Mar 30, 2007

Cold War Games

Well, it was only a matter of time.

Joel Brenner, the head of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive says, "The Russians are now back at Cold War levels in their efforts against the United States...They are sending over an increasing and troubling number of intelligence agents."

This presents a whole new horizon of fun and games, unseen since the glory days of the KGB. First, there is the good ol' stand-by "Guess the Russian spy on the metro." And, my personal favorite, "Is it a honey trap, or does this smokin' hot flight attendant from Aeroflot just want me for my body."

Honey trap.

Mar 29, 2007

Nostalgia Alert

Those crazy cats, the PKK, are back and ready for a comeback tour. "Turkey may revive its plans for a military offensive against the PKK's Mount Qandil headquarters in Iraqi Kurdistan."

...At which point the realy hilarity ensues.

All the General's Men

Elections in Armenia are never boring, but intrigue and uncertainty? Never!

"Three retired army generals have added an element of intrigue and uncertainty to political life in Armenia with their separate decisions to stand in the parliamentary elections scheduled for May 12. Two of them resigned from the military for that purpose last month and are widely regarded as pawns in a complex game played by Armenian President Robert Kocharian’s likely successor, Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian (Jamestown)."

Prison at Guantanamo better than prison in Russia?

I can't be sure about that. But I know it's definitely warmer...

RFE/RL: Human Rights Watch has alleged former Russian Guantanamo Bay inmates were beaten and abused after the United States handed them over to Russia in 2004. HRW said their findings show how the dangers of the U.S. policy of handing over former detainees under "diplomatic assurances" to their native countries, where they may risk further abuse. U.S. forces detained the seven Russians in Afghanistan in 2002 and they spent the next two years in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In its 43-page report, HRW interviewed three of the former inmates and talked to lawyers and families of all seven men.

Wow. Czech Republic from behind with the crazy...

...but you have quite a task in front of you if you want to catch up with Belarus.

From IPS: 'Environmentalism As Bad As Communism'

Czech Pres. Vaclav Klaus warns that environmentalism and measures to curb climate change are a threat to freedom. Klaus is known for calling climate change "a false myth" or a "nonsensical fiction", and he opposes the Kyoto Protocol. "This ideology," Klaus said, "wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central, now global, planning of the whole world." Klaus is strongly opposed to environmentalism, which he calls a "religion based on political ambitions rather than science," and accuses environmentalists of using "sophisticated methods of media manipulation" to spread "fear and panic".

Mar 28, 2007

Paging Dr. Freud...

Is just me or does anyone else see the irony of Neo Hui Min discussing "mind-boggling megastructures"? (Igor)

The Straits Times (Singapore)
March 28, 2007
Moscow aims high
Flush with oil profits, the city is transforming its skyline with mind-boggling megastructures.
By Neo Hui Min

IMAGINE a massive flying saucer-like structure sprawled across a six-lane highway, a 250m-tall tower twisting skywards in the centre of town, and a 1km-long oceanarium. These out-of-this-world megastructures aren't fantasy - they are expected to transform the city-state of Moscow over the next few years. Riding high on oil profits, the Russian capital is undergoing a demolition and construction frenzy not seen since the Stalin era and risks running out of superlatives as it races to build the biggest, best and tallest. In the hotel sector alone, there are currently 203 establishments with 69,000 beds. But going by the city development plan, about 370 new hotels will be added, more than trebling capacity by the end of the decade. According to hotel real-estate analyst Lodging Econometrics, the average hotel project size in Moscow, at 261 rooms, is the highest reported in any European country...

I believe Russia has challenged US to a duel...

...I choose pistols at dawn, suh.

The Foreign Ministry argued in a lengthy review of Russian foreign policy, posted on its website ( on Mar 27, that "a strong, more self-confident Russia has become an important and integral part of positive changes in the world." The study argues that "the qualitatively new situation in international affairs creates a favorable environment for Russia to take the intellectual lead in a number of areas of global politics. In other words, we are talking about Russia's active participation, not only in implementing the international agenda, but in shaping it." The report stresses that the US has lost global leadership war and that the world has become more "multipolar" as a result. The Foreign Ministry's study also called on Russia to counter what it called US influence in the CIS, particularly in Central Asia.

Mar 27, 2007's about time for another korenizatsiia

From RFE/RL: Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov has ordered all civil registry offices to drop the Slavic "-ov" and "-ev" from the end of newborn babies' surnames, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. The announcement by the presidential press service came a week after Rakhmonov said he wanted to return to the traditional version of his name. Local media have since begun calling the president "Rakhmon."

