After Georgia refused to grant Russian military officers visas to collect their personal items from their former bases, Russia announced a temporarily cancellation of visas to all Georgians. What does this mean? Nothing for Russia, since Georgia doesn't have much to offer, outside of average sweet red wine and basic fruits; but for Georgia, this means more meager government salaries being paid from US foreign aid (officially), $5 (average) monthly pensions, no legitimate job opportunities and lots of pride, which can quickly get overwhelmed by hunger.
I supported the movements towards democracy in Ukraine and Georgia, but once these countries decided that they wanted to model their nations according to free markets, they shouldn't contradict themselves by exploiting nationalism to limit economic relations with their nearest neighbor - which happens to be the biggest, most natural-resource rich country in the world.
Continue reading "Russia "Punishes" Stubborn Georgia" »
If you have 2 minutes of time, and want to expand your horizons, please visit this link, which will take you to the New York Times web page, and then once you are there, click the "Multimedia, Interactive Feature, Day of Terror in Beslan" link. It's an interactive, uploading slide and video show with NYT commentary. To see a "different" opinion of a Jihadis overlord, please read Shamil Basayev's comments on the "successfully carried out operation".
I am grateful to the NYT for calling things with their names, these people are terrorists, not insurgents, or rebels, or whatever, as Russia Blog has previously discussed.
Continue reading "Cruel Reminders of Beslan" »
By Michael Averko
Latvian commentator Askolds Rodins refers to Russian "double standards" as he sees it.
Permit me to address the greater double standards that regularly go unchecked from English language mass media outlets. Namely, how Russocentric views are kept under greater watch for good manners in addition to being underrepresented when compared to anti-Russian commentary.
I've experienced numerous instances where well meaning Western analysts inform me on how I can and cannot present my views. They immediately drop such suggestions when I give examples like Mr. Rodins' prose.
In his commentary, Mr. Rodins refers to the democratically elected Putin administration as a "regime." In modern day political usage, "regime" refers to non-democratic states with authoritarian practices. Unlike the current American president's 2000 election experience - Russian President Vladimir Putin won the popular vote in a multi-party process. Russians voted en masse as opposed to either staying at home in protest or favoring another candidate. Putin continues to enjoy higher popularity poll ratings when compared to his Western peers (notably George Bush and Tony Blair).
Continue reading "Some Double Standards Appear More Equal Than Others" »
The only TV channel in Russia that aired a fascist parade video over the Kremlin's objections is RenTV. It's actually not the channel that is so brave, it's one particular journalist, creator of the "24" program, Olga Romanova.
The Kremlin has asked RenTV quite a few times to cool down the rhetoric and not to be as critical of Mr. Putin and the government; RenTV has passed these concerns to Olga Romanova, but the lady just would not stop being a free journalist. All this led to quite interesting events: the "24" program was abolished, Ms. Romanova was blocked from entering the studio just a few minutes before going on the air by three armed guards, and the chief editor of the channel was fired.
Continue reading "The Fate of Free Media" »
The elections in Chechnya went with enormous success on November 27, 2005. Chechen Jihadists haven't had the chance to kill anyone this week, because they were getting killed , and all the elections polls were secured for ten days before the date of the election.
Turnout was amazing, though very unbalanced; overall 60% of the Chechen population voted, however, in some areas only 25% showed up, while in the others -- up to 75%. There wasn't a single claim or complaint from national and international observers, or the citizens. The only concern raised was the difference of the appearance in some areas over-controlled by the government; turn-out started picking up towards the end of the day, when local officials realized that the necessary 25% turn-out might have not been achieved. However, again the reasons for the late turnout could be very basic and real, based on the work schedules and increasing confidence of the citizens in their personal safety.
Continue reading "60% Turn-out in Chechen Elections" »
Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia - November 27, a black medical student from Mauritania and his Russian friend were beaten up and slashed with a knife by a gang of young people in downtown, not far from the Novgorod Medical University. Local police have launched an investigation based on article 115 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code "Premeditated attack resulting in minor health injury". No racism issues were brought up, and no has been arrested or charged for the attack yet. This latest assault is one of the many racist attacks that are constantly happening in Russia.
