Muscovites celebrating the New Year near the Kremlin on January 1, 2008
During this time of year, it's traditional, in Russia as in the West, to take stock of the previous year and to make resolutions for changes in the upcoming year. Yuri Mamchur, Russia Blog's creator and main editor, has published a retrospective in the Seattle Times this week (scroll down on the main page or click on this link to see Yuri's article) on how Russia could have been better prepared to face the current global economic crisis. Addressing the same topic, Professor Andrei Tsygankov from San Francisco State University in California has sent us a panel discussion he participated in with other experts for the magazine Russia Profile.
Eight years after President Boris Yeltsin gave up the presidential suite, Russian economic legislation had matured, but the economy hadn't. Russia doesn't have much to show for its meteoritic economic rise and fall. But it could have been avoided if Russia had not missed important opportunities, from infrastructure investment to small business loans.
THE Russian government and people, awash with money, were convinced their economy was invulnerable to the world financial crisis. By September, Russia's gold reserves stood at $581 billion. The federal budget seemed strong, salaries high, economic reforms successful and government investments wise. In hindsight, it was all too noticeably "Potemkin" and vulnerable. When foreign markets crashed and oil prices fell, Russia's financial standing changed overnight.
Paul Weyrich possessed the unrivaled ability to take public stands on behalf of his (and our) core principles, even when doing so created a breach with the conventional wisdom that reigned inside Washington at any given moment. Personal relationships with Washington's power brokers (and he knew them all, because they all quietly and respectfully sought his counsel) were irrelevant if the broker in question was contemplating a policy that violated one of his core tenets. He would patiently explain his point of view, counsel adherence to a timeless principle over a strategic feint that might (but usually didn't) yield some transitory political advantage, and then go public with his principled view if the quiet conversation proved fruitless.
Besides taking strong positions on moral, human life, and family issues, Weyrich was not afraid to criticize what he saw as misguided foreign policies, particularly those advocated by his fellow conservatives and within the Republican Party. Whereas others simply accepted the expansion of NATO into the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine as a given, Weyrich pressed the hard question to his fellow conservatives of whether these steps would actually advance the cause of freedom worldwide, or if they would needlessly antagonize Russia without making America or Europe the slightest bit more secure.
For the sake of educating the public and press about what Weyrich believed and advocated, Russia Blog has republished two of his final op-eds about the future of U.S.-Russia relations.
Click on the extended post to read Weyrich's op-eds from December 2 and August 20, 2008
As a tribute to Paul Weyrich, Russia Blog is reposting below this article two of his op-eds published earlier this year on topics related to Russia. We hope our readers enjoy them and remember Weyrich for who he was -- a lifelong advocate of ordered liberty in America and around the world.
- The Editors
Paul Weyrich, the founder and longtime CEO of the conservative Free Congress Foundation, died on December 18, 2008, at the age of 66. Born in 1942, Weyrich began his career as a young newspaper and radio reporter in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and as an activist in the groundbreaking 1964 campaign of Republican Senator Barry Goldwater. While working as press secretary for Colorado U.S. Senator Gordon L. Allott, Weyrich formed a friendship with Jack Wilson, an aide to the brewing magnate Joseph Coors. In 1973, with $250,000 in seed money from Joseph Coors, Weyrich, Wilson and Ed Fuelner founded the Heritage Foundation, which would become one of the most influential non-profit public policy institutes in the world and a model for other think tanks, including the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.
A film by director Pavel Lungin Ostrov (ÐžÑÑ‚Ñ€Ð¾Ð²), about a monk striving to overcome his painful past at an isolated monastery in northern Russia, became a modest hit at the Toronto International Film Festival after its release in 2006
Whereas some in the West view the revived Church as little more than an extension of a resurgent Russian State, the Moscow Patriarchate's view of the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia was that it was a tragic dispute between two Orthodox nations that have historically been friends. Many observers noticed when the Patriarch Elias II (also pronounced Elijah or Ilia) of Georgia was not only invited to Alexy's funeral in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior Cathedral, but delivered an impassioned homily during the service in memory of his friend.
The Sunday International Herald Tribune story profiles several small and medium-sized Orthodox magazines and periodicals and their editors, many of whom started their careers at Russia's top secular publications. It also touches on the touchy issue of whether many Russian celebrities and politicians are participating in public Orthodox rituals because it's become a fashionable thing to do or if the revival in religious faith and practice in Russia is heartfelt.
Russian Church and State: What is Patriarch Alexy's Legacy?
Patriarch Alexy II speaking to the Council of Europe in October 2007
Professor Andrei P. Tsygankov of San Francisco State University has sent us an article previously published by Russia Profile that included contributions from him and James George Jatras, a Washington D.C.-based international lawyer and the Director of the American Council for Kosovo, which opposed U.S. recognition of the former Serbian province. Jatras has been a frequent speaker at events hosted by the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the Institute of World Politics.
In the Russia Profile panel, Tsygankov and Jatras discuss the controversial question of the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian State, and how Patriarch Alexy changed these relationship, and with it the culture of post-Soviet Russia.
- The Editors
Click on the extended post to read the full article.
Sloppy Editorials on Russia at The Washington Post
Mark Ames, the former publisher of The Exile, a controversial English-language "alternative" newspaper in Moscow, has an excellent article appearing in the latest issue of the American left-wing journal The Nation. In his article, Ames does some old fashioned fact checking concerning The Washington Post's editorial line about Russia. Specifically, Ames points to an embarassing rush to judgement without the slightest evidence in the odd case of Karina Moskalenko, a Russian human rights lawyer based in Strasbourg, France.
