Once He Was the King of Spain – Now He Vacuums the Turf at Skydome

Uncle Volodya says, "There’s fool’s gold—pyrite—and then there’s fool’s gold—gold owned by idiots willing to trade it for worthless dollars.
”

Uncle Volodya says, “There’s fool’s gold—pyrite—and then there’s fool’s gold—gold owned by idiots willing to trade it for worthless dollars.
”

Anders Aslund proves me wrong, over and over again. Every time I think I’ve seen the stupidest, most pedantic, most off-the-wall leap for mediocrity from the atrophied pecan in his head, he surpasses his previous foamy wild-eyed assessment of reality. Rodeo clown dressed as economist. All of it delivered in that whiny Swedish accent that makes him sound like he needs to be changed, and put straight to bed for a nap. I hasten to add that the Swedish accent is not annoying in all its speakers – pretty much only Aslund and the Swedish Chef from “The Muppets”, to whom he bears an astonishing resemblance. And it doesn’t end with physiognomy; they share a similar grasp of economics and government.

I can’t wait, I’m lowering interest rates, my people say:
“King, how are you such a genius?
There’s a roof overhead and food on our plates!”
It’s laissez-faire, I don’t even care
Let’s make Friday part of the weekend.”

Moxy Fruvous, from “King of Spain”

Hey, remember when Aslund was president of that country; Jeez, what was it called? Anyway, he became president way back in the late 90’s, almost further back than pterodactyls can remember, it’s not surprising that the details are a little fuzzy. I do remember that when he became president, the country was on the ropes: the inflation rate was around 27% (now it’s 11.4%), the unemployment rate was 12% (now it’s 5.2%), and per-capita GDP was about $3,500.00 USD (now it’s $7,000.00 USD). Adjusted for PPP, it’s about $25,000.00 per year, the highest it’s ever been. Personal income tax rate was a flat rate of 13%, and it still is. In how many other countries has the electorate seen its tax rates remain the same for 14 years? Not the UK, that’s for sure – they started the same period at 40%, went up to 50% from 2010 to 2012, and after that 45% looked like a tax break – neat, huh? The USA’s tax rate has remained stable, which is a remarkable achievement…but it’s at 35%, more than double what president Aslund was able to offer his electorate.

Of course Anders Aslund was never president of anywhere. That was Russia, and Putin was – and is – president. I introduced that short and harmless deception merely to showcase what a self-important, pompous toad Aslund is, when he says “In short, Putin – who is no economic expert – makes all major economic policy decisions in Russia, delivering orders to top managers of state-owned enterprises and individual ministers in ad hoc, one-on-one meetings. As a result, Russian economic policymaking is fragmented and dysfunctional.” Aslund wants you to know that he is an economic expert, and that Russia would be in so much better shape if only Putin would obey Aslund’s advice and step down, turning the presidency over to a brilliant fellow economist like, say….oh, I don’t know…Alexey Kudrin.

Aslund is at his entertaining best in his latest blowhard epic, “Putin in Denial“. World oil prices have halved since June, he says (he knows juicy insider stuff that you and I don’t because he’s an economist), and the value of the ruble has plunged along with the oil price (ditto). And, he warns, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Which he would know, of course, being an economist and consequently such a reliable engine of prediction. Like when he said back in 2009 that Gazprom – and whenever he speaks about Gazprom he has to switch over to his reserve vitriol tank, since he really, really hates Gazprom, probably because they will not “open up” to western investment and share ownership – was failing, citing the excellent book co-written by co-numpties Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov. The following year, Gazprom overtook Exxon-Mobil as the world’s most profitable company. His masterwork, “Think Again: Russia” contained more stream-of-consciousness bullshit than you could carry home in an eighteen-wheeler; I think Foreign Policy Magazine became ashamed of the flash flood of drivel in it and deleted it. If you have a hard-copy subscription, you can probably still read it and marvel at the mental grounding of anyone who could argue that political stability is undesirable because it is poorly suited for reform; I quoted from it here, but the electronic link is now dead. He described the voucher scheme introduced under Yeltsin – which resulted in Mikhail Khodorkovsky making the leap from ambitious geek to oligarchical geek virtually overnight – as an acceptable way to create an owner class, and the oligarchs as “engines of capitalist development”. Describing that view as wrongheaded would be an understatement on the order of describing Bill Gates as financially secure. Better wrap the belt from your bathrobe around your jaw before you read “An Assessment of Putin’s Economic Policy“, to stop it from dropping to the floor: penned by Aslund in 2008, it describes Putin as “one of the lucky ones who happened to be in the right place at the right time, as Talleyrand said about Lafayette, but accomplished little that was positive”, and blithely informs the reader that “Lucky” Putin took over the helm in Russia after Boris Yeltsin had already successfully set it on the road to a market democracy. It is for howlers like this that some long-ago Suffolk writer coined the word “flabbergasted”.

Here, from the subject article, are a few glittering examples of Aslund reasoning; (1) cutting Russia’s imports in half is going to worsen Russians’ living standards considerably (now that they presumably cannot afford to vacation in New York or buy milk packaged by Pepsi); (2) Russia, which has greatly increased its holdings in gold by dumping its useless dollars to buy it, suffers from “ever-worsening corruption and a severe liquidity freeze”; (3) Because he is unprepared to act, Putin continues to pretend there is no crisis at all; (4) Putin could withdraw his troops from eastern Ukraine, whereupon the benevolent USA and Europe would lift their crippling economic sanctions, but he won’t do that because he can’t stand losing, and (5) Putin’s failure to use the internet prevents him from grasping the magnitude of the crisis because he does not have access to up-to-date statistics. I have to stop now, because I can’t focus on the screen while I’m shaking my head.

“Likewise, short of initiating a major war, Putin has few options for driving up oil prices. Moreover, even before the oil-price collapse, crony capitalism had brought growth to a halt – and any serious effort to change the system would destabilize his power base.”

Really? I can think of a way, although I won’t pretend I thought it up myself, because it’s already happened – shut off Europe’s gas. Did you forget that one, Anders? All based on a very strange piece in the Daily Mail in which they appear to have copied and pasted part of it, since it reports that Mr. Putin is the Prime Minister – which he was, for a time – but it is dated today and several other details suggest they meant it to be now. No major war. Have energy prices risen? You tell me.

Whether six European countries are without gas tonight and blubbering in terror as they try to marshal their reserves, or it is all a big hoax, some of that famous British humour, it is apparent that the suggestion it could really happen is enough to make energy prices jump, so don’t fool yourself.

“Though accurate and timely statistics on Russia’s economy – needed to guide effective measures to counter the crisis – are readily available to the public online, Putin claims not to use the Internet.”

I can’t think of a more reliable way to inspire commentary by western leaders that Putin had “lost touch with reality” than to learn he was trying to run the country using the Internet as a guide. Because every leader knows the Internet is more reliable than your closest advisers who are, theoretically, experts in their fields. That might be true if you were George W. Bush, surrounded by a sycophantic circle of people who took turns blowing sunshine up your ass because it made you so happy when things were going well regardless how they were really going, but there is no evidence at all that Putin is that kind of leader and ample evidence which suggests he is not. And the United States seems to still be slogging along, despite the description of the Internet by one of its elected representatives as “a series of tubes“.

“His actions suggest that he considers economic data to be far less important than security information – perhaps the natural attitude of a kleptocrat.”

It becomes steadily more evident that Aslund simply loathes Putin so deeply that his desire to rant and call him names seizes complete control of his brain so that he can’t think – his entire mental hard drive is focused on talking smack like a six-year-old. There is absolutely no evidence at all that Putin is so preoccupied with security that he is oblivious to the economic situation. If he were, the deliberate effort to cause a panicky run on the ruble that would collapse it entirely might have succeeded. It is Aslund who is totally oblivious to the fact that Russia’s economic woes are caused largely by a bitter economic war of which it is the sole target and against whom are arrayed the entire forces of the NATO powers, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Aslund is acting as if the price of oil is the only consideration, and that Putin is mismanaging it terribly.

“If Putin wants to save Russia’s economy from disaster, he must shift his priorities. For starters, he must shelve some of the large, long-term infrastructure projects that he has promoted energetically in the last two years. Though the decision in December to abandon the South Stream gas pipeline is a step in the right direction, it is far from adequate.”

There you have it: Putin’s decision to shut down South Stream was a wise one, but not near enough. He must stop all the big projects that he only uses to steal from the Russian people anyway. What do the European Union’s mandarins think of the decision to shut down South Stream? I think it’s safe to say their take on it is all the way across town from Aslund’s.

I’m not sure how much more evidence anyone would need to conclude that Aslund was born an idiot, strove all his life to be an even bigger idiot – largely succeeding – and  will likely be carried in his pine box by six of his most thickwitted contemporaries in a celebration of idiocy that will see the grief-stricken pallbearers pass under an arch of giant crossed dunce-caps, to be laid to final rest under a stone which proclaims, “In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made economists.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2,333 Responses to Once He Was the King of Spain – Now He Vacuums the Turf at Skydome

  1. ..james says:

    lol! send asslund a copy of your article. he might get a chuckle out of it, if one can wake him from his stupor.

  2. Patrick Armstrong says:

    Outstanding!

    Patrick Armstrong

  3. james@wpc says:

    This is great, Mark. I read this to a friend over the phone and we were both laughing all the way through it. So many pearls 🙂

  4. yalensis says:

    This poster has posted a suite of videos , along with English subtitles, of Zakharchenko’s interview and debate with a Ukie officer. Which took place at the ruined airport, I believe.

  5. yalensis says:

    American journalist George Eliason argues that the Volnovakha bus tragedy is the fault of Ukraine, since Ukie army deliberately mined the area.

    It has also been reported since then, from interviews with survivors. that most of the passengers are people who are forced to travel by bus back and forth (between Kiev-occupied towns and Separatist-occupie towns) to pick up their pensions and entitlement checks. Hence, in Kiev’s view, these people are the perfect “sitting ducks”.

  6. yalensis says:

    Observer says Ukraine run by rogues and sexpots.

    • yalensis says:

      P.S. –
      Klikushin describes Jaanika Merilo as a “young, dark-haired beauty”.
      I saw some photos of Jannikia before she had her lips “enhanced”, and she wasn’t horrible looking. But with the lips, she looks like she would be more comfortable swimming around a coral reef than cutting herself in a simple bathtub.

      Even before the lips, she was sort of freaky looking. Also anorexic. I think she probably had lipo-suction, the docs vaccuumed any remaining fat cells out of her body and pumped them directly into her lips. That’s just my personal opinion.

  7. peter says:

    … a very strange piece in the Daily Mail… dated today…

    You’re confused here, Mark, there’s no such piece. There is this Daily Mail article from Jan 2009, which Zerohedge passed off as fresh – either by mistake or to troll their own idiot commenters. Worked out brilliantly.

    • marknesop says:

      That’s certainly possible – I mean, about me being confused – although I wish now I had linked it because I could swear the date at the masthead read “Thursday 15 Jan 2015” last night when I wrote “dated today”. Of course it doesn’t say that now, it just says “updated” (although it is the same article, for sure). It’s also possible the newsreader I was using simply inserted the current date at the top even though it had no relevance to that article or any other.

      Whatever the reason, I think the point still stands; enough people believed that Europe’s gas had been shut off that it generated a spike in energy prices, and if it proved to be true, energy prices would probably continue to rise rapidly. It’s probably headed down now as the panic subsides (I can’t see that particular chart at work so I don’t know), but I think it is apparent that if Russia really did shut off gas through Ukraine – after Europe conspired and inveigled to retain its status as a transit country despite the offer of more secure supply – it would be a way of driving energy prices upward that was well short of a major war. It’s Russia’s gas, while France has demonstrated for all that a signed contract does not mean diddly if you want to break it in order to apply political pressure. Similarly, Russia has in fact stated its intentions to take Ukraine out of the transit equation, as soon as it can be made to happen, although it will certainly not be today or next week. According to this reference, Russia’s contract with Ukraine expires in 2018, and after the expiration of that contract all flows will be directed to Turkey.

      It’s possible Zerohedge simply conflated the two stories: if you rush to be first, sooner or later you will make a mistake because if you spend too much time on research, you will be beaten to the finish line. But I find the material at Zerohedge to be generally pretty reliable, more so than the mainstream media.

      Addendum: if you go to the subject Daily Mail article (“Europe Plunged Into Energy Crisis as Russia Cuts Off Gas Supply Via Ukraine”) and hover over the “Updated” and right-click, then select “View Source”, line 40 of the result reads as follows:

      “meta property=”article:published time” content= “2015-01-16T21:50:47.506zyyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss z”

      There’s loads of other stuff, too, but I don’t know how to read it. I’m guessing the “z” for “zone” means Zulu, though, or Greenwich Mean Time, for which British Columbia is -8 hours. That time would equate to 13:50 local on the same day, which would suggest that I could not have seen a time that said the 15th, but more importantly, that would place it long after Zerohedge saw it. If I’m reading it right, but like I said, I don’t really know what any of that stuff means.

  8. yalensis says:

    Kiev Post gloating that deadline has passed for Russia to pay $50 billion to Yukos shareholders.
    I am guessing that Russia missed this deadline deliberately, and is contesting the pay-out?

    Going by the comments, pro-Ukies are desperate that this be the final straw which “strips Russia to the bone”.
    Or that, in the race to see who defaults first, Ukies will win, I mean lose, by a hair!

  9. spartacus says:

    Apparently the big brains from Kiev decided to start a fresh mass conscription in Ukieland. It appears that their target is to mobilize 100.000 reservists. Turchinov says that the reservists are needed because the rebels, together with regular Russian troops of course, have resumed their advances. The piece doesn’t contain any evidence to back this claim, but we all know this is not necessary. Turchinov always speaks the truth.

    http://www.euronews.com/2015/01/15/mass-conscription-in-ukraine-to-counter-rise-in-russian-attacks/

    “A Ukrainian military official said peace talks were now at a “dead end”. Earlier this week a summit aimed at renewing drives to bring lasting peace to the region was suspended.”

    It seems the Ukies are getting ready to rumble…

    • Moscow Exile says:

      “Turchinov always speaks the truth.”

      Of course he does! He’s a sky-pilot, isn’t he?

      • spartacus says:

        Holy crap! I didn’t know that he is also one of God’s representatives on Earth. I must confess that, at first, I didn’t get your remark about him being a “sky pilot”, but after Google translating the explanations attached to the video I finally got it :). What I find very funny is the way he performs during his “sermon”. He looks like he may be drunk or like his thinking is really, really slow. It’s like he is going through labour or something…or maybe he is just tormented by the enormous effort required to channel God’s words to the congregation.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          He’s filled with the Holy Spirit, I think.