By Michael Averko
Not too long ago, it was fashionable to write off Donetsk-based Ukrainian political leader Viktor Yanukovych as an also-ran whose time had come and gone. What many overlooked was the topsy-turvy political landscape of post- Soviet Ukraine, where otherwise dubious (as seen by some) figures resurface as acceptable leaders.
For much of his career, Ukraine's first post Communist President Leonid Kravchuk was seen as a loyal apparatchik of the Soviet Politburo. As the USSR broke up, Kravchuk discovered Ukrainian nationalism and a penchant for bashing just about everything Russian. During the so called "Orange Revolution," of last year, he noticeably distanced himself from the pro-Viktor Yushchenko street throng in Kiev and provided commentary that might have confused him with the mainstream Russian political elite.
Back in 1994, Kravchuk's then anti-Russian platform lost the presidency to the Russocentric campaign of eastern Ukrainian Leonid Kuchma. Shortly after assuming the Ukrainian presidency, Kuchma did an about-face as a number of Russian language schools in Ukraine were closed and the democratically elected pro-Russian Crimean government of Yuri Meshkov was overthrown (rather interestingly, at the time of this occurrence, the future Orange candidate Yushchenko, was a Meshkov ally). In 1996, Freedom House lauded Kuchma with an award and in 1999, the Ukrainian president was in Washington to honor NATO's 50th anniversary, while the presidents of Belarus and Russia stayed home in protest of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (90% of Ukrainians
opposed the NATO bombing).
Continue reading "Yanukovych's Resurgence Should Come As No Surprise" »
Dagestan, Russia -- in the small Buynaksky region of Dagestan, a local "senior" terrorist Abdula Magomedov was injured and captured, after a successful police operation.
The night before, local police received information that the terrorists were hiding in the small village Girey-Avlak, and to be safe, officers waited for daylight and moved into the village with SWAT teams and court-issued warrants to search the local houses. However, they didn't need the warrants, because as the jihadists spotted the law enforcement agents approaching, they opened fire with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
Two terrorists managed to run away, another one took his shoes off to climb a nearby mountain faster, but he was shot down (he didn't climb fast enough). The leader was injured, while shooting back at the officers. Now Mr. Magomedov is in the local hospital under tight security, waiting for his trial date to face justice. Police found 20 canisters of explosives, tons of weapons, and other jihadist toys.
Good job, Russian police!
While things are going well for Putin in Japan, Moscow is having horrible weather: in the past 24 hours 5 inches of snow fell on the city, towards the evening it melts, towards the morning the slush freezes up, in the morning public transportation can't make it up the hill (too slippery), the largest traffic jam so far last night was 15 miles long on the freeway from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
By the way, the so-called 'freeway' is 3 to 4 lanes without any separation, just like all the major Russian freeways; that creates thousands of fender benders and hundreds of fatal accidents. Russia's lack of decent highways is also why Napoleon and Hitler failed (well, may be not just because of that, but still), and remember from my previous post on Russian driving -- weather is not a good reason to calm the Russian temper.
Russia's famous "General Winter" has arrived. Now wait for the temperature to drop down to negative 40 -- 60 Celsius in Siberia, and negative 15 -- 30 in Moscow, and any American would be amazed how the cities and the country still function -- schools and offices stay open, shopping malls and casinos keep busy -- life goes on. Moscow is not D.C., we can't afford to shut down the city, there's just too much stuff going on. Plus, think about this weather staying for six months? Are you going to stay home for that long? Now you see why global warming isn't a bad deal for Russians.
If you want to visit Russia for a great White Christmas -- go in January (Russian Orthodox Christmas is January 7th), if you don't want to freeze -- come in May or June, because July and August bring another extreme -- 80-100 Farenheit...
Putin visited Japan, and gave Koizumi a beautiful painting of the Moscow River. The two leaders ate sushi, talked about Putin's practice of judoka, and left all the lingering issues between the countries unresolved, as if nothing has changed since 1945. Russia Blog has written before about the ongoing rivalry between Russia and Japan for Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands, if you haven't read the post -- take your time, it's a good read, and you will learn that Russia and Japan are officially still in a state of war.
