William Hague, British Foreign Secretary
On Wednesday, 24th November 2010, Britain's biggest ever trade mission to Russia, led by British Business Secretary Vince Cable, arrived in Moscow. The thirty-eight strong British team including representatives from top British companies, Royal Dutch Shell, Rolls Royce and British Airways, was on a three-day trip culminating with a meeting with Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.
This is the second high-level visit by a British official to Russia this year, following Foreign Secretary William Hague's October 2010 visit. British-Russian cooperation appears to be at a new high - only weeks ago President Dmitri Medvedev met British Prime Minister David Cameron at the G20 summit in Seoul and invited him to visit Russia in 2011. Despite political differences the two countries have strong economic ties. Britain has over 600 companies operating in Russia, and with investments totalling $17 billion, contributes around 15% of total foreign investments in Russia.
Continue reading "Responsible Capitalism" »
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- When I returned to America on October 15 from Russia, I learned the sad news that Joe Sobran, journalist, syndicated columnist, and writer, had passed away on September 30.
Calling Sobran an "Antiwar Prophet," Jon Utley, a Russia & America Good Will Associate (RAGA) subscriber and antiwar activist, wrote in his eulogy in The American Conservative magazine, "If Joe Sobran's warnings had been heeded, America would not be on the path to bankruptcy and unending, unwinnable wars."
I, too, regard Joe as an American patriot, man of peace, friend of Russia, honorary RAGA associate, and personal friend.
I came to the United States in 1966 from Sweden, a country that was rapidly turning anti-American. Even with my shaky English, I quickly found out that William F. Buckley Jr.'s National Review (NR), for which Joe Sobran soon became the principal writer, was the only intellectual magazine that was unabashedly pro-American. It was anti-communist, not in the sense of belligerency but by virtue of its defense of the fundamental American values of individual liberty, free enterprise, limited government, and academic freedom -- values that were under communist assault around the world.
Continue reading "A Tribute to American Patriot: In Memory of Joe Sobran (1946-2010) Part One" »
By Ed Bentley
This article originally appeared in the Moscow News on November 15, 2010
Money can't buy you everything - just ask Oleg Deripaska about his quest for a US visa - but some other wealthy Russians are taking advantage of a scheme that offers a Green Card for a cool $1 million. The US government-backed scheme simply requires the money to be invested in the US economy, creating 10 full-time jobs for at least two years.
The project was started in 1990 but eventually shelved because many of the jobs were not created.
"In the early '90s there were a lot of unscrupulous people who took advantage of the program," said Alexander Aginsky, the managing director of Aginsky Consulting, which specialises in promoting the visa scheme, called EB5.
But the plans were dusted off when the crisis hit and the government looked for fresh capital from abroad as domestic funding dried up.
Continue reading "Million-Dollar US visa" »
The most impressive victory of the Republican Party in the last elections sent shivers not only through the White House and Democratic Party headquarters but through Moscow's political establishment as well. Here, the fear is that the new Congress could try to undermine Obama's reset policy with Russia.
But although Obama undoubtedly comes out of this election severely weakened domestically, he is still pretty much in charge of U.S. foreign policy. Can he make some headway in this area to help the country and himself in view of the upcoming presidential campaign?
It will of course not be an easy task, given that America, which only 20 years ago was the world's only and undisputed superpower, has suddenly found itself in a very precarious geopolitical, economic and financial situation. Now, the story of America's difficulties can be recycled endlessly and fingers pointed at those who were to blame for the current sad state of affairs. However, discussing the things that need to be done seems a much more meaningful pursuit.
Continue reading "To START or not to START" »
The ice pick that finished Trotsky's life (this is the one!) was kept in a police museum, but the Mexican Secret Service agent who had handled the murder investigation removed it for fear that someone would try and steal it. Sure enough, someone did steal the copy that he put in its place, and the original was kept at his house until his death. It is now the property of his daughter.
