Jan 30, 2008

"No, Donny, these men are nihilists."

In the summer of 2001, President Putin vowed to "end the oligarchs as a class." In the end, he succeeded in ending the oligarchs who oppose the Kremlin...as a class.

Now, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has set his own agenda: end Russia's “legal nihilism.” Now, this is the same legal disease which the Kremlin used to end said oligarchs. Nevertheless, Medvedev is shocked, shocked (!) that such a thing exists on a “huge scale." No European country can boast of such “disdain for the law,” he said. (Jamestown)

Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos!

Jan 29, 2008

Don't Worry, Be Happy....

WashPost reports: "Russian Economy Minister Elvira Nabiulliana said a booming consumer market and rising investments will protect the country from the effects of problems in the subprime mortgage market in the United States."

Funny how this is doesn't seem to jive with the forcasts of economists who actually deal in reality.

"Economists have said the fast-growing region faces a slowdown following the financial shockwaves reverberating around the globe." While Kazakhstan and Ukraine will take the largest hits, the World Bank has forcast that falling energy prices and investment inflows will place heavy downward pressure on Russia's consumers and financial markets. But what does the World Bank know. That kind of imperialistic anglosaxon economic theory doesn't apply to New Russia.

Jan 28, 2008

Global Warming....

...has yet to hit Russia.

So here's a little winter fix for all you January Sunbathers via the kids at English Russia. (Makes us long for the days of "three jeans and still fucking cold" and vodka soaked evenings of "that's all well and good but why did you light the table on fire?")

Stock in "President Kasyanov" T-Shirts Plummets

Mikhail Kasyanov will not be running for president, now that Russa's Central Election Commission has decided to dispence with even the symbolism of an election.

We're unsure if Kasyanov was surprised by this turn of events. But he should take some statisfaction in not being allowed to run, as it means that someone took his challenge seriously.

Jan 22, 2008

Once Upon A Time In Ukraine...

...you knew who your enemies were.

Today's EDM notes how those days are long gone. "Yushchenko has thwarted Tymoshenko’s planned visit to Moscow, torpedoed planned appointments to her government, disagreed with her privatization plan, and come up with a package of bills aimed at diminishing the role of the prime minister and the Cabinet."

The Magic Braids aren't having any of it, saying “if the Cabinet is limited by certain restrictions, if they start putting forward certain conditions,” then she'll just have to run for president herself.


Jan 18, 2008

Lithuanian Cops Capture Dead Shoplifter...

...oops she's not dead. Go figure.

"The woman's parents had mistakenly identified a body found in a forest as that of their 27-year-old daughter, Natalya Pavlova, who disappeared from home in November," police said.

Just another example of how crime can really bring families together.

Ink Dries on the South Stream Project

"Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to redraw Europe's energy map on Friday, winning Bulgaria's support for an ambitious gas pipeline that would boost Moscow's control over supplies to the West."

Jan 16, 2008

Brow-Beating the British Council

This business with the British Council is starting to get out of hand. Over the Christmas holiday, we all just hoped it would be quietly resolved. How naive.

Instead, the Kremlin insists on brow-beating the British Council -- clumsy retaliation for the Litvinenko investigation.

Yet, the British government was doing what real governments are supposed to do: investigate murders and threats to public safety. The Kremlin’s crude and clumsy abuse of the British Council and its staff only undermines the image of a forward-looking, prosperous Potemkin village which Moscow is desperate to project.

Jan 15, 2008

Another Sign of the Apocalypse…

…Transnistria now has a tourism brand.

That's right, everyone’s favorite living museum of the Soviet Union has decided to market itself through Special Advertising Sections in the Guardian.

How the hell do you market Transnistria, the land that 1989 forgot and home of the world's largest arsenal of illeagal weapons...to tourists? Why, with these little gems of course:

--“Compared to Moldova, this is ‘like the Riviera’”
--“Standard of living: ‘Visibly higher’”
--"Kids are playing computer games"
--"16 types of hamburger toppings"

Big thanks to Aleksandr Griboyedov over at Leopolis for the heads-up on all of this insanity.