Everything wasn't that bad though, Putin invited the Japanese Prime-Minister to visit Moscow some time next year to give it another try. At the same time, Russian Far East officials signed 18 agreements on economic cooperation between the two countries; one of them involves Japan participating in the construction of the Skvorodino-Nahodka pipe line, which will deliver Siberian oil to Beijing and Tokyo.
Continue reading "Japan and Russia Still Can't Officially End World War II" »
Today's Washington Times features a story on Russia's successful test of a maneuverable re-entry warhead. While this may bolster the national pride of Russian scientists and provide opponents of U.S. missile defenses with another talking point, the billions of rubles spent do nothing to address the real threats to Russia's territorial integrity and security (and besides that, missile defense opponents never admit that more nimble warheads make little difference if the anti-ballistic missile is also tipped with a large nuclear warhead and only needs to achieve a near-miss, as with the old Soviet ABM system around Moscow).
Continue reading "New Russian Nukes - Maintaining Deterrence or Waste?" »
After the recent appointment of two new deputy prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev (former chief of presidential staff) and Sergei Ivanov (defense minister), things started changing at the fast pace. Medvedev started executing the first part of his social plan, "The Health", today. According to the plan, all the doctors in the country starting this February will be getting paid additional 10,000 rubles ($350), and nurses 5,000 ($175); all the home-room school teachers will receive additional 1,000 rubles ($35) to their salaries.
Thought these adjustments might look small and funny to Americans -- this is a lot of money for a Russian government employee. Russia was really lucky this year with the growing oil prices, and as a result there is enough money in the budget to afford social improvement plans; the extra-cash has nothing to do with Putin's policies -- it's a pure luck.
The total cost of the improvement plans is 5.75 billion dollars, which is enormous money for a Russian budget. The only concerns now are: the Russian corruption -- it would really help if the money didn't get stolen and went to where it's supposed to; second, it's oil prices -- how is the government going to maintain that level of salaries, if the next year is not as "lucky" as this one; and third, and the most disturbing concern is -- population decline. Every year brings new statistics of less and less children born, and young men and women capable of work.
Continue reading "Changes for the Better?" »
Ingushetia, Russia -- three police officers were shot in a small town of Malgobek; two officers are dead, another one is in critical condition. The officers are serving in the small village in Northern Osetia, and came to town to get drinking water supplies for the police station.
Also, the senior customs inspector at the major international airport Shermetyevo was arrested for selling the database information, which contains secret information regarding the security and financial statements of the local companies. The lady-inspector accepted a bribe, in a sting operation set up by Internal Ministry officials.
Russia will pay $500,000 to bail out the Russian UN official Vladimir Kuznezov. Septermber 1, 2005 Mr. Kuznezov was arrested by FBI for money laundering; he still denies all the charges. Another Russian UN official, Alexander Yakovlev, was arrested on August 8, 2005, and charged with money laundering and stealing a fortune, while electronically transferring government funds; he plead guilty to all the charges.
Russia and India declared today that they have reached an agreement, according to which Russia will sell India 10 billion dollars worth of weapons. There are no specific details yet about dates or the kinds of weapons; however this is the largest military contract in Russian history. Some analysts say that Russia might not have enough money in the budget to manufacture that amount of "goods".
India is discussing the possibility of developing the new 5th generation military jet with Russia, after which both countries will have the construction information. Russia hasn't made up its mind yet, because on one hand Russian scientists and engineers like to keep the secrets in the country, but on the other hand -- such research and development may cost more than 20 billion dollars, and Russia doesn't have that much money for the project.
Continue reading "Russia Announces $10 Billion Arms Deal with India" »
Today Vladimir Putin decided to brief Russian ministers on the dangers of unsafe driving. He presented some terrible statistics: in the past four years the economic losses due to traffic accidents added up to 2% of Russia's national GDP. Since 1997, while Russians have put 9% more cars on the streets, auto accidents increased by 30%; last year there were 200,000 registered traffic accidents; the percentage of fatal accidents is 24.7%; the Russian cars (Volgas and Ladas) most available for the general population do not have air bags or ABS systems; and the only reason that analysts can find accounting for the ghastly number of fatal accidents is the complete disregard of traffic laws by everyone -- drivers, police, and pedestrians.
