s company. Ofitserov becomes most animated when discussing issues of the audit of KirovLes, and the necessity to levy fines on KirovLes when they fail to mee their obligations to VLK.
    Goes on to summarize a whole series of points made in these conversations that seem to prove criminal intent. That “cottage” thing is also mentioned in this summary, and the prosecutors also don’t seem to know what it means, except that it would seem that this “cottage” was promised to some guy named Petr Petrovich, who is also the same guy that Navalny orders Ofitserov to “chase away” the moment that he (Ofitserov) takes power in KirovLes. (??)
    “Based on linguistic and para-linguistic properties of the analyzed conversations, we can see (clear) signs that Navalny and Ofitserov share common conceptions and a mutual understand on the themes that are discussed. (….) In the verbal behavior of Ofitserov and Navalny, we see psychological signs of secrecy, in the form of ‘danger zones’…” [and so on… Okay, sounds like one of the linguistics experts is going to write his dissertation based on this case! – yalensis]

    After the linguistic analysis, the next piece of evidence is the search warrant for Navalny’s Moscow residence, which took place on 11-JUN-2012. During this search, police took away his iPhone and his Samsung Notebook computer.
    Next those 2 items (the iPhone and computer) are placed in evidence.
    And then the protocol authorizing the search of those objects. [They are looking for Navalny’s address book of contacts, his emails, and so on.]
    And all of this leads to the MOTHER LODE, which is the email trail between Navalny and Ofitserov, which can now be placed into evidence.
    [Recall that Navalny used the email address navalny@gmail.com which he considered to be as secure as Fort Knox. Ofitserov used an email address Ofitserov@real-management.ru – Real Management was the name of his company that did webinars on how to be a businessman. Soon enough Navalny has Ofitserov switch his email to a more secure gmail account.]
    This the same email trail that has been heavily discussed and analyzed in the blogosphere ever since Hell hacked and published it. Prosecutors believe this email trail proves prior collusion between the two defendants.
    Indictment goes on to list out all the contents of these emails. I think there is even more here than just the ones that sporaw/Politrash put out.
    In his annotation to the Indictment, Navalny does not deny that these are his emails. He does believe that the prosecution is really going off of Hell’s hacks, and just pretending that they found these same emails on his computer. Navalny does attempt to put his own spin on all this by saying he was just doing his job in trying to boost Kirov timber industry.

    END OF SUMMARY, pages 73-89

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. I should have read ahead in the indictment before I posted a comment in above thread, in which I mourned the fact that prosecution cannot use Navalny’s emails to prove that Bastrygina was right and Navalny was lying, in their courtroom spat about the “common timber market” and so on.

      OBVIOUSLY, the prosecution CAN use Navalny’s own emails to damn him. Duh! But only if they took this stuff from his own computer, and not just pulled out of the blogosphere! That was why they had to undertake that elaborate Broadway production number about the search warrant, and so on. But don’t blame them. Blame Navalny for being too stupid to realize that he needed to purge his email copies from his computer and the gmail server, after he saw his own stupid words floating out there in the blogosphere.

  6. Returning to the subject of Russian weapons supplies to Syria, I think it is now becoming clear that the fuss about the (fictitious) deliveries of S300 anti aircraft missiles was intended to camouflage the true point of objection, which is the delivery of Yakhont anti ship missiles to Syria. It seems that Netanyahu even went to Moscow to try to stop these deliveries from taking place.

    The contract for the supply of the Yakhont missiles is an old one and there is no secret or mystery to it. It does represent a challenge to Israeli naval superiority in the region. It would potentially make it more difficult for the Israeli navy to blockade the Syrian or even the Lebanese coast. I cannot believe that they would present a serious challenge to the much larger and more powerful US navy.

    Needless to say, as anti ship missiles, they cannot be used against civilians and have no bearing on the progress of the civil war at all.

    • SFReader says:

      Theoretically they could be used to establish an effective blockade of Israeli coast. From positions in Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon, they can sink any ship entering or leaving Israeli ports in Mediterranean.

      But Russians probably won’t allow such big an escalation.

      PS. Yakhonts supplied to Syria are an export-variant, with range limited to 300 kilometers. The ones in Russian service could sink an American aircraft carrier from 500 km range.

      • R.C. says:

        Yes. the Yakhonts would definitely pose a serious threat to the Israeli AND US navies – no doesn’t matter how large and powerful it is. I’ll say it again: The US & Israeli’s are accustomed to fighting foes who are unable to field a competent offense/defense. While Syria couldn’t defeat these advanced navies with Yakhont’s alone, a single direct hit on a destroyer or aircraft carrier would it all likelihood sink or disable it permanently.

        The Israeli’s and Americans are bitching about these DEFENSIVE deliveries to Syria because they know that these delieveries will impede their ability to attack that country from air and sea if/when they should decide to go in.

      • marknesop says:

        Speaking of Aircraft Carriers, I just saw an interesting article in one of the professional journals last week – enthusiastically endorsed by one of the retired-navy policy heavyweights (I forget his name now, but I recognized it) – which suggested it was time to draw the curtain on the manned aircraft carrier; that in the coming age, sea battles would be fought by unmanned vessels and drones. I have to say I’m a little disturbed by the enthusiasm with which the west is leaping on drones as a be-all and end-all; there was even an article in the news that suggested utility companies were eying drones with interest, with a bunch of malarkey about them helping to identify and fix power blackouts. It is already fairly easy to identify both the existence and the extent of a blackout, and it just sounds to me like a grab for an expanded surveillance capability. But for anybody wondering where we were going to go next after the security camera in the keeping tabs on private citizens, this is probably the near future.

        Anyway, what makes me nervous about relying on a drone military is that machines are at present not capable of decision-making the way a person is, and like any machine, it is only a matter of ascertaining what it is the machine is looking for in order to present it with an attractive false target. If there is no mind behind it – which, to be fair, there sometimes is with a drone, in the form of a camera – it is often pretty easy to fool, and hardening it against attack adds weight which subtracts range, and so on.

        And speaking of drones, here’s the launch of an X47-B from a carrier just a couple of days ago. The X47B is actually too big to be properly called a drone, it’s the size of a small fighter, but it’s the same idea.

        • R.C. says:

          Once machines are capable of decision-making, they’ll probably “decide’ to stop taking orders from their human masters and kill them….at least that’s what they did in countless sci-fi epics such as Battlestar Galactica, the Matrix & Terminator films.

          Perhaps machine intelligence for military applications will be crossing a bridge too far.

          • Misha says:

            2001: A Space Odyssey and at least one Twilight Zone episode being among them.

          • marknesop says:

            Machines already do follow a “logic tree” to make decisions. The trouble with it is that the goal is usually identifiable and easy to simulate so as to make the machine guess wrong. That’s why if the machine is a drone looking for a target that is you, all you need do to foll it is to present it with a decoy that is more attractive than yourself. The big attraction of drones in that respect is that you seldom know they are there, and you must if you are going to introduce a false target.

            • Jen says:

              The trouble also with decision tree models is that if you bias them towards certain decisions (as in shooting over not shooting), then if you build a drone with interfacing decision or logic tree models with the in-built biases, those assumptions can slant the drone into making disastrous if “correct” decisions. For example, in following a person and trying to distinguish among the target’s behaviours which of them indicates the person is thinking of lobbing a home-made bomb, the drone might select and interpret enough of the behaviours into deciding that the person is going to throw a bomb. Even if the person is only thinking about the act and is mimicking the actions s/he imagines might be done by a real terrorist but does not intend to carry them out.

              This is almost going into the territory of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics: how to design logic tree models for drones to follow in determining if a person is doing or is about to do something criminal and on what basis the models are to be designed.

  7. Misha says:

    Good news relating to Russia’s hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup:



    A proposed Russian-Ukrainian football (soccer) league:



    Isinbayeva on a comeback trail:



    Moscow will be hosting this summer’s IAAF World Championships.


    The NBA Atlanta Hawks are said to be considering the Italian coach of CSKA Moscow:



    Re: http://themoscownews.com/sports/20130517/191519342/Russia-faces-Olympic-struggle-World-Championships-predict.html

    As I’ve stated, Russia should be reasonable in how its winter Olympic team performs in Sochi. From a Russian perspective, consideration should be given to how Canada’s winter Olympic performance gradually improved after Calgary hosted the games in 1988. Russia should be pleased with an improved result from the last winter Olympics, with a good sense that further improvement will continue.


  8. peter says:

    … we have now reached an impasse…

    We? What we? No Alexander, the impasse is all yours: you’ve foolishly checkmated yourself by giving two different answers to one question, and are now trying in vain to tapdance your way out of your embarrassment.

    Still, for your brave perseverance in the face of a vastly superior adversary, I hereby bestow upon you the Black Knight Award.

    • yalensis says:

      Methinks Sir Peter is the Black Knight who got his arms and legs cut off.
      Because he kept asking silly riddles and multiple-choice questions:

      • Dear Peter,

        Any award you give me I accept with pleasure, though of course I entirely disagree with your suggestion either that the impasse is mine or of my making or that I have in any way checkmated myself. Quite the contrary actually.

        • peter says:

          … of course I entirely disagree…

          Yes, of course, just as you entirely disagree that Alyokhina isn’t the girl in the chicken video. This is called invincible ignorance, or in plain language, blind pigheadedness.

          • Dear Peter,

            “….you entirely disagree that Alyokhina isn’t the girll in the chicken video”.


            • peter says:

              Very wrong indeed: Maria Alyokhina and Elena Kostyleva are plainly not the same woman.

              • Indeed so. I can see her now. So that’s her name. Thanks Peter.

                • peter says:

                  Told you so from day one. Had you listened, you would’ve saved yourself a lot of embarrassment — like telling those silly lies how “others who have seen the film and who I have consulted are sure it is her.”

                • My goodness Peter, you really are getting the bit between the teeth now. Well I am not going to rise to your bait. The post is still there with the comments and anyone who wishes can judge the matter for themselves.

                • peter says:

                  Touchy touchy. If you don’t like to be called a liar, don’t lie. Simple as that.

                • Dear Peter,

                  Now you really are trolling. I said I wouldn’t rise to your bait and I’m not going to.

                • peter says:

                  You just can’t help yourself, can you? What’s the point of your childish comebacks? You lied and got caught, end of story, cannot be undone. Better luck next time.

                • Dear Peter,

                  Childish comebacks? Look in a mirror.

                  Warmest Regards!

                • peter says:

                  Hysterical… a self proclaimed big shot lawyer arguing like a 5 year old. NOOOOOO, YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR. I’M RUBBER, YOU’RE GLUE, EVERYTHING YOU SAY STICKS RIGHT BACK TO YOU!!!

                  Stop it Alexander, just stop it. Enough already.

                • marknesop says:

                  All right, now things are just getting mean. I didn’t see any silly lies, and nobody ever said that is Alyokhina, I’m confident and you are full of it. The contention was others are sure it is her (although it plainly is not, and there really is not much of a resemblance at all except they are both women, with light-coloured hair), qualified with a cautionary note on Alex’s eyesight at the time. He also said it did not matter if it was Alyokhina, since she was not on trial for the chicken incident, which implies there was doubt, and when you pointed it out with photos of both he readily admitted you were right and the chicken chick was not Alyokhina. Alex has never claimed to be a big-shot lawyer anywhere that I have seen, any more than you have claimed to be a big-shot physicist, and I would be as quick to correct anyone who made such a claim against you. Cut it out, before I turn the garden hose on the both of you.

                  And besides; it’s “I’m rubber, you’re glue – everything you say BOUNCES OFF ME (that’s the importance of the rubber part, see?) and sticks to you!!”

                  Neither the Chicken-Insertion Misidentification Jamboree nor the Six Million Cadillacs Campaign was worth a petty squabble, unless the failure to prove the exact worth of the timber is the golden key which makes Navalny prosecution-proof – in which case I promise your genius will be appropriately recognized with a commemorative festival, repeated annually. A competition for a suitably-dignified title will be thrown open to all and sundry in that event. Until then, the subject has plainly had every drop of interest wrung from it.

                • JAVI says:

                  do not feed the troll!

                • peter says:

                  Mercouris doing an Averko. Now I’ve seen everything.

                • Misha says:

                  Nothing of the sort asshole.

                  “Averko” seeks intelligent discussion on the actual subjects that are either initially brought up, or somewhat related, or more distant, but not at the non-substantive diatribe level of an anonymous coward like “Peter”.

          • marknesop says:

            Or imperfection. Hard to visualize, I know. There is no direct presuppositive relationship between being wrong, and ignorance. It is definite the girl in the chicken video is not Alyokhina, but is that really such a pivotal victory? And do such lofty conclusions automatically accrue?

            Meanwhile, once again, it would be extremely helpful if you spelt out for the rest of the invincibly ignorant of us exactly where you are going with this excruciating discussion of market price vs. market value. The coincidence of its starting up near the commencement of the Navalny trial suggests it has something to do with Navalny’s fiscal relationship with KirovLes – which definitely existed – and VLK, which Navalny denies, and your gleeful tone suggests you have discovered the key log which, once wiggled, will bring the entire logjam of the prosecution’s case crashing down around its ears. Are you afraid you will prejudice Navalny’s eventual glorious vindication by revealing it too early? If so, I understand. If not, there’s no real reason to keep going around the mulberry bush with market price as a function of market value. Obviously, we don’t get it. So, what is it, if you are at liberty to reveal it?

            • Dear Mark,

              What Peter was trying to do as I understand it was prove that the Investigative Committee has failed to provide evidence of the value of the timber that was stolen as they would undoubtedly have to do in order to prove this case. Though he is wrong on this issue my discussion with him has made me think of a possible defence for Navalny, which touches on some of the points in our discussion.

              Briefly, the Investigative Committee is saying that the ownership of the timber never transferred to the shell company because there was no bona fide commercial transaction at arm’s length between KirovLes and the shell company. The timber was therefore at all times within KirovLes’s ownership.

              The question to which that gives rise is whether that means that the timber was still legally the property of KirovLes even after it was supposedly sold to the customers? If the customers knew of the nature of the transaction between KirovLes and the shell company (as they surely did), then it is arguable that the timber was still the property of KirovLes even after the customers bought it since the customers would not have bought the timber as (to use the dreadful legal phrase) bona fide purchasers for value without notice.

              The point is that KirovLes has never at any point in time attempted to recover its timber, even after Opalev was sacked and the arrangement with the shell company was cancelled. Given that this is so, there is it seems to me a possible argument that KirovLes has given its informed consent to the whole chain of transactions: both those between KirovLes and the shell company and those between the shell company and the customers. If there has been informed consent by KirovLes, even if this has happened after the fact, then by definition there can be no theft and no embezzlement.

              This is far from being an easy defence to run. It effectively admits that the agreement between KirovLes and the shell company was not a bona fide commercial arrangement. I can see how that might be risky, but then again is there any genuine doubt about it? It would need a very able lawyer to argue this defence (certainly one more skilled than Navalny) but I can see how it might work.

              • marknesop says:

                Altogether too much for my poor head. But I think that however this comes out, Navalny is a spent force in Russia from here on. As others have pointed out, his trial attracted zero local and national interest, and western excitement seems to have quickly faded as well. Meanwhile, whether the outcome of the trial suggests guilt or innocence, the notion that Navalny’s sojourn to Yale invested him with some sort of western Midas touch and super-businessman skills is decidedly dispelled, and he stands revealed as an incompetent boob at turning even a single small conglomerate into a profitable business empire – unless that now means profitable for a few executives at the top and a failure everywhere else. President Navalny at the helm of the nation’s energy might as well as its huge raw-materials industries obviously does not bear thinking about. His artificially-inflated “popularity” is most certainly not being grown by this mess, and I hope he is not such a bighead that he doesn’t realize it.

                • marknesop says:

                  Also, if the cost to be paid by the customer is a result of bargaining, as it seems to be for lumber in the regions, the only rough guidelines available would be the quantity received and the prevailing price at the time, which would be understood to be negotiable. Therefore being so precise about the “worth” of the timber allegedly stolen does look a bit prissy and pedantic, but I can’t see it as a deal-breaker, and simply inserting “approximately” in front of it would not make a huge difference to the issues of possession and ownership. In the case of the one witness who just wrapped up, for example, it is easy to establish he should have been paid 750,000 rubles and instead recovered only 200,000. Insertion of “and 75 kopeks” would not make a bit of difference there except for the opportunity to argue a technicality, and technicalities are not going to make Navalny look innocent if he is not.

                • Dear Mark,

                  You’ve hit on it. Regardless of what the ultimate verdict will be Navalny does not come out of this well and the sheer boredom factor in this case has caused both the Russian public and the western media to switch off. Even RAPSI has been humorously commenting on how anyone who tries to follow the case has to become an expert in the timber industry.

                  When it is the day for the verdict there will of course be a brief renewal of interest and if Navalny is sent to prison there will be the predictable stern editorials in the western newspapers but interest in both Navalny and his case has faded and politically he is a spent force.

                • Jen says:

                  I think with commodities like timber, the only way you could get a precise market price figure, if you were so minded, would be to establish a futures contract in which the buyer and seller agree on a given future price at which the transaction is made, based on both parties’ knowledge of past market price performance and current price trends, plus an extensive knowledge of the timber business like tree species, their life cycles and life spans, climate and soil conditions in the areas where they grow and what the current situation is in that regard. The price of the transaction would be in an agreed price range below and above which the parties don’t go unless there are extraordinary circumstances at the time the transaction must take place. I’d have thought that Navalny as advisor would first have familiarised himself with the nature of the timber industry, how timber prices are set across the globe and how that would affect Kirovles’ pricing arrangements with its clients before offering advice but it seems to me he wanted to stick a one-size-fits-all business model on Kirovles or whatever it was he was taught at Yale.

                  BTW I would hate to be one of Peter’s students sitting one of his physics exams and having to answer multiple-choice questions on quantum mechanics thought experiments like Schrodinger’s Cat and its variations: is the cat alive or not alive during the period when the experimenter is not looking, and an alternative state in which the cat exists as waves of particles is not allowed!

      • Jen says:

        The Black Knight was the one who kept egging on King Arthur to hack all his limbs off because he wanted a fight. Even when he was just a torso and a head left. John Cleese played the Black Knight and also the knight who correctly answered those three mystical questions put to him by the guardian of the bridge (“What’s your favourite colour”? and such-like).

        • yalensis says:

          The 3 Mystical questions were: (1) What is your name? (2) What is your quest? and (3) What is your favourite colour?

