A photo allegedly showing then KGB agent Vladimir Putin posing as a tourist in Red Square during President Ronald Reagan's visit to the Soviet Union in 1988. In fact, most Russian analysts believe the man on the left is not Putin, who was living and working in East Germany at the time.
The Parallax Brief blog, maintained by an Englishman working at an investment bank in Moscow, is an interesting read. Judging by the author's blogroll and published comments, his views a mixture of British pro-free market ideas and American liberalism (the Parallax Brief seems sympathetic towards Democrat Barack Obama, or at least willing to give the new U.S. President some slack). However, the PB definitely provides an outsider's perspective on Russia different from what is typically published in the U.S.-UK media.
In particular, this blogger asks a question that would be regarded as anathema among some in Washington D.C. conservative Republican establishment, many of whom still view Moscow as the perpetual seat of the Evil Empire, regardless of how much Russia has actually changed since the collapse of the USSR. Namely, can Russia be described as a conservative country?
Russia has been hard hit by the global economic meltdown. How can this crisis present governments and entrepreneurs with opportunities to create new incentives for innovation?
The speed with which the economic crisis spread across the globe, devastating so many economies, surprised many. The catalyst for the crisis can be laid at the feet of creditors, but its rapid contagion from one country to another can be explained by the globalization of supply chains.
Business is entering its third stage of evolution -- what IBM chairman Sam Palmisano calls the "globally integrated enterprise." The first stage was the 19th-century's "international model," when corporations established sales offices in foreign countries with minimal economic impact on host countries.
Thomas Nastas Talks Innovation on Russia Today's Spotlight with Al Gurnov
Tom Nastas is an American venture capitalist based in Moscow
Last week I taped an interview in Moscow with the English-language 24 hour news channel Russia Today on technology and creating an innovation economy in the Russian Federation . My appearance on the Spotlight with Al Gurnov show aired on March 24, 2009.
Click on the extended post to watch the video and for links to my previous interviews on RT and previously published articles on Russia Blog.
Over the past few weeks Washington has witnessed an unusual degree of activity at the official and pundit level aimed at a radical revision of US-Russia relations. Numerous think tanks and NGOs try to outdo one another in holding the most conferences and workshops on "resetting" and in churning out advice for Barack Obama. Not all of this advice is exactly radiating good will and optimism, though most of it is. Still, the anti-Russia lobby does not lose heart, but continues its enthusiastic criticism of the White House, urging Obama not to merely carry on the Bush Administration policies toward Russia, but actually to further toughen it.
After the collapse of Communism and disintegration of the Soviet Union two distinct schools emerged in America in terms of shaping Russia policy. One, which may conveniently be dubbed "Pro", advocated furthering Russia's integration into the West by granting it hefty economic aid to help it switch to market economy and speed up its entry into NATO. The second, by the same token to be named "Contra", continued to look on new Russia as a country that was, at best, no longer capable of swaying geopolitical developments and therefore whose interests could be largely ignored, and at worst, a prospective enemy to be kept in a weakened state and every way "contained."
Daniel Silva is a former CNN producer turned espionage thriller novelist. Silva's most recent novel, Moscow Rules, was released on July 22, 2008 and shot to the top of The New York Times bestseller list within a week. In Moscow Rules his recurring hero, art restorer and Mossad agent Gabriel Allon, battles a ruthless arms-dealing Russian oligarch and "the KGB".
Russian & Chinese Investment into U.S. Real Estate
Download the PDF version of the report Real Estate Market in Russia, China, and America: Trends and Opportunities
Russian fertilizer oligarch Mr. Rybolovlev is the buyer of the most expensive single-family home sold in America. The property, at 515 N. County Road on Palm Beach, sold for $95 million.
Summary of contents
- Overview of the current state of the U.S. real estate market
- BRIC economies and their growing importance in the global economy
- Russia's economic outlook and business prospects
- China's economic outlook and business prospects
- Opportunities for U.S. real estate companies
Overview of the current state of U.S. real estate market
The U.S. real estate market is currently going through one of the worst corrections in history as evidenced by a steep, declining trend of new home sales and rapidly growing real estate foreclosures.