Living in Russia and driving to the countryside, you would quickly get used to seeing black plastic bags on the side of the road -- dead drivers and passengers. The reason for these preventable deaths is simple: there aren't many freeways outside of the city which have one way lanes, usually oncoming traffic is facing each other; the regular speed limit is 55 miles an hour on the freeway and 40 in the city, however everyone goes at least 90, usually 100 mph or more. The author of this article managed to be driven at 160 miles an hour in the city of Moscow by a friend -- that's a frightening and unique experience, though for many it's just a lifestyle choice.
When there's a traffic jam on the road, people prefer to try to go around by driving on shoulders and in opposite (oncoming) lanes. Eventually, in the city and in the country side, you end up with cars going 100 miles an hour facing each other in the same lane, which leads to 200 mph head-on fatal collisions.
Continue reading "Insane Russian Driving" »
This post comes in reply to a reader, asking if the current rioting in France could spread to immigrant communities in Russia.
I do not think there is any similar threat of immigrants in Russia rioting. There are two reasons why it won't happen:
1) Immigrants in Russia don't receive any welfare or social support from the state, their legal rights aren't protected at all; often when they are murdered or injured, no one cares. They come to Russia to work hard and make as much money as they can. The violence in France is caused by a failed socialist welfare state. When someone doesn't have to make a living, he can just exist, and get all the support he needs. At some point that individual starts thinking that he is entitled to everything he has, and even more; and on top of that he has all the free time on his hands to go out and participate in the car burning "protests". Russian immigrants are working hard just to survive -- they are busy, and happy to get the meager things they do own.
2) Russian law enforcement (and American for that matter) would never allow such chaos in the streets to go on for weeks.. I don't want to go into the reasons why France has allowed looting and arson in their streets for so long, but I'm sure that such violence would have been stopped within a few hours in America, or in Russia. I'm not advocating bullets and tear gas as handy tools for dealing with social issues, but I am advocating for common sense, the rule of law, and for securing private property and innocent lives.
St. Petersburg, Russia -- this Sunday two anti-fascist rock musicians were attacked in downtown at 6:30 pm; one was killed, another is in critical condition. Timur Kacharav and Maxim Zgibay were going into a book store, when 10 young skinheads attacked them with fists and knives. Though the crime happened in downtown, by the trendy Nevsky Prospect, and was witnessed by many people, all the neo-Nazis managed to escape without getting caught.
The musicians were wrapping up the anti-fascist concert, which was followed by accepting food donations for homeless people.
Continue reading "Skinheads Kill Anti-Fascists, Foreigners" »
Today Putin signed a new agreement with Uzbekistan's president Islam Karimov. Uzbekistan is rapidly following the path of Belarus, as Moscow's favorite international pariah. The nationalist uprising against the Karimov regime earlier this year was brutally defeated by the president, then American military forces were asked to leave Uzbekistan, which they did. Now Uzbekistan is banned by the international community from purchasing weapons and military equipment, and the White House is sponsoring many independent think tanks and institutes opposed to the existing regime. But international weapon bans and isolation aren't an issue, if Putin is determined to make friends with you.
Continue reading "Putin Makes Friends with Pariahs" »
President Putin has replaced his top aide -- the Chief of Presidential Administration. The new bureaucrat is the governor of the Siberian region Tyumen Oblast, Sergei Sobyanin - a very strong regional politician. The reasons for this appointment are that Sobyanin is an experienced manager, he doesn't have political baggage in Moscow circles, and doesn't relate to any interest group in Kremlin. However, experience shows, that all the regional successful politicians, who end up in Moscow see a steep decline in their careers, due to zero opportunity for further development and lack of powerful friends in the city.
Rodina (Motherland) is a fairly young political party, lead by Dmitry Rogozin, a retired three-star general. A few days ago Rodina started airing a political advertisement, which has sparked a lot of controversy and frustration for Azerbaijanis. The attention this ad has received supports my thesis about a growing Russian idea of self identity, through more aggressive nationalism and fascism.