Jan 14, 2008

The Russian Freedom House

There appears to be a new potential employer for all the human-rights motivated Russia-watchers out there: the "Institute of Democracy and Cooperation."

Anatoly Kucherena, the director, has stated the goal of the new, Kremlin-backed (although not Kremlin-funded) organization to be "to monitor the observance of human rights in different countries and develop methods of perfecting civil society institutions." Wait, that sounds like the mission of Freedom House. Apparently not: "I have no desire to copy the behavior of organizations like Freedom House . . . . We have completely different tasks. . . . Freedom House has only one goal: to publish data, which was assembled using methodologies that nobody understands, in order to draw attention to themselves."

So, the question remains, what exactly will this organization be doing? In the words of Putin - 'to set up a think tank for freedom and democracy . . . [that] counters the activity of Western nongovernmental organizations operating in Russia." Ah, that makes more sense. It seems that the battle over "truthiness" has escalated.

Jan 11, 2008

The Myth of Putinism

The latest article in Foreign Affairs by Michael McFaul and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss is a biggie.

They write, "The data simply do not support the popular notion that by erecting autocracy Putin has built an orderly and highly capable state that is addressing and overcoming Russia's rather formidable development problems. Putin's failures in this regard are all the more striking..."

In key sectors like security, health, and development, Russia has preformed worse under Putin than during the Yeltsin era. Economic growth is bleow the post-Soviet average. Murder rates are higher. Terrorist attacks are higher. People are dying younger. Meanwhile the population at large has yet to fully gain from the energy boom. Many are doing worse.

Prognosis? Russia will become the new Angola: a failed state built on rents and oil. Not really new. But its good to see that Fukuyama's disciples are still beating the drum. Even if the prophet of democracy and markets has all but disavowed them.

And kudos to Foreign Affairs' for trying to salvage its reputation after the Dmitri Simes dissaster.

Jan 10, 2008

Blackouts Hit Russia's Regions

Not sure if this story can be believed. The Kremlin has called the National Priority Projects a smashing success.

"Distracted by the country's longest festive season, Russia has faced a series of power outages in early January, including in areas where temperatures plummet to extreme lows. The accidents came as an ominous reminder that Russia needs to improve and redevelop its basic infrastructure, specifically to rehabilitate power and heating supply systems after years of under investment." -- Jamestown

Jan 9, 2008

Join the Ukranian Army...

...and village sluts will bring you yogurt?

We assume that's the take-away message the Ukranian government was aiming for in this recruitment video.

Oh yeah, and the Army will dub your voice -- no extra charge!

Is Poland the New Bulgaria?

Reuters has a zinger: A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment's employees. The woman had told her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town.

"I was dumfounded. I thought I was dreaming," the husband said.

That's because everyone dreams of meeting their wife in a whorehouse just after she's just been plowed by the entire boiler room crew of a Swedish mining frigate. Eve-ry-one.

Russia: We're winning the race to Mars

"We have something of a head start in this race as we have the most experience in piloted space flight," said Lev Zelyony of Russia's Space Research Institute.

Well that pretty much covers it. Zelyony says its "technically and economically achievable" by 2025. Go get em' tiger.

Jan 7, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Russia celebrates the Orthodox Christmas on 7th January.

Transnistria [hearts] Ron Paul

The Tiraspol Times has spoken.

If US Presidential elections were held in Transdniestria, Ron Paul would win. The reasons why don't make any sense. But they don't have to, this is Transdniestria.

Thanks Marta!

Jan 2, 2008

A Look Back at How Far We've Come...

Happy New Year from President V. V. Putin!

This is freaking sweet!

Oh, Good Grief

While we were getting our New Years on, Lithuanian newspaper Kauno Diena was burning down the house. According to the story, Russia's FSB considers Lithuania enemy numero 1. Well, maybe number 2.