If You Liked It, Then You Shoulda Put a Ring On It – The Russia/Ukraine/EU Love Triangle

Uncle Volodya says, "The love letter you finally got the courage to send will be delayed in the post long enough for you to make a fool of yourself in person. "

Uncle Volodya says, “The love letter you finally got the courage to send will be delayed in the post long enough for you to make a fool of yourself in person. “

I need no permission, did I mention
Don’t pay him any attention
‘Cause you had your turn, and now you gonna learn
What it really feels like to miss me

‘Cause if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it

The good times, smoke-threaded, it’s-11:30-and-the-club-is-jumpin’ wakeup call from Beyonce Knowles is the perfect lead-in to what I’d like to talk about today: the lengthy courtship spat between Russia, Ukraine and the EU is about to end, and it’s make-your-mind-up time. The EU is offering an association agreement, provided Ukraine meets certain requirements and jumps through certain hoops – one of which is freeing Yulia Tymoshenko, although both national and international analysts are divided on how serious they are about it and whether they will sign the agreement even if Ukraine refuses to do it – while Russia is offering membership in the customs union and in what it hopes will eventually become a muscular Eurasian Union. Ukraine is in the position of maiden to whom two energetic suitors are paying courtship, and Yanukovich plainly relishes both the drama and his own role in it. But which path will Ukraine choose?

It’s plain those in the west who fancy themselves new-world-order mechanics, or at least the conservatives in the USA, believe it’s a done deal and that Ukraine will sign on to EU Association. The usual malicious glee is evident in this exultant victory boogie, as is liberal use of all the popular reasons Russia cannot succeed at anything it tries; neglect of human rights, selective justice and omnivorous corruption (thanks, Mike). It should be fairly evident that whether or not Ukraine does join the EU makes no difference at all to the United States; America simply wants to see Russia’s plans fall apart, for the enjoyment it gets from it. Oh, and for the diplomatic thrills of one-upmanship in its proxy war with the Kremlin. Remember that next time an article vibrating with angst is written on how uncooperative Moscow is with American objectives, and how Russia is always the spoiler.

Well, how do Ukrainians feel about it? As of this summer, support for joining the EU was said to be up. According to the authors, support for EU association is at a healthy 59%. However, to get that percentage they incorporated all the groups that said yes, but. The largest group (37%) says yes, within the next 5 years. The next-largest (12%) says yes, in the next 5-10 years. Next, 7% say yes, in 10-20 years. The last “yes” group (3%) says yes, but not before 20 years. That’s against 24% that say absolutely not.

I need hardly point out that 10 years is an eternity in politics. If you add those who said yes, but not before 10 years and beyond to the “No” vote, it would almost equal the vote of the most enthusiastic “yes” group. And 17% are undecided. For something which will have such far-reaching effects on the country’s future, an arguably shaky just-over-half support is hardly indicative of the kind of commitment that promises to throw the weight of the electorate behind the leader. In fact, it suggests such a decision will be divisive. However, it should be remembered that going with the customs union and Russia would be divisive as well, and either way, the president is going to have some soothing to do. Because a largish group is going to be disappointed no matter which way it goes – and if that group is largish enough, the president might not be around long enough to smooth things over; a wise politician would look askance at that 17% undecided.

I think the EU Association agreement is a bad idea, myself, and I’ll tell you why as we go along, but I’m not Ukrainian and don’t live there, so that’s for Ukrainians to decide. But before we leave the survey, let’s look at what else it tells us. One, the survey group is relatively small; 1000 people, drawn from cities with more than 50,000 people and from the 18 to 65 age group. Two, after they just got finished telling us support was up, they point out that two years ago it was at 74%. Considering how the questions are phrased it is a bit of a shell game, and we don’t know if that 74% included all the people who said sure, but later, okay? But what I’d like you to do as we go through this is try to see it as if you were Yanukovich – because he’s weighing not only which would be the best road for Ukraine, but which choice is most likely to keep him in power, and the latter may well mean more to him than the former.

Therefore, Yanukovich is quite likely to see this rise in support as a possible blip or anomaly, since it was nearly 20% higher two years ago. But let’s look now at why Ukrainians who want to join the EU want to join the EU. What’s the biggest reason? Because it will strengthen the economy – a whopping 42% of the “yes” vote, over only 14% who said yes because it would strengthen democratic values. Clearly, from all the potential benefits which matter to Ukrainians, the respondents chose economic benefit by a wide margin.

Now, scroll down a little, to where respondents were asked about their attitudes as Ukrainians to a sample of other countries. What??? Only 10% said relations with the EU were “friendly”, and 24% said “cooperative”. To the same question regarding Russia, twice as many (20%) said “friendly”, while significantly more (34%) said “cooperative”. Remember, you’re Yanukovich. Obviously, even many of those who favour joining the EU believe it will be possible to continue a friendly and cooperative relationship with Russia afterward. Interesting.

Anyway, the greatest part by far of Ukrainians who are eager for the EU Association agreement to be signed feel that way because they believe it will result in economic benefits for Ukraine. Will it?

I’m having a hard time seeing how. According to Euronews, more than 60% of Ukraine’s trade is with “the former Soviet market”, with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan the most important. Would Europe pick up an extra 60% of Ukraine’s exports to ensure they did not experience a loss, if Russia shut its doors? I would have to say I doubt it. So does The Kyiv Post, in this article for European Dialogue; it suggests Russia has the advantage despite Mykola Azarov’s insistence that Ukraine will sign the EU Association Agreement, and points out that “many of Ukraine’s main exports – particularly in heavy industry such as steel and chemicals – would suffer as a result of the more competitive and higher quality EU goods.” Almost 35% of Ukraine’s GDP comes from the industrial sector, and another 9.3% is agricultural exports, which are heavily subsidized in Europe to protect local markets.

Interestingly, the Kyiv Post article also suggests Ukraine is looking to sell part interest in struggling NaftoGaz, and is not interested in a Russian offer to merge NaftoGaz and Gazprom. Ukraine would rather see a consortium of Russia, Ukraine and the EU, with the EU footing half the bill for Ukraine’s modernization of the delivery system. I don’t know under what pink sky Azarov thinks that will ever happen, but the Kyiv Post goes quickly to the point that Ukraine is just a transit point and Russia owns the gas, which it could shut off any time it likes. I’m curious why that does not seem to have occurred to Azarov, or what would happen to Ukraine if Moscow elected to shut down its end of the pipelines and expedite delivery through Belarus instead. I note an earlier dispute between Russia and Belarus resulted in Russia taking control of Belarus’s pipeline, so Moscow already has the conduit it needs. I also note Lukashenko did the same dance with Russia as Ukraine is doing now, playing off Moscow against the west, and that the deal fell apart when the west insisted Lukashenko release political prisoners. It remains to be seen if either Ukraine or the west learned anything from that.

It would seem not, because Lithuania currently holds the presidency of the EU, and Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite has continued to insist that failure by Yanukovich to release Yulia Tymoshenk will be a deal-breaker. Consequently, some analysts believe Yanukovich is just buying time and using the possibility of an agreement with the EU in an attempt to wring concessions from Moscow.

I have maintained for some time that what Ukraine needs is jobs. Ukraine’s GDP growth is falling and is currently in negative territory, inflation has slipped into deflation and its foreign exchange reserves – never large – are sliding. Its trade balance, already in deficit, has more than doubled its exposure and its current account deficit is four times the national average. Although Yanukovich is plainly trying – both exports and imports are up slightly, and the country seems to have gotten its external debt load under control at least for the moment, after an alarming climb – Ukraine is demonstrably a country in trouble. And if young Ukrainians are thinking the EU is extending a lifeline which promises good, high-paying jobs for the exodus of skilled workers out of the country, they should think again. Many of the EU countries have unemployment rates at least as high as Ukraine’s, and some are far higher. Not all the EU countries are enthusiastic about taking on a large, poor country whose population would expect to be immediately brought up to EU standards, and nobody has any money for big loans except Germany, which is not only sick to death of bailing out the entire EU, but is one of the countries most opposed to taking on Ukraine in an association agreement. The UK, the most disproportionately vocal EU member, is labouring under the yoke of a grinding austerity budget.

RFE/RL had a very amusing article – a pictographic presentation, actually – on the subject, demonstrating in pictures for the slow-to-grasp-complex-issues what juicy wonderfulness awaited them in the new lotus-land of EU Association. New, easy doing-business practices with increased benefits for the small businessman. A cooperative relationship in which Ukraine’s opinion will be solicited and weighed, instead of its current authoritarian model, in which Yanukovich simply bellows orders. The welcome mat of absolute trust will be out. A police force will protect the people instead of extorting and ripping them off. No more VIP status for the wealthy; I had to chuckle a little at that one, as the wealthy are treated with a special deference everywhere else in the EU and in fact the world, and I’m sure wealthy Ukrainians are not overly worried by it. More rights for women, and greater female representation in decision-making bodies. Minority rights will improve. Ukrainians will live longer. Pensions will get bigger, so that when Ukrainians get old they can retire instead of working until they die. Better health care, less pollution, more green, more sports clubs so Ukrainians will get off their lazy asses and get fitter, and the rule of law that Ukrainians can trust.

None of this is entirely new to us; we’ve discussed Ukraine’s situation before. But the time to make a decision is upon her in just a little more than a month, and Yanukovich is playing an increasingly dangerous game by continuing – either through words or actions – to encourage both camps. This risks an explosion of unrest once the decision is announced. Moreover, the most recent discussion on the subject here birthed an interesting recommendation – Russia should abandon its efforts, and just let Ukraine go. Plainly, the economic benefits touted would have to come from somewhere, and although there is a lot of information flying around – some of it patently foolish, such as Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s crackpot assertion Ukraine could face a 40% drop in GDP if it joins the Customs Union (when Ukraine’s exports to the EU total 12% of its GDP), all sides agree more than a quarter of Ukraine’s exports go to Russia. Ukraine’s export market last year accounted for $71.5 Billion of an overall GDP of $180 Billion. That’s a little less than half of GDP, so I make it about $18 Billion Ukraine would lose if Russia slammed the door shut as it has threatened to do. Could the EU offset the loss? I suppose they could, but would they? Why? It’d be as likely as not to happen again next year and the year after that. Ukraine does not sell Russia anything that Russia cannot make or grow for itself. By way of contrast, Russia ships gas Ukraine doesn’t have through Ukraine by pipelines which could easily be rerouted to cut Ukraine out of the picture.

Moreover, as the same commenter who posited that Russia should let Ukraine go ahead and learn a bitter lesson pointed out, Turkey and Egypt have EU Association agreements. Has that happy state of affairs wiped out corruption in those countries? Ha, ha; no. Although GDP in Egypt was up by about $20 Billion, GDP per capita rose only slightly, the balance of trade was in deficit, exports fell sharply and unemployment rose. Corruption in Turkey appears to have diminished little despite lots of government rhetoric, and critics point out that anti-corruption raids are targeted only at businesses controlled by opposition figures, although the economy has done very well.

I’m still not sure how I feel about it – on the one hand, Yanukovich’s prima-donna dithering is annoying, but on the other, it would be a pity if Ukrainians suffered because he made the wrong choice, and some appear bound to both suffer and to believe he made the wrong choice no matter which path he chooses. I suppose we might even spare a moment of pity for him, because he faces an election in 2015, and I for one am confident that if he lets Tymoshenko out of prison, her back problems will clear up as if by magic and she will be getting together a political effort against him – politics is all she seems to know how to do. And despite the EU’s certain knowledge that Tymoshenko is to fiscal policy what a javelin is to needlepoint embroidery, I believe most of its leaders would be delighted with a Tymoshenko presidency, because she knows how to talk that liberal reform bullshit they love so well. Nobody really cares about results.

Both choices are fraught with risk, and Ukraine is going to be expensive to fix regardless who pays for it. All things considered, Russia has more to lose, especially if the EU experience did not prove as bitter as it looks like it would be, since western interests would seize on the strategic advantage. But what if the EU spends a fortune on trying to whip Ukraine into shape, and fails? They’re out a big investment with nothing to show for it, a big investment the EU can’t afford.

All parties would be wise to heed the gospel of St. Jerome, and let the scars of others teach them caution.

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1,065 Responses to If You Liked It, Then You Shoulda Put a Ring On It – The Russia/Ukraine/EU Love Triangle

  1. Misha says:

    Related to a recent discussion at this thread:



    On the subject of WW II:


    Excerpt –

    “In a country where the liberating role of the Soviet army in World War II has long been a key plank of state doctrine, few knew about Pechersky, a Russian officer of Jewish origin, who roused his fellow prisoners to rebellion.
    Not only was he never decorated for his role in the revolt which saw half of some 600 prisoners break free, he was persecuted during the Stalin-era anti-Semitic campaign.

    ‘Apparently, the totalitarian regime was not interested in this heroic act,’ head of the Kremlin’s rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, told AFP.

    After Stalin’s death in 1953, Pechersky’s name remained tainted and “no one wanted to take upon himself the risk of calling attention to him,’ added historian Yury Dombrovsky.

    On Monday, a ceremony at a memorial synagogue in western Moscow will commemorate the anniversary of the uprising in the presence of representatives of the Kremlin and defense ministry.

    The tribute comes as Putin seeks to imbue a sense of pride upon Russians about their past in a bid to rally support.

    To help raise awareness about the revolt, state television will on Tuesday broadcast a new documentary about the rebellion.”


    I suspect the author of the above piece wouldn’t characterize Israel as a country where “World War II has long been a key plank of state doctrine.”


    Re: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/united-russias-klein-voted-mayor-of-tomsk/487800.html

    Klein is described as a German-Russian:


    Upon a quick glance, nothing is noted about him having a Jewish background. At varying points in history, German Jews were among the more assimilated in Europe.

    On the surname Klein, which suggests non-Jewish instances:



    More Lithuanian posturing:


    • marknesop says:

      Good point about the kid-gloves treatment where Israel is concerned versus the coverage of Russia and the Russian government being wrong whatever it does.

      On Lithuania, the Lithuanian government – which is not as popular with its electorate as it would have you believe – is deliberately casting this as a battle between the EU and Russia, rather than a local disagreement. I don’t see much EU backing for this attitude.

      • Jen says:

        Came across a story about Lithuanians fighting NATO soldiers stationed in the town of Siauliai in 2005. Ten NATO soldiers set upon three Lithuanian men. Guess who won?

        “Why did you assault them yourselves?” a police officer asks the ten NATO soldiers.
        “We thought that there were only two of them and then a third one appeared,” was the reply.

        A Global Research article not only notes the Lithuania-versus-NATO incident in which Lithuania won 10-zero but also that local ladies of the night impose a two-tier pricing policy in which NATO soldiers pay over three times as much as locals do for the women’s services.

        Seems that NATO soldiers are as badly disciplined as they are bullies and cowards: they not only run away from people they pick on but they spend their free time gambling:

        One reason that the Lithuanian government isn’t popular with its own people is that it keeps on sending Lithuanian soldiers abroad to fight America’s wars in the Middle East and other places (and allows the US to hire mercenaries for despatch to Syria apparently) while at home unemployment is high, the standard of living is low and the population is decreasing.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I saw this picture of the USA’s finest in an article about the latest SEALS foray in Africa.

          Call me a cynic if you will, but I don’t think the stalwart heroes pictured in the link above look all that fit.

          Now I’m sure there are plenty of SEALS who are unbelievably fit, but that picture appeared here and in other Western publications and was, I am sure, in no way meant to take the piss.

          • marknesop says:

            The military promotes a culture of fitness, but has had to recognize like every other agency that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes, and as long as the tubby guy in the back could pass the initial SEAL course (which is far from easy) and his annual fitness tests which have clear standards for success, he’s good to go. When I joined. you had to be able to run a mile and a half in 12 minutes or less, and that was the annual test; no pushups, none of that stuff, although they laid into pushups pretty heavily during basic training, mostly as payment for largely-imaginary offenses. Gradually the test evolved, and the modern one is a combination of strength and endurance supposedly modeled on real-life situations, which mostly involves the lifting and dragging of sandbag loads. The requirements – all of which conform to a time standard except the last one, in which the only restriction is you cannot stop until it is complete – are here. This test, too, sounds a lot easier than it is. But the PSP staff demonstrated it for days on end before it went into effect, and some of them are girls who probably don’t weigh more than 100 pounds, and they could do it. Lighter people have trouble with the last one, but the secret is to put everything you have into breaking away the load from rest to get it moving and then just never stopping; you have to drag it about 10 meters or so.

      • Misha says:

        I’m quite familiar with the Israelist play book. I’ve used their way of seeing things to underscore contructively critical pro-Russian points of view. I’ve a soft spot for the Jewish state, that excludes being soft with neocon-neolib Israelists, harboring anti-Russian views – something that applies to others as well.

        On English language PR and media matters, the Russian government could and should be doing much better.


  2. kirill says:

    Interesting information about Pechersky. So Putler the Stalinist is enabling the rehabilitation and commemoration of this Jew to increase the national pride of “Russians”. Meanwhile the west backs filth like Navalny.

  3. Moscow Exile says:

    Malware warning!

    Having just arrived home from work, I was about open Moscow Times to catch up on Mark’s present altercation with Kimmie (he had her tied in knots last time I looked) when I got a malware warning off Google Chrome.

    It seems those slimy toads at Moscow’s only daily English language arsewipe are after infecting computers with their sneaky programs.

    Or is it just Google being oversensitive?

    • marknesop says:

      As far as I can make out, it’s confined to the Opinion page; I did not get a malware warning from this news page regarding the U.S. biological facility in Georgia, which it seems Russia is not going to simply forget about.

      Perhaps It’s just a Safari thing, too; I was not able to get to The Moscow Times this morning using my crappy old PC laptop (it has battery problems, and as I’m sure I mentioned many times, it crashes without warning), so I am using my folks’ new state-of-the art Mac, and the warning popped up on that right away when I went to any article on the Opinion page – not the page itself, which is odd, but any article on that page. I backed out of it and selected “News” and then the linked article – no problem. I was on the Moscow Times Opinion site last night and did not get a warning (using my old PC laptop).

      Yep. I tried going to a known article on the Opinion page from outside, by name of the article, and got the same warning. But back to the News page – no problem, as witnessed by this salivating letter to Putin from gay American athlete Richard Alther. Alther apparently won four gold medals and a silver medal at the Chicago Gay Games. Can I just say one more time that the absolute wrong path to gays being assimilated into society as just an invisible component of that society is giving them their own events which celebrate their homosexuality above any other quality about their being? As regular Richard Alther rather than Gay Richard Alther, he competed in the U.S. Masters Swimming Championships.

      Maybe Kimmie infected the Opinion page herself because she’s tired of getting such a shellacking.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Nah, the above link to MT causes the warning pop-up to appear. I get that pop-up no matter which way I try to enter that rag.

        • kirill says:

          It could be an ad site linked via the page. So the warning would not appear on all continents and in all countries.

        • marknesop says:

          Huh. I’m back on my cranky old PC, which has grudgingly decided to work for the moment, and no warning. That’s using Firefox, mind. It could just be Google. However, when I was still on the Mac, I went to the site suggested by the warning and it was quite specific about the domains hosting the malware.

      • yalensis says:

        Alther sounds like he is coming on to Putin.

        • marknesop says:

          Gee….you think?

          Perhaps he sees himself sacrificing to save the entire Russian gay community by personally becoming Putin’s trinket. Or then again, he could just be a regular gay guy who is making his misguided pitch for Putin to ease up on gays, under the misconception – stoked by full-of-themselves bigga stars like Jay Leno – that Putin has outlawed homosexuality.

          I hope Putin does not respond, even with his characteristic politeness when he is speaking internationally, or the Moscow Timers will bray “Putin involved in gay affair with American swimmer”.

          • yalensis says:

            LOL I think this swimmer read the book of “Esther” in the Bible and wants to copycat. Like, how Esther, a Jewess, married the Persian King, gave him a good shag, and convinced him that Jews were not so bad. However, Alther is deluding himself if he thinks he will become Putin’s arm-candy for the good of the gay cause. Now, if he was a WRESTLER, that might be a different story…

            • Jen says:

              Alther might have more chance of curling himself around Putin’s arm if he were a rhythmic gymnast like Alina Kabayeva or a synchronised swimming competitor.

            • marknesop says:

              I don’t see much chance of that happening regardless his sport of choice, because Alther competed in the Gay Games in the 65-69 age category and is a little long in the tooth to be appraised as arm-candy for anyone, although he is undeniably a handsome man for his years. I have to say he would make interesting company, though; he is an English major, a writer and a painter as well as a national-level swimmer; I’m kind of starting to admire him.

              If I were arranging the course of world events, like God or something, I have to say it would be sorely tempting to arrange for Putin to send a gracious letter back and to invite Alther for a meeting, and after that to be seen with him in social settings once in awhile – nothing overt, but obvious that the two had struck up a friendship. It would be worth it to watch the journalists struggling with their overpowering desire to scream “PUTIN IS A FAG!!!!” after all the gentle rainbow-hued blather they have been spreading about how wonderful and valuable gay people are. And, like I said, it looks as if both Putin and Alther could benefit – he genuinely seems an interesting guy.

    • Misha says:

      Regarding TMT, I got that message upon clicking into the article saying that the construction for the Sochi stadium is behind schedule.

  4. marknesop says:

    Perhaps I should not be surprised, but the British courts have stuck with their adopted native son, Bill Browder, and thrown out Karpov’s libel suit as “an abuse of the court process”. Seeming to deliberately misunderstand the whole purpose of the libel suit, Mr. Justice Peregrine Simon claimed to see a “degree of artificiality” in Karpov’s “trying to protect his reputation in Britain”, and pointed out that the action would not likely have gotten his name removed from the Magnitsky List. Nice one, Peregrine, at a single clever stroke legitimizing the Magnitsky List as an instrument of international law, and pretending that removal of his name from it was Karpov’s purpose when in fact it was punishing Browder for having libelled him without proof.

    How much did that one set you back, Bill?

    • kirill says:

      The whole western propaganda campaign against Russia is doomed to fail because of such absurd instances of abuse of power and judiciary. Back during the USSR era the propaganda had traction in the USSR. Today, the western propaganda is a total, self-discrediting joke (from the Russian perspective, which is the one that counts).

      • Dear Mark,

        This is a classic example of how Judgments that involve Russia are misreported by the media.

        What Mr. Justice Simon actually said was that Browder and the Hermitage companies “have not come close” to providing sufficient evidence to support their “unjustified” allegations that Karpov was involved in the torture and murder of Magnitsky. Mr. Justice Simon went on to say that if the claim had been allowed to proceed those parts of the defence that related to these claims would have had to be struck out as unsustainable. In other words Karpov at least on these points would have won and would have obtained Judgment.

        In other words a British High Court Judge has upheld Karpov’s reputation in respect of what were arguably the most serious allegations against him and has said that the allegations of murder and torture made about Karpov by Browder and Hermitage were “unjustified” and “unsustainable”. A British High Court Judge has looked at a key allegation Browder has made against one of the persons involved in the Magnitsky case and has said that there simply isn’t the evidence to support it. To my mind this is the first serious dent a western court has inflicted on Browder’s story.

        The case was struck out because Karpov made the mistake of admitting that he did not actually have a reputation to defend in Britain prior to bringing the case and that his true purpose in bringing the case was to get his name removed from the Magnitsky list. Mr. Justice Simon felt that this was not a proper reason for bringing a case of this sort in Britain. Here we see once again the malign effect of the Magnitsky Act with a British High Court Judge unwilling to challenge head on a decision of the US Congress and therefore refusing jurisdiction in a case where the Judge has himself said that the Claimant has been libelled and would be entitled to Judgment on the most serious allegation made against him.

        What the British case has not of course done is look into the allegations of corruption Browder/Magnitsky and Karpov have made against each other. There is of course now a Russian Judgment by a Russian Court about that. I suspect that in due course that Judgment will find its way to the ECHR where hopefully we will finally get an authoritative Judgment about this affair.

        PS: Mark, apologies for not commenting for a while. I had my family over and they are hard work.

        • kirill says:

          Thank you for clearing that up. So there is some integrity in this judgement instead of cheesy anti-Russian BS.

          The western media has become a complete disgrace. There should be professional certification for journalists as there is for engineers and doctors. Their role is not merely publishing “Weekly World News” fantasy drivel but informing the public (and decision makers) about things of vital importance.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            That’s just the point! They don’t inform because the dolts don’t want to read and study: they just feed on the sound-bites that the journalists give them.

            I remember how many years ago, when I was about 14 years of age, I discovered the micro-tome library in my home town and I became fascinated reading old newspapers archived there. And by “old” I include those printed in the 1940s and early ’50s. They were a wealth of information. The most noticeable thing for me, though, was the length of the articles and the depth of their analysis. But I should imagine all this stopped with the advent of instant visual news on TV.

            I must add that I first saw a TV programme in the mid-50s. Before that, news was only broadcast on the old wireless, also in depth after the headlines, and during Pathé newsreels between the “A” and “B” films. In fact, I remember that there were even news cinemas in Liverpool and Manchester where you just sat and watched the newsreels.

            But now “newspapers” are just full of opinionated shit, spin and downright propaganda: basically, what journalists tell their readers is that which their readers want to hear in order that their already preconditioned ideas be reinforced.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              That should be “microfiche” not “microtome”, the latter being a machine for cutting thin slices of tissue or whatever for an electron microscope. A microfiche is photographic film printed with miniscule data that can be wound through a microfiche viewer. I think they are obsolete now, microfiche data having mostly by now been digitalized and stored electronically. I last used microfiche stored data in the state archives here more than 15 years ago.

              • Misha says:

                In the US, late 1980s use, among the Fortune 500 and colleges, as well as some others

              • Jen says:

                Some public libraries here in Sydney still retain microfiche readers for genealogy studies. A lot of material relating to shipping lists of arrivals during the 19th century and parish registers of births, deaths and marriages were put on microfiche during the 1980s. It is now too expensive to burn a lot of that information onto disc as there’s a risk of the information (the original images sometimes not too clear) blurring, melting or being wiped out. I also once visited a company site whose main business was scanning material; one of its clients was an insurance company that had stacks of drawers filled with microfiche of old insurance policies. The company decided that it wasn’t worth the expense converting old material that was rarely used from microfiche to disc but for some reason the policy numbers and details had to be kept.

              • marknesop says:

                I knew what you meant; once upon a time, every library had them and the local and national newspapers for decades back were saved on them; not electronic files, but actual photographs of each page of the paper. What a monumental task that must have been. I only used a microfiche a couple of times; the zoomy effect of pages blurring past tended to give me a headache like watching the jiggly camera in “The Blair Witch Project”.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Dear Alexander Mercouris,

          Good to hear from you again: I was getting worried.

          So your folks have been over to Misty Albion? I trust the hard work you mention involving having them as your guests included their livening up of that gloomy damp island by their dancing of the sirtaki!


        • marknesop says:

          Thanks for that, Alex; it puts things in an entirely different light. I simply reported the Moscow Times story, which did not include any links to the actual judgment. With good reason, obviously. But it lovingly reports Browder’s strutting and referring to this as a “precedent-setting case” which is a blow to “libel tourism” and referring to Karpov as a “dubious foreign chancer”. So once again the Moscow Times has seized the narrative in the English-speaking world, and all the rest will just cue off that and report it as a big victory for Browder, justice and the British Way.

          I did not realize it was an objective of Karpov’s to get his name removed from the Magnitsky List, and thought his only objective was to force a confession from Browder that his accusations had no substantiation beyond his extremely inventive imagination. In my opinion, Karpov was a fool to name removal from the Magnitsky list as a goal, because that could not have been achieved without American concurrence which would never be forthcoming.

          It’s good to see you back!

          P.S. As I thought, the western media are just repeating the Moscow Times story, with Mr. Browder’s mouthpiece site “Russian Untouchables” swaggering and boasting of having scored a huge landmark win. Nobody who reads English will ever know the difference.

          I put it up on The Russia Debate as well – could I trouble you to cross-post your comment there? I could do it, but then it would originate with me and not you. Have you a link to the transcript of the judgement? I’d like to use it at The Moscow Times.

          • Dear Mark,

            The full text of the Judgment has not yet been published I suspect because it has been sent to the rival teams of lawyers for checking as is usual. When it is fully approved and published I will provide a link. In the meantime the best I can do is provide a link to a website that provides a summary of the Judgment. This summary has to come with a health warning since it openly admits that its source is Karpov. As it happens it is a press release that was prepared by Karpov’s legal team.


            As you will appreciate there are rival spin operations underway and all the other accounts of the Judgment we are reading including the one in Moscow Times will be coming from Browder and his team. In a publicity battle of this sort Browder obviously has a big advantage. However I suspect that as the full implications of the Judgment sink in some of the enthusiasm for Browder may start to dim. We’ll see.

            For the rest I agree that Karpov made a serious mistake in linking his case to the Magnitsky law. As it happens I understand he said contradictory things about his motivations for bringing the case and this must have harmed him. I don’t know whether he pointed out the existence of the very substantial Russian community here in Britain and the harm his reputation has suffered amongst them. If he didn’t then he made a serious mistake. It will be an expensive mistake as well because one consequence of the Judgment is that he will have to pay Browder’s legal costs. I have heard that the cost of the proceedings to date is a truly incredible £2 million. Well he’s only a policeman after all. If Karpov has any wealthy backing from the Russian authorities we will presumably now find out. Otherwise Browder will have to recover his costs against Karpov. Given that as far as I know all of Karpov’s assets are in Russia that might not be easy.

            Incidentally since this is a first instance Judgment of a High Court Judge Karpov could in theory appeal to the Court of Appeal. He has until 28th October 2013 to do it. I doubt he will though there may be grounds to.

            • cartman says:

              £2 million???

              So Britain’s “fair and reasonable” legal system is only available to those with that kind of money? There needs to be a limit to how much of the legal costs the loser is forced to pay.

            • cartman says:

              If Karpov has a wealthy benefactor (either an oligarch or the Russian government itself) they probably will not need to pay for this. I do hope Browder eats this cost since the problem is that he is essentially using money to bully people.

          • peter says:

            Have you a link to the transcript of the judgement?

            Karpov v Browder & Ors [2013] EWHC 3071 (QB) (14 October 2013)

            • Moscow Exile says:

              One of the several claims made by the defendants and noted in the above linked Karpov v Browder judgement runs as follows:

              “Instead of supporting Sergei Magnitsky and recognising him as a hero, the government allowed interior ministry officers, Kuznetsov, Karpov … to arrest, torture and kill him.”

              This is but one of the claims about which Mr. Justice Simon has said Browder and the Hermitage companies “have not come close” to providing sufficient evidence to support in their “unjustified” allegations that Karpov was involved in the torture and murder of Magnitsky.

              Yet the mass media in the West presents the British judgement as a “victory” for Browder & Co.

              So it seems that one can go around in the UK telling all and sundry that so-and-so is a torturer and killer so long as the so-and-so in question is a sub-human Russian?

            • marknesop says:

              Thanks very much, Peter.

              • Dear Peter,

                You have brilliantly pre empted me. Please note that this is not the final fully approved version of this Judgment. That will probably appear in about a week’s time. However any changes will be slight.

                The Judgment actually goes beyond what I said incidentally on the basis of information provided by Karpov’s lawyers. Mr. Justice Simon expressly says that his Judgment provides and is intended to provide a measure of vindication to Karpov. The Judgment also appears to cast doubt on the allegation of Karpov’s involvement in the supposed tax fraud though I would need to see the Statements of Case to be sure of this. Note also the Judge’s comments about the “vigorous campaign” the Defendants (ie. Browder) have been pursuing and about the Magnitsky law with both Karpov and the Judge admitting that the US authorities would simply disregard whatever final Judgment a British Court made concerning the allegations against Karpov. In the light of the Judge’s comments about the case the implicit criticism involved in these comments is clear enough.

                As I said before, this Judgment should be seen as only a Pyrrhic victory for Karpov. He has achieved a measure of vindication (the Judge was obviously sorry for him) but because his claim has been struck out he is liable to pay Browder’s costs. Either Karpov or his guarantor (whoever that is) now face a hefty bill.

  5. marknesop says:

    Here’s a fun one – next time somebody tries to tell you (like Catherine Fitzpatrick did here a little while ago) that the U.S. domestic security services did not catch the Tsarnaev brothers in time to stop them from blowing up the Boston Marathon because other police agencies (the FSB, in that case) played things too close to the vest and gave the USA only enigmatic warnings that they could not decode in time, show them this.

    Michael Stanley, an American citizen who was living in Edmonton, Alberta, is a known sex offender who is wanted on a multi-province warrant for removing his tracking device (suspected to have been executed using some construction equipment) and as a result of previous convictions for forcible confinement. He is under a restraining order which is supposed to keep him away from playgrounds, so that would seem to suggest he is a pedophile (I am not directly familiar with the case). The response from the U.S. Marshalls’ service is that they will not arrest him because he has committed no crime in the United States, and “we don’t monitor our people like that”.

    So information that the Tsarnaev brothers had been involved with radical fundamentalist elements in Dagestan could reasonably have been expected to be greeted with “So fucking whut? He hasn’t committed no crimes in the Yew Ess of Aye, and we don’t monitor our people like that. There’s sich a thing here as freedom, y’know”.

    Yeah, here’s some more on it. He served a jail term for assault and forcible confinement, which the video broadcast said was special-needs boys.

    • kirill says:

      A case of blowback from America’s rabid anti-world propaganda. Baddies live abroad and want to take American freedumbs away. So there is not constructive engagement with the rest of the planet and even close allies like Canada. America is outdoing the “Central Kingdom” arrogance syndrome by orders of magnitude. But pride comes before the fall. Or Hubris is accompanied by Nemesis.

  6. marknesop says:

    And predictably – according to Navalny himself – Navalny lost his appeal in the Yves Rocher case, so that legal action will presumably proceed. Navalny’s lawyer, Olga Mikhaylova, says there is “no proof” that Navalny was involved in the crime, which is a funny thing to call the proceedings considering Navalny – again predictably – calls the charges “politically motivated”, which kind of suggests there was not a crime at all. And it’s a funny argument to make considering the trucking company was founded by Alexey Navalny. Busy little entrepreneur, wasn’t he? The KirovLes affair was only a year after that.

    Speaking of the KirovLes matter, it comes up on Wednesday.

    • yalensis says:

      Speaking of Navalny, here he is milking the Birulevo pogroms for political capital. Recall that a big chunk of Navalny’s base are “nationalists”, which include a spectrum going all the way to white supremacists and neo-nazis.

      So, Navalny is, like, Oh, Birulevo was bad, dark-skinned criminals are murdering our Russian lads. Therefore, I have this online petition to institute a visa regime with countries of Central Asia and parts of the Caucacuses.

      In particular, Navalny’s proposal would affect the following countries: Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrghizia, Turkmenia, Armenia and Azerbaidjan. Navalny and his American handlers believe they have found a popular issue to milk. Navalny says he has the support of 84% of Russians on this issue.

      One of the commenters on Navalny’s blog pointed out that 4 million ethnic Russians/Slavs live in Kazakhstan. Setting up a visa regime with Kazakhstan would separate these people from their relatives.

      In general, I was surprised at the number of negative comments on Navalny’s blogpost. In particular, many people were upset at the idea of a visa regime with Kazakhstan.
      Kazakhstan and Russia are very much intertwined, intermarried, and most Kazakhs speak Russian as a second language.

      Is it possible that Ambassador McFaul simply did not understand this issue when he sat down to pen Navalny’s petition?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        They haven’t a f**cking clue! Especially that tw*t McFaul.

        Any Russian will tell you who the enemy are, and its not the Tatars, the Bashkirs, the Khazaks and a host of other Eastern folk who follow the Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him); the defining factor is not Islam or skin pigmentation, it is geographical location: it is elements within Dagestan and Chechnya. And I say “elements”, not all of them,of course.

        It is the bandits of Chechnya and Dagestan and their “bandit culture” that is at fault together with Wahabi indoctrination.

        As I’ve said many a-time before, my neighbourhood is swarming with Tadzhiks now. There is not a janitor here (“dvorniki” – yard sweepers) who is not a Tadzhik. I see them every evening in our local supermarket buying bread and other basics in bulk. They must live in their dozens in rooms round here and sleep in the same beds in shifts, for they work day and night. And they have their own womenfolk and children with them. I even seen some of the women sweepers working early morning with little kids in tow.

        The other day when I was in my kitchen, I heard a voice saying in a Caucasian accent: “Money! Give me money!” I looked out of the window down onto the footpath that runs by my house (I live on the third floor) and beheld 5 or 6 North Caucasians accosting 4 Tadzhiks and slapping them around whilst making their demand for money. The Caucasians were about 17 or 18 years of age, the Tadzhiks looked a couple of years younger – but Tadzhiks, in my opinion, are generally smaller than Dagestanis or Chechens or whatever. They’re still strong little buggers though. Anyway, the Tadzhiks were not fighting back – with good reason: for if you lay a finger on these North Caucausian types, they take revenge through the families and for generations.

        Anyway, in the end a middle-aged Russian came by and told the Caucasians to leave off, and, much to my surprise, they skulked away.

        That’s how things are with these tw*ts!

        • yalensis says:

          Yup. That’s exactly the situation. Even many Navalnyites are scratching their heads and questioning, “Why is our Messiah picking on Kazakhs and Armenians, when everybody knows the real problem is the Chechens and Dagestanis?” (Who are Russian citizens?)

          The root problem is basically a police problem. And the police are not stepping up to the plate. Lots of Caucasians (not all criminals) swarm into Moscow and dominate the vegetable markets and so on. The criminal element, which forms a small but predictable percentage of this population, do bad things. Police are bribed to look the other way.

          The solution: better police and better policing! (The best way to deal with criminals.)

          Instead, the Messiah has launched forth this far-flung plan to institute visa regimes with Eurasia, even build giant walls and fortresses to keep the hordes out. It is a cock-eyed plan that could have been written (and probably was written) by Hillary Clinton. (Remember her threat to put a stop to this Eurasian integration nonsense?)

          This plan is Navalny’s first real foray into geo-politics. Up till now, the Americans have been keeping their Precious fairly low-key, focusing on corruption and domestic politics. I guess they feel it is time now to unleash him as a geo-political strategist and national leader. ’cause, see, he is planning to run for Prez in 2018, so he needs to have a vision for Russia… and his vision is to cut Russia off from all of Eurasia. ’cause some Chechen thug killed a Slavic boy…

          • marknesop says:

            Feel like writing an article on how to successfully integrate the Caucasus? It seems like it would be a very interesting subject, and one that is not going to go away any time soon, because Russia cannot afford for it to become an Islamist Emirate; the western-backed terrorism forays would be non-stop. Or maybe Jen would like to tackle it – what do you say, Jen? Ready to make your writing debut? I think you have excellent problem-solving skills, are a skilled researcher, and you frequently make startling intuitive leaps. If you’re interested, just say Yes. Or maybe you would like to collaborate. What do you think?

            • Jen says:

              Thanks for the offer, that’s very nice praise!

              Probably better if I collaborate as I don’t know much about Dagestan or Chechnya and every time I look up something about those regions’ problems , they’re nearly always connected to extremist Wahabi Saudi or Salafist-funded extremist Islamic sects of US / CIA informants.

              • marknesop says:

                As soon as yalensis sends me his new email address I will put the two of you in touch. He is still showing up as the old one, which he says does not work any more.

                • yalensis says:

                  Not sure I can opine intelligently about the Caucasian problem. Except I am pretty sure the solutions involve more police enforcement, more government regulations (like on hiring illegal immigrants), more urban planning, more economic development, and less capitalistic greed.
                  I am pretty sure the solution does not involve building a wall along the Kazakh border, which is what the Navalnyites are proposing. (As if Kazakhstan ever did anything wrong.). And even if visas WERE in the mix, I automatically reject anything that Navalny has to offier, because I know that his motives are impure. His desire is to bust up the Customs Union and Eurasian integration, because they are a threat to American dreams of hegemony in Central Asia.
                  That’s pretty much my piece. But I would be happy to collaborate with Jen, if she has some better analysis than that!

                • marknesop says:

                  Is your present email address still active, the one that appears with your name, or did you change it? If you did, please send me an email so I have your new address. My old one is inactive now, so please send your message to the hotmail address I provided earlier. You don’t have to be an authority on the present state of the Caucasus, because you are proposing a solution to the way it is now, which is clearly not working. Russia provides a fat subsidy to the Caucasus as it is, yet still migrants are streaming into the Russian capital looking for work – what’s going on with the money they were given? Why can’t Kadyrov generate employment? Is it time for a change of leadership? We are told only Kadyrov’s ferocity keeps the Chechens in check. But Moscow is obviously not geting much for its money – why not? There’s plenty of open-source information available, not only on the Caucasus but on successful reintegrations elsewhere. Obviously not all the same circumstances applied, but would a similar solution work here? Think, Norstad – reason.

                • yalensis says:

                  In America Caucasians complain about the Negro problem.
                  In Russia, Negroes complain about the Caucasian problem.
                  What a country!

            • Misha says:

              Re: On “how to successfully integrate the Caucasus?”

              Constructive funding to improve that part of Russia, along with an understanding/tolerance in Russia’s wealthier areas. There appears to be no other viable way.

              Easier said than done. Notwithstanding, the Caucasus shouldn’t IMO be written off as a lost cause.

              • marknesop says:

                I agree it should not be written off, and in fact it cannot for strategic reasons, something of which its would-be leaders are only too aware. However, as I mentioned earlier, the Caucasus already gets a pretty substantial subsidy from Moscow, and simply increasing funding would be a non-starter.

                • Misha says:

                  Chechnya in particular has been targetted for considerable funding. In recent times, other parts of the Caucasus have been more violent.

                  As I indicated, money alone doesn’t solve things. It has to be money well spent. The likes of Larry King and George Friedman can only do so much.

                • astabada says:

                  A similar situation is the standard in Southern Italy since republican times. However, rain-like funding works only to increase corruption, and to suppress the developement of the recipient region.

                  Like heroin, is difficult to withdraw this bonanza once the people (and their local exploiters) are hooked to it.

                  What the Government should do is withdraw part of the funding and allocate it to a different assignment strategy. Ideas that could work are development banks, constrained studentship (i.e. the successful recipient must carry out some activities in the relevant region, e.g. seminars, research, business, charity), infrastructure, public enterprises.

                  Another relevant consideration for the developement of a region is the economic landscape that surrounds it. If the region borders other depressed regions, and/or is outside of any trade route, it might be impossible to succeed. In Southern Italy the result of investments was the construction of so called “Cathedrals in the desert”, large and modern industrial complexes surrounded by Virgilian landscapes, and thus cut out of any possible route to competitiveness (materials have to come from faraway, and end products are sold faraway).
                  In addition, it is difficult to convince qualified personnel to move to work in a depressed region, especially if there is a perception of danger (in Italy it was organized crime).

                  Therefore when working to develop a region, one must not forget what surrounds it.

                  Hope this helps, it’s just a (foreign) informed opinion.


        • Misha says:

          For RFE/RL fans, it’s more desired to portray the situation as evil Russians against everyone else – akin to the US based Captive Nations Committee influenced Captive Nations Week crap, which is more anti-Russian than the Russian Article 6.13.1 law is anti-gay. Concerning the latter, the same can be arguably said of the Magnitsky Act.

          Multiple sources confirm what has transpired in northwestern Russia, concerning some folks of Caucasus background. Several years agao, there was a news item about this issue in a Karelian town.

          I was informed of a Soviet era Moscow hotel, known to be run by shady elements of Caucasus background.

  7. It seems a laboratory has now supposedly confirmed the presence of polonium traces on Yasser Arafat’s underwear, strengthening suspicions that he was murdered by polonium poisoning.

    I find this all very strange. First of all I had understood that polonium traces disappeared and could not be detected after such a length of time. Putting that aside and assuming this is all true I simply don’t know what to make of this information other than that it points to Arafat being murdered. Does it have any bearing on the Litvinenko case? Is polonium more widely used as a murder weapon than was previously thought or is the use of polonium in London and Palestine just a coincidence? If it is not a coincidence what is the connection?

    • kirill says:

      Well, Israel and Mossad would be the connection.


      Polonium has long-lived isotopes. Unless the “poison” was pure 210 there would be some trace of one of the isotopes like 209 still present. Production of Polonium in reactors will not be isotope-free.

      There is no doubt Litvinenko was exposed to Polonium. But Putin is not the guy with the motive to do it. Litvinenko was an indirect asset who was a world class embarrassment to his handlers. Removing Litvinenko was killing two birds with one stone: getting rid of a liability and smearing Russia in the process.

    • Jen says:

      Dear Alex: According to a report Litvinenko’s father Valter gave to New Scotland Yard, Alexander Litvinenko was killed by polonium 210 which, according to the Wikipedia article that Kirill linked to, has a half-life of 138.379 days. What that means is that after 138 days, half the polonium in Litvinenko’s body has gone, leaving elements it has broken down into. Of the rest, another half goes in 138 days. Of what remains after just over 276 days, half of that goes in 138 days. So the polonium in a sense never completely disappears but whether it can be found in the body of Arafat who died in 2004 (the testing was done in 2012) is another thing.

      The Swiss laboratory that did the analysis on Arafat’s personal items and other things he used most likely found the products that polonium 210 (because this is what Arafat would have been poisoned with, if Al Jazeera’s report of the Lancet journal is credible) broke down into. I’m not sure if the lab actually worked with body samples. There are now laboratories in France and Russia testing samples taken from Arafat’s grave to detect polonium and its by-products (like lead).

      What complicates the issue too is that polonium 210 is present in cigarette smoke and some food products; if it’s present in soil, plants take it up in their roots. I have no idea if Arafat smoked during his life and if he was still smoking cigarettes at the time of his death.

    • marknesop says:

      I read a long time ago that the Palestinians believed Arafat had been poisoned somehow, only they believed it had been done by the Americans. Who knows? But murder by radiation poisoning need not be connected just because there is more than one case. I also remember some British source or other (probably the notorious Grauniad) claiming the polonium used to kill Litvinenko had been traced to a research facility in Russia. Of course. The British doctors had no clue that the substance which presumably killed Litvinenko was polonium at all until they were more or less taken by the nose and steered onto it, but suddenly they are such polonium experts that they can trace it to its origin.

  8. yalensis says:

    More on the Navalny internet voting initiative to institute visa regimes with Казахстана, Киргизии, Таджикистана, Узбекистана, Армении, Азербайджана и Туркмении [Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaidjan and Turmenistan), in order to keep out migrants.

    Navalny’s initiative has sparked dissension within the Opps movement, and even within Navalny’s own political party, the so-called “Peoples Alliance”.

    Yesterday, a former Navalny supporter, Sasha Plushchev shot back at Navalny and his hamsters , mocking the idea of a visa regime. Navalny’s campaign manager Volkov chimed in on Twitter , but I can’t really understand from his cryptic comment which side he is on: “It’s, like, if a Chechen murdered a Russian, then we need to put 1488 Vietnamese in a concentration camp, launch another legal matter against Navalny and give Ramzan [Kadyrov] a medal.” [?]

    To which Plushchev replied, “Well, it seems to me that Navalny has started to operate by that same kind of logic.”

    Another leader (and moneybags) of Navalny’s party, Ashurkov, tweeted his disagreement with the notion of a visa regime with Kazakhstan and Armenia.

    That seems to be a popular sentiment, even among the Opps: “Give a pass to Armenia/Kazakhstan, and then I will vote for your proposed visa regime.”

    Would Navalny be willing to compromise by removing Armenia/Kazakhstan from his list?
    Dubious. Apparently the American government was completely bitch-slapped a couple of months back, when Armenia indicated her intention to join Customs Union with Russia. Armenia must be punished!

    • yalensis says:

      And speaking of bitch-slapped:
      Apparently Navalny himself was stung by Plushchev’s rebuke. Navalny reprinted a satirical version of Plushchev’s anti-hamster arguments, and then proceeded to “debunk” them, but not very competently. Not having good arguments of his own, Navalny simply resorted to rhetoric.
      Corrupt police, hopeless corrupt judificial system of Russia, everything hopeless until Putler Botoxovich thrown out of Kremlin and real change comes, yada yada yada…

      Navalny then holds up the American system as the model. (For Navalny, America is the model for everything.) He challenges Plushchev to walk into the American consulate and attempt to get a visa-free travel permit to America. Plushchev will surely get beaten up and thrown out by the security guards, and this is how civilized countries operate.

      Or, in order to travel to America, he will have to offer his DNA and fingerprints, and fill out a questionnaire, answering questions like, “Did you participate in genocide?” and “Are you a member of Al Qaeda?”

      [yalensis: this part is actually true, when I went to New York I was asked if I intended to participate in armed rebellion against the American government. I said no.]

      • JLo says:

        Americans are rather prone to bitching about the process required to get a Russian visa, including the cost and ridiculous questions like, “name every country you have been to to within the last ten years with dates”. I explain that Russia operates on the basis of reciprocity and the visa application is an exact analogue of the one the US requires Russians to fill out. It doesn’t get through, though, because they generally think that because they are Americans they shouldn’t be subject to such onerous requirements. You know, just because.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          My three born and bred in Russia children, who have never lived anywhere else but the Evil Empire, need no visa to enter the USA as visitors. That’s because they have British passports. They’d probably turn me back at my point of entry into the Land of the Free, though.

        • R.C. says:

          I’m in the process of acquiring a Russian Visa. It’s $180 US dollars to get one. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be using as a reference to get one, but I’m just going to tell them that I’m simply going there to vacation. I’ve never ventured far outside of the US and have never been to the Eurasian continent.

          • marknesop says:

            As mentioned at that site, you have to have an invitation from a tourist agency in Russia from the region you intend to visit. This is a service they supply for a fee and they will forward you a letter of invitation and your hotel voucher – most are affiliated with a hotel and will arrange your stay at that hotel. When I went there regularly you had to register your passport and visa within 3 days of your arrival; your hotel takes care of that as well. A tourist visa is good for 30 days including your travel, meaning that you must not stay longer than 30 days on Russian soil; you have to be outbound on the 30th day after your arrival, or sooner.

            Mistakes I made – telling immigration at the airport that I was there to visit my fiancee (which she was then, we got married during that visit but at the time of immigration asking me the purpose of my visit we were not married): you cannot use a tourist visa for that purpose. To visit people you know already in Russia they want you to get a Homestay Visa (which is for when you are not staying in a hotel), and that is more difficult to get and takes longer. Just say “tourism”, because that’s what your visa will be for. Also, I typically did not stay in a hotel, although I always paid for the minimum one night, which you have to. My wife arranged for apartments on short-term rent while I was there, but if you are on a tourist visa you are supposed to stay in a hotel. Even if you don’t, you can still get a hotel to stamp your visa as if you had stayed there, if you know somebody. Once I didn’t bother and of course that was the time they checked and made a big fuss about it, and I had to pay a fine of about $50.00 for not adhering to the terms of the tourist visa. But you will not likely make any such mistakes because you will stay in a hotel and register your documents properly. I envy you, I love Russia and look forward to my own next visit. Where are you planning to go?

          • yalensis says:

            You should try to go to Sochi for Olympics.

            • yalensis says:

              P.S. you can book thru travel agency, they will get you a hotel, and then you won’t have to worry about anything, since your touristy purpose will be clear.
              Oh, I long for to live in a world where people can travel wherever they want without visas or borders or bureaucracy! Maybe someday in the year 3000.

              • R.C. says:

                I’m going to Moscow.

                I’m already too late for Sochi. It would be quite expensive at this stage to book a hotel and get good tickets.

                This is where I will be staying:


                I will book everything as soon as I receive my US passport (hopefully by the end of next month). I’ll just get the tourist visa and will attempt to e-mail or contact the Hotel directly before I make my reservations on Priceline to see if they can square that away for me. Since it is a five-star hotel in Red Square, I’m hoping it won’t be a problem. I plan to be there May 3-11, 2014, so I will be there for the Mayday celebrations. I have a choice of catching Air France – which will give me a one day layover in Paris before heading to Moscow, or I can just take Aeroflot straight from Los Angeles to Moscow (I’m choosing the later as the French layover would carve time out of my stay in Russia). I can visit UK/Paris later in the summer or fall. I know one thing — the direct Aeroflot flight is LONG (12 hours).

                Thanks for the VISA info. I’m feeling a lot better about all of this now.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  There’s no 5-star hotel on Red Square – unless you consider Lenin’s last resting place to fall into that category!


                  There’s the new Hotel Moskva, which is adjacent to Red Square on Manezhnaya Square, a 2-minute walk away from Red Squar. and which is a complete rebuild of the old Stalin Hotel Moskva that was demolished a few years ago.

                  It’s the hotel that is pictured on this
                  popular Russian tipple.

                  And here as well. Note: they are not LGBT!


                • R.C. says:

                  Sorry, I meant “near” Red Square.

                  And the National is rated a five-star hotel.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  The National is, again, just across the road from Red Square and the Hotel Moskva. It’s located at the bottom of Tverskaya Street and adjacent to the State Duma building on Okhotny Ryad. It is a pre-1917 revolution hotel that was built in the French decorative style and run by the French, I believe, before those annoying Bolsheviks began to run the show here.

                  It had a massive overhaul in the ’90s to return it to its pre-revolutionary glory. It’s certainly 5-star and has a swank restaurant called Maxim’s.

                  Now I have a confession to make: I once legged it without paying my bill from that Alexandrovsky bar featured in the clip above. I tried to pay, but the barman was too busy chatting up this cute waitress. I caught his eye on a couple of occasions, but he was more interested in the devushka. I put my hat and coat on, waved to him and so on: no response. So off I went.

                  When you go back home from here, mind you don’t forget to tell all the folks back home what a dump Russia is! Otherwise everyone will be wanting to come over here and cramping my style!


                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Rats! Too narrow! Should’ve thought about that. I’ll post the clip again at the bottom of this thread.

                • yalensis says:

                  Have a great trip, R.C.! I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time.

      • yalensis says:

        OMG!!!! I never knew of it. Is that what Volkov was talking about when he referred to the 1488 Vietnamese?
        Thanks for decoding, SFReader. I love it when riddles are solved.

  9. yalensis says:


    Reminds me of that old joke about the Irish immigrant who arrived in U.S. during potato famine and Irish rebellion. He was asked at Ellis Island: “Do you intend to overthrow the United States government by conspiracy or violence?”

    Irish guy pondered this for a few seconds, and then guessed at the correct answer: “Violence? …”

    • SFReader says:

      I had to answer that I am NOT a former Nazi war criminal even though everybody could see that I was born many decades after WWII has ended….

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Reminds me of those college application forms where you fill in boxes labelled “name”, “age” and “sex”.

      In the last box, some wags couldn’t resist writing “Yes please!”

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    Welcome to the Casbah!

    Moscow – now!

    You want to see it when they start slitting the rams’ throats outside the mosques!

    • Jen says:

      @ ME: I just found out that large street gathering in Moscow where police cordoned off the streets, forcing other pedestrians to take longer trips, was the celebration of Eid al-Adha (Russian: Курбан-байрам), which commemorates the end of the pilgrimage season. This is the season when Muslims embark on the hajj to Mecca if they have the means to do so. Traditionally this was done towards the end of your life when you had fixed up all your affairs and parcelled everything out to the children and grandchildren but these days a lot of Muslims treat it like going on holiday.

      An important part of the festival is to sacrifice an animal and divide its meat among immediate family, then extended family and friends, and finally to charity. This commemorates Abraham’s obedience to God who commanded him to sacrifice his son. At the last moment, God did a last-minute swap with a ram. In the Muslim version of the story, Abraham is commanded to sacrifice his first-born, Ishmael, whereas in the Jewish version, Abraham has to kill Isaac.

      Only happens once a year although because the Islamic calendar is based on a year of 12 lunar months instead of 12 solar months, Eid al-Adha, like all other Islamic celebrations, advances with each Western calendar year so in 2014 it’ll be in September.

  11. peter says:

  12. kirill says:


    What a cheap Dutch ploy. I bet they staged this little incident to remove some of the scum from their own image. You see, you Dutch turds, you can’t fake the Russian cops beating up your diplomats and hauling them off to the police station. Cute how they “summon the Russian ambassador” to “explain the situation”. Will the Russian ambassador be summoned to explain when some Dutch embassy worker stubs their toe?

  13. Sam says:

    I’m watching Rapsi live and Navalny and Ofitserov have been given a suspended sentence in the appeal, so no jail!!!

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Let’s see what the Western commentators make of that!

      The Hamsters will claim, of course, that the threat of public disorder organized by them if their hero had got sent down had put the fear of god into the Evil One and all this is a clear indicator of how weak the tyrant really is.

      Cue Golts and the rest of the MT nay-saying crew…

      • Sam says:

        I am reading their reaction on Twitter, and right now it’s equally divided between “The Evil One is all-powerful all-knowing and all-controlling and had been manipulating this from the start to get Navalny right where he wants him” and ” The Evil One is weak and will soon be deserted by everyone and a mass of soon-to-be ex Putin’s men will defect to Navalny”. I think the paradox known as Schrodinger’s cat should hereby simply be renamed Putin.
        It’s also funny how the ones subscribing to the “weak” theory describe Putin: he blinked, he twitched… Reading all this bitterness (instead of just joy), I get the feeling that the Hamsters are disappointed that Navalny didn’t get jail time to make a hero out of him and that in a sense they feel robbed of their martyr figure.

        • yalensis says:

          In addition to Schrodinger’s Putin, there are also the full-Nelsons (Navalny will serve hard time and emerge President à la Nelson Mandela) vs. the half-Nelsons (Navalny will be carried on the shoulders of the revolutionary mob directly into the Kremlin without serving any time — cause, see, Putin fears his popularity.)

          My personal reaction was one of relief that my hero Judge Blinov was not overturned.
          ’cause, see, I have a secret crush on that angel-faced modern version of Porfiry Petrovich. Blinov was the only man in all of Russia who had the balls to look Navalny right in the eye and pronounce: “Yer a crook, and yer nicked! If’s off to the pokey with ya, boyo!”

          • Moscow Exile says:

            He gave the Chosen One 5 for all the lip he came out with during the trial.

            It’s been said many times before, but if such contempt as Navalny and his cohorts displayed in court had been shown in the UK, the judge would have come down on him like a ton of bricks. And it’s not simply because British judges are madly in love with themselves that contempt of court is taken so seriously in Merry England: it’s because it is a matter concerning contempt of the majesty of the law and all this clap-trap about not recognizing the court and the judge etc. would result in severe punishment in a British court.

            I worked with a lad once who got extra time added onto his sentence after the judge had asked him if he had anything to say before he gave sentence. The smart alec was a repeat offender and, knowing full well that he was very likely going get a custodial sentence, replied that he did indeed wish to say something, whereupon he pulled out a cigarette pack from his shirt pocket, flipped open the lid and said into it: “Beam me up, Scotty!”

            He got another month added for that jolly jape.

            • yalensis says:

              I think you’re right, Exile. Blinov got so sick of Navalny’s attitude, this angelic and saintly rural Judge had to put up with the arrogant jerk for many hours and days and weeks, it must have been sheer torture.
              Apparently Navalny was a royal pain in the ass even in the appeal hearing — like, he talked on his phone, twittered, etc., and gave surly lip to the panel of judges. But the process only lasted for 3 hours, so they didn’t have enough time to come to truly despise him.

        • AK says:

          … I get the feeling that the Hamsters are disappointed that Navalny didn’t get jail time to make a hero out of him and that in a sense they feel robbed of their martyr figure.

          Which is yet another reason why this judgment is a good thing.

      • marknesop says:

        Oh, I am sure we will be treated to another yawn-inducing round of the-tyrant-trembles-in his-drafty-Kremlin-aerie boilerplate. Absent, of course, will be any discussion that if Putin really exercised the kind of clout they like to squeal about, he would have simply waved his bejeweled hand lanquidly and said, “unsatisfactory – let the sentence stand”. Embarrassingly, the western press cannot just call a spade a spade where Russia is concerned, and each legal event is thrumming with portent: this means that Putin is losing his grip, and even the worm-eaten rot of Russia’s corrupt courts could not stand against the blinding, cleansing force that is NAVALNY!!!!! Now the discussion will page back to his original trial and moan how he should never have been convicted in the first place, that it was all political, that he would have creamed Sobyanin had he not had the caul of the criminal hanging about his head, and Putin cheated him of being Mayor of Moscow. Tiresome.

        • reggietcs says:

          Yeah, there have already been several “Putin’s greatest foe” articles about this over on the AP and Yahoo News. It’ll be a great day when we go back to having RESPONSIBLE journalism. Navalny is a “threat” to Putin only in the fictional Russia that the western media has created and nurtured.

          • marknesop says:

            Navalny is a boob, and I am sure the Kremlin secretly rejoices to see him labeled “Putin’s greatest foe”. It prevents the crowning of a new western champion who might actually be a threat. Navalny would fall apart in a week if he ever actually won any real political power, because he is used to living on his blog and being stroked by his Hamsters. As soon as he was even Mayor, never mind President, his aides would say yeah, you know that’s gotta stop. No more blabbering on your blog, because then you have a record in writing of where you promised to do that or this and people will hold you to it. Either confine yourself to lofty policy statements – which we’ll write for you – that are devoid of detail and long on homilies, or stay off the blog. Oh; cat pictures are OK.

            • yalensis says:

              In fact, there is a school of thought out there which claims Navalny = Father Gapon. In other words, he works as a double-agent for the Kremlin.
              I personally do not hold to that conspiracy theory, I adhere to the (Navalny=CIA) conspiracy theory. In other words, I believe that Navalny is exactly what he appears to be, an agent of the U.S. government.
              However, as a public service, I am presenting the best comment I have seen arguing for the (Navalny=Gapon) theory. This comment was penned by “fibonacci_233” at Gazeta and reads as follows:

              ржунимагу. держите меня семеро. когда такое было, чтобы оппам условку 5-летнюю давали. подполковник фсб навальный доблестно исполнил свое задание:
              – протест слил,
              – левых с удальцовым оттер,
              – ксо угробил,
              – либерастов спутал с нациками,
              – нациков кинул и в бирюлево не поехал.
              разводка хомячков как по нотам. теперь ждем назначения в правительство. потому как и закон специально для агента сделали – теперь он все могет по закону.


              I am laughing my head off… when did it ever happen that an Opp got a 5-year suspended sentence. This FSB Colonel Navalny has brilliantly carried out his assignment:
              -muted the protests
              -split the lefties away from Udal’tsov
              -buried the Coordinating Committee (of the Opposition)
              -made liberals look like neo-nazis
              -dumped the neo-nazis and forgot to go to Birulevo
              He (Navalny) played the hamsters like a fiddle, now all we have to wait for is his induction into the government, they have a special law for agents…

              END OF TRANSLATION

              If one were to operate purely by the “James Jesus Angleton” lessons-learned rule and “know him by his deeds”, then it might truly appear that Navalny is an FSB double-agent. Since his actions have fragmented and confused the entire Opposition, that is true enough.
              However, like I said, I don’t believe this theory, because I am basing my own theory on the way the U.S. government operates with their agents of influence.
              Also the fact that people like McFaul are not very bright. McFaul probably believes that Navalny is doing a great job for American interests.

              On the other hand… Navalny DOES seem to enjoy some secret krysha not available to other Opps…

              • marknesop says:

                If Navalny were actually a double agent for the FSB, the western NGO’s would have rumbled it by now, by simply reasoning, “We’re not fixing things for him – so who is?” They certainly would not be shooting off fireworks to him now and blowing little heart kisses if they thought for a moment he was a Kremlin stooge. And his teflon nature must be obvious to all by now. Somebody is looking out for him. If the Kremlin put him where he is they would be at great pains to publicly abuse and rail against him, the better to encourage him and conceal their involvement. Since they take the middle ground and tolerate but mostly ignore him, I’m sticking with he doesn’t work for them, but he does such a good job for them that they are kind of paternally fond of him.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  It’s all a bit like that Lenin was an agent of the Germans thing. Objectively speaking, V.I.Lenin did a great job for the Central powers in that he had Russia withdraw from WWI and the Germans certainly gave him free passage across their territory from Zurich to the Russian Empire and he did not hesitate to accept all the help afforded to him by them, but Lenin’s objective was a world socialist revolution, the final stage of the class struggle that would lead to a socialist utopia. And what is Navalny’s objective, his utopic vision…?

                  It seems his idea of utopia were the Golden Years of Yeltsin, when everyone – well, well-heeled people like him really – could enjoy the benefits of unfettered capitalism under the moral guidance and protection of the most advanced and munificent state in the world.

                  Life was good for Navalny and the likes of his his chum Gaidar (Miss Gaidar that is) before the Evil One appeared.

                • Misha says:

                  Some analogies can get especially stretched out at times.


                  The degree of Gapon being an informant appears to lead to second guessing in some circles. Regardless, he was more of a player in contrast to Lenin and Navalny in leader roles.

                  The Germans did more than just ship Lenin to Russia. Not a Lenin or Navalny fan. Put mildly, the latter has a ways to go to reach the former’s stature.

                • yalensis says:

                  Good points made, both Mark and Exile.
                  It is a logical fallacy to assume that just because Natasha benefited from something that Boris did, that necessarily means Boris is a paid agent of Natasha. There are lots of complicating factors, including “unintended consequences” and “chaos theory”.

                  The James Jesus Angelton rule arose in the Cold War world of “Spy vs. Spy”, and “a world of mirrors” and all that. Apparently there were double agents, triple agents, etc., it got really complicated trying to keep track of who worked for who. Angleton was an American CIA director, but he got so paranoid and was running so many double- and triple- Russian agents that ended up causing more harm to the CIA than any Russian spy ever did.
                  Hence, after Angelton’s disgrace, a rule of thumb was introduced: If you weren’t sure whose side a spy was on, then you must do an analysis which side appeared to benefit more from that spy’s activities.

                  Angelton rule seemed reasonable at the time, but looking back at it now, it is obviously a logical fallacy. (Unless Angelton really was a Soviet spy — heh heh…)

                • cartman says:

                  Navalny isn’t aware that he would need those Chechens if he were playing with the oligarchs during those years or he would quite literally lose his head.

          • Misha says:

            Aired in the US this evening, the German DW presented Navalny as Putin’s leading political opposition figure. In that segment, they show Navalny saying that the charges against him are politically motivated, with no legitimacy whatsoever. There was no follow-up.

            • reggietcs says:

              ….Unfortunately, there never is “follow up” in the western media when it comes to Russia.

              Which is how the elites like it……………

              • Misha says:

                There’s periodically a managed follow-up, which typically doesn’t cover all of the angles, while agreeing with some of the inaccuracies.

                A top heavy budget for Larry King and Ketchum has arguably worked counter to a better attempt at balancing out the process.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  The “never followed up” ploy is working so well that one would think, judging by the repeats on the Chosen One’s successful appeal against sentence that he had won an appeal against conviction: he is still a convicted thief; he still has to report to his local pig-pen twice a month for the next 5 years, and if he just as much farts in church, he goes down.

                  Well, not literally farts in church, but you know what I mean.

    • yalensis says:

      According to Russian RAPSI, it is not at all uncommon for an appeals panel to uphold a conviction of a lower court, but to replace real time with probationary time, as happened here.
      What is rare in Russia is for a conviction to be completely overturned, and that did not happen here. (yay! – small blessings)

      Attorneys interviewed by RAPSI opine that the verdict makes sense, even if this wasn’t Navalny.
      Factors in favor: Navalny is a white-collar criminal, not a violent criminal. He never murdered anyone. (that we know of). He has a family. He does not need to be isolated from society.
      On the other side of the ledger, in cases like this, it usually helps if the convicted felon admits his guilt. Navalny never admitted, and never will admit, that he ever in his whole life ever did anything wrong.

    • yalensis says:

      And Navalny’s lawyer Vadim Kobzev saying that he will appeal the appeal.

      “We do not agree in principle with the judgement [of the court] that Navalny and Ofitserov are actually guilty,” huffs Kobzev.

      If I were Navalny, I would thank my lucky stars that I got away with it. But every time he appeals, Kobzev needs to be paid.

      To clarify, and paraphrase: appeals court said: “You guys are guilty, and it was a proper verdict of the lower court (of Judge Blinov), however we think he was a tad harsh when he sent you guys away to a colony for 5 years. You are allowed to go home to your families, but with a Red Letter sewed onto your jacket.”

      Note also that in an earlier consitutional court ruling (not covered in above piece), it was ruled that convicted felons can run for political office after they serve their time. I guess this is fair, except it means we will have to endure a Navalny run for Presidency in 2018.

      • yalensis says:

        Here is link to transcription of appeals hearing.
        Hearing started at 9:40 AM and lasted approx. 3 hours.

        • Dear Yalensis,

          “According to Russian RAPSI it is not at all uncommon for an appeals panel to uphold a conviction of a lower court, but to replace real time with probationary time, as happened here”.

          I have just been told the same thing by a Russian legal acquaintance All I would say is that this is different to practice in Britain. Here Navalny would certainly be expected to serve prison time for this sort of offence, though as a white collar criminal he would serve it in an open prison and would probably be released on parole after a year or so.

          The Kirov Court will deliver its reasons on Friday so we will know then why it made this decision. I gather the conditions require Navalny not to change his place of residence without informing Russia’s equivalent of the Probation Service and to report to them twice a month. I am sure there are no restrictions on his blogging (it would be completely wrong if there were) but obviously he cannot stand for election whilst he is serving his sentence.

          The one last point I would make is that here we have an example of where sentencing policy not just in Russia but pretty much everywhere else has in my opinion gone totally wrong. However disruptive and offensive their behaviour may have been, it remains the case that Pussy Riot are serving prison time for a public order offence which caused no physical injury to anyone and no damage to property or economic loss. Navalny by contrast has been given a suspended sentence following a conviction involving economic loss, dishonesty and breach of trust. This difference in sentencing practice as between public order offences and white collar offences goes on everywhere I know with authorities almost everywhere treating even the most trivial public order offences (committed disproportionately by young working class people) with excessive harshness and white collar crime (committed almost exclusively by middle class people) with surprising leniency. I have never been able see the logic of this and I don’t agree with it.

          PS: The Guardian is saying that Navalny’s lawyer is saying that the sentence and the probation period are consecutive, which would mean that Navalny would remain under supervision for 10 years. I cannot believe this. That would in effect extend the sentence by 5 years.

          • Robert says:

            Very true. There’s no logic to it at all except the logic of class power

            • One of the things that always amazes me about these hearings is that Navalny’s lawyer told the Court that he has brought a claim to the European Court of Human Rights. In Britain that would be considered highly discourteous to the Court and even an attempt to put pressure on the Court. What I find especially difficult to understand is that the European Court of Human Rights invariably insists that all domestic remedies must be exhausted before a complaint is made. Navalny’s domestic remedies are nowhere near exhausted and as he is not actually in detention there hardly seems to be any reason to short circuit the procedures.

              Navalny is not the only person to do this. Khodorkovsky, the Bolotnaya defendants and Pussy Riot have all done the same thing, bring complaints to the European Court of Human Rights before their domestic remedies are exhausted. At least in those cases however the defendants were in custody so was some reason to short circuit the procedures in those cases.

              • yalensis says:

                Navalny did the same thing with Blinov: He basically told him to his face that he (Blinov) was illegitimate, not a real judge, just a puppet of the Kremlin regime, and that if he made the “wrong” decision, then he (Blinov) would be subject to a righteous punishment come the revolution.

                Then Navalny pulls pretty much the same stunt with this trinity of appeal judges, telling them: “You don’t count. You’re not legitimate. Only European courts are legitimate.”

                Meanwhile, on his blog, Navalny is bitching about the fact that he can’t move around for the next 5 years, and that he will have to report to the police twice per month, just to show them that he’s still around.
                Navalny also preening that his massive public support scared “the toad on the pipe”, as he calls Putin (as in, a toad perching on an oil pipe) and kept him out of the gulag.

                One of the commenters points out that Navalny’s 5-year sentence goes until, say, October, 2018. Meanwhile, the presidential elections have already happened, in March, 2018. Hence, Navalny will not be qualified to run, since he will still be serving his suspended sentence. (unless there is an amnesty)

          • yalensis says:

            Dear Alexander: I agree fully. I don’t want to open the whole “Pussy” debate again, but I never believed those girls, however obnoxious. should have had to serve real time for what was essentially an adolescent stunt. In which nobody was harmed, and no property damage done. Whereas Navalny/Ofitserov caused actual economic damage to quite a lot of people. People like Bastrygina who lost their jobs, not to mention many many regular workers who suffered from the bankruptcy of a major employer and economic damage done to the entire region. If anybody deserved real time, it was these 2 cynical crooks and pilferers, Navalny and Ofitserov, who set out to make a few bucks on the backs of regular people. Who acted like bullies and flaunted their power while trying to skim money that belonged to a state enterprise serving the entire province and providing employment for thousands of people.
            You are right that white-collar crooks always tend to get treated with kid gloves, and it is not fair.

            • marknesop says:

              If you believe the purpose of incarceration is rehabilitation and the teaching of a lesson that one apparently would learn no other way, then the sentence was entirely appropriate, especially for Tolokonnikova. If she had gotten community service or some act of contrition like that, she would have turned it into a burlesque of contempt and disobedience that would have made life a hell for whoever was supposed to oversee it, for the loving eyes of western cameras which would have followed her everywhere she went. Instead she is restricted to faking hunger strikes to get attention. And none of that “She’s just a kid”, either, because some people never grow up.

  14. Moscow Exile says:

    Hotel National, The Evil Empire.

    • yalensis says:

      Looks pretty swank. Last time I was in Moscow, I had to stay in a crappy trade union hostel with 3 per room, so I am envious.
      R.C. is going to get spoiled, having waiters and butlers attending to his every whim!

      (On the other hand… In the video I see grand pianos and antique telephones and even WIFI in the rooms, but one thing I don’t see is a coffee machine.)

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Coffee machine!

        You pleb!

        It’s best Frog coffee they serve there, monsieur, not bloody Maxwell House.


        • Moscow Exile says:

          I once had some great coffee there with Natalya Vladimirovna Lapshina-Exile and two great big wedges of delicious frog gateaux with whipped cream.

          I paid for it, by the way.

          Cost me a bloody mint!


          • I have never stayed at the National but I have visited it. Its not I think Moscow’s most expensive or luxurious hotel but it is arguably its most historic and elegant. One of the suites (of which you catch a glimpse in the film) is done up from before the Revolution in Louis XV style with elegant frescoes on the ceiling. The restaurant is also very elegant with fine views. Lenin was a guest. After the Revolution the Bolsheviks provided the hotel with furniture and objets d’art confiscated from various aristocratic palaces and they are still there. I believe for a brief period the US embassy actually operated from the building.

            The two other important pre revolutionary hotels in Moscow are the Metropole (where, so I am told, in the 1930s all foreign visitors to Moscow were obliged to stay) and the Savoy, which I believe during the Soviet period went by the name of Berlin. I have never been to the Savoy, which I understand has been totally refurbished, but I have visited the Metropole several times. It came across to me as rather like a Paris Art Nouveau “palace” hotel but with a Russian twist.

          • yalensis says:

            They serve a cake made from frogs?

        • yalensis says:

          I know, but I like to have my first cup of java BEFORE I get dressed and go to the restaurant!

  15. kirill says:


    The orchestrated western anti-Russian circus has pulled another one. So now that Dutch “diplomat” was attacked because he was gay! Bad, bad, bad Russia. Good, good, good Holland. Let’s forget the Dutch police boot on the senior Russian diplomat’s head. That’s nothing!

    • kirill says:

      Note how Washington and it’s poodle Holland play the collective guilt game with Russia. How do they know who the attackers are? Is the Russian government responsible for every crime on the soil Russia? How about the Russian people?

      In the case of Holland it was clear upfront who violated diplomatic immunity on a feeble pretext.

      • reggietcs says:

        This very much reminds me of the chemical weapons ORCHESTRATION against Assad.

        So a Russian diplomat is beaten in the Netherlands, the Dutch apologize, and now out of nowhere we’re told by chance that a Dutch diplomat has now been beaten in Moscow in which someone scrolled “LGBT” on a mirror? naturally, because it’s Russia, no one will even stop to see how utterly convenient and suspicious this all seems – just as they didn’t and all critical thought went out the window when Assad purportedly launched a chemical attack in Damascus as few kilometers from where the inspectors were staying?!

    • marknesop says:

      I heard the Dutch guy was also blind and had only one leg, and that he designed a special lawn-mower that he could hop behind so that he could mow lawns to raise money to build a library for poor children in his home town. Oh, and he called it The Russians Are Nice People Library. Now aren’t you ashamed of yourself, Russia?

      They didn’t actually say the Dutch guy was gay. They just threw that alleged “LGBT” inscription into the mix to stir all that rainbow shit up again. And what does the U.S. have to do with it, anyway? Did he have dual citizenship or something?

  16. Moscow Exile says:

    This picture tickles me!

    Just look at the expression on Navalny’s face!

    But what makes me smile is the way he and his co-appellant are dressed.

    Do they have nothing but jeans in their wardrobe? Do they always look as if they’ve just come off the farm with their open-necked shirts with rolled up sleeves?

    Well, at least they’ve had the common sense not to wear a Putin-is-a-thief T-shirt!

    Call me a typically stuffy British conservative if you will, but in the UK, if you know what’s good for you, you wear a suit in court, which leads me to think of a particular gag.

    Firstly, though, I shall have to explain that a native of Liverpool is called a “Scouser”, after the seaman’s dish “lobscouse”, and that that great city has the rather unfortunate reputation of being a nest of thieves, pilfering off the docks there being a long honoured tradition.

    So without more ado:

    Question: What do you call a Scouser wearing a suit?

    Answer: The accused.

    • marknesop says:

      Alexey looks like he has been hitting the gym; he was getting quite tubby there for a while. But the ensemble does kind of look like the special-needs class in the high-school yearbook. Hardly the avante-garde leader look, although I’m sure he has received lots of instruction on how to look the part of a man of the people. Still, it wouldn’t do to write him out. He has a way of coming up with surprises. I can’t see him ever winning serious political office, although running a fair-sized town would both keep him busy and give him the opportunity to fuck up royally. but I’m certainly happy to see him continue to be the champion of the opposition.

    • yalensis says:

      Dear MoscowExile:
      “Well, at least they’ve had the common sense not to wear a Putin-is-a-thief T-shirt!”

      Ah, but you underestimate our “Rebel without a Clue”.
      Check out the photo when you scroll down to 10:21 AM .

      According to the transcript: “The accused and the Defense attorneys are not listening very attentively…” And check out Navalny’s laptpo, it has a sticker with “Putin – Thief” face on it.
      Navalny is ignoring the judges while they are talking, while blogging on his “Putin-Thief” computer. I think this is one of the reasons that Blinov lost it and just had him carted away right out of the courtroom!

      Also scroll up to around 12:10 to get a glimpse of the “journalistic” freak-show that follows their Messiah everywhere. That creepy looking guy in the Mohawk haircut is always there, he covers Navalny 24/7. I think he works for one of the Opp rags, like “Ekho” or “Novaya Gazeta”.

      • marknesop says:

        Well, all of this street theatre is contributing to Navalny becoming more well-known. If the previously-observed phenomenon bears out – that the more people come to know Alexey Navalny, the less they like him – then we can look forward to his becoming just another colourful feature of every Russian election, like Zhirinovsky, who is nonetheless never taken very seriously.

        If he has done anything useful for the country, it is to remind voters that if they are complacent, democracy will be used against them and someone the people do not want could actually win power merely by the superiority of his get-out-the-vote effort. United Russia is lucky to have gotten that lesson without cost, and for that, Navalny should be thanked. I don’t see real U.S.-style election campaigns coming to Russia, at least not Republican-style ones with phony advertising and phone jamming and voter suppression, but it’s certainly fair that when you are asked to vote for someone to occupy public office as a decision-maker, you should be satisfied that person has a plan and that you have heard it. Sobyanin is lucky that he was the incumbent and had established a record of governance; if that election had been his introduction he may well have lost.

        • The strange thing is that during the mayoral television debates when Navalny was wearing a suit with a tie I thought he looked rather good in it. I suppose I’m also being old fashioned and stuffy.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Well I am old fashioned and stuffy!

            I positively cringed when I saw the then President Medvedev strolling around the White House lawns with Obama: the latter was wearing a suit and a tie whilst the former was wearing jeans, a jacket and an open-necked shirt.

            I suppose Medvedev thought he was dressed appropriately as head of state because he believed that’s how US citizens always dress, even POTUS when receiving a foreign head of state.

            Medvedev is very much like Navalny, I think: same rich bourgeois “liberal” that thinks nothing but good comes out of the USA and all US mores, or what are thought to be US customs and traditions, are, therefore, religiously aped.

            I also think that Medvedev protects Navalny.

            And Serdyukov.

            No evidence for this, just a feeling.

  17. AK says:

    I for one applaud the decision and consider it to be a case of making the best of a bad situation (Navalny should not have been convicted in the first place).

    Pussy Rot unequivocally broke the law, unlike Navalny, so I am not overly concerned about their sentences. They made their own beds by making their cases political, now they will have to lie in them.

  18. Misha says:

    Ukraine related commentary:




    Without substantiation, James Brooke says that all of Ukraine’s Orthodox churches favor going West:

    http://www.voanews.com/content/ukraines-future-may-hinge-on-one-bitter-political-rivalry/1767949.htmlA rather broad characterization, that contrasts with what’s said at these venues:



    Once again noting that it’s possible for some Ukrainians to favor closer relations with Russia and the West, under certain conditions, which don’t necessarily always agree with either of the latter two.


  19. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, here is a continuation of the Birulevo story, with the detention and arrest of the alleged murderer.
    Summary: Azerbaidjani guy named Orkhan Zeinalov confessed to killing another guy, Egor Shcherbakov (=ethnic Slav) in the Moscow suburb of Birulevo.
    Zeinalov killed Shcherbakov with a knife, which he says in self-defense. (They fought over a girl, which is the usual story in these matters.)
    Zeinalov has lived in Russia for 10 years, but he suddenly forgot how to speak Russian, so he was given a translator for his court appearance.
    Apparently Zeinalov is a hardened criminal type, and pretty handy with a knife. After killing Shcherbakov, he hightailed it out of his flat and hid out in the woods near Kolomna for a couple of days. There he was apprended by cops, he resisted arrest ferociously, but was subdued. All the Cops involved in the action will receive medals and commendations.

    Meanwhile, while cops were still on the hunt, enraged Slavic Muscovites organized a march-and-pogrom type action which is called “narodnyi skhod” (or “people’s crusade”). They tore up the vegetable market where Zeinalov worked, and which is a nest of Caucasian and Asian types who sell vegetables for a living.

    Meanwhile [this last bit not in the above piece, just my commentary], neo-nazis like Navalny were quick to exploit the public rage and launched an initiative to wall off Caucasus and Central Asia with a visa regime and maybe even an actual wall.

    And this associated commentary gives a vignette of some of the boys and girls who did the pogroms and ran from the police.

    • yalensis says:

      And meanwhile, in this “pogrom” issue, every great Russian thinker has to decide which side he is on. Because it is splitting the Opp movement.
      Hence the greatest Russian dissident and thinker of our time, Lev Shcharansky, also had to come to grips with the Birulevo events. As a liberal, he should be on the side of the Central Asian migrants. But as a Navalnyite, he should be on the side of the pogromists. What to do? What to do?

      Here are exerpts from Shchransky’s opinion piece, and how he splits the hairs (note to those not familiar with Shcharansky – he is a SATIRIST, so don’t take this too serously):

      On the one hand, yesterday’s events were truly horrific. Russia never does things the way normal people do. In decent countries, the disorders are usually carried out by Arab youth, African migrants, Turkish guest workers, and Pakistani immigrants. Otherwise, it would be racism and zenophobia.
      But what I propose is not to act reflexively (against the Slavic pograms), but rather to support ANY actions which could bring about the collapse of the regime. It is precisely this strong alliance of the liberal intelligentsia with the ultra-right nationalists, rooting for a Greater Russia from Bibirevo to Birulevo, which can bring about the victory of the Twitter Revolution… (….)
      And in the end, as a result of this peaceful anti-criminal revolution, thanks to the firm alliance of the creative class along with the Russian nationalists and the Caucasian mujaheddin, the criminal occupying regime will fall; after which we will recall the crimes of the Russian fascists. And then we will hang these low-lifes from the streetlamps. The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go away. Tactical alliances, serving strategic goals…. (etc.)

      Uh huh.

      • Dear Yalensis,

        This may read better in the original than it does in translation but if it is intended to be funny it doesn’t seem to me to be. Could it be intended as an ironic criticism of the sort of things Navalny are saying? If so it does this in a way that is altogether too complicated at least to someone reading this in translation.

        Interethnic violence happens pretty much everywhere. I would make a few observations about this riot, which I have also made elsewhere:

        1. Though the USSR was a multinational country because of internal migration controls the ethnic character of Moscow did not reflect this. It was an overwhelmingly Slav/Russian city. Since the ending of these controls as the boom city of western Eurasia Moscow has inevitably attracted a flood of immigrants from all sorts of places. This inevitably gives rise to the usual problems of assimilation and crime that you find everywhere where this sort of thing happens making incidents like the one we’ve just seen inevitable. However the actual level of violence and trouble and of interethnic tension in Moscow and in Russia generally is all things considered surprisingly slight. There are many reasons for this but I would specifically isolate four:

        (1) the strong economic situation in Moscow with full employment, rising wages and an active house building programme meaning that local people do not feel that their jobs and homes and social services are being taken from them to benefit an incoming flood of outsiders;

        (2) the fact that most immigrants are from republics of the former USSR so that they would have been citizens of the same country as the local people a mere 25 years ago making assimilation for all the obvious cultural differences much easier;

        (3) the tough response of the authorities and the police to events of this sort; and

        (4) my most controversial point – cultural resistance on the part of Russians to ethnicist and nativist policies. You see this in Russian literature and music and culture generally. I suspect this is a reflection of the fact that Russians are a nation of the Eurasian plain and therefore have a long history of active interaction with other nationalities.

        2. It is important not to overemphasise what has happened. Riots of this sort happen so often in the English Midlands, the northern English industrial cities and in parts of London that they are often no longer even reported. I am told the same is even more true in France. The attention this riot has received is actually a sign of how relatively rare events of this sort in Moscow are.

        3. It follows from this – and recent events confirm this – that liberals who think they can somehow exploit nationalist-ethnicist sentiments “to bring down the regime” are deluding themselves. To illustrate this look at how Russians actually vote. We have had any number of elections in Russia now since 1989 and in not one have politicians who campaign on a Russian ethnicist “Russia for Russians” platform won many votes or made a significant electoral impact. The mainstream party that approximates most closely to such a position is the LDPR, which is however more a nationalist-patriotic party rather than a narrow Russian ethnicist one (it is led after all by someone who is actually a Jew). In the 2011 parliamentary elections the LDPR (held just a few months after the Manezh Square affair) the LDPR was the parliamentary opposition party that made the smallest gains. In the recent Moscow parliamentary elections the LDPR candidate Degtyarev did dismally. As for Navalny, for all his nationalistic tub thumping and open embrace of the ethnicist vote the only people in the Moscow mayoral election who in the end actually vote for him were the usual liberals. If Navalny thought that taking ethnicist positions would win him votes amongst patriotic pro Putin working class voters then this strategy failed completely. If you go further afield the same is also true in Russia as a whole. If we go back to the September gubernational and local elections candidates campaigning on ethnicist-nationalist issues made no impact at all and were in fact completely invisible even though it is precisely in such elections fought on local issues that in western Europe such candidates tend to do best. I am not saying that Russians never grumble about immigrants and the trouble they cause but looking at how they actually vote immigration (as opposed to say rising prices or even corruption) is just not their main concern. Adopting ethnicist “Russia for Russians” positions for the liberals not only therefore makes no electoral sense but to the extent that it further divides them makes no political sense either.

        4. Finally, one very last point about the riot itself. I obviously don’t know the full facts and what I am going to say is based purely on impressions but one thing I can say with confidence based on my experience of reading police reports of these sort of things when they happen in England is that they never happen spontaneously. Whenever a crowd comes together and there is organised violence there is always someone lurking somewhere in the background organising it. In fact the sequence of events: the stabbing carried out by a known criminal (supposedly over a girl), the retaliatory riot and the attack on the vegetable market, look to me from a distance very much like a turf war between rival gangs. It is a commonplace that there is a strong overlap between racist/ethnicist militants of whatever nationality and membership of criminal and street gangs (in fact they are almost invariably the same people) and the use of ethnicist language by gangs to justify themselves and what they do is also a commonplace. If I am right then I suspect the police know this and will know all the people involved, which is how they were able to find the murderer so quickly. Since the organisation of such riots is difficult to prove it is unlikely however that it will be ever publicly reported.

        • yalensis says:

          Dear Alexander:
          I agree with you about everything you said, except the fact that Shcharansky is funny. His humor is not of the subtle variety, it is dark, quite brutal and ham-fisted. He is like a Russian Jonathan Swift (of “A Modest Proposal”), and that makes him difficult to translate. My literary skills in English are just not up to the task. I recall on an earlier blogpost I translated some Shcharansky gems in a comment, I assumed that everyone would “get” that it was satirical, but poor old Moscow Exile responded with outrage to what this guy was spouting. That is why I prefaced this last comment with the warning that it was satire. Again, the fault is mine, not Shcharansky’s. Everybody who reads his blog in the original Russian understands that it is satire. But it is angry satire. Shcharansky poses as a Westernizing “liberal emigre” in order to excoriate everybody he hates: dissidents, Jews, homosexuals, and those who brought down the Soviet Union.
          Shcharansky is mean-spirited, but funny. He has a core of rabid followers who watch for every pearl that drips from his pen. He could be considered a great contemporary Russian writer, in the sense that he has coined a whole series of words and phrases that have gone into the language. Among the phrases he has coined (which don’t even sound that funny in English) are such gems as: “To live not by a lie”, “Freedom is better than un-freedom”, “freedom-loving Sting and Bjorn”, “universal human values”, “Chekist terror”, “(Elena) Bonner is in heaven and the 6th fleet is in the sea”, and other such stuff. Even Navalny started adopting one of Shcharansky’s winged phrases: “Thus we will prevail.”

          • yalensis says:

            P.S. I forgot to mention one of Shcharansky’s other major contributions to the Russian language. He invented the term “kreakl” which is a contraction of “creative class”. It is used to refer to the bourgeois “artistic” pseudo-intelligentsia, people like Verzilov, for example.

          • SFReader says:

            Sharansky is an excellent parody of Russian Jewish mentality, that’s why Moscow Exile and Alexander don’t get it (for lack of familiarity with this phenomenon).

            Author of Sharansky’s blog is probably either a Jew himself or a very, very talented Anti-Semite.

            I looked at the internet and found a speculation that real author is Lev Vershinin (Jewish SF writer and blogger from Odessa who now lives in Spain).

            • yalensis says:

              I always just assumed that “Lev Natanovich Shcharansky” is a Jewish emigre from Soviet times who brilliantly parodies his fellow Jewish emigres. And many of his readers and commentators also seem to be Jewish, because they always “get” the in jokes first.

        • yalensis says:

          Dear Alexander: As to all the other points you raise, I agree wholeheartedly. These riots in Moscow are basically gang bangs, not unlike the “Jets” and “Sharks” in West Side Story, except without the singing and dancing. Hence, they are completely in the domain of police enforcement and urban policy. They are basically Mayor Sobanin’s problem.

          The only point of interest is that the Navalnyites are using these rumbles to push their (and America’s) geo-political agenda in Eurasian sphere, and to rouse the Moscovite rabble with ethnic politics.
          Some bloggers even believe that Navalny supporters helped incite and fan the Birulevo vegetable pogroms, in order to stick it to Mayor Sobanin. There is no proof that he did it, but I wouldn’t put it past him. (given the lowlife nature of some of his white-supremacist followers)

          • yalensis says:

            P.S. in the “Jets” musical number above, Russ Tamblyn (=Riff) did all his own stunts, including the gymnastics on the monkey bars. He was a fantastic dancer and gymnast. In another musical, “7 brides for 7 brothers”, Tamblyn did his own stunts in a dangerous log-rolling number.

          • marknesop says:

            Maybe they are thinly-disguised Navalny demonstrations!! The King Of The Vegetables!!! The crowd (there was a report yesterday of a crowd of some 3000 gathering at the site of another incident to shout at the police, “Where were you when they were stabbing us??”) sounds about the real size of a Navalny demonstration, although it is never reported as less than 10,000 and often ten times that.

          • Misha says:

            PBS ran a documentary on Latin Americans, noting that Rita Moreno was the only lead Latin-American actress among the depicted Puerto Ricans in West Side Story. (Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen has since become quite gentrified.)

            Such were the days in Hollywood. An earlier and rather famous movie relating to WW II era China had whites in all of the lead Chinese roles.

            The discrimination is different nowadays, along the lines of the bigoted anti-Serb depictions in at least two Law and Order episodes.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              I remember the Charlie Chan detective series. I’m sure Chan was played by a European US citizen, whereas the actor that played his “number one son” assistant was most definitely Chinese-American.

              Just checked on Wiki.

              The original Charlie Chan films had Asian actors in the lead roles, a Japanese playing the eponymous detective. These first Charlie Chan films weren’t that successful.

              Then they used a made-up Swede, who claimed part Mongolian ancestry, to play Detective Chan and the films took off.

              The actor that played Charlie’s son was Key Luke, a China born US actor.

  20. The Guardian has a fascinating compendium of articles by various European journalists about the EU’s so called “Russia problem”.


    The articles conform remarkably to national stereotypes: The French bewildered by their recent humiliation but determined to make up for it by improving relations with Moscow, the British retreating into denial, the Germans looking at relations with Russia through the prism of their domestic politics, the Poles hostile and condescending, the Spanish unaware there even is a problem and the Italians realistic and openly friendly.

  21. Moscow Exile says:

    So here’s the Russia economics latest gloom and doom opinion piece from MT courtesy the Moscow School of Economics: “Structural Decline or a Cyclical Trough?”, part odf which reads:

    “Contrary to earlier expectations, the Russian economy has been a surprising disappointment in terms of growth so far this year. The numbers are by now well-known. Growth has decelerated steadily from 2.9 percent in the third quarter of last year, to 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter, and then to 1.6 percent this year in the first quarter and down to 1.2 percent in the second…

    “And this deterioration follows a seeming trend of decline in Russia’s economic dynamism in recent years from 4.5 percent growth in 2010, to 4.3 percent in 2011, and down to 3.4 percent last year.

    “As we can appreciate, Kremlin officials are beginning to feel a sense of panic….”

    “As we can appreciate”?

    Can we?

    All of us?

    “Beginning to panic”?

    Who says?

    I wonder if this easily appreciated sense of panic in the Kremlin over the dire economic straits in which Russia now finds itself is just as appreciable as the concept of the Evil One trembling in his fastness out of fear of the restless and vengeful mob outside under the leadership of the Chosen One?

    As we can all appreciate, that is the situation Putin finds himself in now.

    • cartman says:

      Russia has kept interest rates at 8.25% when Europe, Japan, etc. have set theirs to 0. If the central bank panicked about growth, it would have a whole lot of room to move.

  22. marknesop says:

    Yalensis, please send me an email, to my hotmail address, so I will have your current address and can put you in touch with Jen. If you don’t want to, just say no. Also, I have your MEGGITT baseball cap.

    • yalensis says:

      Okay, I will send you an email tomorrow, which is Saturday. This could also be a test of my new email address. I am trying to keep a low profile so that NSA cannot track me. On the other hand, it’s google email, so it’s hopeless.

    • Jen says:

      @ Mark: I have found some information about the budgetary misallocations that get the Russian auditors cross with Chechnya and am writing up something about them already. Originally I meant to do a small essay but it’s already over 2,300 words! Perhaps when I finish I can just send it all to you. I’m trying to keep it short.

      • marknesop says:

        That’s the way writing goes when the subject captures your interest. That’s already about the length of a full post, so if you can drive everything together into some recommendations on how Russia and the Caucasus republics could better co-exist, I think you have pre-empted lazy Yalensis! I am excited to see it!

        • yalensis says:

          Yay, Jennifer!

        • Misha says:

          Fir clarity sake, the “Caucasus republics” in question are in Russia

          • Misha says:

            Distinguish those republics inside the Russian Federation with the ones on the outside, noting that in either instance, they’re not monolithic.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              North and South Ossetia being a case in point: the former is an autonomous subject republic of the Russian Federation, whilst the latter was formerly an autonomous subject territory of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

              After Gorbachev’s closing down of the USSR – something that that never once elected by popular mandate “democrat” ever considered opening to discussion with those whom he ruled from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in his function as General Secretary of the CPSU – Georgia became an independent sovereign state. South Ossetia had previously tried to establish itself as an autonomous republic within the the Soviet Union and then, after the demise of the USSR, within the Russian Federation. Georgian nationalists, however, would have none of this and declared in 1990 that South Ossetia was part of Georgia, abolishing South Ossetian autonomy.

              And that is, to date, how the rest of the world – more exactly “the International Community”, aka the USA and its lickspittles – considers S. Ossetia, the opinions of South Ossetians notwithstanding.

              And it’s all very well saying that those evil Russians have been coaxing S. Ossetians into their parlour as does the spider to the fly, for the S. Ossetians have been fighting over generations for independence from Georgia: they have been fighting for this independence before the 1917 revolutions, during Soviet times and afterwards right up to now.

              All part of Russian Imperial/Soviet/Russian expansionism into the Caucasus?

              That’s what the Western defenders of national self-determination claim.

              I wonder what Woodrow Wilson would have thought of the Georgian nationalists’ relationship towards the South Ossetians?

  23. cartman says:

    Now there has been a burglary in the Russian Embassy House in the Hague. I wonder how they will spin it to look like the Dutch are being bullied here.

    • yalensis says:

      This is starting to look like a feud between 2 cats: I scratch you, you scratch me back, I scratch you back, etc etc.

  24. Moscow Exile says:

    Prima Donna announces her intention to go back on hunger strike!

    Толоконникова заявила о возобновлении голодовки

    “Moscow, October 18 – AiF-Moscow: Member of the punk band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, has announced the resumption of her hunger strike in connection with her transfer back to the Mordovia penal colony (IR-14) from the prison hospital (LPU-21).”

    The ever present Verzilov has given notice that the resumption of his wife’s hunger strike is a result of the authorities’ breach of the terms and conditions that brought about the cessation of the previous attempt of feminist punk-rock musician and freedom fighter and sworn enemy of the Evil One to starve herself to death.

    Verzilov says she only previously stopped starving herself to death when she was promised a transfer to hospital and then to another camp.

    Now she is being discharged from hospital and returned to the colony, so she’s going to kill herself again.

    Or so she says.

    Funny that, because all the earlier reports, including the spoutings of Pedo Pete, said that she ended her previous strike because of health problems.

    So I guess that when she feels ill and weak again after about 4 or 5 days, it’ll be back to hospital again.

    Better than working, I suppose.

    The more the exhibitionist undertakes such tantrums, the more foolish she looks, which, I must say, is not too difficult an undertaking on her part.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      According to Interfax, the “artist”, one of the three “girls” whom some Western hacks like to say Putin is so afraid of, the “feminist punk-rocker” Tolokonnikova, is going to be moved: Толоконникова переезжает

      “Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is being transferred to another colony – previously she had resumed her hunger strike because her demands had not been met. Maria Alyokhina, serving a sentence in Nizhny Novgorod, has withdrawn a request for a lighter sentence as a sign of solidarity with her friend.”

      What interests me is this: Tolokonnikova had previously presented her starvation performance as a protest against the inhumane and exploitative conditions that women prisoners were suffering in the Mordovian colony where she was incarcerated. Now, having been satisfied that her “conditions” for ceasing her hunger-strike protest have been met by the authorities, namely that she is being transferred out of Mordovia, the heroine punk-rock artist freedom fighter is waving farewell to her former fellow convicts in Mordovia – but have their sufferings that she described as existing in Penal Colony-14 been alleviated as a result of her posturing?

      I think not.

      Is she bothered?


      She’s got what she wanted: a transfer and an easier “regime”.

      And huge publicity.

      Khasis, her former fellow convict at PC-14 has once again criticized Tolokonnikova and her PR stunt, saying that hardly any other prisoners supported the brave freedom fighter in her actions, adding that her actions have made conditions worse for the prisoners.

      See: Надежду Толоконникову перевели из больницы обратно в колонию

      Tolokonnikova will soon be out and enjoy the adulation of the “free world” and be applauded across Western Europe and the USA. She will very likely enjoy a not inconsiderable financial gain during her coming “World Tour”. However, I should imagine that even she is not so stupid as to comply to a request to “perform” a “gig” with her “punk-rock band”.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        The prima donna’s lawyer has started throwing shit at her former defence counsel Violetta Volkova now:

        Защита Толоконниковой попросит лишить статуса экс-адвокатов Pussy Riot

        [Tolokonnikova’s defence lawyer asks that the former advocate of Pussy Riot be deprived of her status]

        “According to the convict herself, Violetta Volkova, who had formerly represented her interests, had tried to come to an agreement with Tolokonnikova and had urged her not to stir up trouble concerning a transfer to another colony. According to Pussy Riot members, the lawyer had proposed that the “problem concerting a transfer be solved quietly by means of her using her personal connections with important people in the Federal Penitentiary Service.”

        Further in the above linked article, Volkova’s behaviour is described by Tolokonnikova’s lawyer as “unethical”.

        • marknesop says:

          Dear me; I believe that is the very same Volkhova who described Anatoly’s post on Pussy Riot as “drivel” (at the Russia Debate). The details escape me at the moment, but I believe he had argued that the sloppy and grandstanding defense conducted by Feigin and Volkhova had gone far toward seeing their clients sent down the river – a viewpoint with which few of us disagree. Now we are joined by the client herself. Incidentally, considering Tolokonnikova and the rest of her claque are proudly indigent, I wonder who paid Feigin and Volkhova?

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Sorry! The shit has been thrown at all three of the former PR defense team, not only at Violetta:

          [Tolokonnikova’s defence lawyer asks that the former Pussy Riot advocates be debarred from practising as lawyers]

          “According to the convict herself, Violetta Volkova, who formerly had represented Tolokonnikova’s interests, had tried to come to an agreement with Tolokonnikova and had urged her not to stir up trouble concerning a transfer to another colony. According to Pussy Riot members, the lawyer had proposed that the “problem concerting a transfer be solved quietly by means of her using her personal connections with important people in the Federal Penitentiary Service.”

          The three former Pussy Riot defence lawyers are Violetta Volkova, Mark Feigin and Nikolai Polozov.

          The article states further that in October PR member Ekaterina Samutsevich has already filed several complaints against lawyers Feigin, Polozov and Volkova.

          According to Samutsevich’s present lawyers, whilst defending PR, Feigin, Polozov and Volkova had breached professional ethics and the privileges of an attorney-client relationship.

          Samutsevich claims that those three aforementioned PR defence lawyers had, without her permission, published a letter of hers and had not acted in the best of her interests; they had also, according to Samutsevich, spread defamatory information in the media about her.

          Samutsevich also demands that Volkova be debarred from practising law and has claimed 2.5 million rubles off her in compensation for the moral damage that she has suffered.

          Oh what fun this is all going to turn out to be!


    • marknesop says:

      This, like the back-and-forth between Russia and the Dutch, is beginning to get farcical. Did Tolokonnikova believe that was it, it was all over, and she’d just stay in the hospital until the end of her sentence? Or that “the authorities” would be so frightened by her indomitable will that they would find some excuse to commute her sentence? She honestly seems not to have matured at all beyond about 14, when every event and happening is invested with drama at which she is the center. Whatever happens should be mercifully short – the “young mother” collapsed after less than a week last time and had to be hospitalized for almost twice the length of her hunger strike by my reckoning. They should add those days to her sentence, the spoiled brat. Or offer to confine her scheming artistic husband with her in the same cell for moral support. I wonder how up he would be for that.

      • reggietcs says:

        “This, like the back-and-forth between Russia and the Dutch, is beginning to get farcical.”

        ……..It’s like a bad Monty Python skit.

  25. Misha says:

    Re: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115193/russians-still-love-pogroms

    The above piece is indicative of an inaccurate collective stereotyping. BTW, there’re a good number of Jews who exhibit bigotry towards others. It’s a condition that’s unfortunately evident among varied cultures.

    Jews left that part of the world for other reasons, inclusive of seeking better economic opportunities and avoiding the draft.

    Over the course of time, there’re also many Jews who intermarried with the “racists” (sic). They include Jews, who don’t express invective, like what’s evident in the above piece.

    FYI, for a few years at around the start of 2000, migration from Israel to Russia was greater than vice versa. Economic reasons and a feeling of relative security in Russia have been stated as the reasons.

    No mention of post-Soviet Russia having prime ministers of known Jewish background – a sharp contrast from the 200 plus American history of American presidents and vice presidents. Key Russian government officials indicate a multiethnic mix.

    The current ethnic strife reported in Russia is a complex situation that includes:
    – criminal action on the part of some people from the Caucasus who’ve migrated to the northwestern part of Russia
    – the belief that some local authorities might be bribed to look the other way
    – extremists who counterattack in a vigilante manner.


    Re: http://carnegie.ru/eurasiaoutlook/?fa=53319

    This echoes an earlier openDemocracy (oD) article suggesting the same.

    In contrast, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov fits the category of a pragmatic diplomat.

    Some arguably not so moderate comments from Radek Sikorski:


    Excerpt –

    “Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski described Russia’s tactics as a ’19th-century mode of operating towards neighbours.’
    He added in a quip on the Roshen ban that if Ukraine signs the EU pact: ‘I undertake to eat more Ukrainian chocolate.’


    Pretty rich coming from someone who has periodically ticked off Lithuanian officials on matters that have included the status of Vilnius, which was once part of Poland.

    The above linked EU Observer article concerns a gathering that was recently hosted by a leading Ukrainian oligarch. In that piece, the aforementioned Sergey Glazyev, is a Ukrainian born Russian official, who appears to have been outnumbered at an invitation only event.

    Over the years, Sikorski’s prose has changed. Circa 1990s, I recall a pre-internet National Review article of his, where he acknowledges disliking Russians for (in his view) not acknowledging the past wrongs of their country. Perhaps he has since amended that view.

    On the subject of Ukraine, recent and not so recent history suggests that its seemingly current path isn’t etched in stone. A key influencing factor will be how Ukraine’s domestic situation plays out.

    • Misha says:

      On the above linked new Republic piece, I’m reminded of Moscow Exile recently witnessing a Russian intervening against someone of Caucasus background, who was roughing up a Tajik. This occurrence is noted without intending to stereotype the situation in a certain way. Rather, it’s to further highlight the bogus and arguably bigoted anti-Russian spin in Julia Ioffe’s article.

      From that commentary, Yalensis is sure to note how Ioffe has supported Navalny. For good reason, Ioffe’s commentary falls short of being in a truly top notch category.

        • peter says:

          • Moscow Exile says:

            It’s “мазаль тов”. (מזל טוב)

            Kovalev should really be more attentive in his Hebrew lessons if he wishes to suck up to the
            likes of Ioffe.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              And if the “ex-Soviet Union” is such a hateful place for Jews to live, why does Ioffe’s grandmother still live in Moscow? Why didn’t Ioffe take her back to New York with her?

              I see my Jewish neighbour going to work every morning and in summer I can see his prayer shawl tassles dangling from under his jacket. He is a classmate of my wife. Lived in the same block as her. She tells me that his mother was very upset when he decided to become Orthodox: his mother is about my age and a “godless” Soviet Jew.

              His beard has been growing longer and longer of course during the past 20 years that he has been my neighbour and it is almost white now. As far as I know, nobody ever accosts him because he is a Jew, and he is clearly so, in both ethnicity and religion.

              He might be pissed off because he’s never made it big time as have very many Jews here, but I shouldn’t imagine he’s into money making: he’s clearly a spiritual man and has a large family. Seems a decent bloke to me and no doubt does so to most Russians.

              I wonder if he has ever heard of Ioffe and Gessen and other embittered, Russia hating Jews such as they?

              If he has, I wonder what he thinks of their opinions?

              • marknesop says:

                Julia is a real piece of work, and let’s not leave out the other leg of the triad, Miriam Elder. The copy of all three is almost interchangeable in its tone, although Julia likes to spice hers up a bit with some coarse language, which she fancies makes her sound a hard-boiled journalist with the street at her back. I imagine it is no coincidence all three are Jewish. Many Jews are harmless, and decent citizens who just want to mind their own business and get along, but all things considered there cannot be a more activist group on earth, proportionally speaking.

                • Misha says:

                  There’s the earnest spirit of understanding and communicating the perspective of the underdog, much unlike how you see Serbs and Russians commented on by neolib to neocon leaning journos – Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

                  Intllectually, the aforementioned two are lacking, with Ioffe coming across as the more talented

            • peter says:

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Мазаль тов!

                Что такое мазлтоф (мазл тов)? Значение и использование фразы.

                • yalensis says:

                  На еврейских свадьбах, днях рождения, и других праздниках и от поздравляющих и от поздравляемых можно услышать несколько раз повторяющуюся фразу «Мазаль Тов».

                  Fun to see peter being hoisted on his own petard, since he goes medieval whenever he thinks somebody else has misspelled or mistransliterated something – LOL

                • marknesop says:

                  You cannot be hoist “on” your own petard – since it is an explosive, you’re still thinking of it as if it were some kind of flagstaff or something – but “by” your own petard.

                  In my own personal opinion, bad spelling makes the writer sound ignorant. I try to studiously proofread my own material for errors, and am disproportionately annoyed if one gets through and I can’t edit it. Public education is free in most countries, and there is no excuse for not being able to spell properly in at least one language. However, most people are surprisingly casual about it, and get surprisingly pissed off if you correct them, especially if you do it more than once to the same person. Their usual defense is “You know what I mean”. Well, yes, I do, but it’s still incorrect. I gave up correcting people on their spelling (mostly) in blog comments and the like because they began to get the impression I am fussy and pedantic, like some kind of Niles Crane who cannot turn it off, rather than the hip, loose, fun guy I am. But it still turns my teeth sideways when I am in the supermarket and see an aisle guide that reads “Cotten Balls” or something like that. And forget about it if I see a highway sign that’s misspelled; I’m tempted to drive through it to erase the evidence of such abysmal ignorance.

                  My true weakness is math. I am afraid of numbers, which makes me disproportionately careful with them, and am the kind of guy who – long before the advent and ready acceptance of debit cards, when we still used that quaint transactional medium known as “cash” – would always give the clerk what I knew to be a larger amount than I knew the item cost because I doubted my ability to make change correctly. I would have been hopeless at retail before clerks had a machine to tell you how much change to give back.

        • yalensis says:

          Most commentary not so flattering to Julia. For example:

          lubopitniy:Русские по-прежнему любят погромы.
          16/10/2013, 15:01
          Да просто жить без них не можем.
          Не бойся, Юлька, твоих соотечественников пока не тронем…

          Many commenters pointing out how Julia lies about pogroms. There were no pogroms against Jews in the Soviet Union.
          She is a brazen liar.
          Also, as Misha points out, Julia is a Navalnyite. Since Navalny and his neo-nazi followers were busy fanning the “vegetable riots”, is this not a contradiction for dear little Julia?
          Curious to see how this lying b*** squares that circle.

          • peter says:

            • yalensis says:

              When I first started reading INOSMI, I just naturally assumed (like many of the commentators) that the editors were picking out the silliest, most Russophobic pieces they could find in foreign press, in order to hold them up to ridicule.
              Imagine my surprise when later I come to learn that the whole project was a liberast thing, that editors actual purpose was something else: they wanted to “enlighten” Russian readers by giving them access to the “truth” that supposedly they weren’t getting from their own media, but could be found in foreign media; but inaccessible to many because of language barrier.
              In any case, I don’t deny usefulness of INOSMI and am glad that it is still around. Regardless of the liberasts intentions, it has served a useful purpose in innoculating Russians from foreign propaganda by exposing them to actual doses of it.

              • Misha says:

                earlier on took issue with that initial spin of InoSMI, noting its RIAN affiliation and what and its affiliates often seem to prefer.

                A former InoSMI editor is now linked with a JRL promoted outfit called Russia! Reminded of how personnel changes at TMT haven’t resulted in much if any change of slant.

                This is the kind of media review commentary which the JRL editor seems to shun, along with the JRL court appointed Russia friendlys.

          • Misha says:

            Appreciate the well informed follow-up, while noting how there was silence for an extended period after my initial linking of the Ioffe article, without noting her as author. When I later mention her name, the comments shortly came in here.

            Could be wrong, but I’m sensing a kind of love to hate personality cult, which if so, is off IMO. In addition to not liking much of what she says, I personally, don’t like the way she comes off. Ethically, I try not to make that an issue. It’s best to beat someone on the raw particulars of the given situation.

            Mark did post at her venue, which if I’m not mistaken came shortly after my initially noting her piece here. Mark identifies himself there – so I’m not violating confidentiality. The comments section at that venue limits the amount of posting space. My submitted comments didn’t get thru there. I’m a bit torn on giving Ioffe more attention than she really deserves. Granted, it’s good to see her piece get substantively debunked.

            She’s an overhyped/overrated source, who seems better suited as a copy editor. Being a good technical writer doesn’t always equate with good intellect.

            Counting myself, some competent folks have been unfairly discriminated against – much unlike Ioffe.

          • Misha says:

            I earlier on took issue with that initial spin of InoSMI, noting its RIAN affiliation and what and its affiliates often seem to prefer.

            A former InoSMI editor is now linked with a JRL promoted outfit called Russia! Reminded of how personnel changes at TMT haven’t resulted in much if any change of slant.

            This is the kind of media review commentary which the JRL editor seems to shun, along with the JRL court appointed Russia friendlys.

            As I noted in another set of comments, the posted New Republic feedback is (at last glance) more negative than positive, thereby highlighting two points:

            – the disconnect between media elite appointed journos like Ioffe and a noticeable portion of the audience
            – the discrimination against valid and underrepresented views in English language mass media establishment roles.

            As previously noted, RT and the VoR could and should be doing more to offset this status quo.

  26. reggietcs says:

    It looks like the Shale oil propaganda is really making the rounds – even alternative muckraking websites are being sucked in by the US net energy provider hype:


    • marknesop says:

      Well, it’s such a nice dream – a benevolent and forgiving United States, having destroyed all its enemies by outproducing them, is now the purveyor of inexpensive – well, competitive, at least – energy to the world. Amy Myers Jaffe has a lengthy background in the energy industry, and it’s a surprise to see her shilling for “unconventional oil”. I just, frankly, do not see how it could ever come to pass, because the total amount forecast (optimistically) to be produced when the USA is roaring full-bore is about 3 Million bpd. The USA uses so much more than that, there absolutely would not be a sniff left over for export and it would not come close to covering America’s daily needs. I have to assume that when they say “getting off foreign oil”, they are not including Canada, which supplies about 20% of the USA’s daily consumption. Perhaps they are not including Mexico, either.

      • yalensis says:

        Kirill pointed out in earlier comment that they are rooting after oil that really needs another million years or so to get fully cooked. It must be very thin and watery, maybe like mineral oil. Speaking of which, what ever happened to the idea of running cars on vegetable oil? Is that an option? It would be easier to setup plantations to grow lots of vegetables (whatever they are, soy? sunflowers? corn oil?) than to root around inside the Earth’s crust looking for some scattered pockets of thin mineral liquids.

        • Jen says:

          It would be but biofuel production competes with food agriculture for available land with the result that shortages of cereals, fruit and vegetables could occur and food prices go up. People would protest if that happened.

          Brazil has had a biofuel industry based on sugar cane for decades but I don’t know if Brazilian car drivers get more value for their money driving their cars on sugar cane fuel or a mix of sugar cane fuel and normal petrol, than they would if they drove cars on regular fuel.

          • yalensis says:

            I heard that driving on pure sugar cane makes for a sweet ride…

          • marknesop says:

            It all turns, as Anatoly could explain in more detail, on EROEI – Energy Returned On Energy Invested. You can probably run an engine on potatoes’ pretty much anything generates energy and can be used somehow as a fuel. But then you have to figure in the cost of growing it, harvesting it, refining it, packaging it (some fuels degrade certain containers so you cannot, for instance, put them in plastic bottles), transporting it from the refinery to the fueling point and the efficiency with which it is consumed by the engine, as well as any filtration required or cleanup costs afterward if it turns out to be a major polluter. Thus far, biodiesel – while it makes people feel good to use it because they’re told its made out of weeds or something which would otherwise be useless – it takes more energy to produce a gallon of biodiesel than you get out of burning it. So instead of saving energy, it is a net energy waster.

            We have yet to come up with a better all-around alternative to refined gasoline. There are exotic fuels that burn cleaner and would obtain better mileage, even make your engine last longer, but they are costly to produce and consequently costly to buy. JP (Jet Petroleum) 5, for example, which fuels aircraft engines, JP-10 which is a missile fuel, and Ottofuel which powers older torpedoes are some examples. In addition to its other limiting factors, Ottofuel is toxic, but its capability to burn without oxygen is kind of cool.

            • Jen says:

              There’s been talk about developing cars that run on thorium with claims that 8 grams of the fuel could power cars over a million miles. Aside from the technical issues like how a vehicle can be compact and small enough for a group of 4 people to use yet store the components and processes needed to generate thorium fuel and protect the occupants from its by-products, running a car that never needs refuelling might not be commercially viable for a thorium fuel industry: to make thorium energy a going commercial concern and recoup the costs of building and running a thorium reactor (or converting a conventional reactor into a thorium reactor), the demand for thorium fuel has to be ongoing so there must be some level of built-in obsolescence: the thing has to run out or wear out so customers need to get some more of it and that keeps the industry going. Passenger jets, large ships like aircraft carriers, container ships and cruise liners, and transcontinental trains might benefit from the technology though.

        • kirill says:

          Biofuels (e.g. palm oil derived diesel, ethanol from corn, etc.) cannot hope to compete with fossil fuels. Oil contains energy accumulated by plants over millions of years. Biofuels by definition can only have energy that was accumulated during the growing season. So biofuels simply cannot replace oil consumption. In addition, they are leading to the destruction of the last rain forests (e.g. Malaysia and its palm oil plantation clear cutting). Jen has noted that they compete with food as well. Basically they are a dead end non-solution.

          The boom in palm oil plantations was driven by do-gooder EU idiots who thought warm and fuzzy thoughts every time they heard the word biofuel. So Greenpeace is going after an Arctic oil rig that has not even started production yet but does basically nothing about the loss of some of the last remaining rainforests in the name “conservation”.

          • R.C. says:

            Yes, I had an acquaintance who actually did this with his old Mercedes diesel sedan for a few months until it eventually destroyed his engine.

            • marknesop says:

              The article points out that you cannot just dump used cooking fat with chunks of burnt fish and old french fries in it into your fuel tank; it has to be filtered and so on. It seems to me the point is that a rough and inexpensive fuel which would power diesel engines could be developed which would serve as an acceptable alternative to petroleum-based diesel fuel. But would it be efficient and less-expensive, is the rub.

  27. Moscow Exile says:

    The Guardianista shitwits are out in force with their inane comments posted to the Grauniad’s incessant drumbeating articles about the fate of their fellow bourgois halfwits, the Greenpeace “activists”.

    See: “Greenpeace activists await trial among harsh winds, tears and no sympathy”.

    A regular motif running through the comments is that of the condition of “gays” in Russia, e.g. “It’s a good thing they [the Greenpeace arrested in Murmansk] are not “gay” or they would have 20 years added on”.

    And of course, it’s all “Putin” and even more “Putin”…

    These mental defectives all seem to think that the Russian Coast Guard, after having become aware of the intentions of the Greenpeace vessel, first radioed the President in Moscow in order to determine what action to take as the vessel approached a Russian oil rig.

    “Board them! Teach them a lesson they won’t forget, me hearties!” came the blood curdling reply from the small closet gay who hides in the Kremlin in terror of the Chosen One and his hordes outside the fortress walls.

    “We’ll put ’em all on trial and then off to execution dock with the swabs! Let ’em be a lesson to all the other Western landlubber part-time sailors as hoists the black flag! Harrrrghh-harrrgh!!! Now where’s me goddam rum?”

  28. peter says:

    • yalensis says:

      Well, thank goodness somebody is trying to do something about those bloody asteroids. I’m not joking. Just one hit, and we could all be gone. Americans basically threw away THEIR space program. Somebody has to step up to the plate and come up with a plan. We (humans) have all been living on borrowed times, my friends. Statistically, we are due for a hit at some point.
      Hence, if Russian government can implement a plan to address this risk, then that is a good thing. (Technically, this should be a UN issue, but UN doesn’t have a space program, as far as I know.)

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Those Russian rust-bucket rockets are sure to miss, what with their valve-radio guidance systems and iffy propellant.

      • Jen says:

        Not only will the rust-bucket rockets miss but against all probability they will hit the Netherlands instead. How will the Dutch retaliate then?

        • patient observer says:

          Since the Atlas V, Antares and other US booster use Russian engines, the Dutch are really in trouble. Perhaps not a well known fact, Russian rocket engines are years ahead of Western technology and are preferred by 9 out of 10 rocket scientists.

  29. Misha says:

    A JRL promoted former MT staffer says in a matter of act way that the Russian government bumped off Kadyrov Sr.:


    Without going over this matter in detail, something tells me that LK is leaving out a number of pertinent variables which conflict with his slant.

    The generally not so pro-Russian English Wiki ddifers with him:


    Reminded of the claim that the Russian government blew up apartments to justify the second war of the 1990s in Chechnya.

    • kirill says:

      It’s OK to spread tin foil hat inanity about Russia. But one dare not raise any questions about JKF, 9/11, etc.

      • Misha says:


        In this instance, that former MT staffer and JRL promoted individual is expressing a claim as fact that I didn’t previously see – much unlike the other faulty claim about the Russian government needing to blowup apartments with civilians in order to justify military action in Chechnya.

  30. yalensis says:

    Izvestiya reports on a recent VTSIOM poll. Russian President Putin enjoys the support of 62% of the citizens.
    In terms of popularity, 47% of respondents like Putin for his political experience, 33% like him for his energy and decisiveness, 22% like his far-seeing approach.
    The percentage of those who believe that Putin can guarantee stability has gone down since 2012, from 27% to 22%. Those who consider him to be natural leader have also gone down, from 27% to 18%. Those who believe he can keep order in the country have gone down as well, from 22% to 17%.
    Least popular of all is Putin’s Chechnya policy, only approved by 6% of respondents.
    Among Putin’s personal attributes, 21% believe that he is fair-minded. 18% like him for his sense of honor. 20% like him for his authoritativeness.
    Putin arouses respect in 36%, hope in 26%, confidence in 19%. 32% believe he will carry out his pre-election promises.

    • marknesop says:

      Wow. This looks like Navalny will beat him easily.

      • The reality is that Putin’s support has been rock solid ever since the run up to the March 2012 Presidential election. The numbers have hardly shifted.

        The reality is that behind all the fire and thunder Russian politics have become exceptionally stable. Of course if there was a big economic crisis or if Putin were to fall suddenly ill things might change. For the time being there is simply no challenge to him.

    • kirill says:

      Of course none of those 94% who don’t like his Chechnya policy have any better ideas to propose. Everyone is a critic and a lame one.

      • marknesop says:

        Well, I was being sarcastic, of course – 62% support is actually very good. But you’re right; nobody has any better ideas on how to bring the Caucasus into the fold without arousing the fury of Muscovites that special accommodations are being made for freeloaders and sullen, uncooperative prima donnas. And they’re partly right; the Caucasians are going to have to back off from being so proud and from deliberately alienating the host in which they have taken up residence. But history is fairly clear that handouts are not the answer, as they only incur resentment.

        • kirill says:

          The “handouts” are no different than the Canadian case where the federal government transfers money to the provinces. I did not notice Quebec being too resentful of this transfer money.

          People get on Putin’s case for letting Kadyrov do what he wants. This is by far the best option. Make it clear to Chechens that they are not going to be “ruled from Moscow”. Kadyrov spends the money he gets to rebuild his de facto country and Chechens have to deal with him.

          The complainers just don’t want to have Russian tax money transferred to Chechnya. They probably think it is best to “let it go”. Here is where they are being total idiots. Letting it go means that it becomes a wahabbi toilet ruled from Saudi Arabia (and hence the USA) all over again. You can’t seal off borders and make them impermeable. Just look at the heroin flow from Afghanistan into Russia. Most people, using the gut feelings, think that you can quarantine them off. So what most people want will lead to a redux of the 1990s.

          • marknesop says:

            The major difference is that transfer payments to the provinces are a reallocation of taxpayer money, and indeed they do incur resentment, from provinces like Alberta. That’s because Alberta is never a recipient, only a donor. But Russian payments to Chechnya are revenues from energy sales. I look forward to some interesting ideas from Yalensis and Jen, but perhaps Moscow could set up some businesses in the region, in which Moscow put up the money but the jobs mostly went to locals. These businesses would pay taxes and export goods throughout the federation, but more importantly, men with jobs and financial independence are much less likely to radicalize or protest, because they have something to lose.

            • Jen says:

              I will definitely be saying something about Moscow subsidising Chechnya, why the money flow needs to continue in the short term, where I believe much of the money is going and how it is linked to Ramzan Kadyrov’s ambitions for himself and Chechnya, and also the attitude some Chechens have towards the subsidies. Many Chechens believe it is only right that Russia helps to finance reconstruction after the wars that destroyed Grozny in the 1990s. I will have some suggestions as to how some of the money can be better used.

      • yalensis says:

        The real solution is regional development.
        Chechnya actually doing pretty good now, because they got a lot of development money and rebulding after the wars. After Feds killed Basaev, that pretty much ended what was left of the British/American-funded insurgency there. That left local and regional governments free to consolidate and rebuild. A lot of time, money, and effort was put into re-integrating Chechnya into federal system.

        Dagestan and Ingushetia more problematic than Chechnya and more in need of political consolidation and development money.

        Some Russians just use the word “Chechnya” as a code word for everything that is bad.
        Opps fan this, because they have latched onto ethnic discontent as a new, promising way to try to bust up Russia.

        • I think one must be careful how to read these polls. I haven’t seen the original poll but it doesn’t follow that because only 6% support Putin’s Chechnya policy the other 96% oppose it. Politics are rarely that simple. My guess is that the figure simply reflects the general unpopularity of Caucasians at the present time as opposed to any real opinion about Putin’s Chechen policy. Certainly it’s clear that Chechnya is not a big issue for most Russians as shown by the fact that though only 6% say they support Putin’s Chechen policy 62% say they support him.

  31. marknesop says:

    Ahhhh….the Moscow Times; you have to love ’em. Here’s the story on Lon Snowden’s visit to his son in Russia; if you can read all the way to the end, it finishes with this editorial note: “Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Lon Snowden was incorrectly represented as stating his son had more secrets to share in the leaking scandal.”

    What does the first line of the current version read? “The father of Edward Snowden said upon returning from Russia that the former U.S. spy agency contractor has more secrets to share and should stay abroad “to make sure the true story is told” about his intentions in leaking sensitive information.”

    In other news, Stas Belkovsky – his earlier pique with his friends in the liberal claque, and his offer to be Putin’s retainer, serving to the death with his ancient grenade-launcher and canister of napalm apparently forgotten – is drinking once again on the story that Putin is the richest man in the world, with a fortune of £70 Billion. He’s been fairly consistent with that figure, blathering it all over last year, and some “journalist” or other is always ready to spot him a pint in exchange for this breathtaking confidence. Nobody ever seems to notice that this massive fortune is largely – almost completely – predicated on Putin’s personal ownership of blocks of shares in state gas companies; in this version, 4.5% of Gazprom, 37% of Surgutneftegaz and majority ownership in Gunvor, or that The Economist issued an apology regarding the Gunvor story and said it wasn’t true. That’s because in this version, Gunvor has morphed into “a company that cannot be named for legal reasons”. Yet Belkovsky continues to flit around Moscow breathing his completely fabricated falsehoods, secure in his person like a complacent toad, without anyone laying a finger on him.

    • yalensis says:

      According to a report drawn up by former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, Putin has access to 58 aircrafts, four yachts and nearly two-dozen homes.

      “Has access to…”

      The key point is whether or not Putin gets to keep those aircrafts, yachts and homes AFTER he leaves office. And whether he can pass them along to his children. If the answer to both those questions is NO, then Putin does not actually OWN those objects, he merely USES them, as a political perk. (granted, somewhat excessive, even for a wealthy country)

      It’s like, if I quit my current job, then I can’t take my desk, computer, telephone, notepads, or pens with me. (well, maybe grab some pens on the way out…)
      Because those objects belong to the COMPANY, not to me. Hence I cannot declare them as my assets in order to raise my standing on the Forbes list.

      The difference between OWNERSHIP and USE.
      Marxism 101.

      • In fairness to Nemtsov he did in fact say when he released his report a year or so ago that Putin’s personal fortune is smaller than is alleged.

        I would add that there were widespread rumours at the time of the EU bailout of Cyprus that Putin had money hidden there only for those rumours to be found to be untrue. There was also no visible trace of any secret offshore accounts of Putin’s in the British Virgin Islands when those accounts were exposed shortly after.

        I think by the way that the article does touch on a valid point. This is that the reason that Belkovsky is able to make his claims about Putin is that neither Putin nor Gazprom nor Surgutneftegaz have ever been prepared to bring legal claims against him. I am sure this is because of the political embarrassment involved in doing so and because of concerns that if such proceedings were brought in Russia Belkovsky & Co would simply go on repeating them from abroad whilst citing the proceedings brought against him as further evidence that Putin is a dictator intent on suppressing dissent and criticism of himself. However in the absence of such proceedings Belkovsky is simply able to go on repeating these claims ad infinitum though judging by polling results it doesn’t seem as if Russians care very much about this story or – more likely – they simply don’t believe it.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Belkovsky is yet another of those vociferous and malicious Putin critics who has gone unscathed, his constant attacks against the president notwithstanding. However, not a day seems to go by without my reading some comment in the Western press posted by a Russophobic halfwit that any criticism whatsoever of the Evil One is highly likely to result in the sudden,violent death of anyone who dare do so. Some of these Guardianista types go on to say that in this respect their heroines, the Pizda Riot screechers, have been very lucky to escape with their lives after their brave criticism of the Tyrant in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral. I have even seen the opinion scrawled by some hysteric Guardianistas that perhaps the “Greenpeace 30” should not be be so grateful that they were not immediately liquidated on the Russian president’s orders, in that they they now face years of hell incarcerated in a “Siberian gulag”.

          Meanwhile the drones wing over Pakistan.

          On whose orders?

        • yalensis says:

          Among Opps, the search for Putin’s “secret Swiss bank account” is like King Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail. This is probably the reason why the EU tore up the banks in Cyprus. Questing for it. It would be funny if they somewhere found a lockbox with Putin’s name on it, and ripped it open and found — a grail!

        • marknesop says:

          They keep chunnering on about it because it’s a win/win situation for them. As long as the energy companies remain secretive about their shareholders list – which, I might point out, is their right – they get to sound off loud and long about their being secretly owned by Putin. Well, not “they”; Stanislav Belkovsky, the “political analyst” who deliberately keeps his tea-leaf readings as vague as possible because he has never gotten a single thing right yet, and all the journalists – “they” – who print his nonsense and give to the imprimatur of respectability. Alternatively, if the companies cough up their list of shareholder and Putin is not there, there will still doubtless be juicy information they did not know before, plus there will be shouts of victory that honest reporters and progressive Russians were able to force this concession from them.

      • marknesop says:

        I had a reply almost completed this morning, but the Toshiba From Hell experienced another of its spontaneous power failures, and it quarked off into the great unknown. Then I had to go out for the day, so I’ll try to reconstruct it. Fucking computer. The biggest part of the problem, I think, is pre-planned obsolescence – after a computer’s generation has passed, you simply can’t fix it and have to replace it. The battery in mine is old, and even though it is always plugged into the wall, occasionally and randomly it switches itself over to battery power, drains the battery flat in the space of about a minute and a half, and then quits. Your cue is the green light going out on the power supply – there is no other warning, and if you don’t see that (and who visually checks their power supply every couple of minutes?), you lose anything that wasn’t saved, and WordPress comments that are not complete and posted are never saved. I went to a local computer store to see if I could buy a new battery, but nobody has them any more. The guy gave me one for nothing, said charge it up and see if it works for you, but it registered dead empty and would not charge up. The computer won’t start with no battery in it at all, and once it has drained itself it doesn’t have enough power to even start up, but it remains stubbornly on battery power and the power supply won’t come on. Then in a day or so you push the on button and it starts up as if nothing had happened. I know I’m ranting, but I’m writing about it so I won’t heave it through a window.

        Anyway, I forget what I said now. Something about Nemtsov probably really having more money than Putin. But I do remember this website about Obama’s perks.

        As President of the United States, Obama and his family have exclusive access (except for staff) to a 132-room mansion, 35 of which rooms are bathrooms. Just the flower arrangements which adorn tabletops and displays throughout the residence amount to over a quarter-million in costs, and the White House bills about $4 million a year in upkeep. The staff includes valets and butlers, a pastry chef and a 24-hour cooking staff. The medical section, which is onsite just to serve the President and address his medical needs, is comprised of the President’s personal physician, 5 military physicians, 5 nurses, 5 physician’s assistants, 3 medics and an IT manager. What’s a doctor make, on average? The Presidential physician was not listed by name in this report, but Jonathan Favreau is, and he was the Director of Speechwriting. He pulled down $172,200.00 a year; nice work, if you can get it. Putin’s salary is around $112,000.00 at current exchange rates.

        Obama also has a Presidential guesthouse (Blair House), which is actually 4 connected townhouses; at 70,000 sq, ft., it is bigger than the White House. Its 119 rooms include 35 bathrooms also; 35 must be the magic number of bathrooms which says you’ve really made it. It also includes a gym and a hair salon.

        When he travels about town, Obama is squired ’round in a $300,000.00 armored Cadillac whose doors each weigh as much as the door on a 747. Damn the gas mileage – full speed ahead. He also has 2 armored buses for dignitaries and guests, which come in at about $1 Million apiece.

        When he sticks his nose outside his own country, the U.S. President travels with a Security and Advance Team. When Bush visited London in 2003, that team included 904 staff from the Department of Defense, 600 armed-services personnel, 250 Secret Service officers, 205 White House staff, 103 CIA, 44 staff from the State Department, 30 cabinet personnel, 18 Senior Advance Office staff, 16 Congressmen and 12 sniffer dogs. That’s 2,170 people. And 12 dogs. I’d be interested to know how many staff Putin brings with him when he travels to, say, the G8 Summit. I can promise you it’s not more than 2000, I doubt it’s 200 and I would be surprised if it’s much over 20.

        Camp David was actually a bargain at $25,000.00 when it was built (by Roosevelt). However, it’s been renovated several times since and now includes a pool, a skeet range and a bowling alley. And don’t forget the ever-present security. Or the helicopter to get there.

        Which brings us to aircraft. The President has not one, but two 747’s built for his use. Marine One is a Sea King helicopter, and there are VH-60 Blackhawks for backup. Proposed replacements for Marine One were going to cost $400 Million each, but Congress squashed them.

        Obama makes more than 3 times as much in salary as Putin, and has $100,000.00 for travel expenses and $19,000.00 for official entertaining. When they finally kick him to the curb, he’ll get a lifetime pension of $191,300.00 a year, free treatment at military hospitals and a state funeral.

        I imagine the U.S.A. would be delighted to provide the latter for Putin, as well.

        Except for the pension, free hospital treatment and, of course, the state funeral, Obama doesn’t get to take any of those with him when he goes.

        • Jen says:

          Recall reading on some websites several years ago when GWB was President that he always had a portable loo in tow and anything that went into the bowl was always examined for poison (in case someone was trying to assassinate him). All the water he drank came with him as well. The Hungarian media (when it was free in the pre-Orban regime days) could barely contain their sides for laughter when GWB visited Hungary for the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet Union for 2 days in 2006.

          • marknesop says:

            Well, I don’t know about examining it for poison, but it’s true he traveled with his own toilet, because the government feared the host country would capture and analyze his wastes to assess his health and what he had eaten and drunk. He had good reason to fear such a ploy because the CIA used it on Gorbachev and Brezhnev. All Bush’s waste was flown home.

            Examining his wastes for poison would be, in my opinion, a little late to save him if anything like that had occurred.

  32. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, I am “following” a local Moscow crime story that happened about 3 days ago. Initially I started “covering” the story because I thought it had something to do with Navalny, but it turned out it didn’t.

    Back story: the victim of this crime, Elana Tkach is a municipal deputy of United Russia party, representing the Presnensky region. She is one of the few UR deputies who had the guts to stand up to Sobanin and refused to sign the petition to get Navalny onto the ballot for Moscow Mayor… long story, but basically because of arcane election laws Navalny could not get onto the ballot without UR deputies providing the necessary quantity of signatures, and Sobanin ordered his people to give Navalny the signatures, but Tkach refused to go along with this bullshit and excoriated Navalny in an open letter in the press.

    So anyhow, when Tkach was publicly attacked 3 days ago and ended up in the hospital, I started researching it, thinking it had something to do with Navalny, or maybe even Sobanin’s people, but it didn’t. It has to do with real estate development.

    Still an interesting story, though. Turns out that politician Tkach seems like an actually decent person, her local crusade has been against tearing down older, historical buildings, to make way for sleazy strip malls and porno clubs.

    This story and video show Tkach and her husband, Roman (who volunteers to save historical monuments), speaking at a local council meeting against the strip-mall development plan.
    Some goon named Evgeny Filippov, who pretends to be just an ordinary resident of the neighbourhood but probably works as a bully-boy for the real estate developer, jumps up on the stage. He is trying to beat up Roman. On the way to Roman, he grabs Elena and shoves her off the stage. I guess she was just in the way. Elena falls to the floor, bangs her head badly against a chair, and ends up in the hospital with a concussion. She actually could have died from such a blow to the head.

    The whole incident was videotaped, and it is said that police are “studying” the tape for clues.

    Meanwhile, the perp is still strolling free around Moscow, pretending to limp around with a cane, acting like HE was the one who was hurt. He denies that he deliberately shoved Elena and said it was just an accident, but if you watch the tape starting at :40 seconds in it is pretty clear that he laid hands on her and shoved her off the stage. At 2:00 in, Filippov tells his side of the story. “Nobody touched her,” he says. “Nobody laid a finger on her.” Check him out “limping” around the neighbourhood with his cane. Somebody needs to tell this guy that they invented this thing called “videotape”….

    • kirill says:

      Imagine some anti-Putin liberast being attacked this way and the ensuing shitstorm in the western media. But when someone stands against a western sponsored grifter, Navalny, on principle and gets attacked, well, then it’s not news.

      I say tit for tat. Don’t let the maggots think they can cheat their way into power. Someone needs to find Navalny and beat him until his IQ drops to below 40. At least he would be a legitimate target.

      • An ugly business that shows that you can be pro government and a member of United Russia and be against corruption and that this can bring retaliation down upon you.

        On an unconnected matter, I gather the Coordinating Council has now dissolved itself. That didn’t last very long.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          And I notice that there is a near deafening silence from the Western media concerning the demise of the Coordinating Council – or the “Wankers’ Council”, as Udaltsov in one of his more lucid moments described it.

          This silence strongly contrasts with the hyperbole from the West concerning the election – a true and democratic one by postal vote – of that council by a tiny minority of the Russian population, which council was to be the government in waiting – the true, democratically elected one, of course – that would smoothly take over, under the leadership of the Messiah Navalny, after the “occupants” of the Kremlin had been ousted by the storming of the Moscow citadel by the massed ranks of the chattering classes: the Moscow bourgeoisie, artistic types, students, wannabe Western yuppies, city boulevard guitar strummers, assorted café politicians and assorted layabouts, again under the heroic leadership of that self-same Messiah, Navalny the Basketmaker.

          • Dear Moscow Exile,

            As someone who actually lives in Moscow I wonder whether you agree with my impression (it is only an impression) that some of the tension has gone out of Russian politics over the last few months? There are fewer protests, those that happen pass off peacefully enough and attempts to challenge election results are not being taken as seriously as they were largely because of the efforts the authorities have made since December 2011 to make the election process especially in the Russian regions of the country more transparent. Of course there continues to be much of the same fiery criticism of the government and of Putin in particular as before but the overwhelming reality of the support Putin has is starting to hit home even amongst his most severe critics whilst the anger there was at his return has now well and truly ebbed away with people used to having him back. In the meantime even opponents of the government found themselves supporting its actions over Syria and Snowden.

            I don’t want to exaggerate but I do sense something of a change in the political weather. Do you agree? As the man on the spot what are your impressions?

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Dear Alexander Mercouris,

              I’m in full agreement with your analysis of the present political situation here.

              There was anger across a wide spectrum of the electorate over apparent irregularities in the Duma elections and over the presidential “change of tandem”, but even then the anger soon abated in that it was realized that even after having made adjustments for the crazy results in the North Caucasus and some other areas, the results would have been hardly affected.

              However, a vociferous minority, aided and abetted by foreign support, which support gives these “oppositionists” the firm and moral conviction that they are fighting for “freedom and democracy” and not simply for their own selfish needs, namely to make loads-a-money Yeltsin-years style, together with the capital’s protest community, as you often label them, which communities exist everywhere, always at hand to protest against “the system” – the bums, drop-outs, idlers, “artists” and those that need not work, namely the self-appointed “elite” intelligentsiya (and I use the word “intelligentsiya” [интеллигенция] in the Russian sense), have not ceased for one year in making a noise which is out of all proportion to their numbers.

              Nevertheless, despite all their noise and promotion from the West, the “opposition” began to fizzle out after the inauguration of the president in May of this year: the opinion of the silent bydlo that offers Putin 60% plus support rules.

              And that’s what you call “democracy”.

              The “opposition” doesn’t, though.

              In fact chief opposition shill, Latynina, admirer of Pinochet that she is, thinks the bydlo should be disenfranchised because their opinion prevents all that is good and true from taking over the state.

              • Dear Moscow Exile,

                Thank you very much for this. It’s good to know that your impressions correspond with mine.

                Incidentally, I get the impression that some of the fire has also gone out of some of the western criticism of Putin. As you know Patrick Armstrong has even detected an uptick of respect for him on some sections of the US right.

                • Misha says:

                  Your hyped source isn’t the only one who has picked up on that. I noted Ralph Peters indicating such. In addition, I’ve noted to Mark that Western leaning conservatives haven’t all been so anti-Russia/anti-Putin. In a not so distant Salon (if I’m not mistaken), there was an article acknowledging this matter.

                • Dear Misha,

                  Did you write such an article? I’d be interested to read it. Could you provide a link?

                • Misha says:

                  Hello Alexander,

                  I made comments about that at this venue.

                  My formally written commentary is assessable via the above hyperlink provided – articles which have been picked up by numerous well established venues, without compromising opinions, that run counter to the ones often evident in English language mass media.

                  Among the articles which can be reached there is this one:


                  Reference is made to Dana Rohrabacher who fits the conservative category – certainly more so than Chuck Schumer among others.

                  Shortly after writing that article, US-Russian relations took a turn for the worse, with some saying that I’m misguided. I countered by repeating my view of fluctuating up and down trends, which I think might eventually lead to better relations in the long run.

                  On that thought, I think much depends on the top American decision-making, as opposed to the view that Russia has elements which hinder that possibility. Not that I’m saying the problems are a complete one way street.

      • yalensis says:

        But it doesn’t seem like Navalny had anything to do with this violent attack. (that we know of)

        • Dear Yalensis,

          I am sure Navalny was not involved. Whatever one’s view of Navalny revenge attacks on his opponents is not something he has ever engaged in and I don’t believe for a moment he would ever do such a thing. It would be politically crazy for him to do it. There’s a good straightforward explanation for this attack, which you have provided and one should not look beyond that for another more complicated one,

          • yalensis says:

            I agree. That comment was in response to kirill who wanted to get even by beating Navalny to a pulp, even though Navalny wasn’t involved in Tkach’s injury.
            Everything that is known about Navalny indicates that he is a grifter without any violent tendencies.
            My little addition of “(that we know of)” in the comment was mean to be ironic. Sorry for that.
            Elena Tkach, by the way, appears to be doing well in the hospital. But it is troublesome injury. It is technically a “closed traumatic brain injury”, which I guess means it was not bleeding inside the brain. However, we know from experiences with boxers and other athletes that these types of injuries can cause many complications that take place even years into the future: personality changes, depression, lowering of IQ,, Parkinson’s, etc. Hence, it is not a trivial attack. The video coverage was inappropriately jokey.

  33. yalensis says:

    In more Navalny news:
    Hot off the press, this expose that Putin was involved in the decision to allow Navalny to participate in the Moscow mayor elections.
    Surprise, surprise!

    Mayor Sobanin revealed this “shocking” news (like everybody didn’t already know it) in an interview that will come out in Kommersant on Monday. (Actually, it’s already Monday Moscow time, so this is a glimpse into the future.)

    “Yeah,” Sobanin admits. “Sure I consulted with Putin. And not just him. But also his assistant Volodin. I ran it by them, should Navalny be allowed to run for Mayor? They agreed, like I knew they would.”

    Corollary of this admission: Everybody was right who surmised that Putin personally gave the order to spring Navalny from the pokey into which Judge Sergei Blinov had unceremoniously tossed him. So that Sobanin could take this crook and run him for Mayor.

    Yeah, it’s good to be the king.

    • That Sobyanin would have informed Putin about his decision to let Navalny run is obvious if only because Sobyanin needed the support of United Russia councillors in Moscow to nominate Navalny. Frankly it is inconceivable that the decision to let Navalny run was made without Putin being consulted. Of course Sobyanin and Putin both insist they had nothing to do with the prosecution’s decision to appeal Navalny’s detention and what Sobyanin says does not affect that.

      • yalensis says:

        That’s true, but I think it is a logical inference from the above that Putin/Sobanin got on the horn and asked Prosecutor Bogdanov to spring Navalny from detention.

        (Ofitserov too, but it is stipulated that Ofitserov, like a male version of Ruth, shares Navalny’s fate and goes whithersoever Navalny goes.)

        So, Bogdanov spent 3 weeks proving systematically, trunk by trunk , and twig by twig, that Navalny embezzled 16 million rubles worth of lumber. Bogdanov (and his younger colleague Cheremisin) won their case, Blinov convicted the defendants to real time and did what Russian judges always do in this circumstance: he had them taken away and put into detention right out of the courtroom.

        Then, the next morning, all of a sudden it is Bogdanov (and not even the defendants attorneys) who is lodging the emergency appeal to get Navalny/Ofitserov out on bail.

        Video coverage of the emergency appeal shows Bogdanov with shifty eyes. (Sorry, I can’t find the video any more, but I remember watching it, and Bogdanov definitely had shifty eyes.) The shifty eyes prove that Bogdanov was TOLD to lodge the appeal, once the powers that be realized that Navalny’s own attorneys had lapsed into Dostoevskian hopelessness: “Ah, it’s all hopeless. Russian courts are a farce! …”

        Without external deus ex machina, it would have been normal for the prosecution to just shrug and say, “Okay, if their own laywers are not even bothering to lodge an appeal against the detention, then let him sit and rot.” Why even lift a finger to help him?

        I think the answer is obvious: both Putin and Sobanin wanted Navalny at large, so that he could run for Mayor. Their plan was that he would fail miserably, like Chirikova. Instead, he did fairly well, and made Sobanin look like a jerk. Which only proves that even a good chess player should not try to go too deep with the clever moves. Sometimes simpler is better.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          But whatever happened, the end result is: ’tis better that he fought and ran away and never shall fight another day…for he’s still got a 5-year sentence hanging over his head.

          I get the feeling that many in the West think that Navalny’s successful appeal against sentence also quashed his conviction.

          It didn’t: he’s still a convicted thief.

  34. kirill says:


    Another joke index produced to spread western propaganda and justify future military action in the name of “humanity”.

    “India leads the world, followed by China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh. These 10 countries account for 76% of the world’s modern slaves.”

    A clear pile of BS. I can see various socio-cultural pathologies putting India high on the list. I see that according to these clowns Saudi Arabia has less “slaves” than Russia. Really? The migrants from the 3rd world who go there to work (e.g. from the Philippines) are treated basically like slaves. Nothing comparable happens in Russia.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, The Moscow Times – reliably – carried the story but focused only on Russia. Of course LR was there like Rush Limbaugh on a jelly roll, taking me to task because I had asked what the methodology was, considering this is their first-ever report (some Australian outfit called Walk Free). I was glad she defended the methodology so vociferously, because the same outfit had just gone after the tomato growers in Florida, saying that “countless” people were enslaved by them and had to work in brutal conditions for little or no pay. I imagine she has delivered some sort of spluttering reply by now, but I haven’t had time to look.

  35. Moscow Exile says:

    From Moskovsky Komsomolets: Бирюлево:как “крышуют” торговцев те, кого “крышуют” силовики|” [Biryulyovo: How traders pay “protection” to those who pay the enforcers “protection”].

    Secretly filmed a year ago on the Biryulyovo market.

    Not a Russian in sight!

    A senior police officer informant told MK that it was almost impossible to get near the place where these payments were made let alone openly film them.

    Again from MK: Будни овощебазы: Бирюлево vs Париж [A working day at a fruit and vegetable wholesale market: Biryulyovo vs Paris].

    The first comment from an irate MK reader reads thus:

    Не покупайте у чурок. Не пользуйтесь их услугами. Не берите на работу. Не сдавайте им жилье. Выдавливайте их отовсюду. Не помогайте ни в чем. Если увидите незаконную торговлю, нелегальные такси и другие их преступления, не оставайтесь безразличными,- хотя бы позвоните в полицию, оставьте информацию на сайте правительства города и т.п., выходите на сходы и акции. От каждого зависит в какой стране будут жить наши дети и внуки. Объединяйтесь, вооружайтесь, ведите пропаганду среди родственников и знакомых. Покупая у чурок что либо, пользуясь их услугами, давая им возможность набивать карманы,- Вы обеспечиваете очень туманное будущее своих детей и внуков. Эти дикари с чуждой нам верой, менталитетом, образом жизни – убивают, грабят, захватывают наши земли. И на Ваши деньги они размножаются, подкупают продажных чиновников, финансируют бандформирования. Задумайтесь о будущем своих детей и внуков.

    [Do not buy anything off these Caucasian wogs. Do not use their services. Do not hire them. Do not give them shelter. Squeeze them out from all sides. Do not help them with anything. If you see them illegally trading, operating taxis illegally and undertaking any other of their crimes, do not remain indifferent to this: at least call the police, leave the information on the city administration website etc., go to rallies and meetings. On each individual depends the country in which our children and grandchildren will live . Unite for battle and keep the propaganda going amongst our relatives and acquaintances . Buying from wogs or using their services enables them to line their pockets and in doing so you are providing a very uncertain future for our children and grandchildren. These savages are alien to us in their faith, mentality and way of life; they kill, rob and seize our lands. And they multiply using our money and bribe corrupt officials and finance criminal gangs . Think about the future of our children and grandchildren.]

    • yalensis says:

      Yeah, neo-nazis are whipping it up with unbridled hate speech, they have found their cause célèbre and their favorite term of abuse. Now it’s “churka” this and “churka” that. (“wogs” is a good translation)

      Pro-wogs should initiative their own PR campaign: “Eat more vegetables! Vegetables are good for you!”

      • yalensis says:

        And speaking of wogs…
        The internet is abuzz with this story about a cute little blonde girl who was kidnapped by gypsies.

        I guess when it comes to gypsies, nobody feels the need for political correctness any more. It’s okay that the police just took one look at her and said to the gypsy “parents”, “Hey, wait a minute! This kid doesn’t look anything like you! You’re swarthy, and she is pale and blonde. We assume that you kidnapped her, and we must investigate.”

        Not that the Greek police did anything wrong, it’s just kind of funny that they were so un-PC. What if it had turned out that the kid was legitimately adopted?

        Anyhow, now they are speculating that the kid might be Bulgarian. I doubt that. Most Bulgarians are dark-haired and visually indistinguishable from Greeks or Turks. I wonder if the child might be Russian or Ukrainian? She has that kind of Slavic look about her cheekbones. In fact, she is a dead ringer for a very young Oksana Baiul.. Could she be Oksana’s love child?

        Alternative theory is that the child is a member of the Famous Five crime-solving group. Those white, blonde-haired children were always getting kidnapped by gypsies.

        • Misha says:

          Based on lengthy personal and more distant experiences, there’re a good number of Bulgarians, who look like the stereotyped Russian or Ukrainian. In the culturally/historically challenged US, Bulgarians have been mistaken as Russians, with the former generally not taking that as an insult.




          There’re some fair complexioned Greeks – seemingly more so than Turks.

          A Ukrainian acquaintance of mine has a Bulgarian girlfriend who looks something like Isinbayeva.

          • Yalensis makes a good point here. This case would certainly not have attracted the attention of the Greek police or the international attention that it did if the girl had been a brown eyed brunette instead a blue eyed blonde even if her supposed parents had in that case been blue eyed blondes (I am told it is genetically practically impossible for two blonde blue eyed parents to produce a brown eyed child).

            As Misha says there are some fair coloured Greeks but it is a strain that is comparatively rare. It is difficult to convey the exceptional cachet amongst Mediterranean people of blonde hair and blue eyes precisely because they are comparatively rare. My partner who is blonde and blue eyed always gets an extraordinary amount of attention in Greece (if I am going to be frank it was one thing that originally attracted me to her). However that is dwarfed by the feelings Greeks have for children who are blonde and blue eyed. My Polish friend whose two daughters are blonde and blue eyed tells me that whenever they go to Greece or elsewhere around the Mediterranean they always come back horribly spoilt because of the attention they get.

            This goes back a very long way. There is a story about Pope Gregory the Great who during the Dark Ages saw in Rome some blonde and blue eyed English children (“Angles”) who had come there with their parents on pilgrimage. Supposedly he said that they were “not Angles but Angels”.

            Incidentally I was once told that in Russia where most people are relatively fair and where many people are blonde that in the eighteenth and nineteenth century it was the opposite and that the ideal of female beauty amongst the aristocracy was for women to have dark hair and black eyes. That does seem to correspond with what I have seen of Russian portraits and read in Russian novels of that time.

            • Misha says:

              Bulgarians and Serbs tend to be fairer than Greeks, with many of the aforementioned Slavs resembling northern Slavs.

            • Jen says:

              I have met fair-haired people of Greek or central / southern Italian backgrounds but they have usually had golden or light-brown hair and their eyes blue or brown. I particularly remember one person I used to be friends with, Ourania, who had light golden-brown hair. The small girl, Maria, in question has white-blonde hair and very pale skin that suggest northern European ancestry. She could even be Julian Assange’s long-lost love child!

              Even if the girl had been a victim of a trafficking ring, the Roma gypsy family in whose house she was found might be innocent of her kidnapping. They may have taken the child in as a stray and by doing that, “adopted” her. Gypsies don’t have any contact with gadje (non-gypsies) and are poorly educated so they don’t carry papers. True, every time the couple is interviewed, they seem to come up with a new story that makes no sense but that could be their way of trying to protect themselves or their other children. The thinking being: “Let’s give the gadje police what they want to hear and we’ll be out … if it works, good … if it doesn’t, we’ll give them something else.” It probably doesn’t occur to them to think that what they’re doing is harming their own interests.

              What doesn’t help either is that much of Europe immediately west of Russia is in dire straits and in this context, not only does child-trafficking flourish but people abandoning children or parking them with others, even gypsies, might be common.

              Incidentally the genetics involved in inheriting blue eyes and brown eyes are not so simple as was once believed and taught to high school biology students. The model used to be that brown eyes were always dominant over blue eyes so if you inherited one brown-eye gene from one parent and one blue-eye gene from the other, you ended up with brown eyes but you could have a blue-eyed child if that child inherited two blue-eye genes (one from you and the other from the other parent). There is now new evidence that the brown-eye gene is made up of two genes that depend on each other to work and if either of these two genes is suppressed, then a person who should be brown-eyed according to the old model ends up being blue-eyed. It is possible then for two blue-eyed parents to have a brown-eyed child.

              • Misha says:

                Yes, genetics involves a not always so precise science, that periodically involves some key variables that are left out – unintended or otherwise.

                Reminded of a Ukrainian-American, who constantly harping on a factually challenged DNA study which he uses as proof that the peoples inhabiting present day Russia and Ukraine didn’t experience extended period of back and forth migration over the centuries.

                Will read your formally written article that has been posted.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Dear Alexander Mercouris,

              The “Angels but not Angles” whom pope Gregory commented about were not English Christian pilgrims to Rome. England was still pagan then, Woden being the top god in the English pantheon together with Thor. (They still are for me!) The English children in question were on sale as slaves. On seeing them, the kindly pope ordered that missionaries be sent to England so that my angelic forebears be converted to the one, true, holy and catholic church. This was before the great schism, of course, between the Eastern and Western Christian churches.

              When I was told this tale as a child at infants’ school, even at that young age I wondered what the Holy Father in Rome was doing browsing around the local slave market. At that age I was unaware of homosexuality – of any form of sexuality for that matter – so I had no idea what catamite meant. However, I now realize that Pope Gregory the Great might just have been strolling around the kiddies’ section of the Roman slave market with a view to purchasing a few little playmates in mind. Traditions in what became the Roman Catholic Church go back a long way.

              As it happens, all three of my children are tall, blond haired and blue eyed: my 14-year-old son is now almost as tall as I am at 6’2” (1.88 metres). My eldest daughter gets called “anglichanka” (English girl) at school, which she does not like. A large proportion of children in my children’s state school are the progeny of immigrants from the Caucasus and the Central Asian “stan” Republics. For some reason or other, these immigrant children always call my son “amerikanets” (American), something which he also objects to – especially when they cal him a “stupid American”.

              Interestingly though, I occasionally ask my eldest children if they would like to move to England and live there. “What, forever?” they ask, showing some concern. I say “Yes, why not?” to which they most decidedly declare that they want to live in Russia because they are Russian and that they “love” Russia. Furthermore, my little 5-year-old girl quite often asks me quite concernedly why I am English. I simply reply that it is because I was born in England, something about which I had no choice. I then ask her if she would prefer my being Russian, to which she always unhesitatingly replies “Yes!”

              Clearly, my offspring are unaware of the fact that they live in a Mafia State that is ruled by a crazed and evil former “proud member of the KGB” tyrant and from which squalid, corrupt excuse for a country they really should be yearning to be free.

              I kid ye not!


      • They are not “neo-nazis”. They are normal Russian people who are fed up with the crime, violence and terrorism and want to live in peace.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Funny thing for me as regards this comparing Biryulyovo market with one in Paris is that the compiler of the clip has not, I am sure, been to Paris of late.

      The clip shows French health inspectors checking produce that has arrived at the market (probably the new Paris “Les Halles”). However, I can assure the clip compiler without any hesitation whatsoever that if he ventured into the market precincts he would find the place awash with French citizens mostly of North African origin.

  36. Another Chechen/Dagestani terror attack in Russia happened today, this time in Volgograd. A bus full of college students was targeted. At least six people are dead and eight more are in critical condition. This seems like a smaller version of Beslan where children were also targeted.

    Hopefully the Islamic terrorist scum that was responsible for this cowardly murder of children will be found and punished.

    However, this problem will not go away even if the guilty is found and punished. Russian North Caucasus has thousand and thousands of potential terrorists who are easy to recruit. Cities in Russia proper are full of North Caucasian “immigrants”. A week ago two Chechens living in Moscow tried to blow up a chemical weapon storage in Kirov but the FSB managed to prevent the attack.

    A sad fact is that Russia has a relatively big (and growing) ethnic and religious element inside its own borders that is extremely hateful towards Russia and prepared to commit the most heinous crimes against Russian people. How will Russia deal with this?

    • Gazeta.ru: The dead and injured were mainly students of the Volgograd State University.

      The worthless islamic terrorists wanted to target the best young people of Volgograd.

      Russia needs some kind of an internal passport system to prevent movement from North Caucasus to other parts of Russia. Russia also needs to deport a big portion of North Caucasus Muslims that currently live in other parts of Russia back to the mountains.

      In a long run it is clear that there will be a “Third Chechen War”. Russian Slavs, Volga Muslims and Finnougric people are incompatible with North Caucasus Muslims. North Caucasus Muslims will never integrate to the rest of Russia.

      How this “Third Chechen War” will be fought? I don’t really know. It depends what kind of a regime Russia has at the time and how much support the North Caucasus Mujahideen will have from outside. The Syria outcome is the worst possible scenario but luckily their numbers is not (yet) large enough to fight a guerrilla war in Russia proper. So they will have to resort to these terrorist attacks.

      But the sooner Russia takes care of this problem the better. These people will need to be put down, because otherwise they will destroy Russia internally. Their numbers are growing while number of Slavs are decreasing.

    • marknesop says:

      It looks like this is going to be the new “massive street protests” effort to topple the Russian government, or at least keep it busy dealing with internal crises. The effort is unrelenting. Quite a good position to attack from, too – anything Russia does about it is “proof” that Russians are merciless racists, so some dividends are reaped regardless the outcome. It also feeds nicely into making Caucasian race relations an issue for Sochi next year.

      • According to Russian media the perp was a female suicide bomber named Naida Ahiyalova. His husband was a militant leader who was killed by the FSB earlier this year.

        I actually think it is good that Russians are protesting this time. There are good and bad reasons to protest, but this is a good one. The officials and government has been allowing too much internal migration from North Caucasus to Russian heartland. The more people are protesting the more the officials and the government feel the heat to do something about it.

        The internal migration from North Caucasus is extremely bad for Russia and it needs to be contained. Maybe Putin will do something if he sees his popularity plummet because of people being fed up with Chechens and Dagestanis invading their cities and villages and terrorizing them. Look what happened in Pugachevo. A few dozens of Chechens terrorized several thousands of Russians who were not organized or brave enough to defend themselves..

          • Dear Misha and Yalensis,

            Brilliant Misha!

            As I well remember a year ago the way the White Ribbon Opposition was going to connect with the Russian masses was by a turn to the socialist Left. Well we all saw what came of that. Now it’s time to try a turn to the ethnicist Right. That will be as big a political flop as the left turn was.

        • yalensis says:

          Investigators believe that the alleged perps (Asiyalova and her boyfriend Dmitry Sokolov) belonged to the illegal organization “Emirate Kavkaz”, a Wahhabite terrorist group centered in Dagestan and led by “Emir” Arsanali Kambulatov (aka Abu Muhammad).

          This so-called Emirate has long been funded by the Saudis, Americans, and British.
          Terrorism against Russia will stop when the Saudis/Americans/Brits tell these creeps to knock it off. (Or stop funding them.)

          Interesting that the Saudi-funded Wahhabists are launching terror attacks against ethnic Russians at the exact same time the Navalnyites and neo-Nazis are marching against “churki” migrants and demanding to cut off Chechnya and Dagestan.

          Coincidence? Or all part of a coordinated plan drawn up in the American Embassy?

  37. Misha says:

    San Francisco Backs Out of Historic Russian Commemoration – Event Organizer

    No surprise.

    • marknesop says:

      Where have they been? The gay issue has passed without achieving the desired effect, and the rabble-rousers have moved on to nationalism as the cause du jour.

      It is indeed no surprise to see what kind of clout the gays have in Gay City, USA. And, as always, long-term interests will be sacrificed to the cause of short-term mollifying and pacification of a loud advocacy group. Well, that’s really the essence of democracy, isn’t it – the squeaky wheel gets the grease? If the gay community wants to carefully edit out parts of the city’s history because they are incompatible with the homosexual agenda, that is certainly their privilege. If the city wants to go along with it because of the terror of the municipal government at the prospect of having the gay vote against it, well, that’s just about as democratic as you could want as well, isn’t it? All around a great victory for democracy, I say. And what are the prospects, seriously, that a future calamity will strike San Francisco in which it will need international help?

      • Misha says:

        Lobbying clout, inclusive of a selective sensitivity.

        Another recent example is the lack of high profile outrage to a particular article, which if written about another group, would probably be considered bigoted and grounds for firing.

        As Larry King’s mug shot next to the RT logo is displayed on DC Metro busses, with at least one person suggestively seeing this as something significant like the Red flag over the Reichstag.

        • This is a peculiarly cheap shot. As I understand the invitation to the Russian navy was as a way of commemorating the rescue work of Russian sailors during a disastrous fire that hit San Francisco in 1862. That would have been during the Civil War when Russia gave the US critical political support during a struggle when the American Union was fighting for its life. Inviting the participation of the Russian fleet was presumably a way of saying thank you. Well instead of thanks what we got instead was a slap in the face. How much more boorish can you get than that?

  38. Misha says:

    An example of RIAN’s American influence:


    No former Russian Olympians were available?

    Does the VoA give former Russian Olympians a slot?

    • marknesop says:

      That’s a good point, but on the whole I found it quite a positive piece and the author to have achieved a nice international balance. The Miracle On Ice was a huge victory for the American sports community, and overall I find it to have been devoid of the bitter mean-spiritedness that prevails today. It was about hockey, and the best team won – all the sweeter because they had never been expected to achieve anything like what they did. I like to think the Russians as well were captivated by this underdog blowout, as it was a far different world to what it is now. I doubt very much such a unifying sports moment could make much difference today.

  39. marknesop says:

    Returning for a moment to the subject of the post – the upcoming trade deal between the EU and Ukraine – there is renewed pressure on Yanukovych to pardon Tymoshenko. According to the EU envoys, time to reach an accommodation is running out.


    Yanukovych has squirmed and contorted and offered to let her go to Germany for treatment for her back problems, but only as a convicted criminal who must return to serve the remainder of her sentence once she has been “restored to health”. The EU insists on a full pardon.

    Yanukovych can’t very well do that, because he knows that even if she went to Germany, her back trouble would be put right in two shakes and she would be back stirring things up against him and planning her election campaign for 2015, with the righteous zeal of having been unjustly imprisoned driving her on.

    The Tymoshenko supporters, scenting unprecedented opportunity, have pulled out all the stops to get their braid-headed icon freed, and will not hesitate to scupper the trade deal in order to achieve their objective. In the end, it might be pro-Tymoshenko parliamentarian Arseny Yatsenyuk who drives the stake through its heart. “We need a compromise between the government, our European partners and one which Yulia Tymoshenko agrees with,” he warbles…”We can now draw a line under a period of shameful Ukrainian history in which the political opponent of an acting president was locked up, and close the Pandora’s box opened by your government.”

    Obviously, this is a no-win for Yanukovych, since if he agrees to this it will be Tymoshenko who gets the credit for the trade deal, and Tymoshenko who will run against him in 2015 with the full backing of the EU, while he is handicapped by having effectively confessed to locking her up on fabricated, politically-motivated charges. That will not look good on a campaign brochure.

    It almost looks to me like the EU senses Yanukovych is not going to go for the deal, and is therefore switching its focus to ensuring he will be tarred with its failure so as to further kneecap him for the election. But a lot could happen between now and then, and if he were clever he could easily sell the premise that it was Tymoshenko’s supporters who ruined everything. Because if this scenario plays out, they will.

    • kirill says:

      Ukraine apparently feels the need to get the Serbia treatment. It will spend all its time appeasing the EU(SSR) groveling in the “shame” of its past “misdeeds”. And the EU will throw a few crumbs which Ukraine will lap up as if they were substantial. I guess, at least, Ukraine will feel content in sticking it to those proklaty Moskali who are the source of all its problems.

      Russia does not need deep association with countries afflicting by such syndromes. They can bugger off and get what they are truly asking for 😦

      • marknesop says:

        Well, it’s an interesting situation right now, because as we have often discussed, Ukraine has tremendous potential. It could really be something, and the long-suffering Ukrainian people – whom we bear no ill will – deserve for it to be something. But it is not likely going to reach that potential under Yanukovych, who now just seems to be spinning his wheels and making no real progress. At the same time, Ukraine right now is a liability for whomever ends up being its associate. It is poor and while its people are not particularly unskilled, the EU is not going to provide thousands of great jobs for poor Ukrainians fleeing their impoverished country. The EU – same as Russia, if that turns out to be the choice – is going to expect Ukrainians to stay in Ukraine and make it produce, but whomever is its partner is going to have to both spend money on it, and police it to clean up the corruption and exert control over its oligarchy. The latter are likely banking on the choice being the EU, and that they will be allowed to run Ukraine as they always have. History has shown that a western-friendly government is not necessarily going to clean it up – during the Yushchenko-Tymoshenko years, Ukraine took on a massive debt load, while the lives of ordinary people became no better and Ukraine sank steadily down the corruption ratings despite sympathetic soft-pedaling by a west that expected liberals to work their magic, ending Yushchenko’s miserable failure-orange presidency below Libya on the corruption scale.

        It would be comical if Ukraine chose the EU, and then turned away from it after it had spent a fortune on getting Ukraine solvent again, but I have a feeling whichever way Ukraine chooses to go, it will pursue that association for the long term. But the EU plainly wants it only to keep it away from Russia, not because it sees it as an asset, and may go too far with its demands.

    • Misha says:


      An earlier AMINUK article noted the same.

      • Dear Mark,

        Thanks for all.

        Yanukovitch has no one to blame for this situation but himself. It was he who pushed for the EU association agreement even though the Europeans have consistently said they would not grant it unless Tymoshenko was released. A few weeks ago in Yalta the Germans told Yanukovitch to his face that they not only want Tymoshenko unconditionally released but all the charges against her dropped.

        Yanukovitch has consistently said that he cannot do this because he cannot interfere with the Court. Given that this is his stance he should have realised long ago that an EU association agreement was simply not available except on terms that would leave him utterly humiliated politically. Instead he seems to have gambled that the EU authorities and the Germans especially were bluffing. Now that he is starting to realise that they are not bluffing his solution is this cunning plan he has cooked up with the help of the former President Knasniewski to get the Ukrainian parliament to pass a law to allow Tymoshenko to go to Germany for medical treatment but to return to the Ukraine to complete her sentence when the medical treatment has been provided. Again it doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind that the Ukrainian opposition has no interest in helping him to get off the hook he has impaled himself on by voting for such a law. Nor does he seem to have grasped that what he is proposing – Tymoshenko’s treatment in Germany – does not in fact meet the EU’s demands, which are not that Tymoshenko go to Germany for medical treatment but that she be unconditionally released and that all the charges against her be dropped. Carl Bildt, who is said to be close to German thinking on this question, is in terms of simple logic perfectly correct to pour cold water on this proposal.

        Now of course it could be that we are still looking at a game of bluff and counter bluff. It could be that the people within the EU who are determined that the Ukraine should have an association agreement will prevail and that the EU will sign an association agreement with the Ukraine provided she goes to Germany. It could be that the parliamentary opposition is eventually bullied or persuaded to vote for this idea so that the Ukraine does get its association agreement. Tymoshenko after all supports it. Or it could be that Yanukovitch swallows his pride and does find some way of releasing Tymoshenko despite all he has said and despite the fact that only a few days ago the Presidential Commission on Pardons said there were no grounds to pardon Tymoshenko. There is supposed to be a meeting of a Presidential body in the Ukraine on 24th October 2013 that concerns itself with issues of clemency and there is some speculation that some initiative may be taken there. However whatever the eventual outcome things for Yanukovitch at the moment are not looking good.

        • Misha says:

          Ukrainian politics is oligarch influenced. Hence, Yanukovych isn’t acting exclusively on his own. The oligarchs who’ve supported him include those seeking improved ties to the EU for the benefit of their own position.

          Paying lip service to the EU AA agreement is a way of guaranteeing a better image among some influential Western politicos. In turn, the Tymoshenko issue is one that the EU can use to explain away its reluctance to deal with a socioeconomically challenged Ukraine.

          Meantime it appears that the Russia/Customs Union is taken for granted by some as an option that will be there for Ukraine if the latter’s economy falters, in the event that closer EU-Ukraine relations don’t deliver better conditions for the troubled former Soviet republic.

          • Dear Misha,

            Your point about the Ukrainians taking cooperation with the Customs Union for granted is a good one. Up to a certain point they are right to do so but one can overplay one’s game and the point may eventually come when the Ukrainians find that they have annoyed the Russians beyond the point of endurance. At that point they may find the Russians a lot less forthcoming than they expect.

            I also by the way fully accept your point about Yanukovitch being an oligarch controlled politician. When I say “Yanukovitch” that of course encompasses the people behind him and who he fronts for. Since it is difficult to distinguish him from them I think I am justified in speaking of “Yanukovitch” in a way that encompasses both.

  40. yalensis says:

    Interesting Izvestiya piece on the Volgograd terrorist. Interview with terrorist’s mom.


    The Dagestan village of of Gunib, where the suicide bomber Naida Asiyalova was born, is situated 170 km from Makhachkala. On Monday, Asiyalova blew herself up in a bus in Volgograd. Along with her perished six people, and another 32 were injured.

    Ravzat, the mother of the “martyr” still lives in Gunib and works in the post office. She has 3 daughters, Naida was the youngest.

    “She is an invalid, she limps a lot,” people in the village administration told “Izvestiya”. “We feel bad for her, Ravzat, as soon as her daughter hooked up with the Wahhabites, she stopped coming home. And the mother herself – is a simple, honest woman, and her other (two) daughters are normal.”

    Neighbors tell how, on the eve of the terrorist act, Ravzat came to them in tears and spoke of Naida. “It’s almost as if she had a premonition, says Akhmadulla, a neighbor of the Asiyalova family. “She was reminiscing about Naida, she complained that Naida never comes home and rarely phones in. She was married to a Turk, she met him in Moscow and got married. She left for Moscow to find work, already 7 years ago, found a job as a sales clerk. She [Ravzat] said that her daughter was ill, she had some kind of digestive problem [in the social media it was written that she was “rotting inside” and people even collected some money for her, saying that in the past couple of years was living on strong pharmaceuticals — Izvestiya]

    In a different version, sources close to the investigation claim that Asiyalova’s “illness” might have been a fiction, and that the money she collected over the intenet went for the financing of insurgents. According to the Special Services, Asiyalova met Dmitry Sokolov on the internet, and recruited him. In July 2012 Sokolov disappeared after studying Arabic, his parents went on TV (the show “Wait for Me”) and turned to volunteers [to help find their son].

    Razvat herself in an interview with “Izvestiya” stated that she learned of the terrorist act over the internet.

    “My daughter called me for the last time about a month ago,” says Razvat. She rarely called, because I used to scold her. When she was married to the Turk, she was normal. But then they got divorced. And she re-married, this time to a Russian. After that, she donned the hijab. She started to pray a lot. And I don’t like those hijabs, I would tell her to take it off. So she stopped calling me, because she didn’t want to hear it. Because of that damned hijab and because of her convictions, we always had scandals.

    Interviewer: Her latest husband, this Dmitry Sokolov, was 10 years younger than her, and according to the special services, he prepared the bomb for her?

    What are you talking about? How would I know that? She never told me anything about that, I never laid eyes on her latest husband, they never came here together (to visit).

    Where was she living recently?

    She told me she was living in Makhachkala, but where exactly, and what she was doing, she never said, and I never asked.

    People are writing that Naida had a genetic illness of the mouth, and that you had given her up to the Buinaksky orphanage. Is that true?

    What are you talking about? Who said that? She grew up here, in Gunib, along with her sisters. And then she went to Moscow to find work.

    So what about this illness that was so severe that people had to collect money for her?

    She had a digestive problem. She wanted to lose weight, she was always taking weight-loss pills, the pills ruined her (stomach). I never heard anything about collecting money, and in any case whatever ailed her was not so terrible, and she never said anything to me about any of this.

    Have you been interrogated by the investigators? Are you planning to go to identify (the corpse)?

    Yes, I am planning to go to Makhachkala to meet with the Investigative Committee. Other than that, I know nothing, and what can I know? I am a simple mother, I don’t even know if I will be able to view (the corpse), why did she do this? can anybody explain this to me?

    The village of Gunib was the last stand of the Imam Shamil, Russian soldiers took it in August 1859. In the course of the past 15 years Gunib is regularly “cleansed” [of insurgents]. The last time was 3 years ago. In August 2010, as a result of a “special operation”, five “militants” were liquidated there, including the so-caled “Emir” of the Khasavurtovsky region, Rustam Munkiev, as well as the organizer of the Moscow metro terrorst act, Magomedali Vagabov. The latter was known as the “shariah judge”, he was appointed by Doku Umarov and was the second in command of the of the “Caucasian Emirate”, one of the largest illegal bands in the Northern Caucasus. The (Russian) Supreme Court back in 2010 criminalized the activities of this organization, for propagandizing the ideas of “Wahhabism” and “jihad”.

    According to operative information, Asiyalova wore a homemade explosive belt. Along with the “martyr” was found her passport. Her husband Dmitry Sokolov is known in the database as a an active member of the NBF [????], under the code name “Giraffe”.
    Among the militants, Asiyalova was known as “Amaturakhman”. It has already been established that Asiyalova truly did have problems with her health. She was even preparing documents to sue a Moscow stomatological clinic, where she acquired a nosocomial infection. But in the end, she never went through with the lawsuit and (instead) rushed back to Makhachalka.


    • yalensis says:

      In related story, the leaders of officlal Muslm community of Russia condemns the terrorist act in Volgograd.

      “The council of Muftis of Russia categorically condemns the terrorist act [in Volgograd].”

      “The council of Muftis of Russia, in the name of the multi-million Umma, expresses its profound sympathy to all the families of the victims. We mourn and pray to the Almighty to grant patience and courage to the families of the victims and a speedy recovery to those who were injured as a result of this horrific terrorist act.”

      This is important. Every time the Wahhabite extremists commit one of these terrorist acts, the regular Muslims need to distance themselves and condemn it.

      It seems corny, but it helps.

      • Misha says:

        A common Fox News theme by Bill O’Reilly and some other at that station acknowledges that most Muslims aren’t terrorists, while they nevertheless don’t speak out against Muslim terrorism.

        I’m not buying that Russia is on the verge of some kind of massive race war. This was predicted after the violence in a Karelia town a few years back.

        My optimism doesn’t rule out some trying times.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      What irritates me intensely is how, whenever any of these foul women blast, burn and eviscerate completely innocent members of the Russian public, the Western media starts to elevate their morality from the pit into which it has sunk by labelling them as “Black Widows” who have murdered in revenge for the deaths of their “loved ones” at the hands of the sub-human, brutal Russians, albeit that their “loved ones” were pieces of shit.

      In doing this, the Western chatterers are asking that these dregs be at least shown a little respect for their devotion unto death towards their “loved ones”, who have been wrongly liquidated by the wicked Russians.

      I wonder what would have happened if, after the cessation of WWII hostilities, German “Black Widows” had decided to take their revenge on the US and UK population at large because of the death of their loved ones during the relentless and murderous razing of German cities by their carpet bombing by the USAAF and RAF?

      How would such murderous women have been labelled if they had, in memory of their lost family members – men, women, children and husbands – killed in their beds and bunkers by 1,000 bomber air raids, detonated their suicide bombs on the NY subway and London underground?

      Would they have been granted the dubious, condescending respect that is implied by the sobriquet “Black Widow”?

      One of the wicked, evil Russians that perished horrendously on that Volgograd bus at the hands of the latest “Black Widow” from Dagestan was a 20-month old baby.

      But you’ve got to give it to her, she must have really loved her man to do that.

      And another thing, as regards that thinly veiled glee that russophobes exhibit when there is news of North Caucasus “rebels” and “freedom fighters” hurting those vile Russians where it hurts them most, namely in their own backyard, albeit that they seem to prefer attacking schools and hospitals and public transport that is full of kids and not a few immigrants as well, how would those russophobic shits respond, I wonder, to the attitude that their Caucasus Islamic fundamentalist heroes have towards sodomists?

      How do they think the “loved ones” of these “Black Widows” would have reacted to the sight of homosexuals showing their “pride” publicly in Chechnya or Dagestan concerning their sexual preferences?

      • yalensis says:

        The “Black Widow” meme was invented by the jihadi apologists during the period of the Moscow theater and Beslan terror acts. Western propagandists justified the Wahabist terror attacks, even against children, on the grounds that “innocent women and children were killed in the Grozny siege; that makes Russian civilians, even children fair game, etc etc.”

        Western press a bit more muted in their enthusiastic support for the jihadis after they got a taste of their own medicine in Boston.

      • yalensis says:

        Meanwhile, I am very skeptical about the terrorist mom, Razvat, in above interview. Methinks she doth protest too much. She had a “premonition” that her daughter was about to die, even though they hadn’t been in touch for, like, months?? Give me a break! In almost every single case of this type, the terrorist parents are either co-conspirators, or at the very least enablers, of their murderous offspring.

        I am sure federal interrogators will question Razvat very closely about what she knew and when she knew it. If she knew that her daughter had gone off to Volgograd to blow herself up, then she should have alerted the authorities, they might have been able to prevent the attack.

        • marknesop says:

          There also seems to be an element of striking while the iron is hot – Muscovites are already riled at Caucasians over the stabbing incident and the vegetable-market riot which followed. It would not be hard to imagine Saudi involvement, after Bandar bin-Sultan’s little tete-a-tete with Putin. This seems to foreshadow a cascade of events involving Caucasians which, if not managed very carefully, could culminate in a military operation. That would be most unwise, but public pressure may demand it if this keeps up.

      • yalensis says:

        Meanwhile, Navalny chiding Prokhorov for coming out against his (Navalny’s) petition initiative to implement a visa regime with Central Asian republics. Nemtsov is against the initiative too. This irks Navalny. Prokhorov was FOR the visa regime before he was AGAINST it. Why did Prokhorov change his mind? Well, maybe this visa thing used to be a legitimate proposal that was up for debate. Now it has become just a tool of the demagogues.

        The way I see it, Navalny and his people are attempting a gigantic bait-and-switch operation. Using ethnic tensions and race riots, like happened in Birulevo, they are starting with demands to expel migrants and implement a visa regime. These are positions that many regular people support, and might even have a grain of merit in them.
        Later, this will morph into Opposition calls for cutting loose Chechnya and Dagestan. Opp demagoguery will coincidentally/conveniently be accompanied by terrorist attacks such as the one in Volgograd. This is the type of attack that the Saudis can pull off on a dime. Recruit some loser, teach him a few words of Arabic, send him (or his wife) to blow themselves up on a bus. Navalnyites are already saying on his blog: “See, if we cut the Chechens and Dagis loose and implemented visa regime with THEM, then these sub-humans wouldn’t be able to stroll into the middle of a Russian city and set off a bomb.”

        Yeah, and if the Americans and Saudis stopped funding and organizing this violence, then it would really stop.

        End result of the 2-pronged campaign of (ethnic riots + terror attacks = the demolition of Putin’s Eurasian strategy).

        I personally don’t believe that all of this spontaneous. I think a lot of it is being planned and coordinated in the American Embassy. After their ridiculous experiments with Pussy Riot and gay revolutions, the Americans have finally found a lever that actually works. The one that always worked. And Navalny is their tool to operate this lever.

      • Sam says:

        I absolutely agree with you. What’s more, if her husband indeed prepared the bomb for her, then I don’t see how she qualifies as a “widow” at all. Do we know whether the man is dead or alive?

        • marknesop says:

          Apparently there is no reason to believe he is dead at all, as the authorities are assiduously searching for him and are very interested in his whereabouts. Unnamed officials have said that Sokolov, ten years younger than his recently-departed wife, was an explosives expert for a Dagestani rebel group. I wonder how long they’ve known that?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            He’s also an ethnic Slav Muscovite convert to Islam. One of the killers at the recent Kenya mall terrorist atrocity is a British (Northern Irish to be exact) woman who converted to Islam.

            I know that the Koran promises free shags with heavenly maidens for eternity to martyrs for the cause, but I have often wondered what the Koran promises woman martyrs.

            • marknesop says:

              An eternity of cuddling with Fabio, who will also listen intently without his eyes glazing over while she tells him about what Margie said last night at the faculty get-together, and unlimited pairs of shoes from Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik.

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, I saw that. They’re still banging away on that gong, but the heart seems to have gone out of the campaign, it’s lost its momentum. The media still reports new “happenings” in the Great Anti-Gay Russia Outrage Of 2013, but they seem to be just going through the motions. If the United States wishes, in its zeal to show itself as a polar opposite to Russia – the “good son”, as it were – to become a gay paradise where people are free to gobble each other in the street, let it. It will live to regret it, because it is fighting for the right to present homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. This is an unpopular position with many Americans, and so the schism to come over gay rights will happen in America rather than Russia.

      Meanwhile, Baryshnikov is more American than he is Russian now, and I doubt many Russians even in the artistic community feel much kinship with him any more. I don’t think his stand will mean very much.

      • Jen says:

        I hear the sound of the bottom of a barrel being scraped away thin. Baryshnikov has long retired from ballet, hasn’t he? From what I understand, he didn’t defect from the Soviet Union because he objected to its political system; he defected in part for career reasons. He was dancing for the Kirov Ballet company, not the Bolshoi Ballet company, and he was considered too short to play leading male roles.

        • yalensis says:

          Baryshnikov was a very strong jumper, but not a strong “lifter”. To be a complete package as a male ballerina, you have to be able to lift the lady above your head and twirl her around.

        • marknesop says:

          Although he was a huge name at the time and a talented dancer, I think his value was always higher as a western propaganda capture. I don’t think anyone in Russia will be surprised to see his support for whatever the west wants him to support, and I imagine if anything they are surprised not to see him doing Nike commercials or something like that.

          • Jen says:

            Baryshnikov’s value only lasted as long as he was the latest high-profile Soviet ballet dancer to defect until Alexander Godunov defected some time in the late 1970s. At the time, Godunov looked like a rock god and was a premier dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet. But I believe he had a very troubled life post-defection and alcoholism dogged him to the very end when he died some time in the 1990s.

            Baryshnikov also had affairs with high-profile Hollywood stars which probably dampened his propaganda appeal. Some time in the late 70s, he had an affair with Liza Minnelli who was apparently carrying on with Martin Scorsese as well. All three of them were married or attached to other people at the same time.

            • marknesop says:

              Godunov became an actor of some repute, notably as the baddie in “Die Hard”. But I remember him as Shelley Long’s sometime lover in “The Money Pit“, in which she starred opposite Tom Hanks. Looking back on this film brings a pang of nostalgia, because given how serious Tom Hanks has become, it’s easy to forget that he started out as a funnyman and almost got typecast in that mold. Anyway, Godunov played Shelley Long’s ex, an orchestra conductor or something, if I recall correctly. I remember him grabbing a worker’s hand during the renovation (the plot revolves around the extensive repairs they have to do to their huge house) and remonstrating, “paint: don’t tickle”, as he shows him the correct sweeping, graceful motion. I thought he was quite good in the roles in which I saw him, and had no idea he was Russian. I mean, the name is a giveaway, but I don’t think I ever knew who he was by name, just by sight and I presumed him to be German or something by his accent. I only realized who he was when I googled him to see who you were talking about, and instantly remembered him from “The Money Pit”. It’s a funny sitcom type of film, worth watching if you can find it.

              • kirill says:

                Looking up the wiki, he died in 1995 from alcohol abuse and complications from Hepatitis. That was a quick slide after this rise in the late 80s. He died at the age of 45. I bet if he stayed in mother Russia he would have lived much longer.

            • Misha says:

              Godunov had a fling with Jacqueline Bisset. If I’m not mistaken, Mikhail Baryshnikov was considered more talented ballet wise.


              • R.C. says:

                I actually got to meet Godunov here in Los Angeles in 1988. I was in High School at the time and he came into a movie theatre I worked at while Die Hard was showing there. I got to shake his hand but had no idea who he really was outside of being Alan Rickman’s right-hand heavy in Die Hard.

  41. reggietcs says:

    Gergiev, in his own way, tells the LGBT rainbow brigade to get off his back:


    “I came here to work as a conductor, not as a person who will talk from early morning until late evening about other things than music. If you start to think every minute of people who are not necessarily involved in what you do, then your concentration is gone,” Gergiev said during a brief interview with RIA Novosti at the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation’s 2013 Annual Gala at the Russian Embassy.

    “Mariinsky never discriminates against anyone. Simply never. I’m there for 25 years, as the head of Mariinsky. We don’t have any sort of discrimination. But once you start to talk like this, you start to sound like someone who has to apologize. We have nothing to apologize for,” he added.

  42. yalensis says:

    More facts coming in on the Volgograd terror act. DNI reports that the terrorist had arrived in Volgograd from Makhachkala on a larger bus that was headed all the way to Moscow. (If she had detonated the bomb on that bus, the carnage would have been worse.) Instead, she got off that bus and then switched to a smaller, local bus. Nobody knows why she did that or what she was thinking.

    The head of the Investigative Committee (like Russia’s FBI), Alexander Bastrykin, has personally taken charge of the investigation and has arrived in Volgograd. Investigators report that the bomb had a power of 500-600 grams of TNT equivalent. The device itself was filled with shrapnel made of dowels (?).

    Victims of terror act: 6 dead, 37 hospitalized, of which 4 are in critical condition. All of the wounded were helicoptered to Moscow for treatment.

    • yalensis says:

      Additional facts coming in : the terrorist, Asiyalova, did have a ticket to Moscow. The ticket she purchased was all the way from Makhachkala to Moscow. This rules out the idea that she got off the bus because she didn’t have a ticket to continue to Moscow. Hence, it is still unknown why she got off the bigger bus and switched to a local bus. Maybe people on the bigger bus were giving her dirty looks? (She must have looked suspicious, with her huge backpack holding a bomb.) Or maybe she did have a plan to blow up students on their way to class. It is known that some terrorists target university students and intelligentsia in particular. Somethiing about the idea of studying and actually learning something that really ticks off these losers:

      Names of the 6 dead victims:

      1.Приходченко Юлия Андреевна, 5 мая 1991 года рождения,
      (Julia Andreevna Prikhodchenko, born 1991)
      2.Попадинец Мария Ивановна, 17 октября 1995 года рождения,
      (Maria Invanovna Popadinets, born 1995)
      3.Михайлова Елена Анатольевна, 23 июня 1984 года рождения,
      (Elena Anatolievna Mikhailova, born 1984)
      4.Конева Виктория Сергеевна, 1993 года рождения,
      (Viktoria Sergeevna Koneva, born 1993)
      5.Литвиненко Кирилл Игоревич, 07 апреля 1995 года рождения,
      (Kirill Igorevich Litvinenko, born 1995)
      6.Ледков Максим Юрьевич, 11 ноября 1996 года рождения.
      (Maksim Yurievich Ledkov, born 1996)

      • yalensis says:

        Western press is connecting the terror act with the Sochi Olympics, pointing out that Doku Umarov called for attacks against civilians in order to bust up the Sochi Olympics. Huffington Post is a bit off in its geography. However, they may have a point that this attack is connected to the Olympics in some fashion. Maybe they have inside knowledge. Americans and Saudis might have decided to try some kind of test run in some out of the way place.

        • R.C. says:

          You think the Americans and Saudis may’ve had something to do with this?

          • Misha says:

            An example of double standards being a Military Channel aired (in the US) documentary series on terrorist attacks. The show on the 1972 Munich summer Olympics said zilch about Israeli actions prompting a base for a counter-reply. Another show on the Moscow theater siege was quite different.

            This seems okay for the J Ioffes, J Goldbergs and JRL editor, among others.

            Posting here because of some problem to where I wanted to post this reply to a recent comment by ME.

            • In relation to this quite appalling terrorist attack, has anyone seen anywhere any reference to the now notorious meeting between Putin and Prince Bandar in which Prince Bandar is supposed to have admitted that the Saudis “control” the jihadi movement in the northern Caucasus and are in a position to call off the terrorist campaign whenever they want? I know I am speculating but in the light of what Prince Bandar is supposed to have said to Putin isn’t it at least possible that this latest attack is a Saudi warning or retaliation because of Russia’s continued strong stance on Syria?

              I say this because the Saudis are in the middle of an almighty tantrum at the moment. They are furious about the Lavrov Kerry agreement on Syria’s chemical disarmament and they are also apparently very angry about the tentative thaw between Iran and the US. They have even as part of their huff given up their seat on the Security Council. Might this latest quite disgraceful terrorist attack not be another case of the Saudis thrashing out in all directions as part of their huff?

              In the meantime I would just quickly say:

              1.That I completely agree with what Moscow Exile and Yalensis say about the wholly inappropriate label “black widow” used to describe female suicide bombers. I also entirely agree with Yalensis that this bomber’s mother is being disingenuous; and

              2. That I am sure that the original target of this bomber was Moscow. We don’t know her reason for targeting Volgograd instead but I would guess that she sensed or was warned that the authorities were hot on her trail and she therefore redirected herself to the first available target; and

              3. That in a shocking but entirely typical example of double standards the international media interest in this bombing is minimal compared to what it would be if such a bombing were to happen in the US or the UK or even Germany or France. The contrast with the coverage accorded to the Boston Marathon bombing illustrates this; and

              4. Lastly, that these suicide bombings are not only morally repulsive and diametrically contrary to the dictates of the Islamic religion but as a political tactic when used against Russia they have proved a complete failure. I was in Moscow at the Beslan siege (I left before it ended). There were also bombings at roughly the same time of the metro and of civil aircraft in mid flight. What was astonishing to an effete westerner was the incredible resilience of the country in the face of these multiple attacks. Not only was the metro fully operational within just a few hours (inconceivable in London where suicide attacks on the London Underground cause affected lines to be shut for months) but the country carried on its normal life with none of the hysteria and paralysis and sense of all pervading crisis one gets in these situations in the west. Not only does suicide bombing in Russia fail to force the government into making concessions (I have not know it to anywhere) but it also fails to provoke the sort of panicked overreaction that has done so much damage in other places. As such persisting with it is both repulsive and stupid.

                • marknesop says:

                  That piece draws some interesting conclusions. But if Syria is at the root of the Saudis’ pique – I realize they had it all the way down at reason number 3, but the 2 foregoing are longstanding issues – then striking at Russia now that the USA has backed off does not make much sense. Still, the article does specifically mention extremist groups under Saudi control.

                  What if the Saudis sense a weakening of American global influence, and are trying to redefine their own role? But if that were the case, it would make even less sense to sponsor an attack in Russia. That, of course, assumes they were behind it, which they may not have been. but it does seem as if the pace of Caucasian terrorism is picking up, and that suggests coordination.

                • Misha says:

                  It has been said that Syria is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Going back to the Cold War, the conservative less ethnically diverse Saudi kingdom was American propped, in contrast to the multiethnic, multi-denominational and more secular Syria, which was Soviet allied.

              • cartman says:

                I noticed that the Bandar link is often mentioned by commentators to articles about the Volograd bombing. Before – when stuff like this happened – they would often chide Russia for cooperating with Iran and Syria on some things. This is the “Homeland” syndrome – a show where Iran, Al Qaeda, Venezuela, and others are all working together against America despite the fact that some of these entities hate one another.

                Maybe there is a Kremlin online brigade. 😉 Or maybe some big part of the American public doesn’t trust the media/political establishment anymore.

  43. marknesop says:

    Dear God. They went there. Spearheaded by none other than Edward Lucas (apparently), and supported by the second-biggest twit in the Lithuanian government – buy Lithuanian “Freedom Cheese”, and foil Russia’s trade war.

    I would have thought after the humiliation America suffered over its “Freedom Fries” campaign, nobody would ever, ever link “Freedom” and any food again. I would have been wrong.

    Interesting item in there also about Merkel stomping on anti-pollution legislation, then it coming to light that her party received a large donation from the family who owns BMW. Not so much for the allegations made, but for the suggestion that the EU would not be too upset if Frau Merkel were gone – usually the EU likes to cover for politicians it likes. I wonder if her realism on Russia might have anything to do with that?

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