          Either that, or it’s горілка.

          • Jen says:

            If he speaks in tongues, it must the be horilka or if he speaks in tongues and his head turns more than 360 degrees at the same time, he must be filled with the Holy Spirit.

        • Tim Owen says:

          Can’t copy the text. Can someone explain?

          • Moscow Exile says:

            You mean what Turchinov’s mumbling about in church in the linked you tube clip above?

            Dunno – he’s talking Yukie, but he’s quoting scripture: I can gather that much.

            Here he is before he’s had a slug of the holy spirit at some Baptist convention: Turchynov on the 400th anniversary of Baptists

            No razor blades again in the bathroom that morning, it seems.

            There are some comments to the clip that are critical of him, such as this:

            Turchinov! You are wrong !!!! I was raised in a Baptist family! And even though I’m not a pastor of the church as you are, and so cannot know the Scriptures as you do (the Bible), but to your shame I want to tell you: YOU are a cheat and a false Baptist. However, it is not for me to judge you: God will judge you! For it is written in the Bible: Matthew Chapter 24 verse 6: “No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or one will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon!” …. You’re a liar and a cheat !!!!! GOD ON THE LAST DAY WILL JUDGE YOU !!!! YOU NEED TO TAKE A REST AND LEAVE GOD ALONE!!!!!

    • rymlianin says:

      This might have something to do with why Ukies stated a preference for Vladimir Putin over Petro Poroshenko by 84 to 1 % in a recent on-line poll.http://en.ukraina.ru/news/20150113/1011770775.html

      • Southern Cross says:

        And here’s the full results:

        http://nedelya-ua.com/node/13226/results

        Not exactly scientific, but entirely credible is Yushchenko being tied for last place with Kravchuk.

        • marknesop says:

          Dear me; Yulia Tymoshenko didn’t get a single vote. I thought she was beloved by Ukrainians.

          Beware, Putin – it’s a trap. They want you to invade Ukraine to liberate it.

      • marknesop says:

        Ha, ha!!! I wonder how reliable that is. The objective of the mouthy minority in western Ukraine seems to be to make anyone outside Ukraine who is fair-minded and not a disciple of the mainstream media hate all Ukrainians except the easterners, and that would be a mistake although it is tempting to make it.

        I was particularly interested also in another story on that site, which says the 2015 budget for Ukraine was completely fabricated in order to secure an IMF loan. The source is an economist, so I suppose we should on principle not believe him. Nonetheless, if such an accusation is at all credible the IMF must investigate and disprove it before it hands over any funds; anything less would fall far short of due diligence.

  10. colliemum says:

    That was a brilliant tour-de-force, Mark – gems in every paragraph!
    That image of the ‘atrophied pecan in his head’ will stay with me for a long time – I even may steal it, for suitable occasions, properly acknowledging the provenience, naturally.
    There’s this other saying about economists: they were invented to make weather forecasters look good.
    It is a wonder of the internet that those, like Mr Aslund, who recommend its use to the likes of Mr Putin, forget that this same internet never forgets, and that their own bloopers and errors are there for all to see, to eternity. That should make him hang his head in shame, but won’t.

    Btw – we don’t say ‘flabbergasted any longer, that’s too hifalutin’. We say ‘gobsmacked’, to show that we are horny-soil-handed workers from up North, which is the fashionable thing to be if one’s home is the Islington dinner circus.

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    Санаторий Коломойского уйдет с молотка. Стартовая цена 40 миллионов долларов

    Kolomoisky Sanatorium goes under the hammer starting at $40 million

    Money from the sale of the Foros luxury complex will be used to compensate for monies owed to “Privat” customers

    The fate of the Crimean sanatorium “Foros”, belonging to Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky’s “Privat” group of companies, is a foregone conclusion. Specialists have finished an inventory and an examination of documents, which has lasted for several months. The result: a luxury complex on the beach, having an area of about 70 hectares, a swimming pool, a cinema, a gym, a private beach and other benefits of civilization is to to be auctioned off! The starting price of the lot at the auction, which will take place in late January – early February, will be as much as 40 million dollars!

    What the sponsor of punitive operations in the South-east of Ukraine thinks about this and whether he will participate in the auction, is still unknown. However, not so long ago Kolomoisky threatened the leadership of the republic with action by the international courts. Starting in September last year, the Crimean authorities have nationalized a total of 110 possessions belonging to Kolomoisky, which include filling stations, warehouses and a liquefied gas terminal, as well as a number of elite tourist facilities.

    “To comprehend the actual value of the property has been necessary to ensure that ‘Privat’ customers are given maximum financial compensation by means of the creation of a fund for the protection of depositors”, said director of the state budget organization “The Executive Directory of Republic of Crimea Property”, Alexandra Sadovskaya. “The evaluation has been based on the value of the land and property of the sanatorium “Foros” and at prices as close as possible to that of the market.

    The Ministry of Crimea Property and Land Relations explained that on the basis of exchange rates and other factors, the starting price of the lot before the auction may increase.

    “The evaluation of the Crimean property of other Ukrainian oligarchs continues”, the department press service has told “KP”. “Once this process has been completed, the objects are also going under the hammer. Up to now, only the largest of all have been evaluated.

    By the way the other Ukrainian oligarchs that own property in the Crimea are billionaire Renat Akhmetov, millionaire Dmitry Firtesh, and even the president of the Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.

    Make the bastards squeal!!!!

  12. spartacus says:

    “The current potential for new attacks could involve up to 20 sleeper cells of between 120 to 180 people ready to strike in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, said the intelligence source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

    Talking about creating a climate of fear…

    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/16/world/belgium-anti-terror-operation/index.html

  13. et Al says:

    Eviscerating! Yet again!

    As a present, here’s a link to Aslund’s article that you couldn’t find a link to (keep a copy everyone):
    http://demography.ru/xednay/demography/mortality/2001/aslund.html

    Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001
    Foreign Policy

    July/August 2001
    THINK AGAIN
    By Anders Aslund
    BIO: Anders Aslund is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His book Building Capitalism: The Transformation of the Former Soviet Bloc (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) will be published in September.
    ***

    On the question of our resident troll/spamhead problem, may I suggest an elegant solution? Please do not ban anyone but rather add them to the spam filter, a more rightful and just home, and at your own discretion without announcement. It is not right to otherwise punish someone with such distressing medical problems. Compulsion and addiction are no laughing matters.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, Al! I only ever had to ban one person, and that was because he got out of control and started hurling personal insults around (way beyond “idiot”) as well as refusing to stop repeating the same things over and over. Nothing wrong with a little dissent – I think the clever people here are more than up to it – and Peter and I are old friends. Except for his childish moment with Alexander Mercouris, for which I hope he is deeply repentant, he has yet to cross the Averko Line.

      Speaking of the clever people here, take a bow, because the last post – despite having no content whatsoever, only a comment thread – racked up over 6,600 hits in 10 days. I don’t even have to write anything, so long as I have you guys and girls. We’re almost at 920,000 now and closing in on our first million.

      Yes, that’s the Aslund article I meant; great, innit? He would be able to describe those heady days of dismantling the Soviet Union and preparing it to become More ‘Murka, because he was there, part of the Harvard Boyz team under Jeffrey Sachs. He’s gone back and forth over the years on whether Shock Therapy really was a good idea, but I believe he still thinks it was because if there is anything more set in its ways and beliefs than an economist, I don’t know what it is.

      • colliemum says:

        A million!
        Goodness gracious me – that deserves some celebration!
        You just have to give us ample warning, so that we can stick some champagne on ice – Krimskoe, of course!
        🙂

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Remember a while back when someone who claimed she was a Russian national employed at the Russian embassy, Washington, posting a mail here telling how Aslund is a pain in the arse over there, in that he regularly turns up uninvited at embassy functions and poses as though he were the unexpendable great Russian expert, the big “I am” whose presence is a given amongst the chattering classes in DC?

        I bet he scoffs as much black caviar and blini that he can, and then asks for a doggie-bag as well.

      • et all says:

        Peter and I are old friends.

        Wot? Like two bats passing in the night? Fair enough! 😉

        • yalensis says:

          Mark and Peter were raised together, in the same orphanage.
          As little fellows, they were good chums, they helped each other through the hard times. They would sing and dance while mopping the floors, it made the chores go easier.
          Mark was the mature one, old for his years. Peter was more vulnerable, susceptible to bad influences.

          At the age of eight, the lads were rudely separated, Peter was handed over to that nice Mr. Fagin fellow, to learn to be a pick-pocket.
          Mark went on to be a street urchin with his own patch in old London-town.
          Mark knew that eventually he would meet up with his old friend, but he didn’t know if his chum would still be that same innocent cherub; or if, after years of abuse, Peter would have morphed into something more sinister.
          In true soap opera fashion, Mark DID meet up again with his old friend, but by now it was completely clear that Peter had devolved into a compulsive, hateful internet troll…
          But Mark never gave up on his pal. Because that’s the kind of person that Mark is. He will always try to look beyond the surface banality of evil and try to see the bruised angel locked inside the demon.

        • marknesop says:

          Well, more acquaintances, I guess. Peter is often rude and contemptuous, but deep down he just wants to be accepted for who he is, and loved, like we all do. Once he used to only openly make fun of Mike Averko, and just be kind of impatient with everyone else, but now he makes fun of Yalensis and Kirill, too. I’d have to say he was right about Mike in the end, although I put up with Mike’s little quirks and self-worship until he started to show serious mental instability. He did hound Alex Mercouris off this forum, owing to some sort of breakdown he had a long time ago which landed him in some trouble, although perhaps it’s not fair to completely blame Peter for it because most of us already knew about it and assured Alex we did not care and still felt the same about him, so maybe it is coincidence that he disappeared after that. Maybe he just got too busy. I guess I was mostly disappointed in the lack of etiquette involved because there was really no need of such bad manners, and Alex never earned such rudeness – he was and is a great guy.

          Disagreement is fine, though, and at least nobody can say Peter falls back on “How much is the Kremlin paying you, comrade?” cheap shots. Any argument can have the legs kicked out from under it, and I have never known Peter to pursue a point which was well-defended. If you are sure you are right and have substantiated your argument well, chances are good it will not even be challenged. If it is, defend yourself. If you’re right, you’ll win. If you’re not, you’ll lose, but it’s only an argument – I daresay the world will go on much as it has done. If you’re right all the time, what are you learning, really? Have you reached the point where you can no longer learn if you’re right all the time? No danger of that where I am concerned.

          Hopefully the pagination problem is solved, too; it kicked in again during that comment thread. We will see, and I’ll try to shorten the interval between posts so Twitter links don’t load down the comments.

          There have been more comments from Peter in the last 4 days than in the last 24 months. As someone pointed out earlier, he is impatient with stupidity and prefers an intellectual challenge, so perhaps you should all feel honored that you are so highly regarded.

          • yalensis says:

            A guy who posts other people’s tweets is suddenly an intellectual giant?
            Okay, I’ll start doing that, and you can call me Einstein!

            • yalensis says:

              P.S. – just to be clear: Unlike some folks here, not arguing that peter should be banned.
              I believe in free speech.
              On the other hand, it should be noted that what peter did to Mercouris was beyond the pale.
              I know, I know, I troll other commenters too, sometimes, including peter. But I respect their basic privacy, I don’t OUT them, or discuss their medical issues in public.
              There are certain lines that should not be crossed, even on the internet.
              peter crossed one of those lines, because he is full of hatred for people.

              • peter says:

                … discuss their medical issues…

                I am afraid you may be wrong/mistaken.

                Mythomania is not a medical issue.

                • marknesop says:

                  Why do you think Alex compulsively made things up? Was he not actually a lawyer? Various reliable sources said he was and is – he was not disbarred. America’s most famous trial lawyer – F. Lee Bailey – was, as I recall mentioning at the time. Didn’t seem to lessen his impact or credibility at all. I seem to recall Alex’s analysis here being quite well-substantiated, and any guesses were rather more informed than the average person would make. I thought he had a real talent. I still think so.

                  I like the “I am afraid you may be wrong/mistaken.”

                • peter says:

                  Was he not actually a lawyer?

                  Sort of – he used to work at the RCJ CAB (free legal advice and assistance for those who cannot afford a solicitor) in some junior capacity. And the less said about his brief abortive stint as barrister, the better.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Which is the one with the megabuttocks?
              Who is the other one?
              These are pressing questions of our time!

              • yalensis says:

                Okay, I did some research…
                It seems there are 3 of these ladies, and their names all start with the letter K-.
                Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé.
                The one with the mega-patootie is named Kim.

              • marknesop says:

                Kim Kardashian does not have megabuttocks. She is just a big girl with a big frame, albeit marvelously shaped, and she is very attractive. I often wonder what kind of person she is in real life, because it’s hard to imagine how a person could behave normally when the smallest thing they do is inflated to great importance and their temper tantrums and breakdowns are meticulously chronicled in the media as if symptomatic of society in general. I suppose the message, if there is one, is that fame is a curse – and so it is when the media both makes and destroys its darlings and the biggest failure is for such creatures to exhibit no extreme behavior.

                • reggietcs says:

                  Actually Mark, she’s not very big at all.

                  She’s only 5 ‘2.” (157 cm).

                  She’s actually petite but has a voluptuous figure (with full hips, breasts and that famous rear) which can sometimes make her look a little bigger than she is.

                • marknesop says:

                  I had no idea! I’ve only ever seen her in pictures, often with nothing by way of comparison. Anyway, I think she’s delicious.

          • Jen says:

            I don’t recall that Peter hounded Alexander Mercouris off the forums. Alex only really left the forums about the same time he began appearing on RT.com as a commentator. He had also started writing articles for Da Russophile so I think it was more lack of time rather than being trolled that explains his disappearance.

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, I had thought of that possibility, too, and I hope that is the case.

            • yalensis says:

              I also wondered if Mercouris maybe had to sign a clause in his RT contract not to post comments on blogs, since that can be so iffy at times and risk detracting from the professionalism of his employer.

              And he (Mercouris) specifically said at the time that he was not being intimidated by Peter, because he himself (Mercouris) did the smart thing and made his life an open book, therefore not subject to blackmail.