Do you think Rakhmon will take over as the crazy leader in Central Asia? I so miss the Bashi.

President for life?

Mar 26, 2007

Putin's Approval Rating at an All Time High... are the Russian media's lies and movements' propaganda about how awesome Putin is...

From RFE/RL: Russia's prestigious Levada Center polling agency recently found that President Putin's popularity rating has reached 82 percent. Levada Center researcher Leonid Sedov said that support for Putin is likely to remain high as long as Russians perceive him to be a competent and energetic manager of foreign and domestic affairs, especially the economy.

In related news, about 15,000 supporters of the well-disciplined, pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi pledged in Moscow on March 25 to defend their country from a host of enemies as they celebrated seven years of President Putin's incumbency, news agencies reported. One pamphlet depicted both former German dictator Adolf Hitler and U.S. President George W. Bush as enemies of Russia. Nashi supporters sought to recruit members and gave out special mobile-phone cards, with which they urged people to send congratulatory text messages to Putin at a special number.

I refuse to include a pic for this item...

From The Sofia Weekly:

Hungarian, Dutch and Serbian porn stars gathered with their Bulgarian colleagues at the third edition of the Eros Show in Sofia. The erotic expo that opened Wednesday offered free AIDS tests to its visitors for the first time. Dora Venter, Dora Meszaros, Maria Bellucci, Cory Spice and Sanja Tigrica, well known to porn fans for their numerous movies, spiced up the event for the visitors. Bulgarians Neli and Emanuela and the male strippers band Dangers were been booked for the show as well. Lots of new products were offered at the expo for the first time and sex shops promised discounts of up to 50% at their stands. The Eros Show continued until March 24 at the Universiada Hall in Sofia.

Mar 23, 2007

Hungary hates Piresians; who doesn't?

Hungarians are growing increasingly xenophobic -- even towards non-existing peoples -- a study by a sociology institute shows. According to the survey, ethnic groups that have settled in Hungary since then, such as Chinese, Arabs, Russians and Romanians, are especially unwelcome. What surprised sociologists and the media alike is Hungarians' strong opposition to the presence in their country of "Piresians", a fictitious ethnic group created by the Tarki institute to test xenophobia. "Piresians get the best jobs, and their goal is to occupy everything here and push Hungarians away. In the meantime, they pretend they don't exist, as if they had been invented," left-wing daily Népszabadság wrote in a mockery of average Hungarian attitudes. "How do you recognise them?" goes on the daily. "You can be sure he is a Piresian if he gets a parking place before you, if he gets the job you wanted, or if he gets state aid before you do."

The fictitious group had been included in past surveys; only this year researchers concluded that opposition to their 'presence' in Hungary grew from 59 percent last year to 68 percent this year.

The Communist Chocolate Revolution is Over

From RFE/RL: On windy days, the warm smell of chocolate tinged with caramel drifts across the Moscow River from the brick smokestacks of the Red October factory toward the Kremlin. The factory has become one of the city's best-loved landmarks -- a rare red-brick building perched on the edge of a spit on the river in the center of Moscow. But later this year the factory will crank out its last batch of chocolate-coated confections and shut up shop. Its new premises will be on a "brownfield" site -- meaning an industrial site that has been contaminated and then abandoned -- far from the city center.

'bout to throw down in Kyrgyzstan!

From RFE/RL: Former Prime Minister Feliks Kulov, who now heads the opposition movement United Front For A Worthy Future, told the Russian nerwspaper "Vremya novostei" in an interview published on March 22 that "the majority of Interior Ministry employees" support the front. "We are also supported by 800 retired police officers, and that's just in Bishkek and Chuy provinces," Kulov added.

While President Kurmanbek Bakiev ruled out the use of force against protesters, but warned that the authorities will maintain order. "We learned a lot from the lessons of Aksy [where six demonstrators died in 2002 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 18 and 19, 2002)], and we will never use force against peaceful people," Bakiev said.

I wonder what the protesters would have to do to no longer be considered "peaceful people."

Russia, if you wanted an opposition party, should have enlisted more members. Go Russian democracy!

From RFE/RL: The Russian Supreme Court has ordered the closure a liberal opposition party. The court ruled that the Republican Party was too small to be considered a party under a 2004 Russian law. The court said the party has fewer than 50,000 members and was represented in fewer than half of Russia's regions.

Mar 22, 2007

For you Putin supporters...

...proof things were worse for journalists under Yeltsin. I guess that's a complement?

