May 31, 2009

Dude, Where’s My Ruble? (Part III)

The drive to make the ruble an international reserve currency suffered another blow this week. Now, even Belarus has refused to accept it.

"We offered Belarus $500 million, as a new tranche of the Russian loan, in Russian rubles, not in U.S. dollars. Belarus refused," according to [Finance Minister] Kudrin."

Sorry Belarus.

May 29, 2009

I do love a good poll...

According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, Barack Obama is the world's (aka the west's, nice word choice Harris Interactive) favorite world leader, followed closely by Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama. Where are our boys?

Well, in terms of popularity, Vladimir "the Crushin' Russian Judo Master" Putin ranks 13, just above everyone's favorite seemingly immortal commie, Fidel Castro. Dmitri "the scapegoat" Medvedev remains at 16. In terms of how much influence world leaders have, Barack captures the number 1 spot again(the world is addicted to chope); Vlad rises to number 2 (the world is afraid of a sober Russian man with nuclear weapons), and Dima...he only gets a bump to 14 (the world doesn't respect the man).

What do we learn? The the participants of this poll are probably not friends of mine.

May 28, 2009

Men at Work

Igor writes: The song is a very famous Soviet propaganda song about the hardships endured by the militsiya.

Dangerous and difficult, indeed. That swing could collapse from all the excess weight. These men could be injured in the line of duty.

Blonds Are Determined to Have More Fun

...and want us all to have it too.

In an effort to cheer up the world, more specifically Latvia, from this economic crisis thing. An association of blonds has decided to throw a parade and a ball in Riga. Some confused members will probably show up to the ball in sport attire ready to toss that ball around rather than their gowns.

The weekend full of fun-loving events includes a concert (performed by blonds), a fashion show and "blond golf." Even if all these events are a bust, I have to applaud this effort not for it's demonstration of necessary economy in difficult times, but for providing a new opportunity for us all to insert our favorite dumb blond jokes here...

The EIA's "Magical" Projections for Gazprom

This is a big week for energy nerds.

The Energy Information Administration (part of the U.S. Government's Department of Energy) released its Annual “International Energy Outlook.” Very boring stuff, until you look under the hood…especially at the bits about Gazprom. According to the EIA:

"Developing new sources of natural gas is a priority for Gazprom [false], given that production at its three largest fields (Yamburg, Urengoy, and Medvezh’ye) is in decline [true]. There is concern that the global economic recession may reduce both domestic and export demand for natural gas in the short run and dampen investment in Russia’s natural gas sector [very true]. In the IEO2009 reference case, however, investment delays are not expected to hinder the growth of Russian supplies."

And why is that? Not explained.

As a result, the EIA has magically increased Gazprom’s future production capacity when calculating the amount of gas available to Europe in the future. And all without Gazprom having to invest a single kopek in new production. Fancy that.

But it gets better.

In order to back up its claim, the EIA sources a January 2009 report by Global Insight (European Natural Gas Supply and Demand Report). This is a lazy dodge, since Global Insight (like everyone else, including the IEA) stress that "Heavy investments will be needed to replace the two super-giant fields currently underpinning [Russian] supplies."

Since the Global Insight report was released, however, Gazprom has once again cut its investment budget in new production. If the company is committed to increasing its investments in new production, why then does it continue to slash the investment budget?


The EIA could do a better job in its analysis.

May 27, 2009

Russia's “Feral Child” Not Like Disney Version

Reuters is reporting that Russian authorities have discovered a 5-year-old girl who has been raised by cats and dogs in an abandoned apartment for her entire life.
“The girl, who lived in the Eastern Siberian city of Chita, could not speak Russian and acted like a dog when police took her into care…When police leave the room, the girl jumps at the door and barks.”
It’s called Mowgli Syndrome, and yes, her biological mother was taken into custody. The child’s father has not been found.

"Apple pays Putin 99 cents every time he listens to a song."

Leopolis suggests that we replace Chuck Norris with Putin in all those internet "facts." Hilarity ensues.

Guns don't kill people. Putin kills People.

There is no theory of evolution, just a list of animals Putin allows to live.

Putin does not sleep. He waits.

Putin has two speeds: Walk and Kill.

There is no 'CTRL' button on Putin's computer. Putin is always in control.

Putin doesn't shower, he takes blood baths.

The chief export of Putin is Pain.

