I guess I should start off with a disclaimer – I am not Russian, not in any way affiliated with the Kremlin, don’t personally know anyone there, and am not involved in Russian policymaking in any capacity. I likewise do not receive any remuneration or consideration for using the title, “the Kremlin Stooge”, and chose it only to annoy and exercise Russophobes. It was inspired by one of the many insulting rejoinders I received as a commenter on the blog La Russophobe. My personal favourite is “Soviet Goon Boy”, awarded by a particularly unlettered and thickheaded Ukrainian nationalist currently living in Australia, named Bohdan – but it didn’t seem to have the same refreshing hyperbole when used as a blog title.

Well, then. I chose to start this blog after being banned from commenting on La Russophobe under two subsequent identities, after which it just wasn’t worth inventing a new one. I encourage you to check out La Russophobe, because if you’re not familiar with the completely unbridled nuttiness, out-of-control egotism and tunnel vision of the author, I wouldn’t be able to accurately describe it to you. Therefore, this blog is dedicated to exposing and refuting the nonsense offered by the crackpot who calls herself La Russophobe, as well as the supporting nonsense of her dozen or so followers. In fact, it is here she has enjoyed her greatest success – inspiring the creation of blogs which disagree with her (this one makes at least three).

My name is Mark Chapman, I am a born-and-bred Canadian, and my positive interest in Russia springs from my relationship with Russians I like and admire, met mostly through my Russian wife. Far from the uncultured, uneducated, slovenly and savage rabble portrayed by La Russophobe, I find Russia a fascinating country with a rich history, a proud and intelligent people and a government which is making steady progress in the best interests of its people despite a torrent of derision and rudeness from some Western sources.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Note: In the case of some of the posts on this blog, I have written only the lead-in; the first couple of paragraphs, and the meat of the post itself was written by another author. To this point (October 2011) the only guest poster is kovane, who is a Russian living in Moscow; as such, he offers a valuable national viewpoint, and he has written some of the posts that drew the best response. Posts by kovane are identified as such in the lead-in.

117 Responses to About

  1. Catherine Fitzpatrick says:

    My, some people will stop at nothing to suck up to Obama and the Russians! Disgraceful.

    Apparently the goose quill pen used isn’t available today for forensic analysis to settle this, and might not be able to settle it anyway.

    I never heard of anyone named “Hubber” and you can see many references in Google to the idea that the pen came from Jefferson’s farm.

    I think I’ll trust common sense and logic, not only anecdotes, that indicates that Americans would use pens made from sources closest to home.

    Of course it’s reasonable to assume the pens came from Jefferson’s farm or some other nearby farm.

    Nobody *did* come up with the googse-quill shill as a political stunt before, no.

    If there is some record in this “Russian American Library” so what? You might have been honest enough to admit that this library is a Russian government body:

    *The Russian Cultural Centre is an agency of the Russian government and the official home of
    Russian culture in the United States.*

    I didn’t realize Russian culture in the U.S. needed an official home, but there it is. Clearly, it’s a propaganda arm of the Kremlin, judging from the site, and not merely one more source of anecdotes like somebody’s blog. Shame on you.

    Judging from the benefactors of this library, which include the current American ambassador and Lockheed (!), which benefits from hugely profitable deals with Russia and benefited from the reset in particular, again, so what if *they* make this claim? It’s not a source and it’s not sound. It comes from the same place as Obama’s speech writer — a place that desires to suck up to Obama and suck up to the Russians at any cost.

    In their propagandistic website, this outfit says they are “researching” the question of the goose quill pen. At least they don’t view it as a done deal — but it’s a provocation nonetheless.

    So what if there were 1,320 commercial voyages?! There isn’t any evidence *you* have cited that Americans “tended to use turkey features” which were “inferior” and were somehow “unable” to make goose quill pens. Sounds like a total bridge too far to me that is reached for deliberately for the most smarmiest and suspect of reasons.

    My, those Russian traders sound ambitious and prosperous! Just think of what they might have accomplished had the Communists not massacred them in large numbers, forced them to flee, or collectivized them, and crippled free enterprise for decades. That’s what cultural centers should be researching.

  2. marknesop says:

    Dear Catherine; thanks for taking this special time to tell me about your feelings. I wouldn’t have considered anything I said to be “sucking up” to Obama or the Russians, since Obama can’t do anything for me, and the only Russian who can do anything for me is married to me. Still, I suppose sucking up is in the eye of the beholder.

    Were you familiar with the term, “anecdotal”? It means information that is not based on facts or careful study. Synonyms are “gossip” and “rumor”. So, when you say things like, “Apparently the goose quill pen used isn’t available today for forensic analysis to settle this, and might not be able to settle it anyway…I think I’ll trust common sense and logic, not only anecdotes”, you are telling me you are going to rely on anecdotal evidence, which is rumor or gossip. If there are “many references in Google” that say the quill came from Jefferson’s farm, then please cite them.

    Was Jefferson unusual among his countrymen because he could identify a goose by sight? Probably not. Geese would have been imported by the first colonists, and would have been a common sight on farms of the period. That being the case, why would those colonists import goose quills by the millions? You don’t make a feather bed with quill feathers.

    The reference you did cite in support of the quill being from Jefferson’s farm is called “Hub Pages”, and your information was furnished by an individual who calls herself “Bits ‘n Pieces”. The people of this community refer to themselves as “Hubbers”, as you can see from the links bar at the top of Ms. Pieces’s profile, which you might click on if you were interested in seeing what kind of research led this person to conclude the quill came from Jefferson’s farm, and which informs us,

    “Born at a young age, I grew up in a world where life had its ups and downs, which isn’t a bad thing considering my father was a roller coaster mechanic. I came to hubpages because I heard that there was gold in them thar hills. But all I’ve found so far is a dribble of copper in my adsense account. Not to fear, I am tenacious when it comes to learning new things, always throwing myself into the deep end. Which would explain why as a child I almost drowned several times and couldn’t be trusted unsupervised near pools or large bodies of water.

    The only other things I can think of that can describe me is I never let my morals get in the way of doing what’s right.”

    Certainly sounds a Jeffersonian scholar, what?

    In fact, we can determine from such documentation as the Tariff Act of 1789


    that Americans in the late 1700’s did buy lots of things they could easily make for themselves – a tariff was placed on things like cloth and bar iron, both of which Americans could make for free from locally-available supply, to encourage them to do just that rather than buying them from traders, like England.

    A good deal of the “evidence” regarding use and manufacture of the quill pen is anecdotal – some suggests the quill is harvested during the moult, and is never taken from the live bird, while others insist they are taken from freshly-slaughtered birds: “The writing instrument that dominated for the longest period in history (over one-thousand years) was the quill pen. Introduced around 700 A.D., the quill is a pen made from a bird feather. The strongest quills were those taken from living birds in the spring from the five outer left wing feathers. The left wing was favored because the feathers curved outward and away when used by a right-handed writer. Goose feathers were most common; swan feathers were of a premium grade being scarcer and more expensive. For making fine lines, crow feathers were the best, and then came the feathers of the eagle, owl, hawk and turkey.

    Quill pens lasted for only a week before it was necessary to replace them. There were other disadvantages associated with their use, including a lengthy preparation time. The early European writing parchments made from animal skins, required much scraping and cleaning. A lead and a ruler made margins. To sharpen the quill, the writer needed a special knife (origins of the term “pen-knife”.) Beneath the writer’s high-top desk was a coal stove, used to dry the ink as fast as possible.”

    All suggest the making of a decent quill pen was not as simple as yanking out a feather and cutting a slit in the tip; it might well have called for specialized knowledge, which is why there was a category of tradesmen known as penmakers, which did not count Thomas Jefferson among their number. Considering a quill only lasted about a week under normal use, and Jefferson did a prodigious amount of writing – the Declaration of Independence alone required several drafts – it stands to reason he would have a supply on hand. In fact, there is also anecdotal evidence that John Isaac Hawkins invented a copying machine for Jefferson that used two quills, and that the geese at Monticello could not keep up with Jefferson’s insatiable demand for quills. There is no mention of Monticello being a goose farm.

    U.S. Consulates and Embassies, of which there are 4 in Russia, are agencies of the United States government – does that in and of itself presuppose they are “propaganda arms of Washington”?

    Serendipity and the American Home form a combined American cultural centre in Vladimir.


    I’ll advise them on your behalf that the message they should be researching is what Americans might have accomplished had they not killed each other in large numbers during the Civil War (more combat deaths than any other, including Vietnam), thus crippling free enterprise for generations.

    I realize this is likely a much longer answer than you expected, but you are so charmingly confused that I’m glad to do it.

  3. alterismus says:

    Oh my, I am so going to enjoy this… Your passion is to be admired, especially when it’s for people other than your own. I’m glad I came across this. We really aren’t as bad as they make us look 🙂

    • marknesop says:

      Welcome, Alterismus! Your blog is impressive, and I’ll certainly be adding it; your English is flawless. Shanghai is an instructive example of your contention that “We really aren’t as bad as they make us look”. Prior to visiting Shanghai in 1998, my only previous look at China had been Tsingtao 10 years earlier. It was dirty and crowded, and the people seemed to view us either as amusing oddities or potential enemies. Shanghai was like a different country; strolling along the Bund among the colourfully-dressed, hip locals was like visiting a city in overdrive. They have to do something about that river, though. Or perhaps it’s improved. When I was there the municipal government had just recently banned houseboats, and visiting teachers from the Shanghai-American School said it was much better, but it still looked like thin butterscotch pudding. There’s a lot of river traffic all day and all night, too, so I imagine it never settles much.

      Russia gets a rough deal from some people, which contributes to misunderstanding. With La Russophobe, it seems to be pathological, and definitely has nothing to do with a desire to see Russia improve.

      • alterismus says:

        Hey 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and glad you found it interesting. I have only just started and will be adding more onto it, it sort of takes time to figure out exactly the way you want to go about it and I’m also trying to set up a Shanghai-only hub at shangology.wordpress.com Shanghai is a truly great place to be these days, there have been a lot of changes in the past ten years or so. I am in love with the city, can’t help it.
        Oh, and thank you so much for the Sublime Oblivion hint, I haven’t come across that one before, will certainly be adding that one to my Blogrolls.

