Two suicides have occurred in the last three days on just one military base, #3377 in Krasnoyarsky Kray. Private First Class Andrei Zagorodzev, 20 years old, was found hanged in one of the buildings in town close to the base. There was a note in his pocket, saying that no one should be blamed for his death. However, Andrei's friends say that it is impossible that he could have chosen suicide of his own free will.
Last Friday, on the same military base, Andrei Sobin, age 19, was found hanging from his own belt in a bathroom. Officials offered the explanation that Sobin committed suicide after receiving a "Dear Ivan" letter from his girlfriend. However, Sobin's friends say that he killed himself because of abuse. Andrei could not handle the constant beatings inflicted on him by young privates from Dagestan serving in his unit. A military investigation commission sent from the Siberian Military Headquarters stated that an autopsy revealed evidence of torture on Sobin's body.
Continue reading "The Nightmare of the Russian Army" »
Realistic insight about Russia from Mark Steyn:
Mark Steyn: Russia is dying and Islamists will grab parts of the carcass
October 31, 2005
REMEMBER the months before 9/11? The new US President had his first meeting with the Russian President. "I looked the man in the eye and found him very straightforward and trustworthy," George W. Bush said after two hours with Vladimir Putin. "I was able to get a sense of his soul." I'm all for speaking softly and carrying a big stick, but that's way too soft.
Some experts started calling Vlad the most Westernised Russian strongman since Peter the Great and cooing about a Russo-American alliance that would be one of the cornerstones of the post-Cold War world.
It's not like that today.
From China to Central Asia to Ukraine, from its covert efforts to maintain Saddam in power to its more or less unashamed patronage of Iran's nuclear ambitions, Moscow has been at odds with Washington over every key geopolitical issue, and a few non-key ones, too, culminating in Putin's tirade to Bush that the US was flooding Russia with substandard chicken drumsticks and keeping the best ones for itself. It was a poultry complaint but indicative of a retreat into old-school Kremlin paranoia.
Read the entire article on The Australian website.
One of the Moscow construction companies is launching a new project, a new apartment building with a helicopter landing pad, high-end restaurants, and golden elevators that can take you directly up to your apartment in your car! The leasing firm also promises the tightest security possible. All the services, even the restaurants, will be unavailable to non-residents.
The rent for one apartment per month is going to be anywhere between $25,000 and $45,000 a month. Future residents are expected to be political leaders, sports and show-business stars. A similar residence, however without the elevator gig, was built in Moscow in 2003. The average rent at that building per month is $12,000.
Russia is truly a country of contradictions; some people can’t wait to be taken upstairs in their armored vehicle in a golden elevator, while others are happy with their $200 a month salary to support their entire family, or a $50 pension, to live a happy elderly life. Philanthropy in Russia is almost non-existent, there are millions of homeless children, the war in Chechnya has no end, but 5% of the country’s population is drowning in luxuries.
In the last ten years, foreign tourism to Russia dropped by 70%, and overall tourism in Russia dropped by 50%. In 2004 the profit from tourism was $24 million, which is barely 1% of country's GDP, said Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, Chief of Federal Tourism Committee in Russian Senate. Russian tourists took $20 billion abroad last year but spent just $1 billion traveling at home. Foreigners spent about $2 billion total in Russia, according to Rosturist.
Russia has a lot to offer, from sunny beaches, to Siberian hunting. What are the reasons for such statistics? First of all it's the prices. The average "cheap" trip to Russia costs $1,500, while Turkey or Egypt can offer 5-star all-inclusive hotel for two weeks for less than $1,000. The second problem is bureaucracy; whenever you visit a new town in Russia you have to register with the local police within 3 days of your visit, which is almost impossible (even for a Russian). And third, it's lack of advertisement; you probably never see online ads about tours to Russia, with pictures and examples of what you might get for your money.
90% of the tourists never go outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, because there is almost no place to stay. And Moscow can offer only 10% of its hotels at affordable price; all other hotels are 5-stars, which most tourists are not going to be able to afford.
