Apr 30, 2008
AP - DNA tests carried out by a U.S. laboratory prove that remains exhumed last year belong to two children of Czar Nicholas II, putting to rest questions about what happened to Russia's last royal family, a regional governor said Wednesday. The bone fragments dug up are those of Crown Prince Alexei and his sister, Maria, whose remains had been missing since the family was murdered in 1918 as Russia descended into civil war, said Eduard Rossel, governor of the Sverdlovsk region.
Of course this discovery means we can rule out the return of the royal family. The 100 year old ladies of Russia can stop holding their breath now.
So welcome trolls. The smoking lounge and comment section is now open.
Apr 29, 2008
Apr 28, 2008
In the WashPost it is all rather grim: “Putin did not announce, eight years ago, his intention to create an autocracy in which all television channels would be under Kremlin control; in which elections would be decided, by him, ahead of time; in which every major industrialist and provincial governor would dance to his tune and roving bands of nationalist youths would threaten, intimidate or beat up anyone who objected.”
The quote comes from Igor Yurgens at Renaissance Capital. How could he arrive at such a radically different view? Well, for starters, Medvedev is the chairman of Yurgens’ business lobby group. But, that probably has little impact on Yurgens’ opinion.
Come to think of it, Yurgens is probably thinking of a different Internet.
Apr 25, 2008
John Cusack is staring in a new political satire. He invades "Turaqistan" for a private defence contractor. Sounds like it could be funny, right?
Well, Ben Kingsley's Texas accent is (unintentionally) funny. Hilary Duff's Russian accent is not. Also, who on Earth thought it was a good idea to cast Lizzie McGuire as a Central Asian sex kitten? That's like casting Ludmilla Putin in a Girls Gone Wild Video.
First Berdy dumps the Turkmenbashi's mom off the calander, now this. Central Asia just can't get a break these days.
Apr 24, 2008
It would be rather embarrassing for a Russian MiG-29 to have been captured on tape firing at an unarmed Georgian drone, since unarmed recon aircraft are not prohibited under the 1994 Ceasefire Agreement.
But as Jamestown notes, this explanation is problematic. 1) The L-39 does not resemble the distinctive silhouette of a MiG-29. 2) The L-39 lacks the on-board radar needed to fire air-to-air missiles. 3) L-39 is primarily used as a trainer or, in some cases, a light bomber.
Keep trying. Seriously, you’re doing better.
The video is even better:
"If you don't like mingling with the rabble on Facebook or Odnoklassniki, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov [Russia's fifth-richest person] feels your pain. Upwardly mobile Russians will soon be able to enjoy Snob, a social networking site of their own..."
By the way Prokhorov, Snob is a pejorative.
Straight away, Georgia provided amazingly clear video of a twin-tailed Mig-29 firing an air-to-air missile at the unarmed drone (top left). The Georgian military also claims to have a radar record of the jet taking-off from inside Abkhazia.
Now, faced with these minor details, Russia could argue that it takes an extremely liberal interpretation of ground-based “Abkhaz anti-aircraft weapons” to mean "Russian operated Mig-29." However, any missile launch by a Mig-29 is a big no-no, regardless of whose flag is painted on the tail.
Under the terms of the 1994 Georgia-Abkhazia Ceasefire Agreement, Russia could be allowed to position its own Mig-29's in Abkhazia under the Kremlin’s mildly ridiculous assertion that its armed forces in the region are “CIS Peacekeepers.” However, under Section 2(h) of the same agreement, Russia would have to somehow argue that an unarmed recon drone presented a “direct military threat” to its forces – an incredulous assertion at best.
Now, Russia could argue that Georgia violated the ceasefire by sending a military aircraft over the security zone. However, this isn't neccessarly a violation, since the document only states, "There shall be no armed forces or heavy military equipment," defined as artillery, mortars, tanks, and armored transport vehicles. There is no mention of drones, leaving Russia holding the bag for firing a missile at a Georgian reconnaissance aircraft that technically, isn't prohibited under the ceasefire terms.
Anyway, here’s a cool map of the security zone, fiy.
Apr 23, 2008
Looks like someone answered.
We have no idea if Perminov was referring to the botched “ballistic re-entry,” or all of those special space experiments you can only perform on Cinemax after prime time.