          Sir Lancelot answered the three questions correctly and was allowed to cross the bridge.
          Sir Robin, unfortunately, flubbed one of the questions and got cast into the abyss!

          • Dear Yalensis,

            Please don’t remind Peter of the three Mystical Questions. It will put ideas into his head.

            • …..unless of course Peter IS the Keeper of the Bridge of Death, who casts those who can’t or won’t answer his multiple choice questions into the Gorge of Eternal Peril…..

            • yalensis says:

              Peter’s Three Mystical questions are:
              (1) What is your name?
              (2) What is your Quest?
              (3) How much did you pay for your Cadillac?

              If you don’t give the correct answer to (3) down to the penny, then he casts you into the Gorge….

        • yalensis says:

          P.S. I don’t understand why all of King Arthur’s knights keep insisting that their Quest is to find the Holy Grail. The Grail was never lost! Everybody knows that during Arthurian times the Grail resided safely in the Spanish castle of Montsalvat, guarded by King Amfortas (aka “The Fisher King”) and his trusty knight Sir Gurnemanz.

          Unfortunately for Amfortas, Gurnemanz later conspires with the sorceress Kundry (who is really really old, but still looks youthful) and the peasant knight Sir Parsifal (=Sir Perceval) to depose King Amfortas, who is well known as a kvetch, always moaning and groaning about his aches and pains. Kundry was a young Jewish girl present at Jesus’ crucifixion, and she laughed at Him when He was hanging on the cross. To punish her, Jesus put a curse on her whereby she would never get old or die. (Some curse! it’s what everybody wants…) So, anyhow, this sorceress Kundry plots with Gurnemanz and Parsifal, and they carry out a coup d’etat to put King Amfortas into forced retirement (to spend more time with his wound) and then they put Parsifal in charge of Grail Castle. By means of this coup, Parsifal comes to control the two holiest relics of all Christendom: (1) the Grail; and (2) the Spear that pierced Christ’s side.

          As King of Montsalvat and Keeper of these two relics, Parsifal does a pretty good job. Later, when he gets old, his son, Lohengrin (aka the “Swan Knight”), is supposed to take over the job. However, Lohengrin wanders away from Montsalvat and thus loses his magical Grail powers (long story)… Not sure who succeeded Lohengrin as Guardian of the Grail. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

          In summary: Arthur and Lancelot and Sir Robin and the rest were on the wild goose chase. (Or a wild swan chase?)

          • Dear Yalensis,

            The interesting thing about Kundry is that she is the only character in a Wagner opera (or “music drama”) I know of who is explicitly identified as Jewish. Though at times a femme fatale under Klingsor’s control, in the end she provokes compassion and is ultimately sympathetic.

            • yalensis says:

              Kundry is the hardest working woman in all of opera. She holds down at least 3 jobs: (1) She helps with the management and running of Grail Castle, where she is responsible for cleaning all the rooms plus taking care of the Knights, dressing their wounds and washing their feet with her hair, and so on; (2) She also moonlights at Klingsor’s Castle, where she performs similar duties, plus her job there entails supervising the mystical Flower Harlots; and out of delicacy I am not mentioning that part of her job description where she has to seduce Grail Knights and get them into her boudoir so that Klingsor can pierce them with his magic Spear; and (3) last but not least Kundry is an international spy and Woman of Mystery, as she spends much of her time wandering around the world learning about everything that goes on and bringing all the information back to Klingsor AND to Sir Gurnemanz.

              Well, when you are immortal, I guess it helps to stay busy!

  9. yalensis says:

    For avid fans of KirovLes courtroom drama, I found this video from Thursday (May 16) which shows the first hour and half of Thursday’s session which includes the initial confrontation between Larisa Bastrygina and Navalny.

    Navalny’s cross-examination of Bastrygina starts around 36:30.

    By 42:00 Navalny is badgering Bastrygina to the point where he starts to lecture her and warn her that she is under oath, do you know the penalties of perjury, blah blah. Navalny becomes so aggressive that Judge Blinov is forced to rebuke him at 46:36. .

    A lot of this heated dispute is about the “unified timber market” issue. Bastrygina testifies that Navalny had presented Ofitserov at a meeting and talked about VLK becoming the broker of a “unified timber market” for the entire Kirov Province. Navalny heatedly denies that allegation, which seems to be a central component of the prosecution case.

    Since none of the participants ever seemed to take minutes of meetings, it is all hearsay and “he said she said”. EXCEPT for the fact that the prosecution has telephone conversations and emails.

    Having read Navalny’s hacked emails with Ofitserov, I am personally at a loss to imagine why he is even going there, badgering this witness and disputing facts in her testimony that he HAS TO KNOW are proved in the hacked emails !? In the Prosecution Indictment there are emails in black and white proving that Navalny and Ofitserov plotted to present VLK as the broker for a “unified timber market” for Kirov Province.

    Hence, Navalny’s aggressive Perry Mason style cross-examination of Bastrygina would only make sense if those emails never existed or were not going to brought into evidence. It’s like denying that you stole the cookies, and nobody could ever prove you did, except that you were actually photographed with your hand in the cookie jar!

    • “….I am personally at a loss to imagine why he is even going there….”

      Exactly! As I said, he is inexperienced so he badgers and browbeats witnesses to score non points or (worse) to make bad points. Also like many inexperienced advocates he is making the mistake of thinking that he has deny all parts of the prosecution case. The result is that he is making himself look arrogant and untruthful. Rather than deny the existence of the scheme for a unified timber market he ought to admit it and move on. By denying the existence of the scheme he makes the prosecution’s case that there was something wrong with the scheme. A more experienced advocate would understand that in reality the existence of the scheme does not in and of itself prove a criminal intention. He could validly point out that KirovLes was already in an effective monopoly position so unifying the timber market made commercial sense and there was no intention on his part or on Ofitserov’s to benefit illicitly from the scheme, which is what this case is all about.

  10. yalensis says:

    And here is more video, this is a continuation of Navalny’s cross-examination of Bastrygina, and includes the famous episode in which he calls her a thief and accuses her, Opalev and Bura of running a criminal enterprise at KirovLes. The confrontation takes place at the very beginning of the tape.

    Когда воры кричат: «Держи вора!»,

  11. R.C. says:


    This may or may not be true, but if Assad should retaliate and strike Tel-Aviv, the entire region could go up in flames – especially if they have the capability to target their Dimona reactor. The US would likely intervene on it’s bastard bitches behalf and Hezbollah could/would likely carry out a massive assault on Israel. If there are an unacceptable number of casualties in Israel, they could use nuclear weapons (YES, I believe the Israeli’s ARE crazy enough to do this) against Syria and I wouldn’t bet on those Russian battleships standing idle or turning tail while the Israeli’s turned Damascus to glass.

    Also, 12 Russian destroyers/submarines dispatched off the coast of Syria? This certainly isn’t routine. Something IS brewing here. Zero Hedge has a great article up on what’s going on in Syria and why it IS in Russia’s interest to make sure that Assad doesn’t fall. Gazprom, oil, pipelines, it’s all in there:


    • SFReader says:

      If Israel uses nukes against Syria, Damascus will retaliate with chemical weapons.

      That’s actually the only reason for their existence – to deter Israel from using or threatening use of nuclear weapons.

      • marknesop says:

        I would guess chemical weaponry to be a poor deterrent for the use of nuclear weapons, as chemical weapons and any sort of retaliatory capability would likely be the targets of a first strike. But Israel dares not use nuclear weapons, in my personal estimation. It is already sufficiently unpopular in the world, with its relationship with the west viewed through the lens of ever greater unease. If it were to use nuclear weapons to defeat Assad, whom it constantly portrays as weak and tottering and needing only one more big push to dislodge, it would not find any acceptance for itself in the post-Assad world and any – any – expansion of Israeli territory or de facto control would be the last straw. It is already sufficiently difficult for the USA and Britain to conceal what a warmonger state it is, but the use of nuclear weapons in any scenario other than desperate self-defense would be impossible to justify, and this is in fact Israel’s official position, ambiguously-worded though it may be.

        • R.C. says:

          I agree Mark.

          Despite the wests attempts to paint chemical weapons as “weapons of mass destruction,” they are most certainly not. Many in the US military consider them to be imprecise battlefield munitions at best. If Israel struck Assad with nukes first, he would likely not be in any position to respond – and that’s considering that he would still be alive. Chemcial warfare on the battlefield has been obsolete in the west since world war one, yet, the US media continues to toss around the WMD label to falsely descirbe Assads arsenal of aerosols.

          The US establishment works VERY hard to cloak Israel’s unpopularity throughout the world. This is why they often employ the feeble offense of “anti-semitism” to tar anyone who knows the truth about Israeli misdeeds – especially towards the Palestinians. I’ve had more than one Americn tell me that Israel has no friends because most of the world is “anti-semitic”…..I’m not joking here. It’s easier to entertain or buy into this hogwash than to actually look at WHY Israel is so unpopular, something the US media won’t allow to happen because Americans just might start to question all of that economic and military aid given to them annually and why most of their politicians are so cozy with the Israeli’s. The US media has made it next to impossible to discover these things, instead choosing to attack anyone simply for raising the question.

          • marknesop says:

            All true. It’s worth mentioning, too, that the Israeli government – which, regardless what party is in power, follows to various degrees of overtness a policy of removing or otherwise dispossessing the Palestinians in favour of Israelis – is not popular with a fair portion of its electorate, and there are a significant number of Israelis who are not only disinclined to further violence but are disposed to make a deal. Their voices, though, are shouted down by the Likudniks of both nations (Israeli and American) in AIPAC and similar organizations. Regional hegemony for Israel and global hegemony for the USA are sacred goals which will not be abandoned easily.

    • SFReader says:

      Anyway, I think there are still many more steps for escalation before it comes to such extremes.

      So far, Syrians haven’t even tried to shoot down Israeli planes.

    • marknesop says:

      I doubt the overall conclusion, because the west simply cannot afford another massive conflagration; it is too stretched as it is, while none of the areas in which it has engaged in warfare are sufficiently pacified that they can be completely abandoned without violence flashing up again.

      Most of the foreign military presence in the region is simply a declaration of interests, and a warning not to push the other too far.

      But the most delicious irony for me is the scramble for oil and gas assets, for energy, with the aim of cutting Russia out of the picture so as to wreck its economy – all the while the pious chorus goes on in the media that Russia is weak economically because it relies too heavily on energy exports! It is plainly intolerable to the west that Russia is the main supplier of energy to Europe, and Europe would prefer to buy from the devil himself if an alternative were available. Witness the stubborn attempt to establish the Muslim Caliphate that the west once screeched warnings about – when it was not itself the prime mover behind such a Caliphate, as it is now, because such a previously-unthinkable notion now suits its strategic aims.

      Please note that the main reason this was thought at the time (2006) to be just another scary bogeyman the western political leaders were using to panic their constituents into signing up to support the war was that the only area in which al Qaeda “or any similar organization” was able to gain a foothold and control territory was Afghanistan. The west plainly did not beat the Taliban, since Alexander Golts reckoned in the Moscow Times the Taliban would attempt reconquest of the Central Asian republics as soon as America pulled out, and that America was so sure it would have to fight the Taliban again that it was leaving large caches of weapons in battle-ready condition behind, guarded only lightly by a token combat presence. That sounds, as I remarked at the time, an awful lot like self-fulfilling prophesy.

      How much territory do fundamentalist Islamic organizations control now, thanks to NATO and the UN?

      • SFReader says:

        I just come across an incredible article from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

        It’s calling for – you won’t believe this! – regime change in Iraq!


        I wonder how many trillions would that cost this time….

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, that is indeed breathtaking in its audacity. Not, I believe, that the United States would be particularly upset if Iraqis voted for partition, as it would allow the west to abandon efforts in areas of Iraq which are not particularly oil-rich, and concentrate on stroking and cosseting the new leaders of the productive provinces, convincing them their best chance of remaining in power and even increasing it would lie in entrance into production-sharing agreements with western oil companies. If you recall, this was the west’s original plan for Iraq – partition, initially under the rule of appointed western leaders and transitional governments.

          It’s worth noting, too, that one of the principal architects of the partitioning plan for Iraq was Joe Biden.

          This also harkens back to an earlier piece someone posted, I think it was Cartman – the plans to start funneling oil through Turkey all ignore the fact that Syria is in the way. There’s no water you could reach for a pipeline or a shipping terminal which is not controlled by Russia, except for the Med, and the route to there goes right through Syria.

          Also worth noting is that if this were Russia’s problem – which it is, I suppose, indirectly, but I mean if it had been Russia who had gone in and smashed the place to shit and infuriated the people and steered elections to hand-picked candidates and so on – the west would for months have been interfering in Russia’s attempts to stabilize it; paying hotheads to stir up trouble, stoking sectarian conflict, and magnifying the problems in the press. But even though Russia has plenty of cash for troublemaking and no cause whatsoever to help the west that spits on it daily, you don’t see them doing it.

          The Great Game is heating up, though.

      • R.C. says:

        Yes, a STRONG Russian military presence is required in the Mediterrranean regarding Syria for DETERRENCE. This is what I’ve been saying here for months now. it seems Putin/Lavrov are getting the message since the west does not want to find itself in a major war with Russia or China – one that would be costly, regardless if they win or not. I don’t think Syria is worth this risk for them, so it’s probably just a matter of them saving some face at this point since the rebels are probably going to be defeated by the Syrian military.

        If Israel should carry out another attack against Syria as they are threatening to do, I hope Assad puts his efforts into shooting down their jets over his territory (something he or ANY sovereign nation has a right to do to protect their citizens) rather than responding by attacking Israel directly. I think just dispalying the capability to shoot down their jets will stop these attacks – which is where Russia can be helpful on the military front. While the S-300 deliveries may or may not be true, they SHOULD be. Theya re defensive weapons which can stop this unlawful attacks against its territory.

  12. yalensis says:


    The last 2 pages of the indictment concludes with a list of swag taken from the residence of Petr Ofitserov, as a result of a search warrant. (Computers, phones, etc.)

    The indictment concludes with a note that the accused Navalny has not admitted his guilt and denies any association with VLK.

    The prosecution then goes on to list aggravating and mitigating possible punishment of the alleged crime:
    There are no aggravating circumstances.
    Mitigating circumstance is that Navalny is the father of two minor children.

    And that’s it.
    Trial resumes tomorrow.

    • yalensis says:

      Note/Analysis on Navalny trial: I forced myself to watch most of the 3 hours of video showing the confrontation between Navalny and Bastrygina. One thing that emerged (or was clarified) is that Navalny regards 3 people as primarily responsible for his plight: Opalev, Bura, and Bastrygina. Hence his unrestrained rage in regard to these three individuals.
      And, in fact, I do wonder if Bastrygina was the one who initially put the finger on Navalny, causing the local FSB to start wire-tapping him and Ofitserov.
      Recall that Navalny/Ofitserov arrived in Kirov (along with all the other thieves that Belykh brought in to loot his province), all full of their money-making scheme, such as it was. Almost right off the bat, this dyamic duo found themselves thwarted by the above-mentioned trio.
      Navalny/Ofitserov found a way to buy off Opalev’s resistance, through a combination of carrots (bribes, a cushy job for Bura) and stick (threats, bullying, invoking Governor’s name and power). But he couldn’t get to Bastrygina. The woman is stubborn. Seeing her on the stand, you see flashes of this stubbornness, despite the fact that she has been beaten down in life.
      Hence, I suspect that Bastrygina was the one (probably in conjunction with some of the leskhozy directors) who originally alerted the police to her suspicions about Navalny’s nefarious intentions. How else to explain that Navalny/Ofitserov very shortly found their phone conversations all tapped?

      When brow-beating Bastrygina on the stand, Navalny forced her to admit that she was sacked from her KirovLes job, not long after Opalev. Bastrygina became visibly traumatized at the memory, almost started crying, and a close-up of Judge Blinov’s face clearly showed a flash of compassion. Turning to Navalny, Blinov asked, “Is this really pertinent?”
      To which Navalny replied, to the effect, this woman made these accusations against me as revenge for me getting her fired. After which, Judge Blinov allowed the line of questioning.

      I like Blinov, by the way. The man has kind eyes. I just hope he is smart enough to see through Navalny’s bullshit.

      • marknesop says:

        I think it is at least possible that Bastrygina will emerge as the heroine of this, especially owing to Navalny’s treatment of her if he is found guilty and is therefore a felon. To be badly treated by a crook, especially in a public venue like a court of law, is a virtual endorsement of one’s own non-criminality and integrity, in much the same way that an insult from a fool is a compliment. I think Bastrygina will reap the rewards of having held firm, especially when those hacked conversations come out in which Navalny calls her unprintable names and outlines his plans for her removal. There can be only one reason for the deliberate removal of an individual from a criminal scheme, and that is because they will not agree to facilitate it. Nothing could look better on Bastrygina, and since the case is a pivotal anti-corruption event from the standpoint that a corrupt Navalny attempted to establish himself as an anti-corruption icon, I would not be surprised to see the official Russian press paint Bastrygina as the anti-Navalny and true anti-corruption icon. It would certainly be easy to do, and offers an excellent opportunity to preempt the western narrative that Putin brought Navalny down because he fears him as a political rival (which is not even funny any more, merely irritating).

    • yalensis says:

      Another note, from watching these characters in action:
      I am not a psychologist, but is clear to me, from the body language, that Navalny is the leader and Ofitserov the follower. When Navalny is interrogating Bastrygina, Ofitserov pays close attention, and a lot of the time his eyes are focused on Navalny.
      When Ofitserov is questioning Bastrygina, on the other hand, Navalny ignores both of them and spends the time playing with his iPhone. Thus showing his contempt for both of them.
      At the break, when everybody leaves the courtroom, Navalny goes out first, and Ofitserov follows after him, like a puppy dog. I have seen this relationship a lot of times in my experience in I.T. departments: a charismatic alpha male who is also a bully and narcissist, sometimes even a criminal, somehow having the power to attract the less powerful males, who flock around him like ducklings. Sometimes the bullies even rise to high positions within the organization, like, they become Team Leads, or even managers, although they usually make terrible managers (because of their aggressiveness).