  4. Great blog title. I can only imagine that the irony will be lost on many people here on the ‘webs.

  5. marknesop says:

    Hey, Shelley: maybe, maybe not. I didn’t think it up myself, of course, and adopting it after being called it was more defiance than anything else. Sure is fun, though.

  6. AJ says:

    I think its ironic you claim to support Russia yet you want it to be swamped demographically and invaded by hostile Muslims.

  7. AJ says:

    hahaha im not banned!

  8. AJ says:

    im still here!

  9. M Katz says:

    by the wa, are you in some way relate? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_David_Chapman

  10. cartman says:

    Re: that picture you use of Putin in every one of your posts. I’d like you to notice what the puppy does at 0:35

    • marknesop says:

      He’s a fast learner, isn’t he? Just like Daddy! I got that photo from a National Post story on GAZPROM making it to most profitable company in the world (for 2010), so the wink was extremely appropriate. Did you notice the girl on the left end in the last few frames? Wow.

  11. The Blytonly Obvious says:

    Is it possible to talk with you off-blog?
    I’ve just started a blog on the books of Enid Blyton – http://blytonlyobvious.wordpress.com/

  12. Pingback: Another glass of wine « Décoller

    • marknesop says:

      Yes, thanks; I got a pingback as soon as it was published, so I read it a couple of days ago. Music to my ears it was; to be the subject of insults from the most frenziedly russophobic of russophobes is an honour indeed. I haven’t seen your site before – I’ll check it out.

      • Her mindless insults and total lack of actual argument are almost as disgraceful as: https://larussophobe.wordpress.com/2007/02/08/me-so-horny-ii-annals-of-cheap-russian-prostitutes/ her going to the most disgusting and cheap, lowest levels and totally vile humour… for what?? To appease Bohdan and Mccusa?? Why sink so low?

        • marknesop says:

          It’s designed to draw a reaction. When I was a commenter there, sometimes the comments would go over 100 due to angry exchanges and people getting fired up. There’s a small circle-jerk of dedicated fans there who truly hate Russia and its people; you’ve already named two. You can throw in Robert as he’s a loyal fan, but no matter what the subject, he posts a stream of comments about Chechnya. Anyway, if there’s nobody to argue the interest peters out pretty quickly. But throw in one defender of Russia and the battle is joined.

          She interprets lots of comments as evidence that her blog is important and relevant. No comments, no interest….no balm for her ego. She often challenges other blogs by suggesting if they have no comments to their posts, they are lame and sad and pitiful. Although she believes Paul Goble is some kind of saint, and he almost never gets any comments. Anyway, the deliberate insults are intended to draw an angry rejoinder, and she often leaves the most profane and disgusting replies posted by angry commenters as “evidence” of what savages they are, while deleting those comments that show her up for the angry, confused fool she is.

          The post you linked is another attempt to draw a reaction and get some excitement going over at La Russophobe. I might do a post on it, but maybe not; it depends on what else is going on that looks interesting to write about. Attention from what I like to call “The Toilet Bowl of Russian Analysis” is certainly welcome, and the more insulting the tone the better I like it, I must confess. But I don’t know if it’s worth it to get caught up in a senseless back-and-forth, although that’s exactly the reason I started the blog. But I’ve learned a lot since then.

          I saw on your site that you’re writing a book – excellent, it sounds interesting. I couldn’t comment without joining, but I wanted to suggest you might contact kovane if you are interested in some sources on Russian history; he did a great post on the USSR that still brings us a lot of hits, and although it’s too short for a book, he might share some of the reference material he used to compile it. Good luck!!!

          • Yeah, you’re about right. LR’s a game you can only win by not playing it, meaning, her aim is attention, and she should be deprived of it. Just reading her posts made me want to make my own anti- blog, so I went searching the web and guess who I found? Well it was AK first, a year or so ago. With every new post by her one feels she’s sinking to lower and lower planes of vileness and hostility. Anyway, thanks a lot and good luck to you! If there ever was a best-Russia blog it’s here. As for mine, it’s still ‘underground’ I wanna get the site working better and get a few posts going before I inform my friends and colleagues of the blog. When done, I’ll do a little bit of an ad-campaign. Hope you like it)

          • Also, I’ve tried to find kovane on wp and google, I can’t find anything. If you could gimme an internet contact, and a link to the article, I’d be very thankful,

  13. The Last Fenian says:

    Hello, Mark, couldn’t find an e-mail address so here seems the most appropriate place for this. What’s your take on the eXile? They seemed slavophile (albeit rather quirkily so) in the past, but lately they’ve taken to simply channelling the State Department’s line on Putinist Tyranny — from an oh-so-“left” angle, of course. Any thoughts?

    • marknesop says:

      Hi, Fenian, and welcome! Your take on the eXile seems to pretty much reflect my own, at least as far as their previous material goes. They were inspirational, and I loved their lead-with-the-jaw stance. But the posts I read, which were probably before I started this blog, seemed all to be old ones and I wasn’t aware they were still even in business. Sean Guillory from “Sean’s Russia Blog” used to be a regular writer there, and I’ve read a post he authored that mercilessly dismembered Boris Nemtsov’s “White Paper” in a manner that sounded quite a bit like Anatoly from Sublime Oblivion does now. I love and respect Sean’s work, he’s a talented and frequently very amusing writer, but often lately it reflects a weariness with Russia and seldom draws parallels between Russia and its critics with the intensity it did when he wrote for The eXile. Today he seems to focus a lot on Nashi, and I (a) don’t really know very much about them and (b) disapprove generally of youth movements used as underscores to political aims; it’s too reminiscent of Hitler Jugend, and I think what repulses most people about the concept is that children are impressionable, so taking advantage of their malleability is cynical, and the worst thing you can do to a child is to teach them cruelty. They learn it soon enough from the world. Anyway, Sean and I frequently disagree, but his criticisms of Russia are usually substantiated and usually include a suggestion for how the situation could be significantly improved over the short term with little headache for anyone. It’s difficult to argue with that approach.

      Let’s not be delusional – Putin is a hard man. But he’s certainly not a tyrant or a dictator, and I interpret his “macho stunts” as more an attempt by a man who isn’t particularly emotional and doesn’t make friends easily to connect on a personal level. People rave on about his iron control of “Kremlin TV”, but Novaya Gazeta and The New Times regularly call him everything but a pedophile (they’re probably saving that for the presidential elections), and he could have them shut down easily (their readership is pretty low in Russia) and nobody would care except the west. Besides, the Republicans in the country that most vocally criticizes Putin have FOX News, and it is so indistinguishable from Kremlin TV in its rabid partisanship that you could put them both in a sack and be unable to distinguish one from the other by feel.

      I’ll have to take a look at The eXile now; can you suggest any articles that illustrate your point?

  14. Hi Mark,

    I am a producer with Al-Jazeera English’s new social media show, The Stream. We are doing a show Russia on Dec 13th, Tuesday, 1930 GMT, 2:30 pm EST. Our topic is of course, the elections….but the news peg is the youtube video that went viral recently where an elderly woman is figuring out how to vote, and a poll worker steps in to do it for her.
    “After complete results of the elections were announced Monday, thousands of protesters went to the streets. Bloggers posted and tweeted the gathering places of protesters.”

    We’ll be discussing the elections in detail. Please let me know if you will be available, and if you can send me a number where I can contact you, we can discuss this further.


    Zuleqa Husain
    Al Jazeera English, THE STREAM
    Newseum Studio: 555 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, D.C. 20001
    mobile: +1.612.251.5993
    Now available in Washington, D.C.
    Comcast Channel 275 | Cox Channel 474 | Verizon FiOS Channel 457

    • marknesop says:

      Dear Ms. Husain;

      I am extremely grateful for your interest, but I’m afraid that as an employee of the Federal Government, I am not permitted to publicly express personal political opinions on the affairs of foreign governments, especially where they may or may not conflict with national foreign policy. A blog is a little different; people arrive at it because they are searching for that particular subject, and I am entitled to my personal opinion – but television is a broader audience and my opinion might imply an official Canadian response, which it definitely is not. I would not be allowed to do it.

      Russian electoral law makes a provision for someone else to mark your ballot for you if you are unable to do so, although a poll worker probably does not qualify; I’m not sure if poll workers are considered members of the Election Commission, or are simply volunteers. In any case, poll workers likely receive limited training, and this sounds to me like an innocent mistake that some adjustment to the training program would prevent from ever happening again. It’s unlikely to be widespread, and a “viral” response merely suggests a motivation to find fault at any opportunity. The text of the law reads,

      “If a voter is unable to sign for the receipt of a ballot by himself/herself, he/she may ask other persons to help him/her, if these persons are not members of the election commission, registered candidates, authorized representatives and agents of registered candidates, authorized representatives of an electoral association, electoral bloc, initiative voters’ group which nominated a registered candidate, observers, foreign (international) observers. The person who helped the voter shall put his/her signature in the column «Voter’s Signature for Receipt of Ballot» in the voters list indicating his/her first, middle and last name, the series and number of the passport or an equivalent identity paper.

      A voter who is unable to mark the ballot by himself/herself may be assisted by another voter who is not a member of the election commission, a registered candidate, an authorized representative for financial matters or an agent of a registered candidate, an authorized representative of an electoral association, electoral bloc, initiative voters’ group which nominated a registered candidate, observer, foreign (international) observer. In this case, the voter shall orally inform the election commission of his/her intention to ask for assistance in marking the ballot. The first, middle and last name, series and number of the passport or an equivalent identity paper of the person assisting the voter shall be marked in the appropriate column (columns) of the voters list.

      Each voter shall vote in person. Voting for other voters shall not be allowed. ”

      In short, the correct procedure for the elderly woman discussed would have been to bring another registered voter with her and announce her intent to have that individual mark her ballot, as well as completing the required documentation to record the fact.

      The link is here: http://www.democracy.ru/english/library/laws/eng_2000-9/index.html

      I regret that I can’t help you, and thank you again for your kind interest.


      • I understand. Thanks for the info. Can you recommend someone with a similar viewpoint as yours who may be able to come on our show?