Did you know that nearly twice as many Russian journalists were killed in the 1990s when Boris Yeltsin was president of Russia as in the seven years of Vladimir Putin’s presidency? According to the records of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York–based organization that tracks violations against free journalism around the world, in Yeltsin’s Russia, 42 journalists were killed and 3 disappeared. Since Mr. Putin became president, 22 journalists have been killed and 2 disappeared. As in the Yeltsin years, the motivations for the great majority of these tragic killings are tied to the wars in Chechnya and/or criminal activities. And, as in the Yeltsin years, almost none of these murders has been solved.

Is it surprising MGU curricula are anti-western?

Moscow State University has opened an investigation into accusations by students that teaching standards and living conditions in one of its academic departments have been severely eroded, students and university officials said in recent days. The investigation, into the conditions in the sociology department, will be conducted by a commission of faculty members and administrators that was formed last week. It follows a rare and remarkable burst of defiance and student activism on a Russian campus, a case of grass-roots organization and civic activity that private groups and critics of the Kremlin have said has been in decline in recent years.

The accusations, many of them circulated to Western universities by a small group of students in an effort to gain support, also strongly suggested that official anti-Western attitudes and creeping nationalism were undermining the quality of the teaching.

Mar 21, 2007

Baturina wins $4,000 in defamation suit

Put it on top of the pile of millions.

From RFE/RL: A Moscow court today ruled that "Forbes" magazine has defamed Russia's richest woman and ordered it to pay her more than $4,000 in compensation. The court ruled that an article in the Russian edition of the magazine damaged the reputation of Inteko, the construction firm owned by billionaire Yelena Baturina, the wife of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. A quote attributed to her in the magazine's December edition said, "My protection is guaranteed." Baturina says she was misquoted, giving the impression that Inteko is supported by state organs. Baturina has consistently rejected allegations that her businesses have benefited from Luzhkov's influence.

Why do U.S. presidents go weak-kneed for their Russian counterparts?

President George W. Bush treated President Putin the same way all American presidents treat all Russian leaders: as America's new best friend. President Bush, infamously, looked deep into Putin's eyes, found him to be "straightforward and trustworthy." When President Yeltsin was up for re-election, President Clinton told his main Soviet adviser, "I want this guy to win so bad it hurts." Never mind that Yeltsin was already associated inside Russia with massive theft and economic chaos or that his regime was perceived internally as corrupt and nepotistic.

Russian politicians still seem to make American politicians grow starry-eyed and lose their bearings. Perhaps it's a secret longing for the glamour of those Cold War summits, for the days when it appeared as if the personal relations between superpower statesmen could ward off the destruction of the entire planet. Or perhaps they put something in the vodka—sorry, mineral water—at those elegant Kremlin lunches. Either way, it's time to kick the habit.

It's a miracle!

The Verkhova Rada finally approved a foreign minister. From RFE/RL:

Ukraine's parliament today approved Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a 32-year-old former economy minister, as the country's new foreign minister. His nomination was put forward by pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko earlier today. Deputies on March 20 for the second time rejected Yushchenko's previous nominee for the post, career diplomat Volodymyr Ohryzko. The president has long been at odds with parliament and with Moscow-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. The previous foreign minister, Borys Tarasyuk, was forced from office under pressure from parliament.

Mar 20, 2007

Eternal Remot speaks, Riga listens

Jen writes that some are now calling for a "Risk and Safety Czar" to deal with space-heater fires and rouge bus drivers. (Of course, rouge bus drivers are nearly as deadly as the silent plague of planter's warts, but Eternal Remont can only do so much.)

Buried under recipes for potato zeppelins and cold beet soup (no joke) one Baltic Times reader has answered the call. We take full credit, of course.

Safety needs leadership
Feb 28, 2007
Mike Johnson, Riga

Zen and the Art of Druzhba Pipeline Maintenance

New tactic: Putin to West: “We’re not cutting the supply; the pipes are just, uh, conveniently leaky.”

Russia puts the squeeze on the Baltic's only refinery.

No Personality Cult for Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov

THANK GOD! Can you imagine if he had made January, Gerbangulary?

From RFE/RL: Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has abolished the power of the country's president to rename institutions and geographic locations and redraw administrative borders. State media report that only parliament will be able to do so from now on.

Wrong On So Many, Many Levels

I am speechless. (SWF)

Jay Hernandez is a Kazakh?

There's a new trailer out for Nomad.
The only question, who in God's name thought it would be a good idea to cast Carlito Brigante in the roll?
Nazarbayev: "Get me Orlando Bloom."
--"Sir, the William Morris Agency says he's book solid on Pirates."
Nazarbayev: "God damnit man. I'm surrounded by rabid bafoons."
--"What about Jay Hernandez?"
Nazarbayev: "Oh, I loved him in Crazy Beautiful. He's perfect!"