The video shows three surly Azerbaijanis eating watermelon and throwing the peels on the ground; to make their nationality clear, Azerbaijani music is playing in the background. A dignified Russian mother is walking by pushing her child in a pram, stepping on the peels. One of the Azerbaijanis insults the Russian lady. All this is witnessed by Rogozin and his vice president; this time Terminator music starts playing in the background. They ask the Azerbaijanis to "clean the space", but the Azerbaijanis ignore them. Then Rogozin puts a firm hand on one of the Azerbaijanis, and demands of him: "Do you understand Russian?" That's when the logo of Rodina appears, and the words below the logo say "We will clear Moscow of the dirt".
If you don't believe this story, you can watch the video yourself.
Continue reading "Nationalism as a Political Marketing Tool" »
St. Petersburg, Russia -- Federal Judge for Primorsky Kray was attacked on Friday at 6:50 pm. The roadside bomb was directed at his car, and narrowly missed the judge.
Kogalym, Siberia -- Yuri Skarzhinsky, CEO of Lukoil Zapadnaya Sibir (Lukoil Western Siberia) was attacked Wednesday at 9:10 pm; the story broke in the Russian media today. He was shot six times by an assailant with a pistol in the foyer of his condo complex. Yuri Skarzhinsky formerly served as the chief of the local police, and later the head of regional economical police department. His area of investigation had been the oil companies, and he managed to successfully prosecute quite a few executives for corruption, and return 7 million dollars back to the regional budget. After his successful police career, he was hired by the Russian oil giant Lukoil. He survived the attack but remains in critical condition.
Continue reading "Another Day of "Russian Business"" »
Responding to Prelude, a reader from Italy: Russia probably has never been as weak and poor compared to the rest of the world as it is today. Here are the links about the fascist demonstration, the text is in Russian, but the pictures are very graphic, delivered by Lenta.Ru (my favorite), Gazeta.Ru, Grani.Ru, Moskovsky Komsomolez.
I wrote my article about Russian fascism after a thorough survey of 6 articles from Russian newspapers, 3 internet news websites, conversations with friends who work in Russian media (RTR -- Russia Channel), talking to my father who worked with Yeltsin and others, etc.
Continue reading "My Response to Our Reader About Fascism" »
Because it was late, I missed another business murder, which I'm trying to report as accurately as possible, since someone has accused me of making up these stories.
Moscow, November 8, 2005, 1 am:
The CEO of audit firm "Granl Audit" died after being shot several times with a pistol; the killers got away.
The old story of Pavel Borodin resurfaced again yesterday, when Italian prosecutors issued warrants to arrests Borodin's daughter and seven more Russian citizens charged with money-laundering during the reconstruction of the Kremlin in the mid-1990s. The exact reconstruction costs are unknown, but they are huge -- billions of dollars; many think, and more evidence emerges that the bulk of this money was stolen by Boris Eltzin's family and his "court".
One of the accused is the former head of Rosvooruzhenie -- the Russian state firm that sells weapons. An ex-KGB general, Evgeni Ananiev, created his own offshore company to hide transactions, while taking kick-backs from the sale of MiG-29 military jets to Peru. Ananiev was found to have laundered $2.7 million dollars through Italy, Borodin's daughter - $5 million dollars. In 1997, $62.5 million dollars were wired from the accounts of the Swiss company Mercata, which was doing the Kremlin construction work; all that money was later traced to the Island of Man, to the accounts of Lightstar Company - created by Borodin and his friends.
Continue reading "Steal, but Stay in Russia" »
A 30 year old citizen of Uzbekistan was killed in Moscow. He was stabbed three times in the neck with a knife, and later brought to a hospital in the south-eastern part of the city.
This murder is one of many racially-motivated crimes that are happening in Russia on a weekly basis. Again, if you are a tourist and you know what you are doing, or you have a business partner who is Russian and he knows what he is doing -- you are safe. Otherwise, you may be on your own.
We have changed the software powering the Russia Blog from B2B to Moveable Type. As a result, unfortunately, we lost all the comments previously posted on our blog; links in the older posts referring to Russia Blog posts have been deactivated, and all the previous posts are published in their entireity (without the "more" links).
We apologize for the temporary inconvenience. We are working on fixing these glitches and improving the website.
Thank you for your understanding, we appreciate your new comments, and enjoy reading the Russia Blog!