      Anyhow, I think this is what the relationship is between Navalny and Ofitserov, and even though they don’t see other much any more, whenever they are together, they fall back into this pattern. Recall that at one time, Ofitserov was given the same choice (by the prosecution) as Opalev: He was given the opportunity to throw Navalny under the bus and cop a plea for a suspended sentence. If he had taken the deal, then it would have been a slam dunk for the prosecution. However, Ofitserov declined and chose to go to trial, pretty much joined at the hip to Navalny and bound to suffer the same fate, whatever it should be. Could this be out of an exagerrated sense of loyalty?

      (Being of suspicious mind, I personally suspect that that American money somehow got to Ofitserov via some Opps NGO, and that he was promised, Godfather style, that his family would be taken care of if he became a stand-up guy and took the rap. I can’t think of any other rational explanation why he wouldn’t take the deal and send Navalny up the river!)

      • Dear Yalensis,

        This is very interesting.

        1. If you are right (and I am sure you are) and Navalny really does blame Bastrygina for his predicament then that is an even stronger reason for his not to cross examine her but to leave that job to his lawyers. Anger is a very bad counsellor and the worst mistake an advocate can make is to get into a confrontation with a witness.

        2. I am very disappointed with the lawyers. So far as I can see they are doing nothing at all except making the occasional protest on Navalny’s behalf. Could it be that there is a disagreement between Navalny and them about how to conduct the case?

        3. I used to think that Ofitserov was manipulating Navalny. Having read the telephone transcripts I’ve abandoned that view. I agree it is Navalny who is the leader. Actually I don’t there is any doubt about it.

        4. Everything I have read about Blinov in your summaries and on RAPSI suggests that he is presiding over this case in a very fair and proper way. However I would express here my single biggest concern about this case. Excellent judge though Blinov may be, I don’t think he should be presiding over this case by himself. Especially in a case of this sort where the evidence is so extensive and so hotly contested I think it is wrong for one and the same person to both preside over the case and to decide its outcome.

        In saying this I should make it clear that I am expressing my own opinion. There is no international legal requirement that says that a judge who tries a case cannot decide it provided there is an appeal process for a convicted defendant to use, which in Russia there is. However I would personally be much happier if the function of presiding over the case and deciding its outcome was separated.

        This does not mean that there should be a jury. Russia experimented with juries a few years ago and the results were unhappy. It is widely known for example that the jury in the Paul Khlebnikov case was bribed and intimidating into delivering a not guilty verdict. However Germany, which also became disillusioned with the jury system in the 1920s, has an elaborate system whereby the more complicated and serious a criminal case becomes the bigger the panel of judges and lay assessors who try it. I think Russia should seriously consider adopting such a system.

        • yalensis says:

          Dear Alexander: I think you are right about the judges and the jury system. I think in America the jury system is completely broken (as was proved in the O.J. murder case), but they don’t really have any other way of doing it. In Russia, I think a panel of judges is probably the best way to decide issues of fact since ordinary people are not really capable of doing a good job with that. Juries are probably okay for things like family court and civil cases, but not criminal cases.

          As for Judge Blinov, I agree that having him serve as both presiding judge and also deciding the case is putting too much pressure on him. The verdict should probably be decided by at least 3 judges at a minimum. This is a very complex case, and it’s too much for one person. Plus, whichever way he rules, the other side will be quite upset with him. The Opps have already threatened him with lustration and punishment (once they come to power) if he rules the “wrong” way. I suppose he could shrug that off, since they will never actually come to power. But if he acquits Navalny, then the government will probably be quite annoyed with him, and that might affect his career.

          • marknesop says:

            The important concept of jury trial is that you be convicted or exonerated by your peers, which is a laudable ideal indeed. However, attorneys have learned so much over the years about salting juries with types that will be likely to convict or to acquit, based on a huge variety of statistical probabilities ranging from their gender to their race to their age group, and the number of challenges they are permitted in which candidates they don’t like the look of can be removed either with or without cause has reduced the criminal trial to a chess game in which the defendant’s guilt or innocence are insignificant to the outcome. There is still a place for the jury trial, but the jurists should be chosen purely at random using some kind of verifiably impartial selection process, and the attorneys would have to work with what they draw.

            In this Russian case, too, politics and agendas should have nothing to do with it, and the defendant should be judged guilty or not guilty based purely on the merits of the case.

            • In my opinion the jury system works reasonably well in Britain where it has been around for a very long time and is well understood. Judges are highly respected here and they know how to guide juries.

              I don’t think the jury system would work in Russia and when it has been tried the results have not been good. Judges have little idea how to guide juries and are not well respected anyway. Germany, which had the same problem, has as I said developed a complex system where cases I tried before panels of judges and lay assessors. By all accounts it is a system that works very well and I think Russia should copy it.

            • Jen says:

              In Australia we don’t have the system of voir dire (used in the US and Canada) under which barristers can question selected jury members on their backgrounds with a view to stacking juries with people likely to convict or acquit. This is one reason why the jury trial is viewed more positively here than in North America. I’ve been a juror before in a criminal trial (the guy on trial was a small-time heroin dealer who had already pled guilty on several other charges) and during selection all the barristers are allowed to do is look at you and say “you’re on” or not.

              • marknesop says:

                That does sound somewhat fairer, but even that is not enough for me. Since juries are preferred not to know anything about the case in advance, such as the suppositions and hypotheses proffered by the media, the jury could in fact be selected from out of state, at random. It is the job of the attorneys, working under the guidance of the judge, to redraw the case for the jury so that it can form a picture of events that to some extent is common to both narratives, defense and prosecution. There is no need for the jury to know anything at all in advance about the crime, if indeed there was one, and it is expected to render a verdict based on the persuasiveness of the attorneys, supported by the evidence.

                • Jen says:

                  Your idea would work in Australia as the media here is very localised in its coverage despite being dominated by the Murdoch and Fairfax families. Living in Sydney, I have a better idea of what happens overseas as well as locally than in Melbourne which is a 9-hour drive away (and that’s a big city of some 4 million with a metropolitan area of 1.6 sq km) and is in a different state. There were floods in Melbourne in 2005 in which every suburb was affected and the CBD was washed out with cars floating down streets, and none of this was covered in Sydney commercial news media. I only happened to know because I used to read The Melbourne Age online.

                  There was an outrageous crime committed in Darwin some years ago in which some teenagers beat and tied up a Thai prostitute and threw her into a river, figuring a crocodile would kill and consume her so their crime would never be discovered. On this occasion though the crocs weren’t hungry and her body was found. The teenagers were arrested. This incident never made it in the news in Sydney; I only read about it in The Independent!

                  On the other hand, a sensational or unusual case like the one in Britain nearly 20 years ago in which two young boys tortured a toddler and left him for dead on railway tracks in the Liverpool region would be difficult to hold in court with a randomly selected jury today because it would be preceded by intense media and Internet social network scrutiny and speculation, globally as well as locally. You’d have to get Rip van Winkle still in his 20-year coma to sit on the jury. My impression also is that Britain has a more centralised media structure which means even minor crimes committed in one part of the country can be known right across the country through newspapers and TV. In such an instance, I think it would be preferable for a trial covering such a crime to include a panel of judges and / or legal experts instead.

                • marknesop says:

                  Yes, I agree. In truly horrific cases or those which for other reasons attract significant media interest, it would not likely be possible to assemble a jury in which nobody had heard of the case, but in that event you might well have to go to Western Samoa or Tonga to find such a jury. Of course that would not be practical, and in those cases a panel of judges would likely serve quite well.

    • marknesop says:

      Denies any association with VLK?????? What!!???

      If that is his fallback position, he may want to consider throwing himself on the state’s mercy, or donning a balaclava and singing about shit and Our Lord, in the hope of being at least sent to a prison where there are chicks. Because there is any amount of proof that he had an association with VLK, the only question is degree.

      Thanks very much for your patient translation and amplifying commentary, it has been a strong draw here and was extremely generous of you.

      • yalensis says:

        Thanks, Mark, I am touched! No generosity involved whatsoever, I find this case interesting, for whatever reason. You have been the generous one, for allowing me to go off-topic and comment on something that I find interesting!

        • Jen says:

          Are you keeping your translations on a separate blog or website for future reference? It would be a shame if after the case is over, there was no way to refer to them other than trying to remember which of Mark’s posts they appeared under. I think the conversations should be kept also though it’s up to you if you want to include them plus that Cadillac copper-wire pulling duel between Alex and Peter.

  13. yalensis says:

    Okay, we are halfway through Day #7 of the Navalny KirovLes trial. Unfortunately, I can’t find that RAPSI is covering it today, so I have no choice but to resort to Gazeta, which is an Opp paper with a pro-Navalny slant, plus it’s only in Russian. But what can you do, it is what it is.

    So, anyhow, the trial courtroom resume at 9:04. Today’s witnesses are Fedotov, Cherneev, Sergeev, and Votinov. Recall that the latter (Votinov), once a former muckety-muck in the provincial government, is now a zek, and makes his appearance in the traditional courtroom cage.

    The first witness is Fedotov, he is a director at the timber company “SolikamsBumProm”. In 2009 “Solikam” was graced with the visit of none other than Governor Belykh, who wanted to establish a business relationship between Solikam and KirovLes to sell him raw timber from Kirov. Later Navalny sent Fedotov a follow-up letter, but nothing ever happened. At the present day, Solikam does not buy any timber from KirovLes, because it is too far away, and the transport costs are prohibitive.

    Navalny cross-examines Fedotov, and then Judge Blinov asks the witness a question, he asks him if he (Fedotov) ever took a trip to visit KirovLes in 2009, but Fedotov doesn’t recall.

    The next witness (9:42) is Chernik, the director of a Kirov furniture-making factory. During 2009 he briefly bought wood from VLK. But they couldn’t deliver the lumber, so he broke off relations with them. He had phoned Opalev to complain. Later he stopped working with KirovLes altogether because of their state of disorganization, and started working with a different lumber supplier.

    Next witness (10:02) is Nikita Sergeev, chief of the Zuevskaya fire-fighting station, but in 2009 he was director of a leskhoz filial of KirovLes. He remembers the meeting where Opalev told all the filial directors that all the production was now going to go through VLK. Sergeev was not happy about working with VLK, and a bunch of the other directors were also unhappy, but he can’t remember their names specifically.

    At 10:14 Ofitserova’s attorney Davydova screams at the witness, why he says it was unprofitable to work with VLK? Sergeev responds that KirovLes artifically lowered the prices they paid him and the other filials. Davydova hammers him, “What does this have to do with VLK?” [Actually, it does. The reason KirovLes lowered the prices what they paid the leskhozy was in order to squeeze in the 7% commission for VLK. But the witness Sergeev is not necessarily supposed to know that, or speculate on that, I agree…]

    After that Navalny spends a few minutes badgering the witness.

    At 10:38 another leskhozy director witness, Sergei Panteleev. Panteleev did 3 shipments with VLK. The first 2 were fully paid for, and the third did not get paid. VLK owed him 750K rubles, he took them to court for the money but ended up getting only 200K.

    Panteleev also testified to the famous “Order #76″, in which the leskhozy directors were ordered by Opalev to do business with VLK or face disciplinary actions from KirovLes.
    Navalny badgers the witness in his cross-exam, but the witness stands his ground.

    At 11:15 arrives the witness Mikhail Minin, the general manager of a lumber company.
    Minin testifies how in 2009 Ofitserov and Bura made a trip to his factory to conclude a contract on behalf of KirovLes. [This was around the time when Bura was working 2 jobs, both at KirovLes and also working for Ofitserov.] Expressing his professional opinion about some of the internal problems at KirovLes (accounting mistakes, sloppiness with documentation and so on), Minin says they were understaffed, having only 3-4 people trying to handle 39 filials. [This in contrast to Navalny, who blames every little problem or mistake on the fact that all other people whom he doesn’t like are crooks and thieves – yalensis]

    At this point there is a big production number as they bring in Andrei Votinov. He is a former advisor to Governor Nikita Belykh, but now he is just an ordinary zek serving time in prison. He was sentenced to 3 years for receiving a 3 million ruble bribe from Opalev.

    11:40 Votinov is brought in from the labour colony and placed in his cage in the courtroom.
    11:49 Votinov begins his testimony. During his stint as Advisor to the Governor, Votinov was engaged in KirovLes affairs, and used to drive around visiting the leskhozy, along with Opalev and Ofitserov.
    Cross-examining him, Ofitserov asks him: ‘What was I wearing when we were driving in the car together?” Votinov doesn’t remember what he wore.
    Votinov goes on to describe the economic problems that KirovLes was having. He blames a lot of it on excessive decentralization and on the leskhozy directors, each of whom acted like “a little prince in his own little castle”. His opinion of Opalev: He is a great lumber-man, but a poor leader. Opalev was simply in over his head in dealing with this huge monstrous machine that was KirovLes.

    At 12:04 Judge Blinov cuts Votinov off when he tries to read a prepared statement that seems to be a denunciation of Opalev.
    Votinov goes on to say that he and Navalny shared similar views on the state of KirovLes.

    Votinov: At that time (when this all started), KirovLes had a liability debt to the tune of 100 million rubles. [yalensis- to put in context, though, KirovLes was a BILLION-ruble company. So this 100 million ruble debt should not have been the deal-breaker.]

    At 12:13 Navalny cross-examines Votinov and tries to find common ground, along the lines that “Opalev screwed over both Votinov and Navalny.” They both agree that Opalev is a villain who spread disinformation about the state of KirovLes.
    At this point Judge Blinov inquires if Votinov is drawing parallels between Navalny’s case and his own (Votinov’s) plight. Votinov says not really, he just wants to draw attention to Opalev’s misdeeds. Prosecution and Defense then spar over whether Votinov’s prepared statement can be read into evidence. Judge Blinov rules that he will not allow it. Then they spar over whether or not Votinov can be dismissed, or must be forced to stay in the courtroom for possible cross later. Judge Blinov says he will think about it and rule later, after the lunch break.

    [to be continued]

  14. Hunter says:

    The Georgian Dream leads the UNM 6-1 in that opinion poll. Damn. What a long way UNM has fallen. If the trend of 60% support to Georgian Dream, 10% support to the UNM and 26% undecided, not answering or not supporting any party continues into 2015/2016 then UNM might well come third as space develops for another party such as the CDU.

    By the way, has anyone seen the story with Levada claiming that it might have to shut down if it doesn’t comply with the foreign agent registration law (modelled on the FARA law in the US)? It is all quite puzzling to me. Levada claims that only 1.5-3% of it’s annual budget comes from foreign funding. So this leaves me wondering:

    – if so little of the budget comes from foreign funding then why does Levada have a problem foregoing up to 3% of it’s annual funding in order to avoid the penalties of the law?

    – why is it a problem to comply with the law otherwise?

    It would be a shame if Levada let itself be shut down rather than simply complying with the law or reorganizing its funding so that it can avoid running afoul of the law.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Yes, I saw it: RIAN posted this yesterday afternooon.

    • marknesop says:

      I saw it, too. It appears to me that Levada, like so many other Russian entities which have been honoured by the west’s ear and counsel, does not like being told what to do and who it can be cosy with, and interprets compliance with the law as interference with its objectivity, especially when it considers itself as Russian as pelmeni. But it strikes me that a pollster would be the ideal vehicle to show that up for the rubbish it is. If it were demonstrated that Levada consistently provided accurate sampling of public opinion on a variety of subjects, Russians would not care if it were financed 100% by India, and would pass over the “Foreign Agent” label as if it were written in an unreadable language because it would be of no consequence. People don’t care who provides your paycheque if the information you supply is consistently accurate.

      NGO’s still do not seem to be getting it, and interpret being tarred with the foreign agent label as an order to shut down. It is not. If you receive foreign funding and engage in efforts to influence national public opinion on politics, you simply need to be up-front about it, and you can carry on just as before. You will be watched, of course, but chances are all those agencies were being watched anyway, just as they would be in any western country – no government is so foolish as to allow foreigners who never take a break from disparaging it a free hand in the information services of their own country. And none but an idiot would expect it.

      “What is at issue is the freedom of research activity and the dissemination of the results of surveys,” says Gudkov. How? How can simply admitting to the receipt of foreign funds and effort to influence public opinion affect the freedom of research activity and the dissemination of results? That’s a pretty big assumption without ever having tried it, and sounds a lot like petulance. There is no reason for Russians genuinely angry with the government to be reluctant to talk to Levada, since they suffer no consequences for being angry.

      • kirill says:

        “NGO” theatrics. These clowns know full well that the Russian FARA makes no effort to stop the foreign money flow or shut them down if they register as recipients of foreign cash. The Russian FARA is 100% about transparency. This is why these vermin try to smear it as something completely different.

        I say let them close up shop in the vein of cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          ‘Russia’s oldest human rights activist, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva said that the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland promised to help Russian non-governmental organizations (NGO), which have been subjected to large-scale inspections by prosecutors” reports Russia Beyond the Headlines.

          I am both shocked and amazed!

          • kirill says:

            More theater now coordinated with western institutions. The CoE exposes itself as an anti-Russian outfit by playing this ridiculous game. The Russian FARA is no more onerous than the US FARA. It’s in the damned letter of the law. But these monkeys also know that the average media consumer would not dig up such information on their own initiative so acting as if the two sets of laws are vastly different will convince many western media consumers that it’s all another abuse of power by Putler. I am doubt Russians would buy into this spin even if they don’t read the text of the two laws. This anti-Russian propaganda theater is intellectually insulting to the nth degree.

    • AK says:

      My view on the Levada imbroglio is simple: Маразм крепчает.

      • marknesop says:

        Is that kind of Russian for “What goes around, comes around”?

        • AK says:

          No, more like “the idiocy thickens.”

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Yes, the insanity does indeed grow stronger, as reflected upon by this blogger last year at the time of the break up of the Chistiye Prudy “Occupy-Abai” event.

            Eternal student protesters I always describe those who take part in such protests: no matter what age they are, they all act as they have been raised, namely bourgeois, educated, well fed, pampered, spoilt parasites who despise those who do not take part in their childish antics as dullards who are less enlightened than they, the chosen ones, are; these half-wits whom the enlightened ones despise so are, in their eyes, the lowing herd of cattle that makes up the huge majority of the population of Russia, namely those folk whom they call “bydlo”.

            Translation of text to linked blog:

            Oh my! What childish stupidity caused the powers that be to break up today at 5 o’clock in the morning the opposition camp “Occupy-Abai” at Chistiye Prudy?. I see no reason for their fearing such harmless and somewhat marginalized campers having their “holiday of disobedience.” If it had not been touched and left alone, that Moscow “Hyde Park” would have become stale in two or three weeks. And so the modest street protest movement has been given a new momentum (even in the form of a riot policeman’s boot) and the the sails of the nomadic “Russian Maidan” have been filled out with a fresh breeze. And for what?