              Which does NOT change the fact that Evil Peter THOUGHT he was successfully blackmailing Mercouris. Remember his not-so-veiled threats: “This is your final warning…” etc., every time that Mercouris posted a comment that he (Peter) disagreed with.

              And then, eventually, Peter did carry out on his threat and outed Mercouris. Acting all gleeful and, like, “Now I’ve got you! Ha ha ha haha!”
              To which Mercouris responded with quiet dignity, and told us his entire life story.

              I respect Mercouris, he is a solid guy.

              • Southern Cross says:

                Nothing quite like using publicly available information as a blackmail weapon.

              • marknesop says:

                Yes, that’s possible, too. I can’t recall seeing his comments anywhere else – has anyone? I think I might have seen a comment or two from him at the Vineyard of the Saker.

                • kat kan says:

                  Mercouris? yes he is well liked and respected at Saker and has had articles posted there. He may reply to a specific question relating to one, but usually doesn’t. Someone once did try to blacken his name there with vague allegations, but to no avail, as Saker told them attacking the messenger was not acceptable.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes!

                  🙂

                  That’s the only bloody Virgil I can remember now!

                • colliemum says:

                  It does come in very handy at election times, though.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Because a person is mistaken does not mean he is an idiot.

            It is extremely vulgar to say that someone is an idiot simply because his argument is held to be invalid.

            Is it too difficult to say: I am afraid you may be wrong/mistaken.

            • marknesop says:

              Yes, that’s a fair observation – Peter, please search your extensive vocabulary for another pejorative which is not quite so insulting. Maybe “silly”, or “So not right” would get the point across just as well.

          • peter says:

            … now he makes fun of Yalensis and Kirill, too.

            No, I quite like Yalensis. He’s a harmless wanker, not even annoying.

            • marknesop says:

              I know Yalensis will be saddened to hear that he is held in such low estimation. But his anguish will be bittersweet as we join in celebrating Kirill’s promotion to “harmful wanker”!!! Huzza!!!

              • yalensis says:

                The thing is, who the hell is peter, to appoint himself Judge-Jury-Executioner and sit in judgment over other commenters? I realize that peter is a legend in his own mind, he regards himself as perfect and flawless (*cough cough * personality disorder *cough cough*), he is OBVIOUSLY (!) the smartest guy in the room, and everybody else is just a wanker, compared to him. He is the self-appointed judge of who is right and who is wrong; who is harmful and who is harmless.

                The problem is, that Peter can’t prove his own smarts. In order to show that one has a brain, one must be able to write. And peter can’t write anything more than a couple of sentences, if that. He types “Idiot” and posts other people’s tweets. He can’t make persuasive arguments, engage in debate, or prove his genius to other people. If you can’t prove it to others, then for all intents and purposes you don’t have it. So he’ll have to live as a solitary misunderstood genius puttering around in his own backyard.

                Me and Kirill and the rest of us will be okay. We know we’re not perfect, always right, or world-class geniuses, therefore we don’t have to prove anything. We just putter along and do the best we can..

                • marknesop says:

                  Amen. Although it must be sad to be in a position where you cannot learn anything, because you already know everything. To never know the delight of revelation or epiphany!!

                  Je suis Wanker.

                  I am a little curious about several judgments handed down of abject failure, without elaboration. Is it just because the proof will be way over our heads, and we will not “get it”?

                  Outside that, I think it is entirely up to the individual whether they want to feel insulted or chastised by such “judgments”.

                • patient observer says:

                  I promised my lovely wife I would spend less time on this blog but when you posted “Je suis Wanker” I couldn’t help it, oh oh, she’s coming, gotta go!

                • marknesop says:

                  Wh-TISH!!! (whipping sound) Ha, ha!

  14. peter says:

  15. et Al says:

    EU Observer: Mogherini and Applebaum clash on Twitter
    https://euobserver.com/tickers/127245
    EU foreign chief Federica Mogherini and US pundit Anne Applebaum have exchanged barbs on Twitter. Applebaum said Mogherini: “opposes any EU effort to counter Russian propoganda. Things are fine as they are”. Mogherini replied: “Never said anything like that!”, while blocking Russia-critical journalist Ed Lucas from replying to her tweets.

  16. Moscow Exile says:

    Dear Vlad, the Arab Spring is coming to a neighborhood near you…”
    John McCain, December 6, 2011

    Кризис поднял рейтинг Путина

    The crisis has increased Putin’s rating

    And his rivals’ has lost stock

    71% of Russian citizens would vote for Putin if a presidential election were held as early as this Sunday. That is the conclusion reached by “Public Opinion”, according to a survey conducted in 43 regions of Russia.

    Another failure for the Great Hegamon..

    Yet they keep on trying … ‘cos it’s worked everywhere else, darn it!

    Meanwhile, Navalny’s millions wait for the call!

  17. Warren says:

    Estonia President: ‘Russia Is out to Get Us. NATO Attitude Is Repulsive. I’m not Hysterical.’
    Facing menacing Russsia Estonia president is not feeling the love of his NATO allies:

    “That the Georgians wanted to move towards NATO in 2008 was enough of a reason for a war for Russia.”

    “This time the reason was something as small as an Association Agreement with the EU.”
    “But the Putin appologists criticize the EU that it was a mistake. That one must understand Russia’s fears.”

    “No, but we feel vindicated. For 20 years they have been told the Eastern Europeans, calm down, Russia is a normal country. And now we see that we were right. ”

    “And as people say we are paranoid. Countries, who say this should rather pay attention to their high deficit and excessive wage costs.”

    “Anyway, if we are attacked and slaughtered en masse, there will certainly be a few people in Germany who will plead for more empathy with Russia.”

    “But we are not dull little East subhumans. This condescending attitude [of NATO partners] towards Estonians is repulsive.”

    http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/16/2475?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Male menopause perhaps?

    • Tim Owen says:

      “But we are not dull little East subhumans… ” That seems to ring a bell but I can’t put my finger on it…

    • Fern says:

      The Baltic chihuahuas seem to be suffering an outbreak of lunacy. Lithuania, not to be outdone by Estonia’s nut-job President, has published an advice manual for its citizens on how to survive a ‘foreign’ (read Russian) invasion. What is it with these guys?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I see someone has brought out a board game about a Russian invasion of Estonia.

        It has been presented as a humorous game.

        Why don’t they market a game called “Liberate Auschwitz!” then?

        You can have Banderites and Soviets and fascists competing for or opposing the liberation of the extermination camp: the fascists have to destroy the camp and remove all traces of its purpose before the Red Army arrives; the Red Army has to get there before this happens and kill all the fascists and the Banderites, which latter have to kill everyone who isn’t a true,100% pure “Ukrainian” and liberate those camp guards who are.

  18. Warren says:

  19. Moscow Exile says:

    A Peter pre-empt:

    Moody’s Says Russia’s GDP To Fall By 5.5% In 2015

    Russia Says Inflation Could Hit 17% by March

    For Navalny:

    Get round here, Tagansky District, quick!

    They’re still selling milk at our local supermarket for 45 rubles a litre.

    Bring some Western hacks if you can.

    • kirill says:

      The same clown outfit, Moody’s, predicts a 2% drop in Ukraine’s GDP in 2015:

      http://www.credo-line.com/en/media/news/Moodys-predicts-Ukraines-GDP-to-fall-by-8-this-year-and-2-in-the-next-year.htm

      Moody’s has zero credibility.

        • marknesop says:

          What???? They can’t find any evidence?? Why, there’s dead loads of it, all held by the SBU. I remember writing myself, although I can’t find it now, about a map the SBU found helpfully left behind in the Hotel Ukraine, in the suite of the retired FSB Colonel that Yanukovych was using as an adviser to his bloody repressions at Maidan. Never mind that this map looked like it had been drawn by a fourth-grader and was simple to the point of embarrassing – not to mention captioned in English – that was evidence!! What’s happened to it?

      • Oreb says:

        When it comes to the so-called “big three” ratings agencies, I really don’t understand why anyone pays any attention to anything they say after 2008 and their massive subprime screw-up. Even before that, I didn’t really pay much attention to them when making investment/financial decisions. Their predictions always reminded me of “predicting” the weather by looking out the window and describing its present state. Lots of after the fact info, lots of stating the obvious after it was already clear to everyone. No real value, no real insight. After the massive 2008 subprime failure though (they had all that crap at their best and highest ratings up until the very moment when it all exploded), they have absolutely no credibility. Besides, when it comes to foreign assets, they are clearly being used as political tools. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they eventually got to invent new, super-extra-bad grades just for Russia. Wait a few month, you’ll see a headline about Russia being downgraded to S&P’s new FFFF– rating, 50 notches below the junkiest junk bond rank ever! Or something along those lines.

        • james@wpc says:

          I agree, Oreb, and that is why Russia and China are setting up their own credit rating agency and why Moody’s et al are facing the “S-bend”. Moody’s, S&P and Fitch’s are part of the psychopathic cadre that run capitalism. Capitalism only works to the extent it does because of basically honest people that participate in it and not because of the thieving elite that run it.
          “after 2008 and their massive subprime screw-up”
          It wasn’t a screw up so much as a deliberate scam designed by these thieves to relieve many people of their money.

          • marknesop says:

            Agreed. The banksters knew the subprime scheme couldn’t last and had already begun leveraging themselves by betting against it. And the very best part was America’s Noisiest Embarrasment, yes, Grampy McWrinkleton McCain, arguing that what was needed to pull the country out of its financial dive was…more deregulation.

        • marknesop says:

          Ha, ha!! I completely agree, and Fitch ratings should be regarded with the same gravitas that holds an insult from a fool is a compliment. Thanks for a good laugh!! I vote the new rankings below junk be “humus”, followed by “subterranean”, completed by “core of hell”.

  20. robert says:

    Meanwhile, Mr Aslund, back at the ranch…

    – Russia has confirmed that the South Stream project, the pipeline to the EU that would pass through Bulgaria rather than Ukraine, has definitively been cancelled as a response to meddling from the European Commission; this was announced in December, but the EC thought they would be able to face the Russians down. In this, they have completely failed.
    – Instead of Bulgaria/South Stream, Russian gas will now go to Europe via Turkey/Turk Stream. This pipeline will be completed two years from now.
    – South Stream would have travelled into the EU via pipelines constructed and then owned by Gazprom. The EC, in the name of ‘competition’, was trying to force Gazprom to give up ownership of the infrastructure. In response, Gazprom has announced that under the Turk Stream, they will build their own pipeline as far as the border between Turkey and Greece, and it will be up to the EU to continue it from there under whatever rules they choose.

    Those are the certain facts. The confusion is over what happens when Turk Stream goes live. Will it be a complement to the Ukrainian pipelines, or will it replace it entirely? I’ve seen statements that could support either view. This is incredibly important. If the second statement is true, then the EU has only two years in which to build an entirely new trans-European pipeline network connecting to Turkey before the supply of gas through Ukraine goes dead. If they can’t get it built, they freeze in the following winter.

    Much of the ambiguity and confusion is likely to be deliberate. Nevertheless:

    – the clock is now ticking for the EU. They are going to have to find the political leadership, and financial resources, to get the pipelines built in short order. Is this possible?
    – Germany and Poland already have separate pipelines to Russia via the Baltic, France has nuclear, and the UK has the North Sea. Will they want to contribute? The countries really threatened by this are Greece and other Southern-EU countries, the ones already hurting from EU-imposed austerity. This move will massively increase existing intra-EU tensions.
    – Turkey has consistently been left waiting at the altar in its efforts to join the EU, and appears to be losing interest. At the same time, it’s been trying – so far unsuccessfully – to join the Sino-Russian led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. It could be that Turkey will also ‘pivot to the East’ and pursue a less Western-oriented policy. It may join Russia’s Eurasian Union rather than the EU, for example; it could even, possibly, leave NATO. What is certain is that it’s going to have a financial bonanza from the transit fees for all that Russian gas, so inevitably it will join Iran in moving into Russia’s orbit.

    So, this news really is a bombshell, but it’ll take some time for the consequences to become clear.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Will it be a complement to the Ukrainian pipelines, or will it replace it entirely?

      I’ve seen reports that it must be the former, as the Turkish pipe is not going to have the capacity to transport all the gas that has been pumped up to now across Banderastan – better said, pumped into Banderastan and stolen – and to construct one that will be able to this will take until 2012 or thereabouts.

  21. Warren says:

    Arms deal with Saudi Arabia under fire after flogging of blogger Raif Badawi

    The Canadian government has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the success of a controversial $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a transaction drawing more scrutiny as concern grows over the kingdom’s flogging of a man with ties to Canada.

    Ottawa is facing growing calls to intervene as Saudi Arabia administers the latest instalment of 1,000 lashes to Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger whose wife and children have been granted asylum in Canada. Amnesty International organized protests outside the Saudi embassy in Ottawa Thursday, and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is writing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him to do more for the man convicted of blasphemy against Islam.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/arms-deal-with-saudi-arabia-under-fire-after-flogging-of-blogger-raif-badawi/article22477645/?utm_content=bufferd1224&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    • Max says:

      Canada is a laughing stock. If this was a Merkin he’d home by now.

    • marknesop says:

      In my experience, they will stop at no rationalization to keep that deal alive, because Canada is not a big military-equipment exporter and is a net importer. The government will jealously guard any contracts which mean jobs for Canadians. At the same time, France has put Canada in a terribly awkward position – both with Canada’s reaction to the Je Suis Charlie road show, in which the Canadian Public Safety Minister laid a wreath and said for the cameras, ” “We are resolved more than ever to stand up for those values that unite us”, and with the stopping of the MISTRAL contract for political leverage.

      Those illustrate that (a) France has the spine to stand up to Russia in the sure knowledge that it will be sued for breach of contract (in theory, although everyone is aware the pressure comes from the U.S. State Department, and Hollande would deliver the ships if he dared, and (b) Since nobody has received 1000 lashes in Canada as a punishment, ever, it suggests that not being whipped to death for blasphemy is one of “those values which unite us.”

      • ..james says:

        i am ashamed to be a canuck given what we have for leadership, or vision at this point.. saudi arabia chopped off more heads in 2014 then previous years.. i guess harper is okay with that, not to mention what is one of the most repressive regimes in the middle east.. all harper and the conservative gov’t do at this point is make canucks out to look like real idiots, when they are busy bowing down to the usa on a regular basis.. pathetic.