In recent years, Moskalenko has pursued several cases against the Russian government at the European Court of Human Rights. When tiny traces of mercury were discovered in her car, the Washington Post quickly suggested that someone had tried to poison the attorney. Upon further examination, however, the mercury traces came from a thermometer that the previous owner of the car had broken in the vehicle. The Washington Post, however, didn't issue a correction about the case on the editorial page when the facts dispelled foul play, and buried news of the case in the news section.
The real issue here is not getting one story wrong or posting the correction in fine print -- this often happens at even the best newspapers -- but what the case says about the mentality of the Post's editors when it comes to Russia. Certainly, left-wing critics of American foreign policy like Ames are hardly the only ones to have asked this question. A few weeks before the Georgia War began on August 8, 2008, Paul J. Saunders, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Nixon Center, published an article in The National Interest labelling the WaPost the "Tblisi Post" for its frequent championing the cause of the tiny Caucasian nation and its embattled President, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Russia: "With the Russians, you can be tough, but you should listen"
Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President in the 2008 election
Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. (ret) Colin Powell has made a lot of news this year. First, the longtime Republican Powell endorsed Illinois Democrat Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States. Second, on Sunday, December 14, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria, Powell gave a candid account of his time as Secretary of State for President George W. Bush(2001-2004), in which he discussed the day-to-day "business" of U.S.-Russia relations. In his discussion with Newsweek and CNN correspondent Zakaria, Powell declared that while missile defense systems may eventually be deployed to protect the U.S. and its allies, they must be proven to be workable, and their deployment weighed against other diplomatic and military priorities in U.S. grand strategy.
Suzanne Massie's Advice to President Obama: Adopt Reagan's Attitude toward Russia
W George Krasnow
Suzanne Massie is a Russia expert and former adviser to President Reagan
"Take bold steps, like Ronald Reagan, and chart a new foreign policy course toward Russia." This is the advice that Suzanne Massie, a Russia expert and former adviser to President Reagan, gave to President-elect Barack Obama during her presentation ,"Reagan's Evolving Views on Russians and their Relevance Today," at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies (KIARS) in Washington D.C. on December 1, 2008.
Ms. Massie is a writer, lecturer and the author of best-selling books, Nicholas and Alexandra, and Land of the Firebird: The Beauty of Old Russia, as well as other books dealing with Russia's history and culture. Born in New York City in the family of a Swiss diplomat, she was educated at Vassar College and the Sorbonne. From 1985 to 1997 she was a fellow of the Harvard Russian Research Center. Trilingual (fluent in Russian, French, and English), she was invited by KIARS's director Dr. Blair Ruble to reminisce on the years of 1984-1988 when she was an adviser to President Reagan.
Russia's Solzhenitsyn Remembered: A Tribute from the USA
Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died on August 3, 2008, would have turned 90 on December 11. The following is written in his memory by W. George Krasnow.
No one did as much to promote liberty in Russia as Alexander Solzhenitsyn. And few did more than he to strengthen the West, intellectually and morally, in its resistance against Soviet expansion.
One of the most "Russian" among writers, not only did he win the Nobel Prize and world-wide recognition for his works, but he also found a place of refuge for research and writing in Cavendish, Vermont. His face-off with the Soviet regime pretty much reflected the Free World's face-off with Communism. When in 1994 he returned to Russia, he did so on the wings of liberty we so cherish.
The funeral for Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, is starting at this hour (1200 PST, 0800 GMT, 1100 MSK) in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. Alexy will be buried this afternoon at the Bogoyavlensky Monastery (Church of the Epiphany) in Moscow. Thousands of people are expected to gather outside the monastery and along the route of the funeral motorcade through the city.
Russia Today TV is providing exclusive English-language coverage live from Christ the Savior Cathedral. If you have a fast Internet connection, you can watch the live video feed here.
UPDATE: 0900 PST Click on the extended post to read an excerpted news story from the AFP.
The funeral for Alexey will begin Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 11 a.m., in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. President Dimitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and other Russian dignitaries and national figures will be in attendance. Alexey will be buried Tuesday afternoon at the Bogoyavlensky Monastery (Church of the Epiphany) in Moscow.
Panikhida services praying for the Patriarch are being said in Russian Orthodox Churches all over the world today and tomorrow. In the last forty eight hours, thousands of mourners have filed in to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, while thousands more have lined up outside the church along the Moscow embankment, standing in freezing temperatures to pay their respects. Over 600 churches in and around Moscow rang their bells this weekend to announce the Patriarch's passing, an event unprecedented in the history of post-Soviet Russia.
The couple, both natives of St. Petersburg, Russia, were married on January 12, 2000. Their only child, Ivan (Vanechka) was born in 2007. Anastasiya developed the brain tumor during her pregnancy and was treated at the Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the Burdenko Neurosurgical Institute in Moscow. Anastasiya's friends remember her as a young, energetic woman who loved life and her son. Anastasiya met Konstantin in 1999, when she interviewed the upstart actor for her radio show, and as Konstantin said, "it was love at first sight."
A former electrical engineering student and struggling street musician, Konstantin Khabensky is best known to American audiences for his role in the Angelina Jolie action-adventure movie Wanted. Russians know him best as the star of Admiral (Kolchak), The Irony of Fate 2 (Ironi Sudbi 2), Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor), Day Watch (Dnevnoy Dozor) and other Russian blockbusters.
Russia Blog expresses our sincere condolences to Konstantin Khabensky and his family.