            Well anyhow, at least I found a little time yesterday evening and managed to make a “civic Hadji” to Chistiye Prudy Boulevard in order to see with my own eyes this famous place of political pilgrimage in Moscow.

            And you know, frankly, I was not very impressed. Perhaps I was too old or too cynical, but I did not sense any revolutionary spirit of change here in the vicinity of the well-known monument to the Kazakh poet Abai Kunanbayev: I should rather compare it to a Noah’s Ark of the non-systemic opposition that has on board enough space to carry a “pair of every creature.”

            It was great, of course, when on an open grassy area nationalists literally got along with LGBT activists, liberals with the far left, and there was a motley bunch of interesting people sometimes interspersed with some transcendental-shit types such as members of the P.O.R.T.O.S.organization [See below to find out what this organization is – ME]: the entire political spectrum was represented there in miniature, a kind of Shvambrania Republic with some elements of self-government.

            Whilst walking around Chistiye Prudy, in a few minutes I came across a lot of familiar faces. Here, for example, was Igor Mandirinov, my old buddy from Li.Ru., who had been coming to “Occupy Abai” almost every day, but without spending the night there.

            [Comments to photographs included with text …]

            Anton Nosik needs no special Introduction.

            Pleasing company beneath the trees with a hookah.

            I do not know name of the girl with the armband which said “On Duty” (or “Fighter”), but when I was taking her photograph, she somehow looked at me none too kindly.

            Timetable of lectures in the camp.

            Book sale (I love these things).

            What the hell! If I had come a bit earlier, I could have played in your beloved MAFIA!

            It’s really good that at the camp there is free Wi-Fi!

            “The Assembly” – the main organ of self-government at the opposition camp. Everyone can express himself and put his proposal to a vote.

            A bit of rubbish.

            And this is the most bizarre commune-sect “P.O.R.T.O.S.” – The Poeticized Association for the Development of Theories of Nationwide Happiness.

            It’s a pity that they’ve closed down Moscow’s first informal “Hyde Park”. And now the riot police will again be running around the city squares and parks after all those who gather together in groups of more than three people. The insanity grows stronger …

            End of translation

            The last comment by the blogger is total shite, of course.

            Firstly, one would certainly not be allowed to do in Hyde Park, London, without first having obtained permission off the authorities, that which the “Occupy-Abai” wastrels did in Moscow.

            Secondly, OMON does not charge around Moscow trying to apprehend groups of more than three people who have gathered to demonstrate.

            In the UK, if a group of people hangs around on a street corner, say, for whatever reason, and especially if that group consists of youths, the cops will tell that group to “move on” as they are “causing an obstruction”. If, in fact, there is no obstruction taking place , in that there are few pedestrians about, and they refuse to move, they will then be told that if they do not move, then they will be arrested for “obstructing a police officer in the course of his duty”.

            Happened to me many times!

            And they say I’m a “free born Englishman”!


            • marknesop says:

              And as either you or Alex pointed out at the time, the Oppos have fairly regularly made an attempt to set up tents during the “hell-no-we-won’t-go” phase of their civil disobedience actions. Although the significance of it escaped me at the time, as many things do, it likely was a stab at establishing a tent city a la Maidan Square, in the hope it would attract western backing or be bankrolled by some self-interested oligarch like Berezovsky. There is absolutely no reason for the Russian government to take anything which originates with the intelligentsia on faith that it is harmless, because it definitely means harm in its cloistered ignorance and its preference for a western lifestyle. If that’s what you want, go and live there; nobody’s stopping you, and there is even a ready-made narrative – the intelligentsia have supposedly been fleeing Russia for decades.

      • kirill says:

        Gudkov claims 1.5% foreign business. But that is just his claim. The claim that Levada will have to shut down because it has to register under the law shows that this business is not just 1.5% and not honest. Instead of threatening cuts in service and payroll, the inflammatory claim is made that the whole operation will be shut down in an overt attempt to join the chorus of western pressure. Over 1.5% in revenues, really? It’s marasm alright, the Levada-west piss in the face of Russians and treat them as bydlo, marasm.

  15. yalensis says:

    On topic:

    Gruzian politics are starting to gear up for the Presidential election, which will happen in October. The candidate for Ivanishvili’s “Gruzian Dream Party” is a guy named Georgii Margvelashvili. Other declared candidates include Nino Burzhanadze whose party is called “Unified Gruzia”; Salome Zurabishvili; and Shalva Natelashvili (Labour Party).

    Margvelashvili is currently the favoured candidate, according to current polls.

    • marknesop says:

      Nino Burjanadze sounds like a strong candidate as well. I seem to remember some contrived scandal involving her, and perhaps her son, something like that, that painted her as stooge of Moscow; but that was pretty much Saakashvili’s favourite tactic against his political opposition, since it was so reliable and effective.

  16. yalensis says:

    Finishing up KirovLes courtroom activities for today. (Taking up the chronology from when people came back from lunch break.)


    After lunch break Judge Blinov ruled that Votinov should NOT be allowed to read out his handwritten statement, which apparently contained a denunciation of Opalev. Blinov was going to let Votinov return to his Gulag colony, but the defense argued to have him stay in the Kirov area, in case they wanted him back for further cross-examination. Blinov eventually agreed to have Votinov transferred to a holding prison in Kirov so that he would be available, if called upon.

    After that, the prosecution still had a few witnesses left, but none of them could show up today: some were away on business trips, others in the hospital; Arzamaztsev still on the lam. Governor Belykh is supposed to testify, but he wasn’t available either.
    Left without any witnesses to fill up the afternoon, the prosecution decided to read out all the 90 pages of the prosecution indictment. The prosecutors have to take turns reading it all into the record until they go hoarse.

    Before getting to the juicy part (the tapped phone conversations and emails), the prosecution warned that there was very salty language not suitable for delicate young ears, hence they wanted the cameras turned off. Eventually the judge agreed to close the session so that they could read out all the cuss words without danger of infecting young minds.

    Prosecutors take turns reading out the documents. They get through most of it, but will need to continue tomorrow.

    Today’s session finished at 16:00.

  17. yalensis says:

    And I found this too, which contains more details about today’s events and witnesses in the courtroom:


    Witness Alexei Fedotov: This concerns the infamous “SolikamsBumProm” events which seem to be a key component of the prosecution case. “Solikam” is a factory in the Perm province which produces newspaper-quality paper. Fedotov was one of the department directors of this company.
    In May of 2009 Governor Belykh travelled to Perm to meet with him and proposed a trade agreement, such as existed in Soviet times, whereby Kirov would ship logs to Perm via river. Belykh was friends with Solikam president Viktor Baranov. The charitable (pro-Belykh) explanation of the trip is that Belykh wanted to leverage his old friendship with Baranov in order to get some business going that would help out the lumber industry in Kirov Province.

    Shortly after Belykh’s visit, Fedotov received a fax message from Navalny. Navalny informed him (in this fax) that they were working on creating a “single marketplace for lumber” in the Kirov province. The fax named VLK, not KirovLes, as the possible supplier of lumber to Perm.
    (In the end, nothing came of this plan, and Perm never bought any lumber from Kirov.)

    Fedotov also testified how Navalny desperately wanted to sack Opalev, having learned that KirovLes had no reserves of lumber to sell to market.

    Votinov’s testimony also goes to the feud between Navalny and Opalev. Votinov paints a picture of the “New Guard” (Belykh plus his advisors Navalny and Votinov) attempting to shake up the “Old Guard” (Opalev and his minions plus the hidebound Leskhozy bureaucrats). According to Votinov, Opalev is a great lumber man, but an extremely poor manager, and was driving KirovLes into the ground with his incompetence. While Navalny wanted Opalev to be sacked, Votinov just wanted him demoted. Desperate to keep his job, Opalev offered Votinov a bribe. (This was February 2010.) Votinov took the bribe and was arrested, but he insists to this day that “the bitch set me up”. According to Votinov, “Opalev intended to discredit the entire government of the Kirov province, in his resistance to the reorganization of KirovLes. Him and the filial directors too.”

    (This is the best explanation yet of some kind of motive for the defense that would explain the hosility between Opalev and Navalny; and also Navalny and Bastrygina.)

  18. Misha says:

    Hyper bullshit ending in this one:



    Leave it to The NYT to leave out some important variables to an issued being commented on:


    The shipments are related to pre-existing agreements that were made before a conflict involving armed combatants and casualties on both sides.


    A Russian based academic with a historically biased presentation against Russia:


  19. yalensis says:

    Navalny KirovLes trial:
    It’s a bummer that nobody seems to be covering the trial in English any more, not even Rapsi. There was so much interest the first day, even Moscow Miriam took the night train to Kirov to be there. Now everybody has lost interest. I guess Navalny has become a niche market.
    Oh well, at least I still have my trusty pro-Opp newspaper, GAZETA to fall back on.

    So, here is how it is going down so far today:

    The two prosecutors (Evgeny Cheremisin and Sergei Bogdanov) are set to resume their reading of the entire prosecution case into the record, taking turns, including the phone conversations and emails and so on.

    Judge has already warned the media that if and when they get around to the phones/emails (=the juicy stuff), they are not allowed to transmit this portion of the trial without a warning that only adults aged 18 and over are allowed to watch or listen. This is because Russian children are so delicate and so innocent, and their tiny ears simply cannot handle the type of salty speech that Navalny and Ofitserov employ in their private communications. In fact, Russians in general being such a cultured and refined people, nobody can handle this kind of talk except for veteran sailors or hardened zeks.

    When the trial resumed at 9:04 Defense petitions Judge Blinov to exclude the phones/emails. They say these wiretapped were obtained illegally, therefore they should not be put into the record. Judge disagrees, and therefore the prosecutors resume their reading of the juicy stuff.

    Personally, if I were the Judge, I would have staged this portion of the trial like community theater and had the actual defendants playing their own parts and reading their own words. I think that would have been more fun.

    There is a big reveal: As the prosecutor is reading out the list of phone numbers that were wiretapped, it transpires that Governor Nikita Belykh was one of the parties who had his cell phone tapped. [yalensis: I KNEW IT!]
    Other parties who had their phones tapped: Masha Gaidar, Tyshlek, Sh’erchkov, and a few other people that we never heard of.
    Defense makes another motion to exclude the wiretaps, because they didn’t know that all these other people were tapped. Judge has to call a break to think about it.

    During the morning coffee break, Ofitserov revealed to the press that some practical jokers have been booking hotel rooms in his name in several cities all over the country. Then the hotels are calling him and asking when will he arrive? He thinks somebody is trying to make it look like he is planning to skip town so that Blinov will lock him up.
    After studying the documents, Judge Blinov decides that all the warrants for wiretaps were formulated correctly, and so he will allow all of this into evidence.

    And that’s where we are now. [to be continued]

  20. yalensis says:

    Based on this evidence that even Governor Belykh was wiretapped, I have to revise what I commented earlier, about this whole thing possibly being a private vendetta between Old Guard (Opalev and his crew) and New Guard (Navalny and his crew) at KirovLes. Obviously, that is only a tiny part of this saga. I had speculated that Larisa Bastrygina was the one who put the finger on Navalny and alerted the local prosecutors to what she saw as his illegal actions. Now I have to put that theory aside. It looks like much bigger players were at work here. Oh, to be sure, Larisa was right there in the middle of the KirovLes, she watched as Belykh’s New Guard came marchiing in, bullying everybody, calling them incompetents and thieves, and threatening to fire everybody. She watched Navalny and Ofitserov together; and she saw how Opalev was walking around like a doomed man; and with her woman’s intuition she sensed quite correctly what was going on behind the scenes, and that crooked deeds were afoot. But she is just a small potato, and it is dubious that she placed that much of a role, other than jumping in to support Navalny’s enemies once she saw the opportunity.

  21. yalensis says:

    More KirovLes back story:
    Stepping back from the individual trees to see the entire forest, here is what I believe to be the larger picture:

    The larger picture is that from the moment he arrived at his new post as Kirov regional Governor (an appointed, not elected post), Belykh’s regime was encased in scadals. This piece from February 2010 reminds of the scandal when Belykh’s advisor Votinov was arrested for taking a huge bribe from Opalev, and speculates that Belykh’s other advisor Karnaukhov, was the one who put the finger on Votinov, in order to blacken Belykh’s reputation. Navalny was heavily involved with both Votinov and Karnaukhov, although he conflicted with both of them. (Well, Navalny conflicts with most of the people whom he encounters.)

    This piece from February 2010 provides more details of the arrests of Votinov and Opalev. An anonymous source in the Kirov FSB told the reporter that they had nothing to do any of this, it was all the work of the “Muscovites”, i.e., the Feds. So, basically, Belykh was appointed Governor by the feds (=Medvedev at the time), and then it was the feds who started to investigate him. Even, as we now know, wiretapping him.
    This piece also mentions another player on Belykh’s team, a guy named Roman Shipov. Shipov was also assigned by the Governor to watch over KirovLes. Shipov was arrested for corruption in June of 2009. Apparently he tried to muscle some local cellulose company out of 1.5 million rubles.

    And I end my comment with this piece which puts a political spin to all the above.
    According to Linev, the key to everything is the fact that Belykh apparently arrived in Kirov (along with his motley crew of unpaid advisors) in order to privatize everything that had any real value. Including KirovLes, of course. But in order to privatize an enterprise, first they must drive it into bankruptcy. Typical raider practices. [And we know from all we have learned that KirovLes, albeit poorly run, somewhat mismanaged, and financially troubled, was nowhere near bankruptcy and could have been saved by effective management. But, if Linev is correct, then saving KirovLes was never Belykh’s goal. Bankrupting and harvesting it was his goal.]

    There is another interesting twist in LInev’s account: a Perm connection. According to Linev, part of Belykh’s strategy was to transfer Kirov assets to Perm.

    Но опыт показывает, что многие начинания областной власти при Никите Белых, которые идут в отношении привлечения частного капитала, заканчиваются переходом Кировских предприятий к пермским структурам, и масштабы этого вынуждают предполагать, что это не просто совпадение.

    “Experience shows that many initiatives of the regional power structure under Nikita Belykh, in conjunction with attracting private capital, (always) end with the transfer of Kirov enterprises to Perm. The breadth of this (process) forces one to conclude that it is not a coincidence.”

    This theory fits in with the “SolikamsBumProm” testify from yesterday, in which Governor Belykh got in his car and drove to Perm to visit his old friend Mr. Baranov. A man went to see a man about buying some lumber.
    Shortly after this, the Perm man receives a fax from Alexei Navalny announcing that Kirov is setting up this great new trading market (called VLK) which is going to sell lumber to Perm.

    Sounds great, except that, if Linev is correct, then it was never about boosting the lumber industry, or saving KirovLes. It was all about privatizing valuable enterprises in order to line the pockets of Belykh and his friends.

    And somebody, apparently, was onto Belykh’s schemes from the very beginning. Why else tap his phone?

  22. yalensis says:

    And with the new information that Belykh’s phone was tapped by the Feds, I would like to provide an encore in the form of texting spat between Navalny and Belykh.

    I had to re-read this in light of the new data, and the fact that many KirovLes personages are mentioned here: Arzamaztsev, Votinov, Karnaukhov.

    I had previously translated these text messages thusly:

    19-24 November 2010

    B: Lokha, speak to me.
    N: What?
    B: I have some business with you. I texted you several times, you never replied. There is something I need to take care of before end of year, I can close out those “dubious accounts”, you know which ones I am talking about.
    B: Yo!
    N: Nu, okay, okay. Please just send [the money] to M, and I’ll get it from her.
    B: Okay. But why haven’t you called me or responded to my messages?
    B: Yo!
    B: Aleksei! Why don’t you answer me?
    B: Lokha, can you explain why the fuck you are acting this way? Why don’t you answer me?
    N: I get 200 e-mails a day. I’m way behind in answering all of them. I simply have no time.
    B: Well, I used to write to you before you became famous.
    N: I never received any e-mails at this address.
    B: And texts?
    N: I haven’t used my old phone since the middle of July.
    B: Okay. Are we good, then?
    B: And again, silence…
    N: (1) You are spamming me, (2) I am good with everybody, (3) Maybe instead of writing to me you should write to Arzamaztsev’s auditors, yeah, write to him and all those other crooks who, under your protection, are fabricating evidence against me and disseminating it all over the place. You never fulfilled a single one of your obligations (to me). Not one.
    B: (1) I’m not spamming you, you’re an idiot, (2) You know that’s not true, and (3) I fulfilled all my obligations both then and now, and you’re throwing hysterical fits like a pregnant blonde.
    I thought you’d be able to handle it and discuss this in a rational manner.
    I have no reason whatsoever to consider myself guilty of anything or to be obligated to you in any way. With one exception: I admit I was wrong when, in the course of my standard conflict with Marie I mentioned your name, you know, that situation that occurred when Ella arrived.
    That is the sole thing for which I feel guilty and for which I am even prepared to apologize. Everything else is just bullshit which you, with your fevered brain, blew up way out of proportion. I always considered, and still consider, you to be my friend, and it is unpleasant for me that you conduct yourself like this.
    B: And again silence…
    B: Are you still alive?
    B: Are you familiar with the name Shkurkov, or maybe Oshkurkov, or maybe Ashkurkov?
    Navalny [awaking from his stupor]: Maybe. Why?
    B: Certain high-ranking personages are convinced that he [Ashkurkov] (was the one who got you shares in) Rosneft. And today they fucked over Friedman, who they think is somehow connected with him [Ashkurkov].
    N: This all sounds highly dubious to me. Especially without a source of information. I hope this info can be vetted? By Votinov. He has fucking connections in the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Volga Federal Okrug]. Or [Sergei] Karnaukhov [still another Assistant to Belykh]. He has a medal, after all.
    B: What you talking about? I was there!
    N: I don’t understand.
    B: Stop fucking around. The attack against Friedman happened right in front of me, it was because of Ashkurkov (I think that’s how his name is pronounced) getting Rosneft shares for you.
    N: Masha told me that she didn’t receive anything yet.
    B: I haven’t given her anything (yet). I already told you (if you would only read something other than texts) that I can close this thing out before the end of the year.
    N: She’s been waiting. It’s already the end of the year.
    B: For YOU it’s the end of the year. For us, not all the adjustments have been input yet into the budget. End of the year – December, second half (of the month). After I balance the ledger I’ll see what we have (left) and hand it over (to you).