Mar 19, 2007

I love the irony of the street name...

Сегодня, 19 марта, утром в Киеве в подвале пятиэтажного дома на бульваре Дружбы Народов, 17-а найден арсенал оружия, взрывчатки и детонаторов. Как сообщили в Центре общественных связей ГУ МВД Украины в городе Киеве, сейчас эксперты устанавливают количество и характер найденного арсенала.

The Most Expensive Divorce Ever. Go Irina!

From the Sofia Weekly:
Russia's billionaire Roman Abramovich is to pay USD 3 B compensation to his ex-wife after their divorce, completed Wednesday. The billionaire oil tycoon also plans to sell soon the FC Chelsea. Abramovich and his wife Irina have parted amicably, the billionaire's spokesman John Mann said. If Irina gets one tenth of her ex-husband's fortune, that would be the most expensive divorce in the world ever. The couple "have divorced in Russia on a consensual basis and have agreed terms in respect of arrangements for their children and a financial settlement".

Abramovich, who bought Chelsea in 2003, was elected governor of Russia's remote region Chukotka in 2000. He was ranked 16 in Forbes' list of richest people with his USD 18.7 B. This makes him Russia's richest man.

Mar 18, 2007

These Boots Were Made for 22 MPH (TOO FUNNY)

"The gas-powered shoe is a symbol of both Russia’s deep scientific traditions and the country’s inability to convert that talent into useful merchandise."

From NY Times: The dream Mr. Gordeyev conceived in 1974 to run faster and jump higher without getting tired might never have become a popular option for commuters or even caught on as a sport. But unlike the Segway, the American-invented self-balancing scooter, it never had a chance. Instead, the boots became a military secret, as generals envisioned soldiers running swiftly and effortlessly alongside armored vehicles. The boots were declassified in 1994, and Mr. Gordeyev and his partners imagined growing rich by selling their invention to a lazy public. Instead, the company went out of business in 2006.

For now, though, the boots remain a curiosity, without the wider distribution their owners hoped for. After years of research, gasoline-assisted running remains dangerous. “The worst situation is when the spark fires as the runner just lands, and the force of the blast is absorbed by his body,” Mr. Garipov explains flatly.

Go to:

Mar 15, 2007

5 years seems lenient to me...

...then again, I don't know what 5 years in a Russian prison is in American prison years.

RFE/RL: A St. Petersburg court has sentenced a history teacher to five years in prison for stealing dozens of works from the Hermitage Museum. Nikolai Zavadsky pleaded guilty to stealing more than 200 silver and enamel artifacts worth an estimated $5 million. Zavadsky said he sold the items to pawnshops and used the money to buy insulin for his diabetic wife, Larisa, who was a curator at the museum. The court also ordered Zavadsky to pay the Hermitage 7.3 million rubles ($283,000) in damages.

10% seems low to me...

RFE/RL: Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said recently that 1/10 of Russia's territory "is under the control of organized crime groups, who often face little or no official resistance." He added that the Russian mafia is "alarmingly well established in Moscow, St Petersburg, the south of the country, and in Siberia." He stressed that "this problem poses a threat to the state, society, and the economy," adding that more than 3.8 million crimes were registered in 2006, up by 8.5 percent over 2005. Criminals are caught in only 46 percent of the reported cases, he said. The daily quoted "Aleksei Mukhin, a specialist in organized crime, [as saying] that Russia is home to up to 10,000 criminal groups employing 300,000 people. Most are paid to protect the businesses and assets of a small number of powerful mafia leaders," whose businesses often operate under the cover of legal enterprises.

Arrested for potty mouth-ery...

...Oh, Belarus. Keepin' it crazy for our amusement. From RFE/RL:

Belarusian Popular Front leader Vintsuk Vyachorka and another opposition activist, Vyachaslau Siuchyk, who were arrested in Minsk on March 13, were released on March 14 and are to stand trial on March 23. Vyachorka has been charged with using obscene language in the presence of children. Siuchyk, who was detained because of his purported likeness to a criminal wanted by police, was subsequently charged with relieving himself on the street. Both politicians have been engaged in preparing an opposition rally for March 25 .

The oldest man in the world lives in Ukraine... in the world is that possible?! Apparently his secret for long life is milk, cheese, potatoes, vodka, and no wife. From BBCUkrainian:

В Україні святкує день народження найстаріший чоловік країни, який також, можливо, є й найстаршою людиною світу. Григорій Нестор народився сто шістнадцять років тому, на тодішній території Австро-Угорщини. Пан Нестор пережив часи репресій, війни та бідність. Проте дід Григорій каже, що найкраще було жити за Австро-Угорської імперії сто років тому. Є у діда Нестора і рецепт довголіття. Він твердить, що дожив до такого віку, бо ніколи не був одружений, а парубкування додавало йому молодості. Щодо харчування, то він радить дієту з молока, сиру та картоплі, а також часом чарку горілки.