      • Warren says:

        Harper will indulge in mental gymnastics to justify the sale of arms to the Saudi regime, Harper and Baird will argue that:
        1. Canadian jobs as you have rightly mentioned are at stake, failure to sell the arms will place Canadian jobs at risk. Harper is duty bound to protect those jobs.
        2. Saudi regime is a long standing ally of the West, so selling arms to the Saudi Arabia cannot be any way be equated to France suspended sale of the Mistral amphibious warship to Russia.
        Harper and the Canadian military industrial complex will dismiss any accusations of hypocrisy and double standards.

    • kat kan says:

      I find it very odd timing that they have decided to start this part of the sentence just now, when he’s been available to them for years. I can’t work out what intent there is in it, but just find the timing odd.

  22. Moscow Exile says:

    Deeply moving speech by Ukrainian lawmaker in the Supreme Rada, Kiev:

    • yalensis says:

      It was decided, that in the next session of the Rada, Ukrainian parliamentarians will stand up in turn and do a series of “Yo mama” jokes.
      Followed by chants of “Putin is a farty face!”

  23. colliemum says:

    As you know, Mr Donald Tusk is now the President of the EU Council.
    So Nigel Farage gave his ‘welcoming speech’, taking on Mr Tusk. This video is now subtitled in Polish, with millions of Polish viewers watching this.
    Watch Mr Tusk answering starting at 2.55 … no comments needed ….
    😉

    • colliemum says:

      Gawd. I’m an eejit. It’s now offocial, sigh …

      Here’s the link to my comment above:

      • yalensis says:

        Ha ha! This totally made my day, thanks, colliemum!
        I love that look on Tusk’s face, as he angrily taps his pencil and gives Nigel the old “hairy eyeball”. Doesn’t look like Tusk is used to being trolled by an expert.

        • colliemum says:

          Yep, watching Nigel give ‘the treatment’ to some eejit politician is always hugely enjoyable.
          It’s the reason Dave is trying his utmost not to have to share a platform with Nigel in the upcoming TV debates for the GE. He knows what will happen to him in such a debate, inevitably – and so do we!

      • et all says:

        Did you see thoses legs behind Tusk???!!!! I AM IN LOVE!

        Just to be clear, I’m talking about the lady’s legs in black high-heeled shoes and stockings. I only want the legs though.

        • yalensis says:

          Yes, of course I noticed THE LEGS!

          • marknesop says:

            That was probably the lamest rebuttal I have ever seen; he sounds like Barbara Walters with a penis. I realize Mr. Tusk is a Pole and English is not his first language, but come on – if you speak it like George W. Bush, stand-up comedy in English is not for you, so don’t try to be funny.

            I thought Mr. Tusk was much more deadly when he just kept tapping his pencil and looking at Farage as if he was watching him pounding on the glass of the oven door, from the inside. Very chilling. Some time ago, I shared my secret for the outward appearance of complete serenity no matter what is being said to me – I simply drift away into a little fantasy of what the back of that person’s head would look like with my seaboot on it while they were face down in a urinal and I was keeping them there. As I mentioned at the time, people tend to go into amazing transports of fury if they do not get some sort of reaction, so it’s a good idea to practice in the mirror until you can adopt an expression halfway between inquisitive and contrite, and maintain it without thinking about it. You will have to listen a little bit, because otherwise you might not notice when they stop talking, but don’t pay what they are actually saying any mind. Oh, and don’t let your eyes glaze over with pleasure, because it might be mistaken for dozing off; be sure to create the impression that you are attentive.

            Anyway, I would have recommended this method to Mr. Tusk if we were on speaking terms. Then he could just have proceeded after that as if Mr. Farage had not spoken at all, which would have thrown everyone.

            • colliemum says:

              The thing about Nigel is that there’s always something in his speech when addressed to a person which makes it impossible for said person not to reply if he doesn’t want to look like a total wally in front of millions of viewers.

        • colliemum says:

          I’m certain the cameraman enjoyed those legs as well – and wanted to share his enjoyment with the rest of the world.
          😉

      • Tim Owen says:

        Any boxing in his past?

        • colliemum says:

          No – there are no secrets, dirty or otherwise, to be discovered.The MSM and paid activists from the three establishment parties have been over his life with a fine tooth comb for the last few years.

          • Tim Owen says:

            I was thinking of Tusk actually.

            • james@wpc says:

              I think there is plenty of dirt around on Donald Tusk (unfortunate name!). If there ever was a full and open enquiry into the Smolensk air crash and justice was done, we would see Donald in jail for many years.
              (what is it about planes falling out of East European skies?)

            • colliemum says:

              Ah.
              But then, for our esteemed MSM, EU top persons are sacrosanct.
              For example, after a flurry before Christmas about M Juncker’s tax shenanigans when PM of Luxembourg there’s now dead silence, nobody is following that up.
              For example, Mr Tusk might as well have been alleged to have killed and buried several opponents in his back garden, and the MSM would not follow up reports on such allegations.
              There’s a reason TPTB are so keen on curtailing the internet.

  24. yalensis says:

    Awesome video from Donetsk airport: Interviews with Zakharchenko, Givi, and others, as they tour the ruins.

    • marknesop says:

      Give it time – Hollande is still not as “street” as Davidz-in-the-Hizzouse Cameron. And Kerry is nowhere near as cool as Obama. In a couple of months “Frankie H-Dawg” will be bumping knuckles with his American counterparts and saying “‘Sup, bro” with the rest of The Hood.

    • colliemum says:

      My American friends were so toe-curlingly embarrassed by this, the swamped my inbox this morning.
      One thing’s for sure: if Kerry tries to run in 2016, he’ll be laughed out of the primaries.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I’m especially surprised at Kerry’s antics because he was partly educated in France, where his mother was born of American parents, and is a French speaker, a shocking and shameful fact that was used to his disadvantage when he was running for president against George W. Bush, because a guy who speaks French is too much of a smarty pants see: much better to vote for a gen-oo-ine Texan, whose family hails from Connecticut.

        • marknesop says:

          It is his misfortune to be naturally awkward, so that everything he does looks contrived and phony, and people hate him for it when it bombs, as it usually does.

          There’s a good reason so many political leaders come from the legal profession; because those people know well the consequences of an angry outburst and furthermore know that their questioner is trying to bait them into just that, while they are able to think three steps ahead to where that question might be leading. What surprises me is that we don’t have more psychiatrists standing for office. A psychiatrist would say “What an interesting question! (pause) I wonder why you asked it in just that way, it’s very revealing. Perhaps you could tell me more about…” (leads his questioner off down the garden path so that he forgets what he was asking and why).

  25. yalensis says:

    This story for Navalny connoisseurs only:
    “Значит, вы собираетесь отсиживать сами?” is the quote of the day.
    from Ilf/Petrov, obviously.

    Do you guys remember the name of Konstantin Arzamastsev, he was one those colourful characters who appeared in the saga of Navalny’s tumultuous and picaresque life in Kirov in 2010.
    And a handsome devil as well, as his photo shows.
    If I remember correctly, Arzamastsev was supposed to appear in Navalny’s KirovLes case as a witness for the prosecution, but was unavailable, since he had already gone on the lam, for a separate but analogous matter. Arzamastsev was the curator for State Property in Kirov, he worked for the government, and it was his job to protect the oblast’s juicy assets, such as the “Hercules Forest Agency” and the “Horns and Hoofs” establishment; sorry, I meant to say “KirovLes Lumber Agency”, and “Urzhumsky Wine and Spirits Distillery”.
    In his former capacity (lumber), Arzamastsev butted heads with Navalny/Ofitserov, once he realized that they were itinerant crooks. In his latter capacity (wine and spirits), Arzamastsev himself was implicated in corruption, and had to flee to Finland.

    Now there is a continuation of this saga, we ought to call this “The Golden Calf, Part II, or Another Classic of the Genre”.

    So Arza has been arrested in Finland, and risks being extradited back to Russia for the wine and spirits affair.

    Back-story: In fall of 2010, Arza signed a decree to privatize the (highly profitable) Urzhumsky Distillery. Well, at least to privatize 25.5% of the shares. He sold these shares at auction for 95.37 million rubles, which the prosecution considers an artificially lowered price. The actual market price was said to be at least 197 million.

    [INSERT HERE a lengthy tro-lo-lol from peter with fake-Socratic method quibbling as to the definition of market price.]

    According to the prosecution, not long before the sale of the Urzhumsky shares, none other than Arza’s arch-enemy Alexei Navalny was inducted into the Board of Directors of the Distillery. Recall that at the time, Navalny was very high in the Kirov pecking order, being the Consiglieri and personal BFF of the regional Governator Nikita Belykh. As to the relationship between Navalny and Arzamastsev, one can only speculate, but logic dictates this was not unlike the relationship between Ostap Bender and Alexander Ivanovich Koreiko. In other words, two competing and equally crooked entities.
    Navalny attempted to get his hands on some sweet Urzhumsky shares, but apparently did not succeed. (Recall how in his purloined letter, Navalny went medieval on Belykh on this matter, after the two men broke off their friendship. Navalny accused Belykh of “robbing a distillery” and cheating his old friend out of a sum of money.) In the ensuing battle royale between Navalny and Arzamastsev, the latter managed to block the former at every turn, and initiated the KirovLes audit which ultimately landed Navalny in Judge Blinov’s courtroom. But poor Arza ended up in hot water himself, and had to flee to Finland. Crime just doesn’t pay; when will they learn?

    • yalensis says:

      Here is the stub insert for peter’s contribution. I suggest pleasing musical trolling rather than the traditional “Idiot” –

      • Moscow Exile says:

        They don’t make lyricists like they used to!

        That’s the bloke who sang: “A Coward Doesn’t Play Hockey”, isn’t it?

        Edward Khil. He was very popular back in the USSR (Hey, you don’t know how lucky you are, boys! )

        A pun! A pun! A veritable pun!

        Only a coward does not play hockey

        but anyone can play in panties

        Her’s a bonny wench, though!

        трус/трусы = a coward/cowards
        (женские) трусы [plural only] = (women’s) panties/knickers

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Mention of “The Golden Calf” and Navalny reminds me of what Edward Limonov wrote in this article that appeared on 29th July 2013, way back when Navalny was running for Moscow mayor:

      Ну вы и психи, ребята!

      You guys better go see a shrink!

      [The US vernacular sounds more zippier than what I would say in my mother tongue, namely: “I think it would perhaps be better if you chaps consulted a psychologist!”]

      Back then, I translated Limonov’s article as follows:

      You guys better go see a shrink!
      Eduard Limonov on why Navalny became a hero of the bourgeoisie

      I pay a lot of attention to Navalny. I really do, in so far as this Navalny phenomenon appears as a hitherto unknown symptom of our time.

      The hysterical affection of the Moscow intelligentsia for this man is mysterious and has no rational roots: all causes of affection are irrational.

      Well, yes, I do have personal reasons for treating Navalny negatively.

      How is it possible for me to be nice about him when I have been given time and done it? After doing only one night behind bars, Navalny was magically released from gaol the following morning.

      In 2011, I said that I would be a candidate for the Russian presidential elections in March 2012.

      What happened next was that the annex of the Hotel Ismailovo, where, on the initiative of a group of a people, a meeting was to have taken place as regards nominating me as a candidate, was surrounded by the police, who allowed nobody to enter the room.

      I still held a meeting there – on the hotel car park. As was expected, more than five hundred people came with their passports; they registered themselves in a mini-bus, and the meeting took place.

      The Central Election Commission did not register me as a candidate.

      In order to have Navalny registered as a candidate for the post of Moscow Mayor, municipal deputies from the “United Russia” party, about which Navalny has not been loath to express several expletives over all these years, chipped in and provided him with 55 votes out of the 110 votes needed.

      He was registered, and now he is conducting his election campaign as though nothing had happened.

      This is a man who has been branded with five criminal cases for fraud and embezzlement – five! And they have the nerve to say that all five of them were just dreamed up by the Investigative Committee? So as to suck at a finger you only need to have one finger. [Russian idiom “to suck at the finger” – to dream things up.]

      However, for some years now this man has been shamelessly engaging himself in private investigations – in investigations into corruption. And now he is presenting himself to Muscovites as a candidate for the post of their mayor.

      In their yearning for a hero, the Moscow bourgeoisie does not want to notice the thickness of the crust of dirt that is stuck to this character.

      After all these years, I should really like them to find their hero.

      Do you remember how they rejoiced in ecstasy over the “musician Yuri” [Soviet/Russian poet, rock musician, protester, critic of Putin] – well all right then: Shevchuk – and how they all flocked around him for a whole season? By the way, the musician Yuri turned down the role that they were about to foist on him.

      They so much wanted their very own hero, did the bourgeoisie! And they have been so passionately waiting for this to happen, that they have accepted the first comer – and quite wrongly, for in a sense he is totally the opposite of the hero that they need.

      They have taken on board an energetic rogue and a swindler.

      But that’s just not possible!

      No matter who promoted him and for whatever purposes, this is just not on, because this character is so unsuited to the role that he has been playing with pleasure.

      In fact, they have taken on a petty thief and businessman, who has been almost elevated to the rank of saviour of the Fatherland.

      His history is clear. He comes from an adept and skillful family of New Russians, in which everyone is a Jack of All Trades. Dad retired after serving 25 years in the army (he must have been a good administrator in the army) and the family comes from one of the richest districts of the Moscow region: Odintsovo.

      The family did some buying and selling, got into any swindles that were in the offing, wove and plaited willow cane (Reminds you of Ilf and Petrov’s “Horns and Hooves” business!) [“Horns and Hooves” appears in the novel “The Golden Calf” by Ilf and Petrov (1931), in which a bogus firm is organized for fraudulent transactions. “Horns and Hooves” has now become a byword in Russian for fly-by-night firms and similar organizations established for a criminal purposes], and gets into any money making operations that are in the offing – from a subcontract with Russian Mail for delivering for the firm “Yves Rocher” to Cypriot offshore companies. There really are such families and such families continue to take pride in themselves and their operations.

      The law tolerates them as long as they keep out of gaol.

      However, a politician has no moral right to have such shady scams in his CV: he ought not to have them.

      All the values in society have been violated because of the hysteria that surrounds Navalny.

      And the values of democracy take priority. Democracy means equality of opportunity. But what kind of equality is there? None. Thirty-two candidates got no help from the members of “United Russia”, but Navalny and Mitrokhin did. And Gudkov did as well in the Moscow suburbs.

      When chance smiled on Navalny, the newly elected governor Belykh took him on board. Navalny happily clung on to to the source of his wealth. And arising out of this period in his life, we have at least three criminal cases: one involving “Kirovles”, another a distillery and the total disappearance of millions from the “Union of Right Forces”.