    23 December 2010
    B: Hey, dude! Let’s meet. I’ll be in Moscow on Sunday – Monday.
    B: Aleksei? What’s up? You don’t answer your mail?
    N: I already replied to you. You write the same thing every time, but you don’t do anything.
    For example, you owe me, as before $152. [Note: Add 3 zeroes to each number.] You gave me 40E. 152 – 40Х1.32 = $100
    We’ve been talking about this, like, forever. We swipe the distillery, then we don’t pay our debts.
    B: Go fuck yourself! Swiped distillery (my ass), you under-achieving lumber magnate! You’re still hoping to get money for work you didn’t complete? Whassa matter, you spent all your Grant money?
    B: Prima donna thinks he’s a big fucking star now. Phew! You know something? I have no desire to talk to you any more, you dick, you won’t have me to kick around any more or help get you out of your scrapes with the coppers and FSB by telling them you’re helping out the “lumber industry” in Kirov oblast.
    B: I don’t owe you anything. Fuhgeddaboutit. If you don’t know how to treat your friends, then fuck yourself. And, by the way, give me back the money you already took (from me). Just in case.

    I see that I have to make at least one correction to my previous translation:
    When Navalny types:
    От Вотинова. У него охуенные завязки в МВД ПФО

    I had translated as “By Votinov. He has fucking connections in the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Volga Federal Okrug].”

    But now, knowing that Votinov had in fact been arrested by then, I should have translated as: “By Votinov [sarcastically]? His connections with the MVD are all fucked up now…” or something to that effect.

    • kirill says:

      Need to keep those dissident voices down. This venue has been a bastion of contradicting the establishment BS line on reality. Also, the MSM is losing popular appeal and alternative internet information sources are gaining weight. These alternatives must be in the cross hairs of the establishment since they literally undermine their legitimacy.

  23. kirill says:


    The above is about how business is done in the good old USA. The same USA that tries to export its values at gunpoint around the globe. Here you have a clear case of the auto-dealer mafia using the state legislatures and their corrupt politicians to secure its racket from real competition.

    Note how the article does not launch into a shrill attack on this brazen anti-competitive BS. Also note that Texas and North Carolina have some of the most reactionary politics in the USA. North Carolina actually legislated against sea level rise, or specifically prevented anyone including scientists from warning about coastal development.

    • R.C. says:

      …And the Tesla Model-S IS real competition for the auto-dealer mafia.

      It’s an amazing car inside and out and has scored some of the highest accolades from many previously skeptical auto periodicals.

    • marknesop says:

      They do give the car all the praise the critics felt was its due, though, and it certainly is a nice-looking vehicle. I was always pretty sure there was a rule – I don’t know where I got the idea, it just seems like something I always knew, and I haven’t looked it up – that before you introduced a new car brand to the market, you had to agree and prove capability to support it for a certain period, and I thought it was 20 years. Otherwise, what would prevent shade-tree mechanics and enthusiasts from banding together and building their own cars, and offering them for sale?

      • kirill says:

        The dealership model/racket is that you buy from them and they make a load more off you with the subsequent repair and maintenance business. Support from the car makers only goes as far as making parts available and really has nothing to do with dealerships. Replacement parts on the market are typically refurbished (e.g. scavenged from wrecks) since they are so overpriced (there is even a whole black market based on stolen parts). To maintain one’s car does not require a dealership, it requires competent auto mechanics. Canadian tire is not too bad, and not worse than my dealership shop.

        What would be better if there was no patent protection on car parts after 2 years and generics could be made. This would really drive down the price of car maintenance and remove all the mafia-style activity from the auto repair business. Right now there is no free market for car parts.

        • marknesop says:

          I remember reading in a consumer protection magazine – before buying our last new car, fortunately, a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe – that the dealer makes a lot of the extra moola on the paint protection, the interior scotch-gard, the undercoating and the extended warranty, and that all of them are really a bad investment. If you wreck the car right away, the existing warranty should cover it (unless you did it by crashing it into something, in which case no amount of warranty will help as that is an insurance problem). Anyway, everything they offered me, I said “No thanks – hey, I read in the brochure that the paint treatment is an industry leader, just as good as Mercedes, I’m completely confident that will last”, and “No, I don’t think I need the extended warranty, I’ve seen lots of old models on the road still going strong with high mileage”, stuff like that, and there was really nothing they could say, unless they wanted to argue the product wouldn’t last and you need the extended warranty. So I didn’t buy any of the extras. For the record, Hyundai does make a very good product, and their designs are getting better all the time; the Santa Fe is an SUV, of course, but the cars are getting very European-looking, almost like BMW.

          Anyway, yeah, that’s what I meant, was you have to commit to support the design with parts for so many years. Repair and maintenance only really is important for warranty work, because there’s no reason a Ford mechanic who can read can’t fix a Nissan. But if you don’t get it done at the dealership – under the present arrangement – you void your warranty.

          • marknesop says:

            Oh, dear; American mainstay Apple is under government investigation….for using Ireland as a “perfectly legal” tax haven – to avoid taxes on (drumroll, please) 74 BILLION IN CORPORATE PROFITS!!!

            I’m sorry for the Irish – the west will ruin them for this. Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

            • marknesop says:

              Double oh dear; Ivane “Vano” Merabishvili has been arrested for corruption, according to Voice Of Russia London. It appears Ivanishvili is not getting the west’s message; “Leave Saakashvili ALOOOOOONNNNE!!!”. Arresting his Prime Minister is flinging down the gauntlet with, if I may say so, a certain gay abandon. Look forward to some juicy revelations, particularly if Vano bails on his former mentor and starts to sing like a canary, to borrow from the gangster mentality of which yalensis is so fond.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Waddya mean, ya punk?

                Vano ain’t no goddam stool-pigeon!



                (Do you think I’ll pass the TOEFL exam and get a green card?)

              • yalensis says:

                Yeh youse beat me to the punch, both of youse lousy punks. I have a better link, though:


                По мнению экспертов, обвинения ближайшим соратникам президента — это только верхушка айсберга.

                “According to expert opinion, the charges made against the closest colleagues of the president – this is only the tip of the iceberg.”

                Saakashvili whining about “political repressions” and calling on the West to help him out. Meanwhile, Vano has a lot of serious charges facing him. Will he be a stand-up guy and take the rap, or will be turn rat fink and sing like a canary? That, my friends, is the question!

                • marknesop says:

                  I agree with “Big Denny” Moscow Exile; Vano will not sing. What’s in it for him? It’s not like Ivanishvili is likely to offer him a sweetheart deal in exchange for his testimony, and I doubt an entreaty to do the right thing would move him much. He very likely will not be able to remain in Georgia except in jail, while if he is offered any kind of a golden parachute elsewhere, it will not be at the behest of his native country. In fact, the only incentive to incriminate others will be an airtight case against him and the foreboding of doing hard time in perhaps the same prison where the guards used to amuse themselves by making the prisoners do the broom dance.

                  But I can’t help wondering if it will be billed in English-speaking outlets as a wave of repressions against the political opposition, by Ivanishvili.

            • Jen says:

              Ireland was just one of several countries Apple was using to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxation.

              • marknesop says:

                It likely will not matter if Ireland is destroyed as a tax haven, then, a sacrifice to The Great God Transparency, will it? I mean, there must be a perception that nobody will get hurt but corrupt American oligarchs and money-launderers? No? I mean, you only have to look at it – in Cyprus, VTB got burned, but Apple is as American as…well, as Apple pie. The difference is clear – one of those firms had Russians in it, who are known to be corrupt and sneaky. The other is full of good, hard-working people who only wanted to help out the economy of another country, and their natural generosity should be rewarded.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  It’s strange reading how Apple considers Ireland to be a nice little tax haven. I remember only 3 or 4 years back the mayor of Limerick pleading with Hewlett Packard not to move shop. HP had been manufacturing their gear for a while in that pleasant city and had provided a lot of employment there. His words were not heeded and HP moved off to richer climes, in this case Poland.

                • Jen says:

                  I wonder why Bono and the rest of U2 moved their tax base from Ireland in Netherlands in 2006 if Ireland is supposed to be a tax haven. I suppose they did it because U2 were not registered as a corporation as the corporation tax rate in Ireland is currently 12.5% (low by EU standards) while personal tax rates start at 20% and go up to 48%. The Irish government put a cap of 250,000 euros on tax-free income for artists residing in Ireland in December 2005 which prompted U2’s move.

                  For anyone who’s interested in how Ireland’s taxation rates (individual and corporate) compare with the rest of the world:

                  KPMG international comparisons of individual income taxation rates

                  KPMG international comparisons of corporation taxation rates

            • kirill says:

              Apple probably did not pay off the right people with the right amount of money. Don’t forget about the recent GE case where they made 23 billion dollars in profits and actually got money from the government to the tune of 6 billion. GE chickened out eventually and gave this money back, but it could have kept it.

          • Misha says:

            Undercoating is considered a fiasco.

        • Misha says:

          Civics and Accords are theft magnets on account of the value put on their parts when stripped and sold thereafter.

  24. yalensis says:

    Kirgizy will force Americans out of “Manas” air base:


    Backstory: Recall that Americans used 9/11 as excuse to force their geo-political influence into Central Asia. Gullible Russians went along with this and even helped supply their troops in Afghanistan. With Russian approval, Americans took over airbase in Manas and then tried to overthrow Kirgiz government at one time to install a puppet (remember the “Tulip revolution”).

    Now Kirgizy are finally trying to extricate themselves from this unwanted guest who never leaves.
    As of July 11 2014, Americans will have to vacate the Manas base. Kirgizy so eager to see their backs that they themselves will take on the cost of evicting these unwanted tenants. (Although I, suspiciously, suspect that Russia is actually going to pay all the bills!)

  25. yalensis says:

    KirovLes trial:
    RAPSI still not covering the trial any more, but they did have to at least mention the fact that Kirov Governator Nikita Belykh appeared in court today to testify about his old hunting pal, Alexei Navalny:


    Fashion notes: Belykh is the only witness so far who actually showed up wearing a suit and tie.
    Generally, the witnesses, as well as the defendants, wear jeans and t-shirts. Witness Votinov showed up in his zek pajamas. The prosecutors always wear their little uniforms, and Judge Blinov presides in a simple black dress.

    Legal notes: Technically a witness for the prosecution, Belykh (according to this) testified that he didn’t believe Navalny had harmed the bottom line of the Kirov government budget. But he wasn’t really sure.

    Recall that yesterday’s BLOCKBUSTER REVELATION was that Federal FSB had been wiretapping Belykh’s cellphone, along with those of Navalny and Ofitserov.

    This coverage is pretty lame. Nobody is doing transcripts any more. Must seek better coverage…

  26. peter says:

    The contention was others are sure it is her…

    No Mark, the contention was much more explicit: “others who have seen the film and who I have consulted are sure it is her.” See? Alexander claims that (a) he has actually consulted (b) more than one real person (c) who have actually seen the video, and (d) they have positively identified the woman in the video as Alyokhina. Considering that the two women don’t look anything like each other, at least one part of Alexander’s claim must be a lie. A silly, childish lie.

    Alex has never claimed to be a big-shot lawyer…

    He hasn’t, but he obviously considers himself big enough to speak for no less than Clarence Darrow: “If Clarence Darrow was representing him [Navalny] (and that is exactly the sort of calibre of lawyer this case needs) that is what he would be advising him to do.” Priceless.

    • marknesop says:

      I’m a little concerned that your obsession with “getting” Alex is affecting your judgment somewhat. If I said something much the same, that I had asked a couple of friends – hey, do these two women look like the same person? and they told me yes, I would not expect to be called a liar if they were wrong. Especially if I agreed early that you were right, without further argument, and that they were not the same person. If I, furthermore, had a visual disability that made it improbable that I could see the two individuals clearly, which would make it completely unsurprising that I had asked someone else.

      I didn’t even know Clarence Darrow was a real person; I thought he was a character from a book. But that notwithstanding, this too is pretty thin gruel for you to be making a meal of. Alex’s speculation on what kind of lawyer it would take to save Navalny is simply an offhand assessment of the odds against acquittal, and I don’t see how this can be construed as “speaking for Darrow” whom Wiki (now that I know he is, or was, a real person) tells me has been dead for quite some time.

      This is turning into a vendetta which just makes you look irrational (They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved…beyond the shadow of a doubt with…geometric logic..that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist, and I’d have produced that key if they hadn’t of pulled the CAINE out of action…) – something I’m sure you’re not.

      • peter says:

        … that I had asked a couple of friends – hey, do these two women look like the same person? and they told me yes…

        Impossible. How could they possibly say “yes” when the answer is plainly “not even close”?

        … simply an offhand assessment of the odds against acquittal, and I don’t see how this can be construed as “speaking for Darrow”…

        No, not this. The “speaking for Darrow” part is “that is what he [Darrow] would be advising him [Navalny] to do.” Cos Jesus he knows me and he knows I’m right.

      • a_liberal says:

        Petey is riven by hatred for Putin, and the fact that Russia’s population is no longer dropping by 950k/year probably has him pretty upset too.

        Petey is best ignored, for he never makes and supports a positive point himself, being content merely to snarl at others.

        • peter says:

          New nickname, same butthurt.

          • a_liberal says:


              • a_liberal says:

                Were i inclined, Petey, I’d need a microscope to find yours.

                • peter says:

                  That’s a very insensitive joke to make on a Putin fan blog.

                  “Я понимаю, что Путин желает быть самцом, альфа-самцом. Но для этого надо обладать хотя бы соответствующего размера причинным местом. А у него вместо причинного места – прыщ”, – сказал Березовский, напомнив, что во время дружбы с Путиным им неоднократно доводилось вместе париться в бане, а посему точно знает, о чем говорит. Борис Березовский считает, что Путин бравирует своим торсом, способностями к боевым единоборствам, а также грозит обрезать врагам причинное место, “так что больше не вырастет” лишь потому, что у него самого на этом месте прыщ…

                • marknesop says:

                  And he wondered why he was not invited to return to Russia after his weepy letter. There seems an unhealthy obsession with Putin’s genitalia among the opposition; Boris Nemtsov once claimed Putin has no balls, and you need balls to be a leader. That does not bode well for any presidential ambitions Chirikova might be entertaining, although I would be bound to suggest she should put them on hold anyway after being blown out of the water in the Khimki mayoral race.

                • a_liberal says:

                  Petey, Berezovsky hung himself after failing to succeed in begging forgiveness. Again I will remind you that under Putin Russian demographics turned around to an extent that none of his enemies predicted.

                  Talk about potent, lol.

                • marknesop says:

                  Not to mention Berezovsky’s legendary reliability as a witness.

                • a_liberal says:

                  Indeed, Mark, Petey just blew his whole “earnest seeker after truth’ shtik by citing the inveterate liar Berezovsky. But you know what they say about “birds of a feather”

                  And in a minor way, Petey’s blind hatred of Putin has landed him in a similar place that Berezovsky’s blind hatred of Putin did, his reputation here in ruins. With this demonstrated, we can now openly regard his bilious spew with the contempt it has always deserved.

                • peter says:

                  Wow, four in a row. That’s a lot of butthurt for one little cheap shot. Next time Stuey, be careful what you ask for.

                • a_liberal says:

                  Well if it isn’t the last known believer in the veracity of Berezovsky, lol.

    • JAVI says:


      • JAVI says:

        Enjoy its small, petty and twisted polemics.
        It’s best to ignore it, on the other hand is a pleasure to read Alex.

  27. yalensis says:

    KirovLes: Okay, here is some better coverage, which takes us through the lunch break and beyond.

    Courtroom went into session at 9:00 sharp, with Governor Nikita Belykh as Witness #1.

    Belykh testifies that he has known Navalny since 2005. When asked about Navalny’s duties as “unpaid advisor”, Belykh responds that an unpaid advisor’s sole duty is to give [unpaid?] advice.
    He says Navalny had the right to ask KirovLes staff for information; and they, in turn, had the right to refuse to give him any information.
    Belykh continues that Navalny, along with other “experts” offered a recommendation to reorganize KirovLes.
    Belykh cannot confirm or deny whether Navalny sought out customers for KirovLes beyond the boundaries of the province. He and Navalny did make a trip together to SolikamsBumProm (in Perm).
    Navalny wrote a written recommendation to Belykh to re-organize KirovLes on more centralized lines.
    Belykh does recall the meeting with auditors, at which Ofitserov was also present, and at which it was decided to sack Opalev and dissolve the relationship between KirovLes and VLK.
    Under further questioning, Belykh concedes the possiblity that Navalny was giving out semi-official orders and recommendations even BEFORE his formal appointment as unpaid advisor. (Which didn’t happen until May 2009.)

    After they sacked Opalev, later they brought the old guy back for a temporary gig to help reorganize KirovLes. This was done because the leskhozy directors insisted on talking only to Opalev.

    Prosecution questioning of Belykh finishes at 9:25, and then it is time for the Defense to go at it. Now I really wish I had some video, because this is Navalny himself cross-examining his old buddy, whom he had previously told to go fuck himself, just before they broke off their friendship once and for all and Navalny fled to Yale University.

    At 9:27 Belykh declares that KirovLes situation was hopeless at the time and desperately in need of reorganization. Their debts amounted to 150-200 million rubles, but he doesn’t recall the exact amount. [Yalensis: that’s not true! KirovLes was a 1-billion ruble company and never had any problems meeting its payroll. The debts were just the normal liabilities and not sufficient to crush the company. Belykh, like his friends, was deeply and unfairly prejudiced against this company from Day #1.]

    Due to Belykh’s firm belief that KirovLes was doomed, he did make the reorganization of the company Navalny’s #1 priority, he testifies.

    9:50 Belykh tells Navalny that he wishes he (Navalny) had taken a post in the government. He offered him such a post, but Navalny refused, preferring to remain an unpaid advisor. [yalensis: Of course! he could make more money as a private citizen!]

    10:11 Belykh testifies (under questioning by Navalny) that he recalls the latter proposing a “real” audit of KirovLes, done by some company of the Big Four (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG), [yalensis: Recall that Navalny actually had a personal spy in Ernst & Young, a young woman who lost her job once it was revealed that she was leaking company documents to Navalny.] Such a “real” audit was never done, however. (So they had to settle for Arzamaztsev’s half-assed audit.)

