"Moscow Never Sleeps (Moscow I Love You)" by DJ Smash and Fast Food ÐœÐ¾ÑÐºÐ²Ð° Ð½Ð¸ÐºÐ¾Ð³Ð´Ð° Ð½Ðµ ÑÐ¿Ð¸Ñ‚ (Ð¯ Ð»ÑŽÐ±Ð»ÑŽ Ñ‚ÐµÐ±Ñ ÐœÐ¾ÑÐºÐ²Ð°) Moskva Ni Kagda Speet (Ya Lyublu Tibiya Moskva)
Now instead of having to wave Communist flags every year on May 1, young Russians can take advantage of their day off for other pursuits...like getting stuck in Moscow traffic at 3 a.m. with all the other club-goers looking for something to eat...
Russian Federation Weekly Situation Report April 24 2008
DEMOGRAPHICS. The demographic picture in Russia continues to improve: RosStat claims 273,700 births in January and February (up 12.8% over the previous year) and 368,200 deaths (up 4.1%). A bill to restrict abortion advertising has been proposed and a Duma deputy gave some numbers here: in 2006 there were one and a half million abortions (40.3 per 1000 women) in Russia, down from the two million in 2002 (54.2 per 1000 women). So, this statistical evidence suggests that the various pro-natalist programs are having an effect. We don't know yet, of course, whether the programs actually are leading to more children, or just encouraging Russian women to have their babies sooner. New data coming in over the next few years will tell us.
INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE. More trouble. The head of the main investigative unit was fired; corruption being given as the reason. The usual rumors abound.
Video clip from a Russian Orthodox Church Easter service
Today is the day that Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. From Russia Blog to all of our readers around the world, Happy Easter and best wishes for the spring and summer of 2008!
Click here to read the post "Easter in a Russian Town". For a recipe to make kuhlich, a traditional Russian Easter cake, click here (just don't scrimp on the powdered cane sugar, even if you've been told that it does not exist in Russia!).
Currently I am in Almaty, Kazakhstan at the Eurasian Media Forum 2008. Today, I participated in the panel addressing the perceptions of the the Western media in its coverage of Russia, and the possibility of the return of the Cold War. The Eurasian Media Forum has gathered 600 distinguished participants, such as, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, his daughter Dr. Dariga Nazarbaeva, Mr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Dr. Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation, Mikhail Leontiev from "Odnako", Margarita Simonyan and Kevin Owen from Russia Today TV, multiple ambassadors, ministers, journalists, reporters and policy makers.
Please, view the extended post for the full agenda of the conference, and come back soon to view the photos of the conference and to read the new RRP report on the Stereotypes that Western media practices in its coverage of Russia. The report was prepared for the Forum and is available in print to those at the venue.
Interview with Edward Lozansky, President of the World Russian Forum
(and Senior Fellow of the Real Russia Project).
Originally published in Washington Profile on April 18, 2008
Q.: The month of May is not far off, and in that month Washington will host the next World Russian Forum, a traditional event on Capitol Hill. Incidentally, what number will it be?
Lozansky: The twenty-seventh. The first one took place in May 1981, and ever since U.S. Congress generously provides one of its best auditoriums for this event. This is despite the fact that Russia is portrayed by the media as a very bad boy these days. Needless to say that we are extremely grateful to Congress for doing this.
Click on the extended post to read the rest of the interview.
On the absurdity of suggesting that his KGB past necessarily damns Putin, while taking on trust anything said by other ex-Chekists like Alexander Litvinenko, Oleg Gordievsky, Vasili Mitrokhin or Oleg Kalugin, Patrick Armstrong is, as so often, an immensely refreshing voice of sanity.
Uncritical acceptance of claims by Gordievsky about how Litvinenko died is particular bizarre -- given that he has made different and incompatible claims at different times, so as a simple point of logic some of what he has claimed has to be false. A further curious feature of Gordievsky's accounts, however, is that much of what he has claimed directly contradicts central elements of what has become the official British version of Litvinenko's death. And in fact, while one would be ill-advised to take anything Gordievsky says at face value, some of what he has claimed fits in distinctly better with the publicly available evidence than the official version does.
Indeed, some of Gordievsky's claims turn out to fit surprisingly well with Edward Jay Epstein's argument that the British request for Lugovoi's extradition was not a bona-fide move to bring a guilty man to justice, but an attempt to prevent any awkward questions from being raised about Litvinenko's activities in London.
One of the Real Russia Project fellows has discovered the existence of a hidden community in the depths of Siberia. His film was aired by English Al Jazeera. Please, take a look at this extraordinary video. The film is about people who have chosen to live in the kind of place most would be desperate to escape from. The town is called Yeniseysk 15 and used to be a secret Soviet military base, but was closed down by Mikhail Gorbachev when the Soviet Union began to collapse. Now, Yeniseysk 15 is being repopulated...
At the moment this post was published, the oil price, according to Bloomberg, was $114.85 per barrel. Russia has profited handsomely from higher world energy prices, but has also experienced inflation as a result of the flood of petrodollars
Putinology Outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin is now Chairman of United Russia, the political structure (I'm not sure I would call it a real "party") that dominates Russia. But, oddly enough, he hasn't formally become a member. While we still can't be sure what Putin's Plan is, this would seem to point in the direction of my fifth hypothesis. He also apparently said he would become the Prime Minister of Russia if (!) asked. The next five or eight months will tell us more about what he has in mind.