Apr 22, 2008
In the run-up to Sochi’s winning Olympic bid, the Kremlin hired the best media companies money could buy. It turns out you can create an entirely parallel reality if you just hire the right people (above).
It also turns out that the International Olympic Committee is getting jittery about the little things, like the total lack of roads and electricity in Krasnodar.
Meanwhile, Russia’s point man for the project, Semyon Vainshtok, resigned last week. Words like, “mismanagement and cost overruns” followed him out the door.
"It is very difficult to make Sochi an Olympic city," an unidentified official said according to RIA-Novosti.
What? That’s not what the video shows.
Way to go Ern!
Yesterday, a Moscow court sentenced Pastor Phillip to three years in a friendly Russian prison for attempting to board an aircraft with 20 cartridges of .300 rifle ammunition in his carry-on luggage. The best part is that our good old TSA screeners didn’t catch on to this minor detail when Pastor Phillip sent his bag through the x-ray machine for his outbound flight from the States.
Pastor Phillip admits the ammo was his, but claims he was bringing the bullets for a friend. You see, he didn’t know you couldn’t do that kind of thing in Russia.
It took Eternal Remont a whopping 20 seconds and an internet connection to determine you can't do it in the US either. Then again, the crack team of $10.50/hour TSA screeners are more worried about ferreting out nefarious safety lighters than looking for Pastor Phillip's bullets.
Apr 21, 2008
However, a counter argument is emerging which does not view the Duma gambit as a cunning tactical move, but rather an act of defensive desperation. As Russian commentator Vitaly Portnikov argues, “…Putin’s decision to head [the Unity Party] without even becoming a member of it is, in fact, more of a demonstration of his uncertainty about his future and, even more [a demonstration of] the uncertainty of his inner circle about its future.”
By comparison, Boris Yeltsin’s endgame was far less complex, since Putin’s first act as president was to grant his predecessor blanket immunity from prosecution. Unlike Yelstin, soon-to-be-former President Putin is not threatened with an angry mob at the Kremlin walls. Nevertheless, his siloviki courtiers could be growing sensitive to the possibility that their personal and political fortunes may undergo a marked reversal.
Apr 20, 2008
For the first time, Russia’s hundred richest people are all billionaires. “The combined fortune of the ‘Golden Hundred’ [rose] to $522 billion, or more than one third of the country's economy” (Bloomberg).
That's correct: more than 30% of Russia’s entire GDP is owned by 100 people.
Sitting atop his $28.6 billion fortune (according to Forbes), Oleg Deripaska dethroned Roman Abramovich for the top spot this year. High export prices for energy and aluminum are driving Deripaska’s wealth. Also, Deripaska was a key benefactor of the Yukos hijacking.
Meanwhile, Yelena Baturina (pictured) remains the only woman on the list. Baturina is the wife of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Her fortune comes from a lucrative construction company and a Moscow city administration which has conveniently muscled out her closest competition over the years.
Indeed, Russia's industrial titans teach us that honest business practices, a level playing field, and just a little hard work can make anyone a billionaire in Russia. Now that's capitalism!
Apr 18, 2008
Either way, someone is going to get their heart broken. If not Kabayeva, then at least Ludmilla Puin, who may or may have been divorced from her husband. We may never know, since the soon-to-be-Prime Minister said, “…there are certain limits…There is a private life that nobody has the right to interfere with."
Meanwhile, it has all gone south for Moskovsky Korrespondent editor Grigory Nekhoroshev, who initially stood by his story of the pending nuptials. Shortly after, the FSB raided his offices. Why is the foreign intelligence service raiding the offices of a local tabloid? We can only assume that Nekhoroshev was harboring dangerous spies and counter-revolutionary wreckers from the British Council.
There you go. Absolutely no truth to the story. Everyone agrees. Please move along. Nothing left to see here....
Apr 17, 2008
"A Russian man trying to sleep off a night of after-work drinking failed to notice a six-inch knife in his back." Yuri Lyalin arrived home, "had some sausage from the fridge and lay down to sleep, after a couple of hours, his wife noticed the handle sticking out of his back and called an ambulance."