Putin is currently suing NBC, because "Law and Order" are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

Putin is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

Putin counted to infinity - twice.

Putin can slam a revolving door.

Putin destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.

Apple pays Putin 99 cents every time he listens to a song.

Putin can eat just one Lay's potato chip.

Credit: Chuck Norris.

May 25, 2009

Out of Control

President Yushchenko has started to prep everyone for the bad news: Ukraine's economy likely fell by 23 percent in the first three months of the year.

This sent President Medvedev off to find the closest microphone. "We have doubts about Ukraine's ability to pay" an upcoming gas bill.

Everyone knows what that means.

At times like these, there's not much you can do but try a little take The Edge off.

May 21, 2009

Czech Far-Right Party Discovers Television

The BBC reports on the uproar over an anti-Roma TV campaign by the far-right Czech National Party (NS).

The NS advert spoke of "a final solution to the Gypsy issue" and carried the slogan "Stop Favouring Gypsies" over images of Roma.

Its alarming and sad. But there is no easy solution to this final solution business. Last year, former Czech Prime Minister (and all around Eternal Remont favorite) Mirek Topolanek "tried to get a ban imposed on another far-right group, the Workers' Party." A Czech court threw out the case.

May 20, 2009

I Think Russia Holds the World Record...

...for literally rewriting history. Is it just me, or did they also make Stalin thinner in the pic when they airbrushed that dude out?

NY TIMES: President Dmitri A. Medvedev issued a decree on Tuesday ordering “the creation of a presidential commission to counter attempts to harm Russian interests by falsifying history.” Russia says its former allies have forgotten the sacrifices made by the Soviet Union during World War II. But critics see the effort as an attempt to whitewash Russia’s imperial past and the crimes committed under Stalin. Oleg Orlov, a human rights advocate in Moscow, said the commission was an attempt “to halt any objective view of what really happened in Russia’s past.”

Yeah, this ends well.

May 19, 2009

Just Like a Prayer

YahooNews: In Sex As You Don't Know It: For Married Couples Who Love God, published in April, Franciscan Father (Franciscans have ALWAYS been my favorite order) Ksawery Knotz offers theological and practical advice for married couples who want to spice up their sex lives, all the while assuring them they are doing nothing wrong.

The book, which has been dubbed the "Catholic Kama Sutra," has the backing of the Catholic Church in Poland and the national media - even the ultraconservative Catholic daily Nasz Dziennik gave it a positive review.

I need to get several copies of this book. It's wedding season and what new couple wouldn't want that gift?

May 18, 2009

Look out Putin...

...Lithuania's got a lady who knows karate!

That's right! According to the New York Times, Lithuania has elected its first female president - Ms. Dalia Grybauskaite.

Ms. Grybauskaite, 53, a tough-talking former finance minister with a black belt in karate, ran as an independent candidate, enhancing her popularity in contrast to the main political parties, whose standings were undermined by the economic downturn and allegations of corruption.

Show of hands, who wants to see the judo master Putin go against the black belt Grybauskaite in an ultimate fighting match?

May 15, 2009

Putin is Running for Latvia

Vladim Putin is running for parliament in Latvia. Medvedev and Lavrov are also up for seats in government. The world’s gone crazy, right?

RT: Vladim Putin is a Latvian of Russian descent, who bears the same surname as Russia’s prime minister, and he says this gives him just enough motivation to go into politics.

Turns out, its all part of a cute stunt by a pro-Russian Latvian political party to gain attention. What could possibly go wrong?

May 14, 2009

The Magic Number

News saturation alert: "Russia's Gazprom will sign agreements to build the South Stream pipeline with all countries involved this Friday, said Greece's development minister today."

Gird your loins for an avalanche of pipeline op-eds.

By the way, Gazprom continues to assert the project will cost a mere €10 billion. Does that figure seem too low? It should. In March, Aleksandr Medvedev's private presentation to investors projected a cost of €19 billion to €24 billion.

At that price, the project will be hard pressed to make its money back -- especially since no-one inside the Kremlin has explained exactly how Gazprom is going to fill it with gas.

May 13, 2009

A Tale of Two Irinas

According to the New York Times, on Tuesday, Irina Fedotova and Irina Shipitko went to a marriage registration office in Moscow on Tuesday and tried to become Russia's first married lesbian couple. The unsurprising response from the official at the registration office was dry and unequivocal. “According to article 12 of the family codex, for a marriage to be sanctioned it is necessary to have the mutual and voluntary agreement of a man and a woman.”