        • marknesop says:

          I certainly can – Anatoly Karlin, of Sublime Oblivion. A Russian-American from the San Francisco Bay area, Anatoly is well-versed in both Russian and American politics, and we generally take the same position on the goals of Russia’s government and its treatment in the media. If Anatoly is unable to do it, another excellent resource is Eugene Ivanov at The Ivanov Report. Eugene is a little more western-oriented than Anatoly and I, but generally very pragmatic and fair, and a gentleman into the bargain.

          I wish you luck, and the very best of success with your show.

  15. Also, I think the point you make in your post is really not heard much in the mainstream media…. Even though you cannot come on the show, I was wondering if you can provide this point via a small video comment that you can send to us via email that we can play in the show.

    • marknesop says:

      Good Day, Ms. Husain;
      You are free to quote anything you like from the blog, as it is in the public domain, but I cannot be associated with the comment because, as before, of Federal guidelines. Employees of the Federal government are apolitical, in that our official opinion is whatever the Federal Government’s opinion is unless we are specifically granted the authority to comment on the Government’s behalf. That applies even to national elections, never mind those of other countries. I’m sure you’re familar with that, as many sources now are reported as “a government insider who cannot be named because he does not have official authority to comment”.

      It’s not because I find my position difficult to defend; I find it eminently defensible and I try to consistently quote source material that backs up my conclusions. But neither is my inability to speak censorship; I understand my own government’s position, and realize there are many considerations involved in the formulation of foreign policy, which is not my responsibility.

      Anatoly, Evgeny (Eugene) and I are all friends, more or less, and familiar with each others’ work. Neither of them are restricted in their public expression of opinion on television as I am, and either would be an excellent choice.

  16. The Last Fenian says:

    Thanks for answering, Mark. Yes, to specifics: they’ve been sniping here and there over the past few years, but I didn’t take much notice. This was the article that really got my goat:


    Here’s a nice pair of posts from my rss-to-e-mail inbox, from yesterday
    and today:

    Well known British researcher Jonathan Mowat gave the Americans their due in the headlines of his work “Coup d’etat in Disguise: Washington’s “Democratization ” Template”. A provocation is to take place by the time of elections in presence of “foreign observers” and “exit polls”. Angry young people are there equipped with up to date communication devices, blogs and websites provide real time connections to make precise the way operational activities are conducted. The “swarm” may be regrouped any time and global media makes possible the internationalization of any event, no matter how insignificant it may be.

    And what do we read the very next day in “the eXiled”?

    There are a lot of reasons why Russians-young Russians, young Muscovites in particular-poured out into the streets last Saturday to protest rampant election fraud in the Duma vote. For the past couple of decades, young Muscovites couldn’t be bothered with…

    Well, quite.

    So, for my Russian news, I ignore the US State Department and its willing and unwilling proxies, and turn to:

    * your good self
    * Sublime Oblivion
    * Strategic Culture Foundation
    * Russian Military Reform

    Which does me to be going on with.

    I do know of Seán’s Russia blog, though I hadn’t realised he used to write for the eXile.

  17. Kurt says:

    La Russophobe is an extraordinary blog and I almost forgot that in an imperfect universe such things also exist. Keep on publishing, I really like the Kremlin Stooge.

  18. piecurious says:

    Mark – I just wished to leave you a note wishing you a happy 2012! Thank you for all of the encouraging words and inspiring, enjoyable comments on piecurious. I cannot claim to be very knowledgable of Russian politics or culture (although I did go through a Dostoevsky / Tolstoy / Ivanov phase), I can say that you are so well-written it puts me to shame! I love your delivery style and depth to which you engage your readers. I have a thing or two to learn from you!

    All the best in 2012!


    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, C; your kindness and warmth are much appreciated. I encourage you selfishly, I assure you, because I believe you will be something great; you have what it takes, and you have courage to burn. I wish you success and happiness in 2012 and beyond.

  19. Barrie Hebb says:

    Interesting Site! Refreshing in Fact

  20. sky says:

    I love this site ! It’s one of my favorites.
    Could you be persuaded to write an article about the recent Bilderberg meeting ? Infowars ran this article about the anti-Putin participants:


    I like Mr. Putin. He’s a good influence in the world. Oh how the Bilderberger “elites” hate him for that. Please write an article about this !

    – Sue

  21. hi, I do not know how else to contact you, so I post it right here, pls, post this in your blog to alert US media and bloggers

    US Government / US Embassy in Russia gives no response to high-profile corruption expose involving MARS Inc.

  22. Sue says:

    Hey Mark– I love your site (one of my favorites). Today I found this:
    We need your insight on this. I’m guessing the banking creeps are aiming to benefit from it somehow, and perhaps may even be behind it. I’m hoping Putin is one step ahead of them. What’s your take on it ?

    • marknesop says:

      Hi, Sue, and thanks for the kind words!

      Delightful, I say. Couldn’t be better, is my take on it. The opposition leaders, including but not limited to Alexei Navalny, just shake their heads and chuckle good-naturedly when any press suggests the Russian government accuses the opposition of being western-backed destabilizers and bootlickers, as if dear old Vova must be out of his head. Hard to argue that now, isn’t it, when they are threatening to squeal to western governments and “international law” to back them up? And to no avail, I’m afraid – as dearly as the west would love to come out strong right out of the gate in support of Navalny and his reflecting-pool cult of personality, they cannot and will not take a position of overruling Russian laws enforced in Russia, as Alex Mercouris points out earlier.

      The opposition has seized on the Magnitsky law as an irritant, which it certainly is, but the west is not going to start enacting designer-dissident laws all over the place – especially not Europe just as the first icy fingers of winter tickle the backs of their necks with unease – just to make Navalny feel good. They’ll mumble disapproval up to a point, but will not risk genuinely angering the world’s biggest energy producer, lest it suddenly realize it has a couple of months’ maintenance to do on its pipelines. All in the interests of better service, of course. Russia could afford, it, too; it has plenty of cash to see it through a couple of months of low-to-zero energy sales. Besides, the west must know, or should, that if it encourages Navalny in this, he will only step up his demands for more and more blatant western interference.

      Another point to consider is that he is also probably laying the groundwork for his own arrest, which will likely be soon. This way, he will be able to howl that it is politically motivated, because he’s doing such a good job of making the government answerable to the people, so they just have to get rid of him. He knows well that it takes years for a case to come before the ECHR, and is just cynically using all the knee-jerk think-tank offshoots like Amnesty International and Freedom House to help him lay a smokescreen.

      Eugene Ivanov at The Ivanov Report did a couple of excellent pieces on the Magnitsky Bill, which I highly recommend. He took the viewpoint that businesses did not want it enacted, but that the Conservative think-tanks won this one. They may be very sorry, and it may in retrospect be a Pyrrhic victory indeed.

  23. Alexei Bayer says:

    now, Kremlin Stooge, since you attack me and my writing, how does it fit in with the motto of your site, which is, if I’m not mistaken,

    It is an excellent rule to be observed in all disputes, that men should give soft words and hard arguments; that they should not so much strive to vex as to convince each other,

    if you don’t even lift your ass to use google?

  24. marknesop says:

    Moscow Exile, would you like to take this one?

  25. Moscow Exile says:

    Dear Marknesop,

    I’ll check out Google. As far as I am aware from information freely available on the web, Mr Bayer, a native Muscovite, left Russia when he was 17 years old and is now in his 50s. He is something or other in finance in the USA.

    Best wishes from a native Lancastrian that emigrated to Moscow in 1992 when he was in his 40s.

  26. Moscow Exile says:

    Re: Mr.Bayer:

    Алексей Байер родился в 1956 году в СССР. В 1973 году эмигрировал и с тех пор проживает за рубежом. Как экономист-аналитик работал в различных организациях, включая такую элитную, как EIU – исследовательское подразделение лондонского журнала The Economist. В настоящее время является консультантом ряда крупнейших финансовых компаний, а также руководит собственной консалтинговой фирмой KAFAN FX Information Services. Популярность у широкой аудитории Байер получил как обозреватель-колумнист The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bridge News, Research Magazine и других СМИ

    [Aleksei Bayer was born in 1956 in the USSR. In 1973 he emmigrated, since which time he has lived abroad. He worked as an economic analyst for various organizations, including such elite ones as the EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economist_Intelligence_Unit – ME) – the research unit of the London magazine “The Economist”. He is currently a consultant to a number of major financial companies, and runs his own consulting firm KAFAN FX Information Services. Bayer has achieved popularity amongst a wide readership as a commentator columnist on “The Wall Street Journal”, the “Financial Times”, “Bridge News”, “Research Magazine” and other mass media organizations. Source: http://www.pseudology.org/lokhotron/Market.htm%5D

    See also:





    http://www.topix.com/forum/world/russia/TKPE8HTKNS2TRT2H0 (Interesting comment)





    From the above I should think it safe to say that the Aleksei Bayer in question was born in
    Moscow in 1956 and is, therefore, a “native Muscovite”. However, in view of the fact that he emigrated from his native land when he was 17/18 years of age, since which time he has lived abroad, though I daresay he visits his hometown from time to time, that means that he is now 56/57 years of age and that he has had a permanent residence outside of the USSR/Russia for the past 38/39 years.

    Of course, there is a possiblity that this Aleksei Bayer referred to above is not the same Aleksei Bayer that posted the angry comment above on November 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm.

  27. Hi Mark,

    I am Ekaterina Karaseva, a producer for RTTV, a Russian TV channel broadcasting 24/7 around the globe in English, Spanish and Arabic.

    The verdict for Aleksey Navalny has been announced today: he’s been sentenced to 5 years in prison for embezzlement. I would like to ask whether you would like to appear in our program today to discuss this.

    We could do it via skype.

    Please let me know what time could potentially suit you and how I can reach you on the phone to discuss this further.

    Ekaterina Karaseva

    +7 916 801 75 91

    • marknesop says:

      Hello, Katya;

      I’m very sorry, but I am not allowed to make those kind of public declarations of opinion; because I work for the government, in whatever capacity, it might imply official government policy or position on the issue and so far as I am aware the Canadian government has no position on it. In short, I am not allowed to speak for Canada. However, Yalensis has followed this issue in scrupulous detail from the beginning of the case, knows it as well as anyone who is not physically present in the courtroom and might be interested. If not, Alexander Mercouris might, and he could speak from the ;point of view of an attorney, which I am not. Warmest regards,


    • Jim Kovpak says:

      Hey there Katya,

      I’m wondering why RT is interested in commentary on events in Moscow from someone who doesn’t live in Russia. Seems to me you have enough local Putin-supporters you can hand out titles like “political analyst” to. Are Sleboda and Kirby feeling under the weather or something?