"We were drinking,"said Lyalin.
The Moskovski Korrespondent, Italy's La Repubblica, most of the Russian bloggosphere, and Eternal Remont's very own inbox are alive with flagrant rumor mongering that Putin will marry 24-year-old Uzbek gymnast Alina Kabayeva (pictured).
This, however, presents one small problem, since Putin is (was?) kinda, sorta, в принципе - да, married to 50-year-old Ludmilla, the mother of his two children.
Then again, we bet Ludmilla can't scratch her nose with a pinky toe. Ha!
Update: Here's a video of Kabayeva at the Athens Olympics, where she demonstrates her ability to look sprightly and bend in impossible ways. Talk about an upgrade.
(Thanks to Chalmers and James!)
"In the past 4-5 years the military and defense budget of the country has risen from $150 million to $1.3 billion. However Azerbaijan's state budget over this period has risen ten-fold," Aliyev Jr. said, signaling a additional 53% increase in military spending.
On second thought, Armenia might want to take a closer look at the plans for Azerbaijan’s new Deathstar hotel.
Apr 16, 2008
From 6-9 April 2008, over 500 democracy activists, practitioners and scholars from 112 countries gathered in Kyiv, Ukraine, for the Fifth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy under the theme "Making Democracy Work: From Principles to Performance." The Assembly was opened by Ukraine's First Lady Kateryna Yuschenko. Key-note speakers were Peru's former President Alejandro Toledo and Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko (http://www.unian.net/eng/news/news-245253.html).
And the poor divchina working got sexually harassed, spent several hours in an old soviet hospital (hospital #12, photo included), and basically got exploited almost to death. All for democracy.
Apr 15, 2008
Last year, Azerbaijan posted a jaw-dropping 37.1% rise in GDP, the highest on the planet.
Now, the eXile reports back on the bizarre underside of the oil bonanza: “…the Caspian felt like several planets away as I surveyed a deathscape of trash fires, abandoned oil derricks, ghost processing plants, and crumbling concrete structures with no obvious purpose. In every direction, garbage, oil pipes, and the decaying carcasses of Baku street dogs and other mammalian vermin who came here to scavenge and never left.”
More photos from Balakhani, one of the most polluted cities in the world.
Russia Today, that bastion of truth and accuracy in reporting, gives us today's ray of hope.
Apr 14, 2008
Now that we think of it, the doomsday cultists may be on to something.
Apr 11, 2008
Make sure you take the quiz: “Is This Democracy?”
Alas, Eternal Remont scored very poorly.
(Thanks to Razuman Aga Pashazade for this awesome site!)
Last month, a Levada Center poll found that 61% of Russian’s believed “power in the country will remain in the hands of [Vladimir] Putin and his entourage.”
Days later, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov confirmed that the out-going president will indeed be made head of United Russia. Soon after reports began to surface that Putin would keep control over all, or some, of the power ministries. Just to be safe, Putin will also keep his authority over federal envoys to the regions -- formerly answeable to the president.
If the current trend holds, then Putin is firmly on track to fundamentally alter the structure of state authority. Vremya Novostei has already noted that, “After May 7, we will have a president very limited in his actions and a premier very powerful in the sphere of realpolitik (Jamestown).”
Indeed, this new order will more closely approximate the former Soviet model of federal governance, whereby the presidency is relegated to a symbolic office, one party dominates the legislature, and the party general secretary – in this case Putin – will exercise true state power.
For Medvedev, the writing should be on the wall.
But hell, viva democracia!
Apr 10, 2008
Yeah, it’s back.
Apr 9, 2008
Holy crap, Mr. Bean has a Russian nephew!
By the way, you might want to turn your volume waaaay down. The video could also be tagged, "how to loose your hearing."
Keep in mind, this is from the same civilization which once produced Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky.
AP reports: “Lavrov also warned that a U.S. failure to respond to Moscow's concerns on missile defense would prompt Russia to deploy weapons capable of piercing the missile shield in order to protect its security. ‘Russia would respond with military-technical measures,’ Lavrov said.”
For everyone keeping score at home, Lavrov just threatened to attack NATO if Moscow doesn't get its way.