Russian Movies on Georgia War: Olympus Inferno and War 08/08/08
The brief August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia continues to spawn films
Channel One, the same Russian TV network that produced the blockbusters Night Watch and Day Watch has made an action movie about the Georgia War, titled Olympus Inferno. The movie features two main characters, an American entomologist studying butterflies in South Ossetia (you can hear him yelling "What the hell is going on?" a lot in the trailer) and a Russian female journalist. The two characters must work together to get back to Russian lines after getting swept up in the August 8, 2008 Georgian offensive against the separatist enclave of South Ossetia.
Putin Bans Seal-Hunt, Surprises Environmentalists, Pushes Canada into Isolation
A Canadian seal hunter takes a swing at a baby seal. "Our hunt ... is sustainable, it's viable and it's humane" says Thomas Hedderson, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Newfoundland and Labrador.
This week, animal welfare activists have found themselves the most unlikely ally. Vladimir Putin, Russia's Prime-Minister, a judo master, a book author, and a pet lover, who received a tiger cub for his birthday, banned seal hunting in Russian waters. On March 18, Putin labeled the annual hunt of the animals a "bloody industry" that "should have been banned a long time ago." Putin's words and law put Canada further into isolation on the seal-hunting issue.
Sheryl Fink, a researcher for the International Fund for Animal Welfare based in Guelph, Ont, was positively shocked by Putin's decision. The Russian branch of the organization held rallies in cities across Russia last month, but after years of fruitless campaigning, Mr. Putin's support caught them off guard. "It highlights the fact that Canada is still in the Dark Ages on this issue. It's astounding when even the government of Russia is more willing to listen to its own people than ours is," Ms. Fink said.
In U.S.-Russia Energy Rivalry China is the Big Winner
In spite of the recent decline in crude oil prices, Russians are still paying $3 at the pump, nearly twice as much as the average in America. Why?
It's no secret that Russia's oil and gas industry, which accounts for more than half of Russian export revenues and more than a third of Russian GDP, has fallen on hard times lately. In the final quarter of 2008, at the same time that oil prices plunged worldwide, Rosneft, Lukoil and Gazpromneft also lost access to easy credit from Western capital markets. After briefly surpassing Saudi Arabia as the world's no. 1 oil producer in 2006, Russia's oil output has stagnated and declined somewhat in the last two and a half years.
The Russian federal budget, which had previously anticipated prices at $95 a barrel for 2009, now faces a huge shortfall, with current prices hovering around $45 a barrel. The Kremlin had announced plans to cut oil export taxes to spur new exploration and production in an industry that for decades has provided one of its primary sources of revenue, but these badly needed reforms may end up being postponed. Adding insult to injury for ordinary Russians, drivers across Russia are still paying over $3 a gallon at the gas pump, in spite of the collapse in crude oil prices.
My last American Chronicle article ("Update on the Former Moldavian SSR Dispute," Dec. 31) on the meeting between the leaders of Moldova and Pridnestrovie (also referred to as Transnistria, Transdniestria, Transdnestr and Trans-Dniester) relates to the issue of how to successfully resolve the dispute between the two parties. A major stumbling block is Pridnestrovie's government refusing to accept the Moldovan government's position that Moldova's territory includes all land which comprised the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR).
Theoretically, there is a way to honor Pridnestrovie's stance, in a settlement that would unite the two parties. Rather than advocate Pridnestrovie acknowledging itself as part of Moldova, a constitutionally loose union state of two republics can be proposed. Its name could be along the lines of the Union of Moldova and Pridnestrovie.
There Are More Ways than One to Hit the Reset Button
"We worked hard to get the right Russian word," Clinton told Lavrov, "do you think we got it?"
"You got it wrong," answered Lavrov. "This says 'peregruzka,' which means overcharged."
It must have come as a pleasant surprise to Vice President Joe Biden's speechwriter that his phrase about the need to "hit the reset button" in Moscow-Washington relations suddenly became popular and endlessly quoted by both pro- and anti-revisionists of U.S.-Russia relations. In any case Russia should obviously thank its lucky stars for Obama's electoral victory, for had he lost, the chances of improving these relations would have been very slim indeed -- things would most likely go from bad to worse.