Russia is barely presented online, which is demonstrated even by this website. There is no regular daily news on Russia, no professional websites about what tourists would want to see, and no trustworthy financial data.
You can read more about tourism in Russia in the article by Christian Science Monitor.
In the comment to the Lawyer Slayings post, Ruslan wrote that I am writing on very delicate topics, and he is wondering about my status in Russia.
Well, right now I am in America and that is why I feel like saying things that are true and are happening in Russia. I am very happy that I have readers from Russia, because many people in Russia have mixed feelings about talking on these delicate topics. I am hoping that this website is a source of information for those in Russia, who are tired of RTR Vesti, Izvestia, and so on.
On the other hand, there are many American businesses that are going into the country; I believe they should be aware of the current state of events, before they make a mistake, or assume that they are in just another European country. Russia is not dangerous for most people and is not totalitarian, and one can make very good profit and conduct a successful short-term(!) business in this country, IF he has a clear understanding of what is around him, and as along as he has a Russian he can trust. It is always safer to be a foreign businessman in Russia instead of being local.
Answering Ruslan's concern, I am glad that he noticed that this website is writing about events that other Russian-news outlets do not like to talk about. Thank you.
Featuring Yuri Mamchur, Sr.
President, Sodeystvie Fund, Moscow, Russia
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Discovery Institute in Seattle, WA
1511 Third Avenue in Suite 808 - (206) 292-0401
Yuri Mamchur, Sr., President of the Sodeystvie Fund, the oldest charitable foundation in Russia, will speak at Discovery Institute on "What to Expect Next in Russian Business and Politics." Prior to his current position, Mr. Mamchur served as a speechwriter to several defense ministers, an official spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, and Chief of the ministry's Department of Information and Communications. Mr. Mamchur has been involved in several elections and national public relations campaigns for Russian businesses. Mr. Mamchur, Sr. is also father of Discovery's Foreign Policy Fellow, Yuri Mamchur. Come and join an exciting discussion featuring two generations talking about modern Russia.
Please join us Tuesday, October 25, at 4:30 p.m. at the Discovery Institute's headquarters, located in Suite 808 of Melbourne Tower on the corner of 3rd and Pike Streets. The event is free and includes light refreshments, and is open to the public.
For information regarding the event or to register, please contact Janet Markwardt at email@example.com or at (206) 292-0401, ext. 113.
Click here for a map of Discovery's downtown location.
Today, the law and business are the most dangerous professions in Russia. Lawyers – who work for highly-ranking law firms, like Yust, which is connected to the Russian government through relatives working for Putin and one of the partners heading a committee in the Duma – are safe. But the ones who are trying to challenge the lawyers described above, or defend YUKOS for that matter – are targets.
Dmitry Steinberg was an attorney of Elena Baturina, wife of Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Mr. Steinberg had been defending the interests of Baturina's company Inteko until October 13, when he was murdered at home in Moscow. The reasons for the two murders may be very different, and they are very well discussed in the LexisNexis article; however I would like to discuss the pattern and frequency of these Russian "legal battles".
Just in the last few months, the attorney Alexander Ekaterinichev was killed in St. Petersburg, Elena Yazik – in Moscow, Vladimir Liharev – in Samara, Igor Rosenburg and Sergey Zhalilov in Astrakhan.
Elena Baturina is the Russia’s richest woman, controlling 20% of all construction contracts in Moscow, one of the most expensive and fastest growing cities in the world. What a surprise that just by chance she happens to be married to the Mayor of Moscow. Yuri Luzhkov is a good mayor but corrupt, just like any other politician in Russia. The mayor of Moscow is more than just a mayor; he is a governor and a popular politician as well. The Russian Constitution makes Moscow and St. Petersburg city-states due to their size and importance.
Mrs. Baturina has always been involved in business and politics when the stakes are high, and business is risky. Now even she feels unsafe, and has publicly demanded protection from President Putin.
It was Elena Baturina who owned the Transvaal Water and Recreation Park, that collapsed two years ago, killing several dozen adults and children. No one ever proved her ownership, because the paper trail got lost in over 10 shell companies related to the park. The water park was not insured for architectural mistakes, and the flawed building design was the reason for the tragedy. The families of the killed and injured never received any compensation.