Peak Oil?. The Financial Times quotes a vice president of LUKoil as saying that Russian oil production has peaked this year. Maybe so, but the End of Oil has been predicted many times and historically, this has been a bad bet. I believe that the first prediction that the world would run out is over a century old and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency famously predicted in the 1980s that Soviet production had peaked. Post Soviet Russia, separated from oil rich republics like Kazahkstan and Azerbaijan, briefly surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer in 2006.
A popular design for a souvenir t-shirt in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Certain think tanks inside the Washington D.C. Beltway might want to consider stocking up on these for their future Russia-related events...
There is a popular saying: "A fool can ask more questions than ten wise men can answer". What the expression means is that it is much easier to assert something than it is to refute it. A great deal of the commentary on Russia these days is little more than a brief for the prosecution: a list of easily made assertions that can only be refuted with difficulty. A recent piece provides a good example. I will not identify the author of this jeremiad except to say that he is an academic (X, we'll call him or her) and the piece was published by a respected institution and an earlier version was published in a major newspaper. In any case, anyone who knows his way around Google can find the original quite easily. The piece is a cascade of easily-made accusations, many of which do not stand up to scrutiny. But, refutations of X's throw-away lines are difficult and time-consuming.
Grigory Yavlinsky, the most prominent liberal in Russian politics (photo by AP)
Bush-Putin Meeting. Contrary to expectations, there appears to have been no breakthrough on the contentious issues of NATO expansion or missile defense at the Russian President's retreat in Sochi.
Hubris and the Limits of Russia's Revival. There is no doubt that Putin's two terms have been remarkably successful: eight years ago, many observers were ready to write Russia off completely (examples here, here, and here) and Putin (with some help from higher world commodity prices) has managed to improve Russia's leading economic and social indicators. But nevertheless Russia is not really very strong: its GDP is still somewhere around the same as Canada's (even with four or five times the population); poverty is widespread; Russian infrastructure is inadequate; corruption is omnipresent; its economic importance is principally as an energy supplier; its armed forces, though large, are not very competitive; it has no real allies; and most of its neighbours would prefer it to be located somewhere else.
NATO Expansion. Ukraine and Georgia were not offered a path to NATO membership - yet. People like to say that "Moscow has no veto on NATO membership". This has always struck me as fatuous: who says that it has one? It also implies that NATO's purpose is to do the opposite of what Moscow wants. Which is a rather foolish modus operandi. If NATO has any purpose, it is surely to ensure the security of its members. That security will not be increased by treating Russia as an enemy.
US-Russia Relations. The atmospherics continue to sound good; Putin's press secretary is hinting that some sort of document will be signed when Bush and Putin (and the next Russian President, Dimitry Medvedev, apparently) meet in Sochi on Sunday, other sources say that some over-arching deal is in the works. We'll see: the principals have said nice things before but their bureaucracies don't seem to make things happen.
Russian Ambassador to NATO Dimitry Rogozin: "Northern Civilization" Must Unite
Rogozin's Rodina party was briefly banned after running a racist ad during the Moscow municipal elections in 2005
Dimitry Rogozin is an exceptionally clever Russian politician who has never shied away from the spotlight. Rogozin's nationalist Rodina (Motherland) Party drew both condemnation and attention in 2005, when it ran a campaign for seats in Moscow City parliament under the slogan, "We will rid Moscow of the garbage". That campaign featured a blatantly racist television ad depicting swarthy young Azerbaijani men as watermelon-eating hooligans harassing respectable Slavic mothers in a city park. In the TV spot, Rogozin and another Moscow Duma member, Dimitry Popov, confront the Azeris, defend a pram-pushing Russian mother and demand to know if the Azerbaijanis can even speak Russian.
While Rogozin may have exploited the fears of a demographically declining Slavic Russian majority to make a name for himself, he cannot be dismissed as a simpleton demagogue. As the son of a distinguished Soviet military historian and a member of the State Duma, Rogozin has a well-cultivated an image as an expert on national security and defense issues. Hence, his appointment by the Kremlin as Russia's Ambassador to NATO in January 2008.
Russian Professor Predicts USA Will Collapse Like USSR Drudge, US Talk Radio Hosts Stirred
Prof. Igor Panarin is a professor at the prestigious Diplomatic Academy in Moscow which trains future diplomats to serve in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Photo by: Russia House
As if there weren't enough news to report amidst the Obama Administration forming a new cabinet and talk of more bailouts for the troubled global financial system, the eponymous Drudge Report website's lead headline last week was that a prominent Russian political analyst had claimed that the U.S. will collapse in the next few years. Naturally, several conservative talk radio hosts are up in arms about what they see as another provocation by the Evil Empire against America. while others have greeted this would-be Cassandra with a yawn.
According to Drudge:
Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily Izvestia published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than $11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."
Prof. Panarin can hardly be described as a fringe figure in Russian academia. Panarin lectures at the Moscow State University, as well as the prestigious Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a highly selective institution for future members of Russia's diplomatic and business elite. However, Prof. Panarin has been saying the same things since 1998, as have plenty of American gold bugs denouncing the dangers of government-created fiat money, survivalists, militia members, Y2K conspiracy theorists, and a host of religious sects confidently waiting for the world to end. A broken clock can be right, at least about something, twice a day.