Mar 14, 2007

Sketchtacular, Putin.

President Putin signed a decree on March 13 appointing five members to the Central Election Commission (TsIK) for a four-year term starting March 26 but did not include the current chairman, Aleksandr Veshnyakov. The new commission will oversee elections to the Duma in December and the 2008 presidential vote. Veshnyakov was first named to the TsIK in 1994 and served as its chairman since 1999. Even the state-run daily newspaper "Rossiiskaya gazeta" of March 14 called the latest omission of Veshnyakov a "big surprise." But in July 2006, he broke with apparent Kremlin policy by calling for direct elections to the Federation Council. He also attracted attention by saying that regional governors should be elected and not appointed, and criticized legislation that expands "pretexts for [the authorities] to disqualify candidates they find inconvenient." In September, Veshnyakov warned that Russia is in danger of becoming a one-party state and drew explicit comparisons with the Soviet Union. Aleksei Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies told RFE/RL's Russian Service on March 13 that the Kremlin probably wants a TsIK chairman who is less ambitious than Veshnyakov and more clearly dependent on Kremlin patronage in the run-up to the parliamentary and presidential votes.


From RFE/RL: Turkmenistan's new president has ordered his predecessor's name removed from the presidential banner. State television reported that Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov issued a decree ordering the replacement of the name of the late Saparmurat Niyazov with the words "Turkmen president" on the banner.

Mar 13, 2007

Kazakhs love Borat!

Last week, the U.S. State Department reported that "Borat" had his rights violated when the government of Kazakhstan revoked the ".kz" domain name for the Web site of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays the fictional Kazakh TV reporter Borat in the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Now, in a classic case of how "censorship" makes censored material all the more tempting, residents of Kazakhstan are snatching up the recently released Borat DVD. Last week, it was the number one purchase made by Kazakhs on

Sweet! New Space Race!

The first one gave us Satellite TV. what wonders will this one bring?!

RFE/RL: President Putin told the cabinet on March 12 that Russia's Glonass global navigation system must become cheaper and of better quality than the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), RIA Novosti reported. "You know what attention I pay to Glonass, and I hope relevant attention will be paid to it" by others, he said. The Federal Space Agency plans to have 18 satellites in orbit by early 2008 and all of its planned orbital group of 24 satellites in operation by the end of 2009. The agency is negotiating with GPS and the EU's Galileo on unspecified joint-use projects. Glonass has both military and civilian applications. PM

Who wants to go in on this?

We really should have a copy.

From the NY Times: A four-disc boxed set that includes both a two-hour documentary and six hours’ worth of short films, “Animated Soviet Propaganda” opens a window on a lost art from a lost world. Animation began in Russia under the czars, with the morbid wit of Ladislaw Starewicz’s stop-motion creations using the stiff little bodies of insects. (In “The Camerman’s Revenge” a grasshopper uses a movie camera to catch his unfaithful mate in flagrante delicto.) But after revolution and civil war, film acquired a new importance to the state.

"Trite Facts" of Torture

From RFE/RL: Uzbekistan says a U.S. government report claiming prisoners in Uzbekistan are routinely tortured is "biased and counterproductive." The annual U.S. State Department report on human rights practices, released last week, also said President Islam Karimov's government arbitrarily arrests its critics, stifles independent media, and convicts peaceful Muslims on trumped-up extremism charges. The Uzbek Foreign Ministry said in a statement today that the ongoing attempts of the State Department to replicate "trite facts and statements" that have already been refuted many times are "pitiful."

Mar 12, 2007

Electric Space Heaters Are The Devil

Why is it that people will ban ban assult rifles, cigarettes, landmines, and trans-fat...but nobody gives two shits about electric space heaters? How many people must die before we take this threat seriously?

Killer fire shows Latvia is one of the deadliest countries in Europe
From the Baltic Times..."Firefighters managed to gather the remains of almost all the bodies, but given their charred, frozen condition, identification of all 25 missing persons may be impossible... in the freezing temperatures the attic became particularly cold, and to stay warm the residents plugged in high-voltage space heaters. "

(Thanks Jen)

Chyornii Chyornii P. R.