While the legal system is slow, corrupt and dysfunctional, many businesses prefer the shortcuts of bribery and murder, instead of improving their services and competition. The drawback of bribes is that you have to hide the paper trail, or re-direct the accusations against someone else. That’s the lawyers’ job, and that’s why many of them become targets, literally dying for the crimes of their clients.
It’s hard to believe, but true. Roman Abramovich, resident of London, the richest man in Russia, governor of Russia's Far East Chukotka region, has just finished his book about the Chelsea soccer club.
Russian economist Andrei Illarionov said that Russia';s GDP could have been three times higher this year, if not for the Russian government purchasing Roman Abramovich's Sibneft with 13 billion dollars of taxpayer money. Sibneft is the company that the 38 year-old Abramovich appropriated from former Soviet assets in the early 1990s. Now, when Mr. Abramovich is officially out of the Russian market and, as a governor, legally immune to prosecution in Russia, he can afford to be anything he wants to be, including the writer of the new book "Chelsea FC - The Official Biography".
Here's CNN article on this topic.
Russian-Chinese border, uranium mines, Chitinskaya Oblast – that’s the new residence of YUKOS ex-CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Since October 11, no one knew where the former oligarch was being held, but today Khodorkovsky’s lawyers found out the location of the prison hosting their client.
Khodorkovsky was sent to the 8th division of the colony YaG-14/10. The colony was created in December 1967, when uranium was discovered in the area and the Strelzovskoe mines and Preargunskoe Uranium Factory were opened. For thirty years Krasnokamensk and the uranium mines, including the colony, were secret, making it on the list of the Soviet "closed cities".
As of 2002, the colony had 1389 prisoners. There were rumors that the prisoners were forced to work in the mines, but the rumors were false. Today, the colony is one of the top prison facilities in the country; the prisoners live in two-story brick buildings, and sleep in bunks. There is a TV in the recreation room, and on the weekends prisoners are allowed to attend a "club". Prisoners can be employed to sew textiles or work in a metal shop.
Because of the uranium mines and the distant location of this Siberian region, the radiation levels are higher than normal, and environmentalists haven’t had any luck getting the nation’s attention to this matter, because Russians have many other things to worry about.
Nikita Mikhalkov won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film in 1995 with his Burnt by the Sun, a drama of an aging "old comrade" Bolshevik whose family is destroyed by a envious young rival and Stalin's purges. Now he is working on a sequel and celebrating his 60th birthday.
Burnt by the Sun sadly is probably the only film about the Stalin era many Westerners have ever seen. And this isn't for lack of source material. Perhaps what made Burnt by the Sun stick out was the gorgeous cinematography, the idyllic shots of the Russian landscape and family, suddenly shattered by spams of violence.
Russiablog has previously commented on the current state of the Russian film industry. Perhaps with the benefit of the Internet, Western distribution agreements and cheaper digital production, Russian cinema might again touch viewers around the world.
Barents Sea -- October 18, 2005:
The Russian fishing boat Elektron was spotted fishing in Norwegian waters. Norway sent out military ships with inspectors, who boarded the Elektron. The Russians asked the Norwegian boats to give them 15 miles of clearance, but the Norwegians refused to do so. The Elektron's captain decided to make a break for Russian waters with the two Norwegian inspectors on board.
The Norwegian ships tried to put a net on Elektron’s propeller, but in international waters other Russian fishing boats ran interference for Elektron, not allowing the Norwegians to get close. In few hours the Russian Navy reacted by sending ships to meet Elektron and the Norwegian boats, and also to “supervise the borders of Russia”. Elektron won the race, reaching Russian waters with both Norwegian inspectors on board.
Both Russia and Norway have been confused about the whole story, and didn’t take great offense. Both ministries of international affairs commented rather jokingly on the subject. The Russians gave the Norwegian navy permission to enter Russian waters. Tomorrow morning, Norwegian inspectors will leave Elektron, board Altai (Russian military ship), and re-board to the Norwegian navy vessels.