Obama is clearly sending out positive signals, yet Moscow, regrettably, has so far refrained from offering to meet him halfway, producing little except rhetoric about its readiness to try new foreign policy approaches. Moreover, according to numerous political analysts, the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has already made two mistakes that baffle everyone favoring the two countries' rapprochement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the famous "reset" button. In light of the Cold War MAD connotations of "The Button", should it have been red? Or even a button at all?
Did you know that if you translate "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" into Russian, it becomes "the vodka is agreeable but the meat has gone bad"? Literal translations can be tricky that way.
It seems that no translators were harmed in the manufacturing of Hillary Clinton's "reset" button, which she presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday.
"We worked hard to get the right Russian word," Clinton addressed Lavrov in a deliberately slow voice, as if talking to a special-needs child. "Do you think we got it?"
"You got it wrong," Lavrov answered in fluent English. "This says 'peregruzka,' which means overcharged."
Well, it looks like somebody used a cheap electronic translation program. But it could be worse. I once came across a website that advertised its automated translation service with an example of a label from a jar of pickles, informing Russian consumers that it contained condoms.
Talk about food safety! That's what you get when you translate "preservatives" without as much as a human touch.
The Admiral (ÐÐ´Ð¼Ð¸Ñ€Ð°Ð»ÑŠ) Reviewed: Random Video Clips with a Boring Narrative
A Russian battleship depicted in the historic drama Admiral
Watching the famous Russian movie Admiral had been my challenge for several months. Living in Seattle and then travelling across the U.S. didn't allow me to see the film in Russian movie theaters. Hearing the rumors about the amazing visual effects, I did not want to download a copy from the Internet and settle for watching it on my laptop. So finally, a few weeks ago, I set down with a friend in Moscow in front of a big plasma screen. We served ourselves cherry vareniki with sour cream, and I prepared to indulge myself in a historic visual journey through the Russian Revolution (beware -- spoilers).
The film titles start with a Soviet movie set where someone is filming something about the old Russia. Grandma's eyes are looking at an old photo of a beautiful lady. A viewer thinks right away "just like in Titanic, but the titles are in Russian". After the titles are over, the film indeed proves to be engaging and jaw-dropping. Admiral Kolchak (played by Konstantin Khabensky - ÐšÐ¾Ð½ÑÑ‚Ð°Ð½Ñ‚Ð¸Ð½ Ð¥Ð°Ð±ÐµÐ½ÑÐºÐ¸Ð¹) is guiding his ship in the Baltic Sea, dropping mines and watching out for a German frigate. Sure enough, the German vessel materializes out of the fog and the battle begins. If you watched the trailer, you basically saw the battle (and the movie).
U.S. Firm in Kiev: Ukrainian Banking System Might Collapse
An internal letter at an American company in Kiev, Ukraine, informs the employees that they will receive their two-month salary in advance, because... there might be no way to transfer funds a few days from now. The firm's financial analysts predict that it might become impossible to transfer money within the Ukrainian banking system. The message says:
"The Ukrainian economy is experiencing unprecedented challenges, and one of them is the potential for instability in the banking system. The failure of the Ukrainian banking system is not imminent, however, risks have increased significantly in recent weeks... Should the Ukrainian system not pass these tests, it might significantly affect the ability of businesses to transfer money in the system, including making the salary payments."
A Russian soldier making the sign of the cross before an icon. Russia's largely conscript army is being slashed to make way for a cheaper and smaller military.
Continuing Russia Blog's recent run of posts about Austin-based commentators and personalities, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel Austin Bay (an ocassional guest professor at my alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin) has an excellent post over at his Strategy Page website about the recently announced cutbacks in Russia's military budget. The notion that Russia is engaged in a military buildup to challenge the West, which was popularized last year during the brief war between Russia and Georgia, has taken a hard hit from the realities of the global economic meltdown. The Kremlin is trying to patch huge holes in the Russian federal budget left by the collapse of world crude oil prices from $95 per barrel to less than $40 a barrel.