Both women said they had expected their marriage application to be rejected and said they would appeal the decision. They also wanted to bring more attention to gay rights in Russia while the Eurovision contest is going on and there is more media attention to be had.

In the meantime, the Irinas have decided to marry in Canada, where they can do so legally, but said they would return to Russia and hopefully serve as an example to other gay couples and to Russian society.

Best of luck, ladies!

$51 million...Buys a Lot of Salami

Reuters reports that Russia will charge U.S. astronauts $51 million for a trip to the International Space Station (ISS). This got us thinking, what else can you get for $51 million? It turns out, quite a lot:

--51 invitations to the Moscow Millionaires Fair
--37 T-90 tanks
--159 Ferrari 599s
--7,175 First Class round trip tickets between Moscow-New York.
--5,105,105 “Gypsy Brand Salamis” from Skazka Russian Food online (Minimum order - $30)

No word if $51 million will also grant you unlimited use of the ISS toilet facilities, but we doubt it.

May 12, 2009

Drunk, Disorderly and Four Injured Cops

Ukraine has been out of the headlines lately. That must mean that things are settling -- wait, nevermind...

Ukraine's interior minister has offered to resign after being detained at Frankfurt airport after an altercation with police while apparently drunk.
Yuri Lutsenko called it a "banal situation," but still managed to injure four German police officers as they tried to subdue him. If this is how you translate "banal" in Ukranian, we shudder to think what the Ukranians would call "violently drunk."

May 11, 2009

"Drill, Ivan, Drill"...with nukes?

In a follow-up to Colbert, Igor sends along this awesome story:

...Russia is planning a fleet of floating and submersible nuclear reactors to provide power for drilling and exploration for oil and natural gas in Arctic areas that Moscow claims as its own.
No word on what Santa thinks about the plan, but enviornmentalists are opposed to the idea. "No one considers that the nukes might be considered a 'carbon offset' for the oil rigs."

Sorry Santa.

If we don't have pipelines to argue about...

...then all that's left to be conflicted over is the Arctic. I'm assuming caring about Georgia is a passing fad.

Stephen Colbert, America's greatest resource since we haven't secured dominance in the Arctic, reports on the latest developments in the race to claim the Artic and its precious riches that keep appearing as the ice melts: oil and more places to fish. Who the US must compete with: the big bear that is Russia, the 51st state, and now the Inuit nation. Enjoy.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Smokin' Pole - The Fight for Arctic Riches
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage

Nabucco Pipe Dreams Become a Reality?

NY Times: The European Union signed an energy agreement on Friday aimed at speeding up the construction of a long-delayed pipeline that would bring gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe and help offset the bloc’s dependence on Russian energy. The European Union hopes the pipeline will start pumping gas to Europe by 2014.

Will this mean there will be nothing to argue with Russia about after 2014? Something tells me no...


Clearly having thought this an issue of extreme importance which must be fully pondered before analysis was offered to the ER readership, I have finally decided to address the latest roadbump in U.S.-Russian relations. I am referring, of course, to Mel Gibson's shocking divorce and revelation (not so shocking) of a girlfriend, one Ms. Oksana Grigorieva.

If Gibson hadn't been raised in Australia and already shown himself to be a real tool, I might've said that this was another step in a grand Russian scheme to discredit the U.S. In which case, man has this backfired, take him.... please.

After much consideration, however, I've decided that this development (which seemed to receive more coverage than the commencement of high level U.S.-Russian disarmament talks) is really an early olive branch for the U.S. A first sacrifice as a sign of good faith in renewed negotiations, minus that stuff going on in Central Asia and, oh yeah, expulsion of this and that diplomat.

Either that or we believe that Mel is such a hot commodity in Russia that the two other women who came forward claiming to be bearing his love-child were sincere....nah!

May 8, 2009

But is it Racist? (Cont.)

Reuters: "A Russian advertising agency has used an image resembling U.S. President Barack Obama to promote a new vanilla-and-chocolate ice cream, drawing the ire of human rights groups who say the ad is vulgar."

A product of Yekaterinburg's Ice Cream Plant No. 3 (if it's made by Ice Cream Plant No. 3, you know it has to be good!) the company is marketing its black on the outstide/white on the inside brand of ice cream under the slogan: "It's on everyone's lips -- the Dark is in the White!"