The confusion is created because of murky territorial water and fishing regulations between the two countries; however the fact is the Elektron's crew kidnapped two Norwegian government officials and they're getting away with it.
RIA Novosti story here
According to the October 2005 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Edvard Radzinsky's Stalin is the fifth best-selling book in Israel as of July 2005, in the rankings compiled by the Haaretz newspaper.
MOSCOW - October 17, Balchug Hotel - Russia's FSB (counterpart to the FBI) arrested one of the top government officials of the Russian Tax Ministry (counterpart to the IRS) while he was collecting a cash bribe of $1 million. He was assisted in collecting bribes by a senior manager from the government-owned Zentrobank.
According to the Indem Analytical Fund, Russian government officials took $316 billion dollars in bribes during the last year, which is a normal year for Russia.The average bribe in Russia today is $135,000. The entire Russian Federal budget for the year 2004 was $95 billion, since state revenues are dependent on oil prices, this year's national budget is estimated to be slightly over $100 billion.
Continue reading "316 Billion US Dollars in Bribes... a Year!" »
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
From Thursday's New York Times: ''Nalchik, Russia -- Insurgents launched a series of raids today in this southern Russian city, striking the area's main airport and several police and security buildings in large-scale, daytime attacks that left at least 85 people dead.''
From Agence France Presse:
"Nalchik, Russia: More than 60 people were killed as scores of militants launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."
"Militants," you say?
From the Scotsman:
"Rebel forces battled Russian troops for control of a provincial capital in the Caucasus yesterday . . ."
"Rebel forces,'' huh?
From Toronto's Globe & Mail:
"Nalchik, Russia -- Scores of rebels launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."
"Rebels," by the score. But why were they rebelling? What were they insurging over? You had to pick up the Globe & Mail's rival, the Toronto Star, to read exactly the same Associated Press dispatch but with one subtle difference:
''Nalchik, Russia -- Scores of Islamic militants launched simultaneous attacks on police and government buildings . . ."
Ah, "Islamic militants." So that's what the rebels were insurging over. In the geopolitical Hogwart's, Islamic "militants" are the new Voldemort, the enemy whose name it's best never to utter. In fairness to the New York Times, they did use the I-word in paragraph seven. And Agence France Presse got around to mentioning Islam in paragraph 22. And NPR's "All Things Considered" had one of those bland interviews between one of its unperturbable anchorettes and some Russian geopolitical academic type in which they chitchatted through every conceivable aspect of the situation and finally got around to kinda sorta revealing the identity of the perpetrators in the very last word of the geopolitical expert's very last sentence.
Read More on Chicago Sun-Times webstite
Another Islamic terrorist attack rocked southern Russia yesterday. All the major global media outlets are writing about it: FOX News, NY Times, and the Associated Press. However CNN, prefers to post ‘"James Bond a blonde" as their second leading news story for the day. Maybe that’s why terrorism isn’t fought as well as it could be, because James Bond is more important for some news organizations than 100 people getting killed in Russia in one day.
Another comment I’d like to make, at the risk of repeating myself: the terrorists are not "militants", not "rebels" or "insurgents", and many of these people are not even Chechens or Russians! They are Islamic fascists, baby-killers, and mass murderers.
Here is a short quote from ITAR-Tass: “Six of the most gravely wounded were being flown to Moscow, 870 miles to the north, for treatment.” What this means is that there is no decent medical care in Russia, unless you have means and funds to fly 900 miles to the capital of the country. Now imagine that your child has a hard to cure disease, or serious trauma, and you happen to live a few time-zones away from Moscow on $40 a month with no electricity. What are your options? You can’t watch the blonde James Bond – that’s for sure.
And who do you think is fighting the “insurgents”? Of course, poor conscripted Russian soldiers.