What's the deal? I used the same tactics to get rid of Jan Gaither for class treasurer. (Chalmers)

Moscow Times: "Few murders in the history of St. Petersburg have gotten as many laughs as that of Sergei Andreyev. A few weeks ago, fliers began circulating in the city's Kirov district informing residents that on Feb. 23, Andreyev, who is running for a seat in the city's Legislative Assembly election this Sunday, had been knifed 26 times by three unidentified assailants and died from his wounds."

Yup, you guessed it...

I guess this could help Belarus...

В ночь с 18 на 19 марта 2007 года в разных городах по всей Европе JEF скоординированно проводит акцию чтоб выразить поддержку ущемленным гражданам и опозиционному движению Белоруссии. Акция заключается в «затыкании ртов» статуям в больших и малых городах по всему континенту. Подобные акция была успешно проведена в прошлом году в 23 европейских городах (более детальная информация на сайте JEF призывает всех в ночь с 18 на 19 марта присоединиться к этой акции против последней диктатуры в Европе, все что необходимо – широкий непрозрачный скотч, лист бумаги и теплая одежда. Также просим вас присылать фотографии статуй, которым вы «заткнули рот» на тот же адрес. Они будут сразу же размещены на вместе с другими фотографиями всеевропейской акции в поддержку демократии!

Pimpin' ain't easy...for Bulgarians

From the Sofia Weekly: Bulgaria Ratifies Longer Sentences For Pimping

Bulgaria's Parliament ratified a new law for passing more severe punishments and higher fines for pimping and incitement to prostitution. The law, which has been adopted only at first reading, provides for up to ten years in prison for pimps. According to the previous amendment in the Criminal Code, the punishments concerned are at most six-year imprisonment, even if the victims are under aged. The new penalties are to be discussed before the final changes in the Criminal Code are made. Even if being adopted, they will not influence the trials that are already instituted.

AND: Bulgarian Pimp Sentenced to 11 Months in Prison

The regional court in Bulgaria's town of Sliven sentenced Tuesday the pimp Dobrin Shopov to 11-month imprisonment for incitement to prostitution of girls in the Netherelands. Shopov was also imposed a BGN 500 fine.

Mar 9, 2007

Polygamy: Back and Better than Ever

Kayipov's method logic should be taught in universities.

Soviet authorities could not totally eradicate the practice during the Communist era and, since the fall of the USSR in 1991, polygamy has crept back into practice. Most recently the issue has appeared in Kyrgyzstan, and this time the legalization of polygamy has a strong advocate: Justice Minister Marat Kayipov. "There is a definition for crime," he said recently. "It is something that is dangerous for society. Is a man who has two or three wives and takes care of their children, dangerous? If the government would arrest the man who takes care of those two or three families -- this would be detrimental to the state because then the state should take care of those families, and the state would have to take care of the man arrested as well. Is that useful for society?"

What makes circumstances "suspicious" in Russia?

This is chistoe zoloto!

Mar 8, 2007

All Turkmen Children Go to Heaven

Turkmen Education Minister Khydyr Saparliev has said that the "Rukhnama," Turkmenbashi's book inspired by God, which he claimed if read three times assures you a place in heaven, will remain a "core subject" in the country's school curriculum. Nevertheless, Saparliev said that recent educational reforms will give Turkmen students a chance to study abroad. Saparliev said that the "major goal of the reform is to rearrange and refine the national educational system so that it gives opportunities for maximizing the potential of the young generation."

I want my FREE NTV...

Commenting on a deal for exclusive broadcasts between the Russian Football Union and the satellite television station NTV Plus, President Putin said on March 7 that Russian soccer fans have the right to watch games free of charge on television, news agencies reported. Putin said the deal would "rob" fans by requiring them to "spend money to buy equipment and pay fees." Putin asked First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to look into the situation.

Is this the modern day equivalent of the Tsar giving out free bread? I'm sure Solzhenitsyn has an opinion.

Corruption in the UN...

...and yes, by a Russian...two least

UN DIPLOMAT CONVICTED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING. On March 7, the U.S. Federal District Court in New York found Vladimir Kuznetsov guilty of laundering over $300,000 to help companies win contracts related tothe UN's former oil-for-food program in Iraq. Kuznetsov was a Russian Foreign Ministry official who headed a powerful UN General Assembly budgetary committee prior to his arrest in 2005. He will be sentenced on June 25 and could face up to 20 years in prison. Kuznetsov's partner in the bribe-taking exercise was Aleksandr Yakovlev, a former UN procurement officer with a Russian diplomatic passport. He pleaded guilty in August 2005 to taking over $1 million in bribes and helped U.S. government officials uncover the extent of the scheme.