    10:20 Navalny finishes his cross-examination of Belykh.

    Then there is a 10-minute coffee break, then everybody back in.
    Prosecutors go back to reading the entire indictment into the record.

    12:09 RAPSI reporter brags that he just figured out from watching Navalny that he types (on his laptop or phone) with just one finger. [Yalensis: we already knew that! That is how it was so easy for FSB to figure out his password and crack into his email.]

    12:49 Cameras are being set up, and people in the courtroom are buzzing that after the lunch break they will start getting to the juicy stuff, i.e., the wiretapped phone conversations.
    However, nothing happens except a continuation of the boring readings.

    That takes us up through the lunch break.

  28. yalensis says:

    P.S. The Perm company “SolikamsBumProm” is playing an important role in the prosecution case. I like repeating their name because it’s funny, reminds me of “Boom Boom”. Anyhow, here is their website, their produce paper that is used in newspapers:


  29. kirill says:


    Well, there you have it. Belykh is Navalny’s roof. I wonder how an administration connected clown like Navalny can be considered part of some “non-system opposition”. How many Occupy Wall Street protesters had local state governors or even mayors acting as their roof?

    • yalensis says:

      IMHO, the RIAN piece should be treated as raw pro-Navalny propaganda which adds no value in the way of information. It parrots the Opp party line and false chronology that links the closing and re-opening of the case with Navalny’s anti-government activities. (Navalny criticized Putin, so Putin re-opened the case. But then the case was closed. Then Navalny criticized Bastrykin, so Bastrykin re-opened the case. Like every paranoiac, Navalny has a myriad of enemies…)

      In reality, the main reason why the case was re-opened (and COULD BE re-opened) was when Navalny’s emails got hacked. This provided much more ammunition to the prosecution. Before that, they kind of sensed that Navalny was up to no good, but didn’t have enough data to prove it.

      The other propaganda aspect about the RIAN piece is that they parrot the new Opp attitude of triumphalism: They are high-fiving each other every time any “prosecution witness” turns out to be something less than a modern version of Émile Zola’s “J’accuse”. This has been a consistent feature of trial coverage since Day #1. Every time a prosecution witness says something like, “I don’t know if Navalny set the price too low,” then the Opps are popping champagne corks and declaring victory. (Besides, one has to remember that just because a witness is SUMMONED by the prosecution, it does not necessarily follow that that person is an enemy of Navalny.)

      In this particular case, Governor Belykh said something like, “I am not sure whether or not Navalny harmed the economy of the Kirov Province.” So, Opps interpret that as a major victory for their side.

      There is a phrase that has actually become a consistent new meme that is used every time, i.e., “The witness [for the prosecution] turned out to be a witness for the defense.” For example, in today’s coverage:

      Руководитель региона был заявлен как свидетель обвинения, однако его показания говорили скорее в пользу подсудимого.

      and this phrase “скорее в пользу подсудимого” has become like a mantra for the pro-Navalny coverage. They are probably just indulging in wishful thinking,and seizing upon every tiny bit of news that gives them hope for their desired outcome. Because the statistical odds are vastly against Navalny’s acquittal. But who knows, it is not impossible, and I am not going to be placing any bets on this myself.

      • kirill says:

        I guess the inference I made is a bit too tenuous. But someone must have approved Navalny’s job/contract. The buck does not stop with Navalny. I think Belykh pushed Navalny into the slot. I doubt he set him up for a fall on behalf of Putler. It is just the regular expectation in Russia that you can loot the system when you worm your way into the government/business. The self-described “corruption fighter” and “non system oppositionist” Navalny acted out his natural grifter character. I hope the electorate holds public figures to a higher standard and flushes this turd along with all the rest of the idiots carrying pictures of Khodorkovsky, the ultimate crook, at all their political demonstrations.

  30. kirill says:


    Hmm, imagine some suspect shot to death during an interview/interrogation in evil Putler’s regime. The amount of sanctimonious whinging from the west would be deafening. They would call him a whistleblower against the regime and a non-system oppositionist who was martyred.

  31. marknesop says:

    Vintage Latynina, so deliciously crazy that Putin must still be rolling on the carpet and pounding the floor between bellows of laughter. Let me go on record here and now in hoping Latynina lives forever, because each journalistic effort gets more unhinged than the one that came before; the only potential for disaster lies in the possibility that she might at some future point decide that she loves Putin, and begin to praise him. At that point, of course, she would have to be killed.


    In Yulia’s version of reality vis-a-vis the recent CIA spy incident, the CIA agent acted responsibly, because he was just trying to develop information about Islamic extremism in the Caucasus from the viewpoint that it might be a danger to the United States. The fact that the FSB has already been pretty good about passing on that kind of information, only to have it ignored and then later re-examined in the light of “Did The FSB Do Enough To Protect U.S. Citizens?” appears to have evaded her completely, not to mention the fact that you could receive such information at home where they have hamburgers and democracy, rather than going all the way to Russia and wearing uncomfortable wigs to get it.

    In LatyninaLand, the FSB is “paranoid”, and arresting someone from another country caught roaming around in a disguise seeking an informant among the national intelligence services was an act of spite that was totally unnecessary when the FSB could have helped the USA save face by just passing on some routine low-level stuff that would not have done Russia’s interests too much damage. Too bad Slt Jeffrey Delisle has already been sentenced – he could have hired Latynina to be a character witness.

    You couldn’t make this stuff up. And they say Russia doesn’t have a free press. I hope no trees were killed to publish this slobbering madness.

    • Misha says:

      It’s believeable that to a good extent, the US and Russia spy on each other for reasons that aren’t intended to harm each other. Within reason, it has been observed that the American and Russian intelligence folks don’t fully trust each other.

      There has been concern of people of Caucasus background fighting US forces abroad.

      Sometimes there could be a delayed payback reaction to a prior spy bust. Offhand, I’m not sure if the Russians ever got “even” (for lack of a better word) for Anna Chpaman.

      • Misha says:

        As a follow-up pertaining to Russo-American intell coperation and the lack thereof, I’m sure the Russians couldn’t be happy with the American TV media coverage of the Tsarnaev intelligence sharing – understandably feeling that they were unfairly put under the bus, so to speak – in a situation where the US government could’ve chimed in on Russia’s behalf.

        Little things like this add up to serve the greater potential of a backlash in one form or another.

  32. yalensis says:

    Some kind soul posted today’s KirovLes trial session on youtube:.

    Everybody should watch at least the first couple of minutes, and check out the VERY INTERESTING body language. Note how Navalny is wearing a very nice suit. Every other day he has showed up looking sloppy in jeans and t-shirt.
    Also note how Navalny is engaged in events, eagerly jumps to his feet and scans the door. Every other day he has been sitting hunched over uninvolved and playing with his iPhone, the very picture of adolescent boredom.

    What is different about today? Well, they are expecting Navalny’s old frenemy, Nikita Belykh to walk into the courtroom. Navalny looks for all the world like an ex-husband who has just been informed that his ex-wife, for whom he still carries a torch, has walked into the restaurant! Note how he keeps his eyes on the door, eagerly watching for Nikita. Note how he keeps checking his watch. “Where is my Nikita?”

    And then it happens! Governor Belykh comes marching in, wearing a beatiful grey suit and tie. Now Navalny is suddenly shy. He lowers his eyes and almost seems to giggle to himself.
    Judge Blinov asks Governor Belykh the standard questions: What is your name? What is your Quest? What is your favourite colour? (No, I’m kidding. He asks: What is your name? Your date and place of birth? Your nationality? Education? Marital status).
    And then they are off and running….

    • marknesop says:

      Gee, that’s a pretty good video camera; nice, sharp picture. Navalny is not actually wearing a suit at all, and he appears not to even know what a suit is, since it seems to be too much to ask for him to put on a tie. He is actually just wearing a sport jacket/blazer over jeans and a shirt, very Billy Joel. You can’t see his feet, but I would not be surprised if he is wearing sneakers – I almost expect him to break into, “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me”. Maybe he’s even wearing the now-famous “jailhouse model” laceless sneakers, with velcro closures, as popularized by Miriam Elder.

      Belykh also is not wearing a great suit – a good suit should make you look slimmer, not fatter, and Belykh looks like he has escaped from a pod of grey whales. We are going to have to work on your sartorial image, Yalensis. Anyway, at least Belykh knows what a tie is.

      You’re right – the crowd has moved on to The Next Big Thing. Maybe Udaltsov’s trial will be more electrifying, but this has turned into a soporific soap opera.

      • yalensis says:

        Aw, come on, that grey suit looks really nice on the Governator!

        • yalensis says:

          P.S. I agree that Udaltsov’s trial will be more exciting, because he will orate and thrash about like Danton on his way to the guillotine.

    • yalensis says:

      After watching the video of Governor Belykh’s 2 hours on the stand, a couple of points about body language:
      (1) Belykh talks too much. He is a windbag. At the same time, one can see that he is picking his words very, very carefully. He cannot afford to be caught in a lie. His gubernatorial term is up in a few months, but he still has some hopes of a future political career.
      (2) When responding to prosecution questions, Belykh stares straight ahead. He never turns his head in Navalny’s direction. Navalny watches him a lot, though, keeps his eyes on Belykh most of the time. This is a reveal of Belykh’s importance to Navalny, because Navalny is usually completely focused on himself.
      (Belykh’s contemporary dominance in this relationship is also revealing because of the fact that in their earlier texting correspondence, a few years back, Navalny is the dominant partner, and Belykh the beta. For example Navalny dominates Belykh by cutting him off and refusing to speak to him. Belykh begs him to break his silence. But now the shoe is on the other foot, and Navalny cannot take his eyes off Belykh).
      (3) During Navalny’s cross-examination of Belykh, Belykh very gradually emerges from his coldness and a couple of times his eyes actually turn in Navalny’s direction. It is very awkward between them. But by the end of it, they are almost on speaking terms again.
      (4) What’s up with Judge Blinov? The man has smoking bedroom eyes! A couple of times the camera cuts to a close-up of Blinov; he appears to pout seductively, modestly lower his gaze, and then flash his pretty brown eyes like a temptress!

      (P.S. one blog commenter online commented that Blinov has never, in his entire career, ever acquitted anybody in his courtroom. I don’t know if that is a true statement or not. It’s just something that somebody said.)

  33. R.C. says:

    A new Dunkerley article on the seemingly never-ending Litvinenko drama:


    • marknesop says:

      Yes, that was featured also on Voice Of Russia’s site. Dunkerley does a good job of playing up the role of the British security services and their possible complicity in Litvinenko’s death. It’s astonishing how acceptable a theory this is becoming now, when even a year ago even mentioning it would have brought hoots of derision. Dunkerley also does a good job also of highlighting the gaping holes in the case, and how unreasonable it is to prevent it from going ahead on national security grounds. That used to be the Bush administration’s go-to way of shutting down investigations, too.

      • Misha says:

        For improvement sake, hopefully, VoR will start picking up others, who’ve been doing a good to excellent job on a number of key issues covered by that station.

  34. Misha says:

    LIkely BS alert – Al Jazeera just had a televised ticker headline that the imprisoned Pussy Riot exhibitionists are on a hunger strike to protest their not being present at a parole hearing.

    One senses that there might be more to this. I’m kind of busy right now juggling some truly important issues in terms of improving the coverage. I’m therefore not going to follow-up on this story for now.

    Parting thought: “spectrum” suggests a broad range and not a closed circuit lavochka which goes out of the way of propping others, while downplaying some quality input.

    There has been way too much of that phony, crony, baloney propping. In addition to being counterproductive, it’s personally insulting to some others.

    It was brought to my attention that some “Russophile” willingly chimed in with another troll about me, on a particular appearance issue at this venue – having NOTHING to do with the substance of the substantive issues discussed. Let’s be fair. Why not do the same with William Dunkerley among some others? Not that I’m encouraging such. Rather, I’m highlighting the bogus manner that’s out there.

    Great talent should be utilized, instead of negatively and hypocritically misrepresented, as has been the case.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Alekhina attended a parole hearing only the other day and made a speech about her being a political prisoner and how she should be given parole for her son’s sake, really piling on the devoted mother line.

      The parole board didn’t buy her doting mother line, however, after the colony governor told them that she seldom writes home, let alone writes letters to her child.

      This Novaya Gazeta interview with the two heroines provides an insight into the workings of the freedom-loving punk musicians’ minds, especially that of Alekhina, who has been in isolation because of threats from her fellow inmates. The two prisoners most critical of Alekhina are also interviewed. From what they say, she appears to be a stuck-up bourgeois pain-in-the-arse given to lecturing the “bydlo”.

      I read another interview not long ago, only in Russian, with these two repeat offenders who dislike the punk-rock feminist musician (they are both junkies, by the way, and there are hints in the NG interview above that they are possibly homosexual as well), where they said that Alekhina chose to be in nick (by “performing” in the cathedral) whilst they had no choice in this matter, presumably because of their addiction. They also say that she could leave prison whenever she wished because they believe she is loaded. In short, they reckon she’s just posing and trying to upset the apple cart, namely the colony, where the repeat offenders have become institutionalised and can be left in peace (with their girlfriends?)

      The NG interview,by the way, has been translated into a kind of English in which the
      words “gonna” and “wanna” appear, just to show, I suppose, how “Western” and streetwise the journalist/interpreter is.

      Golly! What abysmal journalistic standards!


      • yalensis says:

        The interview with Tolok confirms two hunches I always had about her:
        (1) That sewing is good for her, it teaches her a marketable trade. Apparently her skills with the sewing machine have improved to the level where she will be sewing full-length coats. When she leaves the pokey, she can get a job as a tailor, or maybe even start her own shop, Chernyshevsky would be proud of her.
        (2) Except that Chernyshevsky would NOT be proud of her, because it is clear from her interview and her choice of books that philophisically she is taking a turn away from leftism toward right-wing mysticism. You look a at a person’s books, and you know who that person is. She keeps the Bible at her bedside? Really? Which confirms my other hunch that she will end up becoming a fierce proponent of the Russian Orthodox Church. In other words, she will join the Forces of Darkness. And then the circle will be complete.

        • yalensis says:

          P.S. I read the interviews with the convicts Nonna and Alena. Their stories are very poignant. Somehow these two social outcasts have made a life for themselves in this colony. They work hard, they have each other. It is a story worthy of Dostoevsky.

          And then this little bourgeois chit arrives and disrupts their world… I can see how her arrogance and demeaning attitude would infuriate them.

          Having said that, Alena is a convicted murderer and has anger issues. She needs to really hold it together and not allow herself to give in to her impulse to kill Al’okhina. If she can just hold it together until parole time, then she and Nonna can go out together and set up their gay family. Under Russian law, they will not be able to get mariried, but at least they could live together and try to build a life on the outside. They both have marketable skills now, which they learned in the colony, so there would be no need to sell drugs.

        • Jen says:

          Maybe when Nadezhda Tolokhonnikova leaves prison, Sir Paul will take her in hand and lead her to Stella McCartney who can teach her fashion design and how to set up her own fashion label.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        That’s right, she wasn’t present at the parole hearing: she took part in a video link.


    • marknesop says:

      No, apparently that is true, it is Alyokhina who is now on a hunger strike, in protest at not being personally present at her parole hearing and having to speak to her lawyer by phone rather than across the table in person. I saw it at VOR.

      A couple of things here; one, a parole hearing is dead simple – your lawyer (or you, if you are representing yourself) presents the arguments in favour of early release. Contrition, remorse, obvious efforts to reintegrate and to get along. The last thing your lawyer wants or needs is you there with some of that “power to the people” raised-fist bullshit, or a thicket of television cameras outside, because the former suggests you have learned nothing from your prison experience while the latter argues it is just a publicity stunt. There is little Alyokhina could have contributed to the hearing and nothing that would have helped the decision-making toward the positive, and she likely just wanted the diversion of a trip outside.

      Two, a parole hearing is a very bad occasion over which to exercise defiance and theatre, because it is unlikely to prejudice the decision in your favour – the contrary, in fact. Threatening adjudicators in a decision in which you depend on their good will is seldom effective, and decision-makers in this one will be watching for any sign of theatrics since they know the person’s track record.

      Three, very few people actually have the will power to starve themselves to death, and Alyokhina thus far has shown no sign of such resolve. I would be very surprised if such a decision were left up to her, as prison officials will likely force-feed her with a hose and funnel as soon as she begins to get weak, if it ever goes that far. I seem to recall both Khodorkovsky and Tymoshenko have announced hunger strikes which met with great fanfare in the press, but came to nothing. Letting a prisoner die because they refuse to eat is little different than letting them hang themselves with their pantyhose; the main lesson you are supposed to learn in prison is that if you cannot exercise responsible decision-making, the luxury will be withdrawn and others will make them for you.

      In short, just another Pussy Riot stay-in-the-news-cycle provocation. Alyokhina is well aware that parole is likely a non-starter, and is just making the most of the media attention.

      • Misha says:

        Is it a standard practice there to have only the attorney present in such a hearing?

        If so, the aforementioned Al Jazeera bit was somewhat misinformative.

        As long as the defendant isn’t getting screwed, there’s a reasoned basis (as you note) to have attorney only meetings between defense, prosecution and judge – something which happens in the US – albeit not under the designation of a parole hearing.

        • marknesop says:

          I’m afraid I don’t know; all my knowledge of the Russian legal system is from what is readily available in layman’s terms, on the internet, in English. Otherwise, my expertise is limited to being able to recognize the Russian word for “lawyer” on signs in Russia. But my point was that Alyokhina’s chances for parole – probably zero, owing to the small portion of her sentence already served as well as her displayed uncooperative and unrepentant attitude and her unwillingness to even acknowledge she is in prison for a reason that is her own doing – were in no wise negatively affected by her physical absence. Her lawyer is appointed to serve as her representative in legal affairs, and there was no representation in this instance that needed to be made in person by Alyokhina. I would think the fact that you are in prison serving a legally-awarded sentence is a pretty good excuse for not showing up, and if were mandatory that she be there, her attorney would have canceled the hearing.

          • Misha says:

            A more accurate accounting than the above mentioned Al Jazeera ticker note that omits her being able to participate in the parole hearing:


            Better journalism than a recently released RFE/RL article on Pridnestrovie (Transdnestr), which is top heavy with anti-Pridnestrovie government propaganda that’s inaccurate, depicting the disputed terrirory’s government as provoking tension.