Today I found an interesting article on Gazeta.ru about a young man, Maxim. While appearing before the military commission office, Maxim stole his draft paperwork and ran away with it. Thank God, the Russian army does not have a computer database; all the bureaucracies still rely on paper files. Why would you steal something from a government office and run? Well, because today at 9 am Moscow time the Russian military commission of the Akademichesky region of Moscow was expecting him to report for duty with just his toothbrush and a few pairs of underwear - they do not use socks in the Russian Army. There are no socks; rags and Soviet leather boots are used instead, to make it cheaper for the government and to build a "strong" character in the soldier.
Many young Russian men between the ages of 18 to 27 are being drafted, as I am writing these lines. Russian federal law obligates a young man to give two years of his life to his country, because, as I was told while at the Russian law school, "Rights never come without obligations, so if we have a right to life and the pursuit of happiness, it comes with an obligation to serve in the army." And the government does not care who you are or how you could help the nation. The State only cares about checking another box, giving you a few months of basic of military education, a Kalashnikov rifle, and off you go, to fight the terrorists in Chechnya, while Governor Abramovich uses your parents' taxes to buy another soccer club.
I never understood why you have an obligation to the State, if it is created to serve you, and the State has more natural resources than any other country in the world, and you're already paying taxes for the government to function. If it weren't for a corrupt political class that fears the popularity of professional solders, Russia could have an army led by volunteers, perhaps not as effective as America's but more humane.
It was a couple years ago, when Professor Pilon made it very clear to me in his Constitution class, opening my eyes for good, that I don't owe anything to my corrupt government. Actually it owes me something, for all the money it stole from my parents and grandparents, and the destruction of human decency and quality of life in Russia.
You can protest all you want, but after a couple days of not showing up at the draft commission, two police officers will show up at your door, and question your parents about where you are, and why you are avoiding your "duty"; and why you are breaking federal law. If they spot you, you will be hand-cuffed and taken to the depot for a haircut, and off you go to Chechnya!
Continue reading "The Truth About the Army Draft" »
I live in Voronezh. I am a white Englishman and have been here for 3 years.
The police will do nothing...they have done nothing for years. This is not the first time a student has been murdered, and it wont be the last. I drive a UK registered car so I rather stick out as a foreigner but in truth I can say that I have never expereinced any problems, even during the Gulf War when anti American/British feeling was being stoked up by the media.
To answer Tanya...I dont think so, the trouble here seems to be motivated by colour. Also the attacks usually take place in isolated areas. One of my staff was there at the place of the attack and saw the police operation...its not a park, its a part of the forest with a roller-blade circuit cutting through it. Its huge and isolated. Past attacks have happened on the outskirts of the city. The foreign students all live in a couple fo apartment blocks on the edge of Voronezh (I live 500 metres from them).
Russia is a racist country, its inherent, even the word in their language for a coloured person is offensive to most of us. There is absolutely no tolerence here. Students are easy prey, they have no back up, they are here alone...and to be frank, no one cares what happens to them. That is evident from the mayors comments, the fact that the police turned up 3-4 hours after the attack just shows how much they care. The police here are good for nothing except lining their own pockets...thats a fact !!
My business brings foreigners to Voronezh, we have never had any trouble, mainly because clients heed my advice. The same way that a white tourists should not wonder late at night in the middle of Harlem in New York, or Watts in L.A. then visitors should understand where they should not go...thats common sense.
Voronezh Mayor: “Students have been killed and will be killed”
VORONEZH: Over 300 foreign students came to a spontaneous demonstration in downtown, begging the locals to stop killing them. The reason for the protest was the murder of an 18 year old student from Peru on October 9, 2005.
That day Anhelis Urtado Enrike with his friend, also from Peru, and their friend from Spain and two Russian students were walking in one of the city's parks. Out of nowhere came 15-20 young men armed with sticks, metal bars, chains and knives. They severely injured the Spanish and Peruvian students, and killed Anhelis; two Russian students, who were with the foreigners, got away with a few scars. There was no reason for the attack, it was executed just for the fun of it, as commented upon by the local police officials. The kids who attacked the students were not skin-heads, or known gang members, they were just apparently normal Russian young people, having some fun at a city park. This is just another case of frequent attacks on foreigners, or people who just look different.