Moscow Friday, November 4, 2005 - 5,000 people paraded through downtown, carrying icons of Jesus Christ among other symbols. There was no violence, a great attitude, and very loud shouts of "Seig Heil", "Heil Hitler", along with "Russia for Russians", "Glory to Russia, Russians rise!"," Russia is everything, everything else is nothing".
"God, this is just like Germany in 1933," -- said one old lady observing the march, while taking her dog for a walk in downtown park, - "didn't we fight exactly this stuff?"
Continue reading "Communism Over; Now Fascism" »
Moscow, Russia - at 9 pm the regional high-rank customs official Sergey Fokin was killed in the foyer of his apartment building by two shots to the head. The murder was "business-related", because Mr. Fokin had a few thousand dollars in cash with him when he was shot; the cash was left on his body. This is another example of a business murder, a phenomenon that is still very common these days in Moscow and other business centers of Russia. For more cases read the Crime category of Russia Blog.
The plague of Islamism keeps on spreading.
By Victor Davis Hanson
Either the jihadists really are crazy or they apparently think that they have a shot at destabilizing, or at least winning concessions from, the United States, Europe, India, and Russia all at once.
Apart from the continual attacks on civilians by terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the West Bank, there have now been recent horrific assaults in New Dehli (blowing up civilians in a busy shopping season on the eve of a Hindu festival), Russia (attacking police and security facilities), London (suicide murdering of civilians on the subway), and Indonesia (more bombing, and the beheading of Christian schoolgirls). The loci of recent atrocities could be widely expanded (e.g., Malaysia, North Africa, Turkey, Spain) — and, of course, do not forget the several terrorist plots that have been broken up in Europe and the United States.
The commonalities? There are at least three.
First, despite the various professed grievances (e.g., India should get out of Kashmir; Russia should get out of Chechnya; England should get out of Iraq; Christians should get out of Indonesia; or Westerners should get out of Bali), the perpetrators were all self-proclaimed Islamic radicals. Westerners who embrace moral equivalence still like to talk of abortion bombings and Timothy McVeigh, but those are isolated and distant memories. No, the old generalization since 9/11 remains valid: The majority of Muslims are not global terrorists, but almost all such terrorists, and the majority of their sympathizers, are Muslims.
Read the full article by National Review Online.
Russian Krasnoyarsky Kray's population is suffering a strong attack of dysentery. The disease has infected many people in two regions, while another part has 60 children seriously ill with pneumonia. The local General Prosecutor’s office has launched a criminal investigation into how several hundred public school students all came down with dysentery at the same time.
Dysentery is spread by water, and it was either a prank of some sort, or possibly, negligence on the part of the region’s health officials. All local schools and kindergartens are closed for quarantine, while medics are doorbelling, trying to find more ill people. The problem is that not everyone admits that they are sick, because no one really wants to end up in the local hospital. Russian medical care is "free", but the quality of the services varies wildly based on how much you can pay in bribes, or if you can afford a private clinic, though there aren’t many of those outside of the major cities.
In the nearby town of Borodino, kids ages 3 to 13 years old are suffering from pneumonia. The winter season kicked in, but rural Russian schools can barely afford to pay teachers and heating costs; in the worst cases some Siberian schools operate all year round without heat in negative 30 to 40 Celsius.
Moscow, Russia – at 10:40 pm, three citizens of Azerbaijan, traveling on business in Russia, were shot in Eastern Moscow. One of them died, other two are unstable in the emergency care. The killers got away.
Smolenskaya Oblast, Russia – 60 prisoners started a hunger strike; some slashed their veins to protest the Speznaz tortures. Russian Federal Bureau of Executions and Speznaz of Ministry of Jurisdiction are responsible for the tortures.
Oksana Dzera, representative of the Human Rights Group of Russia, said that the protests started a week ago, when Chief of the Regional Executions Bureau office, Colonel Igor Konovalov, came to the colony 100/1, located 60 miles outside of Smolensk. He asked for the names of those who had torched a car of one of his co-workers in Smolensk; the prisoners replied that they didn’t know the names. That’s when the colonel ordered Speznaz troops to come to the colony and beat the answers out of the prisoners.
“The prisoners were beaten in the prison’s hallways for three days; they are all just blue colored now, and some of them haven’t received food for seven days” – says Oksana. All the abused prisoners are between 23 and 25 years of age.