            At the last moment, it was the Moldovan government which at the last moment had walked out of a Russian brokered settlement several years back.

    • kirill says:

      Meanwhile one of his countrymen was decapitated in the name of Allah in London. The British should get over their pathological hate for Russia. I can’t find anything in history, including the cold war, which would justify their obsession.

    • marknesop says:

      Rather than “sending a very positive message to the people who have been following this case”, releasing either or both on parole would be an acknowledgment that they were essentially jailed for spite, and a valuable clue that the government could be coerced by outside pressure and celebrity intervention. This is already bad enough, and it would rise to a crescendo if it were successful. Maybe Sir Paul wants to think about that – does he want to put his musical interests on hold while he is besieged with requests to act as amnesty ambassador for incarceration causes all over the globe, many of them perfectly well-deserved?

      • R.C. says:

        Given all of the western hoopla and brouhaha over these girls, one would think they were given life sentences. I think the Pussy Riot case is a token cause for cheap political posturing among celebrities to score some PR points. Russia and other ‘regimes” who don’t comply with western dictates are ripe for these kinds of campaigns. It doesn’t seem to matter to these musicians coming to their aid that Pussy Riot isn’t even a real band.

        • kirill says:

          These western media hysterics are “guilt transfer”. Instead of focusing on real victims of the US legal system or those other NATO states, the western media latches onto trivialities and puffed up claims of abuse elsewhere. In Saudi Arabia these PR twerps would have been decapitated and not just given a 2 year sentence. But Saudi Arabia gets no attention since it is a pal of the west.


  35. yalensis says:

    Another Chechen dies in American custody, this happened yesterday, he was apparently friends with Tamarlan Tsarnaev:


    • kirill says:

      It’s a violation of religious freedom according to US “logic” as promulgated in their recent report.

  36. R.C. says:


    I love the response of the notorious Russophobe “locoivan” on the message board below the article. He claims that Russia is causing “crisis” in the region and that this will allow them to continue to manipulate oil prices. I guess all of those Jihadis flocking in to overthrow the Syrian government courtesy of NATO & the Gulf despots and Israel’s bombings doesn’t warrant a mention. Yes, Russia would like to keeps it’s base at Tartus and continue to maintain Syria as a client for its weapons, but none of this would necessarily cease if Assad were to leave power.

    • kirill says:

      Note the word “would” used by Kerry. There have not been any and there will be no S-300 system deliveries to Syria. All the stench is from the Yakhont sales that were contracted years ago. Even Bibi ran off to Moscow to plead for Putin to stop the shipments. If a US carrier and support fleet is not sure about its chances of staying afloat, then there is little chance that the US will pull its world policeman (aka thug) act.

      The US loves its Islamic terrorists. And when some of them bite the hand that feeds them, it’s all Russia’s fault.

      As for oil prices, what a retarded joke. Syria has no impact on Saudi oil shipments. It’s Iran that has the potential to inflict damage on Saudi oil facilities and block the Strait of Hormuz. This locoivan troll is a pet of English RIAN.

      • R.C. says:

        I agree. I don’t believe S300’s are in or headed to Syria.

        • marknesop says:

          “I don’t believe S300′s are in or headed to Syria.”

          The official line was quite clear – although the S-300 is evidently such a kick-ass system that foreign buyers are lined up to acquire it, outfitting of the national armed forces with it is not complete. It would stand to reason that outfitting Russian forces would be first, selling to customers in the order in which they requested to buy would be next, and desperate humanitarian transfers to states under siege would be last. Considering the complex decision tree that applies to foreign sales (third-party and end-user agreements, domestic versus foreign variants, etc…), whatever will transpire in Syria will likely be long over before the customer list gets around to them; unless they applied to buy pretty near the head of the line, before all this fabricated grass-roots revolution stuff started.

          Even the J-Post grudgingly admits the contracts were signed for the Yakhont purchase in 2007, although it makes up for this kernel of accuracy with a liberal larding of nonsense, such as the contention that Lavrov is backpedaling and getting defensive because he is “facing international criticism for his country’s decision to sell the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria”. Not only was there no such decision, every suggestion that there was has been emphatically denied. But the English-speaking media just breezes ahead with its narrative, blithely unconcerned with facts when it is busy building a meme.


          Here’s a nice discussion of the Yakhont; Russian designers are getting really good at pushing the envelope in design barriers, and in the Yakhont’s case, virtually the entire missile with the exception of the warhead and guidance package is a propulsion system. They’re also steadily getting away from the gigantic missiles that were the hallmark of Soviet designs. The Yakhont can discriminate between real and false targets after launch, and be assigned to specific ships in a group. Nasty.


          • SFReader says:

            S-300 is not the latest weapon. Russia is currently arming itself with more advanced S-400 system (which is not for export yet) and developing even more spectacular S-500 system (with ABM capability).

            Various models of S-300 SAMs were sold to China, Algeria, Greece, Venezuela, Vietnam and Syria. Former Warsaw Pact and x-USSR countries (Bulgaria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine) are also have inherited S-300 systems from Soviet Union (though apparently older, less advanced modifications)

            • marknesop says:

              No, the S-300 is not new, but it remains a respected threat because it remains effective – and western air forces prefer to go in against spotty, half-assed air defenses like Gaddafi’s or no defenses at all, so air superiority can be established in a forenoon. Can’t blame them for that, as nobody in their right mind wants to be killed if they can avoid it. The S-500 is going to be amazing if it lives up to its advance billing, which so far is mostly hints.

              • SFReader says:

                Gaddafi had Soviet supplied S-200s which if used by competent staff could have inflicted serious damage to NATO aircraft.

                Serbs in 1999 managed to shoot down several Western aircraft using older and less capable S-75 SAMs.

                • marknesop says:

                  Gaddafi did not have anything that could have been described as a coherent air-defence network, though, which Syria does have. Gaddafi put most of his emphasis on ground forces and rocket batteries designed to be used as artillery.

                • RusFed-o-phile says:

                  The S-75 was already phased out in 1999. The S-125 and the Kub were the backbone of the Yugoslavian Air Defense.

                  Btw it was fascinating how the Serbs managed to preserve their obsolete SAM’s during that 78-day campaign – and thwarted the NATO strategy completely.

          • SFReader says:

            Russia currently has about 1000 S-300 launchers and under 100 S-400 launchers (plans to have about 500 S-400 launchers by 2020).

            • SFReader says:

              The plans are entirely realistic. Russian Almaz-Antei defense corporation which manufactures S-300 and S-400 systems is currently building two brand new missile factories in Kirov and Nizhny Novgorod for total cost of 3 billion US dollars. They are expected to start production in 2014.

              I don’t know what the total production capacity will be after that, quite probably thousands of missiles and launchers a year…

              • RusFed-o-phile says:

                Not to forget the numerous new developments for shorter-range SAM’s (and the latest incarnations of already existing complexes). By 2020/25 the multi-layered AD shield should look like:

                1. S-500 (primary anti-ICBM role with the new 77N6-N/77N6-N1 missiles)
                2. S-400 (replacing the S-300PM1/PM2)
                3. Vityaz (replacing older S-300PS/PM)
                4. Pantsir-S1 (or possibly a more advanced version by that time)
                5. Morphei (ultra-short range)

                The Ground Forces will have their own not less impressive tree from army-to-platoon level:

                1. S-300V4/VM (the range of the 9M82M missile almost rivals the S-400)
                2. Buk-M3/M2
                3. Tor-M2
                4. Tunguska successor (or Pantsir?)
                5. Strela-10 successor
                6. Verba and Igla-S as MANPADs

          • SFReader says:

            I forgot to mention, but Syria has S-200 systems (44 launchers) as well. They are also quite capable weapons with range over 300 kilometers.

          • SFReader says:

            On Yakhont. In 2007, Russia sold to Syria 2 Bastion-S coastal defence missile systems armed with Yakhont missiles.

            Each system consists of 9 batteries with 18 launchers and total of 36 anti-ship missiles.

            In late 2011, Interfax reported that Russia has supplied all the systems under 2007 contract and that Syrians asked for two more systems.

            I think the additional two systems were supplied recently after that telephone call to the Israeli Premier.

            Hence, we should assume that Syria has 4 Bastion-S systems with total of 72 launchers and 144 Yakhont missiles.

            The numbers of launchers and missiles are quite overwhelming. Even US Navy doesn’t have that many surface combatants.

            • marknesop says:

              “Even US Navy doesn’t have that many surface combatants.”

              That presupposes, though, that they would all hit, and the odds are overwhelmingly against that. Simple threat reduction suggests that for every four missiles fired against a ship, one will malfunction or fail to make a critical turn and miss, one will be successfully decoyed by countermeasures or shot down by a hardkill system, and whether one or two will hit depends on how modern the target is; it might actually get two, so figure one of four will hit. Old tactical publications used to publish notional counts of how many missiles it would take to sink one of each class of ship, and a baby carrier like KIEV would have taken about twelve based on both technologies (Russian and Allied) available at the time. That does not suggest the KIEV could absorb 12 missiles; they just didn’t expect almost half of them to hit.

              The USN has excellent countermeasures and good hardkill defensive weapons, and would make a tough opponent. But you are absoljutely right that a credible threat makes you careful, so there would be none of that dragging the coattails up and down the coast like there was off of Libya. And the further away you have to shoot from, the greater the warning the target has. I imagine any USN units in the area would be there primarily to protect the carrier. Air power would be the way to go against Syria, because Damascus is much too far inland for naval gunnery to beat it up, to say nothing of having to shoot over Lebanon, whereas Tripoli is right on the coast. And the slightest possibility of suffering major damage to the carrier or even losing it would argue the greatest caution. Often that’s all that is necessary, because when you’re made to be careful it often occurs to you that there is no need to be doing this at all.

              • SFReader says:

                I think one hit on carrier is quite enough to stop flight operations.

                But of course, hardly any US admiral would be so foolish to bring his carrier within range of Syrian Yakhonts.

                But this brings an interesting issue – how effective would be air campaign waged from, say, 500 km distance to Syrian coast?

                • marknesop says:

                  Well, that is exactly the effect it is designed to achieve; to make the enemy stand further offshore. Don’t forget, we’re talking about a pretty small body of water here, too, which further limits maneuvering room. The carrier hardly ever comes in close unless it’s doing a port visit anyway, to minimize risk, but you’re quite right that the further the planes have to fly to carry out their mission, the less time over the target, and – more importantly – the harder it is to maintain a constant combat air patrol. This makes ground-based fighters carry more of the load, although I’m sure Turkey would be proud to host them.

                  This was exactly the concern western navies had with China’s development of a carrier task group – it would make USN task groups stand further off and limit how close they could come to the Chinese mainland. In that case, probably about a 300-mile difference.

    • marknesop says:

      To say nothing of the hilarious connection that Russia – which we hear every day, day in and day out, is weak because it is too dependent on oil prices – has the ability to manipulate oil prices. How in the name of Jesus Johnnycake could a country go wrong by depending on the profitability of a commodity for which it was able to set its own price? A large part of what makes western narratives so disjointed is that they do not even bother to listen to what they are saying and examine their logic for obvious contradictions.

  37. kirill says:


    America is so full of shit it is not even funny. Painting a swastika on a synagogue fence is evidence of “rising anti-Semitism”? Really? How do you extrapolate a curve from a single point? We had desecrations of Jewish cemetaries in Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere in Canada. There was no US report on rising anti-Semitism in Canada. What fucking BS.

    And using the justified action against Islamic extremists in Russia as “evidence” of anti-Muslim repression takes the cake for the ultimate BS. Perhaps American shithead Russia haters should worry about Islamic extremists at home instead of trying to turn them into rebel saints in Russia like they do in Syria. Next time these fuckers blow up Americans in the name of their vision of Allah, the US should get zero sympathy from Russia. You lie with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

    • Misha says:


      Within Jewry, there’s a noticeable impression that Russia ranges from better to not as bad as some other Euro nations, when it comes to anti-Jewish manner.

      Reminded again of a Stephen Cohen MT article from a few years back, suggesting that Khodor’s Jewish background hindered him from becoming Russian prez.

      Among others, I know better, while believing S. Cohen’s remark to be along the lines of mainstreaming for the elites.

  38. yalensis says:

    More info on Merabishvili’s arrest:


    Merabishvili has been refused bail, and has been placed in 2-month detention, presumably pending his trial. He was transferred from Kutaisi to Tbilisi, and put into Prison #9, same one in which is now sitting Bacho Akhalaya, also a former Saakashvili henchman.
    Accusations against Merabishvili include corruption, exceeding his authority, and embezzlement of government funds. One of the accusations is that he took money from a fund supposedly to help the unemployed and actually used it to pay phony party activists for rallies and votes during the parliamentary elections that brought Ivanishvili’s party to power. Merabishvili is also accused of using government money to pay for refurbishing his Black Sea villa in the Adjarian town of Kvariati.
    Other charges may include the order to violently disperse anti-gov demonstrations, which led to loss of life on the part of the protesters.
    Also helping to cover up the murder of some guy named Sandro Girgvliani, in which his (Merabishvili’s) wife was involved.
    There is some speculation that this murder, which took place in 2006, is actually the key event that prosecutors are going after, and that the investigation will eventually lead back to Saakashvili. So, the other charges are just pressure on Mera to make a deal with prosecution and give up Saak.

    Saakashvili has appealed to EU to help his friends out, and EU has obligingly sent commissars to observe and make sure their pal Merabishvili gets a fair trial. Americans also grumbling and warning that the trial should not be “politicized”. Clearly, both EU and USA are unhappy about these new developments. So kudos to Ivanishvili for continuing to grow a pair! In fact, Ivanishvili issued a statement in which I detect more than a drop of irony:

    Еще раз приветствую особый интерес международного сообщества и Евросоюза. Уверен, что ваше внимание только поможет правительству Грузии вести процессы правильно в правовом отношении и справедливо», — сказано в заявлении грузинского премьера.

    “Once again, I welcome the particular interest shown by international community and the European Union. I am positive that your attention can only help the government of Gruzia to conduct these trials correctly, in the legal sense, and also with justice,” commented the Gruzian Prime Minister.

  39. yalensis says:

    More KirovLes backstory.
    Recall that Navalny’s trial is on hiatus for a week, while the defense attorneys attempt to convince Judge Blinov not to admit into evidence the wiretapped phone conversations and emails between Navalny and Ofitserov. Judge Blinov will mull over all this, and then the trial will resume, I believe, on Wednesday, May 29.

    Meanwhile, here is some interesting material that was published around a month ago, when the trial began in the Kirov courtroom. First up is an interview with Sergei Karnaukhov. Karnaukhov (I’ll call him K) was a former member of the Kirov governmental administration. He is basically the guy who initially put the finger on Navalny. Deeply suspicious of the newcomer to his provincial government, K alerted the local criminal authorities to Navalny’s actions. This is what led to the wiretaps and, eventually, 4 years later, the current trial.

    K writes in his blog how Opalev, the General Director of KirovLes, spoke to him (K) about the pressure that was being exerted upon him (Opalev) by Navalny, on the one side, and Votinov on the other. Both being “unpaid advisors” of Governor Belykh. Navalny is pressuring Opalev to hand over his lumber to the VLK company; while Votinov is pressuring him for bribes. Both men are threatening to have Opalev fired if he doesn’t comply with their demands. This man, Opalev, whose only desire in life is to keep his job, has to deal with not one, but TWO arrogant Khlestakovs, who are apparently double-teaming him. For example, Votinov requires a bribe to protect Opalev from Navalny’s demands. In desperation, Opalev turns to Karnaukhov. Karnaukhov complains to the Feds. Within two days a group of operatives arrives from Moscow in response to the plea. And thus the KirovLes case is off and running. (This is summer of 2009.)

    K claims that KirovLes was a profitable enterprise up until that point. KirovLes history goes all the way back to 1936, but was reorganized in 2007 as a kind of conglomeration of dozens of different kolhozy and leskhozy, altogether comprising a payroll of some 3000 employees. Entire families worked here, and the company was a major employer of the Kirov province. For many families in this rural backwater, there was simply no other source of employment. In addition to being a regional employer, KirovLes carried out important social functions: Their trucks cleared the roads of snow, they had cars which drove elderly people to the hospital, they were responsible for fighting fires. The same equipment which was used to fight forest fires was also used against house fires.

    K remarks ironically that the “creative minority” who attend Opposition meetings [in Moscow] is simply incapable of understanding life in the rural backwater, and the importance of a company like KirovLes to the local inhabitants.
    The ruin of this company he blames squarely on Navalny.
    In the year 2008 (the “crisis year”) KirovLes (which was a billion ruble company) pulled a profit of 36 million rubles, paid its taxes, invested 100 million in brand new equipment and hardware.
    And at this very time, when KirovLes was doing well and pulling a profit, that was precisely the time when Navalny and Votinov burst in to disrupt everything. In other words, these hyenas put their bead on the HEALTHY antelope, not the gimpy one.

    Opalev described the situation thus to K: “Try to imagine how a banker feels when thieves break into (his bank), threaten him with weapons, and demand that he hand over all the money….(..) I understand very well that Belykh’s team, especially Navalny, were trying to crush beneath themselves the entire forestry industry of the Kirov Province.”
    Reporting directly to Belykh, Opalev had very few good choices. He wanted to keep his job and also to save the jobs of his workers. Hence, he gave in to Navalny’s bullying and signed the contract with VLK. He broke the law, but this did not save him, or the enterprise. Within a year his worst fears had come to pass, as KirovLes was dissolved into bankruptcy, and thousands of workers were left unemployed.

    [to be continued with more info from Karnaukhov’s blog]

    • yalensis says:

      Correction to above: “Karnaukov alerted the local authorities” should read “Karnaukhov alerted the federal authorities”. One key point of Karnaukhov’s story is that he went outside his own chain of command and whistle-blew to the feds in Moscow.
      Another interesting point is that Karnaukhov does not figure in the witness list for the current trial, he is telling his own story on his own blog and in interviews, but not in the courtroom as a prosecution witness, and I wonder why??

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. Karnaukhov’s account is that KirovLes was a basically healthy company that was targeted by Belykh and his team of raiders…. (Karnaukhov doesn’t say in so many words, but the general theory developing is that the end goal was to privatize KirovLes, using Ofitserov’s VLK as the instrument for centralization, legalization, privatization. Then sell the entity to a lumber oligarch in Perm, with Belykh’s team of raiders pocketing a healthy finder’s fee in the process.)