  28. innamazing says:

    Very interesting blog and mission, so I’m glad I stumbled upon this! Followed.

  29. Ali Cat says:

    Hello, so first i just want to say engligh is not my first language so if i have very bad gramatical mistakes, I am very sorry, oh and Im not russian either, actually I am mexican. Anyway, I truly like your blog, thanks for doing this, Ive been looking for an un biased place to get information about Russia, for a long time. Or at least a place where i dont get the usual: Putin is an aweful dictator and all russian are homophobes or racist or alcoholics or assholes and so on and so on. My interest on russian things began pretty much since I was a kid, for some reson I always found myself cheering for the then soviets, now russian, on sports competetions; have no idea why but I did. Anyway here in my country we dont get a lot of news about Russia simply cuz my country doesnt hold any tipe of bussiness with them or at least not really public in my opinion. While I grew up the only thing i knew about Russia was that before was the USSR and they were comunist and that in some point all collapsed, the interest that I had as a kid went away while I was growing up. One day my dad was talking about Bush and Putin and I remember he said, well Bush is trying to trick Putin, but he forgets Putin is an ex KGB. For some reason that thing he said got stucked in my head. I should point out I was never interested in politics, not even from my own country, and I should feel ashamed of that by the way; anyway time went by and i started to realice, thanks to my dad, that here in my country the media outlets were not informing the population as they should, but they were manipulating the information on domestic issues. And its when i began to think, well if they do it here Im sure other media outlets do it too and in other countries. But then my interest on russian things, specifically politics, came back whith the whole Snowden story, I literally was praying for some country to give him assylum till finally Russia did, not that Im saying that Russia did it cuz they are champions of justice or something like that, but in any case wich country is right? Then I started to see a lot of attacks on Putin first, then the whole country, again and again and again. I found an article on Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky from I think it was the NYT, and of couse Khodorkovsky is this political prisioner, or the russian madela (like Masha Gessen described him) and what wonderful years were the Yeltsin times and so on. I remember thinking, well if the mass media is saying that, I should think it has to be the oposite or at least is not like they are trying to portrait them. And I wasnt that wrong. Then I read several biographies about Putin and his autobiography and wonder well he is not the devil the media tries to portrait, He just gets in the way of the idea of a unipolar world and the doesnt bow his head for the americans or the europeans. He just protects his countrys interest. Im not interested any more Im obssesed with foreign affairs, till the point that Im leaning russian and hopefully will go one day there to see if what the media says is true, that Russia is full of homophobes, alcoholic and racist, although i dont think so. I should also point out I found you in the Moscow Times, or the horrible moscow times, cuz there is anything good about Russia there, always bad news, how that could it be? Or probably they should rename it Lets all hate Putin, Russia will only change when he is gone. Anyway I follow you there, so if you ever wonder who is your follower at the Moscos Times, I tell you right now its me. And i should say, you have no idea how much I love the way you respond to larussophobe, jesus you make me laugh really hard, no wonder why in a variety of ocassions she doesnt respond to your comments, you kick her ass everytime. I went to her blog once and honestly is even worse than the Moscow Times, I dont like people who hate people just cuz, but hating a whole country is even worse. I hate american stablisment but that doesnt mean I hate all americans, i also hate the goverment double standard. Anyway sorry this took so long. Since I just found your blog, will read everything you write since the beggining. Ohh and by the way I found this on tumblr, its an analysis of the suposely anti gay propaganda law, its really interesting although i dont know if its true. Maybe you are interested and hopefully you can share it so more people can know about the media manipulation on the subject. Take care and greetings from Mexico, for some reason you resemble my dad, he has this amazing memory and knodledge about so many things, specially politics and history, I feel envy, sadly I cant retain things in my mind for a long time. Anyway here is the link http://adam.curry.com/enc/20140129212645_russianlgbtlawwhitepaper.pdf

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, Ali Cat, and welcome; I thought your name was familiar from somewhere. I hope you will get to Russia to see things for yourself, and try to make a friend there before you go so you have somebody to show you around. I had my wife to help me but getting around and taking care of the most basic requirements in a country where you don’t speak the language can be a bewildering experience.

      I’ve visited Mexico lots of times and like it very much, although never anyplace major like Mexico City, I have the feeling that would be crazy busy. I like the relaxed pace of life in smaller cities like Puerto Vallarta. Good to meet you, and I’ll see you around.

  30. A great blog – strong on humour in best Canadian tradition. I am British born and bred, married to a Swede so I can understand your interest in your wife’s country. My parental background makes me more pro-Russian as well. I’m not fooled by the EU/US propaganda either. See http://ordoliberalism.wordpress.com/about-me/

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks, Jim; it’s good to hear from you. I think there are quite a few realists out there and that it is just the loudness of the minority that makes it appear the narrative is going down well. We must remember, too, that the entire corporate sector pretends to believe in all that we’re-bringing-democracy gobbledegook, out of its own interest but is far too cynical for real idealism.

  31. jon says:

    “….a government which is making steady progress in the best interests of its people..”

    Oh Dear. Do you really think that? Honestly?

      • Jim Kovpak says:

        Mark, how much time have you spent living in Russia? In this intro you say you don’t know anyone personally in this country and you just fell in love with Russia because you have a Russian wife. Makes me wonder if under other circumstances you might have become a die-hard supporter of the government of the Philippines or Thailand, but I’ll leave that aside for the moment. You claim to have one guest blogger who is actually in Moscow. Please, tell us, how much time have you spent actually living and working in Russia. It is relevant.

        • marknesop says:

          Hi, Jim; I don’t spend much time there any more, because my wife is here, of course. I met her on a visit to Russia (Vladivostok) in 1998, but that was only a few days and I did not really live there; I lived on the ship that brought me there. I went back again in 2001 for a month (the longest you could stay under a tourist visa), and then every year after for a month except for 2003. We were married in 2002, in Russia, and then we skipped 2003 because the immigration process was going so well we expected she would arrive that year. Then it hit a snag, so I went back in 2004 and 2005, then in the winter of 2005 she was admitted to Canada. I only know Vladivostok and Dalnegorsk well, the city where she was living when I met her, and the town she is from. I would love to go back, and to see other places in Russia, especially the touristy places like St Petersburg (we have relatives there) and Moscow. But it was not my liking for Russia that made me write the blog so much as it was the way Russia is regarded and treated by the western countries.

          I never worked in Russia; every time I went I was on vacation. I did not speak Russian well enough to work there – unless I could work in English – and I probably don’t now, either, although I speak and understand it a little.

          I might have formed a relationship with other countries and their governments if I had spent any length of time there, but probably only under the same circumstances – if my experience of that country was different by far from the way I constantly saw it described in the media.

          • Jim Kovpak says:

            So in other words, you basically have no frame of reference to decide what information out of Russia(limited by that which is in English) is genuine or accurate, much less say whether Putin has provided Russia with progress. Indeed, there was progress many years ago. Now that’s gone and its steadily declining. You can’t attribute all the success to Putin and all the failures to outsiders or nameless “mid-level” bureaucrats.

            I would suggest before carrying a torch for Putin you do like I did and put your money where your mouth is- Inform your wife that you are planning to move to Russia. Plenty of English-teaching jobs are still available. Learn the language and talk to ordinary people and then tell us how great Putin is. Believe me, there are die-hard Putin supporters who at least went that far.

            • marknesop says:

              Just a small correction – I just noticed you interpreted what I said in the “About” page to mean that I do not know anyone in Russia; that’s not correct, and what it says is that I do not know anyone in the Kremlin.

              I likewise do not agree with this interpretation – that, “in other words” I don’t have any frame of reference to decide what information out of Russia is truthful or fair. My frame of reference is data from generally reliable sources such as the World Bank. And I certainly am not “carrying a torch for Putin”, although I believe he is the best leader Russia has had in living memory, and my interest is in seeing Russia remain sovereign and independent and making its own decisions for the beterment of its citizens. Leaders of few countries indeed can claim to have advanced the country’s economy and standard of living as has occurred under Putin. You don’t have to be fluent in Russian to know that, or move to Russia to verify it. Growth has slowed dramatically in the very recent past, but the country’s currency is under economic assault by the United States. I don’t think there is any debate about that, either – the recent downgrade to junk status is not supported by anything other than political objectives.

              If you have a specific point to make, I’d be delighted to argue it. If I can’t argue it from an on-the-street-in-Moscow viewpoint, I can put you in touch with an Englishman who has lived there for 20 years, and who would enjoy the opportunity.

      • Jim Kovpak says:

        Then you would be wrong. Russia’s own finance ministry was predicting near 0% GDP growth in 2014 and 2015 before any talk of sanctions. Mass layoffs and capital flight were already on the horizon in 2013.

        Of course you don’t live in Russia, so you can just select sources that support your delusions and claim anything that goes against them is “Russophobic” and funded by the CIA or whoever. You don’t have to live with the consequences of Putin’s rule and 15-year mismanagement of the country and the squandering of its resources.

        • marknesop says:

          Your suggestion that if you don’t live in Russia, you don’t have a clue what’s going on is a stupid canard. If you are approaching the situation from the viewpoint that if Russia could just get rid of the leader that has brought it its best period of uninterrupted progress in decades and replace him with some liberal lickspittle who would do the bidding of EU and othjer western leaders, then it would be on its way to explosive growth is comical, as if their interest is in seeing a strong Russia with living standards like the most progressive wealthy countries. They had an opportunity to do that, just before Putin took over, and I don’t think you had to be there to see how that went.

          Western reports attribute every dollar that leaves the country as “capital flight”, including foreign direct investment and debt servicing. If capital flight is such a terrible problem, how did Russia manage rising living standards while building up large cash reserves?

          Do you have to live with the consequences of Putin’s rule? If you don’t like it, why don’t you move? There’s lots of places you could find work, where unemployment isn’t chronic like it is in terrible Russia under Putin, at 5.3%. But just not Poland where it’s more than double that. Or France, where it’s 10.4%, or the UK where it’s 5.8%.