Now the prisoners are protesting; they are satisfied with the prison’s conditions, they aren’t asking for anything, all they want is a criminal investigation against their assailants. The protests started this Thursday after the Speznaz troops came back to inflict more sadistic beatings.
The Local Bureau of Executions intially dismissed the allegations, but later on, when representatives of human rights groups demanded admission to the colony, officials admitted that “there are problems in this particular prison”. Official reports from the prison say that “some prisoners refuse to accept meals” and “injure themselves by cutting their wrists”.
It takes time for human rights organization to get to another city and get clearance to visit the prisoners, and Oksana is worried that by the time they get there, there will be no injured cell-mates. It’s happened before, she says, they take them and move them to another location to hide the evidence.
Russian Duma (Parliament) passed the law in the first reading, which will prohibit cell phone companies to charge clients for incoming phone calls! Yes, you read it right, the Russian Parliament will make all cell phone companies in the country re-write their contracts and deal with the losses.
Boris Gryzlov, Parliament Speaker, justifies the action supported by 400 MP’s (out of 226 necessary votes) saying, “At least now advertisement about free incoming calls will be true.”
Now let’s see, who’s been selling the contracts featuring free incoming phone calls, and advertising this great deal for the past 3 years? Megafon. I used to be a client of Megafon, a company that offers cheap cellular services, that other companies like BeeLine and MTS can’t afford to provide.
The answer to why this law now, in my opinion, is simple. Ludmila, wife of Vladimir, yes – Putin, is behind this cellular company. Ludmila’s role is invisible on the paper, just like Luzhkov’s wife’s involvement in Moscow construction market and entertainment parks. If other companies had to heavily invest to build their infrastructure from the very beginning, Ludmila Putina got it right – she used the resources of the former Soviet Ministry of Communications, staffing the company with former government officials.
Out of the blue, three years ago Megafon jumped into the market and created real competition for the other providers. Western-style companies reacted, and while offering better service and quality, they re-gained the market, though not as fully as they had it before the Megafon's entry. Sonet didn’t survive the Megafon invasion and fell apart, BeeLine was challenged by the Russian Tax Ministry and barely escaped the fate of YUKOS.
Russian oligarchs and politicians are used to fast and easy profits, and the people behind Megafon, mostly government officials and ‘relatives’ of Putin himself, have no tolerance for free market ideology. While BeeLine and MTS are trying to provide the best service to their clients, Russian bureaucrats feel like the income they are making is not enough. Now, try to compete with the Russian Parliament and President Putin himself in the Russian “free” market.
Estonian Prime-Minister Andrus Ansip is backing a bill drafted by the Estonian opposition, which commemorates Estonian Nazi collaborators of the 20th SS Division as “freedom fighters” and heroes. This apparently puts the Prime Minister and the Estonian opposition in disagreement with the judgement of both the USSR and the western Allies, who in 1945 declared the SS a war criminal organization for purposes of de-Nazification, and banned all SS men from holding any office or responsibility in the postwar occupation.
In the last few months, Baltic States have really been pushing this agenda of Russian guilt from Soviet times. However, no one clearly understands what needs to be done about the evil deeds of the Soviet Union, since the USSR was made up of all the former states of the Union, including the Baltic States; and contemporary Russians have no relation whatsoever to Lenin and Stalin.
Is it a public relations campaign to get Western financing and more attention to the region in general? Or may be this agenda is a smart way to create tensions and refuse to pay debts owed to Russia for its oil and gas, which previously was pumped into the region for "free". No one knows the real answer (besides Andrus Ansip of course), but to me, as a Russian whose family lost 12 men in World War II, all this is very insulting and looks like pandering to fascism and hatred.
Russia Blog has written before about the Chechen War, and quoted Chechen terrorists, to give you a better understanding of what Russia is facing in its southern states. Here's part of a great article today posted on Tech Central Station:
Kavkaz-Center website, harbored and nourished by the European Union, aims to "bring to the world community the truthful information about the war, war crimes, the facts of genocide of the whole nation by the invading state and the position of the defending side -- the Chechen Mujahideen".
Continue reading "The Truth About the Chechen Jihad" »