But is it racist?

Insert Buzz Word [here]

Burned by her overcharge button, Secretary Clinton “mildly rebuked Moscow" over Georgia when she met Sergei Lavrov yesterday, yet promptly declared a desire to raise U.S.-Russia relations to a "new level."

Back at the White Hosue, President Obama still seemed to be working off of last month’s script when it came time for his meeting. “I think we have an excellent opportunity to reset the relationship between the United States and Russia." Not to be outdone, the White House Press Offices figured they'd call the meeting “Change in Progress with Russia.” (Groan.)

New level. Reset. Change. Take your pick. Russia took another step towards annexing chunks of Georgia last week. What's the buzz word for that?

May 7, 2009

A Pig's Life

Some stories are just too good not to stretch the borders of Eternal Remont. Like this one...

According to the BBC, "Afghanistan's only known pig has been quarantined because of fears over swine flu." His name is Khanzir. We assume that life as the only pig in a country might have some advantages. But quarantined? Turns out, local residents were afriad he would spread the pig flu, so they put poor Khanzir in the lock-up.

"Acknowledging that being Afghanistan's only pig is a lonely existence, [Kabul Zoo Director] Aziz Gul Saqib says he hopes to find Khanzir a female companion soon. However, he says, because of swine flu, 'it is a dangerous and difficult time to get a new pig for our pig.'"

Maybe Khanzir can share a bunk with Nino (or, Ninyo if you want to say his name right...thanks to our readers)?

It Has Come to This...

Bloomberg is reporting that the World Bank "may lend 'several billions of dollars' to Russia in the next two years to bolster social programs as the international body forecasts a sharper economic contraction in the country this year."

This is probably a bad time to ask, but why on earth is the World Bank lending Russia money, when the Kremlin continues to spend $12 billion on the most expensive Winter Olympic Games in history?

Countries which require emergency international assistance don't often get to host an Olympic event. This is due to the gross hypocrisy and painful symbolism that occures when a government can't fund its social programs because all the money was spent on a ski lift.

But please, World Bank, feel free to lend the money. We’re sure the Kremlin will use it prudently.

More caviar, anyone?

May 6, 2009

Poland's Newest Celebrity: A Gay Elephant

His name is Nino. He's apparently gay. And he's pulling huge crowds at the Poznan Zoo. But that's not stoping Polish zookeepers from importing a special-order elehpant all the way from Holland just to see if they can seduce Nino back to the other team.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we may have just found our mascot: Poland's gay elephant (story in Russian).

Thanks Amichka!

Evil Canadian Spies... gone with you!

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russia revoked the diplomatic accreditation Wednesday of two Canadians who worked at the NATO Information Office in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
As always, the poor Canadians may -- or may not -- have been spies. Russia was simply retaliating for loosing two of its own "embedded diplomats" at NATO HQ in Brussels. The Belgium government booted the agents for "activities incompatible with their diplomatic status."

While the idealists among us would like to belive that "activities incompatible with their diplomatic status" involved a goat, 80 kegs of beer, a troupe of dancing little people and some body paint...the phrase is just standard code for "spying."

May 5, 2009

Georgia's Beer Hall Putsch

"Georgian officials have described a revolt that broke out at an Army base near the capital of Tbilisi Tuesday as part of a military coup that has Russian backing."

Everyone relax, it failed.

[Update:] Russian NATO Envoy (and reliable quote machine) Dmitry Rogozin responded to the accusation in classic Rogozin style. On the highly probable role that Moscow played in the mutiny, Rogozin scoffed:
“If Saakashvili gets diarrhea, it must also be the hand or foot of Moscow...We’re tired of replying to such provocative stupidity, such drivel put out by the Nazi leader of Georgia.”

Yeah, they did it.

May 4, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

As always, English Russia offers a fantastic photo essay on the dress rehersal for Moscow's Victory Day Parade. (A hearty contratulations to the person that risked vertigo to climb ontop of GUM for the night-shots.)

May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!

According to the AP: "Russia police were out in force as Communists and liberals gathered to criticize the government. Moscow police said four leftists were detained after trying to light flares near the Kremlin. Dozens were reportedly detained in St. Petersburg."

No reports on whether any of the detainees were offered dental care.