Today at 1 p.m. foreign students in Voronezh gathered by the city University and started marching towards the center of the city. They didn't request a permit to conduct their protest, but law-enforcement agencies didn't object, so the demonstration continued. Their posters read: "Stop Killing Us", "Let Us Live" and "We Want to Live".
Continue reading "Foreign Students in Russia: Stop Killing Us" »
If you still haven't seen this movie, and there's a night or a weekend that you don't have any plans for - go see it. I went to see it with a friend if mine from Ghana. Both of us found the movie to be slightly Hollywood-ish, but still very truthful and educational.
The Russian General Prosecutor's office has ordered searches and seizures of any documents related to YUKOS held by other companies. For the past three days the searches have been executed in the private business park Zhukovka-88. The targets of the federal tax police raids included Investment Bank Trust, National Bank Trust, Law Firm ALM-Feldmans, YUKOS-FBC, LLC, and the Open Russia Fund. Searches were conducted even at the Belgium-based YUKOS Finance B.V. Now the Russian government is going after Mikhail Khodorkovsky's former legal team.
The most ruthless search sacked the offices of the Open Russia Fund, which was surrounded by a SWAT team armed with machine guns. Open Russia is a non-profit organization that supports many social causes around the nation, and works as one of Russia's few pro-free market, pro-rule of law think-tanks. Open Russia's recent projects include articles on Russian corruption, the construction of a museum for the blind in Samara, financing a homeless children's shelter in Barnaul, etc.
In the past few months several regional representatives and program officers of the Fund were compelled to testify as witnesses on the YUKOS case. On the last day of the search, Russian prosecutors hauled out of Open Russia's offices every single paper document and all of their computer servers.
Continue reading "More Raids on YUKOS Friendly Think Tanks, Law Firms" »
Khabarovsk – Thirty kindergarten kids were poisoned with bad food. Four went to the emergency room, and several remain hospitalized. Russian public schools and pre-schools are known for their low health standards. Anti-biotic resistant TB and other respitory diseases are quite common. You can get higher standards at nicer "public schools" that aren’t that public.
All education in Russia is free, but it doesn't really work that way. The way it works is – you pay a bribe, which you could compare to a private school premium – and the money you pay gets split up between the school administration and the actual school needs. That’s where the logic of the black market kicks in - if you take too much of the bribe into your pocket – you won’t have much left to improve the school, and eventually you’ll lose the ones who are willing to pay. If you put everything into the school, you won’t have much desire to work hard on improving it on a principal’s official government salary of $150-200 a month.
This system of course doesn’t contribute to building a middle class, or improving education. Families that are well of go to nicer schools and their kids are in better conditions than the parents used to be, and kids from poor families go to ordinary schools, which are much worse these days, compared to the Soviet schools. As RussiaBlog mentioned before there are no official statistics on poverty and wealth that would be correct, because many people never declare what they make or don’t make. There’s about a 15% of middle class among the Russian population, about 5% of (very) wealthy people, and the rest, approximately 80%, live below the poverty line.
Two people were shot dead in separate attacks in Moscow this Wednesday. Georgy Georgadze was shot in the head four times in the evening. Earlier that same day, Georgy Ordzhonikidze was gunned down on Novopeschanaya Street. The suspects remain at large.
As Russia Blog has written before, Moscow is a safe and civilized city, but not for people doing business. When I say business, I mean everything from the street markets where old Russian ladies sell potatoes they grow in their gardens to survive retirement all the way up to the top corporations like Lukoil and Gazprom. Russian executives ride around Moscow in convoys of armored vehicles surrounded by bodyguards.
A dysfunctional court system, combined with a ruthless mentality of fast and easy profit have created this violent business "culture."
Russia is planning to increase the number of flights to the International Space Station. After the tragic accident of the American shuttle Columbia, more space launchers are looking to Russia. Now Russia faces a dilemma: make money and sacrifice the professionalism of Russian astronauts, or reject business opportunities and keep relying on a pitiful budget. The answer is simple and doable: build more Soyuz modules to orbit more often, and more Progress vehicles to deliver supplies to the space stations.