          • Jim Kovpak says:

            “Your suggestion that if you don’t live in Russia, you don’t have a clue what’s going on is a stupid canard.”

            Luckily I didn’t make that suggestion. I merely pointed out that you have no frame of reference, meaning that you can look at all the statistics you want and still not understand what actual life in Russia is like. Numbers and figures can be deceptive in any country.

            You think it doesn’t matter that you don’t speak Russian or that you’ve never lived here but I’m sorry, it does. When you can’t speak Russian, all information not translated is unavailable to you. Moreover, not living in Russia means you don’t get a feel for what people are actually talking about and how they react to situations.

            You people who sit on the other side of the world and engage in your little analysis hate it when someone reminds you that Wikipedia and Google can’t replace real experience and knowledge.

            “If you are approaching the situation from the viewpoint that if Russia could just get rid of the leader that has brought it its best period of uninterrupted progress in decades and replace him with some liberal lickspittle who would do the bidding of EU and othjer western leaders, then it would be on its way to explosive growth is comical, as if their interest is in seeing a strong Russia with living standards like the most progressive wealthy countries. They had an opportunity to do that, just before Putin took over, and I don’t think you had to be there to see how that went.”

            Again a ridiculous strawman. People like you assume that any alternative to Putin must be a “liberal lickspittle puppet of the EU.” In reality, Putin happily sucked up to the EU for years when the capital was flowing in. They gave him favors back as well. You also speak of uninterrupted progress, ignoring the fact that there has been little to no progress on some of the most basic aspects of society. For 15 years he failed to use Russia’s oil profits to diversify the country’s economy. Even Dmitry Medvedev mentioned this in his opening speech at this most recent Gaidar forum. This is a country that took six years to renovate a fucking TOY store in the center of Moscow. They still cannot run a proper postal service either.

            What progress there has been is extremely uneven, mostly being in Moscow.

            In short, your false dichotomy of liberal puppet or Putin is laughably old and outdated. Russia needs a functioning, competitive political system without nepotism, rule of law, and politicians who live in the real world instead of babbling on and on about lost empires and “Christian values.”

            “Western reports attribute every dollar that leaves the country as “capital flight”, including foreign direct investment and debt servicing. If capital flight is such a terrible problem, how did Russia manage rising living standards while building up large cash reserves?”

            Okay you pretty much demonstrated that you have no idea what you’re talking about here. First of all, the figures for Russian capital flight are from the Russian central bank and the Ministry of Finance. They are publicly available. The figure for flight in 2014 is $151 billion, a fact reported widely in the Russian media.

            What you fail to realize is that a lot of that “progress” under Putin was the product of foreign investment. In 2012 that started to change, and by the end of 2014 it was getting bad.

            “Do you have to live with the consequences of Putin’s rule? If you don’t like it, why don’t you move? ”

            Yes, I do actually. I could ask the same question as to why you don’t move to Russia. Uninterrupted progress, right?

            “There’s lots of places you could find work, where unemployment isn’t chronic like it is in terrible Russia under Putin, at 5.3%. But just not Poland where it’s more than double that. Or France, where it’s 10.4%, or the UK where it’s 5.8%.”

            You do realize that Russia’s decent unemployment rate is largely a matter of its demographics, right? In any case, unemployment is already on the rise and factories are shutting down.

            “Leaders of few countries indeed can claim to have advanced the country’s economy and standard of living as has occurred under Putin.”

            Have you bothered to check? Also under Putin corruption has risen, people’s rights have been eroded, and still large parts of Russia resemble post-apocalyptic movie sets, sometimes with near-third-world conditions. Don’t even get me started on the orphanage system.

            “You don’t have to be fluent in Russian to know that, or move to Russia to verify it. ”

            Actually if you had either of those abilities you would understand what your World Bank data can’t tell you.

            “Growth has slowed dramatically in the very recent past, but the country’s currency is under economic assault by the United States.”

            Growth was already predicted to be near zero prior to any sanctions levied on the country. Moreover the US isn’t doing anything to the currency. Putin and his friends preferred to keep the country oil dependent because they control that business. Now the Russian people pay for it, and you, a Canadian, who drops in to pick up a wife but won’t live in Russia, dares to criticize people in Russia who have a beef with Putin by implying that they will inevitably put forth some kind of spineless puppet.

            Let me ask you something, Mark- Are you satisfied with the governance of Stephen Harper? Or are you a traitor who wishes for Canada to be dismantled and put under the rule of the US?

            • marknesop says:

              I do not care at all for Stephen Harper’s governance, and strongly agree he is a Siamese twin on the hip of the USA. I have no interest at all in moving to Russia just to satisfy you and others who suggest you don’t know anything about Russia unless you live there, since those same sources are always eager to accept any apocalyptic scenario offered by critics who also do not live in Russia, such as Alexey Bayer and Julia Ioffe, and it is ridiculous to suggest that anyone who believes Russia gets a raw deal in the western press which is largely invented must move there so they can accurately report on the terrible conditions. Plenty of western reporters live there, at least on assignment, and report utter drivel which is easily shown to be just that. I do not cite Wikipedia unless I cannot find the information anywhere else, and that is rare.

              Dmitry Medvedev; my, yes, that’s a great source. Western leaders love him because he is a milksop who will jump on board any social program and repeal or weaken any Russian law the west finds inconvenient or unpalatable.

              If you have such a wealth of experience and knowledge, let’s see some citations. Your numbers for “capital flight”, for instance. Breakdowns, too, please: I don’t need to see some Russian kreakl pronounce that there has been capital flight of $155 Billion or whatever. I want to see where the money went. Money spent on debt servicing is an obligation, not capital flight. Money invested in foreign companies or ventures is not capital flight; they sure as hell don’t call it that when America does it.

              As to all the angst about not being able to speak Russian well enough to work there, I am going to turn you over to Moscow Exile, who is fluent and very experienced. I will say, though, that similar rubbishy figures to your own are regularly published by idiots such as Luke Harding in The Guardian, and his attempts to speak Russian are pure comedy gold. Probably the best speaker of Russian who is a western journalist is Graham Phillips, currently in the Donbass, and his Russian is terrible. Nobody in the we-hate-Putin camp ever seems to have any complaints that their lack of ability to speak and understand the language is any impediment at all to the accuracy of their reporting.

              • Jim Kovpak says:

                Oh Mark you are just precious! Once again you try the old strawman:

                “who suggest you don’t know anything about Russia unless you live there, since those same sources are always eager to accept any apocalyptic scenario offered by critics who also do not live in Russia, such as Alexey Bayer and Julia Ioffe”

                1. Again, I never said that you can’t know anything about Russia without having lived there. I said that if you don’t, you have a severe lack of information which makes your analysis highly flawed.

                As for those journalists you mention, they often visit Russia and what is more, what they report matches what is reported within Russia.

                You ask for sources on capital flight. No problem. Here’s a story direct from the state-run TASS: http://tass.ru/ekonomika/1703391

                Their citation is the central bank, and I’ve seen the central bank report myself(you can follow these at cbr.ru).

                Oh I guess some “creative class” liberal must have infiltrated the state run TASS AND the central bank to make that false story, right? It’s all a CIA conspiracy!

                “Dmitry Medvedev; my, yes, that’s a great source. Western leaders love him because he is a milksop who will jump on board any social program and repeal or weaken any Russian law the west finds inconvenient or unpalatable.”

                You do realize that Dmitry Medvedev was handpicked by Putin to be prime minister, then president, and prime minister again, right? Please, tell me what great laws this “puppet” supposedly repealed. Also since you’re so fond of attributing all success to the president, take a look at Russia’s economy under Medvedev some time. It seems like a golden era compared to the present.

                Your disdain for Medvedev and love of Putin makes it seem as though you have some personal affinity for the man. I think you need to explore that with a qualified professional.

                “As to all the angst about not being able to speak Russian well enough to work there, ”

                Again, you miss the point. Being able to speak the language means that you can listen to the Russian domestic press, not just RT or Moscow Times or whatever. It means you can browse Russian blogs and social networks and get a feel for the political atmosphere. A LOT of political material is published here without ever being translated into any other language. Not having a working knowledge of Russian means this is all off-limits for you.

                I’m also really glad you brought up Luke Harding because he is a perfect example of how living in Russia and being truly familiar with its culture allows one to be more discerning in reading about the country. In his article “Enemy of the State,” Harding builds his case about the government spying on him by telling several anecdotes and using innuendo to make them seem sinister. Having lived here, I can say that several of the encounters he described are totally mundane and normal, and in fact in one case I experienced the same thing. His readership with no experience in Russia would never know this.

                Graham Phillips is delusional- that is the impediment to his accurate reporting.

                All in all I find you quite hilarious and your reactions even more so. Also I’m afraid that for your negative comments about Stephen Harper I must label you a filthy traitor fifth columnist. I’ve never been to Canada but I’ve read a lot on the internet about it and I know that it has some of the highest living standards in the world. Obviously this is due to the great leadership of Stephen Harper. If he were smart he’d propose a law banning this blog, or maybe get one of his parliamentary buddies to set up a youth organization that combines paramilitaries and biker thugs to harass you and anyone who dares protest against his wise, progressive rule!

                • marknesop says:

                  “Again, I never said that you can’t know anything about Russia without having lived there. I said that if you don’t, you have a severe lack of information which makes your analysis highly flawed.”

                  Oh. Well, then, forgive me for putting up that idiotic strawman. You didn’t say if you don’t live in Russia, you don’t know anything about Russia: you said if you don’t live in Russia you know less than nothing, because you base your analysis upon too narrow a dataset, and get totally the wrong picture of what’s really going on. But for western reporters, it is sufficient that they just visit often, and what they report matches what is really happening in Russia. Uh huh. Funny you should mention that, because it was the subject of discussion just a short time ago, in which the western viewpoint was that food shortages have begun in Russia, and some staple items are now priced out of the reach of ordinary consumers. The former is a ridiculous distortion – items cited as now unavailable are brie and Parmesan cheeses, hardly necessary for life – while those items now too expensive are exclusively western while domestic alternatives are readily available. The obvious intent of the reporting is to create the impression that food riots will soon ensue, when that would only be true if you had to buy imported foreign milk packaged by Pepsi. In fact, the markets which will be hurt are the western ones, because market share in Russia will never return unless it is products only made in a western country; Russia is fast establishing alternative sources of all common goods and will not trust the west once reason returns, if it ever does.