      And you support him?

      Well, you guys need to see a shrink!

      • yalensis says:

        Limomov is rightfully bitter about Navalny’s extension “krysha” — which continues to protect the rogue to this very day!
        Namely, after he (Navalny) cut off his tracking bracelet, then he should have been the target of a bench warrant and manhunt. He broke his parole!
        Instead, they just put a new bracelet on him and ordered him to pay the 10 ruble fee.

        • yalensis says:

          P.S. – by all rights Navalny should end up the same way as Ostap Bender.
          Does everybody remember how the “Golden Calf” ends?
          Ostap has converted his ill-gotten million rubles into gold plates, ikons, jewelry and furs. Wearing all this on his person, he attempts to cross the iced-over River Dnestr into Romania.
          On the other side, instead of greeting the defector, the Romanian border guards beat him up and steal all his loot.
          Barely escaping with his life, Ostap struggles back across the river, only to hear cracking sounds and explosions all around him – THE ICE IS LITERALLY BREAKING under his feet!
          Лёд тронулся!

          When I read the book, this scene always has me in stitches.

          But never fear – Ostap survives this trial. He always does!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Russian opposition figure Navalny questioned over fund’s activities, HQ searched

        Prosecutors believe that around 24 million rubles ($400,000) was wired to the foundation in 2013 by 16,000 supporters, but as the investigation says “most of this money was spent on the salaries of staff – 60 percent – and not on the aims that the fund was officially created for”.

        • yalensis says:

          Later, an elderly man named “Funt” was seen to enter Navalny’s HQ.
          Marching right up to Navalny, Funt challenged him: “My name is Funt. So let me ask you a question: Do you plan to do the time yourself?”
          Navalny: “Er… no…”
          Funt: “In that case, you must sign over all your executive responsibilities to me. I will serve the time for you. In exchange for a modest salary…”

        • marknesop says:

          Gee – they should invite him to the United States and let him have a go at making a political career there. He already has the methodology down pat.

      • marknesop says:

        I always felt kind of bad for Limonov, because he got stiffed. His complaints largely seem legitimate, and indeed unless there was flagrant lawbreaking and he can show the requisite level of support, there is no reason he should not stand for election. There is no danger of his winning, not because he would be cheated out of victory but because not enough people trust him to run the country – nonetheless, if he did win, you know he would not be a receptive patsy for a group of western reformers. Limonov is not a fool, and he appears to love Russia for its own sake – the government might do well to listen to some of his ideas rather than keep shoving him down.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I feel the same about him too – BUT he committed political suicide as regards his blatant use of Nazi symbolism and phraseology when creating his national Bolshevik Party, which on first sight is no different from what the founders of the “Social-National” Party (Later “Svoboda”) in Banderastan did.

          • yalensis says:

            The difference is, that Limonov never was an actual Nazi.
            He is half Communist, half Trotskyite, and half Russian patriot.
            His problem is that he engaged in one too many rotten coalitions and popular fronts with people, with whom he had zero in common.
            Due to that, he will never be elected to public office.
            However, he was always a good writer, and he has become quite an adept essayist.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              He’s bobbing on now an’ all! I was surprised when I checked him out an hour or so ago: he’s already 71.

              I remember how he used to get some flak back in the ’90s when he claimed he served as a sniper with the Serbs at Sarajevo.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              He is half Communist, half Trotskyite, and half Russian patriot.

              That makes him 50% more of a man I thought he was!

              🙂

              I know what you mean, though.

          • marknesop says:

            Oh, I was being sarcastic – I don’t feel any pity for him at all and do not doubt that for the most part the account of the Holocaust was accurate. I don’t know about numbers, but it seems well-documented that there was a serious effort to erase the Jewish people from the earth and that the effort was perpetrated by Nazi Germany. I was just pointing out how sacred is the persecution of the Jews and how any mention of it is carefully parsed – it is absolutely taboo to say any aspect of it was a lie, and don’t even mention making fun of it with a racy cartoon. All the freedom of speech you want – for selected points of view.

            • yalensis says:

              The numbers tell the story.
              Holocaust deniers can dispute eye-witness testimony of survivors, if they wish. But how do they explain the raw population numbers?
              Compare 1933 to 1945.

  26. kirill says:

    http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/15/2440

    “Yesterday on Wednesday the EU negotiated with Gazprom in Moscow. The EU negotiators had three aims:

    1. Pressure Russia into extending the special winter pricing on gas supplies to Ukrainian due to end in March,
    2. Force Russia to further unilateral concessions by forcing all European energy purchases to happen through a new “European Energy Union”,
    3. Pressure Russia to resurrect the canceled South Stream gas pipeline project and build it in accordance with the restrictive rules of the Third Energy Package.

    The Russian response was a cold shower.”

    ——————

    Pure gold.

  27. peter says:

  28. davidt says:

    Disregarding Moody’s latest efforts for the time being, I cannot agree with some of the comments on the previous blog that the West’s attack on the Russian economy is of little consequence and that it can be easily fended off. I say this simply because many serious people who are well disposed towards Russia say so. For example, read the views of people such as Sergey Karaganov, Fyodor Lukyanov and Dmitry Trenin who often write here:
    http://eng.globalaffairs.ru/
    These people all say that Russia has to make very significant changes to the way it does things or the consequences might be very bad. (This is not to say that they are unaware of what has already been achieved.) Given this one can hardly not muse as to whether Medvedev is the best choice as Prime Minister. John Helmer frequently picks this issue up, and his latest article wonders why Putin sent Lavrov, and not Medvedev, to Paris for the “Je suis Charlie” shindig:
    http://johnhelmer.net/?p=12491#more-1249

    • Jen says:

      An alternate explanation for Lavrov’s presence is that had Putin or Medvedev attended, either man might have drawn too much media attention away from the supposed show of solidarity among the various leaders who did attend. It was bad enough that Satanyahu should have popped up like the ugly gnome he is, and his sulphurous presence took some focus away from the parade. In addition the jostling of the politicians as to who should stand next to whom, and who should stand the farthest from the Russian representative, would become so obvious and farcical as to be embarrassing and to detract from the whole reason of having world leaders there. Helmer may be reading too much into Medvedev’s absence.

      • davidt says:

        Perhaps I should not have put in the Helmer link, for my point is rather should Medvedev be the Prime Minister. (I am not really interested in the Paris shenanigans.) People used to talk about the Putin- Medvedev tandem even if Putin was doing most of the pedaling- now one would almost think that Medvedev is coasting. Medvedev doesn’t seem to have the personality to drive change- compare him with Shoygu or Rogozin who seem to be on top of their briefs. I was half hoping that someone might suggest a replacement, and perhaps another job for Medvedev. (Perhaps he could reform the legal system.) It is easy to imagine that we move from the current unipolar world to a multipolar world in which Russia still has a relatively weak economy. That would be very disappointing. (On the positive side, I see that some pundits reckon that Russian IT should do well this year.)

        • “It is easy to imagine that we move from the current unipolar world to a multipolar world in which Russia still has a relatively weak economy. That would be very disappointing.”

          It would be disappointing but also predictable. Russia has never in its history had a strong economy. Partly because of external reasons (harsh climate, lack of rivers for transport, lack of colonies, lack of warm water sea ports etc.) but also because of internal reasons (weak/corrupt governance, economically passive population unwilling for personal entrepreneurship, destructive wars, almost a century of idiotic communist system etc.).

          500 years ago Russia was poorer than Western Europe. Such was the base 400 years ago, 300 years ago and 200 years ago. 100 years ago there were large famines in Russia while the Western Europe was living a good life.

          The last 15 years may have been a deviation due to high prices of energy and raw materials. Now we are going back to “normality”, so to speak.

          Countries and their populations are built with a certain way. Russia will always have a strong army simply because it has to, but it will always have a weak economy because of the way the country is built. Russia can never be like Netherlands or Japan, a country full of strong profitable businesses who can export their products. Russia is just different from them. It always was and always will be.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Yeah, Russia and its inhabitants are just a waste pf space. Far better that it and they be colonized and administered and its resources exploited by and for the greater good of the civilized world.

            • Didn’t mean that. You should know I generally support Russia and I sincerely hope that the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine will be victorious. But I also try to be a realist. Russia needs a strong army precisely for what you said, not to “be colonized and administered and its resources exploited by and for the greater good of the civilized world”.

              If Russia practically always in its history has had a significantly weaker economy than the Western countries the changes of that suddenly changing are not great. I’m not expecting Africa to reach the Western standard of living in my lifetime either. While Russia is a far stronger economy than African countries, it will also remain a lot weaker economy than the Western economies during our lifetimes.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                World’s largest economies

                “The last 15 years may have been a deviation due to high prices of energy and raw materials.”

                Russia is just gas station?

                As of 2012 oil and gas sector accounted for 16% of the GDP” – World Bank

                Where does the rest of the GDP come from? Sales of Matryoshki to tourists on the Arbat?

                Russia’s Finance Ministry reports that the country’s Reserve Fund grew by 72.9 percent to top 4.94 trillion rubles year-on-year, while the National Welfare Fund increased by 51.3 percent to 4.388 trillion rubles in 2014

                See: http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/14/2398

                3 Things Barack Obama Got Wrong About Russia

              • Moscow Exile says:

                This picture is begging for a caption to be added to it!

                From : Merkel verhandelt mit Obama über neue Kredite für die Ukraine

                [Merkel negotiates with Obama for new loans for the Ukraine]

                My caption:

                Sein Schwanz war so klein, Barry! Wenn man mit einem Schwarzen gebumst hat, dann gibt es keinen Weg zurück!

              • palmtoptiger says:

                a rather questionable thesis. I’d bet a lot on you being wrong there. you neglect some important things in your argumentation: 1) Russia has never had a prolonged time of peace – without a major war or revolution – at least for several centuries and 2) the Western world seems to have pretty much reached its peak around 20 years ago, with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and has been now declining at an increasing rate for a long time.

                the closest state that Russia came (or, rather, had the chance to come to) that resembled the peaceful prosperity of the Western countries was the early 1900s and the late Soviet Union. in the 1910s before WWI, Russia was actually fairly rapidly developing and clearly closing in on the European flagships like Germany or France – but WWI and the revolution were a colossal setback and the industrial/agricultural production levels of 1913 were only reached again around 20-25 years later after Stalin’s numerous reforms.

                but then again came WWII vs the united Nazi Europe, which was more destructive and costly to Russia than anything any Western country ever experienced, and immediately after it the cold war – initiated again by the West – where the Soviet Union was again largely alone vs the “free world” spearheaded by the US. the Soviet Union under late Stalin was, actually, on a fairly good course – prices were being reduced every year, industrial production rapidly growing, the country was independent from the dollar system, massive and fruitful investments into science and technology, etc. regrettably, already Khruschev overturned most of that, and it kept more or less declining all the way to Gorbachev-Yeltsin, who again nearly destroyed the country, inflicting the largest damage since WWII.

                then came Putin, and we all know how effective he has been. GDP has literally increased 10-fold, the well-being of the average citizen has improved dramatically as well (I can vouch for that myself, having been there e.g. in 1997 and several times after, including last year – actually going to be in Moscow tomorrow, just a short stint in Sheremetyevo though on the way to Tokyo). PPP GDP per capita is already well around the level of the median EU country, and significantly above the poorer ones like Bulgaria.

                though Stolypin’s famous “Give Russia just 20 years of peace” line may be old and beaten, I’d argue that it’s largely valid today. Give Russia under Putin 20 years of peace, and it will essentially close in even on the old EU countries.

                and the 2nd reason for that is that the West is on the decline, dramatically. for the last 20 years, there has been no real economic growth here. the few % that the CBs have mostly squeezed out are largely the result of new debt and shady accounting tricks, and the people that the new wealth goes to are very few. debt-cleansed (Jon Hellevig and a few other economists have done this calculation), the GDPs of most old EU countries have severely declined in the last decade, and what of it goes to the median citizen has declined even more.

                simply put, even Germans are dramatically poorer today than they were 20 years ago. Bulgarians or Romanians literally live on the edge of poverty as nations. real wages and pensions have either stagnated or declined for 20+ years. and there’s absolutely zero indication that this trend will be broken anytime in the near future.

                this is masked a bit by the rapid tech/IT advances, where even a poor family today can afford a 50-inch plasma TV that 10 years ago was an insanely expensive luxury. but if you take e.g. real estate or car prices vs. the real wage, there’s no comparison. despite e.g. the Swiss being overall a very rich nation, far fewer people can afford their own house or apartment today than 20 years ago. and the cars that are being driven also increasingly become split in two groups: Maseratis on the one hand and Kias on the other. the extremely wealthy 1% and the poor rest. that’s the EU’s future.

                • ..james says:

                  palmtoptiger. nice post. thanks.

                • patient observer says:

                  I agree as well – good post.

                • marknesop says:

                  Very nice. With just a bit more text, a couple of mocking jokes and maybe a couple of illustrative charts, that comment would make a fine post on its own. I would never have thought of the advance in IT being a net benefit which masked a lack of growth in real income, that’s certainly something I would not have put together on my own. Strange that Aslund did not mention it – isn’t he the world’s greatest economist?

                • Jen says:

                  I would add to Palmtoptiger’s post that the poor family and even also the middle class family would have bought its plasma TV set and all its other consumer electronics goodies on credit rather than on hire purchase. In addition, access to the Internet has also become privatised rather than free-to-air as radio and TV broadcasting once were before the advent of cable TV. This of course is due to the neoliberal economic experiment that became the way of the West after the 1970s combined with the downfall or co-opting of trade unions by governments in many countries. Margaret Thatcher’s destruction of the union movement in the UK was extreme for First World countries; most other Western countries did deals with the unions that had the effect of sapping their membership and thus their political strength, and also ensured that money wages could not keep up with the cost of living so that people were forced to supplement their wages with debt.

              • yalensis says:

                As to the African continent lack of success in economic development, there are a lot of theories about that. One decent article that I read once (in an actual magazine, not online) is that Africa did not have native animals of the nature of the horse.
                And that quite a lot of modern civilization in the West was based on the horse. (For travel purposes and armies, obviously.)
                Sure, the Africans had zebras, but it’s not quite the same thing. You could not tame a zebra in a million years. Those things will bite you, and bite you hard, if you even try to go near them.
                If only zebras were more tractable, then the sub-Saharan Africans could have unified their tribes like the Europeans did, built more modern type states and armies, maybe been in better shape to resist European colonization and asset-stripping. So goes the argument, and it makes sense to me.