Right now the Russian Space Agency sends up only two Russian astronauts a year. Soyuz has three seats - one is always taken by a Russian, one by an American astronaut as a part of Russian commitment after the shuttle crash, and one is the tourist spot, taken by whoever is willing to spend $20,000,000 to orbit the earth.
All this means that only 38 Russian astronauts a year get flight experience, and usually these are long-term trips, so the Russians can’t afford to send up rookies. This leaves few opportunities for young men and women to gain space work experience. The last short term flight was granted to Yuri Shargin in 2004, because the "tourist’s" health condition didn’t qualify him for space travel.
The extra seats on the two Soyuz modules is constantly booked: German Tomas Righter is going on the next flight, Brazilian Marcus Pontes is heading to space in spring 2006, South Korea is preparing a candidate for the spring of 2007, Malaysia for autumn of 2007, and Chile is looking to put a man on the next flight available.
There’s no money in Russian budget to develop new technologies, so even if the exciting news of raising the number of flights comes true, it’s only going to resolve an immediate need. The SpaceShipOne program is developing inexpensive tourists flight options for the near future, and NASA is constantly working on a replacement for the Shuttle and introducing new technologies. Russia is still definitely no. 1 in manned space flight, but the question is: for how much longer?
"We have great respect for Mr. Adamov, but we already know how to make a nuclear bomb," said Alexander Vershbow, the former US Ambassador to Russia.
The Russian government is very upset with the decision of the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office to send Eugene Adamov to the United States. Russia has an extradition agreement with Switzerland and expects to get the former Minister of Nuclear Energy back home as soon as possible.
Unfortunately for Mr. Adamov, there are outstanding warrants for his arrest in the United States, so the Swiss will send him to America, where he’ll be's charged with tax evasion and embezzling 9 million dollars from American taxpayers. The 65 year old Russian minister is facing possibly 60 years in a Pennsylvania federal prison.
Adamov was arrested on May 2, in Bern, Switzerland. He had come there to check with the banks about his daughters accounts, which had been frozen by the Swiss government. The U.S. government requested that the Swiss arrest and extradite Adamov. You can read more about the story on the San Jose Mercury News website, or at the end of the post. Click here to read more about what Russians think of their former minister.
Well, most Russians think absolutely nothing of him, outside of the plain facts. He was one of the Yeltsin’s people, corrupt, and he retired pocketing money stolen from American and Russian taxpayers. Most Russians living in poverty, wish him nothing but a swift American trial and prison. The Kremlin's views are another matter.
The Russian government is totally corrupt, and when there is a conflict of interests, things get dirty, starting with public accusations and proceeding to murders and bombings. However, when the personal interests of the powerful are not threatened, government officials try to maintain the status quo for everyone, and if anyone gets in a trouble, others will do their best to bail him out.
That’s why the Kremlin tried to get Adamov extradited to Russia. They even started their own "criminal" case against him, to show the Swiss some facade of enforcing the law. According to Russian laws, Adamov could’ve received 10 years in prison for his crimes against the U.S., but it would be unprecedented for Russia to prosecute its own minister for crimes against another government.
Since Plan A failed, the Russian government headed for Plan B, trying to convince the world of evil American plans. The Kremlin made up wild accusations about an evil CIA plan to torture Adamov and shoot him up with “psychotropic drugs” in order to steal top secret Russian nuclear technologies. The Kremlin pushed this ridiculous line so hard that one Russian lawmaker even suggested that Adamov should be "physically eliminated" to prevent state secrets from falling into American hands. Adamov played along, saying that "there may be some problems with state secrets even if I spend one night in a U.S. prison."
The best American response came from the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow: "We have great respect for Mr. Adamov, but we already know how to make a nuclear bomb."
While the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working hard making last minute attempts to save Adamov from jail, the Kremlin still doesn't understand that America isn’t Russia, and that the U.S. court system is actually independent from executive political power.