                  It is ridiculous to suggest figures from the World Bank cannot be trusted to tell “the whole story” without consulting ordinary Russians out in some country town far from Moscow. We’re not talking about how medieval things are in Kavaliereva, we’re talking about the country’s status as a whole. Does anyone believe that if U.S. per-capita GDP is $45,863.00, that means every citizen has that much to live on? Of course not – it’s the total GDP adjusted for inflation and divided by total ;population, skewed by the fact that the USA has the most millionaires in the world. Of course the situation will be far different for many families, and that is true of every country.

                  The TASS story does not include a breakdown of the supposed “capital flight”, and what it is describing is clearly capital outflow. The decision of the Russian government to divest itself of much of its western currency was announced a long time ago, and it bought gold in its place, while the Russian foreign debt fell by 18% in 2014. Much of that outflow would be debt servicing, knowing western banks were soon to be closed off, and exchanging American dollars for gold while the value of the American dollar was very high. “Capital outflow” occurs in all economies, and is a necessity for there to be any trade. Some of it is probably “capital flight”, which is money being moved out of the country that will never come back in any form, but by no means all and probably only a small portion of it. Even in the case of debt servicing, the borrower already got the loan and presumably the benefit for which they wanted it in the first place. This all seems fundamental to me, but of course to you it is just further confirmation that I do not know what I’m talking about. Because the gopniki told you so.

                  I see all I want to see of Luke Harding in The Guardian, and would certainly not support him by buying his trashy book. But you are mistaken if you think his antipathy for Russia stems from an unfamiliarity with the culture. He simply loathes the place and everything and everyone in it, an existential hatred that no amount of “reforms” or “liberalizing” would cure.

                  Salaries and development are much higher in Moscow than in rural areas of Russia – you don’t say! I hope that phenomenon has been properly isolated so it can be studied at length, because that’s totally different from everywhere else in the world. Oh, wait – it’s not. It’s exactly the same here, and although we are a cautious people, the government does go so far as to say “Urban–rural earnings differences are not limited to Canada. Evidence from the United States and France suggests a strong positive association between the size of a geographical unit—as measured by population or employment—and earnings. Glaeser and Maré (2001) find workers in large metropolitan areas in the United States earn 33% more than their non-urban counterparts.”

                  Naturally Graham Phillips is delusional and his reporting – although it is what he is seeing with his own eyes, backed up with film or photographs and not written from a flat in London – is inferior to that of western reporters whose opinions ring true to you because they echo your own. I am beginning to get the impression you think everyone who does not feel your bitter frustration is crazy. One of the first signs of craziness, that is.

                  So Canada’s success is owed to the brilliance of Stephen Harper’s leadership. But in 2000 Canada ranked 10th of the world’s economies by GDP, while Russia was at 12th place. By 2014, Canada had fallen to 11th place, while Russia was in 9th place. What does gopniki-nomics have to say about that? I’m well aware that economics is complicated, and different filters such as purchasing power parity are liable to move some of those players around somewhat. But Canada is unlikely to move much in that scenario, while Russia would move up, probably to sixth or seventh place.

                  You say the United States is not doing anything to Russia, and cannot be blamed for the falling price of oil, which is all Putin’s fault for not diversifying away from a valuable commodity which had a steadily-rising price. So perhaps you could make a case that the United States is not behind the sanctions, which have driven the ruble steadily downward as access to western banks was cut off, and cutting Russia’s rating to junk although it has ample resources to pay all of its debts easily as well as large stocks of gold and the smallest debt in the G20. I’ll await that study with anticipation.

                  I assure you I find you hilarious as well, so hopefully we can look forward to a long relationship of making each other laugh. It seems I would be a filthy traitor no matter my choice, since the alternatives I was offered were “Are you satisfied with the governance of Stephen Harper? Or are you a traitor who wishes for Canada to be dismantled and put under the rule of the US?” Since the last part is pretty much the foreign policy of Stephen Harper, who argues every time anyone is willing to listen for stronger ties with the U.S., we must be talking about different Stephen Harpers. But of course you know better.

  32. jon says:

    In the first decade of rule Putin rode on the back of rapidly rising oil prices. Some good things came of it, such as the large reserves that were built up. In percentage terms the average wage in Russia did go up quite a lot, but considering the starting point was so woefully low that means very little, as wages in Russia outside of the big 2 are generally still very low.

    At the same time, social security remains absolutely woeful, the health sector and education is chronically underfunded, infrastructure such as roads continues to lag far behind that of Europe, corruption and abuse of authority is chronic, there is no separation of power, freedom of press, freedom of association, equality before law… non existent. He has deconstructed the entire opposition and the means for the opposition to express its view, and erected unassailable barriers for any civic groups wanting to have a say in public affairs. And all whilst Putin’s inner circle of ex-judo sparring partners and KGB cronies have got unimaginably rich under his administration.

    Best of all, he completely failed to implement WHAT WERE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL MEASURES for the Russian economy, namely – diversification programs. I’ve been doing Russian translations on it for years, in which economists have been repeatedly saying – WE NEED TO DIVERSIFY – WE ARE TOO EXPOSED TO FOSSIL FUEL PRICES – but to no avail. The result? What we see today. The Russian economy up shit creek, and you know its the common people who are going to pay. Let’s see if the Rotenberg Law gets enacted, yet another example of the desperate cynicism of the Russian elite and their attitude to the proletariat.

    And you maintain this guy has been good for Russia? This is what you call progress?

    Employment rate in Russia of less than 6%? You are aware that the minimum wage in Russia is 80 euros a month, right? This is not employment, this is slave labour. The minimum wage in France is 1450 euros.

    Yeltsin was just as much as at odds with the US as Putin was with it pre-2014.
    Russia’s most successful time under Putin/Medvedev was when they were following a much more liberal agenda. Things have gone downhill rapidly since the lurch to the right.

    • Jim Kovpak says:

      If I might add 2 things-

      Last I head, the Rotenberg law already passed, did it not? Or is there another bailout in the works?

      Also another thing you can point out about salaries in Russia is the difference between what decent, middle class salaries get you in other industrialized countries vs. what it gets you in Russia. I learned this the hard way when I achieved that middle class salary. In Russia, unless you have a shit-ton of money and connections, you are never truly secure and you are always at the mercy of those who do. You can have a small business that gets you a decent amount of money and then one day the government passes some law that suddenly makes that business illegal or otherwise impossible overnight. And of course getting that high salary usually means you must live in or near Moscow, whereas in the US you don’t need to live in New York City to have any shot at social mobility.

      Of course since you are here, you’re no doubt fully aware of this. But armchair experts living an ocean away and reading RT or Voice of Russia will fail to see this as they look at statistics or World Bank reports.

  33. Jim Kovpak says:

    Also before you use terms like “kreakl,” I suggest you spend some time in provincial Russia with another, more common class called gopniki. Then you might prefer those “kreakli.”

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Hello Jim.

      I’ve lived in Moscow for over 20 years now. I am not Russian. I earn an average income. I am married with three children: two go to school and the third starts school this September. My wife is Russian.

      I do not hear my neighbours bemoaning the dire consequences of living “under Putin’s authoritarian regime”, as Western journalists like to describe the present government. My neighbours and Russian acquaintances are certainly not contemplating rising up in rebellion, either, against the present government because they believe that they are living under the tyrannical rule of criminal president and his equally criminal henchmen, which is what most Westerners seem to think is the case. In fact, I know for certain that for all my acquaintances the very idea of a “colour revolution” or a Moscow “Maidan” fills them with horror. Most folk I know think that, generally, their president is doing a good job under extremely difficult circumstances, which are most certainly not of his own making.

      As regards the much lauded in the West “opposition” leader Navalny, almost everyone I know thinks he’s a foreign agent. Quite a few of my acquaintances consider him to be rabble-rouser and also a criminal. Some of my neighbours and acquaintances were rather annoyed that he didn’t get sent down after his last brush with the law and not a few of them wonder how he seems to regularly get away with repeated breaches of his parole.

      None of my neighbours are “kreakly”, of course, but on the other hand, none of them are “gopniki” either, though I have over the years come across quite a few of the latter category: before settling in Moscow, I lived in the Voronezh province, and during the summer months my family lives at our country cottage situated some 55 miles south-west of Moscow. I spend most of the summer months with them there when not obliged to fulfill my work committments in Moscow. Each summer, we also spend some time on the Black Sea coast.

      All in all, I reckon I enjoy a better standard of living here than I ever had the pleasure of experiencing in my native land. I very seldom return to the land of my birth, and whenever I have done so, I have never spent longer than a fortnight there. Since my settling here, I have only been back “home” five times.

      “Home is where the heart is”, they say, and I consider Russia to be my home now. My native country, by the way, is England – North West England to be precise. Wild horses couldn’t drag me back there!

      Best wishes from Moscow.


      • Jim Kovpak says:

        Yes, only Western journalists write about the economic problems in Russia. Western journalists like those at the state run TASS, RIA, etc. Not to mention the numerous admissions by Russian politicians from Medvedev, Siluanov, the head of Sberbank, etc. Apparently they’re all foreign agents as well.

        Nothing really surprises me about your living conditions. I’m sure you do live in a place surrounded by brainwashed vatniks who are afraid to stand up for their rights and save their country from ruin. For all Maidan’s faults, the Russian method of bending over and taking more abuse is far more shameful.

        I too had a much better standard of living in Russia compared to what I would have back home, but that is largely because foreigners working in my field make far more money than Russians doing the same job, as well as other market-based issues which have nothing to do with me or the government. What was good for me isn’t necessarily good for the Russian people as a whole.

        I’m terribly sorry you sank everything into this endeavor, but you had better start warming up to England again in the next couple years. You are right to say that people aren’t willing to rebel right now- and that’s the problem because that means it’s going to have to get much, much worse. Not only that, Putin is responding with repression and cultivating the gopnik class as thugs-for-hire. Eventually those people are going to be forced to face reality, the reality that they have been betrayed. That’s when things get really ugly. I mean ugly in the sense that you would wish there had been a “Western-backed color revolution” instead of the result that you get.