Mar 7, 2007

Belarus to UN: "Your mom has a problem with disappearances!"

From RFE/RL: Natallya Pyatkevich, deputy head of Belarus's presidential administration, told journalists on March 5 that the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance is not "topical" for Belarus. "This convention is not topical for Belarus, it has the same degree of importance for us as ozone layer protection or the protection of those starving. We have no such problem," Pyatkevich said. Adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 20, 2006, the convention requires signatory states to take necessary steps to prevent and combat forced disappearances; introduces a ban on secret prisons; and calls for informing families about the fate of their disappeared members. Belarusian opposition politicians Yury Zakharanka and Viktar Hanchar, businessman Anatol Krasouski, and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski went missing under unexplained circumstances in Belarus in 1999 and 2000. Many in Belarus and Europe believe that they were abducted and murdered because of theiropposition to the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Mars: The Retirement Home of the Future

President Putin hosted Valentina Tereshkova in the Kremlin on March 6 to mark her 70th birthday, international media reported. In June 1963, she spent 71 hours in orbit in a Vostok spacecraft in what was seen at the time as a major Soviet propaganda coup. Putin told her on March 6 that her "flight was, and will remain, a matter of pride for the Soviet people, for the Russian people." She told the president that she will "serve [her] country to the end." Tereshkova was quoted by the daily "Komsomolskaya pravda" on March 6 as saying: "if I had money, I would enjoy flying to Mars. This was the dream of the first cosmonauts. I wish I could realize it! I am ready to fly without coming back."

For reals, they can take more of my tax money to set up Mars as the planet for the elderly.

Mar 6, 2007

Тимошенко сравнила Януковича с булгаковским Шариковым

Лидер блока Юлия Тимошенко заявляет о бесперспективности ведения переговоров с правящей коалицией, в том числе и в формате "круглых столов". "Вести переговоры с Януковичем - это то же самое, что, возможно, если бы профессор Преображенский вел переговоры с Шариковым - своим подчиненным. Я не понимаю, зачем это делать", - заявил Тимошенко во вторник, 6 марта, в Киеве, перед началом подписания соглашения о сотрудничестве на местах между БЮТ и "Нашей Украиной".

You can't make this stuff up!

Restaurant Owner Named Stalin May Leave Bulgaria in the Dark.
Bulgaria's National Electricity Company have warned that a restaurant owner is threatening to leave the whole country without electricity. Stalin Avramov has surrounded a pole of the Petrohan grid that connects Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant and Sofia with breeding ponds for the fish he serves in his restaurant near the northern town of Berkovitsa. The law states that construction in a radius of 9 meters from such poles is forbidden, but Avramov's ponds receive nevertheless. The water of the ponds is slowly eating away at the soil and entering the 400-kilovolt grid and undermining the base of pole 244. Should the pole fall down, the whole of Sofia will be left in the dark and the country's electricity grid may crash completely. Greece may also suffer dire consequences, the electricity company warned.

Newsflash: 18.5 thousand Ukrainian women are bad ass

В Вооруженных Силах Украины проходят службу и работают свыше 70 тысяч женщин. Из них около 18,5 тысяч женщины-военнослужащие, в частности, 1143 - офицеры, среди которых 4 носят погоны полковника. Об этом говорится в сообщении пресс-службы Министерства обороны Украины, распространенном по случаю Международного женского дня 8 марта. В частности, сообщает пресс-служба, в Вооруженных Силах служат 2454 женщины-прапорщика, 14825 женщин проходят службу по контракту, еще 111 - учатся в высших военных учебных заведениях.

Yabloko blocked from upcoming election

Russia's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the opposition Yabloko party to reinstate it for St. Petersburg's upcoming local elections. Election officials say Yabloko's petition to run in the March 11 vote contained false or suspicious signatures. Mikhail Amosov, a senior member of Yabloko in St. Petersburg, called the court ruling a "political decision." Other opposition parties allege that the exclusion is part of a Kremlin effort to suppress dissent.

Mar 4, 2007

Perhaps we should be less critical in our blog...

...I don't want to be poisoned or shot!

Federal and local law enforcement officials in the United States are investigating the shooting of a U.S. expert on Russian intelligence. Two men shot Paul Joyal near his home in a Washington suburb on March 1. The identity of the shooters is unknown. Joyal survived the shooting and is in a hospital in critical condition. The shooting occurred four days after Joyal said in a television interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin's government was involved in the death of former Russian security-services officer Aleksandr Litvinenko. In the interview, Joyal accused the Kremlin of participating in a conspiracy to silence its critics. Litvinenko, a Kremlin critic, died in London in November after being poisoned with polonium-210. Joyal, a Washington-based consultant, is known for his expertise on the former Soviet Union.