Chacago Tribune Article:
BY ALEX RODRIGUEZ
MOSCOW - (KRT) - Switzerland ordered the extradition of a former Russian nuclear minister to the United States to face charges of stealing $9 million in American aid that was supposed to be spent on improving safety at Russian nuclear plants, Swiss authorities said Monday.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice's decision ended a five-month tug-of-war between U.S. and Russian authorities, who also sought Yevgeny Adamov's extradition on similar charges.
The Russian government demanded Adamov's extradition soon after the United States had submitted its request to Swiss authorities, an apparent attempt to prevent the 66-year-old atomic scientist from being tried in the United States.
Russian officials had expressed concern that Adamov could divulge nuclear secrets to the United States if the American extradition request was granted. That concern was evident in the reaction from Russian officials such as lawmaker Viktor Ilyukhin, who called the Swiss decision "a serious blow to our country's prestige."
"Parliament believes that the U.S. will be interested in having an ex-Russian minister at its disposal as a source of secret information of great interest for U.S. intelligence services," added Ilyukhin, security committee vice chairman for the Duma, the lower chamber of Russia's parliament.
Swiss authorities said they sided with the U.S. request because, as a Russian citizen, Adamov would have been barred from being sent to the United States for trial if he were extradited to Russia and tried in his homeland first.
U.S. officials told Swiss authorities that they were willing to deport Adamov to Russia after his trial was over, and after he had served any sentence if convicted.
During the 1990s, Adamov was one of Russia's most powerful and influential atomic scientists, heading up a nuclear research institute that oversaw millions of dollars in U.S. aid meant for improvements in Russian nuclear safety.
The indictment against Adamov alleges that he diverted at least $9 million of that aid into his own companies in the United States. Adamov's American business partner, Mark Kaushansky, is a co-defendant in the case. The indictment was handed down in Pennsylvania, where one of the companies allegedly used in the scheme was based.
Adamov faces as many as 60 years in prison if convicted, and a fine of up to $1.7 million. Kaushansky could be sentenced to up to 180 years in prison and fined $5 million if convicted.
In 1998, then-President Boris Yeltsin appointed Adamov as head of Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry. President Vladimir Putin fired him in 2001, amid corruption allegations emanating from a parliamentary investigation.
Adamov was arrested by Swiss authorities May 2 when he appeared in Bern, the Swiss capital. He had traveled there from Moscow to help his daughter, whose assets had been frozen by Swiss officials.
Earlier this summer, Adamov said he would cooperate with his extradition to Russia if Swiss authorities approved Russia's request. Adamov has 30 days to appeal Monday's decision to Switzerland's Supreme Court.
His lawyer in Switzerland, Stefan Wehrenberg, could not be reached for comment Monday. Adamov has proclaimed his innocence in commentaries published in Russian newspapers and in at least one radio appearance via telephone. However, in an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant in early September, he also warned that "there may be some problems with state secrets even if I spend one night in a U.S. prison."
Some Russian officials also have worried that Adamov's detention in the United States could prompt the scientist to divulge sensitive information about Russian nuclear research centers and other secrets. The hand-wringing has been extreme in some cases - earlier this year one Russian lawmaker suggested that Adamov should be "physically eliminated."
Before stepping down as U.S. ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow told a Russian radio station that fears of Adamov divulging state secrets were unwarranted.
"We have great respect for Mr. Adamov, but we already know how to make a nuclear bomb," Vershbow said July 8. "It's a criminal case. ... It's a purely legal matter."
Russia Blog reported in July about the purchase of Sibneft by Gazprom. It happened on September 28th, 2005. Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich sold his assets, that he had appropriated in early 1990-s, for $13,1 billion. Now Roman can enjoy running his personal British Soccer Club and residing in London, UK. Russian taxpayers will cover the Kremlin decision to retire the young billionaire with the pension that he never earned.
While Mr. Abramovich is enjoying the happy side of Russian corruption and "democracy" Putin-style, Mr. Khodorkovsky was condemned to spend an additional 8 years in prison for building the most successful Russian business ever known and speaking out against his government.