        Enjoy it while you can.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          I too had a much better standard of living in Russia compared to what I would have back home, but that is largely because foreigners working in my field make far more money than Russians doing the same job…

          I repeat: I earn the Moscow average salary here. I am not, as a Westerner, earning far more money here than my Russian colleagues do who work in my field.

          My present salary is 60,000 rubles a month.

          My family and I do not live in poverty. My two elder children go to a state school; my youngest attends a state kindergarten. My three children were all born in state hospitals. They are all in excellent health and their education, I feel, is considerably better if compared with that which they would receive in an inner-city British state school.

          Why do you call my neighbours “brainwashed vatniks” simply because they probably would most vehemently disagree with your opinions concerning Russia?

          My neighbours here are considerably better educated (they are all literate, for example) than many of my former neighbours in England were. Not a few of my former English neighbours and workmates were semi-literate: they were English “gopniki”.

          Where I come from, we call such folk “gobshites”.

          • Jim Kovpak says:

            Assuming I believe your claims about your salary, how much does your wife earn, and do you own property such as a house or flat? It makes a big difference.

            Because it seems to me you’re one of those privileged expats who thinks that because you live well in Russia, everyone lives well.

            You neighbors are called brainwashed vatniks because they lack critical thinking skills and they are objectively wrong, assuming they believe what you say. Note however, that I never disputed any claim that they are representative of Russian thought at the moment. Even as people start to complain now, they make hilarious excuses such as the one about how all the problems and cutbacks are due to midlevel bureaucrats and Putin is totally innocent.

            I’m sorry but when you believe in stupid things in spite of all evidence to the contrary, you will be called stupid, plain and simple.

            I come from humble beginnings in the US too, but back there if you get angry about your situation and protest you aren’t labeled a “foreign agent” in the pay of foreign intelligence agencies and assaulted by gangs of street thugs organized by the government, a la NOD. Our elected officials can actually be voted out of office and are far more accessible.

            Why shouldn’t Russians be allowed the same? Are they too stupid? Do they need a “strong leader”, a heavily restricted media, and the circus that is the Duma for their own good?

  34. jon says:

    Graham Phillips is not a journalist any more your average FoxNews presenter is a journalist – he works for RT, a Russian state channel with all that entails… journalists are real journalists when they are agents of the people, not agents of power.

    Jim is right, you really need to live in Russia or at least speak Russian to get the perspective really required to be considered authoritative. I would say the same to people who blindly hate Russia too. Russia is an amazing place in many ways, but its politics is ugly as fuck.

    • marknesop says:

      With all that entails….what does that mean, exactly? Can you cite some instances of RT’s deliberately pushing a narrative it knows to be false, the way the New York times did leading up to the invasion of Iraq? Can you cite some examples of western reporters you believe are authoritative on the subject of Russian politics who live in Russia and are fluent in the language? What about John Schindler – I see you are both fans. Does he live in Russia? Does he speak the language fluently? No? Well, then he doesn’t know shit, does he? Ditto Edward Lucas, Anne Applebaum et al.

  35. jon says:

    “Can you cite some instances of RT’s deliberately pushing a narrative it knows to be false”

    That’s what FoxNews supporters say. I mean, come on. The gullibility factor is off the charts.

    I am not a particular fan of John Schindler.

    • marknesop says:

      “I am not a particular fan of John Schindler”

      Well, then, when you said “Jim is right, you really need to live in Russia or at least speak Russian to get the perspective really required to be considered authoritative“, I guess what you really meant to say is “Jim is wrong, and you do not need to live in Russia or speak the language fluently (I didn’t ever say I couldn’t speak it at all) in order to understand what goes on in Russia“, because Jim is of the opinion that Schindler really gets it, and he does not live in Russia or speak Russian at all. I notice you did not correct him.

      I likewise notice “That’s what FoxNews supporters say” is not really an answer, but an attempted diversion. FOX News is beneath contempt; but more importantly, it has nothing to do with RT, and I can cite any number of occasions on which FOX News deliberately pitched a false narrative. Here’s one of my favourites, concerning Mark Sanford – “family values” Republican – who told his wife and associates that he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail” when he was really boffing his girlfriend, in a scandal which made “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” a household joke phrase for getting laid.

      You cannot tell me that FOX News, mouthpiece of the Republican party, did not know Sanford is a Republican. Yet the chyron that ran underneath the frame of his blubbering, apologetic face on FOX identified him as a Democrat. They did the same thing when Mark Foley – also, Surprise! a Republican – was caught chatting up boys in an attempt to set up a sexual liaison. Once again, they know very well Foley is a Republican.

      That’s what “deliberately pushing a false narrative” looks like. So, let’s see an example of RT doing it. Take your time, we’ve got lots.

  36. jon says:

    Moscow exile: Indeed – Russians were generally happy with their lot during Stalin’s rule, as were the Germans under Hitler’s rule, as are the people of today in North Korea apparently. The common denominator? State control over mass media and demonization/outlawing of opposition.

    I lived near Manchester for ages and it resoundingly agree that North West England sucks.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Yes, that’s the usual line one hears from the West: Russians are so stupid that they are easily gulled into passivity by being fed a constant stream of government controlled propaganda.

      An old Soviet “anecdote” used to run like this:

      – What’s the difference between an American reading the New York Times and a Russian reading Pravda?

      Answer: The Russian knows he’s reading propaganda.

      Mention of Pravda reminds me of the strange fact that many Westerners seem to believe that Russians avidly read that newspaper. John McCain certainly thought so.

      I cannot remember exactly when I last saw anyone reading what was the official rag of the Soviet Communist Party, but it must have been in the twilight days of the USSR. (I studied in the Soviet Union.)

      There is an online Pravda though, which has a very tenuous connection with the old CP Pravda in that some of its journalists used to work for the CP Pravda, but it is not the same “organ” as the old Soviet Pravda.

      You mention the demonization and outlawing of the opposition? Which opposition might that be? As far as I know, the present Communist Party, which is the parliamentary opposition, is neither illegal nor “demonized”. In fact, the present CP, was very much to the fore in the mass anti-government demonstrations held in Moscow in recent years: if the CP contingent had not taken part in those protest marches, the ranks of the protesters would have been greatly reduced.

      I get the idea that you and others of like mind believe that Russian citizens are unaware of the real, criminal nature of the regime” here because, basically, you think they are stupid; that’s the only way you can explain why they show such massive support for the present head of state and his policies: they, members of the general public in Russia, are dolts, idiots, bydlo, the sheeple that Russian “liberals”, such as the journalist Latynina, ridicules in her columns and on her talk show on the radio station Ekho Moskvy.

      I wonder how she and others can voice such opinions publicly here when there is no freedom of expression?

      • Moscow Exile says:

        PS Do you think that I too have been beguiled by this allegedly endless stream of lies and propaganda that the government controlled Russian mass media spews out? Do you think that because I have lived here so long, I have “gone native” and have become a political dullard, just as the majority of population here seems to be in the eyes of Western commenters?

    • marknesop says:

      What a crock. Navalny is the unofficial leader of the opposition and a western darling, and they won’t even arrest him when he breaks the law.

      Russians don’t want to read national media that just heaps shit on the President all day long, although plenty of it exists: Ekho Moscvy, Dozhd, Novaya Gazeta, The New Times and the Moscow Times all run their mouths all day long about what a rotten shitheel Putin is and What A Great Day it will be when liberal intelligentsia run the place – and their circulation is miniscule; not because the state suppresses them, but because they cater to a niche audience and nobody else wants to read that rubbish.

      • jon says:

        “Navalny is the unofficial leader of the opposition ”

        Yeah and he’s under house arrest and his brother was recently banged up. Que surprise!

        • marknesop says:

          Yes, I was very surprised to see that Navalny is under house arrest as well, considering he was convicted of embezzlement in the KirovLes trial and of fiscal improprieties in the Yves Rocher trial more recently. And still defying the law by cutting off his ankle monitoring bracelet and announcing he would not wear it. This is the same guy who regularly bleats that Russia does not have the rule of law. What would happen to you if you behaved like that in the USA? I can tell you; they would say house arrest was a break that you obviously feel you do not deserve, so you’ll go to jail instead.

          Documents recording trial procedures as well as evidence offered both in support and in rebuttal of a guilty verdict are available online – perhaps you could point out for me what makes you think he didn’t actually do anything wrong, but that his convictions were instead politically motivated. On account of, you know, he has such a large following. Same for his brother as well, if you like.

  37. jon says:

    Some Russians are stupid as fuck, some are extraordinarily bright. Like in any country really.

    But like in any country, where the government controls the political discourse, the government tends to have high ratings. It has even higher ratings in North Korea. It doesn’t mean the people are stupid, nor does it mean the government is good for the people, does it? The Nazi government was extremely popular. Look where that led.. Repeat.. a government being popular doesn’t mean that it is good for its people.

    The opposition and opposition voices have been almost completely marginalized, particularly since the 2012 protests. There is next to no genuine debate in parliament or diversity of legislative initiatives. Bills that come down from the executive branch of the government are almost unanimously passed by the Duma, which is nothing more than a decorative rubber stamp.

    As evidenced by your posts, you have bought into the propaganda, yes! But if you choose to support a kleptocratic regime that has created an illiberal democracy with the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, then so be it.

    • marknesop says:

      “As evidenced by your posts, you have bought into the propaganda, yes! But if you choose to support a kleptocratic regime that has created an illiberal democracy with the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, then so be it.”

      Oh, dear, the kleptocratic regime! Let’s see how Russia stacks up, shall we? Only one answer per question, please, and no “yes, but” answers. Ready? 1. Which country, the USA or Russia, allows its banks to write the laws that govern fiscal conduct? 2. In which stock market, that of USA or Russia, is more than 60% of the daily publicly-traded share volume exchanged “off the books” and outside public participation? 3. In which country, the United States or Russia, are corporations recognized as “people”, and allowed to make unlimited donations to political campaigns? What’s the tax rate in the Russian kleptocracy? 13%. What’s the tax rate in the American kleptocracy? Depends – the U.S. tax code is nearly impenetrable, but suffice it to say the wealthier you are, the less you’ll pay; here’s an example.