1) Unless the Czechs and Poles agree to Russia’s terms (monitors)
2) Russia could use its own offensive weapons
3) to destroy the defensive shield
4) so as to prevent said shield from being used to stop Russia's offensive weapons
"I have no religion, but I pray for the success of the flight," said Ko San, the Korean scientist who was Yi's backup for the launch.
There is still no word if the cosmonauts will attempt any Moonraker experiments in addition to the 19 officially scheduled for the mission. Although it is interesting to note that Yi So-yeon was the back-up candidate for the flight. Korea’s first choice was booted from the program after the Russians accused him of stealing secrets from Star City.
Apr 8, 2008
"'Do you understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a state!' Putin told U.S. President George W. Bush at the closed meeting, the diplomat told Kommersant. After saying most of Ukraine's territory was 'given away' by Russia."
While Igor (our in-house mad genius) correctly notes, "We knew this all along," someone really needs to tell the Ukrainians about this. The poor souls are under the impression they have a country.
Thanks to James as well for the heads-up.
It seems that Branko decided to follow an order from the local divorce court to the letter, and cut in half all of his earthly possessions.
“Zivkov told Belgrade daily Kurir he had been ready to give his wife Vukadinka her equal share of everything earned during their 45-year marriage, but was furious at being asked to give away half his farming equipment."
"I still haven't decided how to split the cow," he said.
Go get her, Branko.
Today’s Bulgarian papers report that -- last night alone -- there were 13 “heavy car crashes” on the country’s highways, and 152 collisions in the city of Sofia.
For everyone who has ever been forced to ride shotgun at 90 mph with 200 jars of tomato preserves and a skinned rabbit in the back seat, headlines like this do not inspire calm.
Apr 7, 2008
Apr 3, 2008
Apr 2, 2008
As Heidi Klum would say, Croatia and Albania are in, Ukraine, Georgia and Macedonia are, well, not in.
The Croats would bring to the alliance their nifty Hrvatski Samokres 9mm pistols (below), developed during the last war with Serbia. The Albanians would bring...all the skills they aquired when building the world's most advanced network of anti-NATO fortifications under Enver Hoxha.
To commemorate this historic event, we offer a little Enver Hoxha trip down memory lane, formerly Marx and Engles Avenue.
But it was all smiles when president Bush landed for the next stop on his Magical Mystery Tour of the Wild East. Speaking in Russia, he noted the "unprecedented level" of cooperation between Russia and NATO on missile defense. "The Cold War is over," he said, "Russia is not our enemy" but, "I've got some convincing to do."
The president will have his chance to do some convincing when he and “Vlad” gaze once more into each other's eyes. The crisp mountain air will make it easy to forget that Putin called him a Nazi less than one year ago.
God Bless Bulgaria.
Apr 1, 2008
Unconscionably, we rank “extremely similar," 91%, to a bunch of Southern nationalist, neo-separatist, state’s rights wackos, professing “Our liberty and the dream for the Republic our forefathers envisioned” (read slavery).
We also get slotted with a bunch of wild-eyed libertarians. For the record, Eternal Remont has never inhaled.
Then there's the Western Hemisphere Policy Watch blog, which if memory serves, is in the wrong hemisphere. But who's keeping track, right Miss. South Carolina?
Now even if our officially stated interest area is broad enough to include "the floor of the Moscow subway with a sweet candy coating," Eternal Remont really has to question the logic behind BlogFlux's algorithm.
Seriously, Irish legal fiction? What does that even mean?
Presumably the world will still come to an end in May 2008. However, most of the members were forced to emerge when spring run-off caused part of their cave to collapse.
...they're performing "Sweet Home Alabama" with the Red Army Choir?
Amy writes: There are few things in life I enjoy more than bizarre juxtapositions...This video could perhaps be classified as one.
This week, President Bush began his Tour de' Eastern Europe.
First stop: Kiev, where he sampled the hospitality and reiterated support for Ukraine's NATO membership action plan.
Never willing to miss an opportunity for self-promotion, Ukraine's communists staged a demonstration in protest of the visit. But that's not all. Communist MP Leonid Hrach told reporters that the party also "decided to set up an international tribunal to bring Bush to account for all his crimes against humanity."
And to think, the Albanians just stole his watch.