                In conclusion, Blame it on the Zebra!

                U WERE SAYING????

                • Jen says:

                  I think the slave trade and the presence of chronic diseases like malaria (which can cause brain damage in children) and others that sap people’s strength and that of animals like horses and cattle were bigger factors in sub-Sahara Africa’s delayed development than the behaviour of zebras, antelope and Cape buffalo or whatever else Jared Diamond suggested in his book “Guns, Germs and Steel”. Africans could have brought horses with them as they did cattle, corn and yams when they expanded from western Africa into central and southern Africa. But horses are apparently very vulnerable to diseases carried by tsetse flies whereas cattle have more resistance.

                • yalensis says:

                  Good points, Jen.
                  But the fact remains, that nobody ever succeeded in putting a bridle on a zebra!

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  I always thought a zebra’s spine was too weak to carry a load so they are, therefore, exempt from working: kind of like having invalidity benefit in the UK.

                • yalensis says:

                  You might be right about that.
                  I found this link .
                  Apparently Lord Rotschild trained some zebras to pull his carriage.
                  But says that overall the animals have weak backs and are small, so I guess people can’t put a saddle on those things and ride ’em like horses..

                  Still…
                  With a bit of effort and a few generations, if they had thought of it, Africans could have bred massive zebras for army cavalry.
                  Then, in direct battle between European horses and African zebras, I think the zebras would have won. Because zebras are mean and vicious. (I still stand by that statement.)

                • colliemum says:

                  Dunno about that.
                  By the time the Africans would’ve had a good number of vicious and strong zebras, the europeans would’ve had time to breed strong and even more vicious successors to the medieval destriers, see
                  here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destrier with links to the modern breeds most resembling these destriers.
                  Personally, if I had the money, time and talent, I’d go for a Warlander … but that’s just me.

              • marknesop says:

                I agree Russia needs a strong military in order to project state power beyond its own borders. In many cases the American military does not need to leave its bases and stations to be a game-changer; simply the threat-in-being is sufficient. However, I disagree Russia cannot ever have a strong economy. The west prefers to import only raw materials from Russia and to sell them back finished goods. Anything Russia made was so ridiculed and belittled in the western media and advertising that nobody would buy it. That system does not have to continue, and if Russia continues to turn toward Asia rather than Europe there is every possibility it can have a strong economy. It likely has much less chance of that so long as it deals with the west, because the west perceives it as a land of stupid savages who can be bought off for a handful of shiny beads, and only does business with it because of the fantastic potential for western profits. Russia should completely sever its trading relationship with the west except for those purely business ties which can be had at Russia’s advantage.

              • ThatJ says:

                @palmtoptiger

                this is masked a bit by the rapid tech/IT advances, where even a poor family today can afford a 50-inch plasma TV that 10 years ago was an insanely expensive luxury.

                I have seen this noted elsewhere. Tech goods such as smartphones, computers and videogames have contributed to a new type of culture for young people, and if they did not exist, our leisure activities would require more money than we can afford, and there could be revolutions or political upheavals. These modern technologies are cheap and keep us busy, so in a way they help to mask the real economy.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  It saddens me though when I see folk of all age groups fiddling away with their smart phones and tablets on the metro when 30 years ago most had their noses stuck in a book and were certainly not reading Pravda, as the Western lying press still tries to make out they do.

                  When I first arrived in the Empire of Evil, samizdat copies of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “1984” were doing the rounds.

          • davidt says:

            Keep your pecker up. I certainly don’t agree with this. Actually I see no reason why Russia cannot do very well and I think the odds are that it will. Excellent natural resources and human capital. Next 10 years might be critical… (It is not as though things are going swimmingly in the West.)

            • Moscow Exile says:

              Keep your pecker up?

              That’s what Merkel’s saying to Barry (above) – if you are speaking in the North American vernacular, that is.

              🙂

              • davidt says:

                Shouldn’t you be reading Kant? Where in hell did you get your picture?

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Where in hell did you get your picture?

                  You mean of Merkel and O’Bummer above?

                  From Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten [German Business News] linked below the picture.

                • marknesop says:

                  Maybe he meant that entire passage to be his submission for a caption.

                  I’m going to go with Merkel saying “I have this recurring dream where I’m turning into a giant crab”. Obama replies, “I know; I heard the NSA recording”.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Nah! he’s so passé.

                  Into Heidegger now, about being and not-being (getting old, see); about non-existence.

                  Can there “be” non-existence? Can non-existence be a property of anything? Can something exist negatively?

                  Heidegger proposed such a predicate, in that he argued that there is something true of “Nothing”, namely that it “noths”.

                  Das Nichts nichtet!

                  Have to go now. I have a headache.

            • Moscow Exile says:

              The West is always mighty in comparison with the genetically Slavic-Mongol-Tatar hordes!

          • colliemum says:

            Those numbers are a tad iffy, as is the use of the concept ‘Europe’. That didn’t exist in those days, there were only kingdoms and empires: France, Austria, Spain, Sweden – to keep to the “Europe” we associate with the modern EU.

            500 years ago there were war-lets all over the place, and the riches from the newly discovered Americas had yet to arrive and pay for the courts in Spain and Austria. Countries – that is, courts and the nobility – were so pressed for money that dear old Henry VIII was ‘forced’ to dissolve the monasteries and church holdings to pay his knights and pay his courts. Let’s not forget that this was in spite of his father, Henry VII, having squeezed the population that the pips squeaked, to pay off all debts left over from the wars his predecessors fought.
            No affluence for the people, nowhere.

            400 years ago, the 30-years war was just about to kick off, a war which left what is now Germany totally and utterly devastated. Then there was that little episode in Great Britain, also called ‘Civil War’, the thing with the Roundheads and Cavaliers. That was when King Charles I got his head chopped off, and when Cromwell reigned with an iron fist.
            Nope, people weren’t rich or even affluent: civil wars devastate countries, something we all should be aware of by now.

            300 or so years ago there were wars with and between Spain, Austria and France – and then there were the wars Frederic the Great fought with Austria and Russia. No – that wasn’t a time of affluence in Europe either, unless one was a rich aristocrat, but when were those ever not affluent, anywhere …! And then there was that interesting event in France, of which people still talk – can’t think why … It was called “The French revolution” – and while the aristocrats certainly became a lot poorer, unto losing their lives even, the victorious plebs weren’t swimming in riches at all.
            This leads us seamlessly to:

            200 years ago – well, there was this event called ‘Napoleonic Wars’, and anybody who has read just a bit about that time will have noticed that while France got ‘rich’ on paper, on the back of the military successes and acquisitions of Napoleon, these riches were wasted immediately on his army, which ultimately got smashed and ground to dust both in Russia in 1812, and by Wellington in the Peninsular War. Yes, it’s the 200-year jubilee of Waterloo this year – and again, while some aristocrats – not all – were rich and affluent, the masses were not, nowhere.
            Then we had the little thing called ‘Crimean war’, well, that cost a bundle, the usual suspects, i.e. the people, were dying like flies – but the new industrialists joined the aristocrats in getting rich. Note well: that’s not affluence across Europe, that’s just a few people, in one or two countries.
            And then the Prussians got it together, and took revenge on Austria and France, a certain Prince Otto von Bismarck being the driving force. The rich got richer – this time the new class of industrialists as well as the aristos, although some aristos in Prussia were way poorer that those industrialists.

            As for Europe being rich and affluent compared to Russia 100 years ago – well, there was that little difference of opinion which kicked off 101 years ago, called WWI … with people starving and dying like flies because of their weakness from the infamous Spanish Flu. and we all know what happened after 1918 …

            So while it is right to say that the aristocrats always were rich and had a relatively good time compared to the rest, we should also note that the Russian aristocrats were deemed to be the richest of all in Europe.

            History is interesting, isn’t it!

            • Moscow Exile says:

              There was also serfdom all over Western Europe that in some places lasted well into the 19th century. There were also famines, the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s being only amongst the last of many. Engels wasn’t all that mightily impressed with English society when he wrote “The Condition of the English Working Classes in 1844”. There were also huge outbreaks of disease in Western Europe right up to modern times. The last cholera epidemic – something now associated with Third World countries – that occurred in my home town was in 1899.

              • colliemum says:

                Yes indeed – and on top of the huge outbreaks of diseases, there were the ongoing killers like TB which killed thousands, not just the famous like Frederic Chopin, and thyphoid which killed even the beloved husband of Queen Victoria. And then there were the heartbreaking infectious diseases of childhood.
                There’s a thin, simple marble tablet in the old cemetery of Llandaff Cathedral. It shows the names and dates of four children, two boys, two girls, who died in January 1864, one dead child every week, aged 2, 4, 6 and eight years. That was ‘normal’ in those days, and affected most families, rich and poor alike.
                Yes, diseases were rife and devastating in those centuries.

          • yalensis says:

            Oh come on, Karl, it is not like you to be SO simplistic! I don’t even know where to begin…

            For starters, Russia has always been in a symbiotic relationship with Western Europe. Around the time of Catherine the Great, when Western Europe was economically bustling and had a growing urban population to feed, Russia (including Malorossiya and the Borderlands) re-instituted a harsher form of serfdom (instead of continuing in the trend of serfs evolving into free peasants), in order to fence off and create larger latifundia in the grain-producing lands. That’s one. (Just to put in context, around the same time,American South had similar latifundia, only they grew tobacco and cotton, also farmed by a type of serf!)

            Secondly, Russia’s lack of colonies, as you mentioned. Having colonies and stripping other people’s property was a quick way to accumulate Capital. (As Karl Marx, whom you despise, pointed out quite neatly.)

            Thirdly, around the time of the last major famine in Russia, namely early 1930’s, there was a similar famine in the USA. It was called the dustbowl. You can read all about it in John Steinbeck’s novel, “Grapes of Wrath”.

            In other words, you cannot just paint a one-paragraph history of Russia as a loser-state, and have it be a valid essay. Only Asslund and the trolls on KievPost comment boards are allowed to do that.

            • yalensis says:

              And P.S. – Karl:
              You yourself pointed out, earlier, that Finland’s economic success is due to the fact that they tricked gullible Russians into practicing giving away cheap energy and other natural assets, and this went on for many, many decades.

              Well, to take advantage of another person’s gullibility is also a form of intelligence, I suppose.

              As for the Japanese economic success – well, there you have a point. I think the Japanese did that all on their own, just because they are very smart, and they work hard.

            • yalensis says:

              P.S. – I wasn’t clear enough, above, in making my point about the “Second Serfdom”.

              (a) Russia was in symbiotic relationship with West Europe
              (b) Russia was exporting grain to feed the growing urban population of West Europe
              (c) That was why they needed to fence off and build larger latifundias

            • Moscow Exile says:

              It is interesting to compare the lot of Russian “serfs” (and that is really the wrong terminology to use: they were in no way the same as Western European serfs, the term being adopted by Marxists in order to include Russia in their theory of the universally linear economic development of society), better said, “slaves” and negro slaves in the United States slave states of the 18th and 19th centuries.

              The legal and social positions of Russian and US Negro slaves roughly corresponded with each other: both could be bought and sold and separated from their families; neither enjoyed legal, political, or civil rights; neither could legally own property, though sometimes they did; the offspring off both were slaves in perpetuity; in both cases, a free person entering into marriage with a slave automatically became one.

              There were divergences, of course, between the positions of both: Negro slaves were outside society, whereas Russian slaves were regarded in some strange fashion as being subjects of the Tsar, even though they never took the oath of loyalty – and Russian slaves were liable to military service, which, in effect, meant their expropriation by the state for 25 years – AND they paid taxes!

              The economic conditions of the Russian and US Negro slaves’ lives were differen as well: the latter normally worked on plantations, whereas in Russia the usual forms of slave labour were barshchina (compulsory work on their owners’ fields) and obrok (quit-rent- a payment that would absolve him from his services to his owner). From Empress Ekaterina II’s time, however, plantation slavery was spreading in Russia and under which the Russian slave did not work his own land but was clothed and fed by his owner for working on his owner’s plantation.

              The greatest and most obvious difference, however, between a Russian slave and a Negro slave in the USA was that the former’s skin pigmentation was the same as his owner’s.

              The most surprising aspect, however, of a Russian slave’s life – for historians at least – is this: the indifference of the Russian non-slave class towards them. This is particularly noticeable when one considers the works of Russian 18th and 19th century writers: although they were mostly against this peasant slavery, they wrote amazingly little about it. Apart from Radishchev, some of Turgenev’s writing and some Arcadian nonsense, there is bugger all: we simply have very little idea about how those unfortunate people actually lived.

              Such indifference is hard to explain, for the crux of the matter when comparing US enslaved Negros and Russian slaves is this: Negro slaves in the United States, about whom so much has been observed and written, never made up more than one-fifth of the population of the USA; in 1861, when the US Civil War broke out, Negro slaves in the USA only constituted about one-eighth of the population. In Russia, on the other hand, at the height of the system of enslaved peasantry, more than nine-tenths of the population was in bondage.

              Many believe that the “peculiar institution” of US Negro slavery warped the social development of the United States and has created the greatest of social consequences that are still evident in US society to this very day. If that be true, then how much more justice might this not be said of Russia, where slavery was general, lasted for just as long and came to and end at the same time?

              I often think of this. When I look around me, I realize that the vast majority of people with whom I associate must be the great (x5 or 6) grandchildren of Russian slaves, which might explain a lot!

              • palmtoptiger says:

                you think the slave ancestry still shows in the 5th-6th offspring generation?

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  Well, I was thinking of the results of tales being passed down by word of mouth in families and communities , which tales would certainly be recounted over many generations and also lose nothing in their telling.

                  I am certainly not suggesting that Russians have a congenital, as it were, slave-like nature, which very many Westerners often unabashedly declare they do indeed have as a result of the fact that up until 1860 the vast majority of Russians lived in a state of servitude and had done so for several hundred years; I’m not talking about social Darwinism. But what I am saying is that the social attitude of the vast majority of Russians has possibly been affected by what has been passed down to them through generations as part of their collective folk memory.

                  Are Russians rebellious? I think so, but their rebelliousness is tempered with great patience because of what their forefathers had learnt the hard way over generations. They know that there is a time and place concerning when and where to strike. Do Russians in general ignore the law and treat it as something simply to be ignored or broken because in their folk memory they are aware that the law did not protect the likes of them? I think so.

                  That’s what I mean about the effects of generations of Russian bondage on prresent-day Russian society.