      Whereas Navalny’s version of what happened is something like this, and is parroted by the gullible hamsters on his blog:

      I arrived in Kirov on my white horse to “save” KirovLes by increasing sales and finding new customers. I found this desperately thrashing company that was sinking into bankruptcy, under the corrupt mismanagement of Opalev, Bura and the pug-nosed Bastrygina, all three of them crooks and thieves. I tried to save the company by introducing the modern capitalist methods of my colleage Ofitserov. But there was too much resistance to our benevolent intervention, on the part of those same crooks and thieves, mired in their world of nepotism and corruption.

      • marknesop says:

        …..and just when I was getting things nicely off the ground, along came the Grand Crook And Thief, Putin, who personally had me arrested because he knew what an easy step it is from rural timber baron to President of the Russian Federation. Just a day or two before my trial began, somebody reminded me that I would be unlikely to win as a presidential candidate without a party, so I announced that I was starting a political party. I forget the name of it now, and please don’t ask me any questions on how it’s doing (no fear there, because the western press studiously avoids any questions which might embarrass the de facto Leader Of The Opposition).

      • kirill says:

        Navalny, the Randroid crook, out to screw the Russian taxpayer out of assets. For some reason the bydlo don’t like, I wonder why. Belykh needs to be in the dock next.

        • yalensis says:

          The Randroids don’t like to see the government running enterprises, employing people, or providing services. They believe that is some kind of heresy. Recall that in their emails Navalny/Ofitserov had a private code word for KirovLes: They called it “Mordor”. To them, a government enterprise was the essence of evill, and they wanted to see it closed down and looted of its assets. Remember this gem:

          Navalny: Well, 30 million per month is the payroll there.
          Ofitserov: Well, in that case, they’re going to need to (make people redundant) at a faster pace before the New Year.
          Navalny: Yeah, something like that.
          Ofitserov: They’ll need to fire at least 1000 people, under any scenario, just in the course of October.

          They talk so casually about sacking1000 people, each one of whom has a family to feed!

          • kirill says:

            Real democrats these clowns. To think that promising jobs to the voters was at one stage considered a mainstay of democratic politics. These days your duty as voter-serf is to please your corporate overlords who own your politicians.

          • marknesop says:

            Part of the reason Navalny is so beloved of the west – remember him making the list of Time’s 100 Most Influential People 2012?

            Here’s the gushing bio that accompanied his entry, written by none other than Garry Kasparov; see if you recognize him.

            In repressive regimes like that of Vladimir Putin, there is a constant struggle between the dictatorship and those who oppose it to restrict — or liberate — vital information. Alexei Navalny is at the vanguard of these “data dissidents.” He built a network to reveal the corruption of the Putin regime, relentlessly documenting the kleptocracy case by case, with popular outrage as the result.

            Navalny’s rise to prominence in the Russian opposition movement was no accident. He has worked hard for many years as an organizer and activist. Apart from his persistence, courage and skill, Navalny, 35, possesses the more subtle requirements for leadership in the modern age. His personal charisma is complemented by a sardonic sense of humor that is ideal for puncturing the propaganda of the gray and humorless Kremlin. His knack for phrasing has branded Putin’s United Russia as the “Party of Crooks and Thieves” for all time.

            Navalny has mastered the blogging and social networks that the opposition depends on since we are banned from the mainstream media. Our not-so-secret weapon is the rapidly rising number of Russians on the Internet. There were an estimated 3 million in 2000 when Putin took power and 35 million in 2008 when his second term ended, and today there are more than 60 million, or 44% of the population. Navalny’s growing audience of truth seekers is largely but not entirely young, and he has given a voice to millions of Russians whose calls for fair elections refute the Western pundits who often declare our people unsuited for democracy.

            Remember, the guy who “…built a network to reveal the corruption of the Putin regime, relentlessly documenting the kleptocracy case by case, with popular outrage as the result” is the same guy who types with one finger, thinks GMail is an unbreakable encryption, and more than half the people in his own country have never heard of despite a blizzard of hype from the west. The guy who “possesses the more subtle requirements for leadership in the modern age” and has “a sardonic sense of humor that is ideal for puncturing the propaganda of the gray and humorless Kremlin”, not to mention his “knack for phrasing”, cannot get through a 30-second phone call without calling someone a cunt, using the word “fuck” like 7-year-olds use sugar on cereal and threatening to fire people who have done nothing but interrupt his grandiose planning. Today there are more than 60 million Russian Internet users, but Navalny cannot pull more than 150,000 onto the streets in his own city, and was appointed to the clueless Bolotnaya Politburo by a vote that encompassed not more than 80,000 online voters, of which he got the most votes but by no means all of them, and his current trial on embezzlement charges sees more cops, lawyers and press in the room than spectators.

            But the west can’t get enough of him, because he’s one of them – one with the “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs” types for whom the ends justify the means, and if the little guy gets hurt, tough titty.

  40. yalensis says:

    On KirovLes:
    More Karnaukhov. On his blog, K has been laying out his version of the KirovLes events. General notes: K is a good writer, his version of events is compelling and authoritative. As a blog debater, he is weaker. He doesn’t know how to deal with trolls, and just responds something like, “Well, believe whatever you like.” Comments to his post range from pro-Navalny hamsters with their usual, типа, “How much is Putin paying you to discredit our messiah?” to the other side of the spectrum, people who think that K is WAY too easy on Belykh. It seems pretty obvious to everyone that, whatever Navalny and Votinov were up to, then Governor Belykh was in it as well, up to his ears. But K refuses to say a bad word about Belykh and continued to insist that the latter was simply misinformed and received bad advice from his “unpaid advisors”. [Well, I suppose you get the advice that you paid for…]

    Anyhow, repetition of the following facts about KirovLes: In the year 2008, KirovLes employed over 3000 souls. It turned a profit of 36 million rubles. It paid taxes into the government budget to the tune of 450 million rubles. Average salary/wage of employees was more than 10,000 rubles per month.
    KirovLes profitability was precisely what attracted Navalny, according to Karnaukh. [He refuses to utter the words that this also attracted Governor Belykh.]
    It was under these conditions that Navalny suddenly appeared and began to demand of Opalev that he sign the contract with VLK. If he refused to sign, then he would be fired.
    From Door #2 comes Votinov, another member of Belykh’s team. He demands a monthly bribe from Opalev (to be paid out of KirovLes budget); in return for this protection money, he will save Opalev from Navalny.
    Opalev felt a sense of doom. He knew that Navalny’s ideas would lead to KirovLes bankruptcy. [Recall Bastrygina’s testimony on the stand: Learning about the contract with VLK, she walked into Opalev’s office and demanded of him: “Why did you just sign your own death warrant?”]
    The contract with VLK doomed KirovLes, which now became the object of Ofitserov’s skimming operation. Ofitserov took 7-9% of KirovLes sales without adding any value, beyond “moving air around”, according to Opalev.
    This was the point when Opalev, in desperation, turned to Karnaukhov for help. Next Opalev dissolved the contract between KirovLes and VLK. Shortly after this, he was summoned to a meeting with Belykh, Navalny, and Ofitserov; and was summarily sacked. That was September 2009. KirovLes was then handed over for a 2-month period to man named Petr Petrovich Tyshlek. A man whom Navalny brought in, and whom Karnaukhov calls a “crook”. Under Tyshlek KirovLes descended into bankruptcy.
    [Recall that in the tapped phone calls, Navalny orders Ofitserov to prepare a “cottage” for Tyshlek. Some kind of code word, obviously. And at the same time, this is the part that doesn’t make any sense, he orders Ofitserov to drive Tyshlek out of his own office!]
    Karnaukhov concludes his piece by stating that KirovLes worked great under Opalev, and that Navalny’s machinations ruined a profitable enterprise and harmed the province as a whole by depriving it of a successful enterprise and employer.

  41. Misha says:

    Touching on the theme of better US-Russian relations:


  42. Moscow Exile says:

    “Vladimir Putin’s goal is to destroy Russian civil society” spouts Alekseeva in today’s Grauniad “Comment Is Not So Free”.

    Interestingly, the majority of comments lambaste the old bat, and so far not one accusation that her CiF critics are in the pay of the FSB.

    Also interestingly, no one so far has pointed out that the silly old woman is a US citizen.

    • marknesop says:

      Practically a mirror of terminally-embittered Vladimir Ryzhkov’s “Operation Total Eradication Of NGO’s” for the Moscow-on-the Potomac Times yesterday.

    • yalensis says:

      Ooh, love your new avatar, Exile! Noble miner?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I should let you know, sir, that not only was I a noble miner for many years, but also a veritable Stakhanovite amongst my colleagues. Indeed, if I had toiled in a Soviet mine, I surely would have received the award “ЗА ТРУДОВУЮ ДОБЛЕСТЬ СССР”.

        In any case, I got sick of seeing that Ukrainian bourgeois school ma’am all the time.


          • Moscow Exile says:

            Off topic, for sure, but you may like to see this clip in which there can be seen many of the pits and places where I was brought up and worked in the North West of England.

            Many of the photographs that appear in the clip I had sought out and provided to a community website that made this clip, which I only found by chance whilst browsing the web last year. Right at the end you can catch a glimpse of a photograph taken of someone in the 1980s before he left his native shores for exile in deepest Muscovy…

  43. Moscow Exile says:

    Interpol once gain rejects aiding Russian efforts to apprehend an alleged criminal. RIAN reports that the international police agency has knocked back a Russian request that Browder be placed on an international wanted list.

    So in prettty rapid succession Interpol has rejected Russian requests to help apprehend Borodin (now happily ensconced in Londongrad), Jabba the Georgian (now flopped out on a sofa somewhere in Tbilisi) and Browder (now cashing his shekels in the money-laundering capital of the world: the City, London, UK.

    “Three strikes and you’re out!” I think you chaps across the pond say.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      And in the meanwhile, at the USA’s request (or should that be “on Imperial command”?) Australia obligingly bundles off an associate of Victor Bout to the Great Republic.

      Well that’s fair dinkum of them, I should say!


      • marknesop says:

        Said associate alleged to have helped Bout purchase two aircraft to be used for arms trafficking. He certainly was an inquisitive chap, wasn’t he? What do you plan to use these here planes for, Guv? Why, I mean to traffic arms with them, Chickie, old chap. I can just imagine that conversation. Is it now a requirement for every vendor to establish if the vehicle being sold will be used for any sort of illegal activity? Not ever going to drink and drive in this new car, are you? Because you know if you do, I’m liable, right?

    • kirill says:

      In game theory, so I am led to believe, the most effective way not to lose and shut down your opponent is to use tit for tat. Next time Interpol wants something from Russia it should get the middle finger.

    • marknesop says:

      But when somebody from that area of the world commits a crime in the United States, you better believe they are quick to ask why they weren’t informed, and to suggest they might have intercepted the criminal if only they were given more information. But it has become clear that the west does not really regard financial crime committed by Successful Businessmen as real crime at all, and tends not to notice it until it becomes impossible for them not to notice. So we can expect them to continue shielding Browder at least until he loses the defamation action in which he is implicated. Then there is a small chance he may become the white crow in the flock.

  44. yalensis says:

    And once more on KirovLes: I saw this gem which is basically a copy of this gem, but in easier-to-read font. The piece starts off quoting Navalny’s self-serving version of events and how it all went down at KirovLes (Navalny wrote this back in December 2010 when very few people knew anything about this obscure case):


    In brief, here is the part of the story that is personally known to me:
    Once upon a time, in Kirov Province, there was, and is, a government enterprise called KirovLes. Practically a monopolist in the area of managing forestry resources.
    Despite its privileged position, the company found itself, and finds itself, in a highly pitifil position: colossal debts, delay in paying salaries, etc.
    The director of this enterprise was this hellish crook named Opalev.
    He was trying to organize some completely bizarre schemes to sell lumber, through 36 different filials, and nobody had the slightest clue where, what, and for how much, the lumber was being sold.
    I tried to sell this crook on the idea of centralization and transparency of marketing. He would sometimes agree with me, and sometimes push back.
    In the end I was able to get him fired, and I was able to get a decision made to conduct a full audit of the company, by one of the Big Four, so that there would be no doubts about the authenticity of the audits. We even issued an RFP and decided on an auditor.
    At the same time this was going on, VTB (V’atka Trade Bank) unleashed against me the first party of its crooked cops, and next thing you know they had Opalev and he was singing like a canary…
    Later, to my astonishment, Opalev was returned to his job, and the audit was never done.
    This made a huge impression on me, I recall, and was the main reason why I decided to “better my life in other arenas”, and I left Kirov.


    As we know now, Navalny’s version is pretty much all lies, down to the smallest details.

    As for Navalny’s leaving Kirov, we now know the real story from Deputy Governor Sergei Karnaukhov’s account.

    “When all the (investigative) materials were ready, a group of operatives arrived in Kirov to interrogate Navalny, with the perspective of further, shall we say, procedural actions (against him). That was before his departure for the USA [to go to Yale University]. At that time, Lesha was able to simply avoid contact with them (the operatives). It wasn’t like it was a chase in hot pursuit, it was all done very correctly: Men had arrived to question him, and Aleksei learned somehow that some kind of men with handcuffs were waiting for him in his office, and he simply left the building and drove off to Moscow.”

    And we all know what happened next: Navalny fled to Moscow, then to America, spent a semester at Yale University learning how to make colour revolutions, returned to Moscow, became an “anti-corruption blogger”, and the rest is history.

    • kirill says:

      Clearly this scumbag was tipped off by his roof, Belykh. I would say that by now it is Belykh who should be the prime target for removal and prosecution. There is no telling what sort of corrupt infiltration he organized elsewhere. Creating problems for the “center” in the regions would be top of the agenda for the colour revolution organizers.

      • yalensis says:

        Belykh is like Al Capone, the guy is so slippery they can never actually nail him on anything! They tried to get him on the Urzhumsky Distillery caper, but even that fell through. This “krysha” has his own “krysha” somewhere. Probably Medvedev, I am guessing.

  45. Moscow Exile says:

    Get ready for a wave of howling criticism from the west! Moscow homosexuals have been holding unsanctioned events in Moscow today and getting duly arrested for their efforts, as reported by RIAN.

    The other day they closed the recently opened so called Hyde Park venue near Krymsky Most (The Crimea Bridge) because a high voltage cable is being laid there. The homosexuals say it is all a ruse of the city authorities to prevent them meeting there – Muscovites, as is their wont, have already made a play on the Russian pronunciation of “Hyde Park” (approx. “guide park”), transforming it into “Gay Park”.

    Fact is, though, that the oppressed Muscovite “bydlo” are not flocking in droves to these newly opened “Speakers’ Corners” in order to enjoy the freedom of expression which they are so cruelly denied by the Evil One and his Orcish cohorts, so nobody gives a bugger if the Krymsky Most “Hyde Park” is closed, except for the homosexuals, that is.

    No pun intended!


  46. marknesop says:

    Hmmmm…interesting. Abdelhakim Belhaj – leader of the Free Syrian Army by any other name, as well as al Qaeda in Libya – is known to have a suit against the British intelligence services as well as Jack Straw and the head of MI6, for rendering him and his wife to one of Gaddafi’s prisons. It now transpires that his complaint may be one of the first heard in Britain’s new “secret courts” (is this the same country that is always shouting about the rule of law and transparency in Russia? What does Transparency International have to say about it?)

    Even more interesting is the admission by Sir Mark Allen, head of MI6, that his agency provided the intelligence to Gaddafi’s Counterterrorism Chief which led to Belhaj’s capture, which was discovered by Human Rights Watch in a file in Tripoli following Gaddafi’s overthrow. An admission that doubtless would not be forthcoming were it not impossible now to deny. Also interesting is the eagerness of the defendants (Straw, MI6) to settle with Belhaj, which not only implies the charges are accurate, but must mark one of the first occasions in which the British intelligence services are motivated to give taxpayer money to the leader of a known terrorist organization in order to avoid a public lawsuit which will be dodged – if it goes ahead – by being heard in a secret court closed to the public and to journalists. Out of which, I imagine, will emerge a verdict somewhat like “We didn’t do nuffink!”

    it should go without saying that Belhaj is the de facto leader of the “Syrian rebels” – who are mostly neither rebels, nor Syrian – upon whom the west has pinned its hopes for the overthrow of democratically-elected Bashar al-Assad. Just a useful guy to have around, apparently, although if I had been responsible for his capture and subsequent torture, I’d be a little uneasy about having him for an ally.

    • astabada says:

      I would be more careful about Belhaj’s role in Syria. This is not to negate *any* role: he has been in Turkey, and certainly took part in some anti-Syrian activities (as adviser to the very minimum). But referring to him as the leader of the rebels is a bit too much.
      Given the lack of coordination on the field between the different rebel factions, and assuming (as has been proved) that they don’t lack communication equipment and intelligence (thanks to their western supporters), it seems natural to assume that the armed rebels are more a collection of war bands than a unified army.

      However more recently he is reaping the “grapes of freedom” in Libya. He took part in a commercial delegation in Sicily, where he acted as mediator between Italian and Libyan interests. In Libya he has several economic activities (I can’t remember exactly which kind). He is head of a political party as well as an armed militia. All this comes from an Italian journalist, who in his article asked (rhetorically) why was this guy traveling under false identity in Italy.

      Unfortunately, although I clearly remember reading this article from the website of “L’Espresso”, at present the search function of the same website is unable to retrieve it.

      • marknesop says:

        My information on Belhaj comes from Thierry Meyssan, of Voltairenet. I have found his reporting reliable in the past, and much of it is based on eyewitness accounts, although a lot of the drivel pushed in the mainstream media is said to come from eyewitness accounts as well (except that their eyewitnesses are all activists), so perhaps that is meaningless. But much of Meyssan’s reporting originates from Syria, rather than from New York or Washington or London, so unless he serves an agenda of smearing Belhaj (doubtful, I think), he likely at least believes what he says is true. I agree the Free Syrian Army is not a clearly-delineated military structure with a logical chain of command, but I believe it is to Belhaj that the people in it look for their inspiration, orders and whatever they receive in compensation for their services. He was briefly detained in Tripoli airport, and that much looks pretty solid. There is also mention that he was traveling under a false passport, although I suppose that would not be too unusual. The information that he was carrying a large amount of cash and that it was destined for the rebels in Syria is considerably shakier; it’s just someone’s blog, and some of the supporting information came from a Facebook page which appears to be in Arabic, which I cannot read.

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