      If you are unfortunate enough to be a successful small entrepreneur who nets $100,000 a year, you pay 15.3% self-employment and 25% Federal tax on the bulk of your income, a combined rate of 40.3%, and a combined rate of 43.3% on all income above $82,400.”

      Sadly, you are also wrong about income inequality; the United States of America has the highest income inequality of the developed world by a wide margin, according to the economists who conducted the referenced study and the OECD. The World Bank – which, along with the IMF, is an instrument of American foreign policy – ranked the USA as only slightly better than China on the Gini coefficient, which is the measure of income inequality, while it was trounced by the likes of the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Belarus.

      Is it your position that the political discourse in the United states and UK is not controlled by the government? I’d be interested in your views on that.

  38. jon says:

    Why are you talking about America? I thought we were talking about Russia.

    Yes – the political discourse in the UK is not controlled by the government. Keep away from the Murdoch nonsense and you will find an upstanding tradition of independent journalism in the UK.

    • marknesop says:

      “Why are you talking about America? I thought we were talking about Russia.”

      Russia compared with….Russia? So we must confine ourselves to discussion of your suggestion that Russia has the highest income inequality on earth when it is demonstrably not true? And despite the fact that the dubious honour belongs instead to the country whose journalists – some of them, anyway – have made a career out of shitting on Russia day in, day out? I see how it works – you say “Russia is the biggest shithole on earth”, and then I get to rebut that point within only the very narrow parameters of whether Russia is or is not a shithole at all. Even if I know of some other place that is already recognized as the biggest shithole on earth, and that place is one that regularly accuses Russia of being a shithole.

      I’m familiar with this line of argument – it’s pretty much like the comment guidelines that prevailed at the now-defunct La Russophobe.

  39. jon says:

    I mentioned wealth inequality and you went off on one about how bad America is in general. In terms of politics I am generally anti-American so I probably agree with you on many points. I’m not sure though how they are relevant to a chat about Russia.

    If you agree that wealth inequality is a bad thing I’m not sure why you are so keen to whitewash Russia where 110 billionaires hold 35% of the country’s wealth. Compare the pie charts here:

    I don’t think Russia is a shithole. Well, large parts of it are, but then so are large parts of my native North-West England. I love Russia in many ways. My family is half Russian and my life and work are interwoven with Russia and Russian. I’ve traveled from Valdivostok to Murmansk. If it wasn’t for all this I probably wouldn’t care about Russia. But fate has thrown me in with the country, and I am increasingly concerned by the state of its politics. As somewhere in the center of the political spectrum, I am not pleased at all to see it lurch to the far-right.

    • marknesop says:

      Well, actually, no; you didn’t just “mention wealth inequality”. Let me refresh your memory – you said, “But if you choose to support a kleptocratic regime that has created an illiberal democracy with the highest level of wealth inequality in the world, then so be it.”

      You said the Russian government is a kleptocratic regime which has created an illiberal democracy with the highest level of wealth inequality in the world. That’s quite a bit different from just venturing, somewhat timidly, “But what about wealth inequality?”

      The kleptocratic regime in Russia has kept the tax rate at half the UK’s rate throughout Putin’s rule. Yet the debt of the rapacious regime is 13.41% of GDP, while that of the UK is 90.6% of GDP. Those figures are as of 2013, so they might vary a little, but I think you will agree the kleptocratic illiberals are in a much better financial position. Money isn’t everything, true, but liberal democracy is cold comfort if it results in fiscal enslavement to a foreign power or the bankrupt central government of an alliance.

      The plundering government of Vladimir Putin brought the oligarchs under some semblance of control – some immediately upped sticks for London, where they are (were, in Berezovsky’s case) valued and prominent citizens; those who stayed pay their fair share of taxes. those who grumble that they were told to stay out of politics if they knew what was good for them are just the sort who believe countries should always be ruled by their wealthiest citizens: since they have a lot of money, they must know how to get a lot of money for everybody. Petro Poroshenko is a classic example; how’s that working out? But what about poor Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had his company stolen out from under him and was jailed on what anyone could see were politically-motivated charges? Horseshit. The ECHR’s verdict on Khodorkovsky’s appeal said there was reason to believe the charges were substantiated, while the appeal had failed to convince the court that politics had been a motive which replaced suspicion of criminal activity. Khodorkovsky financed opposition parties, but that wasn’t because he wanted to see a liberal and democratic contest for the leadership. It was because he wanted to sell a 40% stake in his company to western interests, and Russian law in its current state prohibited him from doing it. Yukos was broken up and sold to state-owned Russian oil companies, but that was better than 40% of a major force in Russia’s state assets being owned by Chevron or Lord Rothschild.

      That pie chart is an outrageous piece of crap, and Credit Suisse can thank their lucky stars they were not sued; they probably avoided a lawsuit with all the double talk about “estimated” figures and property not being factored in, only wealth (which might have changed the Russian middle class figures quite a bit) while Leonid Bershidsky – the subject of the most recent post – says the picture is “complicated”. Ample documentation exists to establish the USA has the most Billionaires (492 to Russia’s 111, more than four times as many – is the U.S. population four times the size of Russia’s?), while the wealth gap in the USA is double the income gap, and the top 1% own more than 40% of the nation’s wealth. How is 110 billionaires controlling 35% of Russia’s wealth – an allegation which is not even supported – worse than that??

      Yeltsin enabled the oligarchs – thanks, in part, to the “dream team” that took him from an 11% popularity rating to successful “re-election”. Putin put them under state control. But who is admired in the west now, and who is hated? You tell me.

  40. jon says:

    Putin simply created a new league of oligarchs. Gennady Timchenko, the brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg – his close inner circle is ex-judo partners and ex-KGB colleges. A new bunch of billionaires….getting all the state contracts at inflated prices…

    Debt is not an indicator of a good economy. In fact having significant debt usually points to that fact that the financial world has faith in the strength of your economy.

    The judicial system in Russia is not independent. And legislation is highly unrefined. If you have a major business in Russia, there is always something they can get you on if they want. That is the nature of the legal climate in Russia.

    Of course the pie chart is crap – it doesn’t fit in with your world view. America has huge wealth inequity problems, but Russia does too. Its quite amazing but not uprising that you deny Russia has very significant problems in this respect.

    Who is admire in the West and hated? Putin is both admired and hated, as is practically any country leader.

  41. Art says:

    larouchepac dot com —- can save you time. Also see: archive dot larouchepac dot com/1932 and: larouchepub dot com. Thermonuclear War ahead ????

  42. Ekaterina says:

    Someone left a link to your blog on the Guardian and I am glad:) Well-written blog and refreshing to see some critical thinking in the midst of rising russophobia.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks very much, Ekaterina! I feel that I have seen you around before – perhaps on Russia Insider? In any case, I’m delighted to see you here and hope we will see more from you in future.

  43. BlackCatte says:

    I love your blog! Your experience of being banned under numerous identities is one I can sympathise with. Mine is with the Guardian however, where I’m on something like my ninth persona. It was this experience that led me and four other ex-CiF commenters to start OffGuardian.org (http://offguardian.org) – please come and visit us there. I think you’ll find some like minds.

    • marknesop says:

      Bonsoir, Chattenoire!!! I very much appreciate your praise, because we are recent but enthusiastic fans here of OffGuardian! Somebody linked it based on a recent article, and there was general agreement that it was an idea whose time has come – The Grauniad is one of the most censorious sites on the internet. Time and again reasonable comments making a persuasive, but not profane argument are removed. Luke Harding rubbish in particular is protected so that he will not look so terrible.

      My intent was to have fun while providing a site where thoughtful or angry commenters who could not be heard at La Russophobe could stretch their legs a bit. I see OffGuardian in much the same light for that venue. We love your work, and I will be delighted to add you to the blogroll! Welcome!!

  44. Jen says:

    Hey Mark, just to let you know the Novorossian soldier arrived today in his little cardboard box. All in excellent condition and with the fuselage of the shot-down Banderite fighter jet (yes the tryzub symbol is clear). He’s only been here a few hours and already he’s done some good work: that wormhole that was forming beneath my chair after my remarks about the union shirts and the baby romper-suit comparisons started shrinking and has nearly disappeared!

    Thank you very much for sending him over! He is a true hero!

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks for letting me know, Jen, and I hope yours is a long relationship. The soldiers were an inspiration provided by Moscow Exile (coincidentally, also the sender of the wormhole) when they were first introduced, because the coffee mugs were quite prone to breakage. I could have packed them better and in larger boxes, I suppose, and I may go back to them after the soldiers run out, although I suspect Mrs. Stooge would not be averse to making another trip to get some more.

  45. PermReader says:

    To get the political views from ones wife? This is the machism!

  46. bothandeach says:

    All good stuff Mark, having just discovered this site – pity you don’t have an RSS feed.

    • marknesop says:

      Thanks so much, bothandeach, and welcome!! I’m afraid I’m not very tech-savvy, and I don”t even know what an RSS feed is, never mind how to get it.

      • bothandeach says:

        What RSS does is gives an interested reader like myself a URL for his RSS reader so that he gets every new post you make without actually going to your site (if he/she clicks on the title / abstracted first lines, then, he *does* go to your site). To offer this you or your wordpress support person goes to the dashboard and adds an RSS widget, basically.

        https://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/rss-links-widget/ – Will do the trick probably.
        Other hand, you’ve got an accomplised blog that you may not want shared around that much ..

        I’m a fellow Canadian who got interested when Russian friends in Donbass started reporting events there in Facebook. On-the-spot videos, etc. I’m re-vamping my own blog and will share the thing once perfected.

  47. Max Mack says:

    Where are you, Mark? Looking forward to your next essay. Hope all is well, as you haven’t posted anything since December.

  48. Andrew Boughton says:

    Saw your excellent January 2015 piece on Robert Coalson and the Grapes of Wrath. In case there was any doubt Coalson is a career propagandist, check out his life-time low report on the New Zealand mass murderer being inspired by the Serbs. This is a level of sickness to which we thought not even a hardened callous hack like Coalson to descend. But he goes right into the muck, enjoying it, up to his hateful ugly mug. Nothing is too contorted for these – I was going to say ‘people’ but that would simple be an insult to humans.

  49. Mark Chapman says:

    For anyone who did not already know, I have abandoned this blog due to access issues, and can now be found here:


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