Mar 3, 2007

Russian Police Disperse Demonstrators From St. Petersburg

Russian riot police have dispersed thousands of opposition protesters from the main square in St. Petersburg, detaining at least 20 people. More than 2,000 demonstrators turned out for Saturday's banned "March of Dissent," which was organized by the opposition umbrella group, Other Russia. Demonstrators carrying banners and shouting anti-government slogans broke through a police cordon in central St. Petersburg to marched down the main avenue. They interrupted the traffic flow until police forced them away. The government refused to give permission for the march, which comes ahead of local elections. It suggested a rally be held outside the city center instead.

Mar 2, 2007

Drove my chevy to the Lviv?

"Автомобиль Года в Украине", самый престижный конкурс в отечественной автомобильной отрасли, назвал Chevrolet Aveo лучшим легковым автомобилем 2006 года в соотношении "цена/качество". Подобный успех не первый для Chevrolet. В 2005 году модель Chevrolet Lacetti также становилась победителем в номинации лучшее соотношение "цена/качество". Помимо Aveo, еще две модели Chevrolet стали лауреатами в различных номинациях. Так, Chevrolet Captiva стал лауреатом в номинации "Лучший легкий внедорожник", а Epica в номинации "Лучший легковой автомобиль большого класса".

Democracy and the G8: signs of the beast?

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX BISHOP SLAMS DEMOCRACY, G8. Diomid, who is Russian Orthodox bishop of Siberia's Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, said in a recent open letter that the Moscow Patriarchate has effectively "retreated from the purity of Orthodox faith" through its policies in nine separate areas. Diomid criticized the church's "approval of democracy" as a call to vote for specific political leaders in alleged defiance of church tenets. The bishop also warned that "the Group of preparing the coming to power of a single world leader,[who would be] an anti-Christ. Therefore, any cooperation with them is spiritually dangerous." He also said that it is a "mistaken opinion" for the Orthodox Church to teach that Jews, Roman Catholics, Muslims, and the Orthodox have the same moral values.


The other half either died of alcohol poisoning or were bought as wives during the survey...

The weekly "Rossiya" published a recent poll on Russian citizens' views of the military. The survey, conducted by the Levada Center, showed that almost half of respondents believe that other states pose a threat to Russia, while 43 percent see no such threat from any other state. Sixty-five percent of respondents think that the military are capable of defending Russia in the event of an armed external threat, but 27 percent disagree and 8 percent are uncertain. Fifty-four percent of respondents support the state's move to abolish most exemptions from conscription and reduce conscription terms to one year, while 37 percent are against. Fifty-four percent of respondents want to replace the draft with contract service, which is a drop of 8 percent from the previous year, while 41 percent do not. PM

Mar 1, 2007

The Ferghana Valley Gets Restless

"Central authorities have lost touch with the problems of the provinces," said one governor. The responce? Crack down on the governors.

Russia: What to Do About Missile Defence?

These days, Kremlin Inc. is happy to present itself as an emerging energy super-power. Yet, even if this is a "newly self-confident Russia," the country's generals are getting nervous. In fact, the Defence Ministry's recent reaction to US missile defence plans for E. Europe is telling.

The generals have calculated that anything which can shoot down an Iranian made Death-To-Israel IV, can do the same to any Russian-tipped ICBM. This month, Putin promised a "highly effective responce." His successor-of-the-moment, Sergei Ivanov, then announced plans for a new future weapon, which will shoot down air, ballistic, and space targets -- to be ready in 8 years. Yet, it remains highly unlikely Russia can field such a system ex nihilo. Petro dollars can make an energy-state. But Russia's lack of broad-based economic development will severely limit its ability to compete with the United States in any Cold War-styled arms race.

Why don't people think before speaking?

From RFE/RL: A spokesman for Russia's Jewish Communities Federation (FEOR) said on February 28 that it condemns recent remarks by Council of Muftis ofRussia co-Chairman Nafigulla Ashirov, who called Israel a "malignant tumor," reported. Ashirov reportedly made that statement at an unspecified rally to protest Israeli excavation works near Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, which triggered massive criticism throughout much of the Muslim world. The FEOR spokesman told Interfax on February 28 that comments such as Ashirov's are "absolutely unacceptable, because they go entirely against the human truth, including the Muslim truth, and because religious leaders bear double responsibility for the words spoken.... Instigating conflicts and wars is at absolute variance with a cleric's mission. Hopefully, the leaders of the country's Muslim communities will not leave such statements without a commentary and will distance themselves from them."