If President Obama implied--and unnamed CIA operatives stated explicitly--that an American intelligence officer who defected to Russia would be hunted down inside Russia by the CIA and killed, how would Mr. Putin react? Would he like to welcome the CIA killers to Moscow?
Well, the reverse situation is at hand in the famous Anna Chapman (no relation!) spy ring saga. The Kremlin infiltrated several agents into the US in truly mundane, petty positions and they were caught. Well, that spying for you. They all made it home in an exchange and were toasted by Mr. Putin as heroes. The fetching Ms. Chapman has followed her spy career with what appears to be a more, shall we say, exposed livelihood as eye candy for men's entertainment magazines. Well, I guess a girl's gotta work.
But now the Russian agent who exposed her and the rest of the team of Spies Who Couldn't Spy Right has defected successfully to the US. And Prime Minister Putin makes it clear he is a marked man. (See previous post.) And an unnamed intelligence officer says a "Mercader" is being sent to eliminate him. "We know who he is and where he is," the Kremlin source said. "Have no doubt that a Mercader has been sent after him already."
Really? Ramon Mercader was the assassin that Stalin sent to Mexico to kill Trotsky. Are we supposed to be impressed that the current Russian government might be using Stalin as a model? Are Americans supposed to accept the necessity of the Kremlin's coming over here to break our laws and indulge itself in killing people? If so, the State Department should be asking for a "clarification". At the least.
Sorry, but the Kremlin is not allowed to have people in the US killed. That would change this whole spy farce into something much more consequential.
Spy Mikhail Vasenkov a.k.a Juan Lazaro
The traitor of the "sleeper agents' has been identified, and the "clean-up" crew has been sent to the States. Colonel Scherbakov--whose daughter moved to America a long time ago, and son just recently obtained a U.S. citizenship--placed himself between the two agencies, and left no choice for himself or others. British Telegraph has the story, and quotes a Kremlin source, saying that Scherbakov recently denied a promotion as he knew he would've not passed the mandatory lie-detector test.
"The damage committed by the colonel to the state is too enormous," not to have further repercussions, Mr. Gudkov, deputy chairman of the Duma's security committee, told the Interfax news agency.
"This was the result of treason and traitors always end badly," said Putin.
"We know who he is and where he is," the Kremlin source said. "Have no doubt that a Mercader has been sent after him already." (Ramon Mercader was the KGB assassin who murdered exiled Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky with an ice pick in 1940; a "Mercader" is a synonym for a hit squad.) "The fate of such an individual is unenviable," the Kremlin source continued. "He will fear revenge every day (of his life). "This is a big mix-up that will see heads roll and people demoted," an intelligence source told Kommersant newspaper. The most valuable of the 10 exposed agents was Mikhail Vasenkov who operated under the name Juan Lazaro. Intelligence sources claimed he had been able to obtain the US President's travel agenda years in advance. Regardless of how valuable such information may be in the modern world, U.S. investigators had broken his leg and three ribs while interrogating him, the source claimed.
Two weeks ago, CNN reported about the "sexy photos of spy Anna Chapman" published in the Russian yellow-press daily Your Day. Shortly after that, magazine Maxim ran an exclusive of overexposed Anna Chapman in definitely sexy, fake spy attire. While our readers may enjoy the snapshots of the photos in the extended post, the question remains: is Anna Chapman going to share her media profits with the Russian taxpayers? After all, her unfortunate popularity is the result of a mismanaged and flawed operation, where she played an unprofessional role on Russian taxpayers' tab.
Instead of getting Russia any kind of valuable information (which she could've not gotten anyway), or improving Russia's image abroad, Anna knowingly--and arguably with the inspiration from Russian intelligence services--has reduced an image of a young Russian lady to a level slightly above one of a prostitute. While RIA Novosti quotes Your Day saying that "Anna has done more to excite patriotism in Russians than our football team and the Bulava missile put together," the Russians I know find her behavior appalling. The supervisors of the failed and pity spy operation should be held accountable for squandering Russia's resources and image.