                  I used to see the same in my childhood in my hometown, where, I should imagine, a good 40 % of the population were descendants of impoverished Irish migrant workers who had been cruelly treated and exploited by their English “masters”. These people’s ancestors had, some 6 or 7 generations previously, taken the opportunity to flee impoverished rural Ireland in order to become part of the Lumpenproletariat in 19th century Northern England, the English Midlands, South Wales and the the Glasgow and Edinburgh areas of Scotland, which were all at that time undergoing rapid industrialization.

                  The grandparents of some of those boys’ whose families had originated in Ireland still often spoke with a slight Irish accent or used curious (to my ears at least) Irish-English turns of phrase. And very many of these “Irish” families clearly displayed an open hostility towards all things “English” and would vehemently declare that if there were a war between England and Ireland, they would fight for the “Emerald Isle”. Quite often there were fights over this issue.

                  Not all “Irish” families were like this, mine included, in the sense that one of my grandmothers and one of my great-grandfathers were both Irish born. But I know for a fact that there was an underlying hatred for the English amongst many of these people, even though very many of them had never set foot in Ireland, and they often had a very openly rebellious nature that they displayed in general against authority – “English” authority.

              • yalensis says:

                Dear Moscow Exile:
                That is a very good point, about Russian writers hardly at all mentioning the lives of the plantation serfs. In a typical story or novel, the main characters are the landed gentry, the reader bonds with them and becomes immersed in their lives. Off in the corner, there might be a wise-off “house slave”, like Tatiana’s nanny (direct analogue of Missy Scarlet’s “Mammy”). But the vast bulk of the slaves working out in the fields – they are not even bit players in the story, not even part of the chorus. Their lives are of no importance to the reader.

                Whereas in American literature, there was much more literary description of the everyday lives of the field slaves. And I am not just referring to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, there were lots of other works too, which described the lives of the Negro field slaves.

                I think the difference can be ascribed directly to censorship. American literature was relatively free, as far as I know, there was no government censorship of literary writers.
                Whereas Russian writers of the 18th and 19th centuries did have to submit their words to a censor. Hence, they had to be cautious and sometimes Aesopian, if they wished to touch on forbidden topics. I believe that a frank discussion of serfdom would have gone outside the parameters of what was permitted by the censors.

                Example: Here is Pushkin’s discrete and gentle “criticism” (Onegin, Chapter 3, Verse 39) of the way serf girls are not allowed to eat the berries that they collect from the master’s bushes:


                В саду служанки, на грядах,
                Сбирали ягоду в кустах
                И хором по наказу пели
                (Наказ, основанный на том,
                Чтоб барской ягоды тайком
                Уста лукавые не ели
                И пеньем были заняты:
                Затея сельской остроты!)

                Песня девушек

                Девицы, красавицы,
                Душеньки, подруженьки,
                Разыграйтесь девицы,
                Разгуляйтесь, милые!
                Затяните песенку,
                Песенку заветную,
                Заманите молодца
                К хороводу нашему,
                Как заманим молодца,
                Как завидим издали,
                Разбежимтесь, милые,
                Закидаем вишеньем,
                Вишеньем, малиною,
                Красною смородиной.
                Не ходи подслушивать
                Песенки заветные,
                Не ходи подсматривать
                Игры наши девичьи.


                TRANSLATION

                “In the garden, the girl servants were collecting berries from the bushes.
                In chorus they were singing, they were ordered to sing, in order to prevent
                Their greedy mouths from secretly munching on the master’s berries!
                They can’t eat and sing at the same time.
                This is an old trick used in the countryside!”

                SONG OF THE MAIDENS
                (etc.)

          • Jen says:

            If Russia had been as poor as Karl imagines in 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800 or even 1900, I have to wonder how the Russian empire managed to extend all the way from Warsaw to San Francisco by the mid-1800s, presumably without being challenged by the British, the French, the Swedes, the Ottomans and a few others.

            Most famines occur not just because of climatic factors affecting agriculture, they occur also because of government incompetence in distributing emergency food aid or getting help to people in affected areas. The general level of wealth in the country often has very little to do with the scale of the famine; people living in luxury can exist almost cheek by cheek with starving communities.

            Much of what Karl says about Russia’s weaknesses could have been applied to China a century ago.

  29. A good post from Ukrainian poster Pitchup from MP.net about the regime terror in Mariupol: http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?236054-MPnet-Great-Flame-War-was-The-Original-Butthurt-thread&p=7528703&viewfull=1#post7528703

    I have read about similar things from Kharkov, Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk. Ukraine seems to be a scary hell hole now. People with dissent views are either killed or jailed.

  30. Moscow Exile says:

    Oscar-nominated Leviathan upsets officials in native Russia

    I daresay it will upset many native Russians as well when they see it.

    • palmtoptiger says:

      it seems to be the typical liberal propaganda garbage that’s been routinely produced by the
      Russian “творцы” since the Perestroika. Cassad has a pretty exhaustive review of it at http://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/1990116.html

      so absolutely no surprise that it’s being nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes, and may even win some. it’s excellent propaganda material – “see, even the orcs themselves complain about how miserable life in Mordor is under the iron heel of Vladimir the Terrible”, etc.

    • yalensis says:

      I heard that they were going to turn the film into a musical comedy on Broadway.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Well, it would only be what they want to see and believe!

        It’d be like putting on “Springtime For Hitler” from “The Producers” in Lvov.

        It’d be a sellout!

        Come to think of it, if I could get it translated into Yukie…

        Весняні для Гітлера і Німеччини,
        Cумні часи для Польщі та Франції…

    • marknesop says:

      “The film didn’t make much of an impression on me, basically it says we are all alcoholics living in a dump”

      Easy to see why it won such recognition in the west – it portrays the “real Russia” as they know it, and fills the western heart with resolve that they must not falter until all these good-hearted but simple people who have to bear such terrible deprivation are set free.

  31. Warren says:

    ?utm_content=buffer31ed5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  32. Terje says:

    I know the source is a bit dodgy, Reuters’ ”Comrade Capitalism” series , but the article actually has some interesting numbers on the apple industry and food investment in general.
    http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/comrade-capitalism-apples/
    Poland is the world’s biggest exporter of apples and last year sent more than $380 million worth to Russia, according to International Trade Centre figures.
    The Russian ban “has hit us very hard” said Jacek Pruszkowski, an apple producer from Grojec near Warsaw. Polish growers “still have 1 million tonnes in storage … We now know that this will not get sold. At some point, it will have to be destroyed.”

    Dmitry Steinsapir, managing partner at AVG Capital Partners in Moscow, is a private equity investor with more than $200 million invested in agriculture projects. He says he has been surprised by the surge of interest in investing in agriculture. Before the ban, he saw only a trickle of people pass through his doors looking to invest in the sector.

    “Now everyone seems to be asking us, ‘Guys, can I invest some money?’” he said. His company is currently in talks with between six and 10 private Russian investors each looking to put $5 million or more into agriculture and related logistics, he said.

    “What we see is that local investors want to protect their savings … and it is difficult for Russian money to be invested abroad. People want to invest their money into industries which have the potential to grow.”

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Those Polacks should get them apples pressed and make cider and calvados out of them. They’d get shut of applejack pretty quickly, because Poles, despite their airs and graces (and they can be complete charmers – I’ve worked and knocked around with a few in my time) have a dark side – and it’s the same that many of the Mongol-Tatar-Finno-Ugric-Not-Really-True-Slav Russkies have.

      This ain’t Moscow!

      It’s Warsaw.

      Tell you the truth, it’s a very long time since I’ve seen anyone as drunk as that in public in Moscow.

    • marknesop says:

      Have the Poles never heard of applesauce? Or cider? Just two ways of turning fresh apples (or not so fresh; apple cider is often made using the “drops”, apples which have fallen from the tree and are lying on the ground, and they say it’s like sausage in that lots of people like it, but nobody who’s ever seen it being made) into something which will last a lot longer and might be sold. Mind you, it’d take a bit of investment, for the bottles and jars and such.

  33. kirill says:

    http://www.aeroflot.com/cms/en/new/46601

    “Aeroflot Group’s domestic traffic increased 23.6% year-on-year in November 2014”

    Those sanctions are wreaking havoc on Russia’s economy. They have forced Aeroflot to buy an extra 20 SSJ-100 jets. This is simply devastating.

  34. yalensis says:

    According to Life News , which I have often found to be surprisingly accurate, despite its tabloid nature:

    Ukies are still in denial about yesterday’s Rebel victory at airport.
    Recall that Zakharchenko, Motorola and Givi mostly completed the Seps take-over of the airport, with only a small pocket (maybe 10 cyborgs) left in one of the ancillary buildings.

    Zakharchenko taunted Porky with the captured Ukie flag and dared him to come and get it back.
    Meanwhile, one of the trapped cyborgs, a guy named Sasha, was sending tweets out to inter-tubes, complaining how desperate their situation, and nobody coming to help them.
    Porky responded by sending in a couple of armoured vehicles, desperately trying to rescue the handful of remaining cyborgs.
    Seps responded by destroying the armoured vehicles.

    Porky’s problem is that he got Ukie society all too gripped with this airport thing, like it was a point of honour to hold onto it. Even though, with the Minsk agreement, they should have just quietly abandoned it, and at a certain point in the past, Seps would have allowed the cyborgs to just march out of their in formation, still alive and carrying their banner.

    Blame Porky for their deaths, he was stubborn like a mule.

  35. peter says:

  36. peter says:

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, excellent; let’s all take our economic guidance from Goldman and Khodorkovsky!! This from the same sources who will laugh you out of the room if you dare to cite Global Research or Zerohedge.

  37. yalensis says:

    Meanwhile, Veruca got herself bitch-slapped by Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.

    And this is the same HRW which we already know (from leaks) is the handmaiden of George Soros! And their job is to whitewash Kiev and sodomize Moscow!

    When even your paid apologists start to slap you around… that might be the time to look in the mirror and ask the question: “Am I a bad person?”

    • marknesop says:

      What a fucking idiot. “Typically what happened is that Russia-backed forces, would fire at Ukrainian forces from populated areas. That often unnecessarily endangered the civilian population—itself a violation of the laws of war.”

      Tell me, Stonewall RommelRoth, brilliant military tactician, how one is supposed to defend a city with artillery without firing from within the city? Jesus, that makes me mad. Should they confine themselves to an open field, designated the “Artillery Response Area”? Forgive me if I suggest any defensive force that behaved in that manner would lose pretty quickly. Alternatively, they could resolutely restrict themselves – no artillery, that’s against the laws of war. Let’s wait until they run out of Grads and artillery rounds and ballistic missiles. Wait, boys, until they think we’re all dead and come close, to where we can grapple hand-to-hand!! Then, by God, we’ll show ’em!

      Was there at any time a danger from Russia-backed forces firing artillery from Donetsk hitting Ukrainian army forces when they were not in the Donetsk region, attacking the city of Donetsk? No? Fuck me; you’re kidding. Well, I may just have arrived upon the solution! Don’t attack civilian populations in their cities using the military of the same country, something which is expressly forbidden in the country’s constitution! See if you can’t arrive at what’s pissing them off without rushing to their land with the intent of killing them all, what do you say, Ghengis Khan?

      If that was a bitch-slap, it was the weakest, most caressing one I have ever seen, agreeing to refer to the resistance forces as “Russian-backed” so it will appear they have no real complaint and it’s just Russia trying to make trouble and using them to do it, and stipulating that the presence of such people forced Kiev to come and kill them. Human Rights Watch is the most useless claque of western arsehole-lickers on the planet.

  38. kirill says:

    http://rusvesna.su/third_world/1421493479

    This is how Americans view themselves: masters of the universe. A Russian pharmaceutical company recently bought out by an American company, Abbott, is coercing its Russian employees to abide by US anti-Russian sanctions. You heard that right, some American shits are trying to enforce their “law” inside Russia.

    This is ludicrous. The police have to raid this company and arrest the management.

  39. Moscow Exile says:

    Something in Peter’s style:

    Yes ….and?

    Notice the massive crowds.

  40. Warren says:

    • Tim Owen says:

      That is a very sobering read. It makes very clear how, given the right strategic and economic conditions, a people can find themselves pushed out of the community of those who matter. Chilling.

      My hope was that, over the medium term, the austerity measures being imposed on Banderastan would weaken the regime to a point that the ultra-nationalists would be overthrown. There’s a lot of wishful thinking in that. It assumes that the political repression won’t (or hasn’t been) sufficient to extinguish or terrorize dissenters. It also assumes that Banderastan could conceivably be allowed to founder on economic grounds, as if the US would allow this to happen given the strategic stakes and how much political capital and prestige Washington has invested.

      Given the above I think the two most promising dynamics are:

      – Banderastan’s status as a) tool of US power to demonstrate to Europe that Washington calls the shots even if Europe pays the costs (which of course, only further demonstrates who is in charge) b) the beleaguered frontier country facing naked Russian aggression argues for a prediction that they will keep the war going.

      – Putin has forcefully said, regarding the ethnic cleansing / genocide of Donbas “this will never happen.” This means to me that the NAF will receive the support it needs to match Kiev, even if the leash remains.

      This argues for a prediction of intensifying conflict. It’s Kind of sickening to say but, given the stasis that Svoboda describes so well, it seems to me that the only route forward that MIGHT lead to a breakthrough is more war.

      • Warren says:

        Russia’s half-hearted measures in this crisis, not including Crimea have been incredibly frustrating. It has become clear to me that Russia never had a strategy or master plan as regards Eastern Ukraine/Novorossiya.
        Russia does not want to recognise or annex Novorossiya or DNR/LNR, for fear of provoking further sanctions and political isolation from the West. While at the same time Russia cannot allow Novorossiya, DNR/LNR to be defeated. Because such a public political defeat will damage Putin’s credibility and his position as president will be undermined.
        Russia’s reluctance to intervene more heavily and decisively in Eastern Ukraine was primarily motivated by the fear of economic and travel sanctions from the EU rather than the US. The US as VP Joe Biden revealed “coerced and shamed” the Europeans to agreeing to harsher sanctions against Russia. Russia expected and hoped the Europeans would resist US demands and unilaterally end sanctions against Russia. Unfortunately this has not happened yet. Merkel has obediently adhered to the US’s sanctions policy and hostile rhetoric towards Russia.
        I hope Putin and the Russian political elite will now understand that they now have nothing to lose, and that Russia gains nothing from its policy of restraint. Russia should now provide Novorossiya, DNR/LNR the sufficient military support so they can liberate sufficient territory to make Novorossiya, DNR/LNR a viable state.

        • PaulR says:

          A fairly accurate analysis by Sleboda, I think. The prospects for the rebel republics are not good, I think.

          • marknesop says:

            Depends on where from and how much support they get. They look to be in a better position than rump Ukraine, which has alienated itself from its most likely source of support, having fallen for the siren song of a Europe which is now too embarrassed by its fascist antics and plunging economy to do anything to help it. The DNR and its Lugansk counterpart will have to get themselves up and running on their own, but if they manage it I think they can count on good trade relations with Russia while rump Ukraine cannot.

        • marknesop says:

          I don’t think it’s that complicated at all, and except for Crimea, Russia is not interested in reclaiming any Ukrainian territory. I believe if Russia had been allowed to choose in this – or even been asked its opinion – it would have chosen the status quo with Ukraine as a nation uninfluenced by anyone except through trading relationships. Westerners speak of Russia’s “domination” of Ukraine through its trade with that country, as if it constituted a brutal exploitation – what do they say about Canada’s trading relationship with the United States? The clauses in the Free Trade Agreement that say once we have agreed to a certain figure for energy delivery that we may not go below that figure without the consent of our partner even if we suffer domestic shortages?

          NATO made it plain that it intended to roll up Ukraine in a matter of weeks, and was very interested in the Sevastopol base, which Yushchenko had once vowed to evict the Russians from. NATO would love a big naval base on the Black Sea, and Russia had to move quickly to reclaim it, albeit the method was completely legal and based on self-determination – if the Crimeans had stoutly refused and indicated their preference to remain with Ukraine, there would have been never a word about their maybe having been coerced; on the contrary, the west would have been full of praise for their bold “self-determination”.

          What it comes down to is that Russia is unwilling to sit by while the Ukrainian army murders a couple of million people, with the west’s blessing. I don’t see any way that can be made to reflect badly on Russia. If Russia is “meddling”, it is doing so to save lives, not to advance its own cause, because it is never going to have a better relationship with Ukraine than it had already, for free. Meanwhile, the west is “meddling” as well, except it is trying to put the tools in Kiev’s hands that will help it succeed in killing off the easterners or chasing them into Russia. Ukraine and its new friends do not care about the people, but they will not let anyone else have the land.

          The west’s position is particularly disgraceful and reprehensible because it cannot use the fig leaf of Poroshenko “protecting his country”. Nobody outside the Donbass has been killed by people inside the Donbass unless they came to the Donbass looking for trouble. The rest of Ukraine is in no danger from the easterners and never has been. They simply want to be left alone on land they have every bit as much right to as Poroshenko has to his big fat mansion. The west is backing Poroshenko in a bid to depopulate the Donbass, in hopes it can be turned into a fracking paradise which will support Europe and cut Russia out of energy supplies. For all its prating about the sanctity of human life, human lives mean nothing to the west when they get in the way of money and power.

          It does so happen, though, that a frozen conflict over borders in the Donbass plays very much to Russia’s advantage. Ukraine cannot become a NATO member while it has ongoing border disputes, and its behavior and chicanery and impoverished status will keep it out of the EU as well. It is a wreck now, and far more costly than it would have been at the outset for whoever inherits influence over it. The EU frankly cannot afford it. The previous status would have been so much better for everyone, but NATO had to make a grab for it. Now nobody wants it, and the present arrangement serves Russia far better than it does NATO, because Ukraine despises Russian help and continues to look to the west and NATO to bail it out.

        • kat kan says:

          It’s a matter of who blinks first.

          Russia cannot openly invade Ukraine. To do so would be inviting more than just sanctions, and it would be the Donbass that cops the bombing raids. They have to build them up to be able to do it “on their own” — and this includes waiting for the Ukie side to become weaker. And then if NATO comes in to save the Ukies, they are the ones in the wrong and Russia can come in to help (just by declaring a protective no-fly zone would be enough).

          But NATO won’t help. Poro and Yats have been begging and begging, and not even getting half-way good promises. They have some new guns, and a few mortar-finding radars, big deal, NAF has better and more now. Nobody will give serious gear to Ukies because they’ll just sell them; they’re close to out of people with any military training, not to mention people you could trust with seriously technical gear. More Polish mercs they can’t afford, and nobody else will foot the bill.

          Russia could twist the knife a little by demanding their $3 billion back, that would be the end of US/EU interest in putting money into the place..The west is slowly starting to think the best punishment for Russia, economically, would be to let it get stuck with the mess that used to be Ukraine.

          The airport is an on-going joke, a good spot for PR appearances by the film-star commanders. There are supposedly another 9700 other NAF fighters, maybe twice that.. where are they? Those are the ones set up in the right places for the right offensive moves, when the time comes.

          Look at the map. How far is Mariupol from Novoazovsk? how far is that from the Russian border? hows often does OSCE get to monitor Novoazovsk? (hint – not allowed there in 63 days). Remember the big NAF convoy with “To Mariupol” written on it that they made very sure got advertised on social media? where did that go to ground? where were others going while everyone was looking at this one?

  41. Tim Owen says:

    “Of the 6,500 people seen sleeping rough by outreach workers in London in the year to last March, less than half (46 per cent) were British, according to the Chain database managed by St Mungo’s Broadway, the homeless charity. Romania and Poland now account for more than a quarter of rough sleepers in the city – a figure that has shot up in the 10 years since the EU began expanding eastwards and is mirrored in many British towns and cities.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/a-homeless-man-was-found-impaled-on-a-spike-in-a-square-in-londons-kensington–but-who-was-he-and-why-did-he-die-9981456.html

    God the EU is a disaster.

    • Tim Owen says:

      To my mind the background / companion piece to the above, largely anecdotal report I’d Michael Hudson’s analysis of the disaster in Latvia:

      From 2010:

      “While most of the world’s press focuses on Greece (and also Spain, Ireland and Portugal) as the most troubled euro-areas, the much more severe, more devastating and downright deadly crisis in the post-Soviet economies scheduled to join the Eurozone somehow has escaped widespread notice.

      No doubt that is because their experience is an indictment of the destructive horror of neoliberalism – and of Europe’s policy of treating these countries not as promised, not as helping them develop along Western European lines, but as areas to be colonized as export markets and bank markets, stripped of their economic surpluses, their skilled labor and indeed, working-age labor generally, their real estate and buildings, and whatever was inherited from the Soviet era.”

      —-

      For the post-Soviet application of this cruel experiment, the idea was to give Western banks, financial investors, and ostensibly “free market” economists (so-called because they gave away public property freely, untaxed it, and gave new meaning to the term “free lunch”) were given a free hand in much of the Soviet bloc to design entire economies. And as matters turned out, every design was the same. The names of individuals were different, but most were linked to and financed by Washington, the World Bank and European Union. And sponsored by the West’s financial institutions, one hardly should be surprised that they came up with a design in their own financial interest.

      It was a plan that no democratic government in the West could have passed. Public enterprises were doled out to individuals trusted to sell out quickly to Western investors and local oligarchs who would move their money safely offshore into the Western havens. To cap matters, local tax systems were created that left the traditional two major Western bank customers – real estate and natural infrastructure monopolies – nearly tax free. This left their rents and monopoly pricing “free” to be paid to Western banks as interest rather than used as the domestic tax base to help reconstruct these economies.

      There were almost no commercial banks in the Soviet Union. Rather than helping these countries create banks of their own, Western Europe encouraged its own banks to create credit and load down these economies with interest charges – in euros and other hard currencies for the banks’ protection. This violated a prime axiom of finance: never denominate your debts in hard currency when your revenue is denominated in a softer one. But as in the case of Iceland, Europe promised to help these countries join the Euro by suitably helpful policies. The “reforms” consisted in showing them how to shift taxes off business and real estate (the prime bank customers) onto labor, not only as a flat income tax but a flat “social service” tax, so as to pay Social Security and health care as a user fee by labor rather than funded out of the general budget largely by the higher tax brackets.

      Unlike the West, there was no significant property tax. This obliged governments to tax labor and industry. But unlike the West, there was no progressive income or wealth tax. Latvia had the equivalent of a 59 percent flat tax on labor in many cases. (American Congressional committee heads and their lobbyists can only dream of so punitive a tax on labor, so free a lunch for their main campaign contributors!) With a tax like this, European countries had nothing to fear from economies that emerged tax free with no property charges to burden their labor with taxes, low housing costs, low debt costs. These economies were poisoned from the outset. That is what made them so “free market” and “business friendly” from the vantage point of today’s Western economic orthodoxy.

      http://michael-hudson.com/2010/02/latvias-neoliberal-madness/

      Update 2012:

      http://michael-hudson.com/2012/06/latvia-no-austerity-success/

      Update 2014:

      http://michael-hudson.com/2014/05/stockholm-syndrome-in-the-baltics/

      • spartacus says:

        I totally agree with Michael Hudsons’ report. I, as a witness to Romania’s march toward Capitalism, can tell you that this transition meant, in broad strokes, one thing and one thing only: sell everything to foreign enterprises or shut it down and sell it for scrap. The sadest and the most infuriating thing for me was to see how, before my eyes, whole industries for the building of wich the Romanians endured 10 years of hard austerity, given off for pennies or intentionally driven bankrupt and scrapped. If you did not live through it, you can’t imagine it. I used to wake up Saturday at 7:00 AM so I could get a good place in the queue forming outside the bread shop (I don’t use bakery because nothing was ever baked there 🙂 ). Everything was rationalized: sugar, cooking oil, etc. You could rarely find any meat. Everything that the economy produced, was exported. In the end, it didn’t matter. All that sacrifice was turned to shit and only a minority protested. The rest of the people just blindly thought that the West had the best intentions and bought the message that in order to have western-style prosperity we need to sell everything we had. Those articles above brought back some really ugly memories 🙂

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

        It sad for me to see a repeat of that scenario, on steroids this time, happening in Ukraine.

        • spartacus says:

          Sometimes I hate my superficial self. Corrections: Everything the economy produced / we needed to sell everything..

    • marknesop says:

      Two interesting items from the same site, one of which will bring a sentimental tear to the rheumy eye of our own Moscow Exile:

      Jean-Marie le Pen – the “pen” in “Unrepentant”, says the Charlie Hebdo operation was the work of Western intelligence agencies; and,

      Wrinklebag gay pedophile Stephen Fry finally finds the right man and settles down to wedded bliss.

      • yalensis says:

        Fry is 57, his boyfriend is 27.
        That’s a bit of a spread age-wise, but still not pedophilia.
        If the boyfriend was under-18, then it would be pedophilia.
        Technically and legally speaking.

        • marknesop says:

          I believe theirs is a longstanding relationship, and might well have commenced when the lad was a juvenile. But Fry’s predilection for underage children is not indicated by his new husband alone; his own writings speak of his attraction and his conquests.

          • yalensis says:

            Well, according to the Beeb – I know, I know, who can believe their B.S. anymore, but just for the record, they claim that The pair are thought to have started their relationship last year.
            Fry, who has spoken openly about his struggles with drug abuse and depression, has largely kept his love life private.
            It’s thought he separated from a long-term partner five years ago.

            Maybe that long-term partner was underage, or maybe it was Hugh Laurie? – LOL!

      • Moscow Exile says:

        I saw the Fry story when it first broke almost a fortnight ago in the UK and many British rags bore large photographs of the leery “National Treasure” Fry and his pal, which happy couple are soon to become “husband and husband”.

        I was overwhelmed with delight at the news and proud of the truly tolerant nature of British society.

        You cannot make love illegal!

        And so why cannot the age of consent be lowered?

        If someone loves a child, then why not?

        Give me freedom!

        I hear freedom singing in my ears!

        O Happy Day and Hallelujah to the the Great Jubilee!

        (Exit stage left singing “Kumbaya”)

        • Moscow Exile says:

          They are already husband and husband, I see!

          How blessed is wedded bliss!

          I wonder if they are planning to start a family?

          They had better be quick about it if they do, for “National Treasure” Stephen is, after all, no “spring chicken”.

        • Southern Cross says:

          I have a pet theory that these reports of mass child-rape by Tory MPs are a sort of trial balloon for the eventual transformation of Britain into a kingdom of paedophilia.

      • Jen says:

        People here can say what they like about Mr Fry’s upcoming nuptials but Dennis Rodman in his wedding dress will always look prettier.

    • spartacus says:

      The numbers from the article that you linked need a little adjusting. I linked below the latest available numbers from the CHAIN database and it shows that in London are about 6437 rough sleepers. The number of Romanians and Poles, together, is about 1112 people. This is like 17%, not “more than a quarter”. Unless a quarter means 17%. This 17% is further divided in around 10% Poles (615 people) and 7% Romanians (497 people). I may be wrong, but I don’t think these numbers are something to be scared about. As in “Oh my God, Eastern Europe is invading UK!!!”

      Click to access Rough_Sleeping_Statistics_England_-_Autumn_2013.pdf

      • kat kan says:

        How many sleep rough in their own countries? how many did so in, say, 1989?

        • spartacus says:

          Well, I can only give you a little info about Romania. Unfortunately, there is no official statistic for homeless people, there are only estimates made by various NGOs that deal with this sort of problems. Accordind to their data, throughout the country there are about 15000 homeless people, a third of them living on the streets of Bucharest.
          Before 1989, officially there were no homeless people. In reality, those that were so unfortunate as to end up on the street for various reasons were collected by the police and, depending on their reason for being homeless, were institutionalized. This means that they were put in asylums, orphanages (if they were minors) and so on. Unfortunately, because of the austerity policies implemented during the 80’s, the level of care given to those poor people was, well, highly inadequate, to say the least.

      • Tim Owen says:

        Wasn’t suggesting that they were numbers to be scared about but rather evidence that the neo-liberal orthodoxy that all you have to do is get government out of the way (in this case abolish borders) and freedumb will do its work and the economy will thrive.

        If you put together the kind of pillaging of Eastern European economies described by Hudson in the case of Latvia with free borders you end up with some pretty desperate people sloshing around the union desperately trying to find sustenance.

        Nevertheless, your research into the real numbers is appreciated.

        • spartacus says:

          I’m sorry, I think I left the wrong impression. I totally agree with your point of view as stated above. My beef was with the author of the piece from “The Independent”. I noticed that in the British papers there is a tendency in presenting the immigrants from Eastern Europe as a threat for the well being of the native population and in doing so they focus on all the negative aspects, often exaggerating